Ecorse, John Duguay, and the Edmund Fitzgerald

John Duguay served America in the United States Navy, and he was a decorated Navy Seal.

by Kathy Warnes

Along with Sandy Blakeman, John Duguay was one of the premier photographers recording Ecorse History in the 1950s. John had a special interest in the Great Lakes Engineering Works shipyard in Ecorse. Great Lakes Engineering had built its Hull #1, the Fontana, in 1905 and it was still in service on the Great Lakes. Workers worked in the shipyards to build more vessels for the Great Lakes and repair and convert existing vessels for ocean service in both World Wars I and II. They built ore carriers and other famous ships such as the state ferry Vacationland right up until 1969.  John followed the building history of the Great Lakes Engineering Works and he especially enjoyed photographing the Edmund Fitzgerald.

On February 1, 1957, the Northwestern Mutual Insurance Company of Milwaukee signed a contract with the Great Lakes Engineering Works of Ecorse to build the first super freighter on the Great Lakes. By August 7, 1957, workers at the shipyard at the Great Lakes Engineering Works laid the keel of the 729 foot ore carrier. Initially known as Hull 301, it would be the largest ore carrier on the Great Lakes. Besides Hull 301 the Great Lakes Shipyard Workers also labored on another 729 foot ore carrier for the Bethlehem Steel Corporation and a 696 foot freighter for the Interlake Steamship Company.

According to Hugh McElroy, general superintendent of the Great Lakes Engineering Works, building the three vessels would provide employment for approximately 1,300 workers for the next three years and triple the company’s working force.  He said that work would begin on the other two ships before Hull 301 was finished.

Hugh McElroy and other officials of Great Lakes Engineering and the Columbia Transportation Company which was slated to operate the seven million dollar vessel for 27 years watched a giant crane swing the keel plate into place.  Charles Haskill, president of the Great Lakes Engineering Works, and Fred R. White, Jr., of Cleveland, executive vice president of the Columbia Transportation Company division of the Oglebay Norton Company, Cleveland,  officiated at the brief ceremony that preceded the laying of the first portion of the keel.  The ship was commissioned by the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company of Milwaukee.

The giant ship, designed for Great Lakes and Seaway shipping, was slated to be launched early in the spring of 1958. It was to be constructed of prefabricated steel sub assemblies, the first prefabrication ever done on a large lake vessel. This was a radical departure from past shipbuilding procedures where the keel was laid first, then other bottom plates and the sides and interior built up piece by piece.

Hull 301 would have a 75 foot molded depth and have the carrying capacity of approximately 26,800 long tons of iron ore. It would be 13 feet longer than any vessel currently afloat on the Great Lakes.

Over the next nine months, John Duguay monitored the progress of the giant ship as it took shape on the ways. By another Thursday, Thursday June 12, 1958, the Ecorse Advertiser reported the story of the launching of the Edmund Fitzgerald which had taken place on Saturday, June 7, 1958, and John was one of the crowd of over 15,000 people who flocked to the launching at Great Lakes Engineering Works in Ecorse/River Rouge.

Spectators overflowed the reviewing stands erected for the launching ceremonies and as the gigantic ship dropped sideways into the Detroit River, Mrs. Edmund Fitzgerald, wife of the chairman of the Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company, smashed a bottle of champagne on her bow.  People cheered as at 12:00 p.m., the 729 foot ship slid gently down greased ways into a 150 foot wide slip, creating a huge wave against the opposite shore.

The blasts of tugs, seven freighters, whistles from small craft and industries along the riverfront and the cheers of about 250 pleasure boaters mingled with the cheers of the spectators as the Edmund Fitzgerald rocked in the water. Airliners, military craft and two helicopters circled overhead.  Shipyard veterans remembered it as the loudest and longest salute to a launching they had ever experienced. According to the Ecorse Advertiser, it was “the biggest side launching ever held in the world.”

John took several photographs of the Edmund Fitzgerald during her launching and he and countless other Downriver citizens watched her graceful progress up and down the Detroit River over the years. The Edmund Fitzgerald‘s beauty, length, cargo carrying capacity and human fan club combined to make her “the pride of the American side.”

During the 1960s, her long time master, Captain Peter Pulcer, helped make her more popular by performing various antics to entertain people as the “big Fitz” glided down the rivers and lakes. He would salute people who might be watching his ship with whistle blasts and he would play music on the PA system so that everyone on shore could hear it. While passing through the Soo locks and narrow rivers like the Detroit and St. Clair Rivers, he would broadcast facts about the Edmund Fitzgerald with a bull horn. The Fitz set a number of cargo records over the years and proved to be extremely seaworthy. Besides the stiffening of hull members, installing a bow thruster in 1969 and converting to oil fuel and fitting of automated boiler controls over the winter of 1971-1972 were the only major work that the Edmund Fitzgerald ever needed.

“She was a beautiful ship and she was strong,” John remembers, with the look of Great Lakes horizons in his eye.

For 17 years, The Edmund Fitzgerald steamed stalwartly through the Great Lakes, taking storms and taconite pellets in her stride. Then as dawn broke on November 10, 1975, a massive low pressure system moved northwest from Escanaba, Michigan. As it moved across Lake Superior it whipped the waters into monster waves with foaming crests. Captain Ernst Mc Sorley, now master of the Edmund Fitzgerald, had accumulated over 40 years of experience on the Great Lakes, but this storm made him thoughtful.  He left Superior, Wisconsin with a load of 26,116 tons of taconite pellets to be delivered to Zug Island near Ecorse, charting his course within ten miles of the Arthur M. Anderson of the United States Steel Corporation’s Great Lakes Fleet, so that they could navigate seething Lake Superior together.

As the storm increased in intensity that afternoon, Captain McSorley called Captain Cooper of the Arthur Anderson and reported that the Fitz had lost two vent covers, some railing and was taking on water and listing. He asked Captain Cooper for a radar fix because his radar had failed. Darkness set in and snow squalls made the Fitz nearly invisible. At 7:10 p.m. Captain Cooper called Captain McSorley to check the condition of the Fitz. Captain McSorley replied, “We are holding our own.”

