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Bay County Historical Society, of Michigan.
Sucessor to the Pioneer Historical Society of Bay County.

1937: Organization of society. (Added Oct., 2006)

The Bay City Times - February 28, 1937 - Michigan Centennial Edition


Group Was Organized As Outgrowth of Pioneer Club.

An outgrowth of the old Pioneer society of Bay County, a unit of the Saginaw Valley Pioneer society, the Bay County Historical society was organized in April, 1919, in a spontaneous effort to recapture the traditions of the land on which so many of its members were the direct descendants of the earliest known residents.

A group of prominent citizens of the county gathered in April, 1919, for the organization of the society, spurred by the interest shown in relics of the early days of the county by William H. Gustin, then editor of The Times.

Advisory Board Listed.

On the advisory committee for the formation of the organization were Mrs. Homer E. Buck, secretary of the society since 1921; Mrs. H. B. Smith, Sr.; Mrs. C. J. Smith, Mrs. Carrie Moots Richardson, Miss Eva Bothe, Samuel G. Houghton, the late Seeley R. Birchard and Joseph C. Goddeyne.

Among those who attended that first organization meeting, and who had evinced enthusiasm for the society, were Howard N. MacDonald, Mrs. Clara Thomas, A. C. MacKinnon, William Jennison, Robert V. Mundy, George L. Lusk, E. B. Perry, Mr. and Mrs. George Dilas, Miss Ann Brown, C. L. Sheldon, D. J. Kavanagh, E. T. Jones, Otto Garber, and Victor Manary.

W. H. Gustin was the society’s first curator. It was he who gathered and labeