23 Aug 2014
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Part One: Historic Settlements of Macomb County

Chesterfield Township historian documents the area's rich history.

Part One: Historic Settlements of Macomb County Part One: Historic Settlements of Macomb County Part One: Historic Settlements of Macomb County

There have been many settlements, hamlets and former villages in Macomb County.

Many grew around the railroad lines and were very prosperous for a time. Most of these listed here had a U.S. post office at one time. Some, like Warsaw (now part of Mount Clemens) and Beebe’s Corner (now part of Richmond) were absorbed by other settlements. Some were abandoned due to a natural disaster, such as the flooding of Belvidere. In many cases, remnants of the old settlement remain, such as a cemetery, schoolhouse converted to a residence (Prestonville) or old general store being used as a party store (Davis).

Many have been remembered in other ways, such as Beebe St. Park in Richmond or Waldenburg and Macomb Corners Park in Macomb Township or Milton Meadows, a subdivision in Chesterfield Township. Fittingly, a cemetery is often the only remnant of an extinct community, such as Hart or Prestonville.

Armada Corners

This settlement was located in Armada Township and identified on an 1859 map. It later became more well-known as “Selleck’s Corners,” after “Uncle” John Selleck, a popular local tavern keeper. It was located at 32 Mile and Romeo Plank Roads and included nearby Gilmore Road. It was a stop on the plank road from Mount Clemens to Romeo and at one time had two hotels, a mill, several other businesses and a dance hall.

Base Line (also written as Baseline)

This area was located just north of 8 Mile Road, often referred to as “Baseline Road.” The square-mile settlement was platted and recorded Nov. 2, 1860 and named Base Line because it ran over the approximate location of the surveyor base line for Michigan. They were given a post office on April 25, 1927 (George P. Siagkris was the first postmaster) that lasted until July 31, 1957. Siagkris built the first two-story brick house in the area. The first floor was the post office and stores, the second floor had offices occupied by the first doctors and dentists in the area. The settlement was governed under the township until annexed by Warren in 1957.

Beebe’s Corners/Coopertown

 This early settlement was located roughly at Main Street (M-19) and (Armada) Ridge Road in Richmond, Michigan. It was named for Erastus Beebe who had government land in northern Macomb County in 1835.

In 1855 the aptly named Harvey Wheeler had a wagon (and sleigh) shop here. In 1885, the first hotel was erected by Beebe. With the railroad nearby, the settlement grew to include a blacksmith shop, grocery, church, school, two hotels and a general store. Beebe St. still exists in east Richmond and also Beebe St. Memorial Park. Just down the street, at 2nd St. (now Water St.) and Main, James Cooper built a stave mill. In 1860 he also added Cooper General Store. This part of town was not surprisingly called Coopertown. In 1879, Beebe’s Corners/Coopertown was annexed by the adjoining village (now the city) of Richmond.

Belvidere

In 1835, David and James L. Conger of Cleveland bought land at the mouth of the Clinton River (where it enters into Lake St. Clair) and had Abel Dickerson plat a village. In 1836, Edward R. Blackwell made a larger and more accurate plat. Lots were sold and businesses established. In 1837, the community was given a post office.

Notably, the community was the home to Belvidere Bank, also known as the Bank of Lake St. Clair, which printed its own money. Denominations printed were ones, twos, and threes. Two-dollar bills from the Belvidere Bank still survive even though the bank itself has been underwater for more than 160 years. (There is no truth that this is where the phrases “liquid investment” or “floating a loan” came from.) There was also a general store, sawmill, steamboat landing, gristmill, warehouse, and other stores.

There were reportedly many carp fisheries and many mechanics, as well as 12 to 15 dwellings. Unfortunately, the town had barely gotten off the ground when it was underwater. Within three years, flooding caused the whole town to become flooded completely up to the second story of its two-story tavern (the upper floor was to be a hotel). By 1838, high waters so flooded the area that the community was abandoned.  

