CIty History - "History of Detroit and Wayne County"

General Information

The following excerpts are from the "History of Detroit and Wayne County and Early Michigan, A Chronological Cyclopedia of the Past and Present," written by Silas Farmer and published by in two volumes by the Silas Farmer and Company (Detroit, 1884). The book appeared in revised editions in 1889 and 1890, and this massive publication covers countless topics from Detroit and surrounding areas.

Few other books can compare as to the historical knowledge this work contains, and selected excerpts relating to Trenton history have been repeated below.

The entire book can be viewed via Google™ Books, the pages relating to Trenton and Monguagon Township start on pages 1321.

The original work contains endless additional information, including names of many of the early elected officials, biographies of notable local figures, and even photos of several of the city founders.

History Book Bib page


This township lies on the river, and is peculiar in that a large share of its area is composed of Grosse Isle, which, with the smaller islands of Hickory, Sugar, Elba, Calf, Fox, Stony and Celeron, is included in its jurisdiction.

The township was created as early as 1818, but its boundaries were newly defined by law of April 12, 1827, and the township enlarged by Act of February 16, 1842, which added to it a part of Brownstown. The first township meeting was held on May 25, 1827, at the house of A. C. Truax.

At the Battle of Monguagon, in the War of 1812, there was a running fight from near Ecorce to Slocum's Island, below Trenton, where the routed army took to their boats, and there is still the remains of a causeway over the Monguagon Creek on the Payne farm where the fleeing army crossed.

The dead bodies of both Indians and white men were apparently buried wherever they fell, as all the way along the sand knoll from Ecorce to Trenton bones of the slain have been found. About thirty years ago, when John Copland built a saw-mill at Ecorce on the site of the Salliotte and Raupp mill, the bones of some 100 persons or over were dug up, and Daniel Goodell reburied them under a pear tree in his orchard. The only relic now remaining of the conflict, beyond flint heads and old muskets, is a stone on the farm of Charles Conrad, about five miles west of Trenton, on which is rudely marked, "John Brown taken prisoner by the Indians, 1814."

One of the earliest improvements proposed in the township was provided for by Act of March 23, 1836, which incorporated the Huron Canal and Manufacturing Company with a capital of $75,000, and the following directors : A. C. Truax, S. B. Campbell, Henry Bennett, N. Dustin and C. N. Bennett. The company was organized to complete a canal to connect the waters of the Huron and Detroit at Truago, which was to be completed before April 1, 1841. This project, however, like numerous others of the same character common at that period entirely failed.


In 1888, in addition to the schools in Trenton, there were three school buildings on Grosse Isle, the three being valued at two thousand dollars, and located as follows: The Central Graded School, on private claim 522, with an average daily attendance of fifty-nine; the North School, on private claim 550, seating sixteen with an average daily attendance of eleven ; the South School on claim 556, seating fourteen, with an average daily attendance of nine. There was also a school near Sibley's on the southeast quarter of Section 1. The building, a frame, was valued at $150. It seated seventy, and had an average daily attendance of fifty-nine, of which eight were non-resident pupils.


On April 2, 1866, $200 was voted to purchase a burying ground in the village of Trenton, and $100 for a burying ground on Grosse Isle.


This village is located on fractional townships 18 and 19 of Town 4, South of Range 11 East. It is on the line of the Canada Southern Branch of the M. C. R. R., and is located on the highest ground along the Detroit.

 It was first laid out by A.C. Truax in 1834, and was then called Truaxton, and subsequently Truago.

 In 1850 a new plat of the same site was recorded under the name of Trenton. It was incorporated by Act of February 10, 1855, but exactly two years after, on February 10, 1857, the Act was repealed. It was again incorporated on April 22, 1875.

The bounds of the village under the last Act are as follows : Commencing at the extreme north end of Slocum's Island on the Detroit river, and running west to the line of the Detroit, Toledo & Canada Southern Railroads ; thence northerly along the east line of said railroads to the center of George Street as extended, and thence east along the center of George Street to the Detroit river.

