The City of Detroit, 1701 -1922, Volume 4 - Clarence Monroe Burton - ebook

The City of Detroit, 1701 -1922, Volume 4 ebook

Clarence Monroe Burton



'The City of Detroit' is a milestone work on the history of the Michigan metropolis. Burton's work covers more than two hundred years of events and facts and had to be split into four volumes due to its size. There is hardly a more detailed book dealing with Detroit's past. This is volume four, covering the religious history, the history of Wayne County and miscellaneous topics.

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The City of Detroit

1701 – 1922


Volume 4: ReligiousHistory, Miscellanous & Wayne County








The City of Detroit 4, C. M. Burton

Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck

86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9



ISBN: 9783849650421

[email protected]





















Chapter L. Religion in Detroit


The history of the church in Detroit begins with the history of Cadillac's village in 1701. Commencing with the little church of Ste. Anne, the religious development of Detroit has kept pace with its growth from a palisaded village to the fourth city in the United States, with over four hundred church parishes. In conjunction with nearly every subject treated in this history, pertaining to the early history of Detroit, there has been traced the history of early Catholicism, so any lengthy description in this connection would be merely repetition. The Catholic Church supplied one of the most unique and interesting figures of Detroit's history, that of Father Gabriel Richard. There have been several sketches of the life of Rev. Gabriel Richard, but no extended biography has ever been printed. The largest and most comprehensive biographical sketch is that prepared by Narcisse Eutrope Dionere, printed in French and never translated. Another sketch by James A. Girardin is in Volume I, Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections, page 481.

In all of these sketches it may be noted that the conflict between Catholicism and Protestantism is displayed. There is a constant effort on the part of the Catholic writers to extol the virtues of the priest and laud his work for the church, at the same time to ignore the peculiarities of his private character. On the other hand, the Protestant writers, likewise ignoring, or being ignorant of his private character, extol his workings for education and give him an occasional sly dig for his love of his church. It is evident that no one who has written concerning him has taken the care to find out how he lived and worked.

Father Richard was born in Saintes, in Saintonga, France, October 15, 1767. He was baptized under the name of Jacobus Gabriel Richard. His father was Francois Richard, a clerk in the navy department of Rochefort, and his mother was Marie Genevieve Bossuet. He attended the village school and in 1784 entered the theological seminary at Angers, kept by members of the Sulpician order. He received the order of the priesthood at Paris on his twenty-first birthday, October 15, 1788.

During the French Revolution, a law was passed compelling every priest to take the oath of allegiance to the new government. This resulted in the expatriation of many priests, and among them was Father Richard. He arrived in Baltimore, June 24, 1792. His first real work was among the Catholic population, partly French and partly Indian, in the Illinois country and on the western side of the Mississippi River, then designated as Louisiana. He was at Prairie du Rocher, Kaskaskia, Cahokia and the other settlements. His work in these small missions occupied his time till the 2nd of March, 1798, when he was called to Detroit, where he arrived in June of that year. The Rev. John Dilhet, also a Sulpician missionary, accompanied him to Detroit, where they began their work in Ste. Anne's church as assistants to the Rev. Michel Lavadoux. The people they met, in their church work in Detroit, were the French settlers and Indians. Father Richard did not confine himself to Detroit, but visited Mackinac and other places in northern Michigan in 1799. Father Richard returned to Detroit in October and began the enlargement of the church to accommodate the increasing number of parishioners. The church was at this time located on Ste. Anne Street in the village and, with the burial grounds adjoining it, was just west of the present Griswold Street and extended a considerable distance into the northern portion of the present Jefferson Avenue. Mr. Girardin, who knew Richard personally, says of him that "he adopted various means for the better regulation of his parish, to reform existing abuses and promote a spirit of piety among his people. "

Personally, Father Richard was tall and gaunt, giving the impression of being hungry and ill fed. In his later days he wore glasses, but let them slide so far down on his nose that he seemed to be looking over them rather than through them. His love for the church was so great that all other matters were of little importance to him. There were, however, many things that he considered and worked for as a part of his church work. He wanted the sale of liquor to the Indians prohibited. In a letter from Mackinac he wrote: "The trade there is principally in liquors, and so long as this state of things exists, there can be no prospect of making them Christians. God only knows how many evils flow from this traffic. " So, also, he wanted education spread among all of the people, French and Indian. He worked very hard and continuously for the education of the youth. He was opinionated, disagreeable and intolerant towards anyone who did not think as he did or who was unwilling to work as he did, for the good of the church. These matters are set down here in order to explain many of his actions through life. He was a hard and continuous worker and could not understand why others should not work as hard as he did. Bear this in mind and you have the single fault to be found with this great man.

The field of his church work was very extensive, as it included all of the northwestern portion of the then United States, namely: Michigan, Wisconsin, part of Minnesota and some portion of Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. The lines were not well defined, but they were extensive. Father John Dilhet was his assistant at this time. The two priests did not agree very well socially, for there are frequent references in Dilhet 's journal of disagreements in their work. Jointly, they undertook to establish a school for the instruction of young men to become priests. It is not known that any priests developed from this instruction There was much need of schooling here at that time. The connection of the church with the first attempts to establish a school is described in another chapter of this work.

As stated before, when Richard first came to Detroit, the church was under the management of Rev. Michel Lavadoux, as priest, and the marguilliers , or trustees. Lavadoux had been cureé but a short time, having been named to that position August 15, 1796, as successor to Monsieur Suchet, retired. In the month of December, in each year, an election of trustees was held. The voters at this election were the aciens, or old trustees, so that the body of trustees was not exactly self-perpetuating, but, as a rule, a new trustee was elected every year. The board elected in January, 1797, consisted of Dominique LaBrosse, Philippe Belanger, Charles Moran (or Morand), Louis Vessiere (Laferty), Joseph Serre dit St. Jean, and Jean Baptiste Campau. Belanger resigned in December, 1797, but subsequently undertook to withdraw his resignation. The assembly would not permit this and elected Joseph Voyez in his place. Charles Morand stated that he would like to have his brother, Louis, elected in his place. This action was taken.

The Church of Ste. Anne, on Ste. Anne Street, was sadly in need of repairs, but at this time, January 17, 1798, it was resolved to put a new roof on it. The contract for this work was let to Francis Racotta and he was to have twelve livres (pounds) for materials and six shillings per day for workmen. He was also to be paid forty cents per day for the board of each person. Great confidence was placed in Racotta and when he died about this time he was buried at public expense.

