Wouldn’t time travel be fun, to fly forward and backward, on the time continuum, like Marty McFly, 1.21 gigawatts, past and future, around the globe and be home for dinner?
Let’s pretend. Set the dial on your time machine for the year 1830. Now close your eyes. Listen. What do you hear? A chopping sound, chunks of something whirring past then hitting the ground. The earth shudders. Thud, again, again. Breathe. Smell. Smoldering. Open your eyes. What do you see? You squint from the smoke of a little fire nearby, sparks fly upward. The figure of a man stands in a wooded clearing, wielding a big ax, striking an oak tree, over and over.
No, it’s not Paul Bunyan. Nineteen years before 49ers rushed for gold, seven years before Michigan Territory became a state, six years before Alamo fell, and two years before Jeremiah Clark’s homestead, there stands 26-year-old Linus Jacox, a New York native, felling trees in an oak forest to build a log dwelling. The clearing would become Clarkston, 43 miles northwest of Fort Detroit as the crow flies.
Imagine, no paved streets or sidewalks, no roads at all. Only swamps, dense forests, big mosquitoes. There is no store to buy food or provisions, not even a blacksmith to shoe a horse. As Native Americans before him, Chief Sashabaw’s people, everything had to be wrested from the land.
What drove Linus Jacox (1804-1856)? He’s not here now to interview. He didn’t write a book or leave his memoirs, only a tombstone on the hill (now in Lakeview Cemetery). But one thing is clear from his body language, he wanted a home. He married Caroline Davenport. They had six children. Linus was willing to work very hard to cut for them a home in the Michigan wilderness. Linus had spirit, the same spirit that makes us want to live in Clarkston, it’s our home.
Landing our time machine back in the present, we find ourselves at a new year, a year which will celebrate the past 190 years, since Linus Jacox, then look forward. 2022 is a milestone. We see on our new village signs, Clarkston, “Established 1832.” But even more exciting, 2022 is the 30th anniversary of Clarkston becoming a city. Cityhood means our hometown, the smallest city by size in Michigan, in 1992 carved a place of local self governing, controlling our own destiny with laws (ordinances) we make ourselves. These 30 years are worth celebrating. We have come of age as a city. We have much to be thankful for — our homes, our village, and our balanced budget.
But I’m most thankful for our people who make up our city, living and working together; groups like Clarkston Farm and Garden Club, shops downtown, North Oakland Headwaters Land Conservancy, Clarkson Community Historical Society, restaurants and realtors, Lakeview Cemetery Restoration Project of Sashabaw Plains Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution, Optimists, Rotary, Knights of Columbus, Lions, Masons, Drews Home, churches, Historic District Study Committee, Sign Committee, Friends of Depot Park, the new “Collective,” city offices, DPW, Planning Commission, art gallery, Historic District Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, City Council, Clarkston Area Chamber of Commerce, Arts Council, Independence Township, The Clarkston News, Clarkston Living Magazine, Clarkston Community Schools, Team RUSH … Wow, so many people, dynamic. Feel the buzz, the vibe. Quietly working, serving our community and the list keeps growing. (If I’ve left out any, please forgive me.)
I want to take this opportunity to announce a year-long celebration of Clarkston’s birthday, which will occur officially on July 1, 2022. Our city will be 30 years old. Let’s be aware and thankful for all we have. We are a city rich in Americana and young at heart; forward-looking. appreciative of our past and our people. Let everyone who calls Clarkson home join together in 2022 to wish Clarkston a very happy birthday.
This is my appeal to all civic groups, boards, commissions, committees, businesses, residents and private organizations. Please, adopt Clarkston’s birthday as the theme for your events, your gatherings, your parades, your marathons, all year long.
Let’s celebrate Clarkston!
City of the Village of Clarkston