Fifteen minutes later as the Anderson emerged from a snow squall Cooper couldn’t believe what it wasn’t seeing. The Edmund Fitzgerald had disappeared from sight and sound. Captain Cooper couldn’t see her visually or on radar and couldn’t contact her by radio. Captain Cooper called the Coast Guard to report that “the Fitz is gone.”

Three days later a Navy helicopter and a Coast Guard found the wreckage of the Edmund Fitzgerald approximately 17 miles from the entrance to Whitefish Bay in 535 feet of water. A 276 foot section of the bow sits upright and a 253 foot section of the stern lays inverted about170 feet away. In between lays piles of taconite pellets.

The mystery of what sank the Edmund Fitzgerald seems to lie as deep as the Fitzgerald herself. What forces of nature could sink a ship its size so quickly? None of the men aboard her sent flares or an SOS.  The ship just disappeared. If Captain McSorley had managed to bring her over those last few miles, she would have been safe in calmer water, but all 29 of her crew members, including Captain McSorley who had commanded her since 1972, were lost. None of their bodies ever washed ashore from the wreck.

On August 2, 1977, the Coast Guard released a report, saying that the Edmund Fitzgerald sank because of faulty hatch covers.  Many people were not satisfied with this report and over the years many controversial theories about the sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald have been put forth. Some people say that the Fitz could have bottomed out or grounded near Six Fathom Shoal which supposedly was not mapped correctly. Others contend that the crew may not have securely fastened the clamps that held down the hatches, allowing water to seep in. Or others contend that the hatches themselves had faulty covers.

According to some theories the Fitz had previous structural damage that had not been properly repaired and the adverse conditions of the storm made the damage worse and caused her to sink. Some people say that enormous waves called the Three Sisters, swamped and sank the Fitz. Many others think a monstrous wave could have buried the Fitz and pushed her front under water, causing her to hit ground and break in two. Or others say that the waves lifted the bow and stern of the Fitz, but could not hold the center of the ship that contained the cargo. The overload pushed the center down, sinking the Fitz and breaking it in two.

The crew members and the Edmund Fitzgerald herself are remembered in the minds and hearts of people who loved them both. On July 4, 1995 the ship’s bell was recovered from the wreck and now reposes in the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum in Whitefish Point. An anchor that the Fitz lost on an earlier trip was recovered from the Detroit River and is displayed at the Dossin Great Lakes Museum in Detroit.  The Museum Ship, Steamship Valley Camp, in Sault Ste. Marie holds some Fitzgerald Artifacts, including Lifeboat #2 which is shredded like paper, some photos and commemorative models and paintings.

One of the Ecorse ship yard workers who helped build the Fitz doesn’t remember her as being quite as strong as John Duguay remembered her.  Requesting to remain anonymous, he remarked that he and several of the other men who worked on her felt that she was not seaworthy because of inferior riveting and incorrect placement of some of the prefabricated parts. In fact, he thinks the way the Fitzgerald was built made her ultimately unseaworthy.

John Duguay’s service to America as a Navy Seal continued into his civilian life and probably explains his interest in taking photographs of the Edmund Fitzgerald. The creation and launching of a ship in your hometown is an exciting event and in the case of Great Lakes Engineering Works, the exciting event was repeated over and over in Ecorse. John Duguay was there to record the launching of the Edmund Fitzgerald and it is the ultimate tragedy that his photographs survived longer the she did.

(There is also controversy about where the Edmund Fitzgerald was built and launched – at the Great Lakes Engineering slips in Ecorse or the ones in River Rouge? When the issue arose in my blog in 2010, I wrote a note explaining that my sources said that the Fitzgerald was built and launched in Ecorse to rebut the contention that it was built and launched in River Rouge.  According to this comment from a Mr. Hoffman that I quote directly, the confusion seems to arise from the fact that Great Lakes Engineering created two slips north of Great Lakes Avenue in River Rouge and two slips south of Great Lakes Avenue in Ecorse.

This is Mr. Hoffman’s comment:

  1. Mr. Hoffman says:

November 27, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Some of us know that the Geographical location in question all began with an area known as “Grandport” then came Ecorse Township which included most of what is now known as “Downriver”..I heard reports that Great Lakes Engineering Works played politics in regards to the wanting of River Rouge Mi. to become a city proper for tax reasons, as to this report being factual is unsubstantiated..It is a fact that after River Rouge became its own city there were elements of Great Lakes Engineering Works in both Ecorse & Rive Rouge, as far as the building & launching of the “Mighty Fritz” is concerned I do believe the debate can summed up when the overall sources are considered… January 8, 1903 Great Lakes Engineering Works acquired an 85 acre parcel of land with 1400 feet of Detroit River frontage in the downriver community of Ecorse, MI. It was located just downriver from the mouth of the Rouge River and the then well known Smith Coal Dock…Great Lakes Engineering created 4 Slips/Berths which still exist, two of which are north of Great lakes Ave. within the city of River Rouge & two which are south of Great lakes Ave In Ecorse..One of the two Slips south of Great lakes Ave. was enlarged in the 1940′s to accommodate the large Navy ships that were constructed during WWII, This large Slip would in fact have been the Slip the Mighty Fritz would have been Launched from…I believe the confusion about all of the Slips/Berths being located in River Rouge has to do more with a false sense of Geography due to the Lay misunderstanding of the Street grid of the roads on the East side of W. Jefferson to the water’s edge as a reference point as opposed to any City pride or rivalry…A ship built back in the 1950′s was built from the Keel up, where the Keel was laid (In the cradle) is at the waters edge, and the water’s edge in the Fritz’s case is that large Slip in Ecorse Mi.

