Friday, February 4, 2005
Student’s research leads to historic findings
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
Recent OU alumna Kelli Kirkum (BGS '04) didn’t have to go far when it came to finding an internship for her American studies concentration.
The Macomb Township resident worked with Macomb Township clerk Michael Koehs and the County Planning and Economic Development Department to develop an internship that encapsulated her love of history and her hometown. She was given the task of locating all the homes in Macomb Township built prior to 1935.
In recent years, Macomb Township, located in central Macomb County, has experienced a development boom. Many of the old buildings and houses are being torn down before any research can be done on their origins. Kirkum’s internship gave the township insight into the history of the homes.
In order to find the houses, Kirkum used assessment records, a map of Macomb Township from 1916 and a current map.
“Basically I just started going through the files — all 25,000 of them,” she said.
Kirkum spent 12 hours a week from August to December analyzing the records and exploring the history of the houses. She found 198 homes in Macomb Township that were built prior to 1935. The oldest home, built in 1857, is located in the area of 21 Mile Road between Romeo Plank and Garfield roads.
“I’m just interested in history and the township I live in,” Kirkum said. “I can drive down the street and tell you when just about every house was built.”
From the records, Kirkum also was able to locate current homeowners, many of which are contractors who want to build on the land.
“It’s just sad that no one really cares enough to say ‘let’s just build around this house,’” Kirkum said.
Kirkum’s research will be used to begin an inventory of the township’s history, and one day, the township hopes to have a historic commission in place that can amplify her discoveries.
Kirkum has lived in Macomb Township her entire life and has worked in the area for eight years.
Besides the history of the houses, Kirkum was able to learn interesting facts about the township. One being that many of the roads in the area are named after original farm owners such as Tilch, which runs from M-59 to 22 Mile Road.
Kirkum, who just graduated from OU in December, has a degree in general studies and minors in human relations, labor relations, history and American studies. She would like to get a job in human resources and eventually go back to school. She’d also like to spend more time on projects like her internship.
“I wish I could research it more,” she said.