A Biographical Dictionary of Leading Living Men of the City of Detroit

Edited by Albert Nelson Marquis


A. N. Marquis & Company


Copyright, 1908 by Albert Nelson Marquis

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Pages 5 - 10

Special Thanks to Bonnie Pattok for transcribing these pages and to Pam Rietsch, book owner.

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Page 5

The Book of Detroiters is the result of a conscientious effort to collect into a single volume of handy dimensions condensed, accurate authentic life-sketches of the men who have attained places of distinctive creditability in the city of Detroit. The aim has been to include all those living men whose worth and work count for most in Detroit today: the leaders and prominent factors in all public movements and important private enterprises; the controlling and influential representatives in business, financial, industrial, religious, educational, literary and other interests of useful and worthy character. In a word, the subjects of this book are the living men whose past endeavors or present activities have contributed most to the progressive achievements and influences of the city.

This volume contains the largest number of sketches of Detroiters that has ever been gathered together, and not only in number but in the business and professional standing of those whose life-statistics are presented, the book may fairly claim precedence. It is intended to be a book of easy reference for the business office and the home library. It furnishes as complete a compendium of person data in regard to those identified with the best movements and interests of Detroit as it has been possible to procure by patient care, experience methods and large outlay of money. Worthy names have doubtless been omitted, but such omissions have not been willfully made by the publishers, and probably every instance of the kind is due to neglect or refusal on the part of the man whose name is missing, to furnish the information requisite for biographical mention. All who were considered eligible were solicited in a respectful way to furnish data. The majority, so requested, responded freely to the request and the thanks of the publishers are hereby extended for their courtesy. A few gave information with evident reluctance and others showed complete indifference and let the request for data go unnoticed.

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Such difference in the relative length of the sketches, as may be found, is not the result of editorial discrimination. In most instances the sketches which may be regarded as too short have been unduly curtailed because of the insufficiency of the data furnished. Speaking generally, however, the biographical notices combine completeness with brevity, embodying all the salient facts in a succinct narration.

Accuracy has been carefully and earnestly sought. Not only have the facts been procured, in nearly every instance, from first hands, but the completed sketches have been submitted for correction and verification, giving to each, with very few exceptions, the force of autobiographical sanction. Not a single sketch has been paid for or inserted on account of any financial consideration whatever, and all are free from eulogy, and presented in a form that experience has shown to be most satisfactory for ready reference.

The man of business, especially, will find The Book of Detroiters helpful in many ways. It is in a special degree a work of reference concerning the men who represent the business interests of the city. The question often arises, when mention is made of some person: Who is he and what does he do? In the fewest words possible, this book aims to answer those questions and, in addition, to present the main facts in the business record of every person mentioned. The book will give the business man a closer insight into the larger business interests of the city and place him in closer touch with the men who are in control of its business affairs.

To the press, this volume presents features of easily recognized value. Here the newspaper man will find many facts of present interest, and by the use of the book many errors resulting from hasty picking up of details from unreliable sources may, in a large measure, be avoided. This is quite as important a matter to the individual as to the newspaper, for who would not wish, when he becomes the subject of newspaper notice or comment, to be correctly represented, and thus avoid becoming the subject of ridicule or misconception?

Many and varied are the interests controlled or represented by the men whose life-histories are here outlined. While many of these men are natives of Detroit, others were attracted from various cities and states of the Union and from Canada; and the leading countries of Europe have contributed in no small degree to the ensemble, making as it does, a body of men representing one of the most active and progressive business centers in America. It required brains, perseverance, courage and faith to lay the foundations of the business and professional interests of Detroit, but these important elements have never been lacking, and the result is seen today in a superb, modern city, teeming with activity and steadily extending its influence into new and wider fields.

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The Book of Detroiters will be a constant and fruitful source of profit and pleasure in the home library. Often in home conversation the name of some person comes up in such a way as to raise an inquiry or difference of opinion as to his native state, his school or college, his status as to marriage, parentage, business connections, or his past or present civic or other honors or achievements. Such questions, for lack of reliable means of reference, have usually remained unanswered; but with The Book of Detroiters in the home library, a ready, reliable and satisfactory solution of such problems will be always accessible.