Reply

  1. Mr. Hoffman says:

November 28, 2010 at 3:36 am

Addendum to previous comment: Regarding any confusion as to what city the Edmund Fitzgerald was Built/Launched within, one must consider that even though the lion’s share of the Great Lakes Engineering Works was located within the City of Ecorse at the time of the launching of the Fritz the name of the Yard in which it was launched was called the “River Rouge yard”..As to why it was called the River Rouge yard is unknown to this commenter(Perhaps tax purposes), however I do know that the yard name was adopted once River Rouge became a city..The Keel of Hull # 301 (Edmund Fitzgerald) was laid August 8, 1957 in Launching Slip # 3 South side, at the Great Lakes Engineering Works A.K.A. River Rouge Ship yard..Launching Slip # 3 of the Great Lakes Engineering Works River Rouge yard was located within the city of Ecorse Mi….The name River Rouge yard at first thought could perhaps make one conclude that the Fritz was built & launched within the city of River Rouge).

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Ecorse Rowing Club History

Joe Rawson, one of the foundation people of the Ecorse Boat/Rowing Club passed away recently so I thought this would be a good time to put a PDF version of the Ecorse Rowing Club History that I wrote for you to down load if you would like to do so.

Kathy Covert Warnes

Rafting the Waters and Pulling an Oar For Ecorse:  The Story of the Ecorse Boat/Rowing Club

Rafting the Waters and Pulling and Oar For Ecorse

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Mrs. Ada Saunders, Mrs. Ecorse Librarian, Retires – May 1957

by Kathy Warnes

When Mrs. Ada Saunders took over the duties of Ecorse librarian on March 22, 1926, there were 600 books on the library shelves in the library’s temporary quarters in the De Wallott Building on Jefferson Avenue and before than on a shelves in the back of Loveland’s Drug Store. In 1947, when the library moved into its new home on West Jefferson and Outer Drive, 13,300 books filled the rows of shelves. In 1957, when Mrs. Saunders retired, the Ecorse Library’s collection contained 20,000 books and about 350 people a day visited the library. More than 8,000 civic group members used the Ecorse Public Library every year.

B.E. Loveland, who provided space in his drug store in 1922 for the first library in Ecorse said, “After looking at the great strides the library has taken under Mrs. Saunder’s able supervision, I am happy to have had some small part in the establishment of the library. I think she has done a wonderful job.”

Miss Luarine Hurford of Wyandotte, patronized Ecorse Library from the time it was located in the DeWallott building. She said, “Mrs. Saunders is a fine librarian and the library is a lovelier place because she is there.”

The Ecorse Public Library continued to grow with Mrs. Saunders supervision. The city opened two branches in other parts of town to provide library service to children who couldn’t walk to the main library. One library, established in the municipal building on High Street, stopped operating in 1945 to make room for the Veteran’s Administration Office. The other, opened on Visgar Road in 1935, still operated in 1956. Mrs. Saunders worked hard to arrange bus service to the main library from Schools One, Two, and Three so that over 1,000 pupils each month could visit and check out books.

Mrs. Saunders started sponsoring Christmas parties for a small number of school children in the old library in the DeWallott building. The number of children attending grew with the years. The Christmas party of December 1956 at the main library on Outer Drive and Jefferson attracted 1,500 children over a three day period who enjoyed colored movies and Christmas treats from the city of Ecorse. Her parties delighted three generations of Ecorse youngsters, many of them grandchildren of Ecorse citizens who had originally borrowed books from the library.

Born in Bonne Terre, Missouri, Ada Saunders attended state normal schools in Springfield and Cape Girardeau, Missouri. She held a life teaching certificate in Missouri and taught six years in public schools there. After arriving in Ecorse in 1920, Mrs. Saunders worked as a substitute teacher for three years. She earned a degree in library science at Wayne University completed many University of Michigan extension courses.

Over the years, Mrs. Saunders worked out a formula for her success as a librarian. She explained it by saying, “My years as a librarian have been my recreation rather than a position. No career was ever made over night and mine  is no exception, requiring years of constant preparation and planning. A librarian must have a great desire to serve the people because a library is an integral part of a community.

Mrs. Saunders, her husband Otto, and her son Waldo Crump and his wife Margaret lived together on a small farm near Flat Rock. Another son, Stanley Crump, his wife Iris, and their three children lived in California.

A life-long Democrat, Mrs. Saunders said that after she retired she intended to strenuously campaign for her friend Governor G. Mennan Willams “when he runs for president.”

After 32 years as a librarian in Ecorse, Mrs. Ada Saunders retired in May 1957. On July 8, 1957, she and her husband Otto set out for California. Cross country trips were nothing new to Mrs. Saunders because she had already visited 45 states and seen much of Canada, but she and her husband Otto had a different reason for this trip to Pleasant Hills, California, about 40 miles south of San Francisco. The Saunders were retiring to a home that her son Stanley Crump and his wife, Iris, had furnished and decorated for them. The Crumps and their three grandchildren were waiting for Ada and Otto when they arrived. Mrs. Saunders said that their three grandchildren were “the real reason we decided to leave our farm near Flat Rock and move west,” Mrs. Saunders said.

Ada Saunders’ son, Waldo Crump and his wife Margaret bought the farm where they had all lived, and they drove Ada and Otto Saunders to California. Otto had not been well since he suffered a stroke two years before, so Mr. and Mrs. Saunders were glad of the chauffeuring and the company.

Since she had worked since 1906 as a teacher and then a librarian, Mrs. Saunders looked forward to getting rid of her timepieces. “I’ve been a clock watcher too long. I have no intention of living by the clock during my retirement years, and the only work I expect to do will be to tend my garden and keep the house neat,” she said.

