Gabriel Godfroy
Name: Name::Gabriel Godfroy
Born: Born::1758
Died: Died::1832

In 1809, Col. Gabriel Godfroy (1758 - 1832) (alt spelling: Godfrey) established a trading post where the Potawatomi Trail crossed the Huron River - approximately where the Riverside Arts Center stands today - becoming the man whom most histories of Washtenaw County or Ypsilanti begin with. While other French traders had passed through the area before, Godfroy's post was the first intended to be permanent. (His partners in the project, Francois Pepin (or "Francis Pepin") and Romaine De Chambre (or "Louis Le Shambre"), receive less recognition.)

Col. Godfroy was, as Beakes puts it, "a man of means. He was a man of influence." Not merely a man with a tradinghouse, Godfroy held various military and political posts during his life. At the beginning of the 19th century, he followed Judge Woodward as Colonel of the First Michigan Regiment. In 1803, he was made Assessor for the City of Detroit. Later, Gen. William Henry Harrison, Secretary of the Northwest Territory, appointed Godfroy to the post of Subagent and Deputy Superintendent of Indian Affairs.

Godfroy was additionally an experienced businessman. Around 1795, he and two partners purchased a pair of mills in Detroit. In 1802, he ran a ferry across the Detroit River. In 1815, he owned a Detroit tannery. One account has him running multiple other trading posts between Monroe and Fort Vincennes. Between these various business and political responsibilities, it is unlikely that Godfroy (or his partners) ever maintained a permanent residence in Ypsilanti.

The trading post was profitable in its early years, but as the natives were moved further west by treaty, the volume of trade dropped off. It was abandoned as not profitable enough in 1820, three years before Benjamin Woodruff and company established a permanent settlement.