How did our roads get their names?
The story of how our roads got their names is a fascinating and little-known history lesson. Michigan Avenue was originally called the “Chicago Road” because it runs all the way to Chicago, and didn’t get the name Michigan Avenue until 1867.
Glenwood was originally called “Dewey Road” in honor of George Dewey, a naval admiral in the Spanish-American War. In fact many of the roads in the neighborhood north of Glenwood are named for men or ships of civil war and Spanish American War history, such as Columbia, Farragut, Schley and Manila. In 1929 Wayne changed the name to Glenwood after the cemetery, which had been on the road since 1872.
Palmer Road is named for John and Margaret Palmer who had a 40-acre farm on the N.W. corner of Palmer and Wayne Road, they came to the area from New York in 1833. Cherry Hill Road is literally named after a hill which had cherry trees on it near Ridge Road in Canton.
Ford Road is named for William Ford, Henry Ford’s father, as it was the road that their homestead was on in Springwells (Dearborn). Going west to east, Hannan Road was originally called the Nankin-Canton Township Line Road. It was changed to Hannan around 1900, supposedly named after Bert Hannan, an employee of the DUR streetcar company. The James Hannan family lived on the road as early as the 1870s though, and some Hannans still do today.
Hix Road is named for brothers Amos and Lorenzo Hix who owned about 150 acres on the east side of the road in the 1860s. Newburgh Road is named for a now-defunct town at the intersection of Newburgh and Ann Arbor Trail. In 1831 Anthony Paddock from Newburg, New York established a settlement at the intersection named after his hometown, and eventually the road took on the name of the little hamlet. The “H” at the end was added sometime after the 1880s.
Wayne Road was also named after a defunct town at one point, Schwarzburg. In 1829 a north-south road was created to connect Romulus Township to the Ann Arbor Trail. This road was called the Schwarzburg Road, and where it met Ann Arbor Trail a hamlet founded by a man named John Schwarz grew up. In 1876, during the national centennial, the name north of Michigan was changed to Washington, and south of Michigan to Monroe, named after the presidents. Sometime after about 1905 the name was changed to Wayne Road as the city grew and became prosperous. Venoy was named for James Venoy, who had a 70-acre farm on the east side of the road at Michigan. Merriman Road is named for the Charles and Paulina Merriman family who owned a large farm at the NW corner at Michigan in 1859. The Merriman farm is now Westlawn Cemetery.