In 1799, Theophilus LeMay was elected trustee and the board now consisted of Louis Vessiere, Dominique LaBrosse, Charles Moran, Francois Gamelin, Joseph Serre, Joseph Voyez and LeMay. Michel Lavadoux was yet the cure. The name of Gabriel Richard, as priest, first occurs in the records at this date.

At a meeting held June 29, 1800, the decayed condition of the church was presented and it was resolved to build a new church. It was also resolved to request permission to build the new church on the domain, and a site was requested for that purpose. It was at this time that Richard, who had been on a mission to Mackinac, returned to take up the work of the proposed building. Under the rules established by the bishop of Quebec, every farmer in the Detroit district was required to give Lavadoux or his successors, in order that the priests might live decently, a twenty-sixth of his crops, and all other parishioners were required to give according to their means. No provision was made for the payment of any priest excepting the cure, and the assistant priest had to get along the best way they could and practically lived upon the alms of the people.

Richard did not have very good success in his efforts to get means to build a new church. In May, 1801, Richard was chosen to perform the functions of chantre and sexton in place of J. Bte. Roucour, deceased. This gave him a small income, for the chantre received thirty pounds and the sexton twenty-four pounds each year.

The bishop of Quebec, Pierre (Denault) Deneau, visited Detroit and confirmed a number of people on June 25, 1801 and the succeeding days. He remained some time and confirmed a great number. Many years had elapsed since there was a visit from any bishop and several of the confirmees were advanced in life. More than half of them were over twenty-one years of age and some of them were very aged. People came from all over this country and many came from across the river.

In August, 1801, it was decided that the old church could no longer be repaired and a new one should be built at once. A committee was named to do the work and the plans were prepared and presented August 23, 1801. A few days later it was decided to build the new church of stone. The only stone was at the Monguagon lime quarry and Abbott Brothers, James and Robert, had sole control of the quarry and were using the output for their own purposes. They refused to permit the church to take stone from this place. Some of the trustees were of the opinion that the Abbott brothers were not justified in refusing the sale of the stone and they consulted an attorney, Solomon Sibley, but the rights of the Abbotts could not be evaded and the idea of building the church of stone was abandoned for the time.

At a meeting of the trustees in May, 1802, the subject of church dues was discussed at length. It was very difficult to collect the dues required by the rules. The people were very poor, farms were only partly cultivated and even if wheat or corn were raised in abundance, only a little could be sold. Necessarily the community had to live upon itself to a great extent, for it was very expensive to send farm produce to Montreal and Quebec for sale. At this meeting, it was resolved to make an assessment roll of the property of the settlement belonging to church members and levy a uniform tax in proportion to the value of the farms. Those who were not farmers were to be called upon to pay according to their ability. Instead of giving this income to the priest, he was to be paid three hundred pounds New York currency (about $750). It would seem that the trustees thought that they were more than liberal in giving the priest so large a salary, so they immediately repented of their generosity and reduced his salary to two hundred and forty pounds.

It cannot be determined from the records whether this was the first general quarrel between the priest and the trustees but it is quite certain that they disagreed and the priest appealed to the bishop at Baltimore. It was some time before the appeal could reach the bishop and be decided. The decision is contained in the bishop's letter dated at Baltimore April 21, 1804. This letter was read to the assembly on the 25th of November, 1804. After speaking of the impropriety of the proposed method of collecting the taxes, the bishop quoted and approved of the statutes of the synod held at Baltimore October 10, 1791, and approved of it as applicable to Detroit. "It is provided that in each congregation two or three persons of recognized probity and of a respectable character shall be chosen by the congregation or selected by the pastor, to be marguilliers (trustees) and each Sunday or Feast Day after the reading of the first lesson or after the sermon, they will collect the offerings of the faithful." So in this first contest with the trustees, the priest was successful. This was not the last tilt between Father Richard and the trustees. Father Richard's years of life in Detroit, his work, his writings, are described in other portions of this work. As a territorial delegate to Congress from 1825 to 1829, he was the only Catholic priest ever in the governing body of the United States. Father Richard's death from the cholera in 1832 removed one of Detroit's greatest figures. His love of hard work was his chief characteristic aside from his intense devotion to his church.

Ste. Anne's became the cathedral church when Bishop Rèsè came to Detroit in 1833. He was the first bishop of the Detroit diocese and was consecrated at Cincinnati in 1837. Of Father Rèsè more is written in the chapter upon "A Lost Title." Father Francois Vincent Badin and Father Johannes De Bruyn were appointed joint administrators of the diocese after Rèsè and they occupied a residence on the Ste. Anne's Church grounds. De Bruyn passed away in 1838, and Badin remained alone for about three years. The next bishop coadjutor was Peter Paul Lefevre, who was consecrated Bishop of Zela on November 22, 1841. He arrived in Detroit during the same month and remained until his death on March 4, 1869. Rèsè was nominally bishop till his death. The next bishop was Caspar H. Borgess and during his regime the bishop's house on Washington Boulevard was built. Bishop Borgess resigned April 16, 1887 and died three years later. John S. Foley came to Detroit as bishop in November, 1888, and served as head of the Detroit diocese until his death on January 5, 1918. Bishop Michael J. Gallagher succeeded him on July 18, 1918.

The second Catholic parish organized in the city was the Holy Trinity and its first house of worship was purchased in 1834. This was the building formerly used by the First Protestant Society and was moved from the corner of Woodward Avenue and Larned Street to the northwest corner of Cadillac Square and Bates Street. In August, 1849, it was moved to the northeast corner of Porter and Sixth streets and in 1856 demolished to make room for a new brick building, which is yet in use having been remodeled from time to time. The brick church was consecrated October 29, 1866. Monsig. James Savage, the priest of Holy Trinity, has been active as such since 1887. One of the notable pastors of Holy Trinity was Rev. Martin Kundig, whose labors relative to the establishment of a poor farm and during the cholera epidemic of 1834 are described elsewhere. In 1834 Kundig conducted the first Catholic services in German at Detroit in Ste. Anne's Church. St. Mary's Church (German) was started within a few years and on June 29, 1843, a building was consecrated on the corner of St. Antoine and Croghan streets. A new church was built in 1885.

