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  • Ezra E Darby, Jr. (1802 - 1877)
    WIKI In 1832, Ezra Derby bought the tavern and land from the Simmons heirs and began establishing a settlement. Derby built a sawmill, store, mill, blacksmith shop and the first frame dwelling for him...
  • Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac (1658 - 1722)
    CADILLAC, Antoine Laumet, dit Antoine de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, governor. Born, Laumets, Gascony, France, March 5, 1658; son of Jean Laumet, a minor magistrate. Went to Acadia; June 25, 1687, mar...
  • Ambroise Riopelle (1738 - 1812)
    I have a family tree chart showing our ancestor Ambrosia and would like to share it with you. Not sure how to get it to you unless I email it. If interested please let me know. Kathryn Upell The Di...

The city of Detroit, the largest city in the state of Michigan, developed from a small fur trading post of New France to a world-class industrial powerhouse and the fourth largest American city by the mid 20th century.

America's "motor city" was founded on July 24th, 1701. It is the first European settlement above tidewater in North America. It was under French rule from 1701 - 1760, when it was ceded to the British.


from History of Detroit - Beginnings

The first recorded mention of the site was in 1670s, when French missionaries found a stone idol venerated by the Indians there and destroyed it with an axe. Early settlers planted twelve missionary pear trees "named for the twelve Apostles" on the grounds of what is now Waterworks Park.

The city name comes from the Detroit River (French: le détroit du Lac Érie), meaning the strait of Lake Erie, linking Lake Huron and Lake Erie; in the historical context, the strait included Lake St. Clair and the St. Clair River. The sieur de Cadillac in 1698 proposed to his government in Paris that Detroit be established as a shelter for displaced Indian allies. Paris approved and in 1701 Cadillac led a party of 100 Frenchmen to establish a post called Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit, naming it after his sponsor the comte de Pontchartrain, Minister of Marine under Louis XIV. In 1704 he was given ownership over the strenuous opposition of officials in New France. An investigation by de Pontchartrain showed Cadillac was a tyrannical profiteer whose mischief hurt the French cause, so Cadillac was removed and sent to faraway New Orleans as governor of Louisiana.

Grants of free land attracted families to Detroit, which grew to 800 people in 1765. The main business was trading furs with the Indians, using goods supplied from Montreal. It was the largest French village between Montreal and New Orleans. Francois Marie Picoté, sieur de Belestre (Montreal 1719–1793), the last French commander at Fort Detroit (1758–1760), surrendered on November 29, 1760 to the British. They shortened the name to Detroit.

Demonstrating their independent power, several tribes in the region collaborated in Pontiac's Rebellion in 1763; they overran many smaller forts but could not subdue Detroit.


From History Today

The motor capital of North America was founded by a man named Cadillac, menaced by one called Pontiac and ultimately given its twentieth-century role by one named Ford.

Early European explorers of North America had hoped to discover gold and silver, but found furs instead. It was French fur traders who in 1604 established the first permanent French colony in North America at Port Royal in Nova Scotia.

Quebec was founded four years later. French explorers pushed down the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River all the way to the Gulf of Mexico and by 1700 there were 15-25,000 French in North America – farmers, traders, hunters, trappers and missionaries, many of them in isolated forts and trading posts – by contrast with some 250,000 British settlers packed in colonies down the eastern seaboard. New France was closely supervised from Paris. Only Roman Catholics were permitted as settlers and the Jesuits and Franciscans discovered a powerful zeal for converting the native American Indians.

A French settler with a promising future ahead of him was Antoine Laumet de Lamothe Cadillac, a Gascon adventurer of tremendous charm and matching unscrupulousness, in his forties. He added de Lamothe Cadillac to his name to make himself sound aristocratic, equipped himself with a bogus pedigree, coat of arms and army commission, and concealed his origins so effectively that his early life has remained obscure ever since. Arriving in North America in the 1680s, he was put in command at the Great Lakes post of Michilimackinack in 1694 and lined his pockets by selling the Indians brandy – illegally and to the fierce disapproval of both the Indian chiefs and the Jesuits – and taking bribes from beaver-pelt traders and smugglers. With approval from Paris, he set out in 1701 to build a fort and trading post on the river between Lake Erie and Lake Huron. The purpose was to control the traffic on the river, secure the rich trade in furs in the Great Lakes region for France and provide a base to help protect the French and their Indian allies against the British.

