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Among the leading lumbermen of the early days, and one of our foremost citizens, who ever had at heart the welfare of the community, was Isaac Bearinger. He was born at Hamilton, Ontario, on January 4, 1847, and was the son of William and Margaret Bearinger, who were of Pennsylvania-Dutch descent. Coming to this valley when he was but sixteen years old, his advent into the then new lumbering district was coincident with the arrival of a raft of cork pine logs from up the Flint River. But he did not come down the stream as a passenger on this raft, but as the “cookee,” or, in the vernacular of the river and “drive”, as the “cook’s devil”.

Thus early in his career were thrust upon him the necessity of making his way in the world. In fact, it was a case of work or starve, but he loved work for the sake of achievement and all through his life he displayed an energy almost dynamic in its intensity. The opportunity here lay before him, and by dint of tremendous energy, keen insight, and excellent judgment, he in later years accumulated a fortune honestly earned. Through the influence of his personality he occupied a prominent place in the lumber affairs of the valley.

As lumbering was the chief occupation of the early days, he became a saw mill employee and learned to do his work quickly and well; and it was not long before he became a saw filer and took charge of the saws of the old Rochester mill, and later was filer in the Sanborn mill. He husbanded his means, and his ability being soon recognized by mill men, the firm of Bearinger, Bliss & Sanborn came into existence. This company leased the mill of George Sanborn and engaged in cutting white pine logs for various lumbermen. Later the partnership was dissolved, and Mr. Bearinger leased the Crow Island mill from Hiram Sibley.

He made a great success of this venture and a year after the firm of Sibley & Bearinger was organized and bought, on the Cedar River, the first tract of timber. For two years this tract was operated, and was then sold to the Saginaw Lumber & Salt Company. His next venture was the purchase of a large tract of pine land on the Au Gres River, which was operated for awhile and then sold to the Saginaw Company. Soon after the firm bought a tract of timber of Robert B. Whiteside, near Ely, Minnesota, on the Vermillion Range. On this property was developed one of the most productive iron mines in the Northwest, and was known as the Chandler Iron Mine.

The firm also operated a large mill at East Tawas, on the Lake Huron shore, whose log supply came from the Au Gres River and also from the Spanish River in the Georgian Bay district. From 1880 to 1890 logs to stock this mill were towed across the lake; and the largest raft of pine logs, consisting of 9,000,000 feet, ever made into a single tow, was brought over in safety. In 1893 Sibley & Bearinger interested themselves in a large yellow poplar and oak timber property at Panther, West Virginia. Here was erected a model, modern, double-band saw mill, and a complete equipment of dry kilns and planing mill. A logging road was built in connection with this property.

About 1894 Mr. Bearinger became interested in the possibilities of electric traction, and entirely through his efforts and largely with his capital, he built the line fifteen miles in length connecting Saginaw and Bay City. This road was well built and equipped with the best type of electric cars then used, at a cost of upwards of $500,000. The line proved very successful, and was sold in 1898 to the Saginaw Traction Company.

In 1891 and 1892 Mr. Bearinger erected the first fireproof business building on the East Side. It is an ornate, six-story brick and steel structure, the first floor of which is occupied by retail stores, and the upper floors by offices. Adjoining this modern building was the banking office of the American Commercial & Savings Bank, of which Mr. Bearinger was founder; and he was its president for a number of years or until its merger with the Bank of Saginaw, in 1899.

In 1903 the firm of Bearinger & Chapin was organized, which purchased at Dalhousie, in the Bay Chaleur district of New Brunswick, a saw mill and 671/2 square miles of spruce cedar timber. Since that time this enterprise has been conducted by Mr. F. B. Chapin and Frederic Bearinger, who succeeded his father as general manager, and who inherited in a marked degree his father’s good judgment in commercial and industrial affairs.

At the time of his death, on November 3, 1904, Mr. Bearinger was vice-president of the Saginaw Paving Brick Company; and also owner of Union Park, a race track in Saginaw, which interest came to him through his pet hobby -- fine driving horses. This park afforded a place of recreation for himself and friends, and at the regular spring and fall meets, some of the leading horsemen in the country gathered there. This penchant for fine horses was practically Mr. Bearinger’s only hobby, and even that he did not carry to extreme.

Mr. Bearinger was forceful to a degree and his judgment was analytical. In all his business transactions he reasoned well. He was thoroughly likable and much appreciated by his friends, who often remarked that his “heart was in the right place”. Want and distress invariably appealed to him, as his sympathies were easily aroused; and there have been few prominent men in Saginaw whose charity was wider or more unostentatiously displayed than his.

[Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, Vol 2, Publ. 1918. Transcribed by Joan Lottner]


Michael Jeffers, one of the most potential factors in the public and business life of Saginaw, was born at Moville, on Lough Foyle, county of Donegal, Ulster, Ireland, in May, 1831. His father was a trader sailing his own vessels between the ports of Ireland and the New England States and the British Provinces. Although born in Ireland, he came of a line of ancestry from the rugged hills of Scotland. Their surname was McShafery which, upon his emigrating with his family to America, was, as a matter of convenience in the pronunciation, anglicized into Jeffers.

The mother was Mary O’Dougherty, a descendant of Irish Chief Cahir O’Dougherty, head of the Clan-na-gael of Ireland, who was known as “Red Roe, the rebel.” While fighting for his country and his birthright, he was killed and his remains exposed upon the walls of Londonderry. Afterward an image was cut in stone and placed on the masonry of the walled city, where it still stands as a lasting menace to those who would rebel against the rule of the Saxon in Ireland.

Michael was the eldest son, the third child of a family of ten, comprising six daughters and four sons. There were Margaret, Nancy, Michael, Mary A., Daniel, Fanny, Catherine, Delia, Edward and John. The fourth daughter, Fanny Jeffers, married William Champe, of Detroit.

When yet in the infancy of Michael his father brought the family to the United States; and after a brief stay in Brooklyn, he settled at Goshen, Orange County, New York. As early as 1834 he came to Michigan, and as an investment bought a section of government land at Gilbert Lake, near Birmingham, Oakland County. In 1840 he removed the family from New York State to the new home in the wilderness, where the youth of Michael was spent assisting in clearing the land and in the work of the farm. At spare times in winter Michael attended the district school and readily absorbed to the fullest extent the meager instruction then afforded.

At the age of fourteen there devolved upon the lad the responsibility of the support of the family, and to his credit it may be said he did not flinch from his duty. With characteristic energy he conducted the farm work, extended the tillable ground, and gave due attention to the schooling of his brothers and sisters. When yet a boy he went to Pontiac and opened a general store in the thriving village, but sometime after went to Detroit where he embarked in business with Mayor O. M. Hyde. This venture did not prove profitable, and eventually Michael lost all his investment.

In 1853 Michael Jeffers came to Saginaw, and from that time began his successful career. For a while he conducted a general store on Water Street, in what was a part of the old Irving House, which stood on the southeast corner of Genesee and Water Streets. This building was burned in the great fire of July 5, 1854, but fortunately for the young merchant he had only a short time before removed his stock of merchandise to a store which stood on part of the site of the building now occupied by Lee and Cady, at the foot of Tuscola Street. The following year he embarked in the lumber business, and built a saw mill on the west side of the river just north of Johnson Street, the machinery for which was hauled on wagons from Detroit over the rough corduroy roads of that primitive period. About 1858 he sold this property and business to C. Merrill & Company, who later erected on the site one of the model saw mills on the Saginaw. He then entered the real estate business, which he afterward followed through life, gradually acquiring profitable business property on the East Side, including some desirable residence property in the First Ward. The Tower Block, the Seitner store building, the Gas and Electric building, the Lee & Cady wholesale building, and other blocks were built by him. For many years he paid into the City, County, and State treasuries a larger tax than any other person in Saginaw.

