The history of the ‘farm house’ on Sibley Road

Q: Jerry, I read your column every month. Keep the good stuff coming. I want to ask you about the large farm house on Sibley Road next to Library Drive.? John V. 

John, thank you for the kind words. 

To answer your question about the farm house next to Library Drive, I want to take you back in time. A lot of the following information is excerpted from my book. 

First, the large farm house is owned and has been owned since it was built in 1876, by the Vreeland Family, one of the oldest and original families to settle in the area. 

Michael Vreeland was the patriarch of the family and he fought in the Revolutionary War, as an 18-year-old scout for the Continental Army.

He was captured by the Indians and released around 1872 in an exchange of prisoners for an Indian Chief that was being held by the Americans. 

He married and lived in New York until land became available in the Michigan Territory. He then purchased four parcels. 

The Vreelands were known for being the earliest settlers of the region, and had the desire, ability, and money to acquire large amounts of land. 

Records show that Michael’s son Elias (1791 – 1876) purchased several Large tracts of land, of which 240 acres were located in Monguagon Township. 

One parcel was located at Grange & Sibley and the other parcel located to the east of Ferndale Cemetery They always settled near a stream of water that allowed them to operate a grist and/or saw mill. 

They often lived among local Indian populations, sometimes peacefully and sometimes with tragic consequences. 

Upon the death of Elias Vreeland in 1846, approximately 240 acres were divided by his two sons Jacob Reese Vreeland (1824-1908) and his brother James Henry Vreeland (1842-1918) each getting 120 Acres. 

Jacob Reese lived in the family home on 15336 Mud Street (Sibley) near Grange until he passed. James Henry inherited the 120 acre property to the east where the present Vreeland farm house is located 

When James Henry Vreeland passed, his son – James E. Vreeland – inherited the land. James and his wife Alwilda built the two story Italianate house at 14356 Mud Street. 

The House has 10 rooms, five on the first and five on the second floor. 

The first floor rooms have 10-foot ceilings. 

It was built with a cupola and shake shingle roof. Eventually a metal roof was put over the wooden shingles. 

Every room on the first floor had a door to the outside in case of fire. James cleared the land from a forest to tillable soil that he worked. They had a prosperous dairy farm and delivered milk to consumers in Wyandotte. 

One of the books published by a local church insisted the milk “sold by the Vreelands” be used in their recipes. 

In the early 1900s, 80 acres of the farm on the south side of Sibley Road, was sold to be used as an auto speedway. 

A tunnel and pond were built, but the speedway never took off. The 80 acres eventually became the Forest Subdivision. 

When James E Vreeland died in 1918, he left the farm and house to his son Samuel and his wife Grace. The two lived in the farm house until they built a house on West Jefferson and Sibley Road. Renters lived in the farm house until 1940 when Fred Vreeland and his wife Cathrine moved in and lived there. 

The farm was an ideal place for to raise a large family. All the children helped with the chores before and after school. 

People would come to the door to buy eggs, milk and chickens. Crops raised included hay, wheat, oats, rye and corn. In the 1950s, the federal government took 16 acres of the property to the east of the farm property to build a Nike missile site. 

Then, in the early 1960s, sixty acres were sold which further reduced the farm size. The house and 3.11 acres are still owned by the Vreeland family today.

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