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Detroit Public Library
Government House, Detroit. (1703)
   Wm. Macomb's House, Gen. Macomb's birthplace
   Razed in 1882
   Photo from: M. M. Quaife's This is Detroit P 15.
  • 1786 Dr. Anthon and family remove to NYC [overlap unexplained]
  • 1781 William Macomb buys house in year following marriage to Sarah Dring
      Their 11 Children are born there (1781-1795)
    1. 1781 Sarah Macomb
    2. 1782 John William Macomb
    3. 1783 Alexander Macomb
    4. 1785 Anne Macomb Macomb
    5. 1786 Catherine Macomb
    6. 1788 William Macomb
    7. 1789 Sarah Macomb
    8. 1791 Jane Macomb
    9. 1792 Alexander Macomb
    10. 1793 David Betton Macomb
    11. 1795 Eliza Macomb
  • 1782 Gen. Alexander Macomb born in the house
  • 1796 William Macomb Dies
  • 1814 Headquarters of the US Army
  • 1816 Bought by Gen. Lewis Cass, the Gov.
  • 1826 Prof. Charles Anthon visits the house, then occupied by Gov. Cass
  • 1832 Cass occupies the house until 1832
  • 1834 George B. Porter, last Territorial Governor, dies there
  • 1835 House moved from original site on the river to 164-6 W. Larned St.
  • 1882 demolished

    Quaife, M[ilo]. M[ilton]. This is Detroit, 1701-1951: 250 years in Pictures. Detroit: Wayne U.P., 1951, p15.


    Cass House

    The fire of 1805 destroyed the structures within the City [of Detroit], and all examples of French architecture outside have yielded since then to the march of time. Several, however, remained until the close of the nineteenth century. The historic home of Governor Cass, razed in 1882, antedated the Pontiac War of 1763 and was popularly reputed to have been built by Cadillac in 1703.


    Swan, Isabella E. The Deep Roots: a history of Grosse Ile, Michigan, to July 6, 1876. Grosse Ile, MI: Grosse Ile Historical Society, 1977. (GIHS).


    [p. 23] William Macomb married Sarah Dring at Detroit on July 18, 1780. Shortly thereafter he acquired the St. Martin farm west of town adjacent to the stockade. There on the riverbank stood an old cedar log house said to have been built by Cadillac in 1703. (Farmer's History of Detroit . . . pp. 368-72.) The eleven children of William and Sarah Macomb were born in that home as was Alexander, the seventh child of Alexander Macomb and Catherine Navarre, who became commander-in-chief of the United States Army and will appear later in this history.


    Macomb, Henry Alexander. Rev. P. McComb. Macomb Family Record: being an account of the family since the settlement in America. Camden, New Jersey: Sinnickson Chew & Sons, 1917. (Higginson books)


    [pp. 13-3] William Macomb bought the "Cadillac" house, 1781, the year following his marriage, and his nephew Alex. Macomb 2nd . . . was born here, 3 April, 1782. The house was built by Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, 1703, who made the original settlement in 1701, for the Chiefs of the Huron Indians. It was occupied by them until 1740, and occupied by him during the Pontiac War of 1763, when it received many bullet marks. Subsequent to this date, it was occupied by Dr. George Christian Anthon,* Surgeon to the Brittish garrison and the friendly Indians, and some of Anthon's gifted sons were born here. It was headquaters U. S. S. 1814, and was bought by Gen. Lewis Cass, the Governor, in 1816, and was occupied by him until 1831. Geo. B. Porter, last Territorial Governor, died here 7 July, 1834. The house was moved in 1835 from its original site on the river bank to 164-6 W. Larned St., and was demolished in 1882.

    *Dr. Anthon's first wife was Marie Anne, sister of Catherine Navarre who m. Alexander Macomb . . . [Sr.]; and his second wife was Genevieve Jadot, Niece of the same Catherine Navarre. Marie Anne was widow of St. Martin. Genevieve was an orphan in her care.