Throughout his active career Mr. Jeffers evinced a deep interest in whatever affected the general welfare of the city, and he kept in close touch with the trend of public events and the men who were active in politics. The strong assertive individuality so pronounced in him could not easily be mistaken as to the Irish and Scotch ancestry, and naturally drew him into the ranks of the Democracy. He held at different times city offices in a highly creditable manner, in 1861-62 being one of six aldermen of East Saginaw; in 1864-65 was controller of the city, and later a member of the Board of Water Commissioners. He was also a member of the committee having charge of the bounty funds during the Civil War.

Personally, Mr. Jeffers was of medium height, compactly built, showing a sanguine temperament, and pair of sharp, piercing eyes that seemingly searched the inner mind of those with whom he conversed, as if to discover every secret part of their thought. Living in bachelorhood he consulted very often with his mother, even to the final days of her life, and honored her as the one to whom he owed his success in life. His moral training had been received from her within the pale of the Roman Catholic faith; and for many years he had a close friend and adviser in Father Sweeney, of St. Joseph’s Church. After a lingering illness Mr. Jeffers died at his home in Carroll Street, on December 9, 1904; and was buried in Calvary Cemetery with all honors due a worthy citizen.

[Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, Vol 2, Publ. 1918. Transcribed by Joan Lottner]


John Jeffers, the youngest brother of Michael, who was closely associated with him in business life and family ties, was born at Gilbert Lake, near Birmingham, Michigan, May 22, 1849. His early life was spent on the homestead farm, and so occupied was he in the manifold duties of rural life that he obtained but scant schooling during this formative period. At an early age he came to Saginaw, and at once began a more practical education than that of text books, through the hard school of experience, supplemented by judicious reading. He thus developed an alert mind, built up a broad knowledge of men and things, and acquired a sound judgment so that he became a man of affairs, though he never hardened in the process.

Soon after coming here he entered the employ of his brother in the capacity of bookkeeper, and so thoroughly did he conduct the details of the rapidly increasing business and property holding, that in 1880 he was made manager of all the affairs. During the following years he gave particular attention to property values on Genesee Avenue, and became a recognized authority on actual valuations of frontage in the business section. Michael Jeffers was always on the market for rentable property on Genesee, and upon consultation with his brother made purchases of desirable business blocks at what he considered a fair price. In this way the brothers worked in accord and built up a large estate, all of which was profit-paying.

Upon the death of Michael Jeffers the estate was divided between the brother John, Miss Elizabeth Champe, and another niece living in New York City. In perpetuating the memory of the man who had done much to build the prosperous city, John Jeffers evinced a broad and generous public spirit by making, jointly with his niece, Miss Champe, the gift to the city of the site of Jeffers Park. This property, bounded by Genesee, Germania, and Warren Avenues, was covered with productive business blocks, but to show his appreciation of the city the ground was cleared and converted into a beautiful little park. Shortly after he individually erected an enduring memorial to his brother, in the form of a large and ornate drinking fountain, in the center of the park, which is supplied with crystal water from a deep artesian well close by. A picture of this fountain appears in Volume 1, page 329.

John Jeffers was by nature a quiet, unpretentious man rather reserved in private life; and stood high in the public regard. He never sought public office, but at the earnest solicitation of his friends accepted an appointment as member of the Water Board; and because of his high services to the city, despite his wishes, he was reappointed on expiration of his term. He was also an influential member and director of the Saginaw Board of Trade, and chairman of the municipal and legislative committee. At an annual meeting of the Board his services were recognized by the conferring upon him of an honorary life membership, a high honor accorded to only three others since the organization of the Board.

After several months of ill health, Mr. Jeffers died at the Battle Creek Sanitarium, July 3, 1908; and was buried in Calvary Cemetery, this city, by the side of his mother. Mrs. Mary Abagail Jeffers, widow of John Jeffers, died February 12, 1914, at Los Angeles, California. There survive Horace E. Jeffers and John Jeffers, the latter an attorney of Saginaw.

[Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, Vol 2, Publ. 1918. Transcribed by Joan Lottner]


William Glover Gage, for sixty years a resident of Saginaw, was born on a farm at Italy Hill, Yates County, New York, April 11, 1847. His parents were Colonel DeWitt C. Gage, who was born in the same county, and Catharine Glover Gage. The father was descended from Thomas Gage, who landed at Yarmouth, Massachusetts, in 1630, and was a lieutenant in the Colonial Army in the King William War, in which he was killed. As evidence of the patriotic instincts of the family no war in which our country has since been engaged has been without some member of it. In early life DeWitt C. Gage was a farmer and merchant, but later took up the profession of law which he practiced with success at Geneva, New York. In 1855, desiring to enter larger fields of usefulness, he turned to the West, travelled throughout Iowa, Illinois and Michigan, and finally settled in Saginaw Valley.

William G. began his education in the district school of Seneca County, New York. Upon coming to Michigan with his parents, at the age of eight years, he continued his studies in the common schools, attending the old “Academy,” the first school house erected in East Saginaw. He was still engaged in gaining an education when the call for volunteers to suppress the rebellion rang over the land in 1863, and fired his youthful patriotism.

Although but little more than fifteen years of age, he enlisted August 1st as private in Company C. of the 7th Michigan Cavalry, and was mustered as corporal. He quickly displayed strong military tastes and instincts, and was acting sergeant and quartermaster sergeant of his company while it was attached to General Custer’s brigade; and he participated in the campaign of 1863, being engaged in all the battles which made Custer’s command famous. At the historic battle of Gettysburg, July 3, 1863, his horse was shot under him, and he quickly fell into the hands of the rebels and taken to Richmond. For several weeks he was confined as a prisoner of war at Stanton, Virginia, and was then taken to Libby Prison where he was exchanged on August 6, 1863. These experiences did not cool his military ardor, and again with his comrades in blue he participated in the winter campaign on the Rapidan. In the Spring of 1865 he returned to East Saginaw, where he was mustered out on March 17 and honorably discharged.

To complete his education, which had been interrupted by his response to the call to arms, the soldier boy re-entered the High School, and with private instruction and by diligence in his studies in due course graduated therefrom. He then entered the literary department of the University of Michigan, where he attended for one year. Meanwhile, his ambition had centered itself in the profession of the law, and on leaving the University he entered the law office of his father, Judge DeWitt C. Gage. Shortly, after, when Colonel Joseph Lockley was made postmaster of East Saginaw, he appointed William G. Gage his assistant. While so employed for a period of four years, he continued his law studies and was examined before Judge John Moore, in 1873, and admitted to the Bar. He then began active practice in partnership with his father, the firm name being Gage & Gage, which continued until 1880, when Colonel Gage was elected circuit court judge for the 10th Judicial District. Since that time William Glover Gage has been alone in his practice in the State and Federal Courts, which at his ascendency to the Bench was large and remunerative.

