|The First Michigan Cavalry-by Cynthia S. Donahue, 2009|
|Brief History of the Macomb County Heritage Alliance|
|Renaissance Man of Macomb County|
|Holy Toledo! Or the Continuing War Between Ohio and Michigan…|
|Macomb County Hosts Michigan Historical Society State History Conference|
|Cannons Come Home|
|Mile Roads of Macomb County|
|Biography of Dean A. Naldrett|
|Historic Settlements of Macomb County|
|The History of Chesterfield Township|
|Alex Groesbeck and M-97 (Groesbeck Highway)|
|Selfridge Air National Guard Base Celebrates 90 Years!|
|Lorenzo Cultural Center|
|15||Importance of the Oxbow Area|
|16||History of the Octagon House|
|17||Elizabeth Denison; African American Churches in Macomb County|
|21||The New Haven Story|
Old chancery files regarding the proceeds from the Mount Clemens Sutler Store during the civil war provide us with a unique window into the past. As we examine forgotten court records along with a few old newspaper accounts, a picture begins to emerge of the little village of Mount Clemens in 1863.
Camp Stockton was located on the highest ground in the village along the Fort Gratiot Turnpike (now called South Gratiot) where the Colonial Hotel was later to stand. The camp was named after Colonel John Stockton of Mt. Clemens, who headed the 8th Michigan Cavalry regiment. The camp, consisting of about 12 acres, extended approximately from Robertson Street to the banks of the Clinton River near Belleview.
The buildings on the far right of this
Colonial Hotel photo may be part of the Camp Stockton barracks. Library of Congress circa 1896
This area south of the village had not been developed due to complications with the land title, and Arthur J. Robertson of Inverness, Scotland, was finally able to convey a satisfactory title in June of 1851. The camp ground was cleared of all trees and stumps, and the ground was smoothed out, leveled and swept daily by the soldiers. On either side of this drill ground stood the soldiers barracks, which were wooden structures with bunks placed on both sides, a kitchen in the rear, and a dining room table placed in the center of each room.
Photo courtesy archives of Michigan
The men were said to have been well provided for, with good food and even a sewer set up to drain into the Clinton River. Earlier in the year, the camp had housed over 900 8th Michigan Cavalry soldiers under Colonel Stockton. In October of 1863, it was occupied by 170 soldiers of four new regiments recruited by Major Thomas M. Howrigan of the 1st Michigan Cavalry. This new battalion arrived on October 23rd and was mustered in December 28, 1863 at Mount. Clemens.
These newly recruited men joined forces with the 5th, 6th, and 7th Cavalry regiments to make up the Michigan Cavalry Brigade, which was commanded by Brigadier General George Armstrong Custer for a time.
Local businessman Charles Ullrich was thought to have provided horses for the cavalry from his livestock business nearby; according to Eldredge’s “Past and Present of Macomb County,” Ullrich accepted many heavy contracts to furnish horses for the cavalry for the U.S. government during the war.
Another local, grocer Silas Dixon, had purchased the contract from John Riley to run the camp’s Sutler Store which provided local goods to the regiment. No one knew how long the regiment would be there, and Dixon was tired of having to “run up river,” nearly a mile away from his other store in Mount Clemens, to service the soldiers.
On October 23rd, Dixon entered into an agreement with Thomas Golby to assist him with the shop. Or so Mr. Golby was led to believe. Thomas Golby, former Macomb County Sheriff for the years 1852–1856, had also served as Under-Sheriff for Walter Porter from 1850–1852.
According to Golby’s testimony, Dixon obtained the approval of Major Howrigan for Golby to run the Sutler Store. For this privilege, he was to pay Major Howrigan 10¢ per head per month for each man in camp in the cavalry. Another local, Samuel Hitch, was also employed at the shop for the cost of $1.00 per day.
The Sutler Shop sold a variety of non-military provisions to the soldiers; everything from buckskin gloves to cigars. Oysters were sold for 50¢ and 60¢ per can, raisins were 30¢ a pound, and chestnuts were 20¢ a pint. Candy was sold for 25¢ and 30¢ per pound, and cider sold for 80¢ a gallon. By far the biggest seller was beer, which was 40¢ per gallon, with 51 ½ barrels sold in a two month period. Seven barrels of whisky were also consumed at this time. Herring was also a popular seller, along with essentials such as forks, knives, plates, saws, and hammers. The soldiers were allowed to run a store charge, with all accounts due on the 2nd of the month.
Mr. Golby volunteered his wife, Elizabeth Gorton, to make 300 cherry and apple pies for the shop; the cherries were to be provided by Silas Dixon. Imagine the response today if a husband came home and told his wife to bake 300 homemade pies in a wood burning stove, and that the pies would be sold for 30¢ each for a 5¢ profit per pie!
On November 3, Dixon refused entry to the shop to Golby, and changed the locks on the doors. Golby commenced his lawsuit in August of 1864 against Dixon for his refusal to pay his portion of the store profits. Part of the dispute pertained to the Golbys running up a large bill at the store for several pounds of sugar….which was used to make the pies.
Golby was represented by R.P. Eldgedge, while Hubbard and Crocker were council for the defendant. Witnesses were brought in, including local farmers Henry Harrigan and Jacob Reimold, at a cost of 13¢ per witness, who concurred with Mr. Golby’s statement that he had worked at the store. The lawsuit did not go in his favor. Not only did he lose, but Circuit Judge Sanford M. Green decreed that he pay the defendants court costs of $1.18.
Macomb County, MI. has a proud tradition of recognizing and preserving its history. Very few counties of the United States can boast the number of historical societies, groups, and commissions Macomb County has. Virtually all of the county’s towns, villages, and townships have a historical group devoted to them! Macomb County also has one of the largest community colleges, at various times the third and fourth largest college in the state, and one of the few counties with a cultural center. As if that wasn’t enough, for fifteen years Macomb County has been one of the few counties to have its historical organizations meet each year to network, give presentations, and generally share the historical resources of each area with the other areas.
For a long time, many people had voiced a need for some kind of county-wide organization for historical and genealogical groups to get together to exchange ideas, network, and socialize. In early 1996, when Pat Hallman was a board member of the Macomb County Historical Society at the Crocker House, the subject came up again. Madeline Page, who was the President of the MCHS, and Pat, decided to organize such a gathering.
First, they needed a place, and were able to reserve the auditorium at the Mount Clemens Public Library. Next, Pat compiled a mailing list of groups to notify of the meeting. Madeline and Pat both worked on a letter and survey form to be sent to everyone. The meeting was held on Friday, April 26, from 1:00 to 3:30 p.m. Thirty-seven groups were contacted and only six did not return the survey or attend. That day, Pat gave a short introduction and then went around the room asking those present to describe the activities of their organization. A collection of $1 per group was taken up for copying and postage costs. After that first meeting, Madeline sent a summary letter and a list of people and organizations who attended. She also compiled information from the surveys, including the name of the group, when organized, the number of members, cost of dues, contact person with phone number, activities, when and where meetings were held, and if the group had a newsletter and/or a museum (when open and admission fee).
By the next year and meeting, which was Wednesday, April 30, 1997, the group had a name, the Macomb County Heritage Alliance, and the Roseville Historical and Genealogical Society hosted the second meeting. It is presently unknown who named it, but the second one was held at the Roseville Recreation Center from 1 to 3:45 p.m. and was for the first time called the “Heritage Alliance of Macomb County.” Art Woodford, director of the St. Clair Shores Public Library, was a speaker. Refreshments were served and 38 people from 14 organizations attended.
On Monday, April 30, 1998, from noon to 4 p.m., the next meeting was held at the Fraser Public Library (upstairs). This was the first time a box lunch was served.
On Friday, April 30, 1999, the Harrison Township Historical Commission hosted the next meeting in the Activities Center at Metropolitan Beach. The guest speaker was then Secretary of State, Candice Miller. A “What Are We Doing” was compiled and copies were given to all attendees. This was the first time for a “Yearbook”.
After this, organizations who hosted the Macomb County Heritage Alliance felt obligated to have speakers, lunch, and a booklet. This has intimidated some groups to not offer to host the annual meeting because it would be too much work. Originally, meetings were held on weekdays, but starting in 2005, they were held on Saturdays because many people had jobs.
Here is a list of the various Heritage Alliance meetings over the years, and where they were held:
1996-Macomb County Historical Society/Crocker House, held at Mt. Clemens Public Library Auditorium 1997-Roseville Historical and Genealogical Society, held at the Roseville Recreational Center
1998-Fraser Historical Commission and Society, held at Fraser Library
1999-Harrison Township Historical Commission, held at Metropolitan Beach Activity Center.
