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Posted Aug 30, 2015

August 30 – School Namesakes: Wattles Elementary School

8-30-15-Silas Wattles8-30-15-sunny Crest DUR Stop8-30-15-Morris Wattles 1928

Sunday, August 30, 2015

As the new school year approaches the 365 Project will feature the stories of the elementary, middle and high schools in Troy, including how the buildings were named.

A plaque in Wattles Elementary School, constructed in 1968, reads, “Alexander Wattles, an early settler of Troy, came in 1837 from Broome County, New York. On April 10, he took up land in Sections 25 and 26, Troy Township. His descendants have been active in the development of Troy. This plaque is dedicated to his memory by Great Grandson Morris Axtell Wattles and four Great-great Grandsons: Edgar Silas Wattles, Robert Silas Wattles, Jervis Jennings Wattles, and Stuart Douglas Wattles.”

When Alexander arrived in Troy Township, the land was still heavily forested and Johnson Niles had just built a small timber frame house at the intersection of two paths that became known as Troy Corners. Over time, Alexander’s son, Silas, followed in his footsteps and purchased 180 acres along Long Lake Road, where he grew wheat, corn, and livestock. Silas married Helen Harris, the daughter of another Troy settler, and they had a son, Harry B. Wattles.

Harry continued the family’s farming tradition. He purchased 120 acres of land near the southeast corner of Livernois at Wattles Road where he established the Sunny Crest Dairy Farm. His dairy herd included 48 Jersey cows. In the late 1890s, the Detroit United Railway (DUR) extended a line up Livernois from Royal Oak to South Boulevard, east to Rochester Road and north through the town of Rochester to Romeo and Oxford and even Flint. Harry was able to negotiate a DUR stop at Sunny Crest so he could easily transport his milk directly to Detroit creameries (via Royal Oak) for use at Herman Kiefer Hospital.

Harry’s son and daughter, Morris and Helen Mary, lived in their family’s rambling white farm house all of their days. A graduate of Michigan State University (1918) and Wayne State University (1933,) Morris worked as a high school biology teacher at Pershing High School. He also served as the Troy Township Clerk from 1923-24 and the Township Supervisor from 1925-1930. During this period he was responsible for the construction the 1927 Township Hall (see 365 Story January 29.) Helen Mary taught mathematics at Central High School in Detroit until her retirement in 1947.

Walsh College now occupies the land where Harry’s prize-winning dairy cows once grazed. However, the old farm house still stands just north of the school. It is the home of Brian Wattles, the grand-nephew of Morris Axtell Wattles.

Photos:

Silas Wattles, age 80, in his orchard

Sunny Crest DUR stop, left to right Harry Wattles (partial), Helen Mary Wattles, Fanny Bittner, Dorothy Giddings, child, Charlie Bittner and Mattie Wattles.

Township Supervisor Morris Axtell Wattles, 1928

 

Sources

Troy Historic Village Biography files

Troy: A city form the Corners, Troy Historical Society, 2004

Pathways of History Through Troy, Lois Lance, 1976

 


To commemorate the City of Troy’s 60th Anniversary in 2015, we will publish a different story each day that highlights a person, discovery, or event that occurred locally, regionally, nationally, or even globally between 1955 and 2015 and that helped shape our lives and our community. We will try to post stories on important anniversary dates, but we also realize that dates are less critical than content and context. We will include the facts related to controversial stories, allowing our readers to form their own opinions. We invite you to read and comment on the stories. Your suggestions for topics are also welcome and can be posted on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/TroyHistoricVillage. You can also email stories or ideas to the 365 Story Editor at ed@thvmail.org.

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