2.29.2012

GROSSE ILE TOWNSHIP MICHIGAN


The Wedding Cake House

Vernor's Home on Grosse Isle

Grosse Isle Toll Bridge

Yesterday I toured Grosse Isle, Michigan with my Facebook friend Scott. Scott is a native of Grosse Isle and knows so much about the local color and history.


Former school house now a residence (original bell)

Grosse Ile Township is a township of Wayne County in Michigan. The township is situated on several islands in the Detroit River, but the largest island is also referred to as simply Grosse Ile. The name comes from French Grosse Île, meaning "Big Island". The population was 10,371 at the 2010 census.


Bridge too small for fire trucks

According to the United States Census Bureau, the township has a total area of 18.3 square miles (47 km2), of which 9.6 square miles (25 km2) is land and 8.7 square miles (23 km2), or 47.4%, is water.



Beautiful home

Grosse Ile is the largest island on the Detroit River. The township of Grosse Ile is actually composed of twelve islands, although the community is most often identified with the main island (which residents simply refer to as "The Island"). Grosse Ile's main island is technically composed of two islands.


The tip of the main island's northern section is named Hennepen Point in honor of the 17th century French explorer Father Louis Hennepin. It is uninhabited and separated from the remainder of the northern section by an unnamed canal that cannot be navigated in a power boat.


The southern section of the main island is separated from the northern section by the Thoroughfare Canal, which runs on a diagonal course from east to west connecting the main channel of the Detroit River with the Trenton Channel of the river.

The southern section of the main island is connected by bridges to Elba Island, Upper Hickory Island (also known as Meso), Hickory Island, and Swan Island, which are all inhabited. When the owners wanted to build a new home on this property the politicians insisted the owner leave the original home... So they did! See below....


Two bridges connect the main island to the mainland of Michigan. The bridge on the north end of the island is called the Grosse Ile Toll Bridge (off-white color).

The bridge on the south end of the island is officially named the Wayne County Bridge (light green in color), but is commonly called the "Free Bridge" by locals.
I took the toll bridge across.



Grosse Ile historians consider the beginning of ownership and governance of the community by residents of European heritage to have begun on July 6, 1776, when the Potawatomi Indians deeded the island to prominent Detroit merchants, brothers William and Alexander Macomb.

Although the Potawatomi Indians, like most Native Americans, did not believe in the European legal concept of land ownership, they did consider the island to be part of their ancestral lands. The Potawatomi Indians called the island Kitcheminishen.


Train Depot/Grosse Isle Museum

Historians assume that the Macomb brothers believed that by purchasing this deed through the transfer of items of value, they had in fact obtained full ownership rights.

In any case, the Macomb brothers are considered to be the founders, and first legal owners, of Grosse Ile, because the Potawatomis, and later the United States government, respected the Macombs' perceived rights to take possession of the island.


Today, recognition of the Macomb brothers' historical importance is found in numerous places in the community. The central business district of Grosse Ile is located along Macomb Street which was named in their honor. A monument commemorating the day that the tribal chiefs and elders signed the deed to the Macomb brothers is located near the shoreline of the Detroit River at the foot of Gray's Drive. The original deed, which was written on parchment, is currently stored in the Burton Historical Collection within the Detroit Public Library.

There are at least two homes still standing on the island that were built during the 19th century by a descendant or relative of the Macomb brothers. The Rucker-Stanton House on West River Road was built in 1848 by the great-grandson of William Macomb. The Wendell House on East River Road was built in the late 1860s by the John Wendell whom married the granddaughter of William Macomb.

No comments: