County records give hints of Sterling’s past

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 10, 2019

 An old map of Sterling Township hangs on the wall inside the Upton House in Sterling Heights. In November, Macomb County Clerk and Register of Deeds Fred Miller showed his archives’ own Sterling Township map to the Sterling Heights City Council and described other relevant documents.

An old map of Sterling Township hangs on the wall inside the Upton House in Sterling Heights. In November, Macomb County Clerk and Register of Deeds Fred Miller showed his archives’ own Sterling Township map to the Sterling Heights City Council and described other relevant documents.

Photo by Eric Czarnik

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STERLING HEIGHTS — Macomb County’s clerk recently clued in the city of Sterling Heights on a little bit of history about the land where City Hall stands.

During a Nov. 19 presentation, Macomb County Clerk and Register of Deeds Fred Miller talked to the Sterling Heights City Council to update them about his department’s initiatives and services. He mentioned that his office’s responsibilities include being the register of deeds, and his department has access to a database of property records where people can research property ownership.

“We hold 8 million different images going back ... throughout the history of Macomb County,” he said. “Anytime you buy or sell a property, home or business, to register your ownership, you register those deeds with the clerk’s office.”

Miller said the county’s register of deeds archives include an 1875 map of Sterling Township, the area’s former name. He said the map shows the location of various farms.

“So the property that we’re on right now was at one time owned ... in 1875 — Jerome B. Harvey and William Upton were the two farms that owned this,” Miller said. “If 1875 isn’t far enough back for you, we can look back to this handwritten deed for this property that was deeded for the sum of $221, and I have that copy of that for your archives, as well.”

Miller said the county has even older records of the land “all the way to 1825, predating Michigan statehood.” He said it was the U.S. government’s deed — signed by former U.S. President John Quincy Adams — for “this land that we’re standing on right now.” It was deeded to Tabor Wilcox, “who was the first person of European descent to claim ownership of this land,” Miller said.

Mayor Michael Taylor thanked Miller for the information and said the city will cherish it.

“I don’t know if anybody else up here knew about the history of the land we’re standing on, deeded and signed by John Quincy Adams,” Taylor said. “That is really, really remarkable.”

Councilwoman Deanna Koski asked Miller whether he could supply a copy of Dodge Park’s deed. Miller said he will do some research on that.

Find out more about Sterling Heights by visiting www.sterling-heights.net or by calling (586) 446-2489.

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