Wednesday, January 2, 2013


Titus Dort established the first brickyard in Detroit and provided the bricks for construction of the U.S. Arsenal buildings at Dearborn (photo: last of the original brick buildings, Commandant's Quarters, now Dearborn Historical Museum) 
 Dort, Titus (1806-1879) — of Michigan. Born in Vermont, 1806. Brick manufacturer; member of Michigan state house of representatives, 1839, 1842, 1865-66 (Wayne County 1839, 1842, Wayne County 3rd District 1865-66); member of Michigan state senate 1st District, 1849-52. Died October 7, 1879 (age about 73 years). 

from "Pioneer Collections, Vol. 1," by the Pioneer Society of the State of Michigan. 1877.  Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (begins p. 508)

I was born in the State of Vermont, county of Addison, and town of
Bridgport [Bridport], on the 17th day of June, 1806. My father emigrated to Ohio
in the fall of 1811, and settled in Franklinton, the county seat of Frank-
lin county, on the west side of the Sciota river, opposite where the city
of Columbus now stands. It was then woodland covered with trees.
In less than a year after we had taken up our residence there, war was
declared against Great Britain, and Franklinton was made the head-
quarters of the Northwestern army.

In 1815 (the war being over), my father moved about 20 miles north-
west on the Big Darby. In 1824 I came to Detroit with a drove of
cattle, on the Gen. Hull road, through the Black Swamp. In 1826 I
came to Detroit to reside, and commenced making brick on the Dequindre
farm, about one mile east of Woodward avenue. In 1829 I began brick-
making on the river Rouge, about nine miles west of the city of Detroit.

On the 30th day of November. 1829, I was married to Deiadamia
Thomas, a daughter of Alanson Thomas, an early settler of this place.
My wife is six years younger than myself, and is still living, though
in feeble health. Mr. Thomas, my future father-in-law, during the war of
1812, removed his family into Champaign county, Ohio, near Urbana, and
was chosen by Gen. Hull for one of his pilots through the Black Swamps
to Detroit, and was there surrendered with the army. At the close of
the war he moved his family back to this place, where his father and
three brothers then resided.

I continued to make brick until 1851. In 1833 I entered into a contract
with the War Department of the United States, by Lieut. Joshua Howard
to make brick for the Government buildings to be erected at this place,
except about 100,000 in the basement of the Arsenal. In 1835 I was
appointed a justice of the peace by (Governor Mason and the Legislative
Council of the Territory of Michigan.

In August, 1836 I was elected one of the delegates of Wayne county
to meet in a convention at Ann Arbor, in September of that year  to
accept or reject the proposition of Congress for our Territory to be ad-
mitted into the Union of the States.

The people of the Territory of Michigan, by their representatives, met
in a convention at the city of Detroit, in the month of May. 1835, under
an act of the Legislative Council, and formed a State constitution, and
declared what the boundaries of the State should be, which conflicted
with what the State of Ohio claimed as a part of her boundary. The
constitution was approved by the people and transmitted to Congress,
and that body refused to accept the boundaries as declared, and sent to
the people the propositions referred to. — changing the boundary between
us and Ohio. This was rejected by the convention at Ann Arbor, in
September, 1836. But the people in their primary capacity, without
the authority of law, got up another convention — they went through
the forms of an election by ballot in the month of November — the dele-
gates met at Ann Arbor in the month of December of that year and
accepted said propositions, which gave us the Upper Peninsula in lieu of
what was given to Ohio, and in January, 1837, the constitution was
accepted and we were admitted into the union.

The delegates in the first convention from Wayne county voted to
accept the said propositions of Congress, but a majority was against it.
The summer and autumn of l836 was very rainy. In the month of
June there was a great freshet, and the banks of the river were overflown.
There was a full tide of immigration. — 'the roads were almost impassible,
which made awful times for the immigrants; it was almost impossible
for them to get from one place to another.

At the annual township meeting of Dearborn, in 1830, I was elected
under the authority of the State Constitution a Justice of the Peace for
three years, and then reelected for the term of four years. In 1830
several of the townships and several wards in the city of Detroit neg-
lected to elect such officers, and on the 15th of June Congress ac-
knowledged and accepted our State constitution, except the boundary,
and then our State laws were accepted by all and many of the town-
ships and wards had no legal officers and I had many law cases from

I have been elected at thrice different times to the House of Repre-
sentatives of our State Legislature, in l838, in 1841, and 1864; also, twice
to the State Senate, in 1848 and in 1850, and took a seat at each succeed-
ing session.

hi 1849, at the session of the Senate, I was appointed chairman of the
Committee on Agriculture.  Mr. J. C. Holmes made several communi-
cations to me on the subject of forming a State Agricultural Society.
The matter was represented by me to the Senate and House, they, with
few exceptions, united in the formation of such a society; and in a few
years thereafter a State Agricultural School and College was organized,
Each of these institutions are now prosperous and an honor to the State.
I am indebted to Hon. Jonathan Shearer, of Plymouth, for valuable
advice in the matter.  I was one of the Executive Committee for five
years. My fellow townsmen have often placed me in positions of respon-
sibility and trust, making me for several years supervisor of the township
of Dearborn; frequently appointed Superintendent of Wayne County
poor, overseeing the erection of the first and third brick buildings on
the county farm for their accommodation. Much of my time for many
years has been spent in administering on the estates of deceased persons,
and in 1860 was a candidate for the office of Judge of Probate, but was
defeated with the candidates of the Democratic party generally.

This closes my civil and political record. I can look back on many
errors in my past life, but cannot recall any intentional ones.
I have one son, Andrew J. Dort, who resides with me on the home-
stead farm; is 39 years of age, has seven children, four sons and three
daughters. [one of the daughters was the blogger's great-grandmother, Mae Louise Dort]

Titus Dort
I am now nearly three scores and ten years of age, and expect soon to pass "to that bourne from whence no traveler returns."** May God continue to bless the State of Michigan, and gather us and all mankind into
the blessed realms of Immortality beyond the grave.

**'He is gone to that bourne from whence no traveller returns.' (Charles Dickens, The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby, (1838-1839)

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