Saginaw County Michigan

Saginaw City

Saginaw County History

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


Saginaw City History 1863-1864

A flourishing post city of Saginaw county, situated on the west side of the Saginaw river, 22 miles from its mouth, 17 above Bay City, fare .50 cents, and two miles above East Saginaw, fare .05 cents. The steamers "Forest Queen" and "Huron" form a semiweekly line between this place and Detroit during the season of navigation; distance, 300 miles; fare, $8 50. Messrs. Jenks & Jenette's line of stages also connect the place with Detroit, via Holly, thence by Detroit and Milwaukee railroad, distance, 100 miles; fare $3 50. The steamer "Little Nell" makes daily trips to St. Charles, 16 miles above, on the Bad river, fare 50 cents; and the steamer "Belle Seymour" runs every other day to Midland City, on the Tittabawassee river, 20 miles above, fare 75 cents. The steamer "Ariel" runs twice every day to Bay City, and several small steamers keep up a regular "fifteen minute omnibus line" with the rival city of East Saginaw. The proposed "Amboy, Lansing and Traverse Bay railroad," will pass through this place. The city is beautifully located on a high and healthy plateau, commanding a fine view of the river, and enjoying facilities for drainage not possessed by the other cities of the valley. The land on which the city now stands was located by C. Little, Esq., in 1822. General Cass concluded a treaty with the Indians here in 1819, which recurred to the government an immense tract of the surrounding territory. A military post was for years established here, for the purpose of protecting the fur trade, which was, and is still, a very lucrative source of income to the people of the city. The fort was a log structure, situated on the highest point of land in the place, and surrounded by a palisade of sharpened logs or pickets. Some of these pickets, together with two or three block houses which helped form the barracks, were standing as late as 1850, and even now may be seen two old trading houses, whose dark, time-stained walls and roof, carry the mind of the beholder far back into other years. For many years after the first white settlers located here, the only means of communication with the great world outside (for Saginaw was then considered almost "out of humanity's reach,") were those afforded by the rivers, which were at some seasons of the year, particularly Flint river, navigable a portion of the way for flat boats, and an Indian trail, leading from near Green Point, two miles above the city, too Detroit, upon which the Indians took their march annually to Malden, to receive their presents from the British government. Notwithstanding the great had serious inconveniences that attended a removal hither, emigration began gradually to come in, and after a little quite a colony was formed.

During the year 1830, Judge Davenport removed with his family from Flint, (although at that time there were but two family residing there), to Saginaw. Packing his family and effects into one or two flat boats, he proceeded with them down the river every few miles he would find his progress impeded by flood-wood, which, owing to the narrowness of the stream, completely filled it up, and compelled him to hitch his oxen, with which he was fortunately provided, to the flat boats, and draw them over the land to where the river was clear again, and launch them. For seven long, tedious day did he pursue his route before reaching Saginaw, each day being fraught with difficulties that required no ordinary degree of perseverance and hardihood to surmount.

During the year 1836, the "plant of Saginaw city" was much enlarged, being regularly laid out and the streets named. A map of the "city" was also drawn and engraved and circulated through the Union. Operations were carried on here on an extensive scale, under the management of Hon. Norman Little, who was then acting for a New York company. Several docks, warehouses and dwellings, together with a large and beautiful hotel, known as the "Webster House," were erected and large sums of money were invested in other operations. At this time the population was about 900. Two steamers plied regularly between this place and Detroit, and everything gave promise of a brilliant future. But the terrible financial crash that followed the year '86, and which produced such a fearful reaction throughout the length and breadth of the land, frustrated the plans of the company, and left everything in statue que.

The mail was carried from Saginaw to Flint once a week on horseback, as late as the year 1849, although in the winter season it would sometimes be brought through in a sleigh, in order that passengers might occasionally be accommodated. About the years 1849-50, the tide of emigration began to turn northward, as this portion of the State was considered, and prospects assumed a more favorable complexion. The "city" began to flourish, and business, which had lain dormant so long, renewed its age, and increased. City lots were in constant demand, and everything began to assume an appearance akin to a fida city. Steamboats avid vessels made their appearance at our docks, and again was heard the sound of the hammer and the saw. The forest around the city began to melt away, and lands that had previously been chopped off were now cleared up, fenced in, and dwellings or place of business erected upon them. The fine farming lands in the vicinity of the city were fast being located and settled upon, and it become evident that he world was at last awakening to a realizing sense of the growing importance of our young country.

The city now contains many beautiful buildings, several extensive warehouses, docks, etc. Nothing, certainly, can exceed the beauty and loveliness of its locality, especially during the spring and summer months, when everything in nature is in bloom. The streets, which are regularly laid out, are, in many parts of the city, well shaded with locust and maple trees, and the residences of many of the citizens evince great taste and refinement. The city extends along the river about two miles, and the stranger, in approaching it, is struck with its commanding and picturesque appearance.