2000-Washington Twp. Historical Society, held at Municipal Senior Center
2001-Clinton Twp. Historical Commission, held at Mt. Clemens Public Library auditorium
2002-Historical Society of St. Clair Shores and St. Clair Shores Historical Commission, held at Blossom Heath
2003-Shelby Twp. Historical Committee, held at Club Monte Carlo near Packard Proving Grounds
2004-Roseville Historical and Genealogical Society, held at the Roseville Theater
2005-East Detroit Historical Society, held in Eastpointe at the Eastpointe Recreation Center
2006-Warren Historical and Genealogical Society, Warren Heritage Center
2007-Ray Township Historical Society, held at Wolcott Mill
2008-Macomb County Historical Commission, held at Lorenzo Cultural Center.
2009-Romeo Historical Society, held at the Romeo Masonic Lodge
By Patricia Hallman, edited by Alan Naldrett
Renaissance Man of Macomb County-
William Austin Burt
A renaissance man, as a phrase, hearkens back to Leonardo da Vinci, the multi-talented man from the renaissance (“reawakening of arts”), a period of Roman/Italian culture. In the 1400's A.D., Leonardo proved that one could use both sides of the brain, mixing accomplishments in art such as The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa, with scientific feats such as designs of early submarines and flying apparatus, accurate anatomical drawings, and more. The term Renaissance man has morphed in modern times into a term that refers to an individual who excels in more than one field of expertise.
While William Austin Burt's accomplishments were mostly on the scientific side of the coin, the adjective Renaissance man is fitting. His achievements were diverse:
In the pioneer days of white men in the Michigan region, Mr. Burt was an organizer of early government. As a member of the territorial Michigan Legislature from 1826-1827, when the Michigan Territory included the present-day states of Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota and a large portion of the Dakotas, Burt helped govern a large area.
He was a Macomb County Circuit Judge in 1833.
He was one of the first surveyors and explorers of the Michigan Territory. He was one of the surveyors for the Talcott line, verifying that the maps ceding the disputed Toledo territory to Ohio (who included the “Toledo Strip” in their state boundaries in 1803, the year of their statehood) were inaccurate. He explored Cheboygan County where Burt Lake is named for him. As a surveyor, he first worked in the Port Huron area, surveying townships. From there, he went to Wisconsin to do the same. Burt was always highly praised for the accuracy of his surveying lines-today, when re-surveyed, most of his work is still found to be totally accurate! He was a deputy surveyor of the United States from 1833 until 1853.
He was the inventor of the solar compass, useful to surveyors when unable to use magnetic compasses in the presence of vast iron reserves.
Speaking of those iron reserves, Burt discovered the first ones in Michigan. While surveying what was to become the Marquette Range, Burt noticed fluctuations in the compass readings. Shortly thereafter, Burt and his crew found many specimens of ore that Burt immediately recognized as iron! Burt first built the solar compass, unaffected by the presence of iron, in 1835. In February 1836, the U.S. Patent Office awarded Burt patent number 9428 X for his invention of the very useful compass
The first American patent for a typewriter was granted in 1829 to William A. Burt. The typewriter was the progenitor of the computer keyboard, for those of us forgetting what a typewriter is. His version was called the typographer. His first version was lost in a fire at the U.S. Patent office in 1836, but Burt’s grandson, Austin Burt, built a replica that was displayed at the Columbian Exhibition in Chicago in 1893. (see below photo). The replica was given to the Smithsonian where it is often on display. Burt’s second version was more expansive- said to be as big as a pinball machine!
On the artistic side of his brain, Burt was a millwright and designed an Octagon House whose location is now marked by a plaque in Stoney Creek Park of Macomb County.
William Burt was also the first postmaster for Mt. Vernon, MI. Mt. Vernon was one of the first communities in Macomb County, although little remains today but a church and a cemetery. Many of the county’s early settlers are buried in the cemetery-some as far back as 1817, twenty years before Michigan became a state. The post office opened on December 19, 1832 and operated until July 15, 1905. The village, which was named for George Washington’s Virginia estate, was located at 28 Mile and Mt. Vernon in Washington Township. On April 8, 1894, the spelling was changed to Mountvernon. Businesses in Mt. Vernon included a general store that also served as an inn, a blacksmith, a buggy store, a cooper, a re-weaving place, sawmills, and a greenhouse. There was also a school, two churches, a Catholic and a Methodist. The Methodist Church is about the sole remnant of the community and is pictured along with its adjoining
cemetery. Farming was the chief industry. Dennis Soule, a farmer, specialized in constructing windmills. The small community was ravaged by smallpox from late 1875 to early 1876.
William Austin Burt was born June 13, 1792 and died on August 18. 1858 at the age of 66. Mr. Burt left Mt. Vernon around 1856 and spent his last years living in Detroit.
Practically all that is left of William Burt’s village of Mt. Vernon is the cemetery and the Methodist church (pictured). A random perusal of the burials in the cemetery reveals that many of the early pioneers of the area were buried here (for instance, see date on pictured tombstone).
Top photo shows William
Burt’s octagon house in Washington
Township. Next door to
the house is the “wedding cake
house” Burt built for his sons
(2nd photo). William Burt is
buried in Detroit’s Elmwood
Cemetery. His tombstone
(pictured) includes his wife and
By Alan D. Naldrett
Thanks once again to Karl Mark Pall for his invaluable assistance!
In 1901, two cannons were dedicated and placed on pedestals in downtown Mt. Clemens. They were dedicated to honor those who fought in the War of 1812 and the Civil War. The cannons stayed until 1942 when they were donated to a scrap drive for the World War II war effort. Since then, the empty pedestals have remained.
That is, until last August 27, 2005, when cannons were returned to the pedestals. This was largely due to the work of Don Green, vice-chairman of the Macomb County Historical Commission who brought the idea of replacing the cannons to the Mt. Clemens Rotary Club. In honor of the 100th anniversary of Rotary International, the Rotary Club generously picked up the approximately $17,000 tab to replace the cannons and donated them to the county. (The new cannons are not exact replicas of the originals.) One of the cannons is a War of 1812 6 pounder replica. The other is a Civil War Parrot 10 Pounder replica.
The War of 1812 cannon is mounted on the Alexander Macomb pedestal-the county namesake was a distinguished War of 1812 veteran. The cannon is made of cast iron, is 68 inches long, has a smooth bore, and weighs 1,100 pounds. It would fire a 3.6 inch diameter projectile weighing 6 pounds. It could be fired 1,500 yards in 6.5 seconds and was used by both Americans and British in the war.
The Civil War cannon was known as the Parrot-10 pounder. It is mounted on the Colonel John Stockton pedestal at the northeast corner of Cass and Main St. John Stockton was in the Eighth Michigan Calvary Regiment. The cannon is 78 inches long, is made of cast iron and forged reinforcement band heat, shrunk towards the breech, and weighs 900 pounds. A rifle cannon could shoot a 10 pound projectile 5,000 yards in 21 seconds and could land several shots within a 4 foot diameter circle at 1,000 yards. Because of this, and its ease of use, it became the cannon of choice for both sides in the Civil War and came in several sizes. When mounted on a wheeled carriage, a team of six horses and 10 to 12 men were needed to move, load, and fire this cannon. Under stress conditions, they could fire two or three rounds a minute.
Many of the mile roads throughout the Metro Detroit area have had names at one time or another, some more than one! This feature ran in the Chesterfield Township Historical Society newsletter a few times, each time adding more names. Some of the names for mile roads are only used in Oakland County (see 17-19 Mile Roads) or in St. Clair County (see 27-33 Mile Roads). Thanks to Ursula B. Adamson, Loraine DeMuynck, George Furton, Dr. Earl Hartman, Sue Keffer, William J. Krul and Betty Jane Wogen for helping with the list! If you know any names we’ve omitted, please send to: email@example.com .
