Tag Archives: Grindstone City

Early Days at Grindstone City

Captain Aaron Peer founded Grindstone City as a company with quarry operations in 1834. The fine stone was used in the pavement of Woodward and Jefferson Avenues in Detroit. In 1836 he claimed 400 acres of land, which included the stone quarries, and in that year, he made the first grindstone and established the works to advance the business.

Grindstone Waiting on Dock For Shipment

Aaron G. Peer of Grindstone City is one of the earliest settlers of Huron County and holds title to many of the “firsts” in the Upper Thumb. Peer installed the first steam engine used in quarry operations at Grindstone City. The engine was prominent among the first “things” of Michigan”, as it was the first built at Detroit, and was the motive of the “Argo,” the first steamer that plied between Port Huron and Detroit. The land he “claimed” in 1836 was the first deed entered in Huron County.

Grindstone Quarry

He brought the necessary help and facilities and shipped the products to Chicago and other points. The mills now standing also contain machinery for the manufacture of whetstones, which is of the most improved character. He employed about 40 men when conducting the works himself. They have been rented since 1881, the lease running until 1891

More On Captain Aaron Peer & Grindstone City

Men in Quarry

The farm of Capt. Peer contains 225 acres, with 120 acres under cultivation, devoted to grain and hay. A fire-proof stone building, 28 x 50 feet in dimensions, was erected by Capt. Peer at Grindstone City, in 1884. It is two stories in height, and he has his residence on the upper floor. The lower story is occupied as a store. 

Grindstone City General Store – Still in Operation in 2022

The marriage of Capt. Peer to Euphemia West brook took place on his farm near Marine City, St. Clair County, in 1839. Four children were born to them.: Arthur H., who resides in Chicago and has been the owner and captain of a vessel for several years; Charlotte E., the wife of William H. Cooper, a merchant at Port Austin. Two children are deceased. 

Elevator and Flour Mill

The mother died in 1859 at Port Huron. She was the daughter of Capt. Andrew Westbrook was prominent in the war of 1812. 

Grindstone City Depot – Pere Marquette Railway

The second marriage of Capt. Peer took place at Port Huron, Nov. 16, 1869, to Sarah L. Hawkins. She was born in Geneva, N. Y. Capt. Peer is President of the Pioneer Society of Huron County and has been a member since its organization. 

Grindstone City School

Being, of all the residents of Huron County, probably the one most deserving of a representation in the portrait gallery of this recognition, as a conspicuous pioneer and still a most prominent citizen, the publishers of this work take special pleasure in placing a likeness of the Captain in connection with the above brief history. 

The Hard Core Stone Workers at Grindstone City Michigan 1920s

The story of Grindstone City Michigan starts in 1836, with Great Lakes Shipping Captain Peer purchasing 400 acres of land to establish a grindstone quarrying and manufacturing operation. The area where Peer discovered this abrasive stone, its fine grit, was unique to the tip of Michigan’s Thumb and part of the Marshall Sandstone formation. The stone is easy to work with and ideal for shaping.

Workers at Grindstone City

The first grindstones supplied to local farmers and blacksmiths were made of sandstone. These stones were used for sharpening knives, axes, scythes, and sickles.

Competition of Grindstone City Michigan

From the 1830s until the 1910s, Grindstone City Michigan produced the premier grinding wheels in the United States. In 1888, the Cleveland Stone Co. Purchased the property owned by Worthington and Sons and became the sole owner of all quarry properties. They continued to operate the store and quarries, but the salt works were discontinued, as operating costs made it no longer profitable.

For a significant part of the late 1800s, grindstone quarries dotted the shores of Lake Huron from Port Austin to Harbor Beach. The most notable competitor to Grindstone City was in nearby Lake Township. Here the Babbitt Sandstone Company found the stone was harder and had color. Thus they switched to making gravestones. The Wallace quarry near Bay Port was the other. These stones were used to sharpen tools and knives, and axes. Farm tools such as plows needed sharpening, as did scythes that cut wheat or rye.

The End of the Grindstone Era

Due to carborundum taking the place of grinding stones, the quarries could no longer be operated at a profit. Grindstone City stumbled into swift decline, and all quarrying and production operations ceased in 1930.

Grindstone City, Michigan, was a thriving community of stone workers. They created grindstones for farmers and blacksmiths across the state. The Cleveland Stone Company operated one of the largest quarries in Grindstone City during this period. In addition to supplying local customers, they also exported their products worldwide.