Early settlers who came here from New York via the Erie Canal named this community in honor of DeWitt Clinton, the governor of their native state. First settled in 1829, Clinton became an important center of trade because of its location on the Chicago Road at the River Raisin. Only a decade after its settlement, the village had ten general stores, several blacksmith shops, and a hardware store. Five religious groups organized and built churches during this early era. In 1832 Clinton's first school was established; four years later a flouring mill began operation. A railway with wooden rails constructed about 1837 ran for a few years and by 1857 it had steel tracks. In order to utilize local wool production, village businessmen organized the Clinton Woolen Mills in 1866 which employed many area people until closing in 1957.
Site of the Clinton Inn
The Sauk and Potawatomi Indians first traversed this main thoroughfare as a portion of the Sauk Trail. It became a military road after Congress appropriated funds in the 1820s for survey and construction of a route from Detroit to Chicago. Built about 1830 on this site, the Clinton Inn served travelers on the Chicago Road who journeyed by stagecoach, covered wagon, and horseback. Originally called
the Eagle Hotel, the Inn became the Union Hotel during the Civil War and lodged soldiers coming to and from the front. Walter Hubbell Smith purchased the Inn in 1864. His daughter and heir, Mary Ella Smith, sold the building in 1927 to Henry Ford who moved it to Greenfield Village. There the Inn was restored and reopened in 1929.