Wayne County Michigan

History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan

Written By Silas Farmer 1890


Vol I - Pt. I - Locality - Chapter I - Pg. 3-5

Detroit: Its Names, Location, and Surroundings.— An Old City.— Remarkable Facts.— Unique Records. — Indian Designations. — Their Meaning.— A Prophetic Name. — Later Names. — The Word Detroit.— Corporate Titles. — Location of City. — Boundaries. — Latitude and Longitude.— Relation to Other Cities. — Conformation of Ground. - Mrs. Jameson's Description. — Present Appearance.— Adjacent Townships and Villages. — Hamtramck, Springwells. Grosse Pointe. Greenfield.

DETROIT: ITS NAMES, LOCATION, AND SURROUNDINGS.

America has but few cities that can properly be called old. Detroit is one of these, and its history is unique and peculiarly interesting. Before New York, New Orleans, Philadelphia, or Boston was settled, and long before the time of Oliver Cromwell, the Sieur de Champlain had nearly reached our border, and the Indians had described our site. The city was founded before Peter the Great had built St. Petersburg.

When Cadillac came the East India Company and the South Sea Bubble had not been heard of, and there was not a newspaper or a post-office in the United States. The first colony here established was like a bit of France in the wilds of the New World, and no city in the Eastern States, and but one or two in the South and West, have anything in common with our earlier life. Some of the old records read like a page of Froissart, and visions of mediaeval scenes and pictures of savage life are strangely intermingled in the records of our past. Cradled in romance, nurtured in war, and trained in the school of conservatism, the city now glories in her position as the most attractive and most substantial of all the cities whose traditions reach back to the days of the "Grand Monarch." Like some old castle on the Loire, with cresting, tile, and finial added to the ancient towers and moss-grown battlements, so Detroit stands, a proud relic of the past, graced and crowned with all the gifts of the present. Even in its names, it is favored above most cities. At different times it has been designated by no less than six distinct appellations, and has had three different corporate names.

In the old traditions of the Algonquin Indians, it was known by the name of Yon-do-ti-ga, or Yon-do- ti-a, A Great Village; its first name was thus prophetic of its future. It was also called Wa-we-a-tun-ong. Circuitous Approach, on account of its location at the bend of the river. The Wyandotte called the site of Detroit Toghsaghrondie, or Tyschsarondia, which name, variously spelled, will be found in the old Colonial Documents, published by the State of New York; it has been modernized into Teuscha Grondie, and has reference to the course of the river. The Huron Indians called the place Ka-ron-ta-en. The Coast of the Strait.

When first settled, the location received the name of Fort Ponchartrain, in honor of Count Ponchartrain, the then French Colonial Minister of Marine. As the number of inhabitants increased, and the settlement grew into a village, it received its present name from the word detroit, or strait. Its popular cognomen, the City of the Straits, is thence derived. It is an interesting fact that the name of the oldest city in the Canadian Dominion and the first capital of that region, the place from which Cadillac and the first settlers came hither, is derived from the Algonquin word quebeis or quelibec, signifying a strait; the cities of Detroit and Quebec thus bear names similar in origin and signification.

The early French colonists applied the name Detroit to the settlements on both sides of the river, calling one North Detroit, the other South Detroit. It is also known that early French travelers designated all of the waters between Lakes Erie and Huron as the detroit. This generalization has led several modern authors into the error of locating events here that really occurred on the river St. Clair.

The city's corporate names have been as follows: By Act of January 18, 1802, it was designated as the "Town of Detroit." By Act of October 24. 1815. it was called the "City of Detroit." On April 4. 1827. it was enacted that the corporate name should be "The Mayor. Recorder, and Aldermen of the City of Detroit." On February 5, 1857, he was enacted that the name should be " City of Detroit."

LOCATION.

The city is located near the head of the river, on its northerly and westerly banks. The eastern boundary is about four miles from Lake St. Clair, and the western, nearly twenty miles from Lake Erie. The river separates the British Province of Ontario, formerly Upper Canada, from the State of Michigan, County of Wayne. The city is bounded on the north by the townships of Greenfield and Hamtramck, on the east by Hamtramck, and on the west by the township of Springwells. Reckoning from the flagstaff on the City Hall tower, Detroit lies in latitude 420 19' 50.28' north; and longitude 830 2' 47.63' west of Greenwich, England, and 5" 595' 45.83' west of Washington, D. C. Our time is therefore 23 minutes 59.06 seconds slower than that of Washington. Rome and Constantinople are in nearly the same latitude, and Havana and Calcutta are longitudinally in the same range. Upon a globe the city appears as opposite the northwest corner of the Chinese Empire, and on an air line, it is about one thousand miles northeast of New Orleans, or the Gulf of Mexico, and seven hundred miles west of New York and the Atlantic Coast.

The older portions of the city, including all south of Adams Avenue, are built on a succession of ridges running parallel with the river, their general direction being from cast to west. Counting from the river to Adams Avenue, there were at least four ridges. At the corner of Woodward and Jefferson Avenues the ground is twenty-two feet above the river. From Woodward Avenue the ground slopes gradually away to the west until, at Second Street, the roadway is on a level with the wharves. Another ridge is shown at Fort Street. It crossed Woodward Avenue and extended beyond Farmer Street. The third ridge was just south of the Grand Circus; and the property of H. H. Leroy on the west side of Woodward Avenue shows that the street at that point has been graded down nearly four feet. At High Street, and again at Fremont Street, the rise of ground is quite noticeable. At the Holden Road the elevation is fully fifty-two feet above the river.

"Beautiful for situation," the city wins the praises of all who look upon it. No one has more faithfully portrayed its appearance, and the feelings of a visitor, than Mrs. Jameson. She says:

The day has been most intolerably hot; even on the lake there was not a breath of air. But as the sun went down in his glory, the breeze freshened, and the spires and lowers of the city of Detroit were seen against the western sky. The schooners at anchor, or dropping into the river, the little canoes flitting across from side to side, the lofty buildings, the enormous steamers, the noisy port and busy streets, all bathed in the light of a sunset such as I had never seen, not even in Italy, almost turned me giddy with excitement.

Since her visit in 1837, the city has both gained and lost in beauty. The old pear-trees no longer form a setting to the houses of white and red, and the tints of gray and brown have mostly disappeared. Rarer architecture now looms amid the trees and richer coloring greets the eye, and those who come to see, linger to admire.

SURROUNDINGS.

A large portion of the adjoining township of Hamtramck is built up near the river, and iron smelting, stove and hollow-ware manufacturing, and other kindred industries are extensively carried on there. Stores and shops line the main road,—an extension of Jefferson Avenue, and many elegant residences are located on the river-side. Belle Isle lies in front, and opportunities for boating are unsurpassed. The new City Water Works, with receiving basins, substantial engine-houses, and other buildings, are in the extreme eastern corner. Here also are Linden Park, the Driving Park, and the German Shooting Grounds, and Milwaukee Railroad Junction. The villages of Leeville and Norris are also within the township links. This latter suburb is about six miles from the city. It was laid out in August, 1873, by Colonel P. W. Norris, after whom it is named. He purchased the grounds in 1865. The village is located about thirty feet above the forks of Connor's Creek, on gently undulating ground; the soil is dry and sandy, but very fertile. Prairie Mound, once a favorite haunt of the Indians, and one of their burial-places, is in full view of the village.