Cady or Cady’s Corners

 This area was first settled by Chauncey G. Cady (1803-1893) in 1833 and he first held the offices of township supervisor (1833) and then township clerk (1849). In late 1849 he also became a member of the state legislature where he served until 1857. He was later the Macomb Co. Drain Commissioner where he served for many years, living to be 90 years old. In his later years, he was the first president of the Pioneer Society, which morphed into the Macomb County Historical Society. He lived at 2002 Moravian, one of the oldest houses in the area. Cady’s Corners got a post office on July 15, 1864 and George A. Page was its first postmaster. The post office operated until July 31, 1906. Cady’s Corners was located at Moravian and Utica Roads in Clinton Township. Also in Clinton Township, the Miller Cemetery at Metropolitan Parkway and Utica has Section 30, which is referred to as Miller/Cady’s Corners. Cady’s Corners is also used as a name for a genealogy group in the area.

Chesterfield (Village)

Around 1830, there was also a small community at 22 Mile and Gratiot known as Chesterfield. In 1865 the Grand Trunk Railroad came through and the small community of 50 began to flourish.  It had an official U.S. post office from 1870 until 1907. Located here were a railroad station, a blacksmith shop, a cider mill, a grocer/general store (which contained the post office) and the cattle dealership of Samuel Weller.  The local schoolhouse was known as Chesterfield District Number One and was also referred to as the “Weller School.” The school has been moved to the Chesterfield Historical Village located on Sugarbush Road at the Au Vase River. 

Cooley’s Corners

This was settled in 1831 by Samuel Cooley. His brother Dr. Dennis Cooley was a widely known botanist who also resided in Cooley’s Corners. He wrote several papers on the area’s plant life during the late 1880’s. Dr. Cooley was also the Washington postmaster from 1836 to 1859. Cooley’s Corners was located at 24 Mile Road and Schoenherr.

Davis

This settlement of Ray Township was originally named Brooklyn (also spelled Brooklin). Because this name was already taken in Michigan, the settlement was renamed Davis in 1876 in honor of Rev. Jonathan E. Davis. The first postmaster was also named Davis: Bela R. Davis. The post office operated from March 9, 1876 until August 31, 1910. At its peak in the 1940s, Davis had two grocery stores, two gas stations, a church, Davis Hardware, a barber/beauty shop, cleaners, tile factory, grange office, two-room schoolhouse, insurance and other offices, a Masonic Temple and a cemetery.

Prior to 1876 (when the settlement was called Brooklyn), there were two blacksmiths, a hotel, general store, sawmill, cooper, church, school and cemetery. The “Plank Road Mill” manufactured planks for the Romeo Plank Road. Davis was/is located at 27 Mile and Romeo Plank Road in Ray Township-it is still a viable entity as a community, with the Masonic Lodge still operating, as well as a party store, pizza place, and electric business. The Davis Baptist Church is there, and the cemetery has recently added a new chain-link fence.

 
Disco

In the early 1830s settlers, mostly from New York, cleared land and built log cabins on the corners of sections 9, 10, 15, and 16 of Shelby Township. They originally called this the “Utica Plains.” A village was platted in 1849; Isaac Monfore, John Noyes and Chauncey Church owned the land. The first Methodist Church was built in 1827.

The townspeople hired Alonzo M. Keeler to supervise their high school, the Disco Academy, which was named for the Latin word for “to learn” (by some accounts, a short version of “District of Columbia”). Erected in 1850, the building continued in the service of high and primary education until 1864. At this point, the lower floor was used by the school trustees and the upper floors were used by the religious societies of the neighborhood (the Methodists and later the Congregationalists).

The village and the post office followed suit, also using the name Disco. The post office operated from May 5, 1854 until July 31, 1906. In 1856, the Disco Academy had 137 students, growing to 154 students in 1857. The original building burned in 1880 and was replaced. Disco Academy declined with the advent of the state public school system and the old academy building became a restaurant. Some sources place the main part of the town at Van Dyke between 25 and 26 Mile Road.