Ever since Mr. Gage was a soldier in the service of his country he has taken a keen interest in military affairs, and for eight years was identified with the State troops. In 1880 he was appointed on the staff of Governor David H. Jerome with the rank of brigadier-general, and was made inspector general. While filling this office he originated a system of “company inspections,” visiting in person every portion of the State, in the discharge of his duty. His influence on the military system of the State, in moulding it into a more nearly perfect and more efficient organization, was of far reaching effect. The high organization of our militia today may be traced to the zealous and intelligent effort and military knowledge that he displayed while filling that office.

Mr. Gage has always been an active Republican, but is in no sense a rabid partisan. In 1883 he was appointed by President Arthur to the office of postmaster of East Saginaw, and served until the following year when he was superseded by the appointee of President Cleveland. Ten years later, during the mayoralty of William B. Mershon, he was made city attorney of Saginaw, and filled that office with credit and success. During his incumbency a new city charter was drafted, to which he gave the experience and knowledge of a mature legal mind. During the administration of President McKinley he was appointed a member of the United States and Chilean Claims Commission, to arbitrate a large number of claims pending between the two governments, and served during the life of the commission. In 1905 he was elected one of the circuit judges of the 10th Judicial District, an office which he still holds with honor.

Fraternally, Mr. Gage is a member of Saginaw Lodge No. 10, K. of P., and once served as brigadier-general of the Uniformed Rank, K. of P. of Michigan, of Gordon Granger Post No. 38, G. A. R., in which he takes an active interest, and of Ancient Landmarks Lodge No. 303, F. & A. M. He is an attendant of the First Congregational Church, to the good works of which he lends a generous support.

On October 21, 1873, Mr. Gage was married to Miss Alice B. Sanborn of Madison County, New York. To this union were born six children -- three sons and three daughters: Kate A., DeWitt C., George S., Walter H., Alice A. and Louise R. On April 24, 1911, Mr. Gage was united in marriage with Miss Eleanor B. Richardson, of Saginaw; and to them has been born one son, William Glover Gage, Junior.

Judge Gage is an able, experienced and fearless jurist, who has shown commendable independence in office, and his record is enviable. Throughout his long service on the bench he has ever been guided by high ideals, which would not permit political considerations to warp his legal judgment. He has a record unusually free from reversals, his ample groundings in legal traditions and his freedom from the corrupting influences that frequently sway the judgment of able but less vigorous men, all fit him for high public service. Possessing a splendid judicial mind, with courteous, affable and pleasing manner, he well deserves the high regard and esteem in which he is held by his fellow citizens.

[Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, Vol 2, Publ. 1918. Transcribed by Joan Lottner]


George Grant, in whose character are united the qualities and forces which are recognized as dominant in the Scotch, was born in Ada, Kent County, Michigan, January 9, 1852. He is very close to the native hearth, inasmuch as his parents, James Grant and Isabelle Spence, were born, reared, and married in old Scotland, and several of the older children of the family were born before the emigration to America.

The voyage of the family across the Atlantic was attended with the dangers and delays incident to the shipping of the times, and difficult to appreciate in these days of mammoth ocean liners. They left Scotland in April, 1851, taking passage in a sailing vessel which, when two weeks out, encountered a terrific gale. They ran before it, but before it had passed a mast and rigging were carried away; and a heavy sea swept the captain overboard and he was lost. They were obliged to put back to port for repairs, which when completed, and the vessel was regarded as seaworthy, the voyage was resumed. But they met with adverse winds and were driven far north of the usual course. At length they landed at New York and travelled thence by rail to Buffalo. There they took passage in a lake boat, and, after a tedious voyage around the lakes by way of the Straits of Mackinac, landed at Grand Haven. This round-a-bout journey was rendered necessary by the want of any road across the country from Detroit to Kent County.

George Grant was the seventh in a family of nine children; and was bred on the old homestead in Ada Township, Kent County, where his father lived until his death. In boyhood he worked on the farm and attended the district schools in Winter. At the age of fifteen he was thrown upon his own resources, obliged to pay his way through school and to rely upon his own head to plan and his own hand to work. The following year he spent some time in the high school at Grand Rapids, and made sufficient advancement to be qualified for teaching. He taught two winter terms in the country schools, and then entered the State Normal School at Ypsilanti in 1871, where he remained two years.

In 1873-74 he held the position of principal of the Union Schools at Dansville. He then resigned and returned to the State Normal to pursue the classical course to its completion, and was graduated in June, 1876. In the fall of that year he became principal of the schools at Lamont, Michigan, and remained in charge six years. Having decided at this time to give up the profession of teaching for that of law, he tendered his resignation; and in September, 1882, he removed to East Saginaw and entered the law office of Wheeler and McKnight, as a student. Thus early in life he exhibited the perseverance, the inflexible purpose, the indomitable will and the granitic firmness which history accords to the hardy and sturdy Scotch.

In August, 1883, Mr. Grant was admitted to the Bar by the Circuit Court in Saginaw. He remained with the firm in a subordinate relation, but gaining experience and a thorough knowledge of the intricacies of the law, until January 1, 1887, when he was admitted to a partnership and the firm name was changed to Wheeler, McKnight and Grant. As thus constituted, the firm continued in practice until the death of Mr. Wheeler, in January, 1890, after which it became McKnight and Grant. The admission of Watts S. Humphrey to the partnership in January, 1891, made the firm name McKnight, Humphrey and Grant. This firm continued until October 23, 1893, when Mr. McKnight retired to accept the office of circuit judge. Since that time, covering a period of twenty-two years, the name of Humphrey and Grant has become well and favorably known throughout the State.

Mr. Grant was married July 9, 1878, to Miss Mary S. Fowler, who was, at the time, a teacher associated with him in the Almont schools. Mrs. Grant is American born, and before marriage was a resident of Ingham County. Three children have been born to them, one daughter and two sons. The former, Lettie Belle, a bright and promising girl, died January 9, 1896, in her sixteenth year. The elder son, George Grant, Jr., born August 8, 1881, graduated from Michigan University in 1903, taking his masters degree in 1904, married Kittie L. Stone, daughter of Farnam C. Stone, on April 6, 1910. Three children have been born to them, Mary Elizabeth, Katrina Stone, and Jean Ann. Robert Fowler Grant was born September 26, 1884, and died March 16, 1903.

In politics Mr. Grant is a Republican, but his preference for the profession of the law is so marked that he has had no inclination to seek or hold political office. Although he is deeply interested in civic affairs and everything that will promote the material and ethical advancement of the community, and once served as member of the Saginaw school board, he has never been a candidate for political preferment. He is a member of the Congregational Church, and has long been affiliated with the Masons. For two successive years he was High Priest of Saginaw Valley Chapter No. 31, and during that time, owing to his skillful management and executive tact, the chapter was more prosperous than in any other period in its history. He is also a member of St. Bernard Commandery, K. T., of Saginaw. At the time of the erection of the Masonic Temple his sympathy and activities were enlisted in the work, and for years was a member of the executive board.

Mr. Grant has been admitted to practice in all the State Courts of Michigan and in the Federal Courts sitting in this State. That he succeeded in making broad and liberal preparation, and so ordered his life as to attain distinction in his profession, are evidence of good natural abilities, discriminating judgment, and close application. Beginning without money or influential friends, he has made for himself a position at the Bar and in society which in itself is the best evidence of personal worth.
[Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, Vol 2, Publ. 1918. Transcribed by Joan Lottner]


No name has been more prominent in the history of Saginaw than that of Ezra Rust, who has done so much of the betterment of the city and the uplifting of his fellow men. He was born at Wells, Rutland County, Vermont, September 23, 1832, and came of a sturdy New England family of English ancestry.