There is a Detroit News website that gives the history of how Detroit streets got their name. It can be found at: http://historydetroit.com/places/streets.php
0 Mile Road-Ford Rd.
1 Mile Road-Warren Ave.
2 Mile Road-Joy Road
3 Mile Road-Plymouth Rd.
4 Mile Road-Schoolcraft Rd.
5 Mile Road-Fenkell Ave.
6 Mile Road-McNichols Ave.
7 Mile Road-Moross Ave.
8 Mile Road-Baseline; Vernier
9 Mile Road-School Rd.
10 Mile Road-Kern Road
11 Mile Road-Townhall Rd.
12 Mile Roads-Champagne Rd.
13 Mile Road-Chicago Rd.
14 Mile Road-Townline Rd.
15 Mile Road-Maple St.; Wolf Rd.
16 Mile Rd-Metro Pkwy.; Big Beaver
17 Mile Road-Wattles (Oakland Co.)
18 Mile Road-Long Lake Rd. (Oakland Co.)
19 Mile Road-Square Lake Rd. (Oakland Co.)
20 Mile Rd.-Hall Rd., Rosso Hwy., Highland Rd.
21 Mile Road-Shoemaker Rd.
22 Mile Road-Patton Rd.; Waldenburg Rd.
23 Mile Rd.-Telegraph; New Baltimore Hwy.
24 Mile Rd.-Cemetery Rd., Whiskey Rd.; French Rd.
25 Mile Rd.-Arnold Rd.; Runyon Rd.
26 Mile Rd.-Marine City Hwy.
27 Mile Rd.-Springborn; Davis Rd.; Stone Rd.
28 Mile Rd.-Gass Rd.; Meisner Rd. (St. Clair Co.)
29 Mile Rd.-Ray Center Rd.; Knight Rd.; Lindsey Rd. (St. Clair Co.)
30 Mile Rd.-Sikes Rd.; Puttygut (St. Clair Co.)
31 Mile Rd.-Hart Rd. (Macomb Co.); Priedmore (also spelled Predmore); St. Clair Hwy. (St. Clair Co.)
32 Mile Rd.- St. Clair Rd.; Romeo Rd.; Division (Richmond) Fred Moore Hwy. (St. Clair Co.)
33 Mile Rd.- Schooley; Clay Rd.; becomes M-19 (St. Clair Co.)
34 Mile Rd.- Mack Rd.; Woodbeck Rd.; Big Hand (St. Clair Co.)
35 Mile Rd.-Schoof Rd.; Logg Rd.; Meskill Rd.; Armada Center; School Section Rd. (St. Clair Co.)
36 Mile Rd.-Dewey Rd.; Irwin Rd.
37 Mile Rd.-McPhall Rd. Prinz Rd.
38 Mile Rd.-Bordman Rd.
-Compiled by Alan Naldrett
Dean Naldrett has a Chesterfield elementary school and an athletic trophy named for him.
Dean Naldrett, educator, was born on a farm in Ithaca, Michigan. Ithaca is located in central Michigan and is the county seat of Gratiot County. Back on February 19, 1916, when Dean was born, Ithaca was (and still is) on Highway 127, which was the main drag to parts north and south in the state. One time, when cars (and passable roads) were still somewhat of a luxury item, a man pulled up to Dean and asked him if he was on the road to Lansing (state capital of Michigan). Dean informed him he was but that he would get there a lot faster if he turned around and went the other way.
Dean’s father Allen was a farmer with cattle, horses, and other farm animals, while raising beans and corn and various other crops. He was married to Bertha, Dean’s mother, and also the mother of Dean’s siblings, Majel, Bernard, and Jay. Allen’s father, Edward, had arrived from England with his father Thomas. They hailed from the “Naldrett-Rudgewick” area of Sussex County, near London. Thomas had been preceded in coming to Michigan by uncles Clem and William, who helped plat the town of Middleton. Edward was buried in Naldrett Cemetery in Middleton along with his wife, Ellen. The cemetery was established on land that had been part of Edward’s fields.
Dean’s mother, Bertha Jessup (a first name you don’t hear much and not likely to be used by any future family members) was the daughter of John H. Jessup, who owned a mill instrumental to the development of Gratiot County. Dean was named for Bertha’s mother’s maiden name, Dean.
Dean enjoyed the atmosphere of small-town farm life in the 1920s and was an avid follower and player of the new national sport, baseball, as well as horse-riding and other farm activities. But being a farmer was not in Dean’s blood-after graduating from Ithaca High School in 1936, he enrolled in the education program at Central Michigan University in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan. While chiefly studying science and mathematics, Dean was active on-campus in athletics and other student activities. It was through one of these activities that he would meet his future wife, Ilah Cole. Ilah was in a campus club chiefly populated by farm kids called the “Apple Blossom Club.” Even while being derisive of the name, Dean noticed that they had an active baseball team and was soon hanging around, not just for the baseball but also as part of his plan to date Ilah.
Ilah was studying education at Central. She would go on to teach at a one-room country school near her birthplace of Breckinridge, Michigan. On December 21, 1941, they were married in Ithaca, Michigan. Dean had gotten his first teaching assignment teaching math in Brighton, Michigan not long after graduating from Central in 1940. He was in Brighton when World War II began and was recruited by the Civil Service, which was in dire need of math teachers. From there he went to Scottfield, Illinois for three months to study to be a “radio locator” instructor for the Air Force. “Radio Locator” was the term for radar back in the early 40s. From there he and Ilah moved to Boca Raton, Florida, for a year where he taught about early radar to Air Force personnel. Jokingly, he would say that the reason he quit teaching radar to Air Force personnel to join the Navy was that whenever there was an announcement, it would be to the attention of “all Air Force personnel, prisoners of war, and civilian instructors” in that order. Dean would joke that he wasn’t happy coming after prisoners of war.
Dean was commissioned an Ensign in the Navy and began a course of study at the California Institute of Technology.
He received a master’s degree in weather forecasting and was sent to the Naval Base at Tillamook, Oregon, where they had “lighter than air” vehicles, also known as blimps. Dean was the aerologist (like a weatherman) for the base for a year in 1944. While there, Ilah became pregnant and moved back to Michigan when Dean was transferred to Kwajalein Atoll in the Pacific. The largest coral atoll in the world, it is part of the central Marshall Islands. Dean was part of the 1,200 ship Central Pacific Force that made raids on Japanese bases in the Marshall Islands. While his main base was the atoll, Dean also went to Guam, the Philippines, and Hawaii. While he was on Guam, his first child, Sherrel Jean, was born. It would be seven months before he would see her!
Finally, the war ended in August 1945 and Dean came back to the U.S. to re-enter life as a civilian. He found a position in St. Johns, Michigan, as a math and science teacher. Taking it, he moved his family to the small town in central Michigan. On March 9, 1948, daughter Phyllis Elaine was born. Dean received a master’s degree in education and started Ph.D. work at Michigan State University while in St. Johns.
In 1949, Dean moved to New Baltimore, Michigan to begin a new job as high school principal at New Baltimore High School. Unfortunately, he did not get long to work at his new job--war had broken out in Korea and Dean was again called up to active service in 1950. He spent the next 18 months in the Korean war front as an officer and aerographer on the aircraft carrier U.S.S. Sicily, seeing action in the Yellow Sea. While stationed there, the family made their residence in Long Beach, California.
Meanwhile, on January 10th of 1951, the new Anchor Bay Rural Agricultural High School was dedicated. However, on December of 1951 the new high school was forced to turn away students because of a space shortage.
After serving in the Korean Conflict, Dean returned to New Baltimore and resumed his job as principal at the Anchor Bay Rural Agricultural High School.
While principal, he also taught budding journalism students of the first school newspaper, “The Tar Bucket.” He instituted driver’s education classes at Anchor Bay and had the students conduct a “mock election” during the 1952 Presidential elections in which local issues were included on the ballot. He also instituted and was director of the first Adult Education programs in the area.
Around this time, July 10, 1952, it was announced that Algonac School District would take over the Fair Haven, Harsens Island, Swartout, and Pte. Tremble school districts. (Fair Haven students would later unsuccessfully petition to be part of the Anchor Bay system.) The school systems in the area were changing, as many people, especially Dean, felt it was time that the many rural schools in the area were absorbed into larger districts better equipped to meet the evolving educational needs of the students.
At the same time, Dean was named to a committee that was to study the long range future needs of the school districts in the area. One of the decisions was the need to consolidate. Addressing the issue to the various districts in the area, Dean produced the following reasons stating the case why consolidation of the various smaller schools would be a major boon to education in the area:
Anchor Bay’s new building will be paid for in five years by continuing the payment of $58,000 per year.
Financial considerations for the consolidation were listed by Dean as being:
Other reasons were listed as being:
On March 19, 1952, Herman A. Litzner resigned as superintendent. Dean was named superintendent by the school board on March 26th.
