Get to know Grosse Ile!
Before French explorers discovered La Grosse Ile, or “big island,” in the late 1600s, it was home to Potawatomi tribes who called the area Kitche-minishen. On July 24th, 1701, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, founder of the fort which would become Detroit, claimed French possession of the area in the name of King Louis XIV, the Sun King.
In 1763, following the French and Indian War, the British gained control of Michigan, including the island and renamed it “Grosse Isle.”
Eventually, in July 1776, the Potawatomi deeded the island to brothers Alexander and William Macomb. The two men are considered the founders and first legal owners of Grosse Ile. Seven years later, the Revolutionary War ends and William began building a home on the island and renting plots to tenant farmers.
After the British evacuated Detroit Grosse Ile, the island came under rule of the United States in 1799, where it was previously declared a part of Kent county, Canada.
Today, there are still a few homes standing that were built by descendants of the Macombs. And, the Westcroft Gardens, one of the oldest farms in Michigan, is operated by their descendants.