Since the commencement of the salt manufacture the city has taken an onward stride, and its friends predict for it a brilliant future. As an evidence of the amount of business carried on, we will enumerate a few of the manufactories now in operation, though such is the rapid increase of improvements in this scale region, that we know that by the time our description is read it will fail to convey a proper idea of the immense business carried on within the limits of the town. Near the upper limits of the city is the "Saginaw City Salt Works," having two blocks of kettles and manufacturing 100 barrels of salt per day, with a force of 12 men. Next comes and establishment of the same capacity, called the "Forest Valley Salt Works," owned by W. D. Leavitt & Co., and near this another manufactory, of the same size, owned by Briggs & Paine. Next comes an immense shingle mill of William H. Tuttle, and near this Jerome & Taylor's steam saw mill, capable of turning out 5,000,000 feet of lumber per year, William & Brothers, capable of cutting 3,000,000 feet, and further down, Millard, Paine & Wright's saw mill, the largest in the world, being fitted with gang saws capable of turning out, ready for market, the immense amount of 10,000,000 feet of lumber in a single season. Waterman & Harrington, and Blanchard & Sons, have large stave factories, and N. R. Ramsey has an extensive sash door and blind shop. There is, also, a steam flouring mill, having two run of store, owned by E. R. Shimmons. All these manufactories are on Water street, within a distance of one mile. The city also contains six churches, one weekly newspaper, one private banking house, three hotels, and about fifty stores. The description that is given of the advantages of the sister city of East Saginaw, is mainly applicable also to Saginaw City, of the two, the latter has the best location, though at present not equal to her younger sister in enterprise and capital.

"In the boring of the wells at Saginaw City, and throughout the valley, steam power is always used, and the tools and details of the process are similar to those employed in Ohio and Virginia. The boring is generally done by contract. The price per foot two years ago was $3; at the present time it is $2, and I see no reason why the price should not be reduced to $1 50 per foot for wells not over 900 feet deep, since the engine the only costly part of a well bore's outfit, is furnished by the employer. The well is bored of an enlarged diameter, and tubed as far as the "bed rock." Beyond this, a diameter of 31/2 to 5 inches is the usual capacity. On the completion of the boring to the requisite depth the hole is tubed with iron to some point below the place of influx of fresh water. This s generally the carboniferous limestone; and here some sort of packing is introduced around the tube for the purpose of shutting off communication between the inside and outside of the tube. The strong brine rises to within five to ten feet of the surface, and sometimes overflows, in one instance, rising in a tube as high as seventeen feet. In all cases, however, a pump is introduced into the well for the purpose of securing an adequate supply.

The water is pumped at an expense of about three cents per barrel of salt, into vats of cisterns elevated about five feet, and having generally a capacity of 20x30 feet, and six feet deep, holding consequently about 26,000 wine gallons each. Two of these vats are requisite for each block. In the cisterns, the water is allowed five or six days to settle, that is for the iron to be precipitated, a process which is generally facilitated by sprinkling in the brine a small quality of strong limewater.

The kettles are arranged in two close parallel rows, and supported by walls of brick and stone, forming an arch with a longitudinal partition, or more properly two arches, in the mouths of which the fires are built. A chimney, from 50 to 100 feet high, rises at the back extremity of the arches and thus the heat is made to pass under each kettle of the double series. The arches are enclosed in a house 120 feet by 40, or thereabouts, with a shed running the whole length of each side, divided into large bins for the reception of the salt. At the Bay City works the bins occupy a separate building, into which the salt is wheeled and emptied. This arrangement permits an opening to run the whole length of the block on each side, for the admission of air to drive the steam from over the kettles.

After settling, the brine is conveyed into the boiling house in logs, which run along the arch above the kettles, resting on the middle wall, which separates them; and from these logs supplies are drawn as needed, into the kettles.

It may be of interest to note that kettles are now manufactured at Bay City, by a firm recently from Chatham, Canada West.

The fuel employed is generally a mixture of hard and soft kinds, for prices varying from $1.31 to 1.50 per cord. Hard wood, consisting of maple, beech, hickory, iron-wood and birch, is exclusively employed at the East Saginaw works, and costs, delivered, $1.75 per cord. One block, including the engine, consumes about six cords of hard wood, or six and a half cords of mixed wood, in twenty-four hours.