Dean had his work cut out for him convincing the Bloom rural district that it would be to its advantage to join the new school district. There were many setbacks as many of the smaller rural districts such as Bloom, did not want to disband. The situation was escalated when on May 14, 1953, Earl Burns, President of the school board, announced that no tuition students from the closed “Brick School” of Chesterfield District #7 Fractional or the Bloom district would be accepted at Anchor Bay because of overcrowding and that it was possible that the usual school day would be cut down to half-day sessions to relieve overcrowding in the Anchor Bay district.
Around September 1953 the Anchor Bay voters agreed to absorb Chesterfield Districts
#7 and #9, which included the Weller, Milton, Hardway, Big Stone,* Poplar Grove, and
Green Schools. The western portion of #9 went to New Haven and the area of Green
School later went to the neighboring L’anse Creuse School District. (Part of this district
remained, including the land that later became the Dean A. Naldrett Elementary School.)
On August 27, it was announced that the district, like neighboring Algonac, would be unable to accept any high school tuition students from other districts not already consolidating. It is also announced at this time that the state had approved the annexation of the Bloom district and that it would be up to the local voters to approve the move. This was met with bitter opposition by Henry Claeys, the Bloom School moderator, who felt that consolidation would lead to high taxes. In regard to joining the district, he said “Public education is best left in the hands of the people.” Saying he “wasn’t opposed to consolidation”, he resented the ‘squeeze play’ the district was being put in since Anchor Bay was discontinuing allowing high school students from the Bloom district to continue attending high school in New Baltimore, the only one in the area, especially since they let children from other districts attend (after paying tuition).
In reply, Dean said, “The days of the little red schoolhouse are over-consolidation must be achieved!” He went on to say that Boom School had been aware of the annexation problem for years, that two years ago a petition had been filed with the board by residents of the district for such union, but no action had been taken by the board. In response to the allegation that Bloom students were being refused entry to the high school when students of other districts were not, Dean replied that only one or two students were sent to Anchor Bay by the Popular Grove, Green, and Big Stone schools, while Bloom district sent large numbers. He further mentioned that the St. Clair Area Study Commission indicated that Bloom School district naturally fell within the Anchor Bay area. As for taxes, Dean said that it was very true that Bloom’s taxes had been low; so low he said, that “adequate schooling is not provided children in the district. All eight grades are housed in a two-room schoolhouse, taught by teachers with “temporary” certificates.
He further stated, regarding the boundaries and present rules requiring his own children to attend the rural school in Ira Township, “I live in the district and my own children are victims of this antiquated educational system.” For indeed, Dean’s daughters Sherrel, and Phyllis, were both among the 50 students attending the two rooms of the little red schoolhouse of Bloom.
On September 10, 1953, Chesterfield voted to consolidate with Bloom, but the issue was resoundingly defeated by the voters of Bloom School District. Dean allowed Bloom students (there were 20 in all) to fill out enrollment slips listing the classes they wanted, but because of the vote, he was unable to let them register.
The battle continued with Bloom remaining a separate district throughout 1953. Finally,
on June 6, 1954, Anchor Bay won a decision by the Michigan Supreme Court which entitled the district to reclaim some of the more desirable “boundary” property of the Bloom district. This angered the Bloom school board who felt that Anchor Bay was just trying to get the higher assessed property of Bloom district. But finally, on July 24, 1954, the residents of Bloom School District had had enough and voted to consolidate with the Anchor Bay Rural Agricultural School System.
During this time, on April 12, 1953, Dean’s son Alan was born. He would be followed by his son Ronald on April 27, 1956. Dean was happy that his family was now what he considered ideal, two boys and two girls.
On July 20, 1955, the name of the newly transformed and hard-fough-for school district was changed to “Anchor Bay School District.” Dean was proud to be the superintendent of the new entity and made many progressive decisions to help move the district into modern times. This included hiring many of the people who would be instrumental in the growth of Anchor Bay for years to come including, among others, Robert Hodson, Richard Henriksen, James Meli, Joan Ryan, Rae Janet Schellig and her mother, Janet Socia, Red Dobson, Fred Dunlap, and many others.
Throughout his life, Dean was active in many organizations including the National and Michigan Education Associations, the Macomb County Association of School Superintendents, the First Congregational Church of New Baltimore, and the Rotary Club. He continued to love baseball and helped form (in the New Baltimore area) the Babe Ruth League for older boys and Little League for younger ones, encouraging the groups to use school-owned baseball fields. He also encouraged athletics at Anchor Bay Schools and helped organize the football, track, girl’s and boy’s basketball, and baseball teams. When he died, an athletic trophy at the high school was named for Dean.
On September 19, 1958 he went to a convention for the Michigan School Administrator’s Association Meeting being held on Mackinac Island. Ironically, on the way there, he arranged for the new polio vaccine to be sent to Anchor Bay Schools. While at the convention, he was stricken with what was thought to be Asian Flu. The superintendent of Ithaca Schools took him to his parent’s house in Ithaca. He worsened and was taken to Alma Community Hospital, where he died three days later on September 22, 1958. An autopsy revealed that Dean had unknowingly contracted the bulbar polio virus.
Dean’s funeral in Ithaca caused Anchor Bay Schools (and St. Mary’s Catholic) to be closed while many busloads of the townspeople (including students) were transported the three-hour trip to Ithaca from New Baltimore. Many others drove their own cars. The unprecedented crowd exhibiting a level of appreciation rarely experienced in either small town. The Detroit Free Press had a banner headline on their second front page proclaiming, “Town Closes to Honor Son.”
Two years later in 1960, the Anchor Bay School Board voted to name the second elementary school in the school system after Dean. The school, whose students body was schoolchildren of Selfridge Air Force Base, brought a level of diversity to the surrounding communities that Dean would have been proud of.
After Dean’s death, his widow, Ilah, would continue to teach at Anchor Bay Elementary School for over 20 years, in the process helping to create the first “Readiness Room” for children who might not make it through first grade without special attention. Ilah also briefly taught at Naldrett Elementary School.
Loved not only for his charm and wit, Dean Naldrett was the first superintendent of the consolidated Anchor Bay School District and was instrumental in ushering in the modern age of education to the Anchor Bay area, presiding over the end of the little red schoolhouse days.
*Ironically, Dean helped save the Big Stone School from destruction when he requested it be moved to the back of the high school to be used as a storage facility. Here it remained for many years until in 1990 a Big Stone School Committee was formed and restored the school, moving it to a more accessible part of the school grounds.
There have been many settlements, hamlets, and former villages in Macomb County. Many grew up around the railroad lines and were very prosperous for a time. Most of these listed here had a U.S. post office at one time. Some, like Warsaw (now part of Mt. Clemens) and Beebe’s Corner (now part of Richmond), were absorbed by other settlements. Some were abandoned due to a natural disaster, such as the flooding of Belvidere. In many cases, remnants of the old settlement remain-such as a cemetery, schoolhouse converted to a residence (Prestonville), or old general store being used as a party store (Davis). Many have been remembered in other ways, such as Beebe St. Park in Richmond or Waldenburg Park in Macomb Township.
Armada Corners- This settlement was located in Armada Township and identified on an 1859 map. It later became more well-known as “Selleck’s Corners,” after “Uncle” John Selleck, a popular local tavern keeper. It was located at 32 Mile and Romeo Plank Roads and included nearby Gilmore Rd. It was a stop on the plank road from Mt. Clemens to Romeo and at one time had two hotels, a mill, several other businesses, and a dance hall.
Base Line (or Baseline)-This area was located just north of 8 Mile Road, often referred to as “Baseline Road.” The square mile settlement was platted and recorded Nov. 2, 1860 and named Base Line because it ran over the approximate location of the surveyor base line for Michigan. They were given a post office on April 25, 1927 (George P. Siagkris was the first postmaster) which lasted until July 31, 1957. Mr. Siagkris built the first 2-story brick house in the area. The first floor was the post office and stores, the second floor had offices occupied by the first doctors and dentists in the area. The settlement was governed under the township until annexed by Warren in 1957.
Beebe’s Corners/Coopertown-This early settlement was located roughly at Main Street (M-19) and (Armada) Ridge Road in Richmond, Michigan. It was named for Erastus Beebe who had government land in northern Macomb County in 1835. In 1855 the aptly-named Harvey Wheeler had a wagon (and sleigh) shop here. In 1885, the first hotel was erected by Mr. Beebe. With the railroad nearby, the settlement grew to include a blacksmith shop, grocery, church, school, two hotels, and a general store. Beebe St. still exists in east Richmond and also Beebe St. Memorial Park. Just down the street, at 2nd St. (now Water St.) and Main, James Cooper built a stave mill. In 1860 he also added Cooper General Store. This part of town was not surprisingly called Coopertown. In 1879, Beebe’s Corners/Coopertown was annexed by the adjoining village (now the city) of Richmond.