An abundant supply of good well-water is easily reached. All the streets and avenues are seventy feet wide ; one is one hundred feet wide and extends to Woodward Avenue. A large Orphan Asylum, controlled by the Lutheran Church, is here located. Near the village is the crossing and station of the Bay City and Grand Trunk railroads.

The township of Springwells, on the southwest boundary of Detroit, contains a noted railroad junction,originally called the Grand Trunk Junction; the post-office name is now Detroit Junction. Connections are here made between the Michigan Central, Grand Trunk, Detroit, Lansing & Northern, Lake Shore & Michigan Southern, Flint & Pere Marquette, and Detroit & Butler railroads. The car shops of the Michigan Central Railroad, consisting of four large and other smaller buildings, were located here in 1873, and many railroad employes have built homes near by. Here, also, are the extensive car manufacturing shops of the Michigan Car Company, —an establishment unrivalled by that of any other car-building company in the United States. The extensive dry docks and ship yard of John P. Clark, the Baugh steam forge establishment, the leather manufactory of the late Marshall Jewell, and the large tobacco manufactory of Daniel Scotten, several large nurseries and extensive brick-yards, the smelting works of the Detroit & Lake Superior Copper Company, the village of Delray, the Detroit Glass Works, Fort Wayne, St. Luke's Hospital, and Woodmere Cemetery are in this town.

The shore line of Grosse Pointe township, which joins Hamtramck on the north, is washed by the clear blue waters of lake St. Clair. The township is celebrated for its cherries. It is the summer resort of a number of Detroit families, who have erected elegant residences and determined its future as the most desirable and attractive suburb that Detroit, can ever possess. A lighthouse, on what is known as Windmill Point, marks the entrance of the river into the lake, and is the chief landmark of the vicinity.

The township of Greenfield adjoins the city on the north. Here is the immense seed farm of D. M. Ferry & Company, embracing three hundred acres.

Vol I - Pt. I - Locality - Chapter II - Pg. 6 - 10

The River, Islands, Wharves and Docks, Streams and Mills. —The River.— Original Scenery.— A Natural and National Boundary. —Length, Width, Depth, Character of Bottom.—- Harbor.— Volume of Water. — Current. — Elevation above Sea. — Condition in Winter.— Ice Supply.—Absence of Danger.— Highest and Lowest Levels.—Causes of Rise and Fall.— Temperature.— Boating Facilities.—Excursions. — Names of Islands.— Origin of Names.— Curious Statements.—Wharves and Docks.— The River Line.— Improvement of River Front.— Early Docks.— Length of Docks.— Three Old Streams. — Courses and Names of Streams. — Accident on the Savoyard. — Bridges.— Fishing at Congress Street.— Transformations.— Old Mills.— Their Location.

THE RIVER, ISLANDS, WHARVES AND DOCKS.
STREAMS AND MILLS, THE RIVER.

London has its Thames, Paris, the Seine, Rome, the Tiber, and New York, the Hudson; but in everything the Detroit excels them all. It is no wonder that the first visitors came by water when such a stream flowed by them and beckoned them along. All the early travelers bore testimony to the beauty of the river and the volume of its waters, which the population of a score of the largest cities cannot diminish or defile. Then as now islands, like emeralds, were strung along its way, and myriads of wild fowl then fed upon its shores; its waters did not "dash high on a stern and rock-bound coast," but were so still and calm and clear that the smoke of wigwams, nestled on their banks, was mirrored on their smooth surface. Scores of canoes were hauled up on the river-side, while others flashed along the current or plied to either shore. Later on. windmills stretched their broad arms to the breeze, and, with fish-nets hung on reels, formed the landmarks of their day.

The Detroit River is undoubtedly one of the most remarkable in the world. It forms a natural boundary between the United States and Upper Canada, separating the State of Michigan from the Province of Ontario; the boundary line opposite Detroit is about midway of the stream, and for most of the distance nearest the Canadian shore. The United States thus has jurisdiction over the larger portion. It was declared to be a public highway by Act of Congress December 31, 1819. From Windmill Point Light, at the foot of Lake St. Clair, to Bar Point, where the river empties into Lake Erie, the distance is 27 miles. 1515 yards. The distances between other established points are as follows: From Windmill Point Light to foot of Isle La Peche, 1534 yards; from Isle La Peche to foot of Belle Isle, 3 miles, 254 yards; from Belle Isle to Woodward Avenue, 2 miles, 347 yards; from Woodward Avenue to head of Fighting Island, 7 miles, 780 yards; from Fighting Island to Bois Blanc Lighthouse, n miles, 640 yards; from Bois Blanc Lighthouse to Bar Point, 2 miles, 1480 yards.

The greatest width of the river is three miles; in its narrowest point, opposite the city, it is a little over half a mile wide. Its average width is one mile. The depth varies from ten to sixty feet, with an average of thirty-four feet. The river bottom, for the most part, is sandy or stony. It is navigable for vessels of the largest class, is almost entirely free from obstructions of any sort, and offers one of the largest and safest harbors in the world. London is the largest port, but more tonnage passes Detroit than ever enters the Thames.

The waters of Lakes Superior, Michigan, Huron, and St. Clair, of Green, Saginaw, and Georgian Bays, also of thousands of streams that enter them, flow into the Detroit. It is, in fact, the natural drain or channel for the passage of waters from eighty-two thousand square miles of lake surface, and one hundred and twenty-five thousand square miles of land, thus rivalling the Ohio, which is more than forty times as long.

The current is rapid and generally uniform; the maximum velocity is 2.44 miles per hour, the mean velocity, 1.79 miles. It is estimated that two hundred and twelve thousand cubic feet of water pass the city each second of time.

More fresh water is discharged through this river than through any other in the world except the Niagara and the St. Lawrence. The incline amounts to one and one half inches per mile, or three feet for its entire length. The elevation above sea-level, at a point opposite the Marine Hospital, is five hundred and seventy-seven feet. The river is not generally frozen over until the latter part of December or January; but in extreme cold weather the ice is from twelve to twenty inches thick.

Previous to 1854, persons and teams frequently crossed over on the ice; and on February 10, 1855, the river was so completely frozen that a little shanty was erected in the middle, in which liquors were sold.

The breaking of the ice by the daily trips of the Railroad Ferry Boats, since 1854. has precluded any further crossing on foot in front of the city. Such is the rapidity of the current that the river is soon cleared of floating ice. The gathering of ice is an extensive business, and from 50.000 to 100,000 tons are annually stored for summer use. The water supplied to citizens amounts to 6,000,000,000 gallons yearly.

The river is usually tranquil and never dangerously rough. The water is of a bluish tinge, and in transparency and purity is unrivalled. Like other bodies of water, the river rises and falls, but unlike other large rivers, the variations are never so sudden or extreme as to cause any inconvenience, and buildings are erected at the water's edge without fear of damage.

In the year 1800, again in 1814-1815, and also in 1827-1828, and in 1838, the river rose from three to six feet above its usual level, remaining so for two or three years, and then subsiding quite rapidly. The mean annual rise is about sixteen inches during July or August. The low-water period is in February or March. The highest recorded level was on June 2, 1838, when the water was only two and eight tenths feet below the water table of the Water Works Engine House, One of the lowest levels recorded was in the winter of 1819, when the water was eight and five tenths feet lower than usual.