By Act of 1875 the first election was to be held at the school-house on the second Monday of March, 1876, and John Clee, Wm. J. Duddleson and John Simmons were appointed to act as inspectors of election, which was duly held, 190 votes polled.

The assessed valuation of property as reported to the Common Council on June 6, 1888, was real, $151,915; personal, $29.150; total, $181,065. A tax of one-fourth of one per cent, was levied for the year, and during the month of June the village purchased Lot 36, Block Q, on the corner of Washington Avenue and Maple Street for the sum of $500 with a view of erecting a building for the use of the village. 

The population in 1880 was 1,103. This village has been one of the most important ship-building points on the Detroit River, and many vessels that have gone into marine history as models of their kind were constructed here. Among the leading ship-yards between 1866 and 1874 was the establishment of Captain A. Turner. He built some thirty-five or forty vessels, ranging in value from $25,000 to $60,000 each. Eighteen of these were steam vessels, among which was the ill-fated "Amazon," at that time one of the largest and staunchest crafts on the lakes. The " Chief Justice Waite," the " Morning Star," the " A. A. Turner " were also built in his yards. At one time he employed 350 men, and had as many as five vessels on the stocks at one time. These were the palmy days of Trenton, over a million and a half dollars worth of vessels being built within eight years. The panic of 1873 brought disaster to the business. The ship-yard of John Craig was removed from Gibraltar to Trenton in 1863, where it has since been maintained.

The Trenton Mills were built in 1848 by Abbott & David on Section 18, near the present north limits of the village, and after passing through the hands of Judkin & David, and Slocum & Truax, was purchased by John Clee in 1866, and in 1879 moved to their present location in the west end of the village near the depots. The mill formerly had four run of stone, but it was converted into an all-roller process mill in 1885, with a capacity of 125 or more barrels It is both a merchant and custom mill.


There are two public school buildings valued at $2,000, with a seating capacity for 350 scholars. Three teachers are employed, and the average daily attendance of scholars in 1888 was 168. The number of children of school age was 445. "The School Visitor," published in the interest of the schools, has been published since October, 1886. It is issued monthly at thirty-five cents a year, and is a readable little sheet.


Thomas's Protestant Episcopal Church
St. Thomas's Protestant Episcopal Church was organized December 10, 1842.

Major Truax donated the lot and a church building, to which has since been added a lot for a parsonage, donated on April 18, 1876, by Charles K. Truax, the total valuation of which is $2,000. The church was erected in the summer of 1843, and the pews were first rented on September 16, 1843.

The present membership of the church is about thirty-five. The clergyman in charge also conducts services at the churches on Grosse Isle and at Wyandotte Methodist Episcopal Church. A Methodist class meeting was formed at this locality as early as 1829, and the place was visited by the ministers appointed in charge of what was called the Huron Mission.

Methodist Episcopal Church
A Methodist class meeting was formed at this locality as early as 1829, and the place was visited by the ministers appointed in charge of what was called the Huron Mission.

A church was organized in 1843. The church lot was donated by Major Truax, and the building, which will seat 200, was first used in 1845 or 1846. When first organized there were eleven members ; there are now sixty-four. The church building is valued at $2,000 and the parsonage at $1,000.

St. Joseph's Roman Catholic Church
Was organized about 1865, with some forty families. Some ten years later the congregation built a church at a cost of $2,500. The present membership is 150 families. They have never had any regular pastor, mission service being- held from time to time by pastors from Detroit, Ecorce and Wyandotte.


This station, located on the Canada Southern Branch of the M.C.R.R., is named after F. B. Sibley, who owns and operates an extensive limestone quarry at this point, and has done so for many years.

This name is given to the place where a branch of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroad crosses the Canada Southern Branch of the Michigan Central Railroad, and goes to Fayette. It is named after Elliott T. Slocum who inherited from his father, Giles B. Slocum, a large amount of property lying in the vicinity of this place.