The church of SS. Peter and Paul, on the northeast corner of Jefferson and St. Antoine, was consecrated in 1848 by Bishop Kendrick of St. Louis and Archbishop Eccleston of Baltimore. This remained the cathedral church until 1873 and then became the church of the Jesuits.


In regard to the churches which existed in Detroit about the middle of the last century, Mr. Clarence M. Burton prepared an article which was originally published in the Free Press in 1910. This illuminating story of the vista of Detroit religious history up until that stopping point, follows:

The events of 1849 in the city were no more important than those of any other year in our history and that date was taken almost by accident, to show the progress of the little village as a contrast with the great city of today. It was the year of the exodus to the California gold fields and many of the young men of the place were numbered in the great list of "Argonauts of '49."

After the opening of navigation in the spring of that year many people came from the East and were joined here by many more, who made their way over land to the Land of Gold. Only occasional reference is made in the papers to these people by name, but notice of the starting of these travelers is found in nearly every issue. No list is available to show who went, who returned, or how many fill nameless graves on the road across the great prairies and over the desert and mountains.

The population of Detroit in 1850 was 21,019, an increase of 7,954 over the previous census of 1844 so that in 1849 the population was about 19,500.


There were in the city four Catholic church buildings. Ste. Anne's Church is the oldest church organization in Michigan and probably the oldest west of Montreal, save only those organized by the early Spanish explorers on the Pacific coast.

The little church built by Cadillac at the time of the founding of Detroit in 1701 was located just west of the intersection of Griswold Street and Jefferson Avenue. This church and its successors by the same name, have continued to exist and flourish for more than two hundred years. The church society was incorporated in 1807, under the name of "The Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church of St. Anne of Detroit," The church edifice on the north side of Larned Street between Bates and Randolph streets, was begun in 1818, but it was several years before the work was completed. In 1886 the property on which the church stood having been sold, the building which was of stone, was razed and the materials used for the new church of Ste. Anne on Howard Street between Eighteenth and Nineteenth streets.

The property occupied by this building and the adjacent burial ground was originally nearly in the form of a triangle. A glance at the present city map shows that Congress Street runs at right angles from Woodward Avenue eastwardly to Randolph Street. Originally this street extended from Griswold Street only as far as Bates Street in its present direction, and from that point was laid out nearly parallel to Michigan Grand Avenue (or Cadillac Square). Throughout its entire length it was called Virginia Street. Some years previous to 1849 Virginia Street, east of Bates Street, was vacated and given to St. Anne's Church in exchange for the property taken to continue Congress Street as now located. The bodies in the cemetery were removed either to the Beaubien Street cemetery, now called Clinton Park, or to Mt. Elliott cemetery. This proceeding left the entire block surrounded by Bates, Congress, Randolph and Larned streets, nearly in a square form, for the use of the church, parsonage and school. A school was held, for a time, in the basement of this church.

The pastors in charge of Ste. Anne's Church were Rev. Peter Kindekens in 1846, assistant Pascal Maister in 1850. In 1854 Rev. Peter Hannaert was pastor with H. J. DeBolle as assistant,

The Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, located on the northeast corner of Jefferson Avenue and St. Antoine Street, was nearly new. The corner stone was laid in 1844 and the building was completed and consecrated June 29th, 1848. Rt. Rev. Peter Paul Lefevre was bishop coadjutor of the diocese in 1849. (Dr. Frederick Rèsè, bishop.) Rev. Michael E. E. Shaw was pastor, with Fidelis C. Misseure as assistant.

Saint Mary's Church was further out, being on the same St. Antoine Street on the southeast corner of Monroe Avenue, at that time called Croghan Street, It was used almost exclusively by the Germans, and was described, in the records of 1850, as being "near the extreme northeast limites of the city." Rev. A. K. Kopp was pastor in 1846. In 1850 Rev. M. Hasslinger was pastor and M. Leimgruber was assistant, In 1854 the priest in charge was Rev. Mr. Schaeffler and he had two assistants, Messrs. Claunbach and Kotte.

Of Trinity Church-— or the Irish church as it was sometimes called— more will be said hereafter. At present we will only say that it was located on the northwest corner of Bates Street and Cadillac Square. The property was purchased by Bishop Frederick Rèsè in 1834, and although it was generally called the Irish Church, the only condition contained in the deed of the property was that it should be an English Catholic Church.

This lot was afterwards used for some years as a stone yard. Rev. C. L. Kilroy was in charge in 1846. In 1850 it was stated to be "in lower part of town" with Rev. Francis Letourneau as pastor and in 1854 P. J. Donohue was pastor.


A Catholic Church organization has existed in Detroit from the first establishment of the place, but there was no such thing as a Protestant Church, organization or society before the end of the French rule in 1760. It was in the fall of that year that the fort was taken over by the English troops under Maj. Robert Rogers and it was at that time that it became possible to establish any other than the Catholic Church.

The articles of capitulation signed at Montreal in 1760 provided that the Canadian French should be forever permitted to retain the Roman Catholic religion. If for no other reason than this permission, the Catholic religion would have been retained in Detroit from that time.

It was the prevailing religion, here, for there were no Protestants save those who came with the army either as soldiers or as tradesmen.

We have no evidence that there were any ministers or chaplains with the soldiers at Detroit for many years, nor can we find that any religious services were held aside from those conducted by the Catholics.

We have evidence that marriages were performed by the lieutenant governor and military commandant; that baptisms were performed by the Catholic priests in some instances where the parents were strong Protestants, and we have the additional and very strong evidence that a law was enacted in Canada making valid the marriages which had before that time been performed by the military officers. This was the 5th act of the 2nd parliament of Upper Canada. If there were chaplains they held no public services of which we have any evidence, they built no church edifice, they left no record of marriages, births and deaths.


In the northern part of Ohio there had been, for some years before the American Revolution, a settlement of Christian Indians having for instructors some Moravian ministers or teachers. The Indians belonged to the Delaware tribe and were not very numerous at that time. They were peacefully inclined, devoting themselves exclusively to peaceful pursuits, and during the war refusing to assist either of the contending parties.

As they were situated directly between the advancing American forces and the British Incursionists from Detroit, their attempted neutrality only served to make enemies of both their neighbors and the result was that the Americans murdered nearly all of the Indians, and the British took the remaining Indians and all of their teachers to Detroit and finally settled them on the Huron River of Lake St. Clair, now called the Clinton River.