Mrs. Saunders was proud of her tenure as the head librarian of Ecorse. She established the reputation of Ecorse Library as the best public relations library in Wayne Country, enjoying friendly contacts with all community groups and working tirelessly with city officials, police, school, and church officials, businessmen and local organizations. Under her leadership, the library sponsored and assisted in the activities of many community organizations including the Women’s club and Boy’s Club, which she helped organize. The Ecorse Library also hosted the Ecorse Book Club, the Library Science Club, story hour groups, adult education programs, citizenship classes, and programs for community groups. Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts and Girl Reserves also met at the Ecorse Library. Mrs. Saunders supervised many students from Ecorse High and St. Francis Xavier working as pages in the Ecorse libraries. Some of her students went on to head branch libraries and others became teachers. Most of them attended college.

Her colleagues, the people that Mrs. Ada Saunders had associated with for years, and her friends said that she had never made an enemy. Everyone in public or private life that she dealt with had been impressed by her fine character and ability in her chosen field. They said that she was a really good librarian and made Ecorse’s library one of the top public institutions in the state.

As for Ada Saunders, she said that the thought of leaving the job she held since March 22, 1926, left her with mingled emotions of joy and sorrow. “I will be unhappy to leave my friends, whom I will miss more than my work, but it is pleasant to know that I will be able to retire and have sufficient funds with which to live comfortably.”

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Ecorse, in Community America

by Kathy Warnes

His name is Gus and he rowed on the championship rowing team that won the Henley races in Canada several 1940s years in a row.   His father came to our small maritime community, Ecorse, Michigan, from Greece and he opened a restaurant that rough and ready hunters, bootleggers, fishermen and truck drivers frequented for conversation, companionship, and muskrat dinners. Sometimes times were lean, but he kept hunting and rowing.

His name is John and he hailed from one of the old French families that settled in Ecorse in the nineteenth century. His father died when he was still a teenager, but he still managed to graduate from Ecorse High School. He proudly served America as a Navy Seal. He started poor, but he developed his talent for photography and lost an eye on the job, invented things and earned a comfortable living. When he got older, his eyesight and his hearing failed, but his mind didn’t. He would examine his old photographs with a magnifier and tell the story of each one with a smile and a twinkle in his failing eye.

Her name is Christine and she arrived in the United States from Scotland after World War II, and made her way to the Ecorse elementary school called Ecorse School Number One. She taught fifth grade in a delightfully Scottish accent and she told us stories about her homeland in a wistful, homesick way. She also emphasized that America was her home now and she appreciated her new beginning.

His name is Robert and he was one of the doctors who was born in Ecorse, educated elsewhere, and came back to serve his hometown for over six decades. While the city added another buckle to the rust belt, he continued to treat generations of patients with wisdom, compassion, and grace. He lived and died doctoring.

Her name is Ruth and she made the apron a symbol of strength. She filled its pockets with love for her family, and her quiet support of her community. She wore her apron when she made her homemade soup and cooked pizza in the Ecorse High School cafeteria. She tied her apron strings around lives with loving knots.

Her name is Mary and she worked in the Willow Run Ford Plant making B-24 bombers. The figures tell part of her story. At the end of 1944, the Willow Run Ford Plant was producing 650 B-24 bombers every month and by 1945 Ford made 70 percent of all B-24 bombers in two nine hour shifts a day. The B-24 bomber contained 100,000 parts compared to the 15,000 needed to build a 1940 automobile and the demand for people to build them unending. Men and more men fought were overseas fighting and workers were scarce. The United States War office ordered Ford to hire 12,000 women at Willow Run and by October 1943 more than 140,000 women worked at the Willow Run plant. They included teachers, waitresses, housewives, and a few businesswomen and they earned the same wages as men, from 95 cents to $1.60 an hour. Mary was one of the Willow Run women from Ecorse.

Henry Ford earned great wealth. He wasn’t a perfect man. History and tradition say that he was anti-Semitic and autocratic, but he still loved America and felt enough of a sense of American community to give back some of his wealth, sponsor a Peace Ship to try to end World War I, and help individual members of the community.

His name is Richard and he was a prisoner of war in Korea. When he came home, his parents and his high school coach greeted him at the airport. His name is Philip and his father was another Ecorse championship rower. He didn’t come home from Vietnam alive. Her name is Brenda and she had a child before she graduated from Ecorse High School. She struggles to raise her daughter while she’s going to Wayne State University to get her nursing degree. Her name is Elizabeth and she struggles to live on the Social Security that she paid into for sixty years and to keep her health and her modest Ecorse home.

These are people from my time in Ecorse my hometown. Millions of people from hometowns in cities and states all over America have similar patterns, values, similar humanity, and similar stories.

Ecorse was not a perfect place to grow up and it did not contain perfect people. The steel mill that a Pennsylvania entrepreneur had founded in 1929 produced generations of jobs, but also daily clouds of soot and other pollution. My mother used to grumble every time she hung out clothes because some of the steel soot clung to them.

The automobile and other industries polluted the Detroit River so much that despite its swift current it ran as sluggishly as a clogged drain. People fought, drank at the numerous Ecorse bars, and practiced bad race relations in the era of black people “living on their own side of the tracks.”

Time and sometimes weary, violent years changed Ecorse as it did all towns and cities across the country. A parade of seasons eroded the tombstones in Ecorse Cemetery and the memories of people who moved away and the memories of people who remained.

But Ecorse still survives, battered and struggling but surviving. The Detroit River runs clear and green again and industry is slowly reawakening.

All of the other communities and states that make up America survive. America’s sense of community has been eroded by changing times, a changing world, tunnel vision, ideologues and just plain selfishness and selective memory.

We forget that the soul of America is expansive and broad minded enough to nurture all kinds of people. The goal of America has always been freedom and equal opportunity for all of its citizens. History shows us that we don’t always reach our goals, but when we act with soul and as a community we do. We need to reconnect with that soul and with each other instead of allowing politics, disagreements, and rancor to create chasms in our American community.

The community is America and she is us.

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St. Francis Xavier High School’s Last Graduating Class – 1969

by Kathy Warnes

John Duguay was a faithful and long time member of St. Francis Xavier Parish and he took many pictures of the church through the years. Here are just a few of them.

