by Kathy Warnes
Ecorse Timeline – Short Version
First settled by French Habitants under Antoine Cadillac.
Rendezvous for Pontiac.
Tradition has it that the Labadie family arrived in the area.
Deeded to St. Cosme by Indians.
First Recorded White Settlements. Pierre Michael Campau is supposed to have been the first white settler, arriving in 1795.
Arrival of English Settlers.
Township of Ecorse.
The Michigan Territorial Legislature created the Township of Ecorse. (Yes, Territorial, Michigan didn’t become a state until 1837!) The Township contained 54 square miles of land running from the Detroit River to what is now Pelham Road. It included Ecorse, River Rouge, Allen Park, Melvindale, Taylor, Lincoln Park, Wyandotte, and part of Detroit.
Village of Grandport
The Township grew so quickly in seven years, that it became the village of Grandport. At that point it had 800 people, 152 homes and many businesses. It became the hub of the area and a center for French Catholics when St. Francis Xavier Church was established in 1845.
St. Francis Xavier Parish
The Ecorse business directory for 1873 listed fifteen establishments.
Alexander Bondie, Saloon, corner of State and Jefferson, N.E.
Campau and Ferguson, Grocers, SW corner of State and Monroe
Louis Cicotte, Hotel Proprietor, Jefferson Avenue
John Copeland, Lumber Manufacturer
Downriver Lumber company Sawmill
Judge H.H. Emmons, U.S. District Court, 40 feet back on Jefferson
Frederick Ferguson, Brick Layer, Corner Southfield and Monroe
G.R. Goodell Grocer, Across from Liggetts
E.J. Goodell, Surveyor & Feed Store, East side of Jefferson, just North of Southfield
N.L.Leblanc & Riopelle, Grocers
J.B. Montie, blacksmith, South of Detroit, Toledo & Ironton Railroad
Louis Odion, shoemaker, Monroe Street between Southfield & Bourassa
Michael Roulo, Hotel Proprietor
A.M. Salliotte, General Store and Notary Public, Jefferson and State Street
Joseph Salliotte, butcher
Old Fish Market
George Cicotte, General Store, Bourassa and West Jefferson
Incorporated as a village
Grandport officially becomes Ecorse, even though it had been called Ecorse for generations.
First Library in Loveland’s Drugstore
Great Lakes Steel
City of Ecorse
- Ecorse is the oldest Downriver Community, first settled by French habitants under Antoine Cadillac in the early 1700s. Cadillac granted ribbon farms to French settlers on both sides of the Detroit River, above Fort Pontchartrain (Detroit) and Downriver as well.
- Most of the ribbon farms ranged from one to five arpents wide – an arpent was 192 ½ feet. They extended inland from the river for one and a half to three miles. The ribbon arrangement give the settlers easy access to their highway, the Detroit River, and the long narrow farms were easier to defend. The Detroit River was the main highway and the canoe served as the chief transportation vehicle.
- Maps of the ribbon farms contain French family names like Beaubien, Campau, Chene, DeQuindre, Navarre, St. Aubin.
- The Village of Ecorse was once named Grandport and was part of the Province of Quebec.
- The name Ecorse, came from its location at the mouth of a little stream known to the French as Rivierre Aux Echorches, the river of bark. They called the stream river of bark because of the large number of birch trees growing along the banks. Legend has it that local Ottawa and Pottawatomie tribes would strip birch bark to make canoes and to fashion bark grave wrappings for their dead who were buried along the River.
Early, Early Ecorse!
One of the city landmarks of the early days was the Raupp sawmill, which was a popular gathering place for commerce and social events. Families intermarried and eventually there were nearly equal numbers of French and English settlers. The first recorded inter marriage was that of James Goodell and Angelique Salliotte. At that time all such records were kept at the parish of St. Anne in Detroit. Ecorse had only a small mission where Father Gabriel Richard preached once a month and which became the nucleus of the present St. Francis Xavier parish. A visit to the old St. Francis cemetery on Third Street is like a trip through history with old names and dates on every headstone.
The United States Congressional Ordinance established the Northwest Territory and set forth procedures for land measure and recognizing the old French land grants. By 1827, the scattering of settlers had developed into a small community the the Territorial Legislature created the Township of Ecorse, consisting of 54 square miles, running from the Detroit River to what is now Pelham Road, as well as two small islands in the Detroit River itself. The first township meeting was held in the home of Daniel Goodell and John Cicotte was named supervisor with duties including protecting of public health, spokesman for the township, and arbiter of all disputes.
