Incorporated as a city in 1867, the site where Wyandotte sits today in the 1700s was a village for the Native American tribe known as the Wyandot or Wendat, part of the Huron nation. It was from here in 1763 that Chief Pontiac plotted his attack on Detroit. The center of the village was near modern-day Eureka Avenue and Oak Street.
In 1818, the Wyandot signed a treaty with the U.S. government relinquishing this land, moving to an area near Flat Rock, Michigan, then to Ohio, Kansas and finally Oklahoma. The name somewhat lives on as Wyandotte County, Kansas.
One of the first white settlers to come to Wyandotte in the years after the Native Americans left was John Biddle, a Pennsylvania-born former Army Major who fought in the War of 1812 (and later went on to a prolific political career, serving as mayor of Detroit, delegate from the Territory of Michigan in the U.S. Congress, president of the Michigan Central Railroad, member and later speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives and one-time candidate for Michigan Governor. (West Jefferson Boulevard, which runs from downtown Detroit south to Monroe County is named renamed Biddle Avenue within Wyandotte city limits.)
Biddle purchased a 2,200-acre (8.9 km2) plot near modern Biddle Avenue and Vinewood Avenue in 1835 and created a farm he called "The Wyandotte." He sold the plot in 1854 to Eber Ward of the Eureka Iron Co. for $44,000. In 1864, he took iron ore from Upper Peninsula and smelted it into iron in huge furnaces which came to be known as Bessemer steel mills, the first in the nation. In 1865, the process created steel rails and allowed an explosion of iron-related businesses to open in the region. As a result, Detroit soon became a major center of iron production, especially for use in stoves (Wyandotte was home to several companies as well, including the Regeant Stove Co.) It would be this technology that would give Henry Ford from nearby Dearborn the capabilities to create large amounts of steel for his automobile assembly lines.
( Maj. John Biddlc's home "the Wyandotte"
was completed in 1835, and in 1836, he
and his family moved from the city of
Detroit to Wyandotte. The home was
located at the present site of Biddle
Avenue and Vinewood Street in the city
and was an imposing structure with a
wide veranda running its entire length
with Corinthian columns reaching to
the house's second story. Biddle lived
in his home from 1836 to 1848, but he
was not a farmer and longed to return to
the military and public life. He left the
Detroit area and returned to Philadelphia.
(Wyandotte Museum. (From Images of America by Ken Munsun)
A Eureka representative named John Van Alstyne laid out a master plan for the city in the late 1850s. In 1867, Wyandotte became a city, with Van Alstyne as mayor (a street along Wyandotte's Detroit River is named after him).
Eureka Iron Works prospered through the late 1800s, but suffered a shortage of raw materials. It closed in 1892, but not before Wyandotte became a major hub in the chemical production industry, possible because of the many salt mines deep below the city.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Wyandotte Depot passed through Wyandotte in 1855
Named Detroit, Monroe and Toledo / 1890 called Lake Shore Michigan Southern Road
Later became the New York Central
The station hosted by Pres. Roosevelt in 1902 and Bill Clinton in 1996
Prior to 1866, Wyandotte had existed only as an unincorporated village and an integral part
of Ecorse Township. Incorporation papers to become a city were filed in December 1866 and
approval by the legislature was delayed until March 5, 1867, because they had recessed. The
election of officers was held on the first Monday of April 1867, and under the first aldermanic
charter government, the city was defined as it was in the village days with the land divided into
three wards. As a full-fledged city, Wyandotte welcomed new businesses and the expansion ot
existing businesses and industry. Wyandotte's waterfront that had served the village so well soon
became even more important to the continuing growth of the city. Multiple steam and sail vessels
could be seen at any time of the day on the Detroit River, bringing travelers and raw materials
from other areas of Michigan as well as from other states in the country. The photographs that
follow are a sampling of the many varied businesses and industries in the community that made
Wyandotte a lively hub of commerce throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.
Detroit Exchange Hotel
As the community continued to grow, corporate management realized the need for laborers to
keep the mills operating and sent agents to Europe to "sell" America to emigrants. Wyandotte
advertising posters were also placed in New York City, the port of entry for immigrants. As the
population grew, there was a growing need for lodging. The Detroit Exchange Hotel in Wyandotte
was located between Oak and Elm Streets on the east side of Biddle Avenue. Milspaugh s Stables
was located on the left. This establishment provided a welcome relief for travelers after a day of
dusty air and muddy roads. (Wyandotte Museum.)
Images of America by Ken Munson
Tho Wyandott Indians originally made their home in Canada in the Georgian Bay area. In
1752, members of a remnant tribe of Hurons who called themselves Wyandotts found their way
to this region after following the French and Cadillac Indians to Detroit. The river shore along
the Detroit River offered the Wyandotts easy access to water and wooded areas as well as rich
hunting and fishing and proximity to the Canadian area. It was in this region that the Wyandott
Indian village of Maquaqua was established. During this time there were also a few white farmers
living in the region. The area provided a hunting region that offered deer, partridges, pigeons,
bear, wild duck, geese, and turkeys and was also rich in wooded areas.
