The Battle for Avon Township, Rochester and Rochester Hills, A Tale of Two Cities

As we celebrate the founding of Rochester during 2017, we must also note that Rochester Hills shares the same anniversary. Both Rochester and Avon Township - today’s Rochester Hills - received their first non-native settlers in 1817. Some of the founding Graham family members built their home in what is now the City of Rochester. The rest of them moved out to the area that is now the intersection of Avon & Livernois Roads, becoming the first white settlers of what would become Avon … [Read more...]

Who was James Graham, the Founder of Rochester

An 1877 Oakland County history book records that on March 17, 1817, a small band of emigrants followed the Clinton River inland from Mount Clemens and stopped at the place we know today as Rochester. Here they founded the first non-native settlement in what would later become Oakland County. The group included James Graham, his wife Mary Vandemark, their son Alexander and his wife, their son Benjamin, and Christopher Hartsough. Descendants of the Graham patriarch would remain in the greater … [Read more...]

Growing Up in Rochester with Bob Milne

“Growing Up in Rochester with Bob Milne” to be feature presentation at the Rochester-Avon Historical Society’s Brown Bag Meeting on March 7 The Rochester-Avon Historical Society will present “Growing Up in Rochester” with Ragtime pianist Bob Milne at its Brown Bag lunchtime meeting at the Rochester Community House, 816 Ludlow Avenue, on Tuesday, March 7 from 12 noon to 1:30 p.m.  Milne, considered by many to be the best ragtime/boogie-woogie pianist in the world, will discuss growing up … [Read more...]

Hemingway Homecoming 1919

The Rochester-Avon Historical Society Presents “Hemingway Homecoming 1919” with John Cohassey The Rochester-Avon Historical Society’s will hold its monthly evening meeting on Thursday, March 2 at 7:00 p.m. at the Rochester Hills Public Library, 500 Olde Town Road. Guest speaker John Cohassey will present “Hemingway’s Homecoming 1919,” a look at the year when author Ernest Hemingway decided to become a writer, returned from WWI, and spent the fall and most of the winter in … [Read more...]

Whims Insurance Celebrates a Century in Rochester

By Deborah J. Larsen When Tom Klix and his sister, Connie Klix Mercer, head to their offices at Whims Insurance each morning, they take a literal walk down memory lane. The company’s offices are on the second floor of the Mitzelfeld building at 322 S. Main Street. The municipal parking lot behind the building sits on property that was once the home of Klix and Mercer’s grandparents, Leslie and Lyla Whims. The two siblings now run the insurance agency their grandfather founded. They … [Read more...]

Rochester in the 1960s and Pop Up Books from the Rochester Avon Historical Society

The Rochester-Avon Historical Society Presents “Rochester in the 1960s” with Patrick McKay The Rochester-Avon Historical Society’s will hold an evening meeting on Thursday, February 2 at 7:00 p.m. at the Rochester Hills Public Library, 500 Olde Town Road. As Rochester celebrates its bicentennial in 2017, each decade sheds light on our community's history. The 1960s brought the Vietnam War to our city, as well as a massive growth in population. What happened that brought so many people here? … [Read more...]

Byers Wrecker Service has Hooked-up the Rochester Area for Decades

Byers Wrecker Service Has Been Assisting Rochester Motorists for Decades By Deborah J. Larsen When Rochester area residents need a vehicle towed, they don’t say, “Call a wrecker.” They say, “Call Byers.” For 66 years, the familiar red tow trucks have responded to local residents needing assistance. Harry E. “Gene” Byers started out in auto transport work after serving in the army. But in 1951, he decided to start his own towing business. At first, his “office” was in the restroom of a … [Read more...]

Molnar’s has been Helping Rochester Dress to Impress since 1964

A revolution and a chance meeting with a local entrepreneur were the forces that brought Hungarian-born tailor Frank Molnar to Rochester 52 years ago. Molnar opened his menswear shop on Rochester’s Main Street in 1964 at a time when the standard work uniform for businessmen was the three-piece suit. Molnar possessed the requisite skills to build a successful family firm from the local demand for quality men’s clothing. In his native country, Molnar was apprenticed to a tailor at the age … [Read more...]

Pioneer Family, On Van Hoosen Farm, Airs on DPTV December 6

Don't miss Pioneer Family - On Van Hoosen Farm, an original production of Detroit Public Television The film tells the story of four formidable and determined women who defied the prejudices of their time to leave a legacy not just in Southeast Michigan, but throughout the world. The film will air at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 6, with a repeat on Wednesday, December 7, at 2:30 a.m. Run time is two hours. Full Length Movie Trailer for the Rochester Hills Museum On Van Hoosen Farm … [Read more...]

Heller’s Has Been Keeping Time for Over Half a Century

The Heller family has been keeping time for Rochester residents for well over half a century in the same Main Street location. In 1961, Ernest and Violet Heller bought an existing jewelry business at 409 S. Main in Rochester, and today their son, George, is the proprietor of Heller’s Jewelry. Ernest Heller was born in Vienna in 1921. When he was 16 years old, his father sent him to the United States to assist his uncle with a business in Detroit. When things didn’t work out as planned with … [Read more...]