Belvidere-In 1835, David and James L. Conger of Cleveland bought land at the mouth of the Clinton River (where it enters into Lake St. Clair) and had Abel Dickerson plat a village. In 1836, Edward R. Blackwell made a larger and more accurate plat. Lots were sold and businesses established. In 1837 the community was given a post office. Notably, the community was the home to Belvidere Bank, also known as the Bank of Lake St. Clair, which printed its own money. Denominations printed were ones, twos, and threes (!). ). Two-dollar bills from the Belvidere Bank still survive even though the bank itself has been underwater for over 160 years. (There is no truth that this is where the phrases “liquid investment” or “floating a loan” came from.) There was also a general store, saw-mill, steamboat landing, grist mill, warehouse, and other stores. There were reportedly many carp fisheries and many mechanics, as well as 12 to 15 dwellings. Unfortunately, the town had barely gotten off the ground when it was underwater. Within three years, flooding caused the whole town to become flooded completely up to the second story of its two story tavern (the upper floor was to be a hotel). By 1838, high waters so flooded the area that the community was abandoned. It was also called Huron Point and was located south of Metropolitan Beach by the Harley Ensign Access Site in Clinton Township.
Cady or Cady’s Corners-This area was first settled by Chauncey G. Cady (1803-1893) in 1833 and he first held the offices of township supervisor (1833) and then township clerk (1849). In late 1849 he also became a member of the state legislature where he served until 1857. He was later the Macomb Co. Drain Commissioner where he served for many years, living to be 90 years old. In his later years, he was the first president of the Pioneer Society which morphed into the Macomb County Historical Society. He lived at 2002 Moravian, one of the oldest houses in the area. Cady’s Corners got a post office on July 15, 1864 and George A. Page was its first postmaster. The post office operated until July 31, 1906. Cady’s Corners was located at Moravian and Utica Roads in Clinton Township. Also in Clinton Township, the Miller Cemetery at Metropolitan Parkway and Utica has Section 30 which is referred to as Miller/Cady’s Corners. Cady’s Corners is also used as a name for a genealogy group in the area.
Cooley’s Corners-This was settled in 1831 by Samuel Cooley. His brother Dr. Dennis Cooley was a widely-known botanist who also resided in Cooley’s Corners. He wrote several papers on the area’s plant life during the late 1880’s. Dr. Cooley was also the Washington postmaster from 1836 to 1859. Cooley’s Corners was located at 24 Mile Road and Schoenherr.
Davis-This settlement of Ray Township was originally named Brooklyn (also spelled Brooklin). Because this name was already taken in Michigan, the settlement was renamed Davis in 1876 in honor of Rev. Jonathan E. Davis. The first postmaster was also named Davis: Bela R. Davis. The post office operated from March 9, 1876 until August 31, 1910. At its peak in the 1940s, Davis had 2 grocery stores, 2 gas stations, a church, Davis Hardware, a barber/beauty shop, cleaners, tile factory, grange office, two-room schoolhouse, insurance and other offices, a Masonic Temple, and a cemetery. Prior to 1876 (when the settlement was called Brooklyn), there were 2 blacksmiths, a hotel, general store, sawmill, cooper, church, school and cemetery. The “Plank Road Mill” manufactured planks for the Romeo Plank Road. Davis was/is located at 27 Mile and Romeo Plank Road in Ray Township-it is still a viable entity as a community, with the Masonic Lodge still operating, as well as a party store, pizza place, and electric business. The Davis Baptist Church is there, and the cemetery has recently added a new chain link fence.
Disco-In the early 1830’s settlers, mostly from New York, cleared land and built log cabins on the corners of sections 9, 10, 15, and 16 of Shelby Township. They originally called this the “Utica Plains.” A village was platted in 1849; Isaac Monfore, John Noyes and Chauncey Church owned the land. The first Methodist Church was built in 1827. The townspeople hired Alonzo M. Keeler to supervise their high school, the Disco Academy, which was named for the Latin word for “to learn” (by some accounts, a short version of “District of Columbia”). Erected in 1850, the building continued in the service of high and primary education until 1864. At this point, the lower floor was used by the school trustees and the upper floors were used by the religious societies of the neighborhood (the Methodists and later the Congregationalists). The village and the post office followed suit, also using the name Disco. The post office operated from May 5, 1854 until July 31, 1906. In 1856, the Disco Academy had 137 students, growing to 154 students in 1857. The original building burned in 1880 and was replaced. Disco Academy declined with the advent of the state public school system and the old academy building became a restaurant. Some sources place the main part of the town at Van Dyke between 25 and 26 Mile Road. Besides the academy, Disco boasted a wooden bowl factory, a feed mill, cider mill, two general stores, a harness shop, a paint shop, a hotel called “The Halfway House” a planning mill, and even a local physician (however, no discotheques). Even though it was never the site of an actual disco, during Prohibition, the current McClenaghans, formerly known as Ichabod’s Bar, south of 24 Mile on Van Dyke, served as a blind pig called the Yellow Canary. Disco at this time was known as Whiskey Center. A half barrel of beer was obtainable from a Utica distillery for $8.00. The name Disco has been continually in use in some form as the name of businesses in the Van Dyke and 24 Mile Road area and is continually used on many maps of the area. A sign with the village name continued to mark the area long into the 1990’s.
Frederick-This site was just southwest of present Mt. Clemens. It was originally the location of the Gnadenhuetten mission. Located at the oxbow of the Clinton River, this community also went by the name “Casino.” Reportedly, a Mr. Tremble built a sawmill here before the War of 1812. Job C. Smith built another in 1826. In 1836, Horace Stephens, of Detroit, bought land here and laid out a village which he named in honor of his brother. The Clinton and Kalamazoo Canal was started here in 1836. By 1843, Fredrick was the busiest port on the Clinton River! In 1852 the mills burned to the ground and were not rebuilt. The village prospered until then, after which it was known as a ghost town.
Gnadenhuetten-This was a Moravian Indian mission founded by Rev. David Zeisberger in 1782. It was closed in 1786 because of the increasing hostility of the Chippewa. The name means “tents of grace.” It is called New Gnadenhuetten in Moravian history to distinguish it from other places in which the sect had used the same name. It was sometimes referred to as Moravian Village. Its site is marked by a small monument on Moravian Drive, just west of Mt. Clemens. See also Frederick.
Half Way-First settled in 1831 by Irish and German homesteaders, Half Way was given a post office on October 13, 1897. The name came because it was halfway between Detroit and Mt. Clemens. Grocer Herman Hummrich was its first postmaster. This community in Erin Township was first incorporated as a village in 1925. In 1926, since the Detroit Post Office bundled mail for this area as “East Detroit,” the Halfway post office was renamed “East Detroit” on December 11, 1926. This was reinforced in an election on January 7, 1929 when the townspeople voted to become East Detroit officially. This lasted until July, 1992 when the name was changed to Eastpointe.
Macomb Corners or Macomb-This area was founded by Daniel Kniffin, Calvin Davis, Daniel Miller and Lester Giddings. Davis became its first postmaster on March 16, 1835 and the office was moved to Waldenburgh on March 29, 1860, but the Macomb post office was re-established on December 19, 1860 and operated until June 15, 1904. A later postmaster was Tobias Price. Macomb Corners, like the county, was named after the Revolutionary War general, Alexander Macomb. Located at 25 Mile and Romeo Plank, in 1830 it had, besides the post office, a store, a Methodist church, and a school that went up to the 8th Grade. It was a stage coach stop on the toll, plank road. See also Waldenburgh.
Meade-Stewart Taylor became the first postmaster of this rural post office in 1838. At that time called “Vienna,” it was renamed for Civil War general, George Gordon Meade, on November 28, 1863 and operated until July 31, 1906. During the 1870’s it was also known locally as the “Crawford Settlement.” At one time near a small airport, as of 2005, Meade still enjoys a somewhat tenuous existence. There is still a party store (located in one of the oldest surviving structures) as well as Meade Cemetery and a few street signs that still mark Meade. It was/is located at 26 Mile Road between Romeo Plank and North Avenue.
