The Conner Family
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Shelby Township Historical Committee

The Conner House

Excerpt from the Conner Family history written in 1950:

Edwin Conner, born Feb.15,1859

Parents David & Sarah Conner

David Conner, Edwin's father, was born in Quebec, Canada 1813, moving to Michigan from New York in 1836, settling in Utica. His childhood and youth were passed in New York City and there he learned the trade of coach building and following his removal to Utica he engaged in carriage making.

In 1842 he married Sarah Price. 4 years later they moved to the old Price farm, her father having died in 1838. It was on this old homestead, which is located 2 miles north of Utica, across from Packard Proving Ground, that Edwin E. Conner was born 17 years later. The original homestead was built of logs; the excavation, which was the old cellar, still can be seen.

David Price, grandfather of Edwin Conner, obtained this 240-acre tract of land from the U.S. Government; the original grant was written on sheepskin and signed by President A. Jackson.

At this time there was only one house between Utica and Washington, and there was no railroad, not even a wagon road only an Indian trail. Many of the red men still lived in the State, there being 200 of them encamped in Utica on their way to get presents to be given them by the U.S. Government. There were bears, wolves and large herds of deer in the forest.

The Indian trail that extends from Utica through Washington was not the straight road we now have, as can be seen by the location of this Price-Conner homestead, which still stands across from Packard Proving Ground. The house is at least 1000 feet east of the now so called Van Dyke Road, and it was in the front of this house, which was then a log cabin that the Indian trail passed by. It was a common occurrence in those days for the family to be around the table, eating their evening meal, to have the heavy door, made of logs, slowly open and have from 2 to 6 Indians come into the room. They were all peace loving Indians and were frequent visitors in the Price household.

Places were immediately set for the red men at the table, who always enjoyed the good wholesome meals of the white fathers. It was common for them to remain for the night; of course there were no beds for them but that didn't matter to the Indians, it was the warmth of the fireplace and the food they wanted. Sometimes they brought bright colored beads and leather pieces to give in return for some freshly killed pieces of pork or beef, or a slab of smoked meat. They were very appreciative of any consideration the white man chose to bestow upon them.

There was just one rule and that was that before the Indians were allowed to lie down in front of the fireplace for the night, they must first surrender their hunting knives, although they were friendly, this was done as a precaution. Usually about 4:00 a.m. they would arise noiselessly and say in an undertone niche-niche meaning their knife, this was given to them and they were on their way.

Mrs. Sarah Conner, mother of Edwin, attended school in a log schoolhouse, learning reading, writing, arithmetic, grammar, finally becoming a teacher herself, earning $1.00 per week for teaching school six days.

Edwin Conner was born in the original log house, and at the age of eight the family moved into the new frame house (which still stands), the lumber for the house was all cut, drawn and sawed from the woods on the homestead. The house is now 83 years old.

Edwin Conner was married to Miss Ella George, who died in 1889. In 1893 he married Miss Rachel Cluff, daughter of William and Jane (Griffin) Cluff, natives of Canada. In 1896 a daughter, Beatrice, was born, but died the same year. In 1906 another daughter, Marie, was born and in 1914 a son, Jack, was born.

Mr. Conner was Supervisor of Shelby Township for 30 years. He lived his entire life on the farm where he was born, and died there in 1934.

Adam Price, father of Mrs. Sarah Price Conner, was one of the pioneer residents of the County, and he built the second house in Utica and also the first mill. He came to Michigan from Rochester, New York, traveling by way of the Erie Canal and on a steamboat from Buffalo to Detroit, thence by ox-team to Royal Oak, where he was entertained by a family who lived in a log house of one room, beds being made upon the floor to accommodate guests.

After reaching Utica, Mr. Price lived with his brother, Jacob Price, whose house was the first in the town, standing on the site now occupied by Becks clothing store.

(Transcribed by Vikki Papesh from a copy of family papers submitted by Robin Conner Langston)