Pittsfield Township Historical Society :: Living and Collecting Plants along Thomas Road
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by Ruth B. MacFarlane

From 1923 to 1934, I lived in a house on the east side of what is now Thomas Road, about halfway between Morgan and Textile Roads. My parents were Anna and C. Bernard Burgar. There were six children: Dora, John, Gordon, me, Janet and Catherine. We attended the Town Hall School.

My father farmed the Thomas farm, raising cows, pigs, wheat, oats, corn and hay. My mother had chickens and a vegetable garden. During the Depression, my father worked at anything he could get, including building fence for others at $1/day.

There was a huckleberry marsh, part of the farm, along Textile Road. During the time of ripe huckleberries, my brother, Gordon, sat at the "landing" in the woods east of the wet bog, awaiting customers, people who came to pick huckleberries for a dollar a day -- all they could pick in that time.

That was a time when a child could safely roam in the fields and woods, and I did, gathering wildflowers in spring, red and black raspberries in summer, and hickory nuts in fall. In our yard -- and still there, I think -- was a big black walnut tree, from which we also gathered walnuts for winter.

I grew up, went away, lived in Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor, and Plymouth, and had five children. When the children were older, I went to college in Ypsilanti, and was graduated from EMU in 1968 with a B.S. in biology and a minor in English.

I was hired as curator of the herbarium at EMU, chiefly because I loved the branch of science that dealt with collecting and preserving plants. During my time there, I went back to the woods and roadsides that I had known as a child, to collect plants for the herbarium.

Now this area, where I grew up and subsequently collected plant specimens, is to be preserved for future generations. I hope that this list of plants will provide one small piece of useful evidence in making the preserve a reality for future generations.

3 diamonds used to separate entries

Plants Collected in the Pittsfield Township Central Area Rural Preserve (CARP) in the Years 1962 to 1975

By Ruth Burgar (Alford) MacFarlane

The area termed Thomas Bog and Woods is located north of Textile Road between Thomas and Platt roads (SE 1/4 Sec. 22, T3S, R6E). On the west end, an old kettle hole is surrounded by shrubs and trees, in wet soil. The land slopes up toward the east and the drier woods. In this list, I have chosen to separate plants from the bog and those from the woods, despite the intergrading. This area is not yet incorporated into the park, but would be a most desirable addition.

Accounts of older residents such as Gordon Burgar, who lived in a house on Thomas Road from 1923 to 1934, tell that attempts were made before the 1920's to build Thomas Road straight south through the bog area, but that the bottom kept falling out of the road in the kettle hole area. A team and wagon were lost in what was then termed "quicksand," and the road was built to the west around the wet area.

Although I did not take a voucher specimen of tamarack, there were certainly tamarack trees in the bog area during the 1930's, because my father, Bernard Burgar, cut and sold some that were used in the building of a restaurant near the southeast corner of Washtenaw and Packard roads in Ann Arbor.

Plant Collections from Thomas Bog

Indet Specimens

Note: In 1968, I did an undergraduate study for Ecology, "The population of Rotaria in an Acid Bog Pond, March to May, 1968," on Thomas Bog.

Plant Collections from Thomas Woods

Indet. Specimens

Plant Collections from Webb's Woods

(Pittsfield Township CARP Area 2)

The Webb homestead lay on the west side of Thomas Road, halfway between Morgan and Textile roads (NW 1/4 Sec. 22, T3S, R6E). A lane led back from the house to the woods, which graded down at the south end to a highbush huckleberry (we called it in 1930) marsh.

Plant Collections along Thomas Road

both sides, from Morgan Road to Textile Road, incorporating part of Area 2 of CARP (NW 1/4 to NE 1/4 to SE 1/4 of Sec. 22, T3S, R6E)

Note: Specimens marked with an asterisk are from the Town Hall School site on the SE corner of Morgan and Thomas roads.

Note: Not included in the CARP area, but on the north side of the Morgan and Thomas roads intersection, was an old Morgan homesite (SE 1/4 Sec. 15, T3S, R6E), where I collected the following:

Plants Collected from Harwoods' Woods

(CARP Area 7) Harwoods' Woods lies in the triangle between Michigan Avenue, Textile Road, and a line drawn south from Thomas Road (NE 1/4 Sec. 27, T3S, R6E). Although I have no voucher specimens, I know that, as a child in the 1930's, I collected Phlox divaricata, Erythronium americanum, and Claytonia virginica there.

Note: Farther west, roadside of Textile Road (NW 1/4 Sec. 27, T3S, R6E), in either CARP 6 or 7, I collected the following specimen, with the notation on the label, "fls gathered other year," which may be in the EMU herbarium.

3 diamonds used to separate entries

Ruth MacFarlane may be contacted at: P.O. Box 99, Mass City, Michigan 49948; (906) 883-3696; email ruthmacf@jamadots.com

See also: Marriott-Webb Farm and Farmhouse on Thomas Road, by Joellen Gilchrist, and Burgar, Gordon - Memoirs.

 

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