Jun 3, 2009

On Nankin Township, MI and the Eloise Asylum

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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.

5 comments:

Middle Aged Woman said...

Whenever we drove to Metro Airport to watch planes(!)from the observation deck(!) my dad would make jokes about dropping younger sister and I off at Eloise. I think it was actually still an asylum at the time, too.

microdot said...

Gadfrey that rings a bell...
When I was a teenager, we would go to the Northville State Hospital...
A hulk which had been abandoned for years. It was a perfectly horrible dangerouis place. Absolutely illegal, but no guards and in the middle of the spooky woods.
It was and is the setting of many of my creepiest dreams still today.

historymike said...

I think Eloise stopped serving as an asylum in the 1980s, M.A.W., so that would fit.

historymike said...

Never ventured out at Northville State, microdot, though we used to sneak into the grounds at Vista Maria Home for Girls as teenagers.

Anonymous said...

Looking for a picture of norris elementary school was on palmer now torn down. tks for any reply