The Sauk and Pottawatamie Indians carved a trail from the Detroit River across southern Michigan and down the Mississippi River. This trail was known as the "Great Sauk Trail". Its origins go back 10,000 years to when the last glaciers retreated. Animals carved tracks along the high ground between the swamp and rubble created by the glacier. The Indian trail followed the animal route.
The Great Sauk Trail once brought the Sauk, Seneca, Shawnee and Pottawatamie Indians near the spot they called "Oak Opening" because of a natural opening among the oak trees found in this area.
In 1825, Congress authorized money for the survey of a military road between Detroit and Chicago. They decided not to follow the Indian trail precisely, but came south about four miles bringing the road into Lenawee County before crossing the River Raisin. The intersection of the river and the road was the logical place for a settlement to develop. At the same time early settlers came from New York via the newly constructed Erie Canal. They named the community in honor of DeWitt Clinton, the governor of their native state.
During the 1820s, a stagecoach ran semi-weekly between Detroit, Ypsilanti, and Tecumseh. By 1835, a daily stagecoach was running between Detroit and Chicago. In the early days Clinton was a stagecoach stop and wholesale center along the Chicago Pike. These stagecoaches and horses carried weary travelers to their destinations. Inns and taverns along stagecoach routes offered room and board to these wayfarers for as little as 50 cents.
The original Clinton Inn, which was relocated to Greenfield Village, was constructed 50 miles west of Detroit on the Chicago Road in 1830, as a stage coach stop by Calvin Parkhurst. It was built of black walnut, seventy-six feet in length with square white columns in front. On the first floor, a wide piazza was found and on the second floor, partly supported by columns, was the verandah. The outstanding feature of the Inn was the ballroom because the floor had been built with a slight spring to it. At this respected tavern, room and board included meats and vegetables of the season, fresh-baked bread and pastries. To many travelers, Eagle Tavern became a home-away-from-home.
Inns like Eagle Tavern were favorite gathering places for those who lived in rural communities. People got together not only to eat and drink, but also to exchange news, transact business and discuss politics. News of the larger world arrived here when stagecoaches stopped to change horses and give their passengers a rest.
Owners and the names of the Inn changed over the years. It was known as the Parks Tavern, Eagle Tavern (by
Calvin Wood, its owner 1849 to 1854), and later the Union Hotel. When W. Hubbell Smith purchased it before
the close of the Civil War it was known as the Union Hotel. The Hotel served many soldiers on their travels to
and from the front. Miss Ella Smith owned the hotel until 1927. At that time, Ms. Smith sold the Union Hotel
to Henry Ford.
|| | | | ||