Sylvania–Then and Now: 9056 Sylvania-Metamora Road

by Gayleen Gindy

We have now reached the northeast corner of Sylvania-Metamora and Mitchaw Roads, where a roundabout has been installed. Love them or hate them, it has obviously impacted the family that lives on this corner. I could see make-shift shields set up in a couple of the windows to block the headlights of passing vehicles.
In 1978, when Jim and Toni Moriarty purchased this property, they thought this was far enough out in the “country,” to stay country, but little by little city-life is inching its way west. As far back as 1887 this was an 80-acre parcel owned by Joseph Wilson. He married Josephine Decker in October of 1893. She was a neighbor who lived with her parents on the farm to the east, which was featured in the last article. Mr. and Mrs. Wilson originally owned a one-story small home, which can be seen in the 1901 photographs provided. In both pictures Joseph and Josephine Wilson are shown in front of their original farmhouse.

The following are the recorded owners of this property:

  • 1866 – Thomas Blake and Haskell D. Warren
  • 1887 – Joseph A. Wilson
  • 1928 – Josephine Wilson
  • 1932 – Martha Iffland
  • 1944 – Hubert and Agnes Miller
  • 1975 – Agnes Miller
  • 1978 – James and Antoinette Moriarty – 2.4 acres
  • 1989 – James Moriarty
  • 2008 – James M. Sr. and Antoinette J. Moriarty

In 1911, Josephine Wilson’s father, Jacob Decker, Jr., passed away. That was also the year that the Wilsons built their new home on this property, either replacing the old one-story home or incorporating the old home into the new home, which is the four-square style catalog home that still exists today.
Mr. and Mrs. Wilson are shown living on this property in the 1900, 1910 and 1920 census. He passed away in 1928. Shortly after, before the 1930 census was taken, Mrs. Wilson went to live with her brother, Samuel Decker, in the farmhouse just to the east, where she had grown up. This left her house vacant, and she started renting the house out at that point. The 1930 census shows Adolph and Eliza VanBrandt renting the house. He was 61 years old and working as a farmer. Eliza was listed as 42 years old, and their children living in the home included: Morris – 16 years; Hector – 14 years; and Marcella – 11 years old. The census indicates that the VanBrandts had immigrated to the U.S. in 1910 from Belgium.

In 1932 the Wilson family records indicate that Josephine lost the house during the depression, and the 1932 county records show that Martha Iffland purchased the home. She was the wife of the head cashier at the Farmers and Merchants Bank in Sylvania, which held the mortgage. The Iffland family lived on Erie Street, just east of Main Street, in the house that I live in now. The Ifflands never lived in our subject house but they continued to rent the house out to the VanBrandt family.
Going by a diary kept by Hazel Smith, in February of 1933 she wrote that the VanBrandt family had been renting the farmhouse, and her sister and brother-in-law, Lester and Alice Smith Marsh would soon be moving in. Hazel wrote, “Alice and Lester were about to move away from the Marsh’s old home on Sylvania Avenue, to live in Wilson’s big house on the farm at the corner of Mitchaw Road and Sylvania-Metamora Road.”
In the 1940 census Fred and Grace Schmidt were renting the home. He was 49 years old and she was 47 years old. Fred was employed as a farmer. Also living in the home was Mary Schmidt, 82 years old, mother of Fred, and Harold Parker, a lodger, who was 21 years old and employed as a farm hand.
By 1944 Mrs. Iffland sold this home to Hubert and Agnes Miller and they lived here until they built a new brick ranch home just to the east in 1965. They had sectioned off a one acre parcel at 8908 Sylvania-Metamora Rd., and then rented out their farmhouse. Hubert died in 1974 and his obituary notice said that he had worked as a self-employed farmer for 50 years, retiring in 1973. His surviving family included his wife Agnes, daughter Teresa Meyers and sons, Raymond, Paul, Harold, Norbert and Donald. Agnes sold the old farmhouse and farm buildings in 1978 when she sectioned off a 2.44 acre parcel and sold it to the Moriartys.
Since 1978 Jim and Toni Moriarty have owned this house, and have lived here for 42 years. They raised their family here. Zoning permits show that they were issued building permits in 1984 for alterations; 1994 for an accessory building; and 1988 for a new two-story garage.

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