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Publishing History of Bay County
By Marvin Kusmierz (November 2002)

Bay City Times employees early 1900s

Perhaps the single most important source of written history are newspapers. Each day they present an account of the news and stories of life during their times. The volumes of data that they put out certainly makes them a valuable resource for doing research on many subjects. Hardly a history book is written that doesn't use source materials derived from old newspapers, either directly or from books containing contents orginally taken from newspapers.

The Bay City Times

The present Bay City Times newspaper has been very good at publishing local news that future historians will undoubtly appreciate. In addition, they periodically feature articles on our history as a community, and are to be complimented for their attention in reminding of a wonderful history that is ours.

We rely heavily on old newspaper accounts for creating history pages on Bay-Journal, and in many cases, we publish the full article for viewers to read the news as it was written at that time. This was the case for in the History section covering the early general history of Bay County regarding the pioneer period. This content was published in the "Bay City Observer" as a reprint of a paper written by Gen. Benjamin Partridge, which he had prepared for a presentation before the Pioneer Society of Michigan.

The history of The Bay City Times newspaper dates back to 1873, and the Bay City Daily Tribune, which was founded by an investment group consisting of John Culbert, Edmund Kroencke, Griffin Lewis and Thomas K. Harding. In 1906, Wilbert H. Gustin founded the Bay City Times, and it and the Bay City Daily Tribune operated at the same time for a number of years. Then, in 1916, Gustin bought out the Bay City Tribune and consolidated its operations into the his paper. The name of the paper was change to Bay City Daily Times in 1927, and, in 1935 it returned to "The Bay City Times."

In 1998, the paper celebrated its 125th anniversary by publishing a very special edition in which they recalled not only the newspaper's history, but that of many of the industries that it covered over those years. It's a history buff's delight to have so much gathered in one publication to enjoy. If you would like to read this edition of the paper, it is on microfilm at the local Center Library on Center avenue in Bay City.

The First Newspaper.

The first newspaper according to most history books, was aptly called, The Press. It was started by Perry Joslin (Joslyn) in 1856. Joslyn moved a press from Saginaw to Lower Saginaw (Bay City) because he anticipated landing a printing contract with the state. However, he didn't get the contract, so he shut down paper after only two or three issues.

The First Established Newspaper.

William Bryce began publishing the Bay City Press in 1859, which he renamed the Bay City Press and Times a year later. It was published until the end of 1864, making it the Bay City's first established newspaper.

Bryce's paper was very significant because it was published during the Civil War period. In addition to interest local stories about the war, the paper regularly published reprinted articles that it received from the major newspapers around the country, One big issue locally was centered around the government draft quota of men each county had to provide towards the war effort. These quotas filled could be filled by volunteers. If the quota wasn't reached, men were then drafted to make up the difference. However, counties were allowed to provide whatever size bounty they wanted as an incentive for filling thier quota with volunteers and avoid the draft. Bryce considered the bounty unfair to smaller counties like Bay. He often editorialized that wayne County, being much larger than Bay County, was stealing away local volunteers with their more attractive bounty.

The Bay City Press and Times came to end in late 1864. Surprisingly, it was because Bryce himself enlisted in the war he so often wrote about. The paper continued to be puslished for a short time afterwards by John Cuthbert before he closed it and started the Bay City Journal.

Twelve years later, in 1873, James Birney returned to the newspaper business, starting his own under the name of "Chronicle". He ran a daily and weekly edition with his son, Arthur M. Birney helping him with its operation. In 1875, James accepted an appoint to be minister to The Netherands and turned over the operations of the epaper his son. Arthur continue the paper as a "weekly" only until 1879, then, closed it.

There were many others, but so far, I've only found history on those mentioned above.

There were a number of smaller newspapers that were published in the smaller communities or were focused on a particular ethnic group, such as, German, Polish or French. These any other early news papers are reflected in the data below.

Newspaper data from Bay City Directories:

Bay City Democrat

  • 1911 -- (Weekly) - 309 9th. Established 1891. George Washington, publr and propr. Subscription, $1.00 per year. Issued Thursdays.

    Bay City Chronicle

  • 1877-78 -- Office, Birney Block, west side Water between Fourth and Fifth streets. A. M. Birney, publisher and proprietor. Established 1871. Subscription $1.50 per year. Issued Tuesdays.

