by Bret Schnitzer
The founder of Trenton is considered to be Abram Caleb Truax, a member of the territorial militia in attendance when General William Hull surrendered Detroit to the British General Isaac Brock early in the War of 1812. After the war, in 1816, Truax acquired a large tract of land in the Michigan Territory along the Detroit River from the U.S. government and constructed a sawmill, church and store in what is today downtown Trenton. When Territorial Governor Lewis Cass organized Monguagon Township in 1827, Truax became the first Township Supervisor. He laid out the village of Truaxton in 1834. A post office had been established there named “Monguago” in 1828 with Truax as the first postmaster. The post office name was changed to “Truago” in 1837, and to “Trenton” in 1847, after a type of limestone mined from a local quarry. The village was platted and recorded under the name Trenton in 1850 by Abram’s son and daughter George Brigham Truax and Sophia Slocum, the wife of industrialist Giles Slocum. The Slocum family estate was given to the county, becoming what is known as Elizabeth Park, named after Elizabeth Slocum.
In 1834 an industrialist, Giles Bryan Slocum, constructed a dock, making Trenton a major hub of steamboat traffic. In 1846, Capt. Arthur Edwards founded the Detroit & Cleveland Steamboat Company in Trenton. Through the late 1880s Trenton, like several Downriver communities, was known for its extensive shipyards. Sibley, Michigan would not be incorporated into Trenton until 1929.
Trenton was incorporated as a village in 1855.
A Detroit businessman and later Michigan’s first U.S. attorney, Solomon Sibley, started a limestone quarry near Trenton, near what is today Fort Street and Sibley Road. Materials from the quarry were used to construct structures in Detroit, most notably Fort Detroit along the Detroit River. The quarry was later sold to Austin Church, who used limestone to make baking soda, which he sold under his family’s nameplate, Arm & Hammer. In 1900 the quarry was the site of the Sibley Quarry explosion.
Through the late 1880s and even early 1900s, Trenton prospered because it was roughly a day’s journey between Detroit and Monroe, Michigan, which meant people traveling between the two cities would have to stop overnight in Trenton
Trenton annexed the village of Sibley (along the modern Riverview border) in 1929, extending the city’s northern boundary to modern-day Sibley Road. Trenton was incorporated as a city in 1957. In 1920 a small light railroad ran along West Jefferson to Wyandotte. The rail services ended in 1934. The tracks were removed in 1942 for the war effort.
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