By ZEINAB NAJM
DEARBORN — The Dearborn Historical Museum took residents back into history with a look at Dearborn during the era of Edger Allen Poe.
The presentation and tour was part of the 2016 Big Read – Dearborn, showing the evolution of the city between the 1800 and 1840.
Museum Archivist Mason Christensen and tour guide John Polzin ran through the highlights of the city spanning the 40 years.
“This is an era of dynamic expansion and transformation in Dearborn,” Polzin said. “Development began to change the area in a positive direction.”
It began in 1795 when James Cissne settled in the area and then in 1805 when the U.S. Government reserved land for military use.
The First Methodist Episcopal Church of Dearborn was built as a log church in 1818 near the intersection of Butler and Greenfield roads.
Next came the creation of a road along the path of the Old Sauk Indian Trail built to connect Detroit to Fort Dearborn beginning in 1825. Also in the 1820s, the Ten Eyck Tavern opened along what was Chicago Road.
Beginning in the 1830s, stagecoach service began traveling through Dearborn on Chicago Road with multiple lines and routes.
A couple years later, the U.S. War Department decided to use the military reserve at Dearborn as the new site of a new Detroit arsenal, attracting settlers to the area.
In 1832, multiple brickyards opened in Dearborn, by Ohio native Titus Dort, producing 275,000 bricks for the arsenal.
The Detroit Arsenal was open from 1833 to 1875. Its multiple buildings were located near Michigan Avenue and Oakwood Boulevard.
In 1833, a town plot named Dearbornville was recorded and began gaining mail service in March that same year.
By 1839, there were seven stores, two smitheries, an iron foundry, a physician and about 60 families in Dearborn.
Some of those families included Ford, Ten Eyck, Snow, Nowlin, Gulley, Wallace, Trowbridge, Leslie and Sweeny.
The earliest documented Dearborn family was the Nowlins, who moved to Dearborn in the spring of 1834. They migrated to the city from New York by boat.
The Michigan Central Railroad, which traveled from Detroit to Ypsilanti through Dearborn, reached the city in 1838.
With transportation advancing, communication soon followed with the first telegraph passing through Dearborn in 1847 when a message was sent between Detroit and Ypsilanti along the Michigan Central Railroad line.
As for the Fords, Henry Ford’s grandfather John Ford arrived in the area — the Scotch Settlement — from Ireland in 1848. The settlement was along Warren Road west of Southfield and was home or other families along with the Fords including the Ruddiman and Gardner families.
“It is interesting to learn about the Fords, as well as the other families who settled in Dearborn because they don’t get talked about enough,” attendee Julie Sommers said.
Today, the McFadden-Ross House, Gardner House, Commandant’s Quarters, Carriage Shed, Sutler’s Shop and Henry Ford’s Birthplace are all still standing from the days of early Dearborn.
“My favorite part was the detail in the presentation,” Susan Michael of Dearborn said. “I also loved taking the tour of the Commandants Quarters.”
The 2016 Big Read launched on Feb. 6 and is filled with with Edgar Allan Poe-related events and activities for families through March.
On March 17, Henry Ford Centennial Library will host a Poe craft from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m, and a discussion with bilingual copies of Poe’s “Great Tales and Poems” books from 6 to 7 p.m.
The final event at 2 p.m. March 19 at HFCL will give attendees the chance to meet an actor dressed as Poe.
For more information on the project or full list of events go to bigreaddearborn.org.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected].)