GPHS Moorings Newsletters - page 187

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Chapter One:
The Grand Marais
P
resqu’ Isle--almost an island--was the descriptive French name for the distant sandy knoll which lay beyond the ready sea, as isolated and as
nearly as inaccessible as any island. Here, the few lighthouse people lived in solitary seclusion; their only neighbor was a hermit Frenchman who
lived on Windmill Pointe and who spent his days hunting muskrats in the swamp and his nights in getting drunk
Bordering Lake St. Clair and next to Windmill Pointe was the Big Marsh or in French Grand Marais?. It began at the site of the present water
works on Jefferson Avenue and rolled away in a prairie-like sweep with marsh grass growing along the nearby Detroit River and Lake St. Clair as
far up as Bishop Road in Grosse Pointe. When the autumn rains came, the entire surface was submerged, and the wintery frosts soon converted in
into a miniature sea of glass. Previous to the draining of the Grand Marais, clay dykes were built, and a drainage canal was constructed in 1870.
The dyke ran parallel to the lake one hundred feet from the shore, and a pumping station was erected to drain the Grand Marais at the foot of
what is now Audubon Avenue...
Chapter Two:
Indians and Indian Troubles
A
lthough no mention of an Indian settlement in Grosse Pointe is made by historians, the beautiful lake, St. Clair, was always a great attrac-
tion to the Indian, and was beloved by him. This district densely wooded and bordering the lake, was for years, the Indian hunting ground. Peche
Island, just off Grosse Pointe shore was selected by the great chieftan, Pontiac, for his summer home until his death in 1762. There, he had a com-
manding view of the waterways and could visit the French farmers along the shore with out being discovered first.
The Indians were a constant source of fear and annoyance to the early settlers of Grosse Pointe. They used to land here when coming over from
Canada and passing through the township would confiscate anything and everything which suited their fancy. Many cattle were driven off by
them; horses, too, were driven off every year. The tribes were then so powerful that the settlers never dared to offer any resistance
Chapter Three:
Old Familiar Landmarks
A
nother venerable old pear tree worth mentioning is one which was planted on the old Rivard farm, now on the estate of Dr. Fred. Murphy, in
Grosse Pointe Farms. It stands about one hundred feet in height, and behind it are eleven old French apple trees which are called the Apostles; the
pear tree which completes the number is named the Judas tree.
These pear trees have been the inspiration for poets. These two verses were taken from the History of Michigan written by Silas Farmer. The
first poem was written by J. L. Bates of which this is the last verse.
Many a thrifty Mission Pear yet o?erlooks the blue St. Clair.
Like a veteran, faithful warden; and their branches gnarled and olden,
Yield their juicy fruits and golden,
In the ancient Jesuit garden.
Still each year their blossoms dance,
Scent and bloom of sunny France?.
The second, taken from the same book, was written by W. H. Coyle of which the ninth and last verses are quoted here.
Where the white sailed ship now rides the waves,
Ye have watched the bark canoe,
And heard in the night the voyageurs? songs,
And the Indians? shrill halloo.
Live on old trees, in your green age,
Long, long may your shadows last
With your blossomed boughs and golden fruit,
Love emblems of the past?.
Now, there are but few lone survivors among the old pear trees. Soon, there will be nothing to remind us of those days when the fleur-de-lis gaily
waved over the land which we now call Grosse Pointe except the legends and memories handed down to us by those who have passed on to a far
and distant land.
In the early 1930s, a fascinating history was written about the area known as the
Grand Marais, or great swamp. We’ve excerpted some of the chapters for your
enjoyment. The entire text is available on our website, www.gphistorical.org.
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