In 1837 the family removed to Michigan and settled at Newport (now Marine City), on the St. Clair River, where Ezra spent his boyhood on his father’s farm and attended the district school as opportunity offered. At the age of fourteen he began working in his brother’s saw mill at Newport, and spent the seasons of 1846-47-48 in “jacking logs”, which consisted in raising loge by stream power from the river boom to the sawing table in the mill.

In 1849 he left the mill and began a six years’ career of steamboating as second engineer of the streamer Pacific of E. B. Ward’s line of lake steamers. The following year he was advanced to the position of chief engineer of the same vessel, which then plied between Chicago, Milwaukee and New Buffalo, Michigan, in connection with the Michigan Central Railroad, just completed across the State from Detroit. At this early day Chicago was a struggling town of twenty thousand inhabitants, while Milwaukee, its rival in trade, exceeded this population by about one thousand. During the season of 1854 he became chief engineer of the steamer E. K. Collins of the same line, which plied between Cleveland and Sault Ste. Marie. On October 8th, of that year this ill-fated steamer was burned at the mouth of the Detroit River, which catastrophe ended is steamboating experience.

Early in the spring of 1855 Mr. Rust returned to his former occupation in Newport, and entered into contract with his brothers to run their saw mill at the price of one dollar and a half per thousand feet. This work he continued until the fall of 1858, at which time they abandoned the business for want of stock. Ezra then went to Cuba as engineer of a large sugar plantation, where he remained about nine months and then returned to Michigan.

As early as 1850 the Rust Brothers had acquired valuable timber lands on the Tittabawassee River and its tributaries, as well as on the Grant and Muskegon Rivers, and in that year Ezra, while working on the steamboat, began sending his wages to them for investment in lands. Thus, little by little, by strict economy, temperate habits and the exercise of excellent judgment he laid the foundation of his fortunes. To these sterling qualities he added the highest integrity, and forged his way to a commanding position of trust and honor in the financial and commercial worlds of Michigan.

The timber resources of the St. Clair River having failed, the brothers began lumbering on the Pine River in Gratiot County, a tributary of the Tittabawassee, and operated a saw mill at Salina. Ezra Rust followed them to the valley in 1859 and formed a partnership with James Hay, under the name of Rust and Hay, which continued until the death of Mr. Hay, November 25, 1881. This firm conducted a successful lumbering business, and when the salt interest in the valley began to expand, about 1862, they erected salt works at South Saginaw.

In 1865 the firm of Rust, Eaton & Company was formed, with Mr. Rust as managing partner, which also carried on a large logging and saw mill business at Zilwaukee, later engaging extensively in the manufacture of salt, and conducting a profitable business until its dissolution in 1898. In 185 Mr. Rust formed a partnership with C. E. Wheeler in the purchase and sale of timber lands in Michigan and other states, also on the Pacific coast, which continued until Mr. Wheeler’s death in 1907. By the purchase of large tracts of timber land in Minnesota, he also became interested in the iron-ore deposits of the Mesaba Range.

Early in 1871, the firm of Rust & Hay, in connection with Butman & Rust, bought of James Watson and M. W. O’Brien the old mill at the foot of the Seventeenth Street in Bay City. This mill they remodeled and operated under the name of Hay, Butman & Company until 1885.

Mr. Rust was married November 25, 1856, to Miss Emma B. Mather, of St. Clair, who was born in Detroit, Michigan, April 12, 1839. Two daughters were born to them, but neither lived beyond infancy. Mrs. Rust died on May 9, 1913. A woman of strong personality, stately and attractive appearance, she always maintained a commanding position in the religious and social life of Saginaw. Proverbial for hospitality, generous and sympathetic by nature, she used her gifts of mind and heart to promote the well-being of the community.

In May, 1913, Mr. Rust adopted Maxine R. Sturtz, the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. C. C. Sturtz, of Ann Arbor, Michigan, and on April 28, 1914, married Estelle Sturtz, of Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Throughout his active and useful life Mr. Rust has lone none of his confidence in human nature, and his broad sympathies constantly find expression in acts of beneficence, though quietly performed without ostentation. In years to come the wisdom of his public benefactions will be more clearly manifested, and the benefits realized therefrom even more appreciated, than they are to-day. In no way is his desire for the betterment of the community more clearly exemplified that in his creation and improvement of Ezra Rust Park, his greatest gift to the city. Although much of the public playground remains to be improved according to the approved plans, this park, situated as it is in the heart of the city, is an enduring monument to Mr. Rust, car more substantial and representative of the man that chiseled stone or labored epitaph ever could be.

The plan of transforming the desert waste of the “middle ground” into a city park, to be to all the people a joy forever, had its inception in the mind of William S. Linton, whose civic patriotism knows no limitations. Through his earnest solicitation, while president of the Board of Trade, Mr. Rust was induced to contribute the funds for the purchase of the ground; and to the persistent energy and wise management of Mr. Linton is due to remarkable results achieved.

Combining a large, commanding figure, a full, kindly face from which radiated friendliness and good will, with a certain stateliness of manner modified by native grace, Mr. Rust is a man to attract attention in any group of his fellow-men. An atmosphere of warmth, light, geniality, and sunny humor surrounds him, possessing him with great personal charm. He is a man of extensive reading and large information, and, having a keen and retentive memory, is a fine conversationalist and a ready and polished speaker, strong, forceful and persuasive in manner and speech. Geniality and courtliness are his most prominent attributes of character, and on all occasions he is a gentleman of tact, courtesy and dignity.

[Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, Vol 2, Publ. 1918. Transcribed by Dana Kraft]


To write the annals of Saginaw entire for the past half century and especially during the last three decades, would be impossible without including therein the subject of this article.

No other man during this period of great progress has been more active in civic life or more earnest and successful in promoting what is the greatest and best in the Saginaw of today, and better yet, the result of his work must permanently be the pride of the city for many generations to come.

William Seelye Linton was born in Michigan February 4, 1856, on the banks of the charming St. Clair River, in the pretty village bearing its name. He is a direct descendant of John Linton, and upright conscientious man, with an interesting and remarkable history, who with his wife (Rebecca Relf) came to America with William Penn’s followers in 1692.

To show the unusual activity, work and achievement of a busy career the following is briefly presented as being certain incidents in the life of William S. Linton, and about some of which, did space permit, a volume might be written. His father, Aaron Linton, (see portrait page 502) a man of sterling character and great moral worth, located first at Saginaw, West Side, and later at the South Side, building one of the first four houses in that part of the city where a street and park bear his name. He was followed here by his wife (Sarah McDonald) accompanied by their two sons, William S. and Charles E., who arrived on the steamer Forest Queen, May 10, 1859. For considerably more than fifty years, therefore, with only a few short absences elsewhere, the subject of this sketch has been a loyal and enthusiastic Saginawian.

He, as a child, was at the city’s very beginning and has seen the primitive Indian, the wild deer and the black bear roam grounds where are today wide streets or pleasing home yards, and has witnessed flocks containing millions of now extinct wild pigeons, in all their beautiful sheen, swiftly flying over the area that has become a great and prosperous municipality.