The brine of course, evaporates much the most rapidly in the front kettles, immediately over the fire. These have to be filled once in three to five hours, and the back ones once in fifteen to twenty-four hours. Settling pans are introduced into kettles just filled, for the purpose of receiving any impurities precipitated by the application of heat. Occasionally milk, blood, or some other animal substance is employed to promote the clearing of the brine. Generally, also, some skimming is needed; and the more when the brine is purified in the manner just mentioned. The contents of the kettles are reduced by boiling to one-fourth or one-fifth the original quantity, when the salt, crystallized and fallen to the bottom, is transferred to baskets supported over the kettles, where it s allowed to drain.

The baskets at first used were of the Syracuse pattern; but these being found too small, a new style, patented by a Michigan man, and of larger size, is now generally employed. These cost forty cents each.

The baskets of salts, when moderately drained, are emptied into the bins, where the salt lies fourteen days to complete the drainage.

In the meantime, the kettle is replenished with brine, and the same process is repeated. After a kettle has been boiled down two, three or more times, the accumulation of bitterns needs to be thrown out. Some prefer to do this after every kettle full. The bitterns are thrown into a conduit which runs at a convenient distance, and are thus carried out of the block.

The work is thus prosecuted day and night for the period of two to five weeks-- the boilers and firemen succeeding each other in relays every twelve hours. At the end of this time the rapid evaporation and great heat of the front kettles has caused an incrustation to be formed upon the bottom from one to two inches in thickness. This must be removed, or it acts as false bottom, permitting an interval to form between it and the kettle, thus rendering the bottom of the kettle liable to be melted out. In the Syracuse works this crust contains so much gypsum as not to be readily soluble, and is picked out with iron tools, to the great danger of the kettles. In the Saginaw works the curst is almost pure salt, and is at one-bosomed and removed by the simple introduction of fresh water, which is obtained from a second set of logs introduced for the purpose. The fires are permitted to go down on Saturday night. During Sunday the arches cool. On Monday any needed repairs are attended to, and on Monday night the fires are rekindled.

The amount of salt produced in twenty-four hours from a block of a given number of kettles varies with the strength of the brine, the state of the atmosphere, the quality of the fuel, and the attention of the fireman. At Portsmouth, in good summer weather, 40 barrels are made per day from 50 kettles.

The packing of the salt is done for three cents a barrel. The barrels used cost from twenty-four to twenty-six cents, the price varying with the quality. Elm barrels with the heads are generally employed; but at some of the works pine is used exclusively, these barrels are manufactured in stave and barrel factories opening in the vicinity, and are admitted to be a superior article for salt packing. No objection exists against elm slaves, provided they are cut narrow; otherwise they are somewhat liable to warp, on exposure to the weather, and might in some cases endanger the package. The tidy appearance of the packages of Saginaw salt has everywhere recommended it to notice.

The solar manufacturer is yet in its inception. The East Saginaw Company, have 20 solar vats in operation; and the prospect of success in this method of manufacturers are so great that 500 additional vats and covers have been constructed, making a total outlay in the course salt manufacture of $8,500. Five hundred barrels have been produced.

In the process of boiling in kettles, two fireman and two boilers are required for each block, the firemen relieving each other at intervals of twelve hours, as also the boilers. At some of the works it is contemplation to let the boiling, which can be done for ten cents a barrel line, the company furnishing the fuel. This method, while it would increase the quantity of salt produced, might somewhat endanger its excellence. Under the present arrangements, boilers are paid $1.76 per day, and firemen $1. The wages of an engineer are $1.50 per day, and of common hands $1.

The total amount of fine salt manufactured in Saginaw Valley up to the 1st of July of the current year, was nearly one hundred thousand barrels.

The appearance of a pile of Saginaw salt is that of driven snow glistening in the morning sun. The grain is coarse, clean and angular; the taste purely saline and unexceptionable, and the weight is 581/2 lbs. to the measured bushel. Letters and documents are in the hands of manufacturers proving that the acceptance of Saginaw salt is such that the market is literally clamorous for an adequate supply. It would occupy too much space to make any citations. The Mechanics' Institute of Chicago, the New York State Agricultural Society, l (at Elmira), and the Mechanics' Association of Utica have severally awarded the salt of the East Saginaw Company their highest testimonials."

Mayor--John Moore
Recorder--Daniel L. C. Eaton
Treasurer--Jerome H. Goatee
Marshal--Thomas Kennedy
Attorney--John H Sutherland
Chief Engineer--A. S. Gaylord
Aldermen--1st ward. Augustus S. Gaylord, Coe Garratt; 2d ward, Dr. John B. White, Richard Khuen; 3d ward, George F. Williams, William H. Taylor

Presbyterian Church--Court street; Rev. David H. Taylor, pastor
Methodist Church--Washington Street; Rev. Raynor S. Pardington, pastor
St. John's Church-- (Episcopal), Washington street; Rev. O. E. Fuller, rector
Dutch Reformed Church--Ames Street; Rev. Christian Elberhart, pastor
Roman Catholic Church--Washington Street; Rev. Father Cunic, pastor
Baptist Church-- (In Methodist church); Rev. John C Goodman, pastor

