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"The Land of Healthful Delight": Highlights from the Rod and Susan Wilson collection of Rochester History

About the Rod and Susan Wilson collection

Rod and Susan Wilson are active collectors of Rochester history memorabilia and members of numerous local and state historical organizations such as the Rochester-Avon Historical Society (RAHS).

They were among leaders of the RAHS group credited with historical preservation projects such as the restoration of the World War II memorial and a Federal Art Project painting entitled “Industrial Environment of Rochester High School” by Marvin Beerbohm.

Their families have deep roots in the Rochester Avon area.

  • Rod’s maternal side of the family has been in the area since 1822, when Stephen Reeves purchased property along Galloway Lake (in today’s Auburn Hills). Reeves became the first probate Judge elected in Oakland County.
  • In 1837, Susan’s fourth great-grandfather, Jacob Miller, purchased 360 acres at the corner of today’s Adam’s Road and Avon Road – later giving his name to the lake there. Rod and Susan are both 7th generation inhabitants of this area.

The Rod and Susan Wilson collection is a labor of love. For decades, Rod and Sue have tirelessly sought out books, photos, manuscripts, posters, objects, and other items documenting the history of the greater Rochester area. Many local residents, hearing about their dedication, donated personal heirlooms. In 2019, the Wilsons generously donated their collection to Oakland University.

Below are highlights from the collection. Together they tell the story of Rochester’s growth from a small village surrounded by farmland to a city in suburban Oakland County.

Man fishing at the dam (Chapman Lake) in Rochester

A neighborhood scene in a Rochester street, early 1900s

Postcard featuring a birds eye view of Rochester

1930s advertisement for Dillman & Upton, on Main Street

Third Street West, Rochester, MI

Chapman Lake, Rochester, MI, 1906