Here he was educated in the public schools; at age fifteen years — 1871 — he commenced clerking in a general store at Farwell and soon after became manager of his father’s saw mill and lumber yard at the same place. For a time he was a member of a firm dealing in lumber at Jonesville, Hillsdale County, Michigan, and afterwards engaged as bookkeeper with prominent lumbermen in Saginaw; for two years prior to 1877 was occupied in the timber business during winters in the lumber woods and in the summer inspected and shipped lumber from saw mills along the Saginaw River. When twenty-one years of age he became superintendant of a large lumbering industry at Wells, Bay County, (now Alger, Arenac County), Michigan, and was for two terms a member of the Bay County Board of Supervisors.

On April 9, 1878, he was married to Ida M. Lowry, daughter of William H. Lowry, a veteran of the Civil War, with a most meritorious record in the Ninth Michigan Infantry, from 1861 to 1865, he retiring therefrom at the war’s close with the rank of first lieutenant. Mrs. Linton has also been active in good work, she having been organizer and first regent of Saginaw Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, and twice president of the Woman’s Hospital Association. Two sons and a daughter have been born to them — Raymond A., Laurence I., and Elsie S. The two former are graduates of the Michigan College of Mines and the latter of the University of Michigan.

In 1879 Mr. Linton engaged in the lumber and salt business; in 1883 was elected a member of the East Saginaw Common Council, serving two terms, at the end of which he was elected representative to the Michigan Legislature of 1887-88, two of his bills becoming important laws. One of them lead up to the consolidation of all the Saginaws into one city and the other established building and loan associations in Michigan. For three years he was president of the People’s Building and Loan Association of Saginaw County, the strongest financially and in membership at this time of any in the State; and during 1891 was president of the Michigan State League of Building and Loan Associations. For several years he has been commodore of the Saginaw Boat Club, and also president of the Tahquamenon Club, the best known hunting organization in the State, with a lodge near Lake Superior. This latter club is active in promoting the conservation of wild life, and through its membership was largely responsible for the law limiting hunters to one deer instead of two as formerly.

In 1890 he was the candidate for lieutenant-governor on the Republican State ticket; during 1890 and 1891 was twice unanimously elected chief executive officer of the Independent Order of Foresters. In the Masonic order he has held very prominent position, amongst them being worshipful master of his lodge; an officer in the Michigan Grand Lodge, F. & A. M, and illustrious potentate of Elf Khurafeh Temple, A. A. O. N. S. He has been president of the Saginaw Water Board; was for two years (1892-1894) the first Republican mayor of the consolidated City of Saginaw; and was elected to the Fifty-third and re-elected by a largely increased majority to the Fifty-fourth Congress, serving during Grover Cleveland’s second term as president, and at a time when Thomas B. Reed was speaker of the House of Representatives.

While in Congress, co-operating with United States Supervising Architect Aiken at Washington, he caused the unique and handsome plans for the Government Building ordered at Saginaw, to be executed and adopted, resulting in the fine architectural structure in which, at this writing, is located the Postoffice and other Federal offices.

He was the postmaster of Saginaw for sixteen consecutive years, (1898-1914) and was three times president of the Michigan State Association of Postmasters. During this period he traveled in Europe, Asia and Africa, bearing authority from Postmaster General Henry C. Payne to gather information for his department relative to the postal service of the different countries. In the State primaries of 1914 Mr. Linton received over thirty thousand votes for governor of Michigan, carrying amongst others Saginaw County by a large majority. He has the first mayor to preside at the present City Hall, the first postmaster to occupy the Federal Building and the first Board of Trade president to occupy the board’s present fine quarters in the Hotel Bancroft block. In this latter position he and his associates have been connected with and carried to a finish some of the best civic institutions that will always remain and are in the city’s pride today.

They have transformed dilapidated property, jungle and tangle, bog and mire, into useful fine scenic parks, places of recreation and enjoyment for all. Most prominent amongst them is the large centrally located Ezra Rust Park, named for Mr. Rust, its donor, a prince amongst men and one whose generous liberality and foresight will be recognized and appreciated by a grateful city for ages to come. For his activity and work connected in securing this park in its ample and fine area, Mr. Rust caused the pretty lake therein to be designated “Lake Linton,” (see Mr. Rust’s biography for reference hereto). The major portion of Hoyt Park was charged by Mr. Linton’s efforts and recommendations and reclaimed from a stagnant and abominable cess pool to a great playground and magnificent natural amphitheatre where many thousands may witness important celebrations, spirited contests and entrancing playfests on the green. During Mr. Linton’s time as president of the Board of Trade has also come to the city, Federal Park, which was instituted and planted by him, Jeffers Park and Fountain, given to Saginaw by his friend, Mr. John Jeffers; the city dock; Battery place; the connection of city streets by macadamizing with the main county roads; the State Street Bridge leading to the fertile farms beyond; the Natatorium provided by Mr. E. C. Mershon; the Auditorium made possible by the gifts of W. R. Burt and T. E. Dorr; the Armory Building and the dredging of a deep water channel through our entire city connected with the Great Lakes.

During the time the Merchants and Manufacturers Association with which he is actively connected was organized, with over two hundred thousand dollars subscribed, making possible great industrial advancement, and bringing to Saginaw many leading industries, employing much labor and adding greatly to the city’s prosperity.

During this remarkable period, too, with Mr. Linton as the executive head of the Board, an enourmous amount of planting throughout the city of ornamental treet, shrubs, vines and flowering plants has been accomplished, all growing much finer each year, so that, helped greatly by all these uplifting influences, Saginaw has been rapidly and substantially developed from a once retrograding lumber town to one of the most beautiful home and prosperous manufacturing cities in the entire United States. At Saginaw’s semi-centennial anniversary (1907), celebrating fifty years of progress, Mr. Linton was unanimously and properly chosen the general chairman of the entire magnificent affair, participated in as it was by governors, United States senators and the military forces of the State, receiving recognition even from the President of the United States in a telegram send Chairman Linton by President Theodore Roosevelt, warmly congratulating Saginaw and her people on the great and substantial civic advancements accomplished.

To the above narrated lines of work had Mr. Linton’s life been devoted with wonderful success, and to him and his associates are due appreciation and kind rememberance on the part of those who are to enjoy life in Saginaw even for centuries to come.

[Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, Vol 2, Publ. 1918. Transcribed by Dana Kraft]


Joseph W. Fordney, one of the most popular and esteemed residents of Saginaw County, was born on a farm in Blackford County, Indiana, November 5, 1853. His parents were John and Achsah Fordney, natives of Pennsylvania, who came to the Hoosier State in pioneer days, later to Michigan, and settled in Saginaw County in June, 1869. They lived to rear a family of ten children trained in practical affairs and enured to the hardy life of the farm. The mother died in 1870, and the father five years later.

Coming here when the call of the lumber harvest was heard through the West, young Joseph, then sixteen years of age, went into a logging camp and gave his youth and young manhood to a study of the woods, the pine land and standing timber. His training in the camps was long, tedious, and tiring at times, but very thorough. Afterward he followed logging operations for a time, then began to estimate the value of pine lands, and pursued the business of “cruiser”, or land looker, for some years. Strict application to his work, careful buying, a watchful studying of conditions and conservative business judgment, made his business career a success. Today he ranks as one of the best informed men of the country in this department of business affairs.

