I hate history. There, I said it. Not exactly a great quality when you’re a board member of a historical commission. In high school I was convinced that my history teacher was actually in the Revolutionary War. We’re talking old – like, so old that he was probably attached to strings, Weekend at Bernie’s style. Ok, maybe not THAT old, but that’s how I remember him. Realistically he was probably only 10 years older than I am now – Yikes!
History just wasn’t fun for me. I didn’t see the relevance to my everyday world. So, I have to laugh at myself when visitors come into the museum and make comments like “You must be a huge history buff!” or, my favorite, “This place is like nerd heaven”. I’ve officially made it into the nerd category and I’m loving every minute. On a weekly basis I see the puzzled look in people’s eyes as they digest my purple hair, tattoos, and (mostly) filter-free conversation. And that’s when I get asked, “So how did you get involved with the Historical Commission?”
I come from a family that has always been “Scotland Proud” – rocking our kilts as much as possible: funerals, weddings, our annual family golf outing (no matter how cold it is). We road trip it to Highland Games festivals. Bagpipers play as we walk down the aisle and as we’re lowered into the ground. And we’re all so unbelievably stubborn that we’ve accepted that it just runs in our blood. Afterall, Scotland’s national flower is the thistle – often described as a “humble weed”, it’s stubborn and resilient.
But all of this was attached to my last name, passed down from male descendants, which is just one part of my story. I realized that I only knew bits and pieces about my great grandma’s family. I knew her parents were Clarence & Anna Green, so I started there and worked my way backwards. Within a few days I discovered that Clarence & Anna were buried at Redford Cemetery. I connected with Regina Gilbert, member of the Redford Cemetery Association and also a board member of the Redford Twp Historical Commission. I’d say the rest is history, but my journey had just begun.
Pictured, Left: My great grandparents William Joseph MacDermaid & Florence Green. They also lived on the Green family farm. William was the head lightkeeper of the Detroit River Lighthouse.
Right: My great great grandparents Clarence Green & Anna Elizabeth Scott.
I was already living in Redford, so I packed up my giant tub of old photos and family documents, and drove just a few miles to the museum to see if I could find any more information on the Greens. As soon as I walked in I spotted a giant map on the wall, with names of landowners, dated 1876. My eyes immediately zeroed in on the name Green. There it was, in black and white, my family’s name on something over a century before I was born.
The next thing you know Regina hands me a picture of students standing in front of Bell Branch School, a one-room schoolhouse across from the Green farm. I knew this photo well because I had a print of the exact same photograph, with my great grandma marked with an ‘x’. Talk about an eery feeling.
As it turns out, my family was the 3rd family to arrive in Redford, before Redford was named Redford, in 1827. I knew my grandpa was born in a farmhouse in Redford but had no idea my family had settled here that long ago. The more I learned about Redford’s history, the more interested I became. There were so many other names on that map on the wall. More families to research and other stories to tell. After becoming a volunteer I decided to join the board to see where my passion takes me.
MORE ABOUT MAC
Favorite photo or artifact in the museum:
Current research topics, projects, and events:
Centennial Homes project
The Lahser family
Redford Cemetery Walk
Movie in the Cemetery
Favorite place in Redford: Redford Cemetery
Number of years in Redford: Since 2012
Board member since… April 2015
Day job: Real Estate Agent & Photographer