Tag Archives: farming

Charlie Dietz: A man of history

Williamstown Township is a rural community and farming is still a way of life there. For my story about the changes in farming I was directed to speak with Charlie Dietz.

Just about everyone I ran into knew this man somehow or another and he was considered a wealth of knowledge, seeing as he had grown up and lived in Williamston his whole life. However, trying to get in touch with this 90 year old man was quite a challenge. My search for Mr. Dietz really taught me how to be investigative by calling local businesses he regularly visited and asking if they had seen him around, calling his house multiple times and even showing up on his door step to try and get an interview. 

After a week of searching for him he answered his phone early one Friday morning and within half an hour I was sitting at the local McDonald’s talking about farming with him. Just about every person that walked past our table stopped to say hi and see how he was doing. All I could think was, “this man is like a legend here”.

Mr. Dietz spoke to me for three hours about his life in Williamston, his family’s history, all the changes that have occurred over 90 years and how thankful and blessed he has been in life. I could have visited with this man all day long and really enjoyed talking with him. He was such an open and personable man with a lot to talk about. My morning spent with him is something I will never forget.

Williamston’s farming transformation

Williamston was the main stop from Detroit to Grand Rapids when it was founded and became the commercial and social ‘hub’ of the farming and early industrial society in Eastern Ingham County. The area is still rural and some of the farms are still in use, while others sit dormant.

“For the most part, the percentage of people in agriculture, the farm was a place to live and a place to earn a living,” said Bill Turner, a Williamston resident who grew up on a farm until the 1950s.

Continue reading Williamston’s farming transformation