Besides the academy, Disco boasted a wooden bowl factory, a feed mill, cider mill, two general stores, a harness shop, a paint shop, a hotel called “The Halfway House” a planing mill and even a local physician (however, no discotheques).

Even though it was never the site of an actual disco, during Prohibition, the current McClenaghans, formerly known as Ichabod’s Bar, south of 24 Mile on Van Dyke, served as a blind pig called the Yellow Canary. Disco at this time was known as Whiskey Center. A half barrel of beer was obtainable from a Utica distillery for $8.

The name Disco has been continually in use in some form as the name of businesses in the Van Dyke and 24 Mile Road area and is continually used on many maps of the area. A sign with the village name continued to mark the area long into the 1990s.

 
Frederick

This site was just southwest of present Mount Clemens. It was originally the location of the Gnadenhuetten mission. Located at the oxbow of the Clinton River, this community also went by the name “Casino.” Reportedly, a Mr. Tremble built a sawmill here before the War of 1812. Job C. Smith built another in 1826. In 1836, Horace Stephens of Detroit bought land here and laid out a village, which he named in honor of his brother. The Clinton and Kalamazoo Canal was started here in 1836. By 1843, Fredrick was the busiest port on the Clinton River. In 1852 the mills burned to the ground and were not rebuilt. The village prospered until then, after which it was known as a ghost town.

Gnadenhuetten

This was a Moravian Indian mission founded by Rev. David Zeisberger in 1782. It was closed in 1786 because of the increasing hostility of the Chippewa. The name means “tents of grace.” It is called New Gnadenhuetten in Moravian history to distinguish it from other places in which the sect had used the same name. It was sometimes referred to as Moravian Village. Its site is marked by a small monument on Moravian Drive, just west of Mount Clemens.

 
Half Way

First settled in 1831 by Irish and German homesteaders, Half Way was given a post office on October 13, 1897. The name came because it was halfway between Detroit and Mount Clemens. Grocer Herman Hummrich was its first postmaster.

This community in Erin Township was first incorporated as a village in 1925. In 1926, since the Detroit Post Office bundled mail for this area as “East Detroit,” the Half Way post office was renamed “East Detroit” on December 11, 1926. This was reinforced in an election on January 7, 1929 when the townspeople voted to become East Detroit officially. This lasted until July 1992 when the name was changed to Eastpointe.

Heart (also known as Hart)

This settlement had a post office from March 21, 1837 until September 22, 1838, with Jenison F. Glazier as the postmaster. Located on Chesterfield Road near 25 Mile Road (section 7 of Chesterfield Township), Hart Cemetery (also called Chesterfield Cemetery) is the only trace remaining of this community that built up along the railroad tracks.  The cemetery has Revolutionary War (as well as many Civil War) veterans buried there. Because there was already a Hart in Michigan, the post office was named Heart.

Macomb Corners or Macomb

This area was founded by Daniel Kniffin, Calvin Davis, Daniel Miller and Lester Giddings. Davis became its first postmaster on March 16, 1835 and the office was moved to Waldenburgh on March 29, 1860, but the Macomb post office was re-established on December 19, 1860 and operated until June 15, 1904.

A later postmaster was Tobias Price. Macomb Corners, like the county, was named after the Revolutionary War general, Alexander Macomb. Located at 25 Mile and Romeo Plank, in 1830 it had, besides the post office, a store, a Methodist church and a school that went up to the eighth grade. It was a stagecoach stop on the toll, plank road.

Historic Settlements of Macomb County to be continued in Part 2.

Check out Alan Naldrett’s Arcadia. If you buy your copy at the Chesterfield Public Library, Preston Automotive or Tom’s Party Store, your donation will benefit the Chesterfield Twp. Historical Society.  The book is also available in the usual venues including Barnes and Noble bookstores and at Amazon.com.

Check back with New Baltimore-Chesterfield Patch next week for Part Two of this column.

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