Any person who looks through this work intelligently will be amply rewarded for his time. To the thoughtful student of men and affairs who lingers over its pages, the volume presents a marvelous record of individual achievement and makes plain why Detroit has attained the enviable position she now holds. Here have converged the forces that in eager life of modern competition inevitable come to the front. Favored by location on one of the great waterways of the continent, and the natural outlet of some of the most productive industries of America, the permanent welfare of the city has been yet farther advanced by the enterprising character of its people.

Detroit is recognized as one of the advanced municipalities of the Republic and the extent of the future development of such a city; it is not within the limits of the human mind to foresee. Elsewhere in this volume is briefly but lucidly described by Mr. William Stocking, the well-known Detroit journalist and historian, the present scope of the city’s business interests; but it may be remarked here that the wonderful record which he present would have been impossible had it not been for the men whose names appear in this book. To those men and to their predecessors, the City of Detroit, with its great business interests, its education and religious institutions, and its thousands of prosperous and happy homes, is a fitting monument.

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Page 9


By William Stocking

Detroit comes by fair inheritance to the title of a beautiful city. Its founder, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who, with about one hundred followers, first pulled his bateaux ashore on the 24th of July, 1701, used glowing terms in describing his place of landing; "where the living and crystal waters keep the banks always green; where natural orchards soften and bend their branches under the weight and quantity of their fruit; where the ambitious vine, which has never wept under the pruning knife, builds a thick roof with its large leaves and heavy clusters, weighing down the top of the tree which received it, and often stifling it in its embrace; where the woods are full of game and the waters of fish; and where the swans in the river are so numerous that one might take for lilies the reeds in which they crowd together." Having thus lauded the beautiful site of the future city, its founders proceeded to disfigure it with stockade and fort and barrack, with rude dwellings huddled along narrow and muddy streets, obliterating every sign of verdure, scarcely a tree being left within cannon shot of the fort. Their successors for more than a hundred years lived in equal indifference to the appearance of the town.

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In 1805 fire swept off every house, save one. This gave opportunity of an entire remodeling of the place. Under authority of a special congressional act, the old land titles were extinguished and lots, selected upon a new platting, were apportioned to the old owners as well as offered for sale. The town, which received its first city charter the same year, and the territory as well, were under the anomalous rule of the Governor and three Supreme Court judges, who combined legislative, executive and judicial functions. The master spirit of this body was the chief justice, Augustus B. Woodward, who had spent some time in Washington, and had become enamored of the plan of the city as first conceived by the eminent French architect, L’Enfant. The judge adapted that plan to the requirements of Detroit. As originally designed, a complete circle, called the Grand Circus, was to be the central point. Through the center of this were to be two streets 120 feet wide, dividing it into quarters. From the outer rim of the circle were to be avenues, alternately 200 and 120 feet wide. As the city grew new focal points were to be established where avenues met the streets radiating from the Grand Circus, and numerous open spaces would have dotted the city.

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The plan met with derision from the associates of Judge Woodward and was ridiculed by the people. But it was carried out in part. The south half of the Grand Circus remains. From it radiate two avenues with 200 feet width and two 120 feet. Through its center runs Woodward avenue, 120 feet wide, extending from the river six miles to the northerly city limits, the lower end being the center of the principal retail district, and the rest of it the location of some of the finest residence sections. Part of the plan remains, also, in the Campus Martius and Cadillac Square, one half mile south of the Grand Circus, open spaces, around which are grouped the City Hall, the County Building, the largest hotel, the largest opera house and a number of modern office buildings. Crossing Woodward avenue at right angles, still farther down, is Jefferson avenue, also 120 feet wide. The lower end is devoted to wholesale houses; other portions of it are adorned with handsome residences surrounded by spacious grounds. Numerous triangular parks were formed by the intersections of diagonal streets, and the transformation from the irregular and uninviting town to the well planned and attractive city was complete.

The example of wide streets set by these portions of the Governor and Judge’s plan has been followed by many subsequent plattings. There are three long business avenues 100 feet wide and many residence streets 60 and 80 feet wide. Tree planting was encouraged at a very early date and has ever since been continued, so that the city has become known as one of well shaded as well as wide and well paved streets.

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