Oshtemo Historical Society


Drake Farmstead, 927 N. Drake Rd., Kalamazoo MI 49009

Preserving the history of Oshtemo Township

Visioning the restoration of the Drake Farmstead

  Oshtemo Historical Society Newsletter January 2019

From Kitchen to Reception Room

Many of you have walked into the 158 year-old Drake House using the South porch entrance into a mid-20 th century kitchen, with knotty-pine paneled walls and cupboards and an 11 foot high ceiling. In 2016, with the inception of the Capital Campaign Committee, and in collaboration with the Township Parks Committee, it was decided to turn this room into a reception area for people attending tours and events.
Although the Capital Campaign raised $250,000, matched by the township resulting in a total of $500,000, money estimated for exterior projects (handicap accessible ramp and the carriage barn) fell short of actual amounts. Therefore, the budget for the restoration and creation of the reception area was cut by two-thirds to around $11,000.

However, since 2016 the OHS has been working on the following:

•  2016 Restoration/Design Committee members worked with the architect, Nelson Nave, to redesign the room. OHS members removed some of the wall paneling and all of the upper cupboards, exposing what was underneath.

•  2017 Members began to gather bids for restoration projects from contractors. Project bids included re-plastering or wall boarding the walls, flooring, removal of the sink to back kitchen, new north windows, electrical work, refinishing of the south window sashes, obtaining a period entrance door, paneled ceiling, and wood trim for doors, windows and baseboards.

•  2018 Members removed pine paneled island and vinyl flooring, removed lower cupboards, counter and sink, installed temporary stainless steel sink in the back kitchen, continued to garner project bids, decided on furniture to meet the needs for a multi-purpose Reception Room.

•  2019 Projected Goals: Remove rest of plaster, wood and lath from the walls, find a group of 4-5 volunteers willing to tear off the plaster and lath to save labor costs, installation of new electrical work, installation of blue board with plaster skim coat on walls, finish collecting project bids, create a fund drive for restoration projects pertaining to this room.

If you would like to help OHS in 2019, you can either volunteer to help remove plaster and lath next spring or send a donation towards a specific project. We thank you very much for your generosity and interested support in restoring this iconic historic home in a unique park in Oshtemo Township!


January 2019


NAME _____________________________________________________________________


CITY, STATE AND ZIP___________________________________________________________

PHONE NUMBER_______________________ CELL________________________EMAIL _________________________________

Membership Dues are: $15.00 single person - $20.00 family - $50.00 patron - Our year is January 1-January 1. (Circle one)

Monetary donation: $_________________ to be used toward (Optional)___________________________________________

If interested in joining us and/or making a donation, please make out a check for the appropriate amount, payable to "THE OSHTEMO HISTORICAL SOCIETY." All checks should be mailed to Starr Waldron, 4172 Wolf Drive, Kalamazoo Michigan, 49009.


We continue to update our database for mailing. Please send your email address if you have one. (clgray8337@gmail.com)



Open House September 16, 2018


The OHS Open House on September 16, 2018 was a great success with 454 visitors enjoying a sunny autumn afternoon at the Drake Farmstead. Our family friendly event included live music from the Bride of Fleckenstein Trio, a tasty bake sale, miniature horses and cart rides for the youngsters, along with popular games from the late 1880's. A variety of vendors were on the grounds displaying and selling their crafts while a wandering magician delighted the guests with his bag of tricks. Under the tent on the front lawn, a large mural by local artist, Conrad Kaufman, was unveiled. The mural, depicting life on the farm during the era of Benjamin Drake will be placed in the future event barn, to be built on the grounds.


Docents guided guests through the house where they viewed restoration progress and ongoing projects. New furnishings were in view which were donated by generous folks to enhance our historic home. And, our own Maria Drake (aka Denise McCaffrey) was seen greeting guests and welcoming them to an afternoon of fun at her homestead.


OHS has received generous gifts from our supporters and friends. These gifts are very much appreciated and we THANK each of the donors profusely. Much of our progress comes from the kindness of others.


Monetary Donations 

Barbara Bragagnni Duane & Cathy Hampton
Mary (Sue) Casarez
Joyce McNally (Honor of Kay Oppliger)
Sue & Elizabeth Grossman
Elaine Branch
Kay Oppliger
Joan Young
Kenn Livingston
W. & J. Truscott Robert Latterner


In Kind Donations 

Jean Bourner Genealogy papers
Thelma Buckham Genealogy papers
Kathleen & Galen Garland-Rike 1900 table oil lamp, 2 dresser hand mirrors, bone crochet hook, oak handle sewing implement, china dresser dish, tatted-edge round table scarf
Susanne Schipper 2 white tablecloths

Monetary Donations in Memory of William Slack :

Larry & Kay Oppliger
Janet Short
Paul Ter Beek
Emily & Joseph Richie
Katy Steadman



Rest in Peace

Robert (d.10-2017) and Myra (d. 12-2018) Baugher, OHS members

David-Bushouse-Obituary David Bushouse (d. 12-8-2018) OHS Vice President
An Oshtemo Resident for over 60 years, he served th community in many ways including the Oshtemo Fire Department for 33 years and as fire chief for 11 years, sitting on many township and state boards, as well as Trustee for the township. David was a member of the Oshtemo Rotary, St. Andrews Community Church and participated in many mission trips to ntral and South America



The Legacy of Moses Kingsley



Moses, son of Moses and Mary Kingsley, was born in Massachusetts in 1810. He lived there until as a young adult he started his trip west. He spent a year in New York, then continued his on to the undeveloped territory of Michigan. He walked most of the way, often carrying his shoes to prevent them from wearing out.

