When Marcus Swift came to the "Nankin" area in 1825, there were already two dwellings. One belonged to Marenus Harrison, the other to James Wightman. The Harrison family were the first known family to settle in Inkster. Willis Harrison, who served 28 years as Justice of the Peace of "Nankin Township," was related to the original Joseph Harrison, who settled here.

Of Harrison’s his three sons, Leonard (1791 - 1841), was an assessor in "Nankin Township;" while Marenus Jr. (1795 - 1849), and Charles (1799 - 1887), were engaged in real estate and farming.

The other early settler was James Wightman, who purchased land in 1825 within the bounds of what is now the City of Inkster. Records show that Marenus bought and sold lands, and made his first purchase in 1822, at the northwest corner of Michigan Avenue and Inkster Road.

Marenus Jr. and his wife, Hannah are buried in the Union Chapel Cemetery, as are many of the Harrison's and early settlers.

The city namesake, Robert Inkster, was born March 27, 1828, in Lerwick, Shetland. He was 4 years old when his father passed away and he and his mother took a ship to America. They ported in New York, and spent some time in Ohio and Illinois before coming to Detroit.

In 1853, Inkster received citizenship and in 1855, he bought a steam powered sawmill with a contract to furnish fuel and ties for the nearby railroad. The “red mill” was located on what became Inkster Road, just south of Michigan Avenue.

The Post Office, established in 1857, under the name "Moulin Rouge" (meaning red mill) was renamed "Inkster” in 1963.

Robert Inkster engaged heavily and widely in real estate, selling his land in Highland Park, to Henry Ford. He had dealings in Ohio, Illinois, Nebraska and Montana. As late as 1881, he was buying land on Jim Daly Road (now Beech Daly Road). In 1869 there was a Robert Inkster Dry Good Store at 97 Woodward Avenue.

When many African Americans from the south moved north for factory jobs with Ford Motor Co., they were met with segregation and a lack of housing options. Some cities would not allow them to buy houses or even live in the city. To find housing close enough to the factory to enjoy the $5 a day salary offered at the time, many African Americans moved to Inkster, which was just close enough to afford them the opportunity to work the high-paying jobs.

During the Great Depression, Ford Motor Company’s Sociological Department helped Inkster workers and others through the depression with home repairs and low-price, high quality food from the newly built local commissary. While the Sociological Department helped and checked in on all Ford employees, they took a special interest in Inkster. Ford also helped Inkster with the construction of a medical center and a school to provide support for the safety and well-being of Ford workers during tough economic times. The Inkster Project, as Ford’s support was called, created a unique tie between the automaker and the city until the program ended in 1941.

The City of Inkster was incorporated in 1964.


Geraldine Hoff Doyle – aka Rosie the Riveter of the famed “We Can Do It” poster – lived in Inkster in the 1940’s and found work as a metal presser in a factory producing war supplies during World War II. It is believed that a photographer took a picture of her that later was used as the cultural embodiment representing women who worked replacing men during the war efforts. There is some dispute as to whether Doyle was the actual “Rosie” or if it was another woman, Naomi Parker Fraley, of California.

In 1952, Civil Rights Activist, Malcolm X moved to Inkster with his brother Wilfred. It was during this time that he became an active member in the Nation of Islam and began his work promoting African American equality and leadership. The house still stands at 4336 Williams St.

Some of the biggest stars to emerge from Inkster, which was originally named after a post office, coincidentally owe their success to a song about postmen. The Marvelettes, a 1960’s singing group made up of Katherine Anderson, Gladys Horton, Georgeanna Tillman, Wanda Young and Juanita Cowart best known for their Motown song “Please Mr. Postman,” lived in and attended high school in Inkster. Their initial formation was due to a talent show at their school.

Standout comedian and actor Antoine Mckay also has roots in Inkster. Mckay has appeared on hit shows such as “Empire” and “ER” during his acting career, along with performing with Second City in Chicago and Detroit.

Among the professional athletes to come from Inkster is 1993 Rose Bowl MVP and University of Michigan standout Tyrone Wheatley. A prolific athlete in high school and college, the former MHSAA long jump record holder went on to play professionally for the Oakland Raiders and New York Giants. Additional standout athletes from Inkster include Earl Jones, who won the bronze medal in the 800-meter run at the1984 Olympics and Marcus Fizer, a former NBA player.

Several leaders in the medical field also have ties to Inkster. Dr. Stephen Goldner, who invented the first liquid form of methadone, hails from the city. Additionally, Dr. Ben Carson, the renowned neurosurgeon and now secretary of Housing and Urban Development, has ties to the city through his mother, who previously resided in Inkster.

Along with a rich history of prominent individuals, Inkster has several prominent young community members and leaders currently residing within city limits. Jewell Jones is the current state representative for Michigan’s 11th House District. He is currently the youngest state lawmaker in Michigan and was previously the youngest city council member ever elected in Michigan. On the current Inkster City Council is Steven Chisholm, another young leader in city government. Among the talented young entertainers from Inkster is J. Reed, who also serves as outreach director for metro Detroit non-profit Beyond Basics. Current professional athletes with ties to Inkster includes boxer J’Leon Love, a super-middleweight with a record of 24-2-1 during his eight-year career.