Village of Bancroft

Bancroft, MI (Grand Trunk Depot) (1909) - Contributed by Paul Petosky


Bancroft, MI (Grand Trunk Depot) (1916) - Contributed by Paul Petosky

The land upon which the village of Bancroft stands was originally owned by N. G. Phillips and W. M. Warren and the plat was recorded May 8, 1877. The Hemenway addition to the village, a plat of about ten acres lying south of the railroad and west of the original plat, was surveyed in March, 1878.

The building of the Chicago & Lake Huron Railway, now known as the Grand Trunk, in 1877, induced N. S. VanTuyl to establish a lumbering business here, and he erected a frame dwelling, the first on the plat except perhaps two or three log huts. A Railroad station was established at Bancroft and H.M. Billings acted as agent and later became postmaster. Others were attracted to the spot and erected homes and business places. Mr. Phillips, in 1878, constructing a spacious and well appointed hotel, which has ever since ranked well as a hostelry. A saw mill, two planing mills and later a flouring mill were erected and Bancroft became the center of considerable business life and activity. A good sized school house was built in 1879.

It was in the spring of 1883 that the first election of officers under the corporate laws was held.  W. E. Watson and the late F. M. Douglas constituted the first board of registration and L. C. Shelley, deceased, was the first president. He had associated with him in the first council the late S. J. Gurney, as clerk, I. L. Roberts, Dr. Fox, Thomas Copeland (who have long since gone to their rewards), G. H. Fellows, C. P. Devereaux, and T. S. Stanley, trustees.   T. S. Stanley is now a citizen of Morrice. At that time there was a strife between H. F. Hemenway, who owned the property west of Shiawassee street and N. G. Phillips, deceased, who owned the eastern part.

Bancroft has suffered severely from numerous fires and part of the last burned district has never arisen from the ashes. The village enjoyed a steady, healthy  growth and at the time of the construction of the Ann Arbor Railroad Bancroft lost the junction point by being too sure that the air line from Byron to Owosso would ultimately bring the road here, and the town would not grant such concessions as the railroad company needed.  However, being situated on a good road and in the heart of a good, productive farming community, it has steady advanced. There are twenty-three business places, two hotels, a furniture factory, screen factory, and planing mill, grist mill, saw mill, elevator and a foundry.

Coal beds are believed to lie under the surface of the marsh just west of town and a local company is now having a thorough test made. A large area of peat land has been purchased by the Bancroft Peat Fuel Company and a large plant has been erected. They also own much of the marl beds south of the village and expect to erect a cement plant soon.

Three churches are maintained, - Methodist Episcopal, Congregational and Adventist.  Bancroft is called the lodge town and maintains organizations of the Masonic order, Knights of Pythias, Odd Fellows, Star, Modern Maccabees, Lady Modern Maccabees, Maccabees of the World, Woodmen, Neighbors and numerous insurance societies, besides Roberts Post Grand Army of the Republic.

A contract with a Saginaw electric company has just been signed to furnish the village with street and private lighting. Part of the Phillips farm has been platted and a number of modern dwellings will be erected there in the near future.

Bancroft is situated but a few miles from the old Shiawassee Exchange, and also from the site of the Knaggs' Bridge settlement.  It is a progressive little village and its citizens are most kind, hospitable and enterprising. The census of 1900 gives the village six hundred and fifty population and since that time there has been considerable increase.  The present officers of the village are: President, Edwin T. Sherman; clerk, W. L. Wright; treasurer, Joseph Garnett;  assessor, J. Harvey Hutchings; trustees, Otto Burrire, John A. Watson, Henry P. Shane, George Haun.

The Bancroft Commercial, edited by W. L. Wright, very ably reflects the commercial and social life in its weekly issues.


Source: Past and present of Shiawassee County, Michigan, historically: together with biographical sketches of many of its leading and prominent citizens and illustrious dead.  Lansing, Michigan: Mich. Historical Publishing Association, [1906] pp. 159-160.





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