The Villages of Grandport, Glenwood, Bacon, and Ecorse
Early citizens of Wayne County often gathered and created small communities inside another township or city. They named their created communities for families, or the post office or railroad depot in their area. Some of the communities survived for many years while others faded back into the landscape and anonymity.
These created communities included Grandport. Once the only settlement between Detroit and Monroe, today Grandport exists only in the names of Ecorse buildings and historical accounts. The oldest part of Ecorse, Grandport was a tiny village only about four blocks stretching along the Detroit River across from what is now Southfield and Jefferson.
The village of Grandport sprang up when the French flag flew over the village and the Downriver area was part of the Province of Quebec. Descendants of these early French settlers traced the title to their land back to 1746, about 43 years before George Washington was inaugurated the first president of the new United States of America.
When they read the deeds to their property, these early French residents often found them written in French. Owners of other deeds found drawings of fish, turtles, or birds which were the signatures of their original owners – Native Americans.
During the presidential term of John Quincy Adams between 1825-1829, Congress divided the Michigan Territory into townships. In 1827, Ecorse Township was formed, but years before that a small fishing and farming center had sprung up along the Detroit River.
In 1836, Simon Rousseau, A. Labadie, L. Bourassa and P. LeBlanc made the first plat of the village and officially named it Grandport. At that point in its history, the village of Grandport had 800 people, 152 homes and four businesses. It became the hub of the neighboring sprawling farm lands and the site of a shipyard as well as Raupp’s Lumber Mill.
An 1830 map shows the Village of Grandport and the streets named on the map still exist in present day Ecorse, some showing the same names as they did over a century and a half
ago. Streets in the village of Grandport were named for historical figures including Andrew Jackson, Daniel Webster and James Monroe. Webster and Monroe Streets still exist in Ecorse today. High, Labadie, Bourassa and White Streets still exist in their original location in Ecorse. What was then State Street is now Southfield Road and Lafforter was renamed LeBlanc Street.
Grandport continued to be the center of Ecorse Township for many years, but the little village never incorporated. As the years passed, people stopped calling the commercial center Grandport and started calling it Ecorse, after the Township’s name. Gradually,
the name Grandport faded into Ecorse history.
Members of the Navarre family were early French settlers in the Downriver area and the family also gave its name to a short-lived community. A salt block village on the Rouge River in Ecorse, Navarre was named for early French settler, Robert Navarre. On December 11, 1899, William Wiegest became Navarre’s first post master. In 1910, Navarre was incorporated as a village and on November 25, 1918, it was renamed Oakwood. On December 31, 1918, the post office closed and the City of Detroit annexed Oakwood in 1922.
As well as individuals and families, railroads often stimulated community growth and left a legacy of names and memories of depot towns. Glenwood, a depot station on the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad in Ecorse, was incorporated as a village in 1900. Ecorse Storekeeper Herman G. Turski became the first postmaster on October 21, 1901. They City of Wyandotte annexed Glenwood in 1905.
Another Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad station called Bacon, was incorporated as a village in 1900. The village of Bacon was named after an old area family which included veterans of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and prominent Michigan tax lawyer Elbridge F. Bacon. History repeated itself when storekeeper Herman
G. Turski was named the first postmaster on October 21, 1901. The City of Wyandotte annexed Bacon in 1905 and the post office closed on April 4, 1906.
At the turn of the Twentieth Century, Grandport-Ecorse was a resort area and one of the early commuter suburbs of Detroit. In 1903, the unincorporated village of Grandport
became a “general law” village, the largest village in the United States. It was officially named Ecorse from the original French Ecorces, river of bark, and A.M. Salliotte became its first president.
Village Presidents of Ecorse
Alexis M. Salliotte-1902-1903
William A. Furgason-1906-1908
Charles H. Riopelle-1911-1912
Theodore W. Salliotte –1913-1915
Charles L. Heide-1916-1919
Louis A. Seavitt-1920-1921
Alfred C. Bouchard –1922-1928 (except for 1926)
George Moore – 1926-1927
William J. Goodell –1929-1931
William W. Voisine – 1933-1937
W. Newton Hawkins –1938-1940 W. Newton Hawkins was the first mayor of the City of Ecorse under its new charter.
The Detroit Free Press of July 2, 1905, described Ecorse:
All along the river shores from Fort Wayne to the Village of Ecorse, some hardier folks of Detroit who like to keep cool cheaply have boat houses in which they live during the
summer. “The Little Venice of the West End,” they call it, and it is truly a colony of resorters distinct in itself.” The rich may go to Grosse Point, to the mountains or to the sea shore; those of limited means, such as skilled mechanics, clerks, and other small salaried men with families may easily afford to rent a cottage built out upon the piers of Ecorse’s “Little Venice.” There they may have the air and the cool of the river; in fact, all the real luxuries of a more exclusive colony and at much less cost. Every day the resorters of Ecorse who have business n the city travel back and forth on the trolley. And every evening, fish, boat, and bathe with the women and children before the very doors of their summer homes.”
By the 1930s, Ecorse had become the largest village in the United States. In May 1936, William W. Voisine was president of the village. Other village officials were Don H. Beckman, clerk; Paul Vollmar, treasurer; Earl E. Montie, attorney; Thomas J.
Weber, assessor; Prescott J. Brown, engineer; and Oliver Raupp, James Morris, William Born, Paul Movinski, James Hardage and Francis Labadie, trustees.
In 1942, the village of Ecorse was incorporated as the City of Ecorse.