Not many area businesses can trace their roots to the days when Detroit was surrounded by Indians instead of suburbs.
And not many companies can say they owe their existence to six consecutive father-to- son generations. But George Jerome & Co. - Michigan's oldest business - can.
George G. Jerome Sr. isn't totally ready to relinquish his role to his son, George Jr. But when he does, the younger George will be the sixth Jerome to lead the surveying and civil-engineering firm that has played such a prominent part in developing this area.
George Sr.'s great-great-grandfather, Edwin, started it all. He came to Detroit from New York in 1828 and not only found work surveying and charting the streets of Detroit, but also nearly all the villages and townships.
"In 1831, Edwin and his survey party were headed toward what is now Wisconsin, to lay out the land," George Sr. says as he begins a favorite family tale. "It was the time of the Black Hawk Indian Wars, and since roads did not exist, the party was traveling by way of the Indian trails. To say they were on edge was an understatement. "One night, sitting along the campfire, they heard noises. Scared and on the defensive, the team shot blindly into the bushes. They did hit their mark …and killed a 200- pound wild pig.
By Eric Pope
Special To Crain’s Detroit Business
All it takes to be the oldest business in Michigan is a profession that remains essential while changing with the times and having the intellect for that profession running through six generations of the same family.
That’s the formula for George Jerome & Co., a Roseville surveying and civil-engineering firm. The company is three years older than its closest rival, the Detroit Free Press, because in Detroit’s pioneer days, setting property lines took precedence over setting type.
Edwin Jerome founded the business the year after his father and brothers moved from Batavia, N.Y., to go into the lumber business. The founding father laid out lot lines with a handmade chain. On one surveying expedition in the early 1830s, two members of Edwin’s crew were killed by a raiding party from the Blue Mound Menominee tribe.
From Crain's Chicago Business - Detroit 300 Short History article, July 2001
In commemoration of Detroit's 300th birthday, the Detroit 300 Commission began a recognition program honoring businesses still operating in and around the city that are over 100 yearsold. Many of those businesses have a DAC connection. This is the first in a series of stories profiling some of Detroit's historical businesses.
By Jeff Kaplan
Detroit was a small city surrounded by an expanse of wilderness in 1827 when Edwin Jerome arrived from New York. Jerome came with his father and three brothers, who intended to go into the lumber business. Edwin opened a school at the corner where Larned and Randolph now meet and taught during the winter. The city had a population of 2,000.
To keep busy during the summer Edwin, with a penchant for math, a compass and a 100-link chain, started surveying land for sale in and around the Detroit area.
Since then Detroit has grown to cover 135 square miles of land, expanded to a population of over a million and become a titan among the world's industrial cities. And the company Edwin Jerome founded has been a part of it all.
George G. Jerome Sr., and a DAC member since 1972, is the fifth generation Jerome to run the company.
CAM Magazine Article - History of Company, May 2001
By Mary E. Kremposky, CAM Associate Editor
George Jerome & Co. is the company that helped build a city. Founded in 1828, the civil engineering and surveying firm laid out many of the hollow log water lines and streets of pioneer Detroit as the city began to expand beyond the riverfront. The 173-year-old company has been deeply entrenched in Detroit's growth, supplying foundation layout surveys for the construction of the City-County Building in the 1950s and the Renaissance Center in the late 1970s.
As part of Detroit's tricentennial celebration, George Jerome & Co. was honored at the recent Heritage Recognition Breakfast as the oldest company in Metro Detroit. The sold-out event attracted over 2,600 people to Cobo Hall in late January to inaugurate Detroit's tricentennial celebration and to honor the 972 businesses and organizations fifty years and older.
Arriving in Michigan Territory
George Jerome & Co. is considered the oldest continuously operating firm in Michigan, established in 1828 when Detroit's population was only *1,517 and the roads - called corduroy roads - were only a row of logs winding through the region. *Wolves still roamed parts of Wayne County when Edwin Jerome, a 23-year-old man with a gift for mathematics, arrived in Michigan Territory from Batavia, New York and began his surveying enterprise.
In 1827, Edwin left Tompkins County, New York with his brothers, his mother Betsy and his father Horace Jerome, a lawyer and businessman who decided to strike out for Michigan Territory to make his fortune in the lumber business. Edwin forged his own way in this wilderness region, applying his sharp mathematical skills to dissecting the territory into saleable parcels.