Photo by John Duguay

 

The senior students from St. Francis Xavier High School in Ecorse prepare to leave for Lansing in May 1953. They planned to visit the state capitol and other interesting places in Lansing.

The Ecorse Advertiser of May 28, 1969, recorded an end of an era in the annals of St. Francis Xavier High School in Ecorse.

Its 30th graduating class will open wide its portals, turn their eyes toward their Alma Mater and suddenly realize that this haven is no longer for them. It’s inevitable that they must part and there will be tears in many eyes as not only the graduates but also the lower class men leave its doors for the last time.

Only the grade school will reopen in September. The Catholic financial crisis is forcing the high school to close.

The school building was erected in 1924 under the guidance of Father Tobias G. Morin, pastor, who was later elevated to the rank of the Right Reverend Monsignor. The Sisters of St. Joseph were placed in charge.

Enrollment for the first year was 200, and it increased continuously from year to year. The class of June 1939 was the first graduating class of St. Francis. Some graduates remained in the area and others moved away. Many survived World War II.

Students in the class of 1939 were Leo Thibeault, Robert Sackett, Henry Myrand, Edward Foley, George Cloutier, Everett Kovalchick, James Hodge, Donald Stevens, Harry Gladding, Anthony Shield, Jack Spaight, Roger Raupp, Ray Livernois, Louis Poupard, Agatha Beausejour Bankovich, Mary Sanscrainte Monks, Betty Plourde, Peggy Sarchet, Rita Konzen, Bernice Raupp Stein, Ruth Happ, Mary Freeman, Josephine Page and Betty Navarre Schoenherr.

About 40 St. Francis High School students visited the main banking building of the Security Bank in Ecorse in November 1952 to observe its operations. Shown are members of a class in Economics. Left to Right: Loretta Bella, Roberta Markle, Mary Margaret Ribley, Security Bank Senior Vice President Clarence Meade, Mrs. Blanche Hunt, Geraldine Wolan, Rena Grevalo, Mary Kay Hollobaugh, Jeanette Pisch, Gloria Gibbons, Rosalie Cosentino and Patricia Labadie. Each fall the Security Bank arranged for students to visit and get a thorough briefing on operating methods.

The last class of St. Francis Xavier High School included Kathy Abler, Linda Alcala, Sidney Alent, DeborahAllen, John Bedo, Shirley Bondie, Gary Baumgardner, James Carmody Arlene Chrapko, Celeste Cloutier, Thomas Cousino, Donald Dionne, Patrick Dolan, Danell Enright, Regis Enright, Monica Fashbaugh, Michael Forest Jr., Mary Anne Gibbons, Brian Harney, Dennis Hicks, Sue Hollobaugh, Dennis Hunter and Karen Schafran.

The valedictorian and salutatorian of the last graduating class of St. Francis Xavier High School were Karen Schafran and Arlene Chrapko. Karen Schafran was the daughter of Mrs. Andrew Schafran, 1570 LeJuene, Lincoln, Park. She was selected as valedictorian of the graduating class by attaining the highest academic record. Based on 3 ½ years she has attained a 3.5 average, earning 136 honor points and never had a mark below “B.” Karen plans to attend Eastern Michigan University or Wayne State University.

Arlene Chrapko, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. John Chrapko, 3601 Marian Drive, Trenton, former Ecorse residents, was selected as salutatorian. She has attended Xavier of 12 years and during high school has made the honor roll every year. She has changed from a college course to a business course and does not plan to attend college. She will seek employment after graduation.

Mary Ann Price wrote in the Ecorse Advertiser of Wednesday, May 28, 1969, that Richard Morgan, superintendent of the 80-inch Mill, Great Lakes Steel Corporation, was guest speaker at the annual all sports banquet Sunday at St. Francis Xavier School, Ecorse. Highlight of the evening was a film of the Detroit Lions by Leroy (Friday) Macklen, Lion’s equipment manager. This was the last athletic banquet because the high school will close in June.

Photo by John Duguay

Joseph Wierzbiecki, former Xavier All Star and now basketball coach at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Wyandotte, was master of ceremonies. The Reverend Norbert Chateau gave the invocation. Guests included Mayor Richard E. Manning, Nicholas Galante, athletic director; Bernard Poppa, head football, basketball, and track coach; Jack Seitzinger, assistant basketball coach; Joe Benso, assistant football coach; Philip Ventimiglis, sports student manager, and John O’ Toole, C.Y.O. football coach.

Awards and letters were presented to Seniors Kenneth Mehi, football, basketball and track; Donald Dionne, football and basketball; Regis Enright, football and track; Dennis Hicks, track. Football awards also went to John Bedo, Thomas Cousino, Konrad Walker, Alden Markel, Charles Montie, Curtis Gatney, Bernard Olesko, James Carmody and Gary Baumgardner.

Photo by John Duguay

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May 1975 is a Busy Month in Ecorse

Ecorse Mayor George Coman and his family.
Photo by John Duguay

by Kathy Warnes

May 1975 was a busy month in Ecorse and the Ecorse Advertiser of Wednesday, May 14, 1975 printed a glimpse into the activities around Ecorse.

Veterans Groups March in Ecorse

Ecorse will observe Memorial Day on Sunday, May 18, 1975, a week ahead of the   regular observance date, with a gigantic parade by veterans organizations from throughout the Downriver area. The parade will begin at 1 p.m. and will proceed down West Jefferson from Tecumseh to Riverside Park, Southfield and West Jefferson, where a reviewing stand will be placed.

Host sponsor of this year’s parade is Ecorse’s Roy B. Salliotte American Legion Post 319. Grand Marshall will be Jerome Hammill, Post 9 commander. Grand Marshall Aide will be Bernard Broughton, past commander of the Salliotte post.

Giles Reeve, a former Ecorse councilman, and now head of the American Legion Children’s Home at Otter Lake will be parade narrator.

