Wednesday, October 7, 2015
J. Lawson Lockhart was born in Canada but he immigrated to metropolitan Detroit as a young man. Margaret Williams was born in the USA but she moved back and forth between Saskatchewan and Troy Township following the death of her father. However, after Lawson and Margaret married in 1931, they made the Big Beaver community in Troy Township their permanent home.
Their daughter Tammy, born in 1942, recalls her family’s life in the Township and their connections with local government in the years after Troy became a city. “My father was a businessman in Royal Oak and a member of many service organizations. My parents were also very active in the Big Beaver Methodist Church,” she explained. “Troy Methodist and Big Beaver Methodist shared a minister so the two congregations were well-acquainted. Many of the Township leaders including the Norm Barnard, Ernie Gray and George Ford were Methodists.”
The close friendships made at church probably contributed to Lawson being hired as Troy’s first City Clerk. He held the position from 1955 to 1968. Tammy began volunteering in the old City Hall (See 365 Story on January 29) when she was in high school. “Two or three of us stamped the dates on permanent voter cards following each election. Then, in 1961 I went to work for the City.”
Tammy Lockhart married Bob Renshaw in 1962 and left City employment a year later when the couple’s first child was born. In 1976 she returned to work as the circulation supervisor at the Troy Public Library and two years later was hired as the City’s Deputy City Clerk. Eighteen years later, on January 12, 1996, she was sworn in as Troy’s City Clerk– the same position her father had held. Tammy Renshaw retired on October 3, 2000.
She recalled her time in the Clerk’s office. “I was never bored. You never knew what you would deal with . . . vital records, cemetery records, elections . . . It was always interesting, never the same thing. I also loved connecting with the people. City Hall was a wonderful, friendly, and fun place.”
Tammy also remains philosophical about the changes that she has seen in her community. “Development was what it was. Of course it was fun growing up in the country with open fields and dirt roads. But it was also good to pave those old roads and to see the deep ditches along them disappear.”
As we talked about the streets, she corrected me when I mentioned Wattles Road. “You mean 17 Mile Road,” she said. Then we recalled that during the Township era Troy residents referred to the east-west mile roads numerically. Today most residents reference the same roads with descriptive names like Wattles or Square Lake.
“Those road name changes started in the 1970s. I don’t remember who started to call them different names. That was a long, slow, painful progression. You could tell age of people by what they called the streets,” she said.
Today, Troy remains the Renshaw’s home although they spend the coldest months of the year in Florida. They also enjoy celebrations with their three adult children and nine grandchildren. “The grandkids are all in college,” Tammy says, with a note of pride in her voice.
Source: Personal interview conducted by Loraine Campbell
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.