Milo Prentice Newberry House
The Milo Prentice Newberry House is a one-and-a-half story, Italianate style dwelling built in 1863. Milo Newberry was a pioneer resident of Avon Township who worked as a cabinetmaker, sawmill operator, and farmer. His house has an unusual Y-plan footprint of his own design and was built with timber harvested from the surrounding land. The house is significant as a unique local example of a mid-19th century farmhouse with Italianate details. It is also the last remaining intact example of a Victorian-era farmhouse in the City of Rochester. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2018.
Backstory and Context
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Milo Prentice Newberry was born October 11, 1825, in Oneida County, New York. He was of staunch New England stock, his forebears having settled in Connecticut in 1632. His parents, Romeo and Sarah (Beckwith) Newberry, migrated from Connecticut to Oneida County, New York, before his birth, and on to Oakland County, Michigan, when Milo was ten years old. They settled in Avon Township, which surrounded the tiny, yet-unincorporated village of Rochester. The Newberry family arrived in 1835, the same year in which Avon Township was organized.
Milo Newberry attended school in Rochester and married a local woman, Mary Jane Hoyt, in 1849. The couple started housekeeping on property in Section 22 of Avon Township, where Newberry and his father had built a small sawmill on the Clinton River. In 1857, however, Milo Newberry sold his property in Section 22 and bought ten acres in Section 14, also on the Clinton River and closer to the village of Rochester, where he built another sawmill. As the operator of a sawmill and the owner of timbered land, Milo Newberry provided essential building material for the settlers of Rochester and Avon Township and thus contributed to the community's early growth and development.
According to Newberry family records, Milo Newberry and a friend joined the Pike's Peak gold rush of 1859. Gold was discovered in the western Kansas Territory (later Colorado Territory), near the present-day site of Denver, Colorado, during the summer of 1858. This led to an influx of fortune seekers in the territory in early 1859. Newberry and his friend traveled to Saint Louis, Missouri, and then made four round trips from there to the gold fields before returning to Rochester a year later. Their gold mining efforts netted the pair a healthy return, and Milo Newberry used his share to open a cabinet making business in Rochester and to finance the construction of a house for his growing family.
Family records indicate that Milo Newberry built his house during 1863 and moved his family into it in the spring of 1864. With the assistance of his older brother, Theodore, Newberry built the house using timber harvested from his property and processed through the sawmill he had established nearby. A skilled carpenter and cabinetmaker, Newberry also crafted all of the woodwork and finish cabinetry in the house.
Milo Newberry had five children with Mary Jane Hoyt, who died in 1876, and two more children with his second wife, Eliza Baldwin, whom he married in 1877. The entire family was reared in the Newberry house built by Milo, and he lived there until his death in 1909 at the age of eighty-three. In 1913, Milo’s granddaughter, Mabell Howell Frank, and her husband, Lucius “Bert” Frank, purchased the property while providing a life estate to Milo's widow, Eliza, who continued to occupy the house until her own death in 1919.
After the death of Eliza Newberry, Bert and Mabell Frank moved into the Milo Newberry house and made it their family home. They maintained the farm acreage until their deaths in 1969 and 1970. After the deaths of Bert and Mabell Frank, all but five acres immediately surrounding the house were sold. The Franks' granddaughter, Bette M. Frank Reddish, and her husband purchased the house and a three-acre remnant of the farm in 1974. The house is now the only remaining intact example of a Victorian farmhouse in the City of Rochester, and descendants of Milo Newberry own and occupy the house to this day.
Anthony Paddock to Milo P. Newberry, May 11, 1857, Oakland County Record of Deeds, liber 61, page 261.
Durant, Samuel W. History of Oakland County, Michigan. Philadelphia: L. H. Everts, 1877, p.130.
Stiles, Henry R. The history and genealogies of Ancient Windsor, Connecticut, 1635-1891. Hartford, Conn. : Case, Lockwood and Brainard, 1891, v.2, p.528.
Newberry, Charles Edward, Letter to Mabell Howell Frank in Newberry family records, Rochester, Michigan, ca. 1934.
"A pioneer gone [obituary of Milo Newberry]," Rochester Era, January 8, 1909, p.1, col.3.
"United States Census, 1880," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MW3Q-3XF : 22 August 2017), Milo P Newberry, Avon, Oakland, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district ED 248, sheet 16D, NARA microfilm publication T9 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.), roll 0598; FHL microfilm 1,254,598.
"United States Census, 1900," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MS9K-P3K : accessed 6 May 2018), Milo P Newberry, Avon township Rochester village, Oakland, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 81, sheet 19A, family 440, NARA microfilm publication T623 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1972.); FHL microfilm 1,240,735.
"United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MLRV-KVH : accessed 6 May 2018), Eissa M Newberry, Avon, Oakland, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 116, sheet 7A, family 134, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 668; FHL microfilm 1,374,681.
"United States Census, 1920," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MZQ5-WFN : accessed 6 May 2018), Lucius H Frank, Avon, Oakland, Michigan, United States; citing ED 158, sheet 8B, line 75, family 167, NARA microfilm publication T625 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1992), roll 789; FHL microfilm 1,820,789.
"United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XQ1V-NJW : accessed 6 May 2018), Lucius H Frank, Avon, Oakland, Michigan, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 5, sheet 28B, line 62, family 653, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 1016; FHL microfilm 2,340,751.