Prior to the parade, veterans organizations will conduct memorial water services at the foot of Southfield, beginning at 9:45 a.m.

The Peter Reeves Woman’s Relief Corps 270 will conduct services for the Army and Navy persons, and then services will be conducted by Roy B. Salliotte Unit 319 American legion and V.F.W. Auxilliary 5709 Great Lakes Steel American Legion Unit 272. The honor color guard will be the American Legion Post 409 of Allen Park. The firing squad will be composed of representatives of the Ecorse Veterans Organizations. The buglers will be students of Ecorse High School band under the direction of Musical Director Alexander Campbell.

Following the parade, a program will be conducted at the reviewing stand in Riverside Park.

Ecorse Veterans – Riverside Park
Photo by John Duguay

Participating will be the Ecorse High School band who will open the program with the “Star Spangled Banner.” The Reverend Joseph Barlow, Jr., pastor of Mt. Zion Missionary Baptist Church, Ecorse, will present the invocation. Ecorse Mayor Charles G. Coman will give an address of welcome and Congressman John D. Dingell will give the Memorial Day address.

Annual Election Set for June 9, 1975

With Monday, May 12, 1975, as the deadline, prospective candidates filed their nomination petitions for positions on the school boards in Ecorse and River Rouge. The annual elections will be held June 9 in the two communities.

In River Rouge, four people, including two incumbents, are seeking election to two, four year terms, which expire in June. In Ecorse, three people, including one incumbent, are seeking the one, four-year term on the school board.

Those who filed petitions in River Rouge were: Roland Bowdler, 83 East Cicotte; Leon Harris, Jr., 277 Beechwood; an incumbent, James N. Waters, 41 Victoria, an incumbent; and Lynn Tate, 302 Frazier.

Those who filed in Ecorse were:  Ethel Burgess, 3846 Teneth; Rufus Underwood, 4181 Thirteenth, the incumbent; and Juanita D. Van Horn, 4332 Ninth.

Candidates have until 4 p.m. Thursday to file their petitions with the Board of elections.

Ecorse School News

New Ecorse High School Superintendent to Take Office July 1, 1975

Dr. Richard A. Huston was appointed to the superintendency of the Ecorse Public Schools by the Ecorse Board of Education. His appointment is effective July 1, 1975.

Dr. Huston has distinguished himself both as an educators and administrator at the elementary, secondary, and college levels in the development and innovation of strong educational programs. His solid academic background and many and varied experiences in educational cause many in Ecorse to feel very fortunate in securing Dr. Huston as the next Superintendent of the school system, one who is motivated by the desire to help young people receive quality education.

He is no stranger to Detroit or to Michigan. Even though he attended and graduated from high school in Toledo, Ohio, and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Toledo, he was born in Detroit and received both his master’s degree and doctorate degree at the University of Michigan. He is presently assistant superintendent of schools in Warren, Ohio, and director of elementary education and community relations. Prior to this position, he was an assistant professor at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Huston was an all American halfback for the University of Toledo in the late 1940s, and starred on the school’s baseball and track teams. He served as football coach at the University of Toledo from 1950-1957 and was inducted into the University of Toledo’s Athletic Hall of Fame and the University of Toledo’s honor roll. He is the recipient of numerous other honors and awards, some of which are: Top 10 on the University’s Campus, Who’s Who in American Colleges 1948; Toledo’s Junior Chamber of Commerce.

Party Honors Retiring Superintendent

A retirement dinner party will be given for James W. Johnson, superintendent of the Ecorse Public Schools, May 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Sir George’s Steak House, 1006 South Telegraph, Taylor.

Plans for the dinner party were announced by Russell J. Blades and Lucy Chimney who are both assistant to the Superintendent. There will be a cocktail hour preceding the dinner will be served at 7:30 p.m.

The dinner party will be open to the public and reservations may be made by calling the Ecorse Public Schools, DU 2-86000, on or before Macy 23. The donation is $10.00 which will entitle one to all of the activities of the evening with the exception of the cocktail hour which will be cash at the bar.

James w. Johnson will retire after 22 years of service in the Ecorse Public Schools.

Synchronettes Plan Water Show

The Ecorse High School Synchronette Water Show will be held Thursday May 15, 1975, Friday, May 16, 1975, and Saturday, May 17, 1975, at 7:30 p.m. in the high school swimming pool. The title of this year’s show is “What Day Is Today?”

The theme is the calendar. Each of the 12 months is represented by a precision swimming number. Various “dolphins” will be featured this year. The soloist is Candi Neal. Cheryl Copeland and Linda Plopan competed in a duet. They will swim to “Space Oddity.” There will be two trios, the first will be done by Jeanne Campbell, Kathie Flemming, and Stephanie Kupovits. The second will feature Annette Ball, Candi Neal, and Lynn Sanflippo.

Helen Garlington and the student technicians are doing the lighting. There will be two spotlights instead of the traditional one. The scenery was done by Synchronettes.

Vice-president is Annette Ball, secretary-treasurer is Lynn Sanflippo and teacher-sponsor is Claudette Smith.

Ecorse High Evaluations Process Begins

During the school year, 1975-1976, Ecorse High School will be evaluated for North Central Accreditation. In order to gain this approval, the administration and the high school staff must go through a lengthy and thorough written evaluation of all phases of the secondary school program.

Several high school students and several community citizens will be asked to participate on a school and community committee, in addition to high school faculty members.

Jane Bielawski, and Suzanne Filliatrault, Ecorse High teachers, have been appointed chair person and co-chair person of the entire evaluation process, which is beginning this month and culminating in an onsite evaluation by a North Central Association visiting team of educators in March 1976.

On May 23, the high school staff will have a half day in service workshop to begin the evaluation process. Students will be dismissed at 11 a.m. and teachers will spend the afternoon in committee meetings.

