Grosse Ile Township today is made up of a dozen islands in the Detroit River. The largest island was given the name Grosse Ile by early French explorers who found it being used by the Native American tribes as a fishing and hunting ground. In 1776, Detroit merchants William and Alexander Macomb purchased Grosse Ile from the Potawatomi Indians and, to help establish their ownership rights, built a home and a gristmill and secured tenant farmers to till the land. Later acreage was sold off and settlement began in earnest, although it remained largely an agricultural community. The railroad came to Grosse Ile in the 1880s and attracted both visitors and new residents. Hotels sprang up to accommodate summer visitors who were drawn to Grosse Ile by its healthful climate, natural beauty, and opportunities for outdoor recreation. Today Grosse Ile is home to more than 11,000 residents who have come here to enjoy many of those same unique qualities—all in close proximity to a large metropolitan area.
Author Bio: Founded in 1959, the Grosse Ile Historical Society maintains a museum in a former 1904 Michigan Central Railroad depot and an 1873 U.S. customhouse. The customhouse and depot contain objects and documents illustrating early life on Grosse Ile. The museum committee has drawn upon these resources in creating this book.
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