These active operations, however, did not prevent his taking an interest in civic and political affairs. At one time he was vice-president of the Saginaw Board of Trade, and in 1895 was elected a member of the city council. His activity in the municipal body and record of achievement brought to him in 1898 the Republican nomination for Congress, his election following. He has since been re-elected every two years and is now beginning his tenth term, or eighteenth consecutive year in Congress. He is the most popular and influential congressman in the Eighth Congressional District has ever elected to office, though in the list of his predecessors have been several brainy, able and honorable men, including Roswell G. Horr, Timothy E. Tarsney, Aaron T. Bliss and others.

The very elements of Mr. Fordney’s life command respect and admiration; his genial, whole-souled nature, kindness of heart, and public spirit demand the homage of the people. He enjoys the confidence and esteem of his fellow-citizens, the trust and respect of his colleagues, and the friendship of the nation. As a member of the most important committee of the house, that on ways and means, he devoted himself unceasingly during the session of 1910 to securing an appropriation of $686,000 and $100,000 more two years later for deepening and improving the Saginaw River, a work which was completed in the summer of 1914, giving a uniform depth of eighteen feet of water to the Bay. Throughout his career in Congress he has been particularly active in promoting those measure which will benefit the farmer and skilled mechanic, and improve their lot in life. At all times he has been a staunch defender of the protective tariff, and notably so in the congressional agitation of recent years for the repeal of the duty on sugar, in which he was the leader in the defense of the interests of the sugar-beet growers and the producers of beet sugar. Although not successful in preserving the tariff duty on sugar, against the powerful majority of a Democratic Congress, his great work in behalf of the agricultural interests of this State, as well as other beet growing States, has placed him on a high pinnacle of honor among men who believe in maintaining the highest interests of our country.

In 1873 Mr. Fordney we united in marriage with Miss Cathern Harren, who was born April 2, 1855, in Canada. Thirteen children have been born to them, of whom nine, Bregetta R., Josephine, Ernest W., Agnes C., Joseph J., Chester L., Mary C., Grace C., and Achsah Theodota, were reared to manhood and womanhood, the sons being engaged in lumbering, while three daughters have married, becoming the wives of Robert B. Tatham, Walter L. Stout and Thomas M. Jackson. For many years the family home has been at 1423 Gratiot Avenue, a most delightful location near the entrance to the beautiful park which was improved and presented to the city by Mr. Fordney, and which is a monument to his generousity and ideas of civic improvement.

[Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, Vol 2, Publ. 1918. Transcribed by Dana Kraft]


Of those men most prominently identified with the wholesale trade of Saginaw, none has done more to make this city a large jobbing center than William C. Phipps. Coming here thirty-four years ago, when lumber production approached it height, he witnessed its decline and at a critical time in the business of the valley he established the wholesale grocery house, which has since become one of the largest in this section. He was born in Newark, Licking County, Ohio, November 14, 1861, his parents being Jesse and Isabelle Phipps, who were natives of Venango County, Pennsylvania. He is of English-Irish descent, his grandparents on his father’s side having been born and reared in England, while those on his mother’s side were born in Dublin. Although the Phipps name is not a common one, there gathered several years ago in a family reunion at the old homestead in Pennsylvania, about two thousand members of the various branches of the family, in all walks of life, and representing almost every business, trade, and profession.

Jesse Phipps, the father of William C., settled at an early day at Newark, Ohio, where he engaged in farming, and in after years was a general merchant in the town. He died in 1879 and was buried in Newark. The mother, Mrs. Isabelle Phipps, removed to Saginaw in the latter part of 1898, and made her home with her son until her death in 1911.

William C. Phipps was reared in Newark, received his education in the public schools, and graduated from the High School in 1879. Though only eighteen years of age he had acquired a taste for literature, and at once secured a position as reporter on the Ohio State Sentinel, of Columbus, Ohio. Merchandising in those days, as now, offered greater inducements to ambitious youth than literature, and soon after he went to Indiana and found employment in a general store owned by five Quaker brothers. He derived much valuable experience and some amusement, too, in their employ which continued for about a year. In the summer of 1881 he came to East Saginaw and for three months was a clerk in the clothing store of “Little Jake” Seligman. In those days all stores kept open late into the night, and the close confinement of clerking did not promote his general health.

One day in November, when he was pale and apparently far from well, he was approached by William L. Ring who had been attracted by his manly bearing. Believing that the invigorating air of the pine woods would restore the young man’s health, Mr. Ring, with his proverbial kindness, through an entire stranger, invited him to go to his father’s logging camp on the Cedar River. This offer he gladly accepted, and upon arriving in camp was advised to keep out of doors a good portion of the day and to mingle freely with the lumber jacks. Though he had no regular duties he proceeded to make himself useful, and soon had systematized the keeping of the camp accounts and supplies so that he was given a regular salary. He stayed in the woods until the following April when he came down the river with the “drive,” and arrived in Saginaw with renewed strength and vigor.

During the winter he was closely associated with Eleazer J. Ring, the father of Willian L. Ring, of whon he formed a strong attachment. Several characteristics of Mr. Ring wer indelibly impressed upon his memory, and one in particular. His employer would often stop on the tote road, step to one side, make strange diagrams in the clean fresh snow, and proceed to demonstrate some difficult problems in geometry, which proceeding was not to the edification to his hearers. He recalls that Mr. Ring was a man of strong convictions, particularly on the question of temperance, and was self appointed guardian of young and innocent persons who came within his observation.

In the summer of 1882 Mr. Phipps entered the employ of the Wells-Stone Mercantile Company, which enjoyed a large wholesale trade in lumberman’s supplies. He rose rapidly with this company and eventually reached the highest position in their trust and confidence. In 1896, when the decline of the lumber business in Northern Michigan had reduced the volume of their business, he organized the corporation of Phipps, Penoyer & Company to take over the old business and to develop the wholesale grocery trade in this section of the State. Although the future of the valley looked dark and the times were hard, he believed in the future development of agriculture in the county surrounding Saginaw, and did not hesitate to extend and develop the territory beyond by sending his salesmen to remote points in the Thumb and in western and northern counties. Other enterprising men soon followed his lead and the competition thus created finally established this wholesale market as the natural point of distribution of grocery supplies to an extensive territory. This territory is now bounded on the east, north and west by lakes, and on the south and west it overlaps the trade of Detroit and Grand Rapids.

In 1893 Mr. Phipps was married in Saginaw to Miss Kate Richman, daughter of Captain Charles Richman one of the early pioneers of the valley. One son, Richman, was born to them in August, 1894, and is now approaching his majority. Mrs. Phipps died in September, 1898. She was a woman of rare attainments and charming personality, and was greatly beloved by a wide circle of friends.

Though of retiring disposition, so far as public life and service is concerned, Mr. Phipps was a kind, liberal, and approachable man, and was interested in every move which would promote the development and prosperity of the community. He was possessed of fine literary tastes, a studious mind, and was a reader of the best works of living authors, and was well informed on the current events of the day.

Mr. Phipps was again married in February, 1906, to Miss Anna Fair, of Saginaw, and one daughter, Margaret, was born to them, in 1907. He died after a long illness on February 27, 1915.

[Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, Vol 2, Publ. 1918. Transcribed by Dana Kraft]


Whoever serves his fellowmen to the relief of their physical ailments certainly ought to be held in grateful memory by succeeding generations. With a spirit of true helpfulness to the community lived an esteemed citizen, Jay Smith, the pioneer druggist of Saginaw County. He was born in Orleans County, New York, in 1823, and was the son of Elisha and Sophia Harding Smith. His boyhood was passed on the homestead farm, and he received his early education in the district school. When eighteen years of age he engaged as school teacher in the same county, a position he held for eleven years.

