Saginaw County Michigan

History of Places in Saginaw County

Saginaw County History

Area History Articles Index

County HistorySaginaw City East & West Townships and Places  |  Salt Works  |  Lumbering  |  Coal  |  River Transportation  | Native American  |  Disasters


County of Saginaw

Saginaw Bay is a very large body of water, it being about 30 miles wide and 60 miles long, penetrating far into the lower peninsula of Michigan.  There are several islands near the center of the bay and along its eastern shore; while different kinds of fish are taken from its waters in large quantities.  Saginaw River, flowing into the head of the bay, is a large and navigable stream, draining a rich section of country. 

Lower Saginaw, near the mouth of the river, is a flourishing settlement, from whence a large amount of lumber is annually exported. 

Saginaw City, Saginaw Co., Mich., is handsomely situated on the left bank of the river, 23 miles above its mouth.  It contains a courthouse and jail, several churches, two hotels, 15 stores, two warehouses, and six steam sawmills.  Population about 4,000.  There is a fine section of country in the rear of Saginaw, much of which is heavily timbered; the soil produces grain in abundance, while the streams afford means of easy transportation to market.  Steamers run daily from Saginaw City to Detroit, during the season of navigation. 

East Saginaw, situated on the right bank of the river, about one mile below Saginaw City, is a new and flourishing place, also largely engaged in the lumber trade, where are located several extensive steam saw-mills and other manufacturing establishments. 

Note: Lower Saginaw later became Bay City later when Bay County was formed.   

A trip through the lakes of North America by Disturnell, John, 1801-1877 Published in New York, J. Disturnell, 1857
Description of Saginaw pg. 127

A new and complete statistical gazetteer of the United States of America, founded on and compiled from official federal and state returns, and the seventh national census. 

Saginaw County, Mich. Situate E. centrally, in the peninsula, and contains 1,048 sq. m.  Drained by the Saginaw, Shiawassee, Flint, Tittabawassee, and Cass River.  Surface level; soil a rich loam, of a sandy nature, on a substratum of clay.  In the E. and S. E., pine timber covers the land to a great extent, about one-third of the co. being forest.  Limestone and Gypsum are found on the bay, in the N. W. part.  The chief products are wheat, Indian corn, and potatoes.  Farms 72; manuf. 14; dwell. 473, and pop. – wh. 2, 609, fr. col. 0 – total 2,609.  Capitol Saginaw City.

Saginaw, t., p.v., and cap. Saginaw co., Mich.: 57 m. N. E. Lansing. Drained by the Saginaw and Tittibaswassee rivers.  The v. is located on the W. bank of the Saginaw r., on an elevation of 30 feet above water.  It is built on the site formerly occupied as a trading post, and during the late war as a military post.  It contains a court-house, jail, a printing-office, stores and warehouses of different kinds, saw-mills (moved by steam), and workshops of various descriptions.  Steamboats and sailing vessels are owned here, and employed on the river and bay.  It is at the termination of the Saginaw and Detroit turnpike, and as far as natural and artificial advantages are concerned, the location is favorable to become a place of importance.  The “Spirit of the Times” is a weekly issue.  Popl of t. in 1840, 837; in 1850, 917.

Page 79 Bridgeport, t. and p.v., Saginaw Co., Mich.: on the S. side of Cass r. of the Saginaw, 61 m. N. E. Lansing.

Page 278 Hampton, t. and p.o., Saginaw Co., Mich.: 64 m. N.E. Lansing.  It lies on the E. side of Saginaw r., near its entrance to Saginaw Bay. Pop. 546.

Page 563 North Hampton, t. and p.o. , Mich.: on the Shiawassee r. , 36 m. N.E, by N. Lansing.  Pop. 122

A new and complete statistical gazetteer of the United States of America, founded on and compiled from official federal and state returns, and the seventh national census. By Richard S. Fisher. Published Fisher, Richard Swainson. New York, J. H. Colton, 1853. Page 744

Back To Top

Michigan state gazetteer and business directory for 1863/1864, embracing historical and descriptive sketches of all the cities, towns and villages throughout the state.