Milton-This was a station on the Grand Trunk Railroad in Chesterfield Township. Located at roughly 24 Mile and Bates, near Gratiot, Milton had the first post office in Chesterfield Township, started by town namesake Robert O. Milton in 1837. The post office was in his house and was called the “New Haven Post Office.” This post office was moved closer to New Haven; with Alfred D. Rice establishing a new Milton post office thereafter. Milton also had a post office from January 10, 1856 to July 15, 1904 with Edmund Matthews as the postmaster. Milton boasted a school, Baptist, Congregational and Methodist churches, a physician, blacksmith, and a couple of taverns, the last surviving until 2004 when it was torn down (last known as “The Teddy Bear Bar”).
Mt. Vernon-This settlement was named for George Washington’s estate, a natural choice since the settlement was located in Washington Township. William A. Burt, a surveyor, became its first postmaster on December 19, 1832. The post office was renamed Mountvernon on April 8, 1894 and operated until July 5, 1905. There was also a railroad station, and cemetery. Its first postmaster, Mr. Burt, was an inventor (first American typewriter, 1828 and a solar compass in 1836), millwright, state legislator, justice of the peace, circuit court judge, and writer. He also built the “Octagon House” on 28 Mile Road. The site of his house, now in Stony Creek Metropark, is marked with an historic marker. Businesses in Mt. Vernon included a general store that also served as an inn, a blacksmith, a buggy store, a cooper, a re-weaving place, sawmills, and a greenhouse. There was also a school, churches (one with a cemetery which still exists). Farming was the chief industry. Dennis Soule, a farmer, specialized in constructing windmills. The small community was ravaged by smallpox from late 1875 to early 1876. Mt. Vernon was located in Washington Township at Mt. Vernon and 28 Mile Road. The Capuchin Retreat Center is now located a half-mile north of 28 Mile (as of 2005).
Muttonville-This area that was absorbed by Richmond around 1990 is still listed on some road signs of the area. Located chiefly at the junction of U.S. 25 (Gratiot) and State Hwy. 19, Muttonville, since 1882 when it was founded, was predominantly a sheep raising area-hence the name. A sheep slaughterhouse was here, with most of the mutton, and wool and woolen goods going to Detroit.
Omo-Still the name of a street in Lenox Township, Omo had a post office from October 16, 1897 with storekeeper Frank Will as the postmaster. The post office was closed on January 14, 1905. Omo was a Native American word for prosperity and the village was located a few miles north of New Haven and one mile northeast of North Ave. in Lenox Township at Omo and New Haven Roads. Omo was once a bustling community with a saw mill and general store.
Plumbrook or Plum Brook-Possessor of a rural post office near Plumb Brook Rd. from July 21, 1840 until July 6, 1863, the first postmaster of Plumbrook was John S. St. John. The community was located on Van Dyke and 17 Mile Road, now Sterling Hts. There is still a Plumbrook Golf Course.
Preston Corners/Prestonville-In 1826, 400 acres of government land in Shelby Township was purchased by Ira and Deborah Preston of New York. They settled on the land in 1827 and built a sawmill (reputedly the first in Macomb County) and later a picket fence factory. The sawmill operated for forty years until the late 1870’s. There was also a Prestonville School. In 1881, the Prestonville School had an enrollment of 64 students. The school closed in 1954 and was converted to a private residence. Preston was located at 25 Mile and Schoenherr Rd. There is a Prestonville Cemetery in Shelby Township at 25 Mile in “Section 2.” A bronze plate was erected marking Preston Corners in 1926.
Quinn-On December 10, 1869 Theodore Kath became the first postmaster for this rural post office located in Clinton Township on Gratiot past 16 Mile. The post office operated until September 15, 1873. The organization of the 12th Michigan Infantry was begun under Col. Francis Quinn at Niles in Sept. 1861. The Quinns built a new brick house on Gratiot in 1881.
Ray Center-Located in the southern part of Ray Township, Ray Center’s post office was opened on February 13, 1846 and had Wilson W. Millar as the first postmaster. The post office closed briefly in 1872 and was then re-instated until 1906. The first land purchase in the area was made by Reuben R. Smith in 1824. First named Rhea, after the Latin name of a river in Europe, it was later changed to Ray, which is still the township name. Its location was at the intersection of 29 Mile, Hartway and Indian Trail Road on the north branch of the Clinton River. One of the main businesses was the Shafer Mill. It went into decline when the railroad passed it by, instead going by Armada and Romeo.
Red Run Corners-This rural Macomb County had a post office from July 22, 1857 until September 13, 1860 with Cynthia M. Cole as the first postmistress. It was located in Clinton Township, west of Garfield Rd. near 16 Mile Rd. (Metro Parkway), by the Red Run River. The Millar Cemetery is located near what was Red Run Corners. South across 16 Mile was a large summer park that had a dance hall and pavilion.
Van Dyke-Named after Van Dyke Road (M-53), which was named for James A. Van Dyke in 1885 in Warren Township. Van Dyke was a former Detroit mayor. This village adjoined the north end of Detroit near Van Dyke and 9 Mile. Walter C. Piper platted it in 1917 and named its streets after then Michigan-made cars: Ford, Dodge, Packard, Cadillac, Hudson, etc. Merchant Christopher J. Bristow became its first postmaster on March 25, 1925. The post office operated until August 1, 1957 when the city was absorbed into Warren.
Waldenburg or Waldenburgh-This community around Romeo Plank and 22 Mile Road began with a sawmill. An influx of German settlers in the 1830’s turned it into a farming community with a Lutheran church (still in existence on 21 Mile Rd. and Romeo Plank), school, tavern, wagon shop, general store, blacksmith, hardware store, and other businesses. The cemetery behind the Lutheran church on 21 Mile Rd. has many of the original settlers buried there. The settlement was named after Waldenburg, Germany. The Macomb post office was moved here on March 29, 1860 and lasted until September 15, 1906. The hardware store, Stier’s Hardware, is still in business! The building that Stier’s is located in was originally across the street from where it is now and served as a dance hall for the Waldenburg community. It was moved in 1903. Next door to the hardware store is the Waldenburg Tavern. There was also a North Waldenburg and South Waldenburg, located, surprisingly enough, north and south of Waldenburg on Romeo Plank. North Waldenburg was located at 23 Mile Road and Romeo Plank, while South Waldenburg was located at Hall Road and Romeo Plank. South Waldenburg, also known as “Bobcean’s Corners,” was mainly known for its tavern, possibly located in the same building where “Goldie’s Saloon” is today. A park near 23 Mile and Romeo Plank has been named Waldenburg Park in honor of the settlement.
Warsaw-This community arose from the depot grounds (at one time frequented by Thomas Edison) of the Grand Trunk Railroad in 1862. It was platted by Leander Tromble and incorporated as a village but later absorbed by Mt. Clemens. It was located in Clinton Township (now Mt. Clemens) at Cass Avenue and North Rose Street, near the present railroad museum at the old Grand Trunk Railroad Station. It was named for Warsaw, Poland. Notable resident was the first Polish immigrant to Michigan, Ludwik Wesolowski, also the first Polish notary and first Pole to be an elected public official in the United States. He was an engineer who worked on the ill-fated Clinton-Kalamazoo Canal. His daughter married a man who discovered a huge Canadian oil field. Her daughter from this union is purported to have been the richest woman in the world at that time. She became the Countess Von Zeppelin of German royalty. The Von Zeppelins were the manufacturers and developers of lighter than air balloons.
Many communities were marked on maps but were often nothing more than “whistle stops,” in this case, stops on the Grand Trunk Interurban Railroad, which at one time connected Detroit to Port Huron.
Some of these were:
Clifton-This was the site of a small mill which burned down circa 1840. About 1855, brothers Neil and Hugh Gray founded Gray’s Mills on the site-later platted as a village. It was located at 31 Mile and Mt. Vernon Road and included an inn, mill, blacksmith, and boarded sidewalks! The one-room schoolhouse was converted into a home.
Depew-A train stop in Shelby Twp., sometimes called Depews Siding. It was located on 23 Mile, about ½ mile east of Dequindre.
Eagle Pointe-This settlement was platted and recorded on May 23, 1916 by Edward J. and Louise M. Hickey. Located on a point of land projecting into Lake St. Clair, in Lake Township, this area was absorbed by the village of St. Clair Shores in 1925.
East Union-This was a settlement that had a post office from January 10, 1856 until November 4, 1864. The postmaster was Daniel Shattuck. This was located in “Section 18” of Chesterfield Township.
