Sunday, March 22, 2009

See Now the Tree-Lined Avenues

West Canfield Historic District, Detroit, Michigan: the area around Canfield Avenue between Second and Third Streets, in the vicinity of Wayne State University. This is how a city residential area can look.

While doing research on a bigger project, I came across this, having read a couple of letters written by Augustus Canfield and making the connection. (Always curious about place names, street names, areas, etc., thanks partly to the enthusiasm of Charles H. Long, a visiting professor of religion and anthropology at both Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, back in the 1980s).

Augustus Canfield: appointed to the US Military Academy at West Point from New Jersey; cadet from fall 1818 to summer 1822, when he graduated thirteenth in his little class. Served as second liuetenant in the First (1st) and Fourth (4th) US Artillery, promoted to first lieutenant in 1830. Promoted by brevet to captain and assistant topographical engineer, 1834, and full captain in the Corps of Topographical Engineers (Topogs), 1840. Worked surveying the Michigan-Canada international boundary and Sault Ste. Marie, Upper Penninsula, with fellow officers Joseph E. Johnston and Robert McLane. After a European tour in 1841, Canfield spent most of the rest of his life working around the Great Lakes area, especially in Michigan.

Canfield was interested in the development of railroads (having patented an iron truss bridge design in 1833), canals, and other waterways. Specifically, he worked at places ranging from St. Joseph's Harbor, the Waugoshance Shoal Lighthouse site, Lake St. Clair Flats (Harsens Island), and the Sault Ste. Marie Canal.

While in Michigan (and sometimes based in Detroit), Augustus Canfield married Mary Cass, daughter of controversial general (War of 1812), politician and property owner Lewis Cass (Michigan territorial governor, Secretary of War under Andrew Jackson, Ambassador to France, Michigan Senator, and Secretary of State under James Buchanan).

Augustus and Mary Cass Canfield had one son, Augustus Cass Canfield (1854-1904); Captain Canfield died the same year (4/18/1854), aged 53.

Mary's father died in 1866, leaving her and Matilda Cass Ledyard (her sister) a nice chunk of property; they donated the land for Canfield Avenue, named for Captain Canfield, 1869-1871. Victorian houses were built, trees planted, etc., and in 1971, after a century of decline and resurrection, West Canfield Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

As a side note, Augustus Cass Canfield died at fifty years old in South Carolina.* His son (with Josephine Houghteling / Canfield) was given the same name, but became better known as Cass Canfield (1897-1986). Cass served as an officer in the First World War and eventually headed Harper & Brothers / Harper & Row; he also wrote several nonfiction books.

(*See "A. CASS CANFIELD DEAD.; Chill Contra[c]ted While Playing Golf at Aiken, S.C. Results Fatally." New York Times, 3/25/1904)

Today's Rune: Warrior.


goooooood girl said...

your blog is very fine......

please visit my blog:

Bubs said...

Very cool. Would that more urban landscapes looked like that. One thing I appreciate about Chicago is its relative wealth of green spaces within the city limits.

Adorably Dead said...

That is such a pretty looking street. Oh how it puts my Baltimore to shame. :-p

Sheila said...

i swear, I always learn something new when I read your posts!

JR's Thumbprints said...

We need more trees in Detroit, but I'd settle for picking up all that trash along the freeways instead.

the walking man said...

Erik...ever the finder of something nice to say...No rain from me this day.