The History of Webberville
The History of Webberville project was completed in 1999 by Mrs. Jean Johnson’s fourth grade class. Each student interviewed a local business owner or community member, in order to gather the historical details of a business or location.
Below are the histories of locations in Webberville. Continue reading for the history of Webberville and Webberville Community Schools.
The district would like to thanks Mrs. Jean Johnson and Mrs. Marie Lloyd for their help in preserving this historical information for our community and our school district:
|Moore’s Farm Repair||Oak Lane Golf Course||McDonald’s|
|Elzerman’s Greenhouse||Alchin Cemetery||Cultural Center|
|Webberville Fire Dept.||United Methodist Church||Alchin Plumbing|
|Feed & Grain Elevator||Lloyd’s Barbershop||Gascon’s Greenhouse|
The History of Webberville
Webberville is located in a rural area 28 miles east of Lansing on Grand River. I96 is a major highway just south of Webberville. The population according to the last census taken is 1,698.
In 1812, the U.S. Government sent surveyors to Michigan from the east. Settlers were given their first chance to take up farming. A dream of a land of opportunity motivated the settler’s westward across Michigan from Detroit. They followed the Indian paths. As they continued, the settlers were told that the land ahead of them was worthless swampland. The settlers’ dreams slowly dwindled, but they continued. The women drove the teams and the men walked on foot. It took the settlers 3 weeks to get into this area from Detroit. The trip was 80 miles.
Silas and Suzanne Alger were among the first settlers in this area. They claimed 640 acres of land. The Alchin, Webber, and McPherson families soon settled here.They started a settlement near what is now Grand River Road and Webberville Road. By 1850, the settlement had a population of 41 people. However, much of the land was still dense forest, mosquitoes, marshes, and lakes.
A plank road was being built in 1849, from Detroit to Lansing along what is now called Grand River Road. The plank road had a dirt road made at intervals so those teams of horses might pass. Tollgates were established all along the route. The Webberville settlement was one of the places for a tollgate. A stagecoach could leave Detroit at 7:00am and arrive in this area at 7:00pm. The settlers wanted to increase the population and they were hoping that the Plank Road would bring people into this area. Pictured below is Webberville in the 1850’s.
The settlement was named Leroy. Another village in the state had the same name, thus it was changed to Webberville out of respect for the pioneers who first offered land for the village. The settlement moved from the Webberville and Grand River location so it would be near the railroad station that was being built.
The Railroad Company had offered to build a station and elevator in this area, if some farmers would donate land for a site. Hubert Webber immediately offered a strip of land south of the plank road. He had donated the site at the corner of Grand River and Webberville for a school. Mr. McPherson donated land to build the first school in the new location of Webberville.
By 1870, the population increased to 859. Thus the plank road and railroad were successful in bringing more settlers. They also liked the idea of having a school and a church.
Webberville was becoming a town of considerable size because of it’s flour mills, business places, and saloons. Later a fire destroyed the mills, the kilns exhausted the timber, and the population decreased and all the saloons moved out except one. Later the saloon wasn’t granted a license and closed up. Meanwhile a new hotel called the Bennett House was built and opened for travelers on the railroad and plank road. A new larger elevator was also built.
In 1872, James Dart had built a sawmill, general store, and barrel factory. The barrel factory made approximately 30,000 barrels yearly. Farmers used the barrels for salting meat, keeping cider, vinegar, and pickles as well as whiskey. Many of the barrels were also shipped to Chicago. The sawmill was used to help cut lumber for the plank road from Howell to Lansing. Framework for many ships were also made at this sawmill and shipped to Chicago.
James Dart also ran the Detroit Iron Furnace Company. He used the hardwood wastes and cull lumber from this area in his charcoal kilns. The coal was the only fuel used by blacksmiths and tinners. Thus, it was in much demand. In 1880, the sawmill burned and was rebuilt. However, bad health caused him to retire and he moved to Mason, Michigan.
In 1876, the Webberville High School and Primary School were constructed on Main Street. The High School was later moved to Grand River and is now the Masonic Lodge. The Primary school was moved to the West Side of town on Grand River. It is now the home of the Andrew’s family.
By 1912, the swamplands slowly disappeared and 1912 made the worthless land made into profitable dairy farms. These farms supplied much of the milk for a condensed milk factory in Webberville.
On January 19,1916 the town had 25 electric streetlights.
The first bank was established with its purpose being to help farmers to buy seed. It was named Ingham and later changed to Farmer’s Bank.
In 1912, the high school which is our elementary school was built and opened in 1913. The plate with the building date is located in our present high school library. When the high school opened, the area schools around the Webberville area consolidated into the one school. Thus, the country schools closed. The first school bus was purchased in 1940 to help transport students into Webberville from the rural areas. Students paid $19.00 a year to ride the red, white, and blue bus.