He came to Michigan as early as 1851 and located at Flint, but soon after proceeded to the embryo city on the Saginaw. The following year he bought the drug stock of D. Wesson, and established the first successful drug business in Saginaw Valley. The store was situated at the corner of Court and Water Streets in the center of the trading section of the town, all the business then being conducted on Water Street, for about three blocks each way from Court.

The frame building he occupied on the prominent corner soon proved inadequate to his needs, and with that enterprise which characterized his life Mr. Smith replaced it with a larger brick structure. Here he conducted his business for a number of years, but afterward the building was converted into a railroad station used by the Michigan Central until demolished in 1911. The old frame building was moved to the outskirts of the town, at the corner of Court and Oakley Streets, where it still stands.

In 1861 he was appointed postmaster of Saginaw City, an office he held for several years. By 1869 much of the business had shifted to Hamilton Street, and he erected just east of the First National Bank a brick store building which later formed a part of the Jerome Block. Business still moved westward on Court, and in 1874 he built the three-story brick block, which bears his name, at 413-415-417 Court Street. In the new building at 417 he moved his drug business, and soon after his son, Dr. Fletcher S. Smith, became associated with him under the name of Jay Smith & Son.

In October, 1852, he married Miss Susan W. Cochrane, of New York City. Seven children blessed their home, of whom, Jessie, wife of A. M. Marshall, died February 25, 1885; Dr. Fletcher S. Smith passed away April 19, 1914; and Charles S. Smith, former city attorney, died December 22, 1906. The mother died November 18, 1902. De Witt S., Wallis Craig, Miss Winnifred, of Saginaw and Jay Smith, Jr., of Portland, Oregon, still survive.

In 1894 Mr. Smith purchased a part of the Thomas Merrill farm, about five miles out on the Gratiot road, where he spent considerable time in summer. On May 20, 1895, a raw, cold day, he drove out to direct some of the spring work, became thoroughly chilled, suffered a relapse of an old hear affection, and before medical attention could be summoned he quietly expired.

The sense of loss sustained by the community in his sudden death, and the universal esteem in which his memory was held, found fitting expression when there gathered at his late home, on May 22nd, those who were impelled to pay the final tribute of respect that the living owe the dead. From stores, offices and banks, came leading citizens, and druggists in a body, to attend the services of consigning the remains of their fellow citizen to rest in Oakwood.

Jay Smith’s position in the community was that of a loyal citizen, and his public services rendered as a member of the first city council, as supervisor, and as a member of the school board for many years, were of the most valued order. The public school system, of which the West Side is justly proud, must always owe much to Mr. Smith; and in the government of the old city of Saginaw, his influence and counsels were equally potent.

[Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, Vol 2, Publ. 1918. Transcribed by Dana Kraft]


Doctor Fletcher S. Smith, for forty years a well known and popular pharmacist of the city, was born at Saginaw City, November 16, 1854. He was the eldest son of Jay and Susan W. Smith, natives of New York State, who came to this place in 1852 at a time when the lumber industry of the valley was rapidly expanding. The father established the first successful drug store in Saginaw County which, with his other enterprises, he continued until his death in 1895.

In his boyhood and early youth Fletcher attended the public schools of this city and afterward took a course at the Chicago School of Pharmacy, from which he graduated with honor in 1875. Upon his return to Saginaw he was admitted to partnership with his father in the drug business, under the firm name of Jay Smith & Son, which was then located at 417 Court Street. He was not content, however, to confine his activities to pharmacy alone, and, two years later, with a broadened scope of life work, he entered the medical school of the University of Michigan, from which he graduated in 1881. He began the practice of medicine at West Branch, in this State.

Returning to his home town and to his accustomed place in his father’s popular store, he took up the practice of medicine in which he was eminently fitted. In connection with his duties as pharmacist he acquired an enviable reputation in his profession as one who was always ready and willing to relieve the sufferings of all who came to him, both rich and poor alike, without thought of compensation or the commendation of his fellow men. It was a work of love and devotion to the highest ethics of his profession, rather than a means of attainment of the world’s riches. He was also a skilled surgeon and oculist. Throughout his active professional life he maintained close relations with his fellow practitioners, being an honored member of the Saginaw County Medical Society, the Michigan State Medical Association; and was a fellow of the American Medical Association and the Michigan State Pharmacy Association.

Fraternally, Mr. Smith was a Mason, being identified with Saginaw Valley Lodge, No. 154, F. &. A. M., and Joppa Chapter, No. 63. R. A. M., in the work of which he always evinced a deep and sincere interest. He attended the First Presbyterian Church on the West Side, and contributed generously to its charities. Though often importuned by his friends to accept public office, the duties of which he was eminently qualified to fill, he never consented to do so, but was content to serve his fellow-citizens at his place of business.

Mr. Smith was united in marriage, at Hampton, New York, with Miss Cora E. Dyer, who was a native of Vermont. Soon after they established a residence at 1015 South Michigan Avenue, which has been the family home for many years. Mr. Smith died Sunday evening, April 19, 1914; and was interred at Oakwood with Masonic rites, under the auspices of Saginaw Valley Lodge, No. 154, F. & A. M. Surviving him are Mrs. Smith and three brothers, Jay of Portland, Oregon, DeWitt S., and Wallis Craig Smith, of this city, and one sister, Miss Winifred, whose home is at 316 South Michigan Avenue. A brother, Charles S. Smith, who was a prominent member of the Saginaw County Bar Association, died December, 1906.

[Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, Vol 2, Publ. 1918. Transcribed by Dana Kraft]


Wallis Craig Smith, the youngest son of the late Jay Smith whose biography appears in the preceding pages, was born in Saginaw City on March 15, 1875. His boyhood was passed in this city, where he attended the public schools and graduated from the High School in 1894. He was very popular with his schoolmates, and took a leading part in the various student organizations, being president of his class three years.

He then began work in his father’s drug store, which was located in the Smith Block on Court Street; and in the Fall of the same year took a position as bookkeeper in the office of Oakland Vinegar & Pickle Company, at Highland Station, Michigan. In the Spring of 1895 he returned to Saginaw and became advertising manager of the Evening Journal, a daily paper published on the West Side, in which work he continued for more than a year.

The desire for a professional life, however, was strong within him, and in the Fall of 1896 he began a three year law course at the University of Michigan, graduating in the class of 1899 and being soon after admitted to the bar in this State. During his college life he was a member of the legal fraternity of Phi Delta Phi and was prominent in the social life of the University, especially in musical circles, being an active member of the University Glee Club.

Returning to his home city he associated himself for the practice of law with the late James H. Davitt, one of the best known lawyers in Saginaw. In 1900 he formed a law partnership with Russell B. Thayer, under the firm name of Smith & Thayer, which continued for two years.

Mr. Smith was united in marriage on June 29, 1901, with Miss Jean Wadhams Wells, who was born in this city on April 21, 1876. She is a daughter of the late Charles W. Wells who was one of the leading lumbermen of the Saginaw Valley. Following this important event in their lives, Mr. and Mrs. Smith spent a very enjoyable year in extensive travel in Europe and Egypt, and obtained numerous interesting and valuable mementos of their journeyings. To them have been born two daughters, Jean Craig, born April 9, 1906, and Martha Waite, born August 8, 1908. Their home is in the Wells homestead at 525 North Michigan Avenue.