Director--William H. Sweet
Trustees--J. G. Sutherland Hiram L. Miller, Jay Smith, William Moll
Union School--Court Street; A. L. Bingham, principal; Mrs. Prentice and Mrs. Johnson, assistant teachers

Saginaw Lodge, No. 42, I, O of O, F. --Meets every Tuesday evening, in Odd Fellow's Hall, corner of Cass and Water streets
Germania Lodge, No. 79, F. & A. M. --(German and English), meets Saturday on or before each full moon, at Masonic Hall, corner of Cuss and Water streets
German Turner's Society--Meets on corner of Bond and Adams streets
Saginaw City Brass Band--Jacob Bauer, leader Lutheran Church-- (German), Washington street; Rev. Martin Gunthie, pastor

List of Professions, Trades, etc.
Abel Nelson, proprietor House, Water
Andre Peter C, general store, Water 
Binder William, general store, Water 
Birney Dion, physician, Water 
Blanchard D H & Co, (D H & A R Blanchard), stave factory, Water
Bower Peter, general store, Water 
Bradley Eaton & Co, (A F R Bradley, D L C Eaton, Danly D Sprague and William McKenna), salt works, Water 
Briggs Philander, washing machines, Water
Briggs & Paine, salt works 
Burrows George L, banker, Water 
Cole Daniel, saloon, Water 
Crouse Theodore, physician, Water 
Davis G W, harness maker, Water 
Dowling John, groceries and provisions, Water 
Eaton D L C, insurance agent, Water
Eib Philip G, boots and shoes, Water
Epting & Eaton, (Emil Epting and A O T Eaton), druggist, Water 
Fish Francis, blacksmith, Water 
Forest Valley Salt Company, W D Leavitt & Co, office Water
Franck Lena Mrs. milliner, Franklin 
Franck Louis, physician 
Gaenspauer J, boots and shoes, Water
Gale J M, produce and commission, Water 
Ganschow A, stoves and tinware, Water
Gaylord Augustus S, lawyer 
Harrington Waterman, stave factory, Water 
Hawker William, gun maker, Water 
Herrig Barnard, groceries and provisions, Water 
Hollister John, blacksmith, Water 
Hughes Abraham, blacksmith, Water 
Hughes David, wagon maker, Water 
Jerome D H & Co, (D H Jerome and James G Terrey), general store, forwarding and commission, and steamboat and express agents, Water 
Jerome Mortimer I, saloon, Water
Jungerheld Henry, saloon, Water 
Kohl Christopher, baker, Water 
Krogman Peter, boots and shoes, Water 
Kuhl & Wieder, (Conrad Kuhl and Charles Wieder), boots and shoes, Water 
Lacy A D, watches, jewelry and ambrotypes, Water 
Leasia Francis A, groceries, Water 
Lee N D, physician, Water 
Little C D, lawyer 
McRath William, boots and shoes, Water 
Martin & Burdick, & (J E Martin and D D Burdick), meat marker, Water 
Mitchell Dexter F, physician, druggist, books and stationery, Water 
Moore John, lawyer, Water 
Moores Otto H G, groceries and provisons, Water 
Nero J B, saloon, Water 
Newell E C, books and stationery, Water 
O'Neil Ellen Mrs millinery, Water 
Paine A H, livery, Water 
Paine, Wright & Co, (V A Paine and A W Wright) saw mill, Water
Parsons & Brother, (A A and Isaac Jr.), land and tax agents, Water 
Perkins--, wheelwright, Water 
Ramsey N R, sashes and blinds, Water 
Petter Andrew, butcher, Water 
Richard Frederick, proprietor Exchange Hotel, Water 
Richardson J W, harness maker, Water 
Riese Emil, tailor, Water 
Scheurman Emil, cigars and tobacco, Water 
Schneider August, tailor, Water 
Schoerner G T, general store, Water
Shimmons E R, flour mill, Water
Simmions Frederick saloon and billiards
Simmons William G & Co, boots and shoes 
Smith Jay, druggist, Water
Smyth William E, watches and jewelry, Franklin
Snyder John, boots and shoes, Water
Stevens M C, proprietor Webster House
Sutherland & Miller, lawyers, Water
Sweet W H, lawyer
Taylor & Jerome, lumber manufacturers, Water
Trommer John, hats and caps, Water
Tuttle William H, shingle mill, Water
White John B, physician, Water
Williams George, lumber manufacturer, Water 
Wynn W G, (col'd), barber, Water

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

See Also: 
1860 Gazetteer Listings at CMU Clark Library site  Page 281   Page 282   Page 283   Page 284


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