Royal Oak’s Oldest
“Royal Oak’s Oldest Structure May Go Down”
so states a newspaper clipping from the 1950's. The 110 year old
Benjamin home, built in1845 by John Benjamin Sr. would eventually be
cleared for a shopping center in April 1968.
Oak's "Oldest"- 1831-1968
The Benjamin property was located west of the old Saginaw Turnpike
Woodward Ave.), at about 12 ½ Mile Road, just north of
today’s Benjamin Ave.John Benjamin Sr. the son of John and Mary
Benjamin of Mendon, New York, was born in 1809. John’s father died from
a bullet wound fighting in the War of 1812. In May of 1830, at the age
of 21, John moved his Mother and two brothers to Detroit, Michigan. In
1831 John received, for $100 cash, a land patent on 80 acres just north
of what would be 12 Mile Road. Today much of this land lies in the
Roseland Park Cemetery.
1835 John married 16 year old Ruth Ann Warner, born in Niagara County,
New York in 1819. The couple moved into a log cabin built by John on
the Woodward property. In 1845, John replaced the log cabin with a
room frame house. Extra rooms and a second floor were add later
increasing the structure to 13 rooms and a pantry. John and Ruth
lived on the Benjamin farm until their deaths, his in 1878 and hers in
woodworking skills to making grain cradles. He built a two story
factory west of Woodward, and north of
his home for the assembly of the cradles. The Benjamin Grain Cradle
became famous for its quality of construction.
and Ruth had 5 children born between 1836 and 1849. Mary was the oldest
followed by John Jr., Asenath, Levi and Julia. John Jr., being the
eldest son, stayed on the family homestead, (now increased to160 acres)
farming and helping his father make grain cradles. In 1864, at the
outbreak of the Civil War, he enlisted in Company C, Thirtieth Michigan
Infantry. He served as a fifer for the company and was mustered out in
1865. He married Martha A. Campbell in 1869, they had one daughter who
died at 10 months old. Martha, sadly passed away in 1872. John married
again in 1876 to Ella S. Parker. The couple adopted a daughter Elsie in
1887. John and Ella remained on the Benjamin property until his death
in 1914 and her’s in 1943.
1939, the Benjamin home, now 2244 North Woodward was sold to a Dr
Manting. It was remolded and used as the Ruth Farra Manting Antiques
Shop. Sometime in the 1940's it became Aunt Fanny’s Restaurant until
1968 when it was finally demolished for a shopping center.
A. Perkins, A Royal Oak Golden Jubilee Publication, Published in
1971 by Golden Jubilee ‘71,
Incorporated, Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the City Of Royal
the Oakland County Pioneers,1921:
available at The Royal Oak Historical Society Museum.