After several earlier treaties that continued to move the Native Americans farther west,
the Wyandotts were required to relinquish their claim on their rich land to the United States
government. This area, which was eventually CO become known as the city of Wyandotte,
consisted of small orchards, cornfields, and a few houses.
In 1818, Maj. John Biddle. a retired United States Army officer, came to the Wyandotte area
and purchased over 1,200 acres of this rich land from the United States government upon which
Maquaqua formerly stood. His property holdings during the first years the land became available
for sale was two miles long by two miles deep. He developed acreage for some farming and built
a home, referring to it as his "Wyandotte Estate."
In 1853, Biddle sold his land to the Eureka Iron Company, which was seeking a factory site.
The Eureka Iron Company surveyed the land, declared the boundary lines, and established a
village in the office of the Wayne County Register of Deeds on December 12, 1854- Since this
new village included the acreage of the original property, it was named Wyandotte from the
title of the estate, and Biddle was soon declared to be the city's first white man to have formally
settled in the area. In later years, Biddle served as mayor of the city of Detmit, delegate of the
territory in Congress, the first president of the Michigan Central Railroad, and several other
public service positions.
The streets of the village were based on a plan of the Philadelphia pattern originated by
William Penn. Penn designated one boundary line of Front Street as the starting point. Since
Wyandotte had a rivertront, the main focal point of the area became the river, and the first
street parallel to it became Front Street. The streets running parallel to those became numbered
streets (First, Second, Third, and so on), and streets running horizontal to it were named
for plants and trees (mulberry, chestnut, oak, and so on) in accordance with the Quaker respect
Wyandotte represents the usual melting pot ot multiple nationalities. The predominant
nationality groups from 1854 to 1880 have been the English, French, Irish, Scotch, Canadians,
Germans, and Poles. After 1880, there was an influx of nationalities, including Hungarians,
Greeks, Serbs, Armenians, Russians, Czechs, Slovaks, and Italians. Most nationalities came to
Wyandotte during the same periods that marked the immigration story of the United States.
The city of Wyandotte today, after recently celebrating its scsquiccntennial, continues to
grow and change from an industrial and shipbuilding riverfront community to that of a more
recreational community with condominiums located on the riverfront and a revival of historic
preservation of period homes dating from the 1850s to the early 1900s. In addition, the city's
residents recognize the importance of the role history, culture, and the arts have played in the
growth and development of their community. They actively work through city commissions,
their local historical society, and numerous arts and civic groups to retain and maintain an
environment dedicated to the ongoing growth of culture and economic development.
In 1760, the French surrendered this area to the British, and in 1796, it became a part of the
United States. Gen. Anthony Wayne was appointed commander in chief of the United States
armies and arrived in Detroit in August 1796, and, as a result of his presence, the residents named
ihe county after him. In 1805, Gen. William Hull became governor of the Michigan territory.
During the 1800s, the names of George Clark, William Case, and George Payne were recorded
in the area as farmers. According to an early interview with Clark, the homes in the area were
made of hewed logs. The creeks and swamps were abundant with frogs, snakes, and fish, and
many wolves and deer roamed the land. Case purchased land in Wyandotte during the 1820s
and 1830s, and Payne purchased property that fronted on the Detroit River. Payne raised cattle
and sheep when Native Americans were still residing in the area. Early resident recollections
indicate that the Native Americans were friendly and often dined with the settlers. Immigrants
from other countries began to search for a better life in the United States. By the 1850s, the
Irish and English started to settle in the Wyandotte area, and in the early 1860s, the Germans
started to arrive. It is difficult to obtain early specific information on the immigration as there is
a lack of written source material. Many facts have to be deduced from the general history of the
community, from interviews with local pioneers, from the general history of immigration in the
United States, and from the nationality history of the Detroit area.
John Clark's family moved into a small
house on the site of Maquaqua, or
Monguagon as the French called it, in
His family lived a
fanning existence until 1827 when he
moved to another part of the region to
develop a new farm in Brownstown.
new farming adventure was short-lived as
he died on February 22, 1827. (Bacon
Memorial District Library.)
As the community grew, mure homes were needed lor the Eureka Iron employees. "Rolling mill
houses'1 were built during the early years of the village by the Eureka Iron Company. Credit for
the first house constructed in Wyandotte has been shared by Leander Ferguson and Michael
Boucher, who originally came to Wyandotte to run a boardinghouse for employees ot Eureka
Iron and Steel and built many of the city's early buildings. This rolling mill house with Greek
Revival accents, built in 1857 on Superior Boulevard and Second Street, is typical of the workers'
homes from that period. It was owned by R. C. Conwell, a Wyandotte shipyard superintendent
who was one of the first city aldermen in 1867, the city treasurer in 1878, and also an alderman
in 1889 and 1890. The house continues to stand on its original site at 166 Superior Boulevard.
Charles E. Kregor Store Biddle Ave. & Pine St.
Wyandotte Savings Bank Founded in 1871 by John Van Alstyne
West side of Biddle Avenue