Sylvania–Then and Now: 8894 Sylvania-Metamora Road

LOOKING BACK
by Gayleen Gindy
PUBLICATION DATE: May 18, 2020

Heading farther out Sylvania-Metamora Road, past the Smith house from the last article, the next 100-plus year-old home is situated on the west side of the street, between Settlers Ridge Circle and Loggers Run. This farmhouse was built in 1887, according to county records, but the 1875 map of Sylvania Township indicates there was a home on this 20 acre parcel in 1875. So, again there may have been an original home on this 20 acre parcel, prior to 1887, or the current home, or parts of the current home are older than 1887. The owners of this 20 acre parcel are recorded as follows:

  • 1866 – Haskell D. Warren
  • 1868 – Jacob Decker, Jr.
    There was no record of officially transferring the property to their children until 1945, after Samuel Decker died.
  • 1945 – Samuel J. Decker and Josephine Wilson
  • 1945 – Josephine Wilson
  • 1948 – William M. and Lila Smith
  • 1985 – Lila Smith
  • 1993 – Lila H. Smith
  • 1995 – Dale A. Smith
  • 2001 – Dale A. and Karol J. Smith

Jacob Decker married Martha Eliza sometime after he returned from serving during the Civil War. In the 1870 census they are found living on this property. Jacob was listed as 33 years old, a farmer, with property valued at $400. His wife was listed as Martha E. Decker, 31 years old, and their children living at home included Josephine, 6 years old, and Samuel, 1 year old. In the 1880 census all four were still living on the 20 acre parcel and Jacob was now listed as 43 years old and employed as a stone mason. The 1890 census was destroyed by fire, and the 1900 census listed Jacob Decker living here as 62 years old and still employed as a stone mason. His wife, Martha E. Decker, was listed as 59 years old, and also living at home was their son, Samuel J. Decker, 29 years old, employed as a farm laborer.
In the 1910 census the Deckers are still listed living here. Jacob was listed as 72 years old, his wife was listed as Eliza Decker, and still living at home was Samuel Decker, 39 years old and single. At this time they also owned and farmed 40 acres of land directly across the street.
Jacob Decker, Jr. died in 1911, Martha Eliza Decker died in 1919, and their son Samuel took over the 20 acre farm at that time, as well as the property across the street, which he continued to own with his sister Josephine Wilson.

By the 1920 census Samuel Decker was living in this farmhouse by himself, listed as 50 years old and single. He was listed as a farmer. His sister, Josephine Wilson, lived just to the west of this property in the home on the northeast corner of Sylvania-Metamora and Mitchaw Road. We will talk about that house in the next issue.
Ten years later when the 1930 census was taken Samuel Decker was still living here, listed as 60 years old, single, and his widowed sister, Josephine Wilson, was still living to the west of him. Then in 1932 she sold her home and moved in with her brother.
When the 1940 census was taken Samuel Decker was still living in this home with his widowed sister. He was 70 years old and his sister was listed as 76 years old.
Samuel Decker died in 1942 and by 1945 the house transferred to his sister Josephine Wilson. Josephine died in 1947 and by the next year the home and property were sold to William and Lila Smith. The 40 acres across the street were also purchased by the Smiths at this time.
William Smith and Lila Smith were married in 1936. She grew up living on Sylvania-Metamora Road, in proximity to this house, with her parents, Edward and Eleanor Smith. William grew up in Metamora, Ohio, with his parents, Frank and Loretta Smith.
The 1940 census was the first census William and Lila appear in together, owning a home valued at $375 on Sylvania-Metamora Road, in very close to the subject house. Eight years later in 1948 they purchased this home from the estate of Josephine Wilson, as well as all the acreage that she still owned across the street.
William and Lila appear to have lived here until about 1967. The transfer card shows that the tax bill was sent to William M. Smith at this address until 1967 and after that they started sending the tax bill to Bay City, Michigan. William died in 1983 and his obituary notice said that he had been an assembler for 40 years at Prestolite, retiring in 1975. His wife Lila survived him and they had no children. As of 1993 they started sending the bill to Lila Smith at this Sylvania-Metamora Road address again. So, they must have rented out the home from 1967 through 1993. The Suburban Directories did not list addresses west of Centennial Road until 1997, so I was unable to determine who was renting the home.
In 1995 Lila sold the home, splitting off a 1.6 acre parcel to Dale Smith (not sure if he was related to William and Lila Smith). Starting in 1996 parts of the rest of the 20 acres were sold to the developers of Woodstream West subdivision. Lila died in 2001 and her survivors were listed as “many nieces and nephews.”
Wow, there were/are a lot of Smith families living and owning land here along both sides of Sylvania-Metamora Road over the years. I call it “The Smith Mile.” It makes it very difficult to keep everybody straight when researching, however the Smith’s property and structures are all beautiful.

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