A succession of wet seasons, or winters of heavy snows, causes it to rise, and the reverse occurs in dry seasons. The most marked effect is produced by winds; the river is perceptibly lowered when a southwest wind strikes it, and the water is driven into Lake St. Clair and blown down into Lake Erie. In March, 1873, a strong wind of this kind lowered the river some five feet below its mean level. A northeast wind will reverse the above conditions and cause it to rise proportionately.

The temperature of the water varies from 330 Fahrenheit for the winter months to 73° for the summer season. The variation between the surface and the bottom is about 3'.

The breadth, general safety, and smoothness of the river make it specially inviting for boating and yachting, and in later years many persons have availed themselves of the facilities afforded. Several noteworthy regattas have been held here, and boatmen all concede that no finer location can be found for a trial of skill. During the summer season, excursions up and down the river, and to different islands, are of almost hourly occurrence.

ISLANDS.
The islands vary in size from one to several thousand acres. Two of them arc located above, and twenty below the city. Beginning at the head of the river, the first is Isle La Peche, or Isle of the Fishes, also called, Peach Island. It is situated on the Canadian side of the river, and was, during the summer months, the home of Pontiac. Belle Isle, the City Park, is described in the article on Parks. Beginning at a point six miles below the city are the islands known as Fighting, Mud, Grassy, Grass, Mama-Juda, Grosse, Turkey, Stoney, Slocum's. Humbug, Fox, Elba, Calf, Snake, Hickory, Sugar, Bois Blanc, Horse, Cherry, and Tawa, or Celeron. Fighting Island, also called in 1796. Great Turkey Island, was originally occupied by the Wyandotts, and in 1858 it was sold by the Canadian Government for their benefit- In 1810 Indian entrenchments were plainly visible on the northeast end of the island, and from these warlike appearances the island took its name.

An old French memoir of the date of 1717 says:

Two leagues from Fort Detroit is an island called Isle aux Dindes. It is so called because Turkeys are always to be found there. It contains only very little timber, only prairie. Four or five years ago, a man named Le Tonnerre, principal Chief of the Foxes, and two of the same tribe, were killed there by the Hurons, settled at Detroit. The two Foxes who were with Le Tonnerre were devoured by wild beasts, crows, or other vermin; but the body of Le Tonnerre was still uninjured a year afterward, not an animal having touched him.

Grosse, or Great Island, is the largest in the river. The French memoir just quoted says:

It is very fine and fertile and extensive, being, as is estimated, from six to seven leagues in circumference. There is an extraordinary quantity of apple trees on this island, and those who have seen the apples on the ground say that they arc more than half a foot deep; the apple trees are planted as if methodically, and the apples are as large as small pippins. Abundance of excellent millstones are found on this island; all around it are very fine prairies. It was a long time doubtful whether Detroit should not be founded there. The cause of the hesitation was the apprehension that the timber might some day fail.

At one time, the locating of Fort Wayne on this island was seriously considered, and on some accounts it would have been an extremely favorable situation. The banks rise abruptly from the water in many places to fully twenty feet in height. In 1776 Lieutenant-Governor Hamilton gave William Macomb leave to occupy the island, and on July 5, 1793, Lieutenant-Governor Simcoe gave his family permission to continue.

Several citizens of Detroit have elegant residences here, and there are many fine farms and homes. The Canada Southern Railroad extends to the island, connecting by ferry with the Canada shore.

Mama-Juda Island contains twenty-nine acres, and is named from an did squaw, who, prior to 1807, used to camp there year after year, during the fishing season. She finally died on the island.

Slocura's island of about two hundred acres, is owned by G. B. Slocum.

Humbug Island, of some forty acres, just below, is also owned by Mr. Slocum. It is not inappropriately named, for it is rather a part of the main, land than an island.

Elba Island, in 1817, was thickly covered with trees.

Bois Blanc, or White wood Island, on the Canadian side of the river, was occupied by the Huron Indians in 1742, and contained a village regularly laid out and inhabited by several hundred people. Father Pothier was in charge of a mission among them, but in 1747 they became estranged from the French and he returned to Detroit. The following year the difficulties were settled, and a Huron Mission was established at Sandwich under charge of Fathers Pothier and De la Richardie.

In 1796. when the British yielded up Detroit, they erected a blockhouse on this island, but as the United States protested that it did not belong to them, they for the time yielded the point, and soon after erected a fort at Maiden.

In 1813. during the fight which preceded Perry's victory, Tecumseh and his Indians were here encamped- When the patriots were in possession in 1838, they denuded it of the trees in order to get better range for their cannon.

Celeron Island, of seventy acres, is so named after Sieur de Celeron, once Commandant of Detroit.

WHARVES AND DOCKS.
By the building of wharves and docks, and the extension of the shore by "made land" the river is continually encroached upon. At the foot of Woodward Avenue, it once came up seventy-seven feet north of the north line of Atwater Street; and between Woodward Avenue and Wayne Street it covered half the space occupied by the blocks between Atwater and Woodbridge Streets. At Cass Street it covered a part of what is now Jefferson Avenue. On T. Smith's map of the town as it was in 1796 are shown two wharves called respectively Merchants' and Public or King's Wharf.

One of the earliest records concerning the wharves recounts the voting of a tax, on "July 26, 1804, of twenty-eight pounds eight shillings New York currency for repairing wharf." The wharf repaired was probably that formerly known as King's Wharf, still in use in 1823.

In 1819 permission was granted to H. Berthelet to build a wharf at the foot of Randolph Street. Wharves were also built, about this time, by Mr. Hudson and Mr. Roby. As the city grew, an increasing amount of rubbish and refuse was deposited on the low grounds at the river's edge. This created an almost constant nuisance, and from time to time efforts were made to correct the evil. On July 3, 1820. a tax of five hundred days labor was voted to be spent "on the border of the river." In 1826 the permanent improvement of the river front was begun by the depositing, along the margin, of earth from the embankment of Fort Shelby. During the following years up to 1834, the work was continued at an expense of over $10,000.

One of the improvements of 1827 was known as the Steam Mill Wharf. The City Council voted to give the perpetual use of sixty feet in width on Woodward Avenue, from At water Street to the channel of the river, to a Steam Mill Company, for the erection of a mill, provided it was built within two years; the City also expended $3,000 in tilling in and building a dock for the site of the mill, which was never erected. Since that time the work has gone on until good and substantial docks, nearly five miles in length, now line the river along the city front.

STREAMS AND MILLS.
Within the present city limits three different streams once flowed on their winding way, buoying up the light canoe, or turning the mills of the French settlers.

The courses of these streams, in their relation to present street lines, in so far as old deeds, maps and observations furnish data for judgment, are indicated on the accompanying map.

The Savoyard Creek, branch of the Huron, or Xavier River, as it is variously called, had its rise in a willow swamp on the Guoin Farm, near where Riopelle Street now crosses Congress. In 1821 the south bank of the stream was one hundred and ninety-one feet north of the south side of Larned Street; meandering westward, it reached Woodward Avenue at Congress Street, and here a wide bridge spanned the stream. At other places, single planks enabled pedestrians to cross. In 1822 I.. E. Dolson, then a boy of nine years, was jumping on one of these foot bridges on Congress Street, just east of Griswold, when the plank broke, letting him fall into the water, which was about eight feet deep. Becoming entangled in the reeds and rushes which were plentiful at the bottom, he barely escaped drowning.