    Bay City Growler

  • 1877-78 -- Office 210 Center street. D. R. Currey publisher and proprietor. Established September 7th, 1875. Issued every Saturday.

    Bay City Observer

  • 1877-78 -- Office McEwan Block, east side Water between Fourth and Fifth streets. McMillan & Co., publishers and proprietors. Established Oct. 4th, 1876. Subscription $1.50 per year. Issued Thursdays.

    Bay City Times, The

  • 1911 -- (Evening Daily) - Established 1879, Bay City Times Co., publrs, n w cor 5th and Adams. Subscriptions 35c per month by mail or carrier.

    Bay City Tribune

  • 1877-78 -- Office 210 Center street. Tribune Co., publisher and proprietors. George K. Shaw, editor. Established April 5th, 1873. Published every evening (except Sundays) by mail. Circulation daily, 1,200. The semi-weekly Tribune is issued Tuesdays and Fridays at $2.00 per year.
  • 1911 -- (Morning Daily) - Established April 5, 1873. Bay City Tribune Co, publrs, 715-717 Adams. Subscription 50 cents per month. Daily with out Sunday, 35 center per month.

    Industrial Herald

  • 1911 -- (Weekly) - 309 9th. Established 1900. George Washington, publr. Subscription $1.00 per year.

    Lumberman's Gazette

  • 1877-78 -- Office 210 Center street. E. T. Bennett publisher and proprietor. Established July 1872. Issue every Thursday. Circulation 4,000. Subscription $2.00 per year. The best advertising medium among lumberman.

    Michigan Odd Fellow

  • 1877-78 -- Office at James Gray's printing office, 206 Center street. Ed. Newkirk, editor and proprietor. Established 1874. Subscriptions $1 per year. Issued semi-monthly.

    Michigan Union, The

  • 1911 -- (Monthly) - 411 9th. State organ, Michigan WCTU. Mrs. Julia R. Parish, editor. Subscription 25c per year.

    National Farmer, The

  • 1911 -- (Weekly) - Established 1889. Nation Farmer Publishing Co, proprs. 715 Adams. Subscription 75c per year. Circulation 37,000.

    Prawda, The

  • 1911 -- (Polish, Weekly) - 1006 S. Madison av. Established 1885. Casimir Marcinkiewicz, editor and publr. Subscription $1 per year.
  • These and many more appear the the database below. The data should not be taken as precise, for it is not. It is a compilation from many different sources and are presented here without further verification -- the overall data should be considered as a general working reference at best. At some point duplicates will be whittle out to create a more representative presentation of this data.

    The listing provides the names of newspapers as previously recorded by another source, and a given newspaper may be represented by more than one name, i.e., The Bay City Tribune, appears also as the Bay City Daily Tribune, which are likely the same paper which published two editions for a period of time. Or, it may be that a paper began publishing a morning edition which it carried in its name, then opted for an evening edition and dropped the outdated morning reference.

    Publishing Notes & Pages
    Civil War News - 1863-64
    Birney, James
    Partridge, Benjamin
    Birney, Arthur M.
    Gray, James
    Harding, Thomas
    Lewis, Griffin
    People Referenced
    Birney, Arthur
    Birney, James
    Culbert, John
    Gustin, Wilbert H.
    Harding, Thomas K.
    Joslin, Perry
    Kroencke, Edmund
    Lewis, Griffin
    Partridge, B.F.(Gen.)
    (See Database for others.)
    Subjects Referenced
    Bay City Daily Times newspaper
    Bay City Observer newspaper
    Chronicle newspaper
    Pioneer Society of MI
    Press & Times newspaper
    The Bay City Times newspaper
    The Press newspaper
    (See Database for other.)
    Other Resources
    Listing of Bay County Newspapers (mifamilyhistory.org)
    Listing of Bay County Newspapers on micro-film (michigan.gov)
    Article Sources
  • Book by Leslie Arndt:
    Bay County Story - Footpaths to Freeways.
  • Bay City Times:
    - Special edition, 5 Apr 1998.
  • BAY-JOURNAL: Putting Local History Online -- HELP US IF YOU CAN.