He arrived in today's Washtenaw County in 1831, his total finances were just ninety cents. He became a successful cabinet maker and married Hannah Williams. Moses assisted in organizing the township of Webster, where he held several offices and was responsible for the Webster Church being built in Dexter. Again, he moved on. Traveling in wagons with his wife and child, Daniel, he soon bought a farm in Oshtemo, on the line between Oshtemo and Kalamazoo Townships (Drake Road).

Shortly after arriving here, a baby girl very briefly joined the family. Her death was the first of the new settlers in the area. Moses donated and helped build a schoolhouse in 1840 and assisted in replacing it with a brick structure in 1865. This school (Genesee Prairie) was operated until 1958 with a one dollar a year lease with Kingsley. When the school closed, it reverted back to the Kingsley family.

Hannah and Moses had six children before Hannah passed away. The Kingsleys donated land for the first cemetery in the area (Grand Prairie Cemetery). The first interment was Ebenezer Askins in 1843. The infant who had been buried on the Kingsley property was moved to the site when Mrs. Kingsley was interred. After the death of Hannah, Moses married Clarissa Beckley and together they had seven children.

Moses became tired of the country life and moved to Vine Street in Kalamazoo. Insurance companies were formed in Kalamazoo with his guidance. He left his mark on our community by developing townships, churches, schools, insurance companies and cemeteries. He continues to have a presence here as some of his family continue to reside in Oshtemo.


OHS Board Members

President: Kenn Livingston
Vice President: Tricia Babladelis**
Corresponding Secretary: Mary Anne Bretvec
Recording Secretary: Irene Livingston
Treasurer: Starr Waldron
Trustees: Barb Adams
Maggie Derhammer**
Dale Martinson**

Committee Chairs

Kay Oppliger Archive & Restoration/Design
Irene Livingston - Fund Raising/Publicity
Jim Britvec - Maintenance
Katy Steadman Museum & Programs
Ilah Henderson Web site& Historian
Carol Gray - Newsletter



**Thank you to new board members as of November, 2018!!


Web site: www.oshtemohistoricalsociety.org . Please check our web site for upcoming events!



Progress and Partnerships at Drake Farmstead Park


Oshtemo Township is creating a new community park on 26 acres of land surrounding the Drake House. With the historic brick farmhouse as the centerpiece, the park will become a place to take a walk, have a picnic, and enjoy nature. It will also be a gathering place to learn about history and the environment, host a wedding or family reunion or attend a special event.

The new park is expected to open to the public on a daily basis in 2019, thanks in part to a broad range of partnerships described below. An important feature of the new park will be a timber frame multipurpose building, designed in the style of a carriage barn, for events and educational programs. The building will also house the park's restrooms. Glas Associates, a local contracting company, was awarded the construction contract in October. They plan to pour the foundation in December, weather permitting. Glas Associates' contract also includes construction of a barrier free ramp to the historic house. Both projects are scheduled to be completed by July. They are funded by the Drake Farmstead Park Capital Campaign and Oshtemo Township. Trails, interpretive signs, a picnic shelter, outdoor classroom, and parking lot will also be constructed in 2019. These improvements are funded by a $136,500 grant from the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund, a $50,000 donation from the Oshtemo Rotary Club for the picnic shelter, and $8,500 in match funds from the Township.

Six acres of prairie are being reconstructed at the northeast corner of the park, thanks to a $15,000 grant from the Kalamazoo Community Foundation. Native prairie wildflowers and grasses will create a beautiful entryway to the new park and provide habitat for wildlife, especially pollinators. Once established, the prairie will feature mowed paths and interpretive signs. The Kalamazoo Nature Center was awarded the contract for prairie reconstruction. They began removing invasive vegetation in the spring of 2018 and will continue these efforts until the fall of 2019, when the prairie seed mix will be planted. A Forest Management Plan for the new park was recently completed by Dr. Hugh Brown, recently retired from Pierce Cedar Creek Institute. The plan will guide removal of invasive plants and other stewardship efforts at the park. Funding was from an Urban and Community Forestry Grant from the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Volunteers have already begun removal of the invasive black locust trees, as recommended in the Plan. Volunteer work sessions will be held throughout the year, weather permitting.

If you'd like to do receive notification of work session dates, contact Karen High, Oshtemo Township Parks Director, at (269) 216-5233 or khigh@oshtemo.org .