The stream, in early times, was much used in going to and from the river; and boy-anglers found successful fishing at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Congress Street. Its outlet was at a point on the Jones Farm close to the Cass line, about where Fourth Street intersects Woodbridge Street. Prior to May, 1826, there was a jog in Woodbridge Street at this point, and an old bridge which crossed the creek, not being in line with the street, was removed by order of the Common Council, and a new one of stone was built in proper line. A channel, walled with wood, was also constructed from the bridge to the river. On December 4, 1826, a certificate was issued to De Garmo Jones for $422.31 for constructing said bridge and channel.

In course of time, and increasingly as the years went on, the people living near the border of this stream used it as a drain, and after Fort Shelby was demolished, the bottom and sides, for some distance, were planked with lumber from that fortification. It then became practically an open sewer; and, as such, lost all its primeval charms, and grew so offensive and malodorous that in 1836 the city was compelled, at a great expense, to convert it into a deep and covered sewer by enclosing it in stone. A "grand sewer" it became, and still fulfills its mission. The creek is said to have been named Savoyard from the fact that one of the earliest settlers on its banks came from Savoy.

The stream more recently known as May's Creek, after Judge May, was formerly called Cabacier's Creek, from Joseph Cabacie, or Cabacicr, who lived here in 1780. It was designated in 1747 as Campau's River. It is claimed that Jacques Peltier erected the first grist-mill on the stream, just north of what is now Fort Street, and near the railroad crossing. The stream supplied water sufficient to run the mill six or eight months of the year. Parent's Creek, or Bloody Hun, is the real historic Stream. It was first named, presumably, after Joseph Parent, a gunsmith, whose name appears in St, Ann's records on May 21, 1707. Only a few years ago the entire course of the stream could be traced; now nearly half its length is tilled in, and its channel will soon be entirely obliterated. The name was changed to Bloody Run after the defeat and slaughter of Captain Dalyell and his company by the Indians, on July 31, 1763.

On John Farmer's map of Michigan for 1830, a mill is marked on this stream, just south of what is now Jefferson Avenue. There was also, at one time, a mill where the stream crossed the Gratiot Road.

Knagg's Creek was just outside the present western limits of the city, and the course of the stream can still be traced. Near its terminus, on the Bela Hubbard Farm in Springwells, was located the old Knagg's Windmill, built in 1810. It was in use till about 1840, and was torn down in 1853 or 1854.


Windmill Point (on Bela Hubbard Farm) and the River in 1838


Vol I - Pt. I - Chapter III - Pg. 11 - 16

- Good Soil. — Different Strata. — Cadillac's Description.—Vast Prairies.—Rows of Trees, — Fruits.—Wild Animals.— Game Birds.— Large Buffaloes.— Native Woods. — Swans and Ducks. — An Indian's Illustration. — Serene Skies.— A Desirable Place.—Weaving Buffalo Wool. — Numerous Wolves.—Wolf Scalps.— Pigeon Roosls.— Bear Visitors.— Migratory Game.— Song Birds.— Flowers.— Berries. — Wild Honey. —Maple Sugar.— Enormous Production. — Indian Mococks.— De Peyster's "Sugar Makers." — Early Harvests.— Indian Farmers.—Scarcity of Provisions. — Help from Montreal.— Bougainville's Description,— Importance of Detroit. — A Thousand Bushels of Wheat Burned. — A Famine Imminent.— Two Dead Bodies on the Beach. —Continued Scarcity.—Clouds of Ducks.—Sportsmen Drowned. —Supplies from the King's Stores.—Acreage under Cultivation.— Apples and Cider.— Pears and Poems.- Timn's False Report. — Enormous Vegetables. — First Wagon-load of Flour. —Exporting Flour.— Tobacco to Baltimore.— Remarkable Fruits.— First Agricultural Society.— Fish and Fisheries.— Schoolcraft's Eulogy.—The State Fish Hatchery.
Almost all of the land in the city and vicinity is available for gardening and farming, producing good crops with but little fertilizing. In boring for a well on Fort Street, near Shelby, in 1829, the following strata were successively reached: alluvial earth, ten feet; yellow and blue clay, with veins of quicksand, one hundred and fifteen feet; sand and pebbles, two feet; geodiferous limestone, sixty feet; lias limestone, sixty-live feet. A small stratum of carbonate of lime was then reached, and then more lias limestone.

Three miles from the river, and a few rods south of where the railroad crosses Woodward Avenue, is a broad belt of land, of a lower level, which proves, with drainage, both rich and fertile.

In addition to the animals named, other early accounts till of elk, moose, wolves, bears, rabbits, otters, lynxes, wildcats, beavers, and muskrats; and say they were very numerous in the vicinity of Detroit. So numerous and large, indeed, were the wild bisons, that the making of garments from their wool was seriously considered.

Between 1820 and 1830 the howling of the wolves was frequently heard in the edge of the town, bounties of three and four dollars were paid by the county for killing them; and no small share of the taxes was devoted to paying for wolf scalps.

In 1824. and also in other years, myriads of wild pigeons made their roosts in the forests of the county. They were so numerous that hundreds could easily be killed with a walking stick.

As late as the fall of 1834 deer were abundant within a morning's walk, and black bears would occasionally perambulate the streets. Wild turkeys and quails were numerous up to about 1850 and frequently stray ones came into the city, and innumerable flocks of ducks and geese, in their annual migrations, swept over the town, often flying so low that their notes could easily be heard.

The surrounding woods and meadows have always been enlivened with the songs of meadow-larks. robins, brown thrushes, and bobolinks; and year by year bright- plumaged humming birds flit about the trumpet-vines.

It was not alone the gaily-feathered birds that made the place a pleasant one. In the forests were wild honeysuckles, and the eglantine, or Michigan rose. Snow-berries and fleurs-de-lis were scattered here and there, and the perfume of locust blossoms often filled the air, while river and streams were bordered with the white and blue of the pond-lily and the sweet flag. Strawberries, whortleberries, cranberries, and raspberries were indigenous, and melons, beans, and other vegetables were cultivated by the Indians before the whites arrived. In addition to those named by Cadillac, the forest included trees of beech, birch, hickory, maple, elm, butternut, cedar, basswood, and coniferous trees of various kinds.

In the way of sweets, the wildberries stored up honey in the trees. The maples also contributed their store of sweetness. In 1819 one hundred and fifty thousand pounds of maple sugar were produced in Michigan, and in September, 1825, one merchant advertised forty thousand pounds for sale. Charlevoix says the Indians did not know how to make sugar out of the maple sap until the French missionaries came. Prior to that time, they made only syrup. They soon became experts, and a "sugar bush," to them, was better than a farm.

Maple sugar was used almost exclusively until recent years. Loaf sugar was the only other kind kept for sale, and was used only on state occasions. The maple sugar was brought in by the Indians in mococks, which held all the way from four ounces to fifty pounds. One of the smaller mococks was a toothsome prize for children in days gone by. and was appreciated far more highly than the French bon-bons of to-day.

As to cereals, old records show a good harvest in 1703, and abundant supplies for a garrison of one hundred and fifty men. Up to about 1706 almost the only grain grown was Indian corn. Cadillac then procured eight tons of French wheat and other grain from Quebec. After this there was a good supply of wheat, which, then as now, was sown in both spring and fall.