    Anthon, Charles Edward. Narrative of the Settlement of George Christian Anthon in America: and of the removal of the family from Detroit, and its Establishment in New York City. New York: Bradstreet Press, 1872. HTML & Rev. Marshall Davies Lloyd (August, 1999).e-text


    page 6-7

    The chief incidents of Dr. Anthonís life, from his first going to Detroit in 1760 to his final removal to New York in 1786, are known from a document in my possession, written by my father from his dictation. In 1760, he was detached with the party which, under Major Rogers, took possession of Detroit, Nov. 29. His first residence there extended from 1760 to 1764. During this time he was the sole medical officer of the post, for "navy and army" in his own words, and also "to the Indians" as appears from an order in my possession, for his pay in that capacity, drawn Oct. 4, 1763, on Geo. Croghan, Esq., Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs. In 1764 he returned to New York, with Col. Gladwin, at the close of Pontiacís siege. In the course of it a little incident occurred, which is matter of family tradition. Dr. Anthon, living at the time in the Government House, which afterwards became his private residence, desiring on one occasion to have a look at the enemy, climbed up into an old pear tree which grew near by. The Indians thereupon began to fire at him with rifles, so that he was in great danger, and Gladwin, being unwilling to lose his medicine-man, thought proper to create a diversion by making a sortie, so saving in all probability, the doctorís life. When my uncle, Prof. Charles Anthon, was at Detroit, in 1826, he was presented with some leaves from this tree which was then still standing.

    page 11-12:
    [In speaking of an Indian Grant to Robert Navarre, in which he is designated as "Robiere fils de líEcrivain," found in Lanmanís History of Michigan, NY., App. pp. 339-40]:

    The mention of this document leads me to the subject of Dr. Anthonís property in Detroit. It is the constant family-tradition that he lived in the "old Government-House," and that there my father, John Anthon, was born [14 May 1784]. My uncle, Prof. Charles Anthon, who, in August, 1826, visited the house, then occupied by Governor Cass, wrote of it at that time as "a plain, gray wooden building, in a very antiquated style." He remarks that it was the best house in Detroit in its time, and "the residence of the early French governors." He also speaks of himself while in this house, of which, by the way, he made at the time two rough sketches, now in my possession, as being "under the ancient roof of the St. Martins." I am hence induced to believe that this building having been perhaps the residence of the French governors, as it was afterwards of the English, then became a private dwelling of the St. Martin family and passed into Dr. Anthonís possession through his marriage with the widow. But all this conjecture requires verification, and it is at least certain that the Doctor, when he finally settled at New York, retained no property at Detroit.


    Denissen, The Rev. Fr. Christian. Genealogy of the French Families of the Detroit River Region: 1701-1936. Ed. Harold Frederic Powell. Detroit: Burton Historical Collection, Detroit Public Library, 1976; rev. 1987.


    John Baudry dit Desbuttes dit St Martin entry:

    [p. 1121] John [Baudry] Desbuttes dit St Martin obtained from the French Government a grant of land of 2x40 arpents on 1 Apr 1750 which is now called the Cass Farm on Private Claim 55. On this farm was built the "Government House" which is the same building erected by Cadillac in 1703 for the Huron Chief on a little eminence which overlooks their village on the Canada shore. This eminence means the bill [hill] between the Savoyard and the Detroit Rivers. The family Desbuttes dit St Martin being popular interpreters of the Huron language and very friendly to the Hurons had no difficulty to have their chief cede to them his rights to that building. It was 40 feet long and 24 feet wide and built of Oak. It was known later on as the Cass House it being the residence of Gen Cass. The house w[a]s demolished in 1882. The St Martin Farm passed from the father to his son James who married [28 Oct 1760] Mary Ann Navarre. After his death when Dr [Christian] Anthon married into that family [marrying 1st James' widow, Mary Ann Navarre on 13 Aug 1770 and 2nd James' neice Genaveva Jadot 18 Jul 1778 (orphan of James' sister Margaret Amable dit St. Martin and Louis Jadot)] he resided there until his departure to New York. Later it became the property of the Macombs.


    Quaife, M[ilo]. M[ilton].,e-text ed. "The Mansion of St. Martin." Burton Historical Collection Leaflet, III: 33-48.



    Marshall Davies Lloyd mlloyd@sms-va.com