Saginaw County is in the eastern middle part of the state, and is bounded on the north by Bay and Midland counties, on the east by Tuscola, on the south by Shiawasse and Genesee, and on the west by Gratiot and Midland, and contains nine hundred square miles. The surface is generally level, though in some parts it is considerably undulating. Besides several elongated knolls, there is a beautiful natural ridge road, several rods in width and extending nearly through the county, formerly covered with a fine growth of beech and maple. The soil is of a dark, sandy loam, generally varying from fourteen inches to two feet in depth, of rich alluvial formation, and covering a subata of blue and yellow clay, and almost entirely free from stones. Swamp lands and wet prairies are found in the northern part of the country. This country is divided by the Saginaw river, running nearly in a north-easterly direction. It is formed by the union of the Cass, from the east, the Flint and Shiawassee from the south, and the Tittabawassee from the north-west. Besides these there are several smaller streams, most of which are skirted with wet prairie. The country abounds with the variety of valuable timber, such as hickory, oak, beech, hard and soft maple, black walnut, bass wood, ash, and pine. The oak, in point of flexibility, toughness, and durability, is said to be excellency by none in the union, and is invaluable for ship building. The soil is well adapted to the raising of grass, grains and potatoes. Specimens of bituminous coal have been found along the banks of the Tittabawassee and Flint rivers, and gypsum has been discovered in considerable quantities, and also gray colored limestone, in the north-west part of the county. Saline springs are found in various localities. Those along the Saginaw river are found to produce an abundance of brine, and of a specific gravity of 1.165, that of Syracuse, in New York, being 1.142. The brine of Syracuse yields, on evaporation, eighteen and one-half per cent of dry saline matter; that of Saginaw, twenty per cent. It is found that forty gallons of Saginaw brine will yield bushel (56 lbs.) of salt, and this result is practically realized in the daily operation of the different works. The manufacture of salt, at various places along the Saginaw valley, has grown into a large business, and many thousand barrels are now annually exported, and preparations are in progress for the erection of many additional works. In August, 1862, there were fourteen different establishments in operation in the valley, with one thousand kettles, each kettle averaging about a barrel of salt per day.

The valley of the Saginaw is undoubtedly the heaviest lumber region in this country. In a 1846, but two cargoes of lumber are shipped from the valley. In 1861, over six hundred cargoes were shipped, carrying away about seventy-five million feet of pine lumber, exclusive of laths, staves, and shingles, of which latter articles an immense amount was shipped. There are at the present time, some fifty saw mills in the valley, capable of manufacturing from one hundred and thirty to one hundred and forty million feet of lumber per annum, the actual amount manufactured averaging ninety million. With low freights on the lake, the tendency of the lumber made in Saginaw county is to the eastern market; when the lake freights are high, the lumber is shipped to Chicago and Milwaukee, excepting the higher grades, which are sent to Albany and New England. There is, perhaps, no county in the state where there is less actual waste land than in Saginaw. Wherever it is cleared and properly cultivated, it proves to be of unsurpassed fertility. The proximity of the heavy timbered lands to a ready market for lumber, affords a rich reward for the toil and labor of clearing. The immense oak and pine timber finds a ready sale, while the less valuable varieties, when cut up for fuel, are needed by the salt manufacturers, who pay remunerating prices. The demand for this purpose alone is immense, and must increase until the country is stripped of its forests. These advantages are not overlooked by those who are in search of new homes in Michigan, and the consequence is that there is an active demand for lands for farming purposes. The land office for the Saginaw district is located at East Saginaw. The district extends from town 6 north to 28 north, and from 1 to 11 east, till it reaches 11 north, when it widens from 2 west to 11 east, embracing a territory 132 miles north and south, and 76 miles east and west, out of which is to be deducted Saginaw bay and that part of Lake Huron within the lines of the district. Twenty-three thousand acres were sold last year, of which about eighteen thousand were taken under the graduation act, for the purpose of homesteads and actual settlement, the average amount taken by individuals being eighty acres. Besides the lumber, salt, and agricultural products of Saginaw, there are other interests that add materially to the wealth of the county, such as manufactures, furs, fish, and ship building. The following is a list of the township in the county: Birch Run, Blumfield, Brady, Brant, Bridgeport, Buena Vista, Chesaning, East Saginaw, (city), Frankenmuth, Fremont, Kochville, Maple Grove, Saginaw City, Spaulding, St. Charles, Taymouth, Thomaston, Tittabawassee, and Zilwaukie. The whole number of inhabitants, in 1860, was 12,758, but large accessions have been since then, and it is now estimated that the county contains 16,000. In 1800, the whole number of farms was 564; acres improved, 17,9224; acres unimproved, 40,868. The total of wheat produced was 31,789 bushels; rye, 13,258; Indian corn, 57,244; oats, 42,027; potatoes, 42,306; wool, 3,6822 lbs.; butter, 113,365; maple sugar, 8,864. There were three steam flouring mills, with a capital invested of $43,000, producing annually 12,500 barrels of flour; twenty-three saw mills, with a capital of $559,000, manufacturing 66,100,000 feet of lumber. (These were the figures given in the statistics of 1860, since which time many mills have been added to the number.) Aggregate capital invested in all kinds of manufactures, mills included, $663,500. Value of annual products in 1860, $750,120. Of 4,233 children between the ages five and twenty, 2,828 regularly attend school; amount of money raised by rate bill, $358,02; amount raised by two mill tax, $4,164.49; total amount of district taxes, $7,726.94; number of qualified male teachers, twenty-six; female teachers, seventy-four.