Fillmore-This settlement, founded on July 22, 1851, was named for the 13th President of the United States, Millard Fillmore, who became president in 1850. Maybe if they had named it after a more well-known president, the community would have prospered more. The post office closed on March 17, 1859.
Frankfort-This settlement was laid out in 1837 at 21 Mile and Tilch and had 400 lots. These were platted along broad streets about a center marked “extensive salt spring.” However, there was no salt and no village developed. The area, marked by an influx of German settlers, was named for Frankfort, Germany.
Genoa-A village that never was, in 1837 was platted and named Genoa by John N. Draper. Consisting of 192 50 by 100 lots, it was conceived but never existed except on paper.
Harlow and Hog’s Hollow-These were early names for Utica, not an early fan club for Jean or a pork restaurant.
Heart (also known as Hart)-This settlement had a post office from March 21, 1837 until September 22, 1838, with Jenison F., Glazier as the postmaster. Located in “section 7” of Chesterfield Township off Chesterfield Road, there is still Hart Cemetery.
Hosner-This settlement was located seven miles from Romeo and was named for James M. Hosner who became its first postmaster from February 3, 1899 until its demise on Dec. 31, 1900.
Justus-Located about 2 ½ miles from Utica, this settlement had a post office from March 11, 1898 until Oct. 27, 1898 with Frank J. Schulz as the only postmaster.
Liverpool-Named for its British counterpart in the hopes it would become a port comparable to the original, Liverpool was platted in 1856 by Edward H. Shook. Located on L’Anse Creuse Bay in Harrison Township at roughly the intersection of Shook and Jefferson St., the community unfortunately never took off.
Marcellus-This was an early Macomb County site that was part of a farm located in Clinton Township at Gratiot by Joseph Hayes in 1819; the village was platted by Green Freeman in 1838. Although it had a sawmill, store, blacksmith shop, and a few homes, it did not prosper and died out by 1890.
Ray-This rural post office in the center of Ray Township opened on May 1, 1827 with Reuben R. Smith as the first postmaster. Not to be confused with the Ray Center post office, it operated until June 25, 1868.
Ridgeway – This was a small village on the Richmond / Lenox Township border on the north side of 32 Mile Road along the railroad track; also called Lenox Station. It was incorporated into Richmond in 1879, the same time as Beebe’s Corners.
Sacket’s-Named for Lemuel Sacket, who was the first postmaster, this rural area had a post office from March 27, 1833 until July 3, 1856.
Salem-This was a small community with a post office in Armada Township from February 1832 until March 18, 1842. Leonard Lee was the first postmaster.
Scottsville-The first postmaster of this rural community was Urial Day. The post office operated from March 19, 1852 until April 27, 1859. This area was located in Armada Township, Section 7.
Spinnings-This community was basically a stop on the Detroit & Bay City Railroad in 1878. It was located on the border between Warren and Sterling Townships on 14 Mile Road between Mound and Van Dyke.
These are actually just a few of the more prominent place names. For a more complete list, Click Here for an excellent list originated by Cynthia Ladensack of the Mt. Clemens Public Library.
-Compiled by Alan Naldrett; June 2005
Romig, W. Michigan Place Names (1986). Detroit: Wayne State University Press.
United State Post Office Archives-Washington, D.C.: National Archives.
Pall, K.M. The Amazing History of Macomb. Lecture series.
Remer, Deborah J. Lost Villages, Small Towns and Railroad Stops in Oakland and Macomb County: Leeson, History of Macomb County: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collection 1874-1912.
Remer, Deborah. “If This is Hasting…Then Where is Hog’s Hollow?” (1990). Rochester Hills: Rochester Hills Museum at Van Hoosen Farm.
Stier, Jeff and Ureel, Keith. Interview, May 29, 2005
The Earliest Time
The Michigan State Legislature officially created Chesterfield Township in 1842 by Public Act 57. Long before this, North American Indian people habited the land and waters-as evidenced by the artifacts of arrow heads, clay pots and burial plots.
The Indian people lived on the shores of Lake St. Clair and on the banks of the many rivers and streams. The marshes provided reeds for weaving into baskets and flat mats. When stretched over sapling frames, they made comfortable summer homes. The land provided food such as wild berries, gourds, roots, and leaves for teas and poultices. The lakes and rivers yielded fish, water fowl and turtles. High ground contained deer, beaver, rabbits, lynx, bobcat, and even bear. Migratory birds of all kinds abounded as food and a source for colorful feathers-used for trade and dress.
The most important harvest for the Indians was salt. Chesterfield contained salt springs whose brine, when evaporated, provided a trade good worth its weight in gold!
The last two Indian reserves in Southeastern Michigan were located in Chesterfield Township. The “Swan Creek” Indian people were the last to leave the idyllic land and water.
The French were the first Europeans to come to Chesterfield. As early as 1611, explorers and missionary priests came up the lake. They named it Lac du Ste Claire on August 12, 1687.
Water was the mode of travel for all people living and passing through. The French adapted the Indian canoes and bateaus. The voyagers also used sail boats for moving their collected furs.
Some of the French settled on the land, built crude huts, gardened on plots, trapped valuable furs, and “made salt.” They called their settlement “La Saline,” known today as Salt River. They named other rivers “Aux Vases” and “Crapeau.”
Early land claims show the strip farms, familiar in France and Canada.
The French legacy also includes an early dialect of language called “Sugarbush” named after the road traversing through the once sugar maple forests.
The British Empire gained control of the land. Many of the French pioneers stayed on to protect their vested interests. Some had grants from the Indians and some from the French court. These were honored by both the British and American Governments.
The British changed things very little. They took over the “salt business.” New merchants traded for furs and farm goods. The government was more constrained.
The first military road was laid out. It was later to be built and called the Fort Gratiot Turnpike. Teams of oxen pulled new settlers through the marshes, woods and across fords of old Indian trails. The land was being permanently settled and cleared for the raising of corn, wheat and other grains. Sheep, cattle and chickens were raised for market.
The American Revolution gave independence to the colonies but the British kept control of the land. They continued to protect their fur trade and enforced British laws over all residents, leaving in 1815 after the War of 1812.
Change really came after Michigan became a territory in 1805. Larger groups of immigrants made their way to the frontiers of Southeastern Michigan. Beside the Native-Americans, French and English speaking families such as the Scotch, Irish, German and Welsh came to the frontier.
Chesterfield was surveyed in 1818 by William Wampler. The first land claims were re-recorded as well as the land of new farmers.
The Fort Gratiot Turnpike became a toll road. Those who used it paid for the upkeep and improvements. Side roads were laid out and constructed. Communities and settlements were formed. A township government was created in 1842 at the school house near Charles B. Matthews. Schools, churches and homes were built out of boards instead of logs. There were saw and grist mills. The land was rich and the crops were good.
Alfred Ashley came to the water’s edge and created the town of Ashley or Ashleyville, later to become New Baltimore. Other towns, some with post offices, appeared near the new railroads and turnpikes. These included Milton, Milton Depot, Chesterfield, Heart, and East Union. This community development brought more people to the land, as well as merchants and mill owners. The community became permanent as schools, churches, stores and shops were added.
The Inter-Urban Electric Railway came from Detroit to Port Huron. Electricity was produced in a New Baltimore Plant. The IUR had stops at Chesterfield, Orra, Bay Court, and New Baltimore. People had rapid travel by land, called “hassle free commuting.”
The beginning of large commercial freighter traffic began on the water. Resorts and pleasure trips for families started. The waters were still fished all year long and hunters hunted the birds on the shore. The hot summers brought Detroiters here for the cool lake breezes, the same breezes that drew the Indians long ago.
The fertile land provided boom times... the lakes enjoyment.
The Times... and Now!
People of all nations, settled on the land named after the English Lord Chesterfield. New subdivisions with fine homes have been built. New churches, schools, shopping centers, and factories for light industry have located in the Township. Chesterfield is one of the fastest growing areas in Michigan.
The Past... Now!
The Chesterfield Township Historical Society was created in 1993. Its purpose is to preserve the great history of our town. Meetings are held on the first Tuesday of the month at the Township Hall.
The Historical Society, with excellent community help, is responsible for building a Heritage Village on the banks of the Au Vase River across from the Township Hall. The “Weller Red School House” is the first building. A memorial for the tornado victims who lost their lives is next to the school. Artifacts like a first tractor and canoe are in storage. A log cabin is on its way to join the schoolhouse.
Guests are welcome to attend the meetings and new members are encouraged to join. Citizens are urged to support the fund-raising events of the Society, like the annual dinners and raffles.