These Moravian teachers were Protestant ministers, and two of them, David Zeisberger and John Heckenwelder, have left accounts of their trip to Detroit and of what they saw there. They were brought here first in the fall of 1781 and their observations of the religious practices of the village are as follows:

On Sunday the 4th of November, they remained in their lodgings because they had been robbed y of most of their clothing, but many officers of the garrison, English, German and French, called upon them. The French priest of the village, Father Simplicious Boquet, a very aged and infirm man, also called on them, but as he knew no English and they knew no French, the call was one of courtesy only. They did not remain over another Sunday, but were permitted to return to their old home in Ohio. They mention many other matters pertaining to Detroit, but do not mention the presence of any Protestant minister.

In the following year, 1782, Maj. Arent Schuyler De Peyster, who was in command of Detroit at that time, again sent for the Moravian teachers and they arrived on the 20th of April and were quartered at the barracks. There were many prisoners of war here at the time, and Zeisberger preached to a number of these prisoners on Sunday, May 23rd, in English and baptized a child of Elisha Schmidt. He says "Many were right glad to hear a sermon again and wished to do so oftener, if only we had a place or house suitable. " On the following Sunday, Zeisberger notes in his diary: "It is something wonderful here and pleasant if any one is found who shows a desire for God's Word, for the place here is like Sodom, where all sins are committed. The French have indeed a church here and a priest who, however is quite old and never preaches, hut merely reads mass. On the south side of the river is also a church and a priest, where both French and Indians go, there to be seen in their heathenish garb, with painted heads in full war array. But the English and Protestants have neither, and wish for neither, although they could have them if they would. The Indians wonder at this, as is natural, for they see among the so called Christians no good example, but bad alone. The Wyandottes, though already baptized, are not only heathen, but much worse than many heathen, much more savage and blood thirsty, for the Chippewas, none of whom are baptized, are much more humane and kindly disposed towards their fellow men and are much easier to get along with."

The ice being broken by the preaching of his first sermon Zeisberger was invited by a Frenchman to make use of his house on the following Sunday and here he preached to a fine number, mostly prisoners of war. On Sunday, July 14th, he preached in the open air, for want of another place, and a great many white people came and were attentive. This ended the visit of the Moravians at this time, for before the end of the week they were at their new home near the site of the present City of Mt. Clemens. At this place they remained for several years, but eventually sold out their farms and improvements and left Michigan. One party repaired to the old home in Northern Ohio and the other formed a Moravian town on the River Thames, in Canada. While they remained in Michigan, they were frequent visitors in Detroit and sometimes performed religious services at the place. Besides the "Narrative" of Heckenwelder (Philadelphia 1820) and the "Diary of Zeisberger" (Cincinnati 1885) and the various printed biographies of these two men, there are a number of original documents in the possession of the Burton Historical Collection, composed by the teachers. One of these papers of particular interest, is signed by Zeisberger, Heckenwelder, William Edwards, George Youngman, Gottlob Senseman and Michael Young, is printed in the Collections of the Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society Vol. XXX, page 61. Many of the letters have been printed in the "Manuscripts from the Burton Historical Collection."

There was probably no persons ever better informed regarding the local history of Detroit than the late Judge James V. Campbell. In examining the manuscripts left by Judge Campbell there was found, among them, a paper entitled " Church Beginnings in Michigan." The following is an extract from this paper: "It is not known that any church of England clergyman was ever permanently stationed in Detroit, or elsewhere in what is now Michigan. The only reference to such a person during the British domination is in the marriage in 1770 of Dr. George Christian Anthon, acting post surgeon, who was the father of the distinguished brothers, John, Henry and Charles Anthon, so eminent in their professions in New York. His marriage was solemnized by Chaplain Tuning, of the British Army, a part of whose regiment (the Fifty-fifth) was stationed in Detroit. It is not known that he made any long stay in Detroit, and it is not likely that he did so as no other clerical act is recorded. On the contrary there are repeated instances of such action by laymen during the whole British occupation. The British articles of war provided for the performance of chaplain functions by various military officers. Marriages were celebrated by the commanding officer, and he probably officiated at funerals, which were not registered as marriages were. These religious functions were also delegated to the local judge, who generally held a notarial office. The celebrated jurist, John Anthon, was baptized by Thomas Williams (great grandfather of Rev. (now Bishop) G. Mott Williams of Marquette) who was justice, notary and King's receiver. The commanding officer also baptized children on occasions. Day services were conducted for the troops, at which, probably the inhabitants who spoke English attended."

Detroit was in the possession of the British subsequently to the surrender to Maj. Robert Rogers in the fall of 1760. After the Treaty of Paris in 1763 the Province of Quebec was organized but it did not include Detroit.

The lines of the new province were so drawn that Detroit was left in the Indian country and it was the effort of government to discourage, rather than to encourage, the building up of the post as a civil settlement. When the lines of the province were enlarged, in the Quebec Act of 1774, Detroit was included, but at that time the Revolution had broken out and Great Britain had a more serious task on her hands than that of encouraging the building up this frontier post for any other than military purposes. When that war ended in 1783 it was agreed that Michigan should form a part of the United States and although Detroit was occupied by British troops for thirteen years longer, England had lost all interest in its prosperity. No public buildings were erected, no churches, schools or public institutions were established.

While the village was still in British hands the Rev. Dr. Philip Toosey came here and preached for some time and left in 1786. A subscription was raised for his support, but the amounts were never fully paid, and indeed he left here before the term of his engagement was ended. Mr. Toosey subsequently became rector of Quebec and upon the death of the bishop, in 1793, tried to become his successor in office. In this he was not successful and he then accepted the position as commissary of the Bishop of Upper and Lower Canada.

In the fall of 1786 the Rev. George Mitchell, at the request of Alexander McKee, Superintendent of the British Indian department, came to Detroit to engage himself as a resident minister of the place. In order to provide for his support he had a subscription paper drawn up which was passed around among the English speaking inhabitants, and those who favored the enterprise attached their names, followed by the amount each was willing to contribute. This original document, yellow with age, water stained and mouse eaten is in the Burton Collection of the Public Library. The ink shows on its yellow pages as distinctly as if written yesterday. The document bears the names of probably every Protestant who was living here at that time.

