Ira Leonard & Clayton Albert Grinnell- The founders of Grinnell Brothers Music House in Detroit, Michigan were Ira and Clayton Grinnell, sons of Ira and Betsey (Balcom) Grinnell. The elder brother, Ira L., was born in Niagara County, NY in 1848 and Clayton was born in the Town of Barre, Orleans Co., NY on the 2 December 1859. When their parents died suddenly, the father from an accident in the woods and Betsey, two months later, in 1865, the boys went to live with an older sister, Sarah Lucretia Grinnell Poucher, in Michigan.
In 1872 Ira started selling sewing machines in Ann Arbor, MI on a door to door basis, gradually adding musical merchandise. In 1879, Clayton and he opened a store in Ann Arbor. Soon another store was started at Ypsilanti, a suburb of Detroit. In 1882 a third brother joined the company, Herbert Balcom and a store was opened in the City of Detroit. This became the company headquarters.
Grinnell's carried everything from guitars to large size organs, their own pianos, made at Holly, Michigan, band instruments, drums, amplifers, sheet music, radios, records, even household furniture. For the annual State of Michigan Music Festival, Grinnell’s supplied the pianos and organs. At their peak they had 42 stores scattered through out the mid west and Canada.
In 1955 the family sold the business and it has changed hands several times. In April 1981, after some hard struggling, the Federal Bankruptcy Court in Detroit, ordered the company to cease operations at all locations and the assets were liquidated.