Jack’s Journal: Samels Farm

It’s historic for its age. A centennial farm on the Skegemog Point, near Williamsburg, is now in the hands of a conservancy.

The Samels bought 80 acres for $200 in 1895. A dozen or so years ago, the surviving brothers donated the land.

“They left us all the farm equipment, they left the house as it was. Beds and chairs, mice, things like that.  We’ve been taking care of it since about 2002,” said Maryanne Rivers, Samels Farm Heritage Society.

Working through the Elk Rapids schools, they bring children out to learn about life on a sustainable farm. But that is not the only reason this farm is so special.

The Samels brothers collected artifacts they would find while farming. Back in the ‘60s they invited Michigan State archeologists out to have a look and a dig and, oh, what they found!

“When archeologists came in the ‘60s to do the excavation they were surprised at the wide range of dates that were showing in the artifacts. One was a Paleo point, which is 8,000-10,000 years ago,” explained Susan Hall, Samels Heritage Society president.

Just after the glaciers receded, the area that is this farm was visited by hunters following the caribou.  Across the field, just inside the tree line, the researchers found evidence of a good size village with multiple food “cache pits.” Those pits remain today. 

The Samels brothers loved the farm, but knew that there was more.

“They wanted the story of the sustainable farming they did to be preserved, but the whole story includes the archeologists and history of native peoples who lived here off and on for thousands of years,” said Susan.

The farm is not open to the public, but tours are available by appointment. For more information, click here.

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