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By Bethany Newton, Staff Writer Discover Downriver
Ecorse’s history began in the early 1700s, as it was first settled by French Habitants under Antoine Cadillac. In 1795, the first white settler, Pierre Michael Campau, came to Ecorse. Finally in 1827, the Michigan Territorial Legislature created the Township of Ecorse, a whole ten years before Michigan officially became a state. When Ecorse was first created, the Township covered 54-square-miles of land running from the Detroit River to Pelham Road. River Rouge, Allen Park, Taylor, Melvindale, Lincoln Park, Wyandotte and parts of Detroit all used to make up Ecorse Township.
In the early days of the Township, the Raupp Sawmill was a popular destination for travelers and citizens and was considered a city landmark. Logging was very important to the people of Ecorse, and it contributed to most of the jobs back in the day. In the early 1900s though, steel became a huge factor in the community as well. Michigan Steel Mill officially opened on July 5, 1923, and at the time only 500 people were employed in the steel industry, but it rapidly grew as time went on.
Ecorse officially became a city on September 19, 1941, and adopted a city charter a year later on January 27. W. Newton Hawkins was the first mayor of the city.
Today the city is home to many recreational and community events. Currently, Ecorse has six separate parks and a public library. The people that make up Ecorse today are a splash of different nationalities and races, which just lends its help to creating a diverse and prosperous population.
- The original name of Ecorse is “River Aux Echorches,” which was named because of the early French settlers who named the city “The River of the Barks.”
- The City of Ecorse is one of the oldest communities in Wayne County.
- Ecorse was once named Grandport and was part of the Province of Quebec.
- The name Ecorse, came from its location at a stream known to the French as “Rivierre Aux Echorches.” They called the stream river of bark because of the large number of birch trees growing along it. Some legends suggest that local Ottawa and Pottawatomie tribes would tear off birch bark to make canoes and to fashion grave wrappings for their dead who were buried along the stream.
- Based on early records, it is probable that most of the community spoke and learned French.
Information gathered from Ecorse Along the Detroit River, Ecorse Public Library and the City of Ecorse Michigan.
Check out more about Ecorse and their first ever birthday celebration here.
Written by Bethany Newton, staff writer for Discover Downriver. See more about Bethany here.