"To William M'Combe Esq. and Messrs. John Askin, James Abbot and George Meldrum.

"Gentlemen —

"At a meeting of the Inhabitants of this Place held at the Council House upon the 1st day of June last, by the Subscription Paper which I proposed, and which was then read, I mentioned your Names as the Gentlemen whom I wished to Act as Vestrymen and superintend the Business of the Congregation. We have not been able to bring Church Matters to that Order and regularity which I could have wished. Various Causes have no doubt contributed to prevent it. The necessary avocations of Business both public and private, the uncertainty which still remains respecting this Post, and other Circumstances render the Situation of a resident Clergyman here very precarious and his Subsistence uncertain. If anything has been wanting on my Part, it is from you that I should receive Information. I conceive that the taking Subscriptions and collecting money does not properly fall to my Part, but should rather be done by some person appointed by you, or whatever method you should think most advisable. I have taken the liberty to inclose you the Subscription List for last year, and the Ballances due as nearly as I can make them out at present.

"There are several of the English Inhabitants about the Fort who I believe would have subscribed but have never been applied to, whether you think proper to make any application still to such, I submit to your Judgment. I am as you may conceive involved in some small debts, particularly to Mr. Robertson to whom I have been under particular obligations, and to Sergt. Brown for Provisions, and a few others which I could wish to be able to discharge nearly as soon as possible.

"As to any future Subscription, I propose none at present more than for Six months as I propose to go down to Montreal, and from thence to Quebec, about the beginning of June next, or about the time that the first Shipping may be expected from England.

"An appointment from the Society, if the application has been forwarded & delivered, I have no doubt will take Place. That together with some appointment for the Garrison if it could be obtained, with some Subscription from the Inhabitants, might be very sufficient for the Support of a Clergyman to reside at this Place. Otherwise I do not see that the Inhabitants alone can support one without distressing themselves. I have likewise inclosed my proposals for Six months in which you may do as you think proper. I have the Honour to be with Respect


"Your most obed' and very humble Servant

"George Mitchell."

Detroit Dec 8th, 1787

"William M'Combe Esqr. & Messrs. John Askin & George Meldrum.


"As I wish to leave this Place now as soon as possible, I must take the Liberty to trouble you again to try what can be done in the way of Collection. A few Ballances still remain upon the original List herewith Sent, and it is probable that some of them, even now, may not have Cash. If I can get Credit with any of the Gentlemen with whom I have dealings in Town, Mr. Robertson, Mr. Meldrum, or Mr. Shepherd, it will answer my Purpose in that way as well as Money towards discharging my debts. I suppose most of the original Subscribers will continue the same in proportion for the last half year as at first, but some are gone, and some others in no great way of making money, who probably cannot afford it.

"But there are a considerable number of English Inhabitants who have never yet, as far as I know, been applied to, some of whose names I have annexed and from these something might be expected.

" There are several of the Inhabitants with whom I have small accots for necessaries of which I have not the particulars, with anyone who mentions this Circumstance I will settle myself. There should be some allowance for the money I have advanced to the Drumers, &c. I will discount that to the Band. "I wish to be ready to go at farthest by the beginning of June agt which time the present half year will be fully expired, and your Endeavours to enable me to discharge my accots in Town and to raise some overplus for my Journey will much oblige.

" Gentlemen,

"your most obedient and very humble Servant,

" George Mitchell. "

"Detroit May 14, 1788."

"Quebec July 31st, 1788.

"Dear Sir

"I take the Liberty to acquaint you from this Place that before I can get my business done regularly I must either go to London or Hallifax to wait upon the Bishop there, and probably to both. I had an introduction to Head Quarters from Sir John Johnson who seemed to be disposed to serve me, and assisted me with a little money. I had likewise an Introduction to Major Beckwith to his Lordships principal Aidducamp, but unfortunately he had left this to proceed with his Lordship to the Upper Country. I believe as far as Niagara before I arrived, of course I had to send by papers by Major Mathews who you know had not formerly been my Friend, whether he was or was not at this time I do not know, however he informed me that he read my Papers to his Lordship, and that his Lordship was sorry he had not time then to have some Conversation with myself, there being so many Gentlemen attending about business, that could not be deferred, which I believe was really the Case, it being the last day of his Lordships stay at this Place. I do not expect to stay here untill he returns but shall leave my business with his Secretary Mr. Motts who I have reason to believe, at least I have his Promise that he will do what he can, when his Lordship returns, and what Reccommendations he thinks proper to give will be forwarded to London.

"I wrote you before that I had seen Mr. Alexander Ellis at Montreal who took no more trouble about the Packet sent to his House last summer than to send it by a Porter to St. James Square where the Bishop of London lives, and never enquired more about the matter. It was very unfriendly indeed, I think he might have done more for the Inhabitants of Detroit as he has had considerable Connections there, if he would not upon my Account. If you have received my Letter I wrote you from Montreal you will see, he even refused paying the Subscription of his Brother James Ellis untill he should hear from Detroit. "I went to see Doet? Toosey yesterday and mentioned the Matter to him, who is of opinion that altho' it was Subscribed to him, and while he was there, it was not to him as a Man but as a Clergyman of the Place, and as he did not return and I did the duty was a debt of Honor which ought to be paid to me, altho not perhaps recoverable by Compulsion.

"If I remember right yourself and Mr. Askin were of the same opinion. If you will be kind enough to take the trouble I believe Mr. Askin has the original Paper, you can look at the Preamble which is short but I do not perfectly remember it, and can easily know if it was meant to Doctor Toosey only, or to any other Clergyman who might do the duty. You know that I had been expected there before Doctor Toosey came, and a few lines from yourself & Mr.? Askin or either, will easily settle the business, it may be directed to Mr. Ellis or Tho. Forsyth but inclosed to Mr. David Ross attorney at Montreal whom I spoke to, not as a Lawyer but a Friend. If I should live to get to London and take up the application of last year, to the Bishop or the Society I am told it will be of service to have something of the Nature of the inclosed in Case it should be lost, or even to Strengthen it, a few Names will be sufficient, and I will beg of you to take the trouble, it may come inclosed to me to be left at the Quebec Coffee house London and the sooner after this comes to hand the better. If I shall succeed in the Application I shall return in the Spring by the way of New York. I must beg your Pardon for all this trouble and have the Honor to be with Respect.

