Old Hitching Stone Bears Silent Witness to 19th Century Life in Washtenaw County

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 04/11/2019 - 00:45
Jim and Cheryl Hoeft are pictured with the hitching stone in front of their North Ann Arbor Street home.

A relic of a bygone era sits in the front yard of a Saline family and no one notices. It is a link to a time before automobiles, when people used horses, wagons and carriages to get around town.

It is a hitching stone.

The stone came from a farm on Wagner Road. It now sits in the front yard of the North Ann Arbor Street home owned by Jim and Cheryl Hoeft.

The stone used to belong to Cheryl Hoeft’s aunt and was used to hold work horses and other animals. The ancient ring used for placing reins still waits for another wagon.

Neighbors of the aunt took care of the woman’s yard and were given the stone. When they moved, the Hoefts had it moved and placed at their Saline property.

“In town, they would be used to hitch up a surrey,” Jim Hoeft said pointing to a smaller stone at another home down the street. “They would have smaller horses. They wouldn’t have draft horses used on the farm.”

The stone goes well with the Hoefts’ Victorian home. The house, built in 1879, has had only two owners in the last 92 years, with the Hoefts living there for 42, Jim Hoeft said.

A couple of homes on Henry Street have hitching stones as well, Hoeft said.

The old homestead was at the corner of Scio Church and Wagner.

The Hoefts’ home was added to the National Register of Historical Houses in 1985. He framed a letter from the Michigan Department of State dated November 6, 1985.

Some of the features on the house include a six-sided front room on the main floor, with an eight-sided room on the second floor. The first floor has 10-foot ceilings and a bay window that runs the length of the house.

There are three lightning rods atop the home. A garage sits in back that was added in the 1920s, Jim Hoeft said.

When the Hoefts sell their house, the stone will be moved to site of Weber-Blaess one-room schoolhouse located on school property in Saline, Hoeft said.

Maybe then people will inquire about the stone.

“They just think it’s a stone,” Jim Hoeft said. “They have no idea what it is.”

 

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Jim Pruitt
Jim Pruitt is a veteran professional community journalist.

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