Polly the Parrot is Back in Her Cage

Monday May 12, 1975, was a memorable day for Chuckie Klaes and his parrot. Chuckie had a miniature parrot, Polly, his favorite pet. A few days ago Polly escaped from her cage and spent the night flitting from tree to tree. All the while, Chuckie and his parents, Mary and Charles Klaes, were devising ways to get Polly back into her cage. The night wore on, and Polly stayed away from home.

In an attempt to get Polly back into the cage, Charles Klaes and his brother, Bill, tied Polly’s cage high into a nearby tree, in hopes that she would venture into the cage and the door could be lowered and the parrot could be returned to Chuckie.

Come early Monday morning, Polly was lounging around her cage. She’d get into the cage, but when she’d see the men approach, she’d walk out of the cage and sit on a nearby limb.

This routine continued from about 8:30 a.m. until almost 11:30 a.m. when Polly, apparently ready, walked into the cage, and didn’t budge while Charles and Bill reached up with long poles, covered the entrance, and lowered the cage to the ground.

Chuckie’s Polly was back in her cage and Chuckie was happy. His dad and Uncle were happy too, that it was all over.

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My Memories of Ecorse Skating Rink

My Memories of Ecorse Skating Rink

By Diane St. Aubin (McQueen)

 Boy can I remember the skating rink; it was never enclosed when I used it and in some ways I’m glad it wasn’t.  There just, was something about skating in the outdoors during the winter months that seems so right.  I remember them playing songs for us skaters and how often it would stir me to either grab a partner to skate with or just skate all alone in my fantasy as a famous skater – trying all the tricks I knew at the time!!!

Here I am off to the skating rink from Ninth Street…..was a long walk and I always took the back way; not going the route of Outer Drive to High Street, but to the area where there was a street that dead ended behind Schwayder Brothers.  I can still remember those high hills with the railway tracks and a big dip in the middle…..really a great place for someone to lurk if they ever wanted to grab a person; never happened tho.  How often there would be a slow moving train coming that I would ‘beat’ to get to the other side in order to skate that evening.  I always made sure there was only one train coming and not two from opposite directions, sure didn’t want to scare those engineers too badly!!!  Just got to say I rarely had to ‘beat’ a train tho.

This is the alley behind Pomograth’s Market, or Frankie’s Market. Frankie Schrettner managed it and was located on High Street, right across from Schwayder Brothers Trunk Factory.

 

A lot of times I would then go to Frankie’s store (nope not Frankie’s Bar which was just down the street, also where you could buy a great pizza), and get my skates sharpened – he had an electric grinder wheel just for that reason and could he put a sharp edge on my Canadian Flyers!!!  Had those skates even until after I married!!!!  Just hated to part with those wonderful skates.  Can’t even remember how much he changed to sharpen my skates but it couldn’t have been much because I really didn’t have much money those days.

IF I can remember right the skating rink was free to use when it opened and maybe later they decided to charge 50 cents.  I loved to skate and was at the rink every chance I could.  Often times I would meet my friends there and even boyfriends as well.  Those were the good ole days.  I just don’t remember ever having a car to drive there (like they would now).  Can’t even remember IF I would call a friend to see if they were going skating; they were either there or not, but there always seemed to be someone I knew skating and I would join in.

It wasn’t often I would rest but if I did I’d grab hold of the side fence rail that circled the rink; at times just to see who else was there skating.  Watching for my boyfriend to arrive or even maybe Rich would show up; he always wore men figure skates instead of hockey skates that the guys would wear.  We’d tear up the ice, skating as a team and then part, as new people would arrive.  It most certainly was a place us kids could gather to spend quality time and not just ‘hang’ doing nothing or making trouble.

What fun that rink was.  What memories I still have.

(It’s really a thrill to have Diane contribute this memory.  Would everyone please write some Ecorse memories?  They can be short and sweet, and it is really sweet to get them! Does anyone else remember going to Frankie’s Market?  He sold penny candy and popsickles, so I was a regular customer as well!

And the railroad tracks beside the Trunk Factory.  I remember how I could go up and down the hills and cross at least six sets of tracks to get over to Clark’s Candy Store on Cicotte Street and then to Beach Street where my Grandmother Robson – Ruth Spanger Robson lived! Please send me your memories.

Kathy)

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Two Years and Still Counting: An Ecorse History Inventory

Hi Everyone,

I wanted to let you in on a little Ecorse inventory and to ask your help.  August 1, 2012, will bring me to the two year mark of writing this blog.  As an anniversary observance, I thought that I would recap some of what I consider the highlights of the last two years.

I love your participation and welcome it. In fact, I am appealing to you to send me your memories – nostalgic or otherwise – of Ecorse.  It is important to preserve them and of course, I can’t remember everything or write events from anyone’s perspective but mine.

I also appreciate your comments and I especially wanted to mention how much I enjoyed the material that people sent me about the Harbor Theater and Roger Held’s memoir of Miss Garlington. Also a special thanks to Diane McQueen St. Aubin for her comments and encouragement. And thank you everyone for reading Ruth Spangler’s Blog.

So, here’s to another two plus years of Ecorse History!

Kathy Covert Warnes

P.S.  John Duguay’s picture of the old Ecorse Skating Rink before it was covered is one of my favorites, because I loved to go skating there. Does anyone else remember it when it looked like this?

P. S.S.  Sandy Blakeman’s picture of this senior group sitting in Riverside Park is one of my favorites of his photos.  I still haven’t been able to find out who the people are.  Does anyone know?

Ecorse History

ecorseechoes                   (Takes a few minutes to load. Lots of pictures!)

ecorsepresbyterianchurch (2) (This one might take some time to download. It has lots of pictures!)

raftingthewatersandpullinganoarforecorse

Ecorse Kids

Ecorse Creek is CCCCOLLDDD

francoisetheseagullfindshisfamilytree

Captain Goldsmith, Freddy and Francine, And

Barry Beagle Escapes to Mud Island

Granny Godfroy Grows Up

ecorseparades  (This has lots of pictures so it will take a minute to load)

I also have a website called Discover Fun History in Clio’s Cave that has Ecorse material on it.  The address is: discoverfunhistory.webs.com.  I have another history website at:   http://historybecauseitshere.weebly.com/ 

  and a google wiki at History Horizons  https://sites.google.com/site/historyhorizons/


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Ecorse History at a Glance

by Kathy Warnes

Ecorse Timeline – Short Version

1700s

First settled by French Habitants under Antoine Cadillac.