The Hurons and Ottawas were excellent farmers and raised large quantities of corn. In 1714 twenty- four hundred bushels were sent from Detroit. Agriculture was, however, greatly neglected, and the conditions on which grants of land were made tended to discourage any intelligent efforts at farming. In 1747, owing chiefly to the number of Indians who gathered here and consumed the supplies, provisions were very scarce, and M. de Longueuil was compelled to apply to Montreal for help. On September 22 a convoy of provisions arrived under command of M. de Celeron, escorted by one hundred and fifty men, including merchants and servants. Their coming saved the settlers from starvation.

Notwithstanding various discouragements, wheat was raised in considerable quantities. On September 9, 1763. the barn of Mr. Keaume, containing about one thousand bushels of wheat, was burned. In 1768 there were five hundred and fourteen and a half acres of land under cultivation, and ninety-seven hundred and eighty-nine French bushels of corn produced; but in 1770 food was so scarce that a famine became imminent.

Ten years later the inhabitants were again in trouble for want of certain kinds of provisions. On March 10, 1780, Colonel De Peyster wrote to Colonel Bolton at Niagara, saying: "The distress of the inhabitants here is very great for want of bread, not an ounce of flour or a grain of corn to be purchased. Many will be at a loss for grain to put in the ground; the fall wheat, however, has a good appearance from having had a quantity of snow." In the same letter he said, "I am sorry to inform you sir, that Lieutenant Bunbury and Mr. Godfrey, the conductor, are drowned by the overturning of a canoe. The ducks flying in clouds past the fort, the gentlemen, forgetting they had been desired not to go in canoes, too eager of sport, have lost their lives."

This accident occurred the day before he wrote. On March 12, 1780, he wrote to Lieutenant -Governor Sinclair, saying: "Everything here is in the greatest tranquility except the cry for bread, the inhabitants being so much in want that without the assistance of the King's stores, many must starve." The same year, however, twelve thousand and eighty-three acres of land were reported as under cultivation.

From a very early period the pear, apple, and cherry trees were prominent features in the scenery of Detroit. Our orchards have produced many noted varieties of fruit, among which the Snow-Apple is particularly famous. In 1796 a large apple called Pomme Caille, deep red from skin to core, was noted for its flavor. Cider was largely made and freely used a century ago. In 1818 our exports of fish and cider were valued at sixty thousand dollars. Immense pear trees, a hundred feet and more in height, with trunks from one to three feet thick, with large, thick limbs and heavy foliage, were at once the pride and pest of their owners; for then, as now, boys and pears affiliated. Almost every farmer had from one to half a dozen of these trees, which produced from thirty to fifty bushels each.

The seeds or young trees from which they were grown were probably brought from France. None of the early travelers mention their existence, and although they were once numerous they have largely disappeared.

The interior of the State was for many years deemed almost useless for agricultural purposes. On November 30, 1815. Edward Tiffin, Surveyor- General at Chillicothe, wrote to General Meigs. Commissioner of the Land Office at Washington, that in the whole of Michigan Territory there was "not one acre in a hundred, if there would be in a thousand, that would in any case admit of cultivation. It is all swampy and sandy." On December 11 he again wrote: "Subsequent accounts confirm the statements, and make the country out worse, if possible, than I had represented it to be."

Detroit and the private claims near by were represented as being somewhat better,-without so many swamps and lakes, but the region as a whole was said to be extremely sterile and barren. Such representations must have been founded on unpardonable ignorance or knavery. No State in the Union has a larger proportion of excellent farming lands. The wheat crop in 1886 amounted to twenty-six million bushels, and the productions of our gardens, fields, and orchards are unexcelled.

In 1821 H. Berthelet raised a pumpkin that was six feet eight inches in circumference, and after it had been picked three weeks it weighed one hundred and seventy-four pounds and twelve ounces. The previous year, two seeds planted at Grosse Pointe produced thirteen hundred and fourteen pounds of pumpkins.

As early as 1823 watermelons weighing from thirty-six to forty-four pounds were frequently seen, and beets weighing eighteen pounds and watermelons weighing forty pounds were common. Soon Detroit had bread to eat and flour to sell. In 1827 she made her first export of flour to the amount of two hundred barrels. About this same time, in 1828. site began to contribute what some would call one of the luxuries of life to other places, "sending coals to Newcastle" in the shape of one hundred hogsheads of Michigan tobacco shipped to Baltimore, besides packages to other places.

In 1827 a pear, weighing thirty ounces, was grown by Judge Sibley; it was seven and a half inches long and fourteen and a half inches in circumference.

On November 13, 1833. Mr. Moon exhibited a beet two feet and six inches lung and two feet and live inches in circumference. It weighed seventeen pounds without the top. In June. 1848, a strawberry nearly three inches in diameter was grown by Horace Hallock; and in 1834, in the garden of John Farmer, on Monroe Avenue, one tree produced plums measuring nearly six inches in circumference, and the peach trees were heavily laden with peaches as large as any ever seen in this market. A garden near by produced a potato of such immense size that it furnished a full supply of that edible for four meals to a family of two. A quince tree in the same garden produced quinces one of which weighed nearly three pounds.

Notwithstanding the productiveness of the soil, provisions, in early days, were very dear. The reason is given in the Detroit Gazette of January, 1819; it says: "There are families owning from one hundred to two hundred acres of land in the vicinity of the city who are in the constant habit of buying their bread at the baker's and vegetables of their more enterprising neighbors."

In 1837 so much interest was taken in the raising of fruits and grain that a meeting was held on April 24 at the City Hall to organize an Agricultural and Horticultural Society. Colonel McKinstry acted as chairman and H. G. Hubbard as secretary. An organization was effected which continued in existence for several years. It was succeeded by the Detroit Horticultural Society, whose annual exhibitions were highly appreciated.

In ancient days, as now, whitefish, sturgeon, pickerel, pike, perch, black bass, catfish, sunfish, and bullheads were plentiful. Large numbers of fish from the half-pound perch to the one-hundred-and- twenty-pound sturgeon — are caught yearly. Who that has lived here sit long does not remember the large reels that twenty years or more ago were so often seen along the river-bank, with the fishers' nets hung upon them?

In 1815 whitefish were worth only $3.00 per barrel. and boat loads were sold for fifty cents per hundred.

In 1822 there were taken at Hog Island twelve hundred barrels, then worth from four to five dollars per barrel. On the grounds they were sold at from four to eight shillings per hundred. In 1823 the catch was not so large, and they sold at from two to three dollars per hundred. In the early part of the week ending October 23, 1824, at the fishery on Grosse Isle, twenty-five and thirty thousand whitefish were caught in a single day. In 1825 they were worth six and seven dollars per barrel, and thousands of barrels were shipped to Ohio and New York.

In 1827 they were so numerous that fifteen thousand were taken with a single seine, in five hauls. The catch in Detroit River from 1836 to 1840 averaged about thirty-five hundred barrels per year, worth eight dollars per barrel. In 1880 there were caught twelve thousand half-barrels, worth four dollars and seventy-five cents each.

