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Preserving the past: How Holt residents are connecting with the town's history through its road names

Posted at 5:26 PM, Jun 16, 2023

LANSING, Mich. — Every town has a unique history, and one thing that's always intrigued me driving through Holt is where some of the funky roads got their name. Fortunately, there's an expert on the topic, Holt Delhi Historical Society Founder Jacob McCormick.

"The historical society was founded in 2014. I'm the founding president. So, I was one of the organizers back right after I graduated high school, so we're almost 10 years old here. And our purpose was to coral and try to harness, preserve the history in Holt that really had never been done before," said McCormick.

McCormick has used maps dating back to the 1800s to connect the dots between Holt roads and how they got their names.

"They're named after the directions they lead. College Road named after leading to the agricultural college as it was then, now MSU. Holt Road would have been called Delhi Avenue in town for a long time, but out on the outskirts when people are coming into Holt that's when it's called Holt Road,because the road is named for the direction it's leading," said McCormick.

Others are named after memorable community members, like George Wilcox, who owned and ran Wilcox Farm. He also served the community as a member of the Holt Public Schools Board of Education in 1914. Wilcox Elementary School is also named after him.

"The road was named after him, of course, because he was so active in the community, active on the school board. And eventually, my dad told me that they named the school, the Wilcox School, because he thought that my grandfather George was on the school board," said Wilcox's descendent Jane Olney.

Wilcox Elementary School currently stands where the Wilcox Farm once was in production. But, as time changes, one thing will remain, the Wilcox name etched on a street sign.

"I used to visit them all the time out there, and you know, when your last names on a road sign, and it's family you're going to visit, and it means a lot it really does," said Olney.

"Mason and Leslie have very successful, long-standing historical societies. They tackled it a little bit in Holt back in the 60s, it always pops up around anniversaries that we should start preserving our history, so that is the case with us as well," said McCormick.

Preserving history is a goal shared by Olney and McCormick, who both make efforts working for the Holt Delhi Historical Society.

"Our main purpose was there is a population of people who have been in town their entire lives paired with a population that are new to Holt. We're sort of trying to bring those people together and help them appreciate the history from the life-long residents," said McCormick.

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Larry Wallace

10:16 AM, Jan 03, 2021

Southside Lansing

Neighborhood Reporter

Larry Wallace

Holt, Dimondale, Delhi Township

Neighborhood Reporter

Hannah McIlree

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