1763

Rendezvous for Pontiac.

1764

Tradition has it that the Labadie family arrived in the area.

1776

Deeded to St. Cosme by Indians.

1784-1795

First Recorded White Settlements. Pierre Michael Campau is supposed to have been the first white settler, arriving in 1795.

1818

Arrival of English Settlers.

1827

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.

1834

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.

1845

St. Francis Xavier Parish

1860s

First Schools

1873

Grandport-Ecorse

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

1902

Incorporated as a village

1903

Grandport officially becomes Ecorse, even though it had been called Ecorse for generations.

1918-1933

Rum Row

1922

First Library in Loveland’s Drugstore

1929

Great Lakes Steel

1941

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

 

(Source:  http://www.geocities.com/michhist/ladclaim.html)

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Friends, Freedom, and the Fourth of July Ferris Wheel

(Remember the carnivals that were located down by the river every Fourth of July? This story really happened.  I changed the names of the boy and Lisa in question because I didn’t want to embarrass them or me, even after all of these years! If you have any carnival memories, please share them. All of the photos are by John Duguay)

by Kathy Warnes

The freedom of the Ferris Wheel, Merry Go Round, and Dodge’Em cars swirling in the rides section of the carnival beside the Detroit River made me vow that this Fourth of July would be different!  This Fourth of July as we walked around the carnival by the river, ate cotton candy, and rode the rides, I would tell John I liked him. Maybe he would even hold my hand- the ultimate act of love for eleven year olds in the late 1950s.

John and I had spent our childhood being good buddies, growing up a block away from each other.  We played long, hot summer afternoon baseball games and twilight games of hide and seek, tag, and statue makers with the neighborhood kids. When would be a good time to tell him I liked him? Could I tell him when he slid head first into first base and I tagged him out?

The Fourth of July carnival that came to our town every year would be the best place to tell him. I dug my favorite pedal pusher and matching top outfit out of the ironing and ironed it. I put new laces in my blue tennis shoes, and put on blue socks so the hole in my right shoe would blend in with the sock. To my anxious eyes, the colors blended and the hole stayed harmlessly under the cover of my right toe.The music from the Merry-Go-Round danced on the wind and floated into my ears. Miss Burr had taught us the song in music class,

“Come Josephine in my flying machine,

Going up she goes! Up she goes!

Balance yourself like a bird on a beam

In the air she goes! There she goes!

….Going up, all on, goodbye!”

Pretending I was a bird on a beam, and balancing myself with both arms, I headed toward the Merry-Go-Round. John and I usually met there. I kept my eye on the horses, especially the one with the brown mane and black and white spots. That’s the one we would ride together after I told him I liked him and he told me he liked me.

Then I saw something a few feet away from the Merry-Go-Round that brought me crashing back down to earth.

A woman with braided brown hair had set up shop in a little cubby hole of a booth. She had a rack golden lockets on slim chains on display and an engraving machine sat on the table in back of her. A single customer stood in front of the woman.  “I want it to say, I like you a lot,” he told the woman with braided brown hair. I wanted to jump up and down and dance. I wanted to fly with Josephine in her flying machine as high up as the moon or the sun. The lady with the braided brown hair’s customer was John.

I backed away before he saw me. I flew away. I floated away. “I like you a lot.” John had told the lady to engrave on the locket. I would never forget this Fourth of July! I planned to run over to my best friend Janet’s house and show her the locket as soon as John gave it to me and I needed to get a locket to give to him.

Ducking behind people and dodging a few kids I knew, I sneaked back to the booth. Whew! John was gone, but the lady with the brown braided hair was still there.  She smiled when I ordered a locket and she chuckled when I told her that I wanted her to engrave, “I like you a lot,” on it. She engraved the locket for me and when she handed it back, she laughed. “It’s a nice Fourth of July gift,” she said.

I smiled at her and held the locket tightly in my sweaty hand. I had to hurry and meet John. I was already late, but this year he hadn’t named an exact time. He had just said that he might see me at the Merry-Go-Round. I knew he meant more than might. He had gotten me an engraved locket just ten minutes ago, hadn’t he?

John stood in front of the Merry-Go-Round waiting. I switched the locket to my other hand so I wouldn’t tarnish it with my sweat. “John,” I said.

He didn’t hear or see me. He was walking toward a girl wearing Bermuda shorts and a matching blouse and a coordinating kerchief. As she walked toward John I saw that she had on flowered straw sandals and her toenails were painted pink.

“Hi Lisa,” I heard him say to her. “I ‘m glad you came.”

He handed her the locket. “I got this for you.”

She smiled at him and put the locket around her neck. They walked away, holding hands.

I put the locket back in my sweaty hand and I walked away too. Defiantly I rode the Dodge-em-Cars twice and the Merry-Go-Round once. Then, still balancing myself like a bird on the beam, I went to the Ferris Wheel. The Ferris Wheel attendant brought a boy and a girl to the seat behind me. It was John and Lisa.  I rocked back and forth in the seat by myself. I looked out over the Fourth of July red, white, and blue decorations and the flags waving in the breeze. I saw little ant people lining up to form the Fourth of July Parade.

“Going up all on, goodbye!” I sang as I rode in the Ferris Wheel in front of John and Lisa. My tears blurred the red, white, and blue Fourth of July colors together.

Every Fourth of July since that day long ago, even when I don’t ride the Ferris Wheel, I hold the locket in my hands and sing, “Going up, all on, goodbye!”

My tears still blur the red, white, and blue Fourth of July colors together.

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