Left: Taxi license from the defunct Nankin Township; image courtesy of Whitworthfamily.org
Spending a few hours with my 93-year-old grandparents is always an exercise in participating in living history, and they frequently make references to topics that pique my curiosity. Today when my wife and I traveled to visit, my grandmother referenced Nankin Township, a place previously unfamiliar to me.
That is, I was unfamiliar with the name. Nankin Township, which was formerly known as "Bucklin Township" at the time of its original incorporation, contained land that would later become the Michigan cities of Westland, Garden City, Livonia, Wayne, Dearborn, Dearborn Heights, Inkster, and Redford Township. Over time sections of the township began incorporating as cities, and the last parcels of land in the township became the city of Westland on 16 May 1966.
Nankin Township is also noted for being the home of the Wayne County Poor House and Asylum, also known later as the Eloise Complex. Here is an 1860 census of all persons living in the Poor House and Asylum for those curious to know more about the wretched folks who populated the place.
I remember hearing as a child many tales about Eloise, including stories that the grounds were haunted by the ghosts of former inmates. Little remains of Eloise, and more work remains to be completed on the history of the complex, but suffice to say that the brutal institutionalization in places like Eloise of so many innocent people was a horror on a rather vast scale for a country that prides itself on freedom and human rights.