"Dr. Sir your most obedt and very hum Servt.,

"George Mitchell."

"William Macombe Esqr.

"Not to trouble you with my small affairs I have sent a Power of Attorney to Messr. Leith and Shepherd where I left my furniture. My Horse left upon the Island you may keep at what price you may think him worth yourself if the Indians have not made free with him.

"With my best Respects to Mr. Macombe wishing she may have recovered again the use of her Knee I am &c.

"George Mitchell. "

"William Macombe Esqr. Detroit.

"To President of the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge in foreign Parts &c. &c.

"The Rev. George Mitchell having come to this Place in the Month of November 1786 in Consequence of an Invitation by Letters from Alexander McKee Esqr. Superintendent of the Indian Department here, and at the Request of some of the principal Inhabitants of this Place, as a Clergyman of the Church of England, and with some Expectations from Government besides the Voluntary Subscriptions of the Inhabitants, has continued here for upwards of eighteen Months, viz. untill the 1st of June last, and has regularly and punctually discharged his duty as Clergyman during the aforesaid Period. But the English Inhabitants of this Place being but few in Number, and from the State of the Indian Commerce at present, being much upon the decline, find themselves unable to support a Resident Clergyman here, without some assistance from the Society, or some appointment from Government for that purpose.

"We would still be very desirous according to our Abilities to contribute if the Society of which your Grace is President shall think proper to grant him an Appointment for this Place, or to any other Clergyman of Character and Abilities whom the Society may think proper to appoint.

" Whereas the time of attendance of the Rev. George Mitchell as Clergyman at this Place, for last year is now fully expired. We the Subscribers do hereby promise to pay or Cause to be paid unto the said George Mitchell, or unto some Person appointed to Collect the same, the Sums annexed to our Names respectively for Six months Attendance only to Commence Dec. 1st, 1787 and to end June 1st, 1788. To which Payments we bind ourselves our Heirs, Executors or Administrators, Witness our Hands."

(no signatures) Mr. Mitchell was not entirely successful in making collection of the subscriptions for his support, nor were the vestrymen, William Macomb, John Askin, James Abbott and George Meldrum more successful, and Mr. Mitchell felt that the burden of his support was too great to be borne by the few Protestants here, so he left at the expiration of eighteen months, in June 1788. He proposed to go to Halifax and London to see the bishop and to call upon the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge in Foreign Parts, and to obtain some assistance in keeping him at Detroit.

The meetings of Mr. Mitchell were held in the council house in Detroit. This building in 1887-8 was a large log structure situated near the river bank. It was located a short distance west of the present Shelby Street in what is now Woodbridge Street. The late J. B. Waterfall said that the council house was not burned in the fire of 1805, but was moved back from the river and was long known as the Cass House. It has been undertaken to prove the building to have been erected by Cadillac for the Indian Quarant Sols.

The next preacher that we know visited Detroit — or rather Sandwich, as he never lived in Detroit, but came here occasionally to preach, was the Rev. Richard Pollard. Mr. Pollard first came to Detroit, which was then considered as a part of Upper Canada, in the summer of 1792, as sheriff of the Western District, having been appointed to that office in May of that year. His tastes ran rather to the ministry than to the shrievalty and in a few years he resolved to give up his office and study for the ministry. In 1802 he went down to Montreal and was ordained. When he set out upon his return to Detroit in April of that year, he bore with him many letters and parcels entrusted to him by people in Montreal for their Detroit friends. One of the letters which Mr. Pollard brought with him, might have caused some uneasiness if he had been aware of its contents. The following is an extract from it:

"This letter goes by our friend Pollard who has been so fortunate as to procure the gown, and may make a tolerable parson — Anything for an honest livlihood.

"'Honor and shame from no condition rise; Act well your part, there all the honor lies, ' As a great poet says." So long as Detroit remained under British jurisdiction it could hardly be expected that there would be any other minister here than one from the established church. The transfer from British to American rule in 1796 brought in a new people, mostly protestants and nearly all New Englanders. The era was marked by political discussion and troubles to so great an extent that church matters were seldom referred to. It is said that the people occasionally met for religious services and that Dr. William McDowell Scott acted as lay reader in the absence of any ordained minister.

The recognized hierarchy of the Episcopal Church in Detroit begins with Pollard and includes Welton and Cadle.

Recognition of others, like Mitchell and Toosey who are named above, has not been made, though they may be in the future, as facts regarding these, men are brought forward. We have already spoken of Pollard.

Alanson W. Welton was born in Connecticut in 1788. He was educated in the Episcopal Academy at Cheshire and ordained by Bishop John H. Hobart. He had charge of a church in Canandaigua, New York, in 1815. On coming to Detroit in the latter part of 1821 he found the building erected by the First Protestant Society to be without an occupant and he was invited to take possession and minister to the wants of a mixed congregation of all protestant denominations.

The first minister in this church was the Reverend John Monteith. Monteith left Detroit in July, 1821, and in December of that year the Rev. Mr. Barrows, a Presbyterian, of New York City, was invited to the place. Mr. Barrows declined the call and then Mr. Welton came.

During the remainder of his short life — for he died in September, 1822, at the early age of 34 years— Mr. Welton kept the charge of the First Church. It was during his time that efforts were made to organize an Episcopal Church. The society was organized in 1824. It was incorporated in 1825 under the name of the " Rector, Wardens and Vestrymen of St. Paul's Church in the City of Detroit." Its first officers were Samuel Perkins and Levi Brown, wardens; John Biddle, James Abbott, Henry Chipman, Andrew G. Whitney, John L. Whiting, John Garland, Jonathan Kearsley, and Jeremiah Moors, vestrymen. The first rector was the Rev. Richard F. Cadle.

For a time they were permitted to occupy the Indian Council House on the Sundays it was not occupied for other religious purposes. It is said that occasionally they had the use of some hall or building within the fort grounds. The Society laid claim to a portion of the English burying ground— that is the land on the east side of Woodward avenue between Larned and Congress streets. This land had been conveyed to the First Protestant Society, and the Episcopal Society claimed that the grant was intended for their use as well as for other protestant societies.

About the middle of this block, and fronting on Woodward Avenue, was the church of the First Protestant Society. An agreement was reached that the northerly sixty feet of the tract should be conveyed to the Episcopal Society and that, in consideration therefor, this society should pay for the removal of the church building to the corner of Larned Street, one hundred and seventeen feet.

