Holt-Delhi Historical Society

Established 2014

Kahres Dairy Farm Collection

Over the course of 2020 and 2021, the Holt-Delhi Historical Society has worked with the Kahres family to help document their history, digitize important family photographs and documents, and take in a collection of artifacts from the Kahres Dairy Farm including hand implements, farm tools, and dairy crates, cans, and bottles. The Kahres Dairy Farm Collection has become a central project for the HDHS and is a priority for the future. 

The goal for this collection is to construct a small museum building in Holt to share the history and artifacts with the public and school groups. This is an opportunity to educate the community on Delhi Township's agricultural heritage through the lens of the Kahres Dairy Farm. Today a largely suburban community, Holt and Delhi Township are rooted in farming and agriculture and this collection and history allows for the historical society to meet our mission by educating on broad historical themes through a local lens. 

To meet the goal of the construction of a museum building to house this remarkable collection, the HDHS estimates the cost of $20,000. Please help us reach this goal through monetary donations or by contacting us to contribute pro-bono or in-kind work toward the project.

With great thanks to the Kahres family, we present the Kahres Dairy Farm Collection project!

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Collection Highlights!

Handcrafted Grandfather Clock

Built by Martin H. Kahres, 1979

Martin Kahres was a lover of clocks and made many by hand over his lifetime. The oak case to this grandfather clock was handcrafted by Kahres and uses a Herschede chiming movement. The clock was donated by the Kahres family in 2021. Tenor Clock, LLC, supplied expert moving and service to the clock as it was placed in its current home in the historic Gunn School. 

Milk Crate and Can Handcarts

Used on the Kahres Dairy Farm

The collection includes a limited number of large size farm artifacts, the largest being two farm handcarts. A milk crate handcart made of wood and iron used on the Dairy Farm for decades, and a milk can handcart with tires, also used for years on the farm. These items were donated by the Kahres family in 2021. 

Hand Tools and Implements

Kahres Dairy Farm tools and implements carefully preserved by Marlow Kahres

A large portion of the collection is an assortment of hand tools and implements, like hay rakes, a cradle scythe, hand cultivator, and more, used on the Kahres Dairy Farm over the years. This collection was carefully preserved by Marlow Kahres (1932-2015) and was donated by the Kahres family in 2021. 

Milk Bottles, Cans, and Crates

Kahres Dairy Farm branded glass bottles, packaging, metal cans, and wood crates

Perhaps the most eye-catching pieces of the collection are Kahres Dairy Farm branded milk bottles, containers from various dairy products, metal milk cans of varying sizes, and wood milk bottle crates. With such an array of these items produced and used over the decades, the Kahres advertising helps illustrate the farm's history. Milk bottles are often pieces of nostalgia, but can serve as an educational tool for children of a bygone time of milk delivery and glass bottles. These were donated by the Kahres family in 2021.

Photographs and Papers

Mostly digital copies of photo albums and farm papers

The Kahres family graciously provided family photo albums and an assortment of documents and clippings related to the farm which have been scanned for preservation and use in illustrating the history of the Kahres family and Kahres Dairy Farm. These materials were contributed by the Kahres family in 2021.

Kahres Dairy Farm History

In the late nineteenth century, numerous families that settled in Delhi Township were German immigrants and in 1875 half of Delhi residents spoke German. The Kahres family were a typical Delhi family of the era. Henry B. Kahres (1870-1928) and Meline K. Lenz Kahres (1878-1963) were born in Germany and settled in the United States in 1895. They originally settled in south Lansing Township.

PICTURED RIGHT: Henry and Meline Kahres

The couple had four children: Dorothy E. Kahres Flemming (1896-1974), Martin H. Kahres (1900-1984), Marie L. Kahres Miller (1904-1992), and George B. Kahres (1909-1973). The Kahres family were longtime members of the North Holt Methodist Church, which has origins as the German-speaking Methodist church and is now the Holt United Methodist Church.

Henry and Meline Kahres purchased 61 acres from Max Eifert in 1906, marking the foundation of the Kahres Dairy Farm at Farm 1. The original farm was located in Section 9 of Delhi Township on Rural Route No. 3 (Cedar Street). The first expansion of Farm 1 came in 1913 when Asa Pryor sold a portion of his farm in Section 9 of Delhi Township to Henry Kahres. Shortly thereafter, Catherine Hermann sold a slice of land in Section 9 of Delhi Township to Kahres. By around 1916, the Kahres farm had grown to 98 acres. 

