How did Center Line's
Gronow Street get its name?

That was the question put to me by the proprietor of
"The One Name Study of the Surname GRONOW"

This web page contains the results of my research
to provide a detailed answer to his question.

1895 map showing the location of the13 acre farm owned by H. Engleman

Gronow St. in Center Line, Michigan was created when the farmland owned by Hieronymus Engleman (c.1845-1918) was subdivided into residential lots in May of 1913.

The name given to this subdivision was "Dr. A. A. Gronow's Subdivision".

Dr. A. A. Gronow's Subdivision plat map.
Recorded on May 12, 1913, this was the first subdivision of land to occur
within what later became the village and city of Center Line, Michigan.
(click to enlarge, a scan of the original document is located here)

Who was Dr. A. A. Gronow?

My research has found that he was born as Adolph A. GRONKOWSKI, in Prussia (Germany) in April of 1870. His parents were Albert August Gronkowski and Clara Labudda and based on the birth record of his younger sister, Adolph was probably also born in Danzig, West Prussia. Danzig (Gdansk) had been part of the Polish province of Royal Prussia from 1466 until 1773 when it became the German province of West Prussia and over time, Danzig became heavily populated by ethnic Germans. Despite his Polish surname, it is clear from the information he provided to the 1920 US Census that German was his mother tongue and also that of his parents.

Adolph GRONKOWSKI emigrated to the USA in 1885 and later became a naturalized US citizen. He first appeared in the Detroit City Directory for the year 1895 and was simply listed as living at 536 Elmwood. The following year he was living at 177 Preston and his occupation was given as "assistant, Detroit Public Library". In the 1897 Directory he was a "linguist" rooming at 644 Monroe and the following year he was working again as an "assistant, Detroit Public Library" while living at 113 23rd St.

Adolph GRONKOWSKI married Rose Agnes ENGLEMAN on 03 Feb 1898 in Detroit. Agnes (b. Oct. 1876) was the daughter of Hieronymus and Margaret Engleman. Hieronymus was a long-time farmer in the portion of Warren Township's Section 21 that would eventually become Center Line, Michigan. This was Adolph's second marriage. On 20 May 1893, Adolph married Antonia Kremser in Wayne County, Michigan and in Detroit on 17 March 1896, she gave birth to a son named Joseph P. Gronkowski. However, I'm unable to find any additional records about Antonia and her son which might shed some light on what became of them.

The 1900 US Census shows that Adolph and Agnes GRONKOWSKI were living on Bellevue Street in Hamtramck Township, which would soon be incorporated into the city of Detroit. His occupation was listed as "Librarian".

The 1903 Detroit City Directory gives the address as 974 Bellevue (today 3988 Bellevue) and Adolph's occupation was now that of a "Teacher, Eastern High School".

The 1910 US Census indicates that Adolph GRONKOWSKI was living with his wife, children and mother-in-law on Center Line Road (now Van Dyke Ave) in Warren Township. From the names of their neighbors on the census sheet, it's clear that they were living in the Engleman family farmhouse shown on the 1895 map (above). His occupation was listed as "Teacher-High School".

Based on the various records I have found, Adolph shortened his family's surname to GRONOW sometime between 1910 and 1913.

According to the subdivision plat map shown above, on April 15, 1913, Hieronymus Engleman, along with Adolph and R. Agnes GRONOW, all appeared before a notary public, Edward DeGrandchamp, to dedicate for public use the streets and alleyways located within in the "Dr. A. A. Gronow's Subdivision". This is the earliest record I've been able to find where Adolph and Agnes are using the GRONOW surname and where Adolph is identified as a Doctor.

Their 1913 subdivision plat was also the first twentieth-century document I was able to find with Hieronymus's name on it. Three years earlier, his wife Margaret is shown as "married" in the census record but her husband was apparently not living with her. Broadening my search, I finally found a 1910 US Census record indicating that Hieronymus was an "inmate" living at the Michigan Soldiers Home in Grand Rapids, Mich., which was a nursing home for US Civil War veterans. During that search, I also looked through this document and found that Hieronymus passed away on March 6, 1918 and was buried in St. Clement Cemetery, less than one-half mile from his former residence on Center Line Road (Van Dyke). While scanning that list of St. Clement Cemetery burials, I happened to notice a burial record for "Jacob Edward Gronkowski, July 9, 1906, infant 1 day, son of Adolph".  Since I could not find any records for Adolph GRONOW prior to 1913, I decided to try searching earlier records for Adolph GRONKOWSKI on what turned out to be the correct assumption that GRONOW is an anglicized version of that surname. It was that chance observation of the death of Jacob Gronkowski that enabled me to find the 1900, 1903 and 1910 records for Adolph GRONKOWSKI mentioned above.

The 1916 Detroit City Directory listed Adolph A. GRONOW as "Physician and Surgeon, Office Hours 1 to 3 PM and 6:30 to 8:00 PM (Sunday by appointment), 1910 Gratiot Ave., Tel Ridge 150, home: Center Line, Mich."  1910 Gratiot Ave. was renumbered to 8338 Gratiot in 1921 and was located near the intersection with Iroquois St., about a one-half mile walk from the home he apparently owned at 1221 Townsend Ave. where some of his adult children were living at that time.

Location of the Engleman family farmhouse
within the subdivision (
1927 map)

Since the 1916 directory indicates that Adolph and Agnes were still living in Center Line with her mother in the Engleman farmhouse, after the subdivision platting they must have kept ownership of the subdivision lots 3 and 4 along Center Line Road (Van Dyke) on which the Engleman farmhouse was located. It appears that her parents sold the 13 acres of family farmland to Adolph and Agnes so that it could be subdivided and thus return a much greater profit than if the house and farmland had been sold together as an agricultural property.

As can be seen from this 1916 map of Center Line, the "Dr. A.A. Gronow's Subdivision" had been joined on the north by "Lempke's Center Line Subdivision", which had been platted a year later in 1914. The were the first two subdivisions in what would become the village and later the city of Center Line. They were located very close to St. Clement Church and the commercial businesses that had sprung up along Center Line Road (Van Dyke) during the the previous half-century. Therefore, the lots that fronted onto Center Line Road were quite valuable for commercial uses and the remaining interior lots could be sold to the growing number of people who wished to build a home so they could get off the farm or out of the city and enjoy a semi-rural life along with the benefits of living in a small community. However, the residential lots sold slowly, based on the number of homes shown on these 1927, 1932 and 1941 maps. The Engleman farmhouse was demolished sometime between the publication of the 1932 and 1941 maps to make way for the Detroit Edison building that was built on lot 4. Here is a circa 1962 photo of the commercial businesses that occupied lots 1 through 4 of the "Dr. A.A. Gronow's Subdivision".

The 1920 US Census indicates that Adolph, his wife Agnes, their 5 children and his now-widowed mother-in-law (Margaret ENGLEMAN) had moved and were residing at 1232 Townsend Avenue, Detroit, Mich. This house was just across the street from the house he had owned in 1916.  Detroit renumbered all street addresses in 1921 and his 1232 Townsend Ave. residence became 5302 Townsend Ave

The 1930 US Census indicates that Adolph, his wife and 16 year old daughter Mary still resided at 5302 Townsend Ave. in Detroit and he was still listed as a physician.

Here are some additional details from my research:

Mike Grobbel

Webmaster: Mike Grobbel
Created: 10 Feb 2012; Last Revised: 11 Feb 2012