The importance of fish as an article of food induced the establishment, in 1873. of a State Fish Commission. The first fish hatchery in the State was successfully operated in the winter of 1873-1874, by N. W. Clark, -about one million five hundred thousand young fish being produced. On April 14, 1874, five thousand young whitefish were deposited in Yerkes Lake, Plymouth Township. On March 13, 1875, three hundred and sixteen thousand young fish were deposited in the Detroit River. On August 3, 1876, the Commission resolved to establish a hatchery at Detroit. A cheap frame building, twenty by fifty feet, was erected at Number 475 At water Street, near Dequindre; with the apparatus, it cost $1,300. It was completed September 25, 1876 and fully equipped by November 1. Between November 1 and 12, 1876, four hundred and five female fish were stripped on the fishing grounds and ten million eggs procured; nearly twice as many male fish were also striped, and the hatchery was set in operation. In recent years large fish are kept in the hatchery, and eggs obtained more easily, The first eggs hatched out on March 1, 1877. Up to 1887 nearly one hundred millions of fish had been produced. In the spring of 1887, forty-five millions were hatched out. and many of them were deposited in the Detroit River. When from eight to fifteen days old. The young fry are shipped to such places as the superintendent may designate. In 1883 a new building for the hatchery was erected on the northeast corner of Lafayette Street and Joseph Campau Avenue.

In the winter months, and especially in March or April when the fish are hatching, the institution is well worth a visit.

Vol I - Pt. I - Chapter IV - Pg. 17 - 23

Cadillac's Grant.-French Farms or Private Claims

The city of Detroit, as now laid out, includes not only the ancient town, but several adjoining farms, and some public land never owned by private persons until granted by the United States. It is possible that the French occupied the site of Detroit several years before the founding of the city by Cadillac, but if so, the previous occupation, whether temperary or continuous, involved no personal rights. In the more settled portions of New France, grants were made of seigneuries giving the seigneur entire control of large estates, which were generally par- celed out to purchasers, or. if retained by the seig- neur, were cultivated by his own |>eoplc, or farmed out to ordinary lessees on such terms ns the parties agreed upon.

The terms on which lands might be sold by him were not left to his own option, but were fixed by the Coutume de Paris or by special decrees of the king. When an ofliccr was allowed to build a fort in a new place, he was frequently made proprietor of the fort and certain adjacent lands, which he could lease or sell.

Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the founder of Detroit, is said to have- them granted a domain of fifteen arpents square. The arpent, however, was not a uniform measure. The United States standard fixes it at 192.24 feet. A woodland arpent is a little more than a square acre; but arpents and acres are often used as interchangeable terms. Mr. C. Jouett, the Indian agent at Detroit in 1803. so used them. He said that Cadillac's grant was fifteen acres square, or two hundred and twenty-live acres in all. If that were true, it would now be bounded on the cast by the farm known as the Brush Farm, west by the Cass Farm, in front by the Detroit River, and in the rear by Grand River Street. As usually regarded, it reached to the present line of Adams Avenue.

Original documents, copies of which are on file in Quebec, show that he claimed all of the land on both sides of the Detroit, from Lake Erie to Lake Huron; and it is not probable that he would have made this claim if previously there had been granted to him a domain of only fifteen arpents square. He churned the entire strait because of the great expense he incurred in establishing the first colony, because of the general benefits accruing to New France from the pence he secured with the Iroquois, and also for the reason that the establishment of the fort at Detroit prevented the English from reaching the western Indians.

In pursuance of his chum, he made a concession to his eldest son of a tract of Land on the river, beginning at the entrance into Lake Krie, with a frontage of six leagues, and extending five leagues back from the river. This concession included Grosse Isle and all the adjacent islands.

In support of his demand for all the lands on the strait, Cadillac said that he had established French or Indians here and there along the whole course of the river. There can be doubt that he was granted power by the king to dispose of land on the river, for there is abundant evidence to that effect in a letter from Pontchartrain, dated June 14, 1704. and also in the decrees of June 14, 17, and 19, 1706. Under these decrees he made two grants, now included in the city, and known as Claims No. 12 and No. 90, or the Guion and Witherell Farms. The grant to Francois Fafard de Lorme embraced what is now known as Private Claim 12 and part of 13. It was made March 10, 1707, and covered a strip of land four hundred feet wide by four thousand feet long, or nearly thirty-two acres. De Lorme was to have the privilege of trading, hunting, and fishing, but was not to kill hares, rabbits, partridges, or pheasants. He was to pay annually, on March 20, live livres as seigneurial dues or rental, and ten livres for the right to trade. He was to commence improvements in three months, and was to plant, or help plant, annually, a Maypole before the door of the seigneur. He also bound himself to have his grain ground at the public mill, and to pay toll, at the rate of eight livres for each minot, —a measure of one bushel. He could not sell or give his land as security without consent; and in case of sale. Cadillac was to have the first right to purchase. He was also to furnish timber for vessels and fortifications when desired; and further promised not to work as a blacksmith, cutler, armorer, or brewer, without special permit. He might import goods, but could employ no clerks unless they lived in Detroit; and he was not to sell liquor to Indians. Other conditions, common to grants in this period, were that the grantees should pay, on St. Martin's Day, a certain number of fowls, so many dozen eggs, or a definite number of measures of grain for each front arpent occupied; and in addition to having their grain ground in the seigneur's mill, they were obliged to have their bread baked in his ovens. At Detroit the boundaries of these farms, or claims, were defined by ditches. The Private Claim now known as No. 90 was granted by Cadillac to Jacob de Marsac Jouira, dit Desroches on the same day that the grant was made to De Lorme. He also made two other grants of the same size.— one to M. St. Aubin and the other to the widow Beausseron. Cadillac also granted to Michel Campau a piece of land fifty-three feet long upon St. Anionie Street, and seventeen feet on St. Ann Street, within the stockade, for which he was to pay an annual rent of five livres and five sous. For a right to trade, ten livres additional were charged. The rents were payable on March 20, in furs or silver money when there shall be any. Keep up fences and build habitation within a year. No transfer could be made without the consent of Cadillac, and with every transfer a fee was to be paid him. In case the grantees neglected or did not wish to plant the Maypole, they were required to pay three livres in silver or peltries.

Cadillac also granted a lot inside the fort to M. Malette. Other lands within and without the pickets were granted by him to Messrs. Langlois, Trudcau, Magnau. Des Rivieres, De Ruisscau. Compared Dufresne, Hubert, Lacroix. and Monier.

In 1708 M. d'Aigremont officially reported that he caused the lands at Fort Pontchartrain to be measured, and found that there were three hundred and fifty acres improved, of which La Mothe had one hundred and fifty-seven acres, and the French in- habitants forty-six acres; that sixty-three inhabitants possessed lots inside the fort, and twenty-nine of them farms outside. M. d'Aigremont arrived at Detroit July 15, 1708, and remained nineteen days. The records of St. Ann's Church, under date of July 29, 1708, note his presence under the following name and title: " Francois Clarcehault, Esq., Sieur d'Aigremont. Navy Commissary in Canada, sub-delegate of the Surveyor, and King's Deputy for surveying the Military Posts in Canada."

