Local resident works to preserve Holt’s history

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By Josh Sidorowicz
Holt Journal staff writer

What might seem to be an undesirable task for some has become a welcome undertaking for Inge Kyler.

Kyler, a former Holt resident who now lives in Eaton Rapids, Mich, has taken on the task of documenting Delhi Township’s history in pictures for an upcoming book to be published by Arcadia Publishing early next year.

“In that way, I guess you could say I’m really a history detective,” she said smiling.

After serving as the township assistant manager and historian for 20 years in Delhi, Kyler said the library and township officials asked if she would be interested in heading up the project after they were approached by the publishing company.“No one else was ever really interested in history, at least in the way I was,” she said. “So when (Arcadia) contacted the township and the library the only person they could think of was me.”

Kyler said her interest in history can be traced back nearly 50 years ago when she was afforded the opportunity to be a stenographer, or secretary, for the 1961 Michigan constitutional convention.“It was the most exciting thing I’ve ever done in my life, to be a part of that convention — a part of history like that,” she said. “That’s what got me started in history, government and politics, it was the highlight of my life.”

But documenting the history of Delhi Township is admittedly presenting a few challenges, Kyler said, the biggest being the lack of any museum or repository of historic photos or documents.

“You really have to dig to find something and for that reason I wasn’t too excited about doing the project at first,” she said. “But then I thought, well this might be a unique to chance to get out and gather those old pictures, generate interest and get people to bring them out.”

“In that way, I guess you could say I’m really a history detective,” she said smiling.

Kyler said she is hoping to get the word out around the community in hopes of garnering interest from individuals who might have their own historical photos to share.

Cheryl Lyons, the library head at the Capital Area District Library Holt/Delhi branch, 2078 Aurelius Road, echos similar sentiment of frustration at not having a more adequate preservation of Holt’s history.

“I think, because Delhi Township lacks any kind of formal historical society, it makes this book particularly important so that the information can be put out there for the public,” Lyons said.

“Because right now it’s not clearly out there and I think there’s a lot of particularly interesting information that needs to be put out there.”

Lyons said she wants to see Holt’s original historical photos and documents digitized in the coming years in order to ensure they are safely preserved for the future.

“By digitizing the material we can have the original sources protected from the risk of being lost completely to fire or if the individuals that have historical photos pass away,” she said.

“There’s a lot of community pride here and I think that’s why a lot of people would be excited about a book like this—giving people the opportunity to buy into Holt’s history.”

Harry Ammon, who will be retiring from his position as township treasurer at the end of the year and has lived his whole life in Holt, said he was pleased the township’s history would be honored in a book.

“The pictures will allow us to see the changes that have taken place here,” Ammon said. “We’ve gone from an agrarian community to a bedroom community and now we’ve moved even past that to create a new identity for ourselves.”

Ammon said the township is becoming a community that is making environmental responsibility and personal wellness a top priority by expanding parks and trails to make Holt a more walkable community.

“(Holt) hasn’t withstood the test of time but we’ve instead created something new that sets us apart,” he said.

“We’ve moved ahead rather than just trying to hold onto what we used to be — it’s important to let everyone see where we’ve been in order to know where we’re going to go next.”

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