So, who was the builder of the Cobblestone Farm? This may be seen as a “mystery” for some, but not for me. As a direct descendent of Stephen Mills, I was raised with the truth concerning this matter. You might say that my source was a first-hand witness of the facts. But since I was only born in 1954, the logical question is: How could I know of a “first-hand” source? …and who might this person be? That’s an easy one. It was my mother. (No kidding.)
My late mother, Alice Virginia (Werner) King, was descended from some long-time Ann Arbor pioneers and residents. Her great-grandfather was Stephen Mills, and her grandfather was Stephen’s son, Myron “Mac” Mills. Myron (1855-1930) was a well-respected citizen of the city of Ann Arbor, serving as one of the earliest policemen for the University of Michigan. For the purposes of this article, it is crucial to point out that his death did not take place until my mother was 17 years old. And, while mom has been gone since 1980, I still recall the occasions which she personally shared with me concerning the many wonderful times spent with her “Grandpa Mills” (Myron), and how he would take her to the old home place, and also to the Cobblestone Farm to point out the workmanship of HIS father, Stephen. This was not rumor or conjecture, but FIRST-HAND information from Stephen’s SON, as it was passed down to my mother.
For our family, this was all considered common knowledge (that Stephen was the builder), not a matter of speculation. My late uncles, Robert M. Werner and Edward Werner, and my late aunt, Katherine (Werner) Rigan, were older than my mother when Myron passed away, and their own experiences with their Grandpa Mills were even more numerous. My point here is that the buildership of Cobblestone was “second nature” among our clan. And as young as they were, even my mother’s YOUNGER siblings, Victoria (Werner) Swendsen and Joseph E. Werner, knew their Grandpa Mills and clearly understood the facts surrounding Cobblestone.
There are other lines of the Mills family that share these same convictions. Many years ago there were various letters by my mother’s beloved first cousin, Myron Cook. In those letters, Myron outlined his understanding of the buildership of Cobblestone, along with his reasons. (I have copies of most of those letters in my possession.) Similar information was also passed down through Laura Biddle Hawke, a granddaughter of Charlie Mills. (Charlie was another son of Stephen and heir of the Stephen Mills farm.)
When I was first introduced to Mrs. Hawke, it was no surprise to me that she had the SAME KNOWLEDGE of the Cobblestone Farm as I had been given from my mother, with no contradictions or changes in the story. Living to see her 91st year, Mrs. Hawke was quite clear-minded throughout her entire life, and kept meticulous records of her family. She had an even greater advantage regarding the Mills history because her mother, Clemma Mills Biddle, lived to be 100 years old (1887-1987) and was also clear-minded to the end. You see, Clemma (who was named after her grandmother, Clemma McKnight Mills) had the privilege of actually KNOWING her grandfather, Stephen Mills, because she was nine years old when Stephen died in 1896.
Just think about that for a moment: This lady, who died as recently as 1987, KNEW and SPENT TIME WITH an ancestor who was born in 1809 and who was the builder of the Cobblestone Farm! That is rather remarkable!
While my mother and her siblings have now passed from this life, I still have a great many first cousins (as well as distant cousins) who are the recipients of the same Cobblestone history as myself. They can all testify as to the veracity of the aforementioned statements. I wish that I could produce some “hard-copy” documents from the 1800s that would “officially” verify this testimony. Perhaps, some day, something will surface from our family archives. But, in the meantime, I can only leave you with the obituary of my grandmother, Alice Lydia (Mills) Werner, printed by the Ann Arbor News in 1949. This obit specifically states that the grandfather of the deceased was Stephen Mils, and that Stephen was the builder of Cobblestone Farm.
As for me, I was born in the old section of the “old” St. Joseph Mercy Hospital, on Ingalls Street in Ann Arbor. While I grew up in Brighton, most of my mother’s family lived in Ann Arbor, and so I spent much time in that wonderful city––especially after college. Upon graduation I began working as a salesman for Fingerle Lumber Company, and spent six enjoyable years there. So, in many ways, I consider myself to be an “Ann Arborite.”
I am now in my 14th year as Senior Pastor of a church in Garrettsville, Ohio, halfway between Cleveland and Youngstown. I am married and have four children and one grandson, all of whom have become the latest recipients of the great history and heritage of our Mills ancestors––and of the Cobblestone Farm.
Blessings on you for your great work. Respectfully submitted, Peter T. King E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.orgFor more on Stephen Mills see:
Stephen Mills: 1809-1896, His Life and His Houses A presentation to the Milan Historical Society by Mary Culver on June 15, 1994.
Facts and dates about Stephen Mills family, Myron Cook’s response to Nan Hodges in 1984,CFA archives
Houses of Unburnt Brick and Gravel and Lime, The Michigan Argus, May 5, 1847