Fort Gratiot History
Like the City of Port Huron, Fort Gratiot was taken from Port Huron Township and was created for the purpose of giving the north end of the county more clout in the fight over moving the county seat from St. Clair to Port Huron.
In 1836 some speculators bought large tracts of land north of the fort to create the “Town of Huron”. This plan failed when the “Panic of 1837” hit the nation and a smaller area was developed into the Village of Fort Gratiot. This became an incorporated village in January 1881.
The village became the City of Fort Gratiot in 1889 and remained so until 1893 when it merged with the City of Port Huron. The area has always been known as the “Fort”.
In 1859 Grand Trunk Railway of Canada extended itself at Fort Gratiot and built its line to Detroit. Fort Gratiot became known as a railroad town. At this period, our young Thomas Edison was living on the military reservation and began his journey into history with his newspaper and experiments. Even after Tom left for “big time” his family continued to participate in the affairs of the “Fort” community. Edison’s family members are buried in Lakeside Cemetery.
The village, and later the city, had its own newspaper (Fort Gratiot Sun followed by The Enterprise), its own churches (Methodist, Presbyterian, and Episcopal) as well as the Fillmore School.
The larger parcel of Fort Gratiot Township was mostly agricultural. Eventually people would identify themselves to a particular area because of a school, church, resort, or store. Thus, we had Keewahdin Beach (resort), Gardendale (school and township hall), and State Road, North River Road, Krafft Road (generally for their schools).
This represents only a very small portion of the history of Fort Gratiot Township. Today, Fort Gratiot Township is by far the largest retail center in the county.