This was in 1827 and the corner stone of the new Episcopal Church was laid August 10th of that year. The Rt. Rev. Bishop John H. Hobart visited Detroit at that time and laid the stone. This was the first visit of a protestant bishop to the City and was quite a notable event. To add to the celebrity of the occasion, it happened that the Episcopal bishop of Quebec was on a visit to Sandwich and Bishop Hobart accepted his invitation to join him in holding services at that place. While we find no record of a return visit, it is not improbable that the Bishop of Quebec came over to Detroit and was also present at the laying of the corner stone here.

At this time the work on the new territorial capitol building had so far progressed that church services were in that building.

Again, a year later, on August 24, 1828, Bishop Hobart came and consecrated the new church and again a notable event occurred by the meeting here of Bishop Hobart and the Rev. Eleazer Williams.

Mr. Williams, at that time, was a missionary among the Indians at Green Bay but had not then achieved the notoriety that afterwards put his name in the mouth of everyone, when it was claimed that he was the Lost Dauphin of France — the heir to the throne, Louis XVII.

St. Paul's church was on the east side of Woodward Avenue, sixty feet below Congress Street. The store of Mathew W. Birchard was on the corner of Congress Street. As originally built the church was not very good looking, but it was subsequently enlarged and rebuilt and became quite an imposing structure for the time. It was of brick and had a tower 115 feet high. A new site was bought in 1851 on the northeast corner of Congress and Shelby. The old building on Woodward Avenue was destroyed. As a part of its destruction a rope was fastened around the steeple and a crowd of men and boys tugged until the steeple toppled over into Woodward Avenue. The new stone church of St. Paul's served its purpose until recently and on its destruction some of the stones were used to construct a church on the eastern boulevard. The Church Society removed to the cathedral on Woodward Avenue. Rev. Richard F. Cadle was rector from 1825 to 1836.

The Right Rev. Samuel Allan McCoskry, bishop of the diocese from 1836 to 1878 was rector of St. Paul's from 1836 to 1863. Horace Hills, Jr., was assistant in 1846. The second St. Paul's church on the corner of Shelby and Congress Streets was erected in 1851. The corner stone was laid August 13th of that year.

In the year 1800, David Bacon, father of the late Dr. Leonard Bacon of Yale University, came to Detroit. David Bacon was the son of Joseph Bacon of Stoughton, Massachusetts, and his wife, Abigail Holmes of Woodstock. David was born at Woodstock in 1771 and was baptized the 15th of September of that year. He studied to prepare himself for the ministry and for teaching school, and taught a school in Washington County, New York, in 1798. In 1800 he was chosen by the " Association of Pastors" of Connecticut to do missionary work among the Indian tribes west and south of Lake Erie. He left Hartford on this expedition on the 8th of August, 1800, and arrived in Detroit on the 11th day of the following month. He did not at first intend to stay in Detroit, but started for Mackinac, being somewhat assisted by Mr. John Askin and Jonathan Schieffelin, Indian agent of Detroit. He was becalmed in Lake St. Clair and while there his interpreter, Bernardus Harsen, son of the then owner of Harsen's Island, Jacobus Harsen, persuaded him to remain with the Indians in the neighborhood.

After remaining there some time he came to Detroit and in December he returned to Hartford. On the 24th of December, 1800, he married Alice Parks at Lebanon. She was the daughter of Elijah Parks, and was born at Bethlehem, Connecticut, in February 1783.

David Bacon was ordained as a Congregational minister and was appointed to continue the missionary work begun by him the previous year. In February 1801, he set out on his westward way accompanied by his wife and her brother, Beaumont Parks, and reached Detroit on the ninth day of May following.

Mr. Bacon had arranged, on his departure from Detroit in the fall of 1800, to open a school there the next year, and found the proprietors of the school awaiting his return.

School began May 25, and a few weeks later Mrs. Bacon opened a school for girls. The spare time of Mr. Bacon was occupied in studying the Indian language and in preparing a sermon for the ensuing Sunday, for he preached every Sunday except the first one.

In one of his letters he says that for Sunday service "We made use of the court house, which is very convenient for the purpose. Four or five of my hearers are men of liberal education."

An extract from one of the letters of Beaumont Parks shows the situation of Detroit at this time. He writes that Detroit was the largest and most important city west of Albany. The Indian traders were men of great wealth and highly cultivated minds. "The inhabitants were English, Scotch, Irish and French, all of whom hated the Yankees most cordially." There was not an American in the place except the officers and soldiers of the garrison, which was composed of a regiment of infantry and one company of artillery.

"The city was enclosed by cedar pickets about twelve feet high and six inches in diameter and so close together that one could not see through. On each side were strong gates which were closed at night and a sentinel placed at each. No Indians were permitted to come in after sun down, or to remain overnight."

Mr. Bacon's school was well attended at first and on occasions it became necessary to have Beaumont Parks assist. The children were from the principal families, but the fact that Bacon was a Yankee militated against him.

There were four or five priests of the Roman Catholic church, all classical men, and Mr. Parks thought that the influence of these priests controlled the feeling of even those who were not Catholics and prejudiced them against Mr. Bacon.

Although Mr. Bacon continued to teach and preach during the following summer and fall, his school gradually became smaller and his sermons drew diminishing audiences. His wife fell ill and was obliged to give up her teaching. He was discouraged, and made preparations to leave Detroit for his work among the Indians as early as possible in the year 1802.

His son Leonard was born in Detroit on the 19th of February, 1802. and a short time afterwards David Bacon went first to the Indians on the Maumee and a year later, on the 11th of February, 1803, we find him and his wife and son at Mackinac.

The first daughter, Sarah Dunham Bacon, was born at Mackinac on the 4th of July, 1804, and within less than a month from that time the family returned to Detroit and in a short time started for Cleveland, which place they reached about the middle of October.

The subsequent events of Mr. Bacon's life are of little interest as connected with Detroit.

He founded the Village of Tallmadge, Ohio, in a settlement to which only Congregationalists or Presbyterians were to be admitted. He died at Hartford, Connecticut, on the 27th of August, 1817, His name is best known to history as the father of the Reverend Leonard Bacon.

