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

The people of Rochester

The Rod and Susan Wilson collection contains hundreds of photographs of former residents of the Rochester area, often donated by their descendants.

The Hersey family

John Hersey (1778-1857) was the first white man who acquired public land in what was to become Oakland County in 1818. 


The following summer he and other early white settlers built a dam and sawmill on the banks of Paint Creek, later followed by a gristmill, establishing one of the earliest industries in the area and contributing to attracting new families.


George Franklin Hersey (“Frank”, 1849-1928) was John Hersey’s grandson and a lifelong Rochester resident.  He worked as an interlocker man for the railroad and later on for the Western Knitting Mills.

The Frank family

John Frank settled in section 26 of Avon Township in 1826 and became a successful farmer. He and his wife Arabella Chipman had 11 children, including Lucius Lyon, born in 1843, and Edwin Rufus. After his wife died, he married Adeline Kettell in 1849.

Adeline Kettell, second wife of Avon Township pioneer John Frank

Lucius joined Company B of the 22nd Michigan Volunteer Infantry in 1862 and was wounded at the Battle of Chickamauga, Georgia (1863). After the war, he returned to farming. He passed away in 1939.

Theodor Dahlmann and L. L. Frank

Lucius L. Frank (right) with Theo Dahlman

Lucius’ brother Edwin (1838-1911) served in the Michigan 5th Infantry during the Civil War. He served in the state house for a few years and ran a real estate business in Rochester. (Rochester: A Sketch..., p.6).