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. With this collection, we can educate on farm labor and tools, dairy processes relating to milk, cheese, cottage cheese, ice cream, and beyond, as well as the history of agriculture with an emphasis on our geographical area.
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!
All contributions made to the Kahres Collection fund will be specifically earmarked for this project. Should there be a surplus of funds once the building is completed, excess funds will remain earmarked for the maintenance of the structure, the collection, and for updated exhibits.
Please make checks payable to "Holt Non Profit Coalition" with "HDHS Kahres" in memo line. Checks may be mailed to:
Holt-Delhi Historical Society
4410 W. Holt Rd.
Holt, MI 48842
Now accepting donations via PayPal to support the Kahres Dairy Farm Project!
Please select "HDHS Kahres Dairy Farm Project" from the drop down when prompted.
Susan & Carl Myers
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 each settled in the United States in 1895, just months apart. The couple married in 1896 and originally settled in south Lansing Township, renting a home just off Cedar Street in the Jolly Road area.
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.
In 1918, Henry and Meline Kahres purchased the rear thirty-eight acres of the Pryor farm, expanding Farm 1. This land acquired from the Pryors was known as "the lake" or "the island farm" because it had more water and swamps than tillable land. By 1920, the Kahres laid tile and dug ditches to make the land more useful. They also drained Pryor Lake after removing fish by the bushel full. They were successful in making the Pryor land good tillable and farmable land much to the surprise of the previous owners.
Also in 1920, land on the north end of the Kahres farm along Miller Road was platted and sold off. By 1921, a store was built at the corner of Miller Road and Cedar Street by Louis Daft, Harry Chaffee, Martin Kahres, and John Kleister.
PICTURED RIGHT: Miller Road Store, c. 1921.
The Kahres acquired the eighty-acre Mortiz Eifert farm in 1927, located directly south of Farm 1, to expand their operation in Section 9 of Delhi Township. This addition became known as Farm 2.
Following the death of Henry Kahres in 1928, an agreement was reached between Meline Kahres and her sons Martin and George to operate the dairy farm in a partnership. Martin Kahres married Esther Banks in 1931 and a brick family home was built just south of the original Kahres farmhouse on Cedar Street by Chris Kussmaul. George Kahres married Elsie Horstmyer in 1934, settling their family onto the shortly acquired Farm 3.
PICTURED LEFT: Martin Kahres. PICTURED RIGHT: George Kahres.
Farm 3 was added to the operation in 1935 with the purchase of the Lichtleiner farm in west Delhi Township, consisting of 140 acres. An addition of 20 acres was made to Farm 3 in 1940 when the Kahres purchased the rear of Ed Krantz's farm.
Since the Kahres Dairy Farm processed and bottled its own milk, the family built its own milk house and dairy store at Farm 1 in 1935 adjacent to the family homes on Cedar Street.
After renting 75 acres of the Banghart farm for years, the land was purchased in the mid-1940s. The land was tiled in 1947.
Also in the 1940s, the sixty-acre Farm 4 was acquired from Jenny Hall in west Delhi Township. An additional sixty acres were purchased from the Thompsons in 1949, creating Farm 4 1/2.
PICTURED LEFT: Martin H. Kahres with an early milk delivery truck.
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. From 1946 through 1955, the Kahres sold Co-Op Farm Machinery Equipment.
In 1959, 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 this time in 1959, the Kahres acquired the former Froederdt farm on Holt Road, which became known as Farm 5.
PICTURED LEFT: George Kahres (left) looks on as I-96 is developed on his former farmland.
Upon the City of Lansing's annexation of the northern portion of Delhi Township in 1960, consisting of the North District/Miller Road Community, Farm 1 of the Kahres Dairy became part of the City of Lansing.
Matriarch of the family, Meline Lenz Kahres, died in 1963. Following their mother's death and the full development of I-96, Martin and George Kahres sold 156 acres north of I-96 due to the increased urbanization of South Lansing, the loss of 40 acres, and the divided farmland caused by the freeway development, which 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.
The land north of I-96 was sold to the Walter Neller Realty Company of Lansing. The sale of the farm land was not finalized until 1988. The development of the Kahres Dairy Farm land by Neller was the topic of much discussion throughout the late 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. Its current configuration of Edgewood Blvd., American Rd., and Amwood Dr. occurred over many years following the Kahres' departure. The first development on the land was the University Olds dealership in the late 1960s. 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, Farms 3, 4, and 5, after first acquiring acreage there in 1935. Family homes were built along Krantz Road (presently Kahres Road) on Farm 3 in 1960 and 1967. The northern portion of Krantz Road was renamed Kahres Road in 1968, the adjoining southern portion of the road is remains named Krantz Road today.
PICTURED RIGHT: Kahres Farm 3, 1956. Present site of Holt High School along Kahres Road in the foreground and Holt Road in the distance. Home of George and Elsie Kahres, 1938-2000.
Two Kahres family homes were built on Farm 3 on Kahres Road in 1960 and 1967. These two homes still stand on property adjoining Holt High School. All other farm buildings on the site were demolished in the period of 2000-2003.
In 1968, Marlow Kahres purchased the 120-acre Clarence Hudson farm, which became the Kahres' Farm 6. By 1969, a 7 1/2 acre portion of the Cogswell farm on Grovenburg Road was acquired for tenant and farmhand housing. This became the home of the family's longest tenured farmhand Clyde Oakley. Marlow Kahres built an airstrip on the orchard and woods behind his home on Farm 6 in 1972 to accommodate his hobby of piloting planes.
Following the death of George Kahres in 1973, Marlow Kahres took over the primary operation of the Kahres Dairy Farm and purchased the dairy and its equipment from the older generations of the family in 1974. Marlow Kahres' son Edward Kahres became a partner with his father in the farm in 1977. Martin Kahres died in 1984.
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 Horstmyer 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 and numerous Kahres family members attended the school. Today, a portrait of Mrs. Kahres hangs in the Gunn School.
PICTURED BELOW: Kahres Farm 6.