Rev, Elijah Pilcher, in his History of Protestantism in Michigan says that a Methodist minister named Freeman, from Canada, preached in Detroit in 1804, and that the Rev. Nathan Bangs, also a Methodist, preached in the same year.

Bangs was disappointed in the reception he met with, and as the town of Detroit was utterly destroyed by fire in the June following Mr. Bangs' departure, he was inclined to believe the fire to be a visitation upon the people for their unrighteous lives.

Mr. Pilcher says that during the next five years no efforts were made to protestantize the place. In this statement there is some error, though it is not believed that any protestant minister visited the place during this period.

It is beyond my ability to do justice to the courage and devotion of the first Methodist preachers who visited our shores and spent years of hard work with so little appreciable good to result during their lives.

It is barely possible that one of the principles of church management, the circuit rider, was taken from the Moravians. John Wesley, on his visit to America, fell into close connection with some of the Moravians and he says that one of them converted him. His early church organization he termed the " United Society," borrowing the name, possibly, from the Moravian "Unitas Fratres."

In England it became necessary to send preachers out among the people to gather them into places where they might listen to the preaching of the Gospel, for there were many to hear and only few to preach. This method of evangelization was carried to the new world and worked admirably for a long time. It worked well as long as villages and settlements were poor and members of the church were so few that they could not give steady employment and support to a minister.

No one can read the unpublished journal of Rev. William Case, the first itinerant minister to visit Detroit, without wondering at the stamina and the force of character that could induce this young man to devote himself to the great hardships that fell in his way.

His first charge, which he retained for several years, but which was changed each year, was as a circuit rider in Canada. He may have visited Detroit in 1806, for he relates in his journal that he was at Sandwich and that he met Robert Abbott, but whether at Detroit or Sandwich he does not state.

Traveling through the sparsely settled country, he gave notice at each dwelling he passed that he would preach at some designated place a few days later. At the appointed time the people had gathered to hear him. Perhaps only a few attended. He was not discouraged. He said to himself, as he said to them, " Where two or three are gathered in My Name, there am I in their midst," and it is not hard to believe that this sentiment buoyed him up and encouraged him on many occasions.

Mr. Case was assigned to the Detroit district in 1809. He certainly met here the people who organized the first Methodist society, Robert Abbott, Betsey (Audrain) Abbott, his wife, William McCarty, Maria C. (Audrain) McCarty, his wife, William Stacy, Betsey Stacy, his wife, and Sarah McComb, (widow of Godfroy Corbus).

The two Audrain ladies were daughters of Pierre Audrain and had been brought up as Catholics but had evidently been converted through the energies of their husbands.

In 1810 Rev. Ninian Holmes succeeded Mr. Case and it is said that these persons formed the first Methodist church during his time. The parties all lived in the River Rouge district and there the society first took root.

The Methodist church edifice was not erected there until 1817 probably, for it was in that year that they bought a piece of land of the Sargeant family and put up a log church. There is a line of circuit riders to fill in these years. Rev. Silas Hopkins, Rev. George W. Densmore, Rev. Joseph Hickox, Rev. Joseph Mitchell, Rev. Gideon Lainey, Rev. Alpheus Davis, Rev. Truman Dixon, Rev. John P. Kent, Rev. Piatt B. Morey and perhaps others. The Rev. Joseph Badger has been mentioned as preaching at Detroit. There are two references to him in the letters of Governor Hull.

He is referred to in Hull's letter of 13 July, 1806, and the Governor in his letter of 10 June, 1808, says that the Rev. Mr. Badger cheats the Indians.

Rev. Joseph Badger was a missionary sent by the Connecticut Missionary Society to the Connecticut Western Reserve, in Ohio. He must have served in that capacity for several years for he was at Buffalo among the Indians as early as 1801.

One of the results of the great fire of 1805 was the enlargement of the city's limits and the platting of a much larger territory than the village originally covered. The governor and judges, the legislative body, was given authority by the general government to divide up this new territory and donate it to the citizens of the former village. The Roman Catholic Church of Ste. Anne held land in the old town before the fire. A part of this land had been taken for public use in the opening of Jefferson Avenue. The governor and judges in 1806 passed the following resolution.

" Resolved: that the Roman Catholic Church be built on the center of the little Military square, having one hundred and twenty feet vacant on every side; that the ground of section number one adjacent to the burying ground fronting on east and west Avenue and two hundred feet wide, and running two hundred feet deep, and bounded on the three other sides by three streets, and also one acre more in an adjacent section between No. one and the Court House Circus," be conveyed to said Church.

East and West Avenue is the present Cadillac Square

(Notice that the record of the resolution is imperfect and incomplete.)

This land was not conveyed to the church at that time because the church was not incorporated and was not legally able to hold property. In April, 1807, a law was passed for the incorporation of religious societies. This was drawn up with particular reference to Catholic societies and "The Catholic, Apostolic and Roman Church of St. Anne of Detroit" was formed under it, within a week after its passage.

At the same time a movement was started among the Protestants to form another society. It is at this time impossible to determine how these people chose the particular denomination under which they were to organize, but the society chosen was that of the Presbyterian Church. On April 24, 1807, only twelve days after the organization of the Catholic Church, the Protestants drew up and signed the following petition: "To His Excellency, The Governor and The Honorable The Judges of the Territory of Michigan. —

"The Petitions of the Subscribers respectfully Sheweth: That they are desirous of having a Presbyterian Church established in this City and to effect that and to enable them to fulfill their desires, they pray that your honours please to grant them a lot or any other parcel of ground on which to erect the said church, and as in duty bound your petitioners will ever pray. —

"City of Detroit 24th April 1807.

"Wm. Scott, Thomas McClure,

John Mearrs, George Smart,

P. Hanks, Gasper Martin,

Benj. Chittenden, E. Brush,

Chs. — — (illegible) Ab. Hull,

Joseph Watson, William Brown,

Aaron Greeley, Wm. Flanagan,

Go. Hoffman, James Anderson,

Geo. McDougall, Wm. Watson,

Calvin Munson, Samuel Graham,

George Johnston, John Baldwin,

George Huff, Augustin Longon,

B. Woodworth, Daniel McNiel,

Joseph Emerson, Peter E. Visger,

Solomon Townsend, Robert Sanders,

Spenser Russell, Jesse Beasley,

Elijah Has well, John Gentle,

Abram W. Geel, Adam Gentle."