In 1710 Cadillac was appointed Governor of Louisiana. In the summer of 1711 he was relieved of the command at Detroit, and on his departure his property was placed in the care of Pierre Hoy, After he left, there were so few immigrants, and the settlers were so much discouraged, that no grants were made for many years. It appears evident that while Cadillac was in Louisiana his interests at Detroit received but little attention. Settlers, however, began to murmur at the demands made upon them under the concessions he had granted, and in April, 1716, the king revoked all grants made by Cadillac on the ground that they were not given in ordinary- form, and that too much was exacted of the occupants. This decree, however, was accompanied with a provision which left the settlers in possession as before. The next year Cadillac returned to France, and in 1719 or 1720 the king directed that he be put in possession of the lands which he had cleared at Detroit, together with the rights that he had in connection with lands he had conceded to others. He was also to be put in possession of the buildings, furniture, and cattle which he left when he went to Louisiana, together with the increase of the live stock. His other claims he was to bring before, an officer for adjudication, and a patent was to be granted to him for the lands within two years.

M. Vaudreuil, the Governor, and Begon, the Intendant of New France, probably at the instigation of Tonty (then in command here), and presumably in the interest of those occupying the lands claimed by Cadillac, offered various reasons why it would be impolitic and impossible to carry out the directions of the king. In connection with their protests they stated in their memorial of November 4, 1721, that there were then only four who had farms outside the fort, and that thirty others had locations inside the stockade. The king responded to these protests by a decree, dated May 19, 1722, which conceded to Cadillac all the land he had cleared and rights over that which he had granted to others, except that the dues exacted from traders were thereafter to be paid only to the commandant of the post. He also directed that Cadillac, should have, two years from the date of the decree in which to have his claims surveyed. No evidence can !>e found that the claims of Cadillac were ever surveyed, ami defined in accordance with the intent of the decree. On the contrary, Vaudreuil and Hegon, in a letter dated October 14, 1723, said: "The lands cleared by M. de la Mothe are not yet surveyed, neither do we know what he has conceded, the revenues of which must be paid to him."

It is not probable that the lands and claims uf Cadillac were settled according to the king's decree, and it is clearly evident that the governor-general, intendant, and local commandants evinced a masterly inactivity in bringing his claims to a final and just conclusion. The proof that his claims were left in vague and unsatisfactory shape is made almost conclusive by the following facts. In 1730, the year of Cadillac's death, his eldest son. in a memorial to Count Maurepas, said that his father had the promise of the post of Detroit, with the title of seigneur. Now, this son was with Cadillac, and old enough to be an ensign, when his father came; and if his rights had been definitely settled according 10 the king's decree of 1722, his son would undoubtedly have known about it and have so stated in his memorial. This view of the case is made still more certain by an examination of the Maichens Deed, so called. This deed was first heard of in Detroit in 1872, when Rev. J. C. A. Desnoyers, curate of the parish of St. Pie, in Lower Canada, forwarded it to K. N. Lacroix, of Detroit. It purported to be a deed for a tract of land on the Detroit, executed on August 28, 1738, to Bernard Maichens of Marseilles, by the widow and heirs of Cadillac. The deed was subsequently obtained from the same priest, on November 29, 1873, by Levi Bishop, and on pages 343 and 344 of Volume I of the Pioneer Collections of Michigan, he gives a translation of it. The deed conveys "All the property generally left by the said deceased Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, and which said Madame and her said sons, in consequence of his death, possess at Detroit, upon Lake Erie in North America, consisting of cleared lands forty arpents in depth, with the buildings and animal stock together in title and enjoyment; with the right of hunting and fishing granted on the lyth of May, A. D. 1722, by the Council of State of His Majesty, for the benefit of said deceased; with the right of quit rents and arrearages of such rents in stock and other movable property which appertains thereto, and in such quantity and consistence as belongs thereto, in said Detroit. Including in this sale all that may belong to said vendors in regard to said lands, fruits, farms, leases, buildings, stock, arrearages, and rents wherever they may appear."

It will be noticed that this deed, although made in 1738, makes no allusion to any grant or decree except the one of May 19, 1722. That decree provided that Cadillac's claims should be surveyed within two years, evidently in order to determine their real extent and number. If such survev had been made, and his claims clearly defined, the fact would undoubtedly have been referred to in the Maichens Deed. The most casual examination discloses the fact that just what was being conveyed was not clearly known. The deed deals only in generalities, which would not be the case if Cadillac's claims had been fully adjusted. The statement of Mr. Bishop that the deed "conveyed the site of Detroit, with all rights and property thereto belonging. and that the whole of Detroit and its appurtenances were sold for about ten thousand dollars." was made without a knowledge of the real facts in the case. It was never conceded by either the king or the council that Cadillac owned "all of Detroit and its appurtenances." Only the lands he had cleared or granted were to be restored to him. and there was much uncertainty as to how much would thus be embraced. Accompanying the deed (which was only a duplicate) there was a letter dated Boston. August 20, 1798. addressed to a Mr. Sicart, signed by Mme. Gregoire, granddaughter of Cadillac, setting forth that Maichens paid only half of the purchase price, and left for Detroit immediately after getting the deed; that they had since been unable to hear from him or get any satisfaction as to the further sum due, although the property conveyed was by the deed mortgaged to the family of Cadillac until paid for in full. The object of this letter was to induce some lawyer the recover the property, and Mme.Gregoire proposed to give one quarter of all that might be realized from the claim. The probability is that Maichens himself, at that early day, never realized as much as be actually paid for whatever came into his possession.

Only about ten years before writing the above mentioned letter, Mme, Gregoire had obtained from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts a grant of Mt. Desert Island and portions of the mainland. Her claim for that estate was based on a grant made to Cadillac, prior to his arrival at Detroit, in evidence of which she furnished a copy of the king's decree describing and granting the lands. Her success in securing this grant would undoubtedly have caused her to make a more earnest effort to obtain the grant at Detroit had there been like conclusive evidence of her rights.

It is matter of record that there was much confusion for many years concerning the lands of Detroit. La Forest, Tonty, and Sabrevois all made grants, but none of them had authority to do so. About 1720 Tonty compelled the inhabitants to bring their contracts of concession to him, and he retained the greater part of them.

The front of the French farms on the river was occupied by the dwelling-house and garden; back of this was generally a very valuable and beautiful orchard; and in the rear of the orchard were wheat and corn fields. The farms were narrow, so as to give river fronts to as many as possible, and also to keep the occupants close together for convenience and safety. The depth of the farms was always intended to be forty French acres, the width varied from two to five acres, or in other words, the farms had a river frontage of from four hundred to nine hundred feet, with an average depth of one and a half miles.

Within the fort the building-lots were small, and the entire population — those holding farm lands outside as well as others—had homes inside the stockade for a great many years.

As late as 1778 the largest lots were twenty-five by one hundred feet. It is probable that all the lots within the pickets were permanently disposed of, subject to fines of alienation, and to certain annual charges, including a contribution towards keeping the fort in repair.

While Michigan was still a part of Indiana Territory, Congress, by Act of March 26, 1804, United States Laws, Volume II., page 2271, appointed the Register and Receiver of the Detroit Land office as commissioners to examine and report on all claims under French and English grants. Under this Act the commissioners examined a number of claims, and rejected all except three, viz.. P. C. 16, claimed by F. P. Matcher. P. C. 18, claimed by George Meldrum, and P. C. 90, claimed by J. M. Bcaubien. They decided that the other claims presented to them were not founded upon any legal grant made by the French Government prior to the treaty of Paris, of February 10, 1763, or upon any legal grant made by the British subsequent to said treaty, and prior to the treaty of peace of September 3, 1783, between the United States and Great Britain; or upon any resolution or Act of Congress had subsequent to said treaty of peace.

