History of Grindstone City Most Michigan natives are aware of the importance of Grindstone City’s Historic past and its importance in the grindstone industry. Its name is synonymous with the finest of abrasive stone, which was found at no other place in the United States.
In the year 1834, Capt. Aaron G. Peer, with his Schooner, the Rip Van Winkle, was forced to take haven in this natural harbor, during a storm. Capt. Peer is known as the "father" of Grindstone City, and located the first land in what is now Huron County. The sloop took anchorage here in a storm, and that Capt. Peer, his crew and his father came ashore to what was then a wilderness of pine, cedar, ash, beech, and maple, the cedar being so thick that snow remained in places although it was midsummer. In their exploring they found some big flat stone along the beach and on further examination, found evidence that these strata of rock was underlying the area to a lesser or greater extent. Samples were taken to Detroit where they were found superior to the Ohio flagstone which city officials were planning to use to pave some of the streets. He later took some of this rock to Detroit, where it was used to pave a few blocks on Jefferson and Woodward Avenues. This was the first use made of grindstone rock as far as is known. It is interesting to note that the foundations and basements of early brick buildings in Port Huron; including the Harder and the old Johnston-Howard block later known as the Hartstuff Block and which now houses the Barnet Drug Store, were built of these stones.
On one trip, the sailors rigged up in a crude fashion a stone slab and used it to sharpen their tools. That year (1838) Capt. Peer, getting the idea from the sailors began shaping the grindstones at the place later known as Grindstone City. The industry was carried on here for a century by Capt. Peer and several other people and companies. Capt. Peer later bought 400 acres of land, on which to produce grindstones. It was operated by Jacob Peer, Capt. Peer’s father. Later Pierce and Smith took over the quarries, and "turned stone" for ten years, until Pierce died and his share reverted to Capt. Peer. They then built the first mill run by water power. Previously the turning had been done by horsepower. In 1888, The Cleveland Stone Company purchased all the properties and quarries around Grindstone City and became sole proprietors of the industry. They were the last company to own and operate the quarries and company store. They had a mill to make whet stones and scythe stones. The stones made here varied in size and weight from small kitchen stones weighing from 2 ½ to 10 lbs. and from 6 to 10 inches in diameter; to the huge grinding stones that weighed over two tons. The largest stone ever turned weighed over 6600 lbs. The memorial stone on the corner of Copeland and Rouse Road, in Grindstone City, is said to weigh 4750 lbs.
Grindstone City received its name in 1870. It happened in this way. Mr. James Wallace, one of the owners of the quarry at that time was talking to Mrs. Sam Kinch Sr., when she remarked that the village was growing so fast that it ought to have a name. They were discussing Stonington as a name when Mrs. Kinch suggested Grindstone and Mr. Wallace added City and from then on the village has been known as Grindstone City. For more information, visit http://www.geo.msu.edu/geogmich/Grindstones.htm