Author Linda Osborne Cynowa gives a presentation Oct. 7 at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library Main Branch about farming in northern Macomb County, which is the subject of her new book

Author Linda Osborne Cynowa gives a presentation Oct. 7 at the Clinton-Macomb Public Library Main Branch about farming in northern Macomb County, which is the subject of her new book

Photo by Alex Szwarc


Book highlights northern Macomb County agricultural history

By: Alex Szwarc | C&G Newspapers | Published October 29, 2021

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CLINTON TOWNSHIP/MACOMB TOWNSHIP — Prior to the days of big business, development and rapid population growth, there was plenty of farming in Macomb County.

On Oct. 7, Clinton-Macomb Public Library hosted a presentation by author Linda Osborne Cynowa. It was held at the Main Library in Clinton Township and focused on farming in northern Macomb County.

She discussed her new book “Farming in northern Macomb County.” It examines the farming history of the nine Macomb County municipalities north of Hall Road, or M-59. The book’s cover depicts Louis Schoenherr and his son Pete on the family farm in Macomb Township on 24 Mile Road in the 1950s.

The book was released in August and discusses Macomb, Shelby, Bruce, Ray, Armada and Lenox townships.

Osborne Cynowa formerly lived in Macomb Township and now resides in Washington Township.

After writing books on Macomb and Washington townships, which focused on churches, schools and buildings, she realized it was the farming families she spoke with that stuck out the most.

“There were many people I didn’t get into those books from those areas,” she said. “I felt this farming book was a way to open the door so these stories in those areas could be told.”

The Macomb Township book came out last year and includes around 220 historical photos of Macomb Township.

She said it’s good to see how farmers of the past lived, calling it a tough life.

“Listening to the stories gave me a better insight into where that food on our plate comes from,” Osborne Cynowa said. “I learned to have a lot more respect to realize how hard these people worked.”

Macomb Township farming families highlighted in the book include the Gettgens, who farmed on 80 acres along where present day Hall Road is, and the Koss’, Demils, Gralas and DeCocks, who operated Boyka’s Farm Market on 23 Mile Road, near Heydenreich Road.    

One story Osborne Cynowa discussed at the presentation was that of the Donley family.

“John came from Ireland, and he came here, built a cabin in Lenox by 29 Mile Road,” she said. “There were multiple generations who lived in the cabin. They rebuilt and restored it, and still found there were a lot of vandals who found it, wanting to damage it.”

The cabin was donated to the Richmond Historical Society. It sits fully restored at Bailey   Historic Park. John Donley lived from 1826-1885 and immigrated to the U.S. in 1848.

Also at the presentation, Osborne Cynowa spoke about how important the production of rhubarb was for farmers in the area from the 1920s-1960s. She said Utica came to be called the hot house rhubarb capital of the world.

Kate Brown, CMPL adult non-fiction librarian, said the farming presentation was her first in-person program since the pandemic began.

Osborne Cynowa’s next book will focus on the Great Lakes.

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