January 31, 2009

Weekly Genealogy Blogging Prompt #4, The House on Stafford Street

The House On Stafford Street, Ravenna Michigan

Well, I didn’t take a day trip so to speak. I did take the day to learn who the owners of my house were. My husband found glass negatives some time ago in the attic. Photos were taken of the house pre 1907 and possibly as old as the 1880's. We were told the house was built around 1880, but we didn’t know who the original owners were. Venturing into the frigid out of doors, I drove into the city of Muskegon to the county courthouse and the library. I did run out of time on that venture. Today I walked across the street to the local museum for more digging. I need to do more digging, but here is what I found-

Well yours truly and hubby are the current owners, we have lived and raised our three boys here for some 20 years. We moved into the house in January during a blizzard. We bought the house from “Mr & Mrs Johnson” who raised their family here for about 15 years.

The Johnson’s bought the house c 1973 from Bernadine Nutt, who inherited the home from her mother Ida Nutt. Ida and her husband Frank were married in 1915 and bought the home shortly after. They are first listed on the tax rolls in 1916. Frank bought the house from Carl A. Stauffer and additional lots from others to total 20 acres. They raised four children in the house, Bernadine, Donald, Jean and Larry. In 1920 they started a grocery & meat market business in Ravenna. They also bought and sold work horses. Frank’s father August and his sister Anna are living next door per the 1920 census. Frank was a member of the Knights of the Maccabees, as well as the Ravenna Village Council and the Ravenna school board. Son Don interested in cattle, had the help of his father to build a barn in the yard and start a dairy farm. They bottled, sold and delivered milk to the area. Don later moved his dairy to a larger farm in Ravenna and continued the business from there.

Carl A. Stauffer at about age 32 bought the house and 3 lots in 1905 from Mahlon B. Averill. He married Florence Lymburner on June 20, 1900 in Sparta Michigan. Carl ran his barber business out of the Stauffer and Haas Building built in 1902, also on Stafford Street. He and Florence had a daughter Pauline born about 1905. In 1907 Carl replaced the wood porch with a larger block porch. It was told to me that Carl drowned in the flood of 1905 ferrying people across Crockery Creek. It was actually Charles Stauffer who was this unfortunate soul. Carl later moved his family to the city of Muskegon.

Mahlon Bruce Averill may have been the original owner. The deed books that far back do not have dates. On the 1877 plat map of the village, there was no owner indicated. The earliest tax roll available listed Mahlon on the property with additional property totaling 40 acres was in 1888. The 1880 census for Ravenna lists Mahlon age 46 and wife Margaret Shimmel with 3 children Flora 14, Wesley 4, and Guy age 2. One daughter Mary b 1859 was not living with them at the time. Two of their children died, Nettie in 1876 and Sammy in 1873 and are buried in the Ravenna Cemetery. Margaret died in 1881 and is also buried in the Ravenna Cemetery. Where Mahlon went after he sold the house is unclear, but there is a Bruce M Averill age 86 b NY listed on the 1920 census at the Traverse City State Hospital in Traverse City, Michigan. This Bruce Maylord Averill died in Traverse City on April 25, 1920.

Right photo: The "downtown" view of Stafford Street is looking west toward my house which is beyond the horizon line by 2 blocks.
Bottom photo: Don Nutt with dairy cow, unknown date.
Left photo: I believe now that the house pictures are of Carl A.Stauffer holding daughter Pauline in about 1905-1906. The man in the picture looks to be younger than what Mahlon Averill would have been when living there- Mahlon was in his 40's. However I could be wrong........do you see any indications of an earlier time?


  1. Wow, Holly! That's inspiring to me b/c my sister is in the process of buying a house in Williams, California, just outside Sacramento, that is at least 100 years old, possibly older. We're planning on doing a house history of it and figuring out who owned it through the years.

  2. I found a newspaper clipping from 1904 stating Mahlon was selling everything including land (also owned land in next twp)and was moving out Oregon, I recently ran into an Averill in town that stated he recalled relatives in Oregon...