Saginaw was known as an Indian trading post as early as in 1815, Louis Campau being then engaged there as an Indian trader. Subsequently other individuals engaged in bartering with the Indians for their furs and pelts, giving in exchange blankets, whisky, beads, etc. In September, 1820, a treaty was concluded with the Chippewas, by which they ceded all that portion of country, the southern boundary line of which passed through Oakland county, running north-east to Lake Huron and west into Livingston county, then north to the head waters of Thunder Bay river. Saginaw county was included in the district thus ceded. In 1822, two companies of United States soldiers were stationed where Saginaw City now stands, for the purpose of protecting the fur trade and watching the movements of the Indians. The troops were afterwards withdrawn on account of the supposed unhealthfulness of the climate. In 1824 the American Fur Company established a trading post there, and, three years thereafter, Gardner D. Williams established himself there as an Indian trader. The families of Louis Campau, John B. Cushway, and Mr. Williams, being the only white residents of the county. It was not until 1836 that Saginaw City began to attract the attention of adventurers, and since then it has grown gradually, and has for many years been the county seat. The first settlement on the east side of the Saginaw river was made on the 4th day of July, 1847, by Curtis Emerson, Esq., and company. In the spring of 1848, the settlement was organized under the name of Buena Vista. In 1855, it was incorporated as the village of East Saginaw, and on the 15th of February 1859, it was chartered as a city. With the development of the lumber interest, the county began to settle, and villages sprung up along the valley. But the future growth and wealth of the county will depend chiefly upon the salt manufactures. With an inexhaustible supply of the best brine in the world, and every facility for manufacturing salt cheaply, and conveying it to market, large towns can scarcely fail to spring up, demanding the products of an extensive and thickly settled agricultural district.

The Saginaw River is of sufficient depth for steamboat navigation throughout its whole length. The Flint and Pere and Marquette Railroad is nearly completed from Saginaw to Flint, a distance of thirty-two miles.

Back To Top

Place Names Past & Present

Agnew Albee Alicia Arthurs Birch Run
Blackmar Blumfield Blumfield Corners Blumfield Junction Brady
Brady Center Brant Bridgeport Burt Buena Vista
Canoe Camps Carrollton Cass Bend Cass Bridge Chapin
Chesaning Clausedale Crow Island County Line Dall
Deer Lick Dice Doyle Drissels  East Saginaw
Eastwood Eaton Elk Faymouth Fenmore
Fergus Florence Fordney Fosters Frankenmuth
Frankentrost Freeland Fremont Frost Galloway
Garfield Gera Greene Groveton Hampton
Hoyt Indian Town Iva Jay James
Jimtown Jonesfield Kochville Kulmbach Lakefield
Lawndale Layton Corners Loretta Lower Saginaw Luce
Manning Maple Grove Marion Marion Springs McClure's
McDonagh McDonough Melbourne Merrill Mickleville
Middle Franken Morseville Nelson Northampton Oakley
Ohman Orr Orville Paines Painesville
Parshallburg Phillips Pitcairn Porters Prairie Farms
Racy Randall Richland Roosevelt Saginaw
Saginaw City Saginaw Mines Salina Saint Charles Sand Ridge
Shattuckville Shields South Saginaw Spaulding Swan Creek
Taymouth Thomas Thomaston Thomastown Tittabawassee
Trostville Verne West Mill Zilwaukee

  Back To Top

Click here to go back

  Saginaw Site Index


This server space is provided by Michigan Family History Network genealogical server space.
Copyright © 2004-2013 all rights reserved of html coding and graphics by .  Volunteers hold copyright to the material they have donated for this site.  Not to be copied and used in any format to any other site or in any other media.