Ecorse History at a Glance

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


First Schools



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

Beaubin Slip

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.


Rum Row


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



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About Kathy Warnes

I am a writer/historian with two history websites that I hope you will check out. One of them is: My other history website is: My writers website is: Kathy Warnes Writer History My blogs are:
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