What makes Chesterfield a great place to live is its people... past and present. Community goals are fostered by hardworking families.
Join the Chesterfield Township Historical Society by calling 586-419-2525. Help the future by preserving the past!
Written by Karl Mark Pall
Amazing Macomb County History for the Chesterfield Township Historical Society
Alexander J. Groesbeck was the first, and to date, the only governor of Michigan to come from Macomb County. Fittingly the site of his birthplace in Warren at 12 Mile and Mound (now the site of the GM Tech Center) is commemorated with an historical plaque. But probably the most dominant remembrance of Alex Groesbeck is Highway M-97, which is commonly known as Groesbeck Highway and has a story of its own.
Alex Groesbeck was born in 1872, the son of a pioneer French and Dutch family. When his father was elected sheriff of Macomb County, the family moved to Mt. Clemens. Alex completed his common schooling in Mt. Clemens, graduated from the University of Michigan in 1893, and then began a long legal career in Detroit. He was elected state attorney general and served from 1917 to 1920. In 1921, he was elected to the first of three successive terms as governor of Michigan. After public life, he returned to Detroit where he maintained an interest in civic affairs until his death in 1953.
As governor, he was noted for prison reform, governmental reorganization, and the expansion of state highways. He reorganized the departments of Health, Highways, Public Safety, Conservation, and Agriculture, established an automobile title system, and created the State Administrative Board which put the general supervision of the department under a board of elected officials. So in 1925 it was considered fitting, when a new state road was proposed to relieve the congestion on Gratiot, to name the new highway for then-governor and Macomb County native son Groesbeck. But in between the proposal and the actual highway construction, Groesbeck’s honor was almost hijacked by a state representative.
Alexander J. Groesbeck
Grading on the proposed roadway commenced in 1926, but after Groesbeck left office, work on the road slowed to nothing. Even though all that was left to do was grade the road, all of 1927 passed without any progress. This was when Macomb County state representative Archie M. Reid went to the State Administrative Board, seeking to move things along. The board was very impressed with his plea to finish the road-so much in fact that they voted to name the road for him!
With paving work finally done by 1930, travelers began to use the road. However, confusion reigned when they tried to figure out the name of the highway. There were signs identifying it as “Groesbeck Highway,” “Reid Highway,” and even “Reed Highway”. When asked to explain the confusing situation, the Macomb Co. Road Commission replied by stating that the county was calling the road one thing (Groesbeck) and the state another (Reid). Finally settled as to the name, Groesbeck Highway was officially inaugurated on October 20, 1949. The highway’s namesake was there to cut the ribbon-nearly twenty-five years after first proposing it!
Governor Groesbeck became the first chairman of the state Civil Service Commission in 1941 and lived on until March 10, 1953. He was buried in Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery. Groesbeck Highway continues to be a major state highway, running from approximately 8 Mile Road to Hall Road (M-59).
Traveling Through Time-A Guide to Michigan’s Historical Markers (revised 2005). Ann Arbor, MI: University of Michigan Press.
Weeks, George. Stewards of the State: the Governors of Michigan (1987). Ann Arbor, MI.: Detroit News and Historical Society of Michigan.
Barnett, LeRoy. A Drive Down Memory Lane: The Named State and Federal Highways of Michigan (2004). Allegan Forest, MI: The Priscilla Press.
Henry Joy set aside six hundred acres of marshy land to be used as an airfield. The year was 1910, and aviation was in its infancy, with Wilbur and Orville Wright completing the first successful powered aircraft flight on December 17, 1903. He named it Joy Aviation Field, and Joy Blvd., the western boundary of the base, still carries his name. In 1917, the airfield itself was renamed for Lieutenant Thomas Etholen Selfridge, the first person killed in an aviation accident.
Thomas Selfridge was born in San Francisco in 1882 and graduated from West Point in 1903 in the same class as Douglas MacArthur. Selfridge was assigned to the U.S. Signal Corp, Aeronautical Division and was one of three people trained to fly Army Dirigible Number One. He was the U.S. Government representative to the Aerial Experiment Association, which was chaired by Alexander Graham Bell. Bell constructed a tetrahedral kite, the Sygnet, which Selfridge was the first to fly in. This was on December 6, 1907, and was Selfridge's first flight and the first by a member of the military. The Aerial Experiment Association's first powered aircraft, the Red Wing, was designed by Selfridge. It was not named Red Wing because Selfridge was an early Detroit hockey fan, but because the wings were covered with red silk. Its design inspired Glen Curtiss to build the Flying Jenny. On September 17, 1908, Selfridge met Orville Wright in Fort Myers, Florida, where Orville was demonstrating a new aircraft, the Wright Flyer. Selfridge arranged to be a passenger while Orville tested the plane. The plane crashed, killing Selfridge. This is how Orville Wright described the crash, in letter to his brother Wilbur:
Crashed Wright Flyer
“On the fourth round, everything seemingly working much better and smoother than any former flight, I started on a larger circuit with less abrupt turns. It was on the very first slow turn that the trouble began. ... A hurried glance behind revealed nothing wrong, but I decided to shut off the power and descend as soon as the machine could be faced in a direction where a landing could be made. This decision was hardly reached, in fact I suppose it was not over two or three seconds from the time the first taps were heard, until two big thumps, which gave the machine a terrible shaking, showed that something had broken. ... The machine suddenly turned to the right and I immediately shut off the power. Quick as a flash, the machine turned down in front and started straight for the ground. Our course for 50 feet (15 meters) was within a very few degrees of the perpendicular. Lt. Selfridge up to this time had not uttered a word, though he took a hasty glance behind when the propeller broke and turned once or twice to look into my face, evidently to see what I thought of the situation. But when the machine turned head first for the ground, he exclaimed 'Oh! Oh!' in an almost inaudible voice.”
Aerial view of Selfridge in the 1930's
And so, Thomas Selfridge, the first military flyer, at age 26, became the first aircraft casualty, and Joy Aviation Field was renamed Selfridge Air Field in his honor. In 1918 Selfridge became the first aerial gunnery school and was used to help train pilots for World War I. In 1921 Henry Joy formally sold the field to the U.S. Government for $190,000. In the early days of the airfield, horses were used to pull mowers to cut the grass on the runways. There were no lights, so fires were built at the end of runways to guide planes.
Eddie Rickenbacker at Selfridge Field
Many of the aerial pioneers made stops at Selfridge over the years, including Eddie Rickenbacker and Charles Lindbergh. Rickenbacker returned for the base's 50th anniversary in 1967.
In 1942, as the U.S. Entered World War II, Selfridge Field was expanded to 3700 acres. In 1947, as the U.S. Army Air Corp developed into a separate service, Selfridge Field was renamed Selfridge Air Force Base. In 1971, the base was transferred to the Michigan Air National Guard. Since the 1970s, the main ongoing organization at the base has been the Michigan Air National Guard's 127th Tactical Reconnaissance Wing. These units had formally been housed at Detroit's Metro Airport.
Selfridge is a joint military facility, and includes units from the Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve, U.S. Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and the Marine Corp.
For more history on Selfridge, be sure to visit the Selfridge Air Museum, located on the base.
-Alan Naldrett, 2007
One new book relating to Macomb County is Roseville’s
Airport: Michigan’s First Commercial Airfield.
This book (pictured, left) by Gail Elliott, will be out
this year and available at the Roseville Public Library,
appropriately in the year of the city of Roseville’s
50th Anniversary. The Roseville Airport was
established in 1919 by the Packard Motor Company
and was home to the Ninety-Nines, the first national
women’s aviation organization. During World War
II, a Civil Air Patrol mobilization was held at the airfield.
Thousands came for the air shows and pilot
competitions held there. Famous air heroes of the
day could often be spotted at the Roseville Airport,
which was part of the Gratiot landscape until 1951.
The Eastgate Shopping Center now stands where
the airport once stood. There will be a monument
commemorating the airport placed at the location
on September 28. For further information go to
Another local book has been produced by Washington
Township’s Bob and Cherie Allen and is
titled A “Guest” of the Confederacy. The book details
the military and some civilian activities of
Alonzo M. Keeler, Captain, 22nd Michigan Infantry,
during the Civil War. He was a Macomb County native,
born in Washington Township, and he founded
and taught at the Disco Academy in Shelby Township,
enlisted in the 22nd Michigan Infantry, and
kept diaries throughout his military service, including
528 days as a prisoner of the Confederacy!
This book is on sale nationally or e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information is
available on the website www.macombmicw.com .