In 1834 because of its rapid growth Ecorse township became the village of Grandport with the plot of the village laid out and recorded in 1836. It had 800 people, 152 homes, and 4 businesses. It was to become the hub of the neighboring sprawling farmlands and the site of a shipyard as well as Raupp’s Lumber Mill. St. Francis Xavier became a parish in 1845. It served the communities of Fort Wayne, River Rouge, Wyandotte, Oakwood and Delray.
The earliest school records aren’t available, but it is probable that more French than English was spoken in the first schools established. In most cases, the French culture and customs predominated even in homes where one partner was English or some other nationality.
Older Ecorse residents recall being told of a log school, near the shore of the river at the foot of what is now Labadie. Some also recall a small building on the corner of Jefferson and White that served as a school in the 1860s. Later classes were held in the band building and in the council chambers of the old city hall.
By 1873, the business directory listed 15 establishments and in 1903 the unincorporated village of Grandport became a general law village, the largest “vilalge” in the United States. It was also renamed Ecorse from the original French “Ecorces.” Its first president was A.M. Salliotte. At this time, Ecorse was a resort area and one of the early commuter suburbs.
French Land Claims, Ecorse
Claim 25 197.80 Acres Chas. Labadi July 16, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 31 640.00 Acres Jos. Kilburn July 20, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 32 271.33 Acres John Cissne July 20, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 35 337.60 Acres Wm. Cissne July 20, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 37 70.71 Acres Chas. Chovin July 20, 1807 Ecorse Claim 42 292.84 Acres Heirs of Frances Chobert, Jancaire 1823 Ecorse
Claim 45 595.60 Acres Jacques&Francois Lasselle July 23, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 46 896 Acres Thos. Smith Ecorse
Claim 47 225.00 Acres Joseph Barrian 1823 Ecorse
Claim 48 896 Acres Heirs of Thos. Smith 1823 Ecorse
Claim 49 389.80 Acres Matthew Donovan August 27, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 50 457.07 Acres John Connelly August 22, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 51 184.94 Acres Jesse Burbank August 22, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 59 161.70 Acres Ann Coates November 21, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 61 430.26 Acres Ambrose Riopel November 26, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 66 401.57 Acres John Coates December 22, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 74 106.67 Acres Marianne Delille December 26, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 83 68.88 Acres Louis Bourassa December 30, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 84 169.44 Acres Charles Campeau December 30, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 85 70.68 Acres Baptiste Rousson December 30, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 86 173.63 Acres Antoine Baron December 30, 1807 Ecorse
Claim 92 68.33 Acres Heris of Joseph Bondi January 29, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 95 174.34 Acres Antoine Bondi March 22, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 112 49.59 Acres Jean Baptiste Lebeau May 25, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 113 505.80 Acres Jonathan Schiefflein May 25, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 114 385.82 Acres Angelique Cicot&children May 26, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 116 136.38 Acres Pierre Delorier May 28, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 118 105.72 Acres Francois Trudelle June 6, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 119 228.38 Acres Louis Vessiere dit Laferte June 6, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 121 250.82 Acres Andre Viger, June 8, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 125 143.94 Acres Antoine Cattin-Therese&Pauline June 10, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 169 249.00 Acres J.B. Drouillard June 22, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 179 168.85 Acres Bazile Pepin June 25, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 212 39.50 Acres Jonathan Schiefflein December 11, 1809 Ecorse
Claim 226 360.50 Acres Alexis Discontis Labadi July 11, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 259 80.00 Acres Widow Ganier &heirs of Isaac August 4, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 455 198.72 Acres J.B. Beaugrand December 7, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 475 187.37 Acres Jacques Laselle December 12, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 496 221.72 Acres Louis Leduc December 14, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 497 198.08 Acres Claude Campeau December 14, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 524 234.56 Acres Heirs of Joseph Voyer December 20, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 525 199.60 Acres Gab. Godfroy Sr. & children December 20, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 567 129.79 Acres Chas. Rouleau December 26, 1808 Ecorse
Claim 643 407.36 Acres Anne Coats for heirs of J. Donaldson May 10, 1809 Ecorse
Claim 651 105.54 Acres Alexis Cenait dit Coquillard June 26, 1809 Ecorse
Claim 661 276.50 Acres WidowCorbus &Heirs of Godfroy Dec.15, 1809 Ecorse
Claim 667 80.00 Acres Gab. Godfroy Sr. December 29, 1809 Ecorse
Claim 669 206.46 Acres Heirs of J.B. Desplaines Januay 1, 1810 Ecorse
Clain 671 467.08 Acres Jonathan Nelson October 4, 1810 Ecorse