Many Michiganders enjoy watching the film A Christmas Story during the last months of the year. We watch what it was like to grow up in the 1940s and hope that Ralphie's quest for his ultimate present - a Daisy Red Ryder BB gun – will be successful.

Thanks to that 1983 film, Daisy air rifles (and BB guns) became popular all over again. But did you know that Daisy rifles were created in Michigan? Plymouth, to be exact.

It all started with windmills. Henry William Baker was president of the Plymouth Iron Windmill Company from 1887-1888 and the company was looking for some kind of angle to help the sagging business. Why not give away an item with each windmill sold? Good idea, right?

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So the company decided that with each windmill purchase, the customer would get a free air rifle. Air rifle? Why? Because the company founder - inventor Clarence J. Hamilton - also owned the Plymouth Air Rifle Company. The air rifles proved to be so popular – more so than the windmills - that soon the company was re-named the Daisy Manufacturing Company and the windmills were eventually scrapped.

So why the name "Daisy"? After designing a new air rifle, Hamilton brought his new gun to the company board, and the general manager tested it. After shooting, the GM was so impressed that he exclaimed, “boy! That's a daisy” and the name was kept.

When the windmill company folded, Henry William Baker became president of the Daisy Manufacturing Company from 1895 until he passed away. The mansion pictured below was built for Baker in 1875. It currently stands where it always has, in downtown Plymouth. He died in 1919, and the company continued in Plymouth until 1956, when it was sold and moved to Arkansas.....Arkansas, for Pete's sake.

Now take a look at the photo gallery below, which includes pictures of Henry William Baker's mansion – which reminds me of the “Psycho” house...



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