PICTURED LEFT: Max E. Eifert's 61 acres sold to Henry Kahres in 1906. 

Following the death of Henry Kahres in 1928, his two sons Martin and George became the second generation operators of the family farm. 

The Kahres acquired the Moritz Eifert farm, directly south of Farm 1, to expand their operation in Section 9 of Delhi Township. This addition became known as Farm 2. 

PICTURED RIGHT: Martin H. Kahres with an early milk delivery truck

Since the Kahres Dairy Farm processed and bottled its own milk, the family operated its own dairy store at the farm on Cedar Street. 

In the early 1950s, the Kahres Dairy Farm became the first Lansing area farm to use bulk feed delivery, receiving cattle and poultry feed directly from the mill via tanker truck rather than feed sacks which reduced spread of disease and cut costs in labor and through limiting rodent damage to sacks. 

Over the years at the Cedar Street property, the Kahres Farm expanded to a peak of 255 acres, though the dairy had additional land further south in Delhi Township. 
In 1955, the Kahres family sold 10 acres of land to Lansing Schools for the construction of a new elementary school to be named Kahres Elementary School. Fully funded by taxpayers 1963, the school was slated to be built around 1966. However, following the sale of the farm in 1965, Lansing Schools relocated their planned new elementary school as not to develop a new school in a retail district as was planned on the farm land. The garden building at North Elementary School was named the Kahres Gardening Center in 1980. 

PICTURED LEFT: Kahres Dairy Farm 2, formerly the Moritz Eifert farm, in Section 9 of Delhi Township. I-96 presently runs through the site of the barn and house pictured.

The family also sold three acres of land for the construction of St. Michael's Episcopal Church on Eifert Road (presently Amwood Drive) in the late 1950s. Upon the City of Lansing's annexation of the northern portion of Delhi Township in 1960, consisting of the North District/Miller Road Community, the Kahres Dairy became part of the City of Lansing. Also in 1960, the State of Michigan Highway Department purchased 40 acres of the Kahres Dairy Farm for the development of I-96 and an interchange. This development cut off the southern portion of the Cedar Street acreage of the farm. 

At the time of the I-96 development and Lansing annexation, over the course of 1960-1965, the Kahres brothers decided to sell Farm 1, the original Cedar Street property. The loss of 40 acres and divided farmland at that site limited the amount of feed that could be grown and necessitated more than a mile detour to access the cutoff southern portion of the farm. In 1965, the Kahres sold off the 200-acre farm north of I-96, as the family owned 438 acres south of the original farm in Delhi Township. The Cedar Street farm site was the topic of numerous development proposals and its current configuration of Edgewood Blvd, American Road, and Amwood Drive occurred over many years following the Kahres' departure. The connection of Edgewood Blvd from Logan St. to Cedar St. was approved in the late 1960s and, following court challenges, the connection was completed in 1984. The farmland was nearly the site of the Lansing Mall in the late 1960s but the City of Lansing refused to rezone the land for a shopping center. The mall was ultimately developed outside of the City in Delta Township on the Sharp Dairy Farm and opened in 1969. 

The Kahres Dairy Farm moved its primary operation to west Delhi Township, the northwest quarter of Section 20, after owning acreage there for many years prior to 1965. This site became known as Farm 3. Several adjacent farms were acquired and added to the Kahres operation in western Delhi Township in the years following their permanent relocation there. Most notably, the Kahres added a fourth and fifth farm to their operation over the years. The former Froedtert family farm, located adjacent to Farm 3 in the northeastern quarter of Section 20, became Farm 5.  Kahres Road off West Holt Road was named for the family in 1968, it was formerly known as Krantz Road (an adjoining portion of road remains named Krantz Road today).

In 1999, the Kahres Dairy Farm sold off 157 acres, Farm 3, their oldest parcel in west Delhi Township, to Holt Public Schools. The new Holt High School was developed on the site in 2000-2003. 

Elsie Horstmeyer Kahres (1911-2004), widow of George Kahres, was a benefactor in the restoration of the historic Gunn School in Holt in the early 2000s. She had attended the school, as had numerous Kahres family members. Today, a portrait of Mrs. Kahres hangs in the Gunn School.