In 1921 the whole town of Webberville received electricity in their homes.
The Post Office was established in 1923.
By 1924, a gravel road called Grand River was made into a 2 lane paved highway. Hitching posts were removed.
In 1955, Dr. Karikomi came to Webberville. The Lion’s Club did some research for a doctor to come to our village. Dr. Karikomi was just finishing his internship and he stayed in our town with his family until he retired. He was even named the “Citizen of the Year for Webberville.”
The Federal Trailer Company built the Century Trailer after 30 years in Detroit as Century Trailer Company.
Webberville has experienced other growth during the past years. Countrymark has established storage for corn and wheat. They have several large silos whereby they can dry and store the crops for farmers. It is located near the railroad and is hauled away on the railroad cars. Farmers use their trucks to bring the corn and wheat to the storage. It is located near M52 and Grand River. Anderson Seed and Fertilizer Plant is located near the Countrymark Storage Silos. Pictured at right is Webberville in 1999
The Webberville Business Park located on M-52 has brought in Applegate Insulation, Sky, and Keykert a business related to the car industry. McDonald’s is located next to the park on M-52.
Other business places include Alchin Plumbing, Superior Log Homes, Diederich’s Market, VanZoll’s grocery store, Carter Lumber Company, Village Drug Store, and Carpet Masters.
Webberville also has Oak Lane Golf Course. It is an eighteen-hole course and is enjoyed by many people throughout the state of Michigan.
We have 5 churches in our community. We also have a dentist, 2 doctor offices, and a barber. A small restaurant is located at the western edge of town and 2 pizza places are in town.
Every fall the firemen have Firemen’s Field Day. It is a carnival, craft show, and a parade. Each year a Citizen of the Year is selected to be the honored person in the parade. Mrs. Showerman was the person for 1998. Many people come to the festival to enjoy the Ox Burgers. They also have soup that they sell. The money raised is used to help support activities for the firemen.
Come and visit our town because we think you’ll find something that you’ll enjoy.
Mrs. Johnson’s Webberville Elementary
The History of Webberville Community Schools
Webberville Elementary School is on the National Historical Register. The original 1912 building is a rare Michigan example of a school in continuous use for over 80 years.
The original copy of the deed for the first Webberville school was dated March 9, 1859. The location for this school was a one-acre lot obtained at a cost of $13.50 located at what are now Webberville River and Grand River.
At the time the school was built, a sawmill had been built nearby to cut the timber for the plank road, which was under construction between Howell and Lansing. This settlement which also included a store, post office, and an inn was called Leroy.
After the railroad came to the area, the town moved to its present location and was renamed Webberville. A school was built at the site of the present elementary building. It was a three-room building, which was later moved to Grand River and is now the Masonic Hall. At the time the building was being moved, there were 83 students enrolled. A primary school was also constructed at about the same time the three-room building was constructed. This building built in 1876 was also relocated in Webberville. It is now a home on West Grand River that belongs to the Rodney Andrews family. The present elementary school was built in 1912. A bell was installed and it is still there. The school traditionally has the bell run 100 times to celebrate the 100th day of school each year.
The students in 1891 used quill pens, slates, and slate pencils. The children were encouraged to use any book that they had at home. School began at 9:00 A.M. and ended at 4:30 P.M. School was held for 12 weeks in the winter and 10-12 weeks during the summer. Official school records only go back to 1919 because they were destroyed in a fire where they were housed at a school official’s home.
Webberville’s first school bus arrived in 1940 after the district consolidated the country schools. The bus was painted red, white, and blue. Each student paid $19.00 a year to ride the bus. This was the only bus for several years.
In 1948, a bond issue was passed by taxpayers to provide additional classroom space and the first real gymnasium Webberville ever had on to the existing building. Prior to this time, the Community Hall was used for a gym. Even before that the old Baptist Church, which was located across from the school, had been purchased by the school and converted into a makeshift gym. The new addition included a shop, home economics room and several classrooms.
Renovation to the older parts of the elementary school took place in 1958 and a high school was built. In 1968, a middle school was attached to the high school. Another addition was put on the elementary school and opened to students in 1990. This included several classrooms as well as a library. Something special that was included was a center courtyard, which contains trees, benches, beautiful flowers and shrubs. The Webberville Garden Club donated several plants and has helped maintain the area.
Today we are a class D school district with an enrollment of 755 students. Athletics are important to our students especially basketball.
By: Ashley and Chelsie from Mrs. Johnson’s
Honor Roll Monument
Did you know that the Webberville Honor Roll Monument used to be located in the spot where the drug store now stands? The monument was moved on April 16th, 1992. Many people in the community helped to move the monument to its new location next to the Masonic Hall.
Take a look at what it took to move the Memorial.