Upon returning to Saginaw in 1902, Mr. Smith became interested in varied business enterprises, among which are the Marshall-Wells Hardware Company, of Duluth, of which id is a director. He is also interested in the Clyde Iron Works, of Duluth, of which Carl A. Luster, formerly of Saginaw, is president, and in the Zenith Furnace Company, also of Duluth.

In the following years Mr. Smith manifested his strong faith in his home city, and in its permanent prosperity, by investing heavily in industries calculated to advance its material interests. He was also actively identified with the operations of the Saginaw Valley Development Company, which in 1912-13 conducted extensive prospecting work in Saginaw Valley for oil and gas. Mr. Smith was president of that company, and participated actively in its management. The operations and outcome of this work are told in Volume 1, pages 503-506.

In 1911, with Frederic L. Eaton and Robert T. Holland, he formed a law firm known as Eaton, Holland & Smith, which continued until 1914, when it was dissolved. Since that time Mr. Smith has maintained offices in the Bearinger Building.

Mr. Smith has also spent much time and thought in the interests of public and semi-public enterprises, including the Saginaw Board of Trade, of which he served as a director for five years, and the Merchants and Manufacturers Association, of which he was a subscribing member. He is also a member of the West Side Business Men’s Association and a director of the Saginaw Band & Orchestra Association, and organization promoted for the purpose of securing the permanent establishment and aiding in the maintenance of a military band in Saginaw and to further the musical interests of the city.

In all his relations with his fellow men, of both a business and social nature, he displays the highest principles of honor and integrity. He possesses a brilliant mind, a keen intellect, a thorough knowledge of men and affairs, and a whole souled and genial nature which is greatly appreciated by his intimate friends. He is a member of the East Saginaw Club, the Saginaw Country Club, the Saginaw Canoe Club, the Bay City Country Club, the Bay City Boat Club and the Kitchi Gammi Club of Duluth.

Mr. Smith has also served as president of the Saginaw Rotary Club, the University of Michigan Alumni Association of Saginaw, and the Associated Charities. In his church affiliations, he was, as a high school student, a member of the Michigan Avenue Baptist Church, in the social and religious work of which he was very active. Later in life he became identified with the First Congregational Church of Saginaw, of which he is now a member.

In the summer of 1916, he attended the Plattsburg Military Training Camp, at Plattsburg, New York; and made a thorough study of military training methods, being a firm believer in universal military training and service as the most efficient and democratic provision for national defense.

[Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, Vol 2, Publ. 1918. Transcribed by Dana Kraft]


Doctor L. W. Bliss was born in Peterboro, Madison County, New York, July 12, 1835, and was the sixth child in a family of nine. His father was the late Lyman Bliss, and his ancestry is traced to the Pilgrim Fathers who came to these shores in the Mayflower. In the early ‘50s the opportunities for gaining an education were not what they are now, but Dr. Bliss overcame all obstacles and graduated from Hobart College, Geneva, New York, literary and medical departments at the age of twenty-two, and commenced practice with the late Dr. James H. Jerome, in Trumansburg, New York.

In 1861 he had secured a lucrative practice and was one of the professors in the Geneva Medical College, when he responded to his country’s call and when to the front as assistant surgeon of the Tenth New York Calvary in which his brother, the late Aaron T. Bliss was captain. He was soon transferred to the Fifty-first New York as brigade surgeon and acting medical director. In 1864 he was stricken with typhoid fever, but as soon as he recovered he entered the field hospital service at the close of the war and was in charge of the field hospital in Alexandria, and was mustered out of the service with the rank of Major on August 18, 1865.

He came to Saginaw in 1866 and at once took up the practice of medicine and surgery. Although his professional career overshadows everything else, he was identified at different times with several business enterprises. For more than twenty years the firm of A. T. Bliss & Brother was among the foremost lumber firms in the valley. He was also connected with James Stewart Company, and at different times was interested in other lines of business. His relations with his brother were of an unusual character, and were marked by a mutual affection rarely seen even in brothers approaching the age of seventy.

Doctor Bliss was married three times. His first wife and mother of his children was a daughter of the late Dr. Jerome. She died in this city on April 26, 1872. On September 18, 1877, he was united in marriage with Miss Harriet Granger Miller, who died October 3, 1887. On November 2, 1892, he was again married to Miss May Cummiskey, who survived him. Doctor Bliss died in a hospital in San Antonio, Texas, February 19, 1907.

As the first president of the State Medical Society and as one of its subsequent presidents, as an honorary member of the same society to which he was elected in 1904, as the first and only president of the Saginaw Valley Medical College, many of whose graduates today regard his memory with more than ordinary esteem, as the founder of Bliss Hospital, which did a general hospital work for several years, Doctor Bliss rendered valuable services to the medical profession. When it was recalled how many years he was recognized as one of the most prominent physicians and surgeons, not only of the city but of the State as well, one begins to appreciate the measure of success he must have realized when yet a young man, for he lived two years beyond the allotted span.

In this age, when nearly everything is measured by the money standard, when the first question seems to be, ”Does it pay?” it is refreshing to consider the success of a life whose coveted rewards were not in silver and gold. In the business world the ability and energy that Doctor Bliss showed in his profession might have amassed millions. Indeed, he was no small factor in some of Saginaw’s large business enterprises. In the political world he personal magnetism, his genuine kind-heartedness might have elevated him to almost any position in the gift of the people, but wealth and such honors would have been empty compared with what he gained in the hearts of the thousands that knew him as the kindest of men and a physician of skill.

[Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, Vol 2, Publ. 1918. Transcribed by Dana Kraft]


Eugene A. Snow, for more than thirty years a prominent member of the Saginaw County Bar, was born at Hanover, Jackson County, Michigan, March 13, 1852. His parents were Joseph and Jane Snow, natives of New England, who came to Michigan in the eighteen-forties and settled in Jackson County. Like other pioneers they cleared land and tilled the soil, thus aiding in the early development of the State. Their family consisted of six children.

Later they removed to Iowa and Eugene attended the public schools at Webster City. Upon completing his studies at the age of sixteen, he began teaching school, an occupation which he followed for fourteen years in Iowa, Kansas and Michigan. Late in the seventies he was superintendent of schools, and while attending to the duties of this position he studies law. He was admitted to the bar in the Supreme Court of Michigan, October 11, 1883, and began practice at Saginaw City, which he has continued to the present.

In 1892 Mr. Snow was elected prosecuting attorney of Saginaw County, and during his term in office in the panic days of 1894-95, hundreds of criminal cases were handled by him each term, and his records of convictions was never excelled in the State. He secured more convictions than any other prosecutor, and was noted for his vigorous and fearless conduct of criminal cases. He was also a member for several years of the board of estimates of the City of Saginaw.

Mr. Snow was married in 1874, his wife having been born at Hanover, Michigan, August 23, 1854. Two children were born to them, Earnest A. Snow and Mabel Snow. The latter was married to Jacob A. Huff of this city.

Fraternally, Mr. Snow is a member of Saginaw Lodge, No. 47, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks, and of Theseus Lodge, Knights of Pythias.

[Source: History of Saginaw County Michigan, Vol 2, Publ. 1918. Transcribed by Dana Kraft]


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