By Act of March 3. 1805 (United States Laws. Volume II., page 343). they were authorized to examine and report on claims actually possessed and improved on July 1, 1796, the official date on which the Territory passed from the British into the possession of the American Government.

They were also to examine into claims based on all grounds whatever; and persons were to have till November 1, 1805, to file their claims, which were to be surveyed at the expense of the Government. Before the commissioners had forwarded their first report to Congress Detroit was destroyed by the fire of June 11, 1805. Under the provisions of the law of 1805 in connection with the law of 1804, the commissioners subsequently reported on six classes of titles, viz., 1. Grants by French governors confirmed by the King of France. 2. Grants by French governors not continued by the king. 3. Occupancies by |K-rmission of French commandants without grant, and perhaps without evidence of the permission, but with long and undisturbed possession. 4. Occupancies under French possession, without any permission, but with undisturbed possession. 5. Similar titles, together with purchases from Indians under British rule. 6. Occupancy and possession under American Government, and purchases from Indians. They sent three reports to the Secretary of the Treasury, one dated December I, another December 16, 1805, and the third March 6, 1806.

They again reported in favor of the three claims approved under the first law. and also in favor of P. C. 15, claimed by Phillis Peltier, and P. C. 38, claimed by the heirs of Antoine Morass. These five claims they reported ;is valid so far jus original title was concerned, but it was not claimed that the chain of title since the original grant was complete. The sixth claim confirmed by the commissioners was that of Charles and Nicholas Guoin, and embraced what is now known as P. C. 12 and 13. It was claimed in one parcel, and was confirmed in separate tracts. They also rejected claims for many other tracts based on ownership and occupation.

The American State Papers state that the commissioners found only six titles that had been confirmed by the king. This is undoubtedly an error, caused by including the two grants of Cadillac with the four grants that were actually confirmed by the king. The State Papers also say that eight claims were confirmed, which error is apparently caused by counting the two grants of Cadillac twice.

On March 3, 1807 (United States Laws, Volume II., page 437), Congress confirmed the six tracts already alluded to, and also all tracts reported upon by the commissioners which were occupied, improved, and settled upon prior to and on July 1, 1796, and that had continued to be occupied up to the date of the Act. of Law of April 25. 1808 (United States Laws. Volume II., page 502) claimants were allowed until January 1, 1809. to the their claims.

By the Act of 1807, the claims were to be surveyed under the direction of the surveyor-general. All certificates issued by the commissioners were required to be entered at the land office at Detroit before January 1, 1809. The claims confirmed under this last Act included nearly all the original private claims in Wayne County, not excepting the inevitable six French grants, which were again confirmed as held by possession. The claims were surveyed by Aaron Greek, and his map is referred to on page 158. Volume V. of the American State Papers in connection with the Abraham Cook Claim. His manuscript map was afterwards engraved.

On April 23, 1812 (United States Laws, Volume 11. Congress confirmed the claims as surveyed by Aaron Grcely under direction of the surveyor-general, making his survey authority even where it did not correspond with the description of the claims as confirmed by the commissioners. There is abundant evidence that in making his surveys he frequently gave extra measure by adding the length of his "Jacob's staff" from one to three times. Tradition says a bottle of wine or brandy had something to do with this proceeding.

Other surveyors, among them Joseph Fletcher and John Fletcher, were afterwards employed in surveying the rear concessions.

The patents for the lands confirmed reached Detroit just before or during the War of 1812. and were seized or destroyed by the British.

In addition to grants of lands fronting on the river, the commandants at Detroit are said to have made grants known as "second." "rear." or back concessions, whereby the depth of the farms was extended to eight arpents. Many persons claimed of the Commissioners of Claims a similar duplication of their farms upon the plea that the lands claimed had always been used for obtaining wood, and that the Government would have granted these rear concessions at any time if asked. On September 1, 1807, the commissioners retried to Congress, recommending that as the arable land fronting on the river was exhausted, and mostly without wood for fires, lands in the rear be added as asked for. By Law of April 23, 1812, it was provided that additional lands might be granted for farms that had been confirmed only forty arpents in length, and claims for the additional land were to be filed before December 1, 1812, but no farm was to be over eighty arpents in depth.

By Act of March 3, 1817 (United States Laws, Volume III., page 3901. the time for the filing of claims for back concessions, under Act of 1812, was extended to December 1, 1818. On May 11, 1820 (United States Laws, Volume III., page 572), Congress revived the powers of the commissioners, and authorized them to decide on claims presented under Act of 1817, and they were to report on or before October 1, 1821. This Act was construed as reviving all the powers possessed by commissioners under former Acts; and several original claims, confirmed under Act of 1820, are contained in Report or Book Number 4. in Volume V.. page 146, of American State Papers, entitled. A Report of Absolute Claims." The last Act pertaining to the hearing and deciding upon claims by commissioners was passed on February 21, 1823 (United States Laws. Volume III., page 724). It provided that the Act of 1820 should be in force until November 1, 1823, and that the final report of the commissioners should The laid before Congress and the Secretary of the Treasury. The Act also confirmed claims reported on under Act of 1820, as reported by the Secretary of the Treas. The numbers of the claims in Wayne County, filed under the several Acts, range from 1 to 734. Many of the numbers between these two extremes are for claims in other parts of the then Territory of Michigan. The total number of claims confirmed in Wayne County was only two hundred and sixty-eight.

Rear concessions were granted for about one hundred claims. The number of acres granted originally to claims ranged from less than one half an acre to six hundred and forty acres, and the rear concessions covered from three acres to three hundred acres. Judging by the testimony given before the commissioners, there must have been a very general, and apparently a concerted, effort among many claimants to swear through each other's claims. The commissioners themselves reported that the records of the earlier Hoards had lx*en so mutilated that it was impossible fully to understand them. The unravelling of the history of the claims is made difficult also by the fact that the different Hoards designated the same books by different numbers. Volume I. is sometimes called I., sometimes II., and then appears as number III. These errors were appropriately supplemented by the careless transcribing and transposing of the names of claimants, surveyors, and clerks, -the same names being spelled in several ways. As late as 1823, at least thirteen original claims were confirmed by Commissioners of Claims that had been left unconfirmed by the first commissioner. To these claims they gave new numbers. In the list of claims' most of them are designated by the new numbers. The only other tract in Wayne County, aside from the Ten Thousand Acre Tract, bearing a specific name or number, and separately surveyed, is the Ship Yard or University Trait on the Rouge. It is called Ship Yard Tract because, during the British Occupation, and also under American rule in the War of 1812, vessels were there built and fitted out. It was selected at an early date as part of the lands devoted to the University, and thus came to be eddied also the University Tract. The first commissioners were George Hoffman, Register, and Frederick Bates, Receiver of the Land Office. On April 16, 1806. Peter Audrain succeeded Hoffman, and on April 4, 1807, James Abbott succeded Bates. Under Act of 1807. the Secretary of Territory, Stanley Griswold, was added to the Commission. On March 18,1808. Reuben Attwater succeeded Griswold, and up to October, 1814, the Commission consisted of Audrain, Attwater, and Abbott. In 1814 William Woodbridge succeeded Attwater. In 1819 Jonathan Kearsley succeeded Abbott. In 1821 Fl. B. Brevoort succeeded Audrain, and he, in 1823, was succeeded by John Biddle. The last commissioners were Woodbridge. Kearsley, and Biddle.