Travelling in birchbark canoes with a hundred or so Frenchmen, an equal number of friendly Indians and the inevitable pair of priests, Cadillac picked a site on a bluff overlooking the strait between Lake Erie and Lake Saint Clair, where he and his men spent some weeks building Fort Ponchartrain du Detroit. It was named in compliment to Louis XIV’s minister of marine and colonies, Louis Phélypeaux de Ponchartrain, while Detroit was French for ‘the strait’. A small settlement developed, though both the colonists and the local Indians objected to Cadillac’s tyrannical and extortionate administration. In 1710, more or less in disgrace, he was packed off to be governor of Louisiana, which was considered a thoroughly undesirable post. He was later recalled to France and spent some time in the Bastille before ending his life comfortably installed as governor of a town in his native Gascony, where he died in 1730. His fake coat of arms would long afterwards adorn Cadillac cars.

Detroit meanwhile was surrendered to the British in 1760 during the Seven Years’ War and then unsuccessfully besieged by the Ottawa Indian chief Pontiac, who had forged an unprecedented alliance of practically every Indian people from Lake Superior to the lower Mississippi against the British. However, the British  occupation did not end until 1796, when Detroit came under American control.

the Cadillac Convoy

In recognition of the courage, perseverance and expertise of the French-Canadians who brought Antoine de Lamothe Cadillac to establish the first permanent settlement at Le Détroit du Lac Érié.

  • Bertrand Arnaud.....Jean-Baptiste Guay
  • Gabriel Aubuchon.....Pierre Lagrave
  • Louis Babie.....Jean Latour,
  • Louis Badaillac dit Laplante..... sieur de Foucault
  • Simon Baillargé.....Jean Lemire dit Marsolet
  • Henri Bélisle dit Lamarre.....Jean-Alexis Lemoine
  • René Bénard dit Bourjoli..... dit Monière
  • François Benoît dit Livernois.....Jacques Lemoine
  • Guillaume Bonnet dit Deliard.....Jean-Baptiste Monmellian
  • Joseph Brault dit Pomainville..... dit St-Germain
  • Jacques Brisset.....Pierre Morisseau
  • Joseph Cartier dit Larose.....Laurent Renaud
  • Louis Chauvin,.....Pierre Richard
  • sieur de Beaulieu.....Claude Rivard
  • Pierre-François Circé..... dit Loranger
  • dit St-Michel.....Mathurin Rivard
  • Pierre Collet..... dit Feuilleverte
  • Claude Crevier dit Bellerive.....Edmond Roy
  • Lambert Cuillerier..... dit Châtelleraut
  • Charles Cusson.....Michel Roy
  • Paul-Charles Dazé..... dit Châtelleraut
  • Pierre Desautels dit Lapointe.....Pierre Roy
  • Jacques Durand..... dit Châtelleraut
  • François Fafard dit Delorme.....Pierre
  • Toupin
  • Louis Fafard.....Jean Turcot
  • dit de Longval.....Jean-Baptiste Vanier
  • Jean-François Frigon..... dit Lafontaine
  • Louis Gatineau,.....Louis Vaudry
  • sieur Duplessis.....Pierre Verdon
  • et de Lameslée.....Jacques Viger
  • Jean-Baptiste Gatineau.....François Viennay-Pachot
  • dit Duplessis.....Guillaume Vinet
  • Pierre Gauvreau..... dit LaRente
  • René Godefroy,.....Étienne Volant,
  • sieur de Linctot..... sieur de Radisson

The convoy also included fifty French soldiers and Chacornac, sieur de Joannès; Pierre Dugué, sieur de Boisbriant; Antoine Lamothe, fils; Alphonse Tonty, baron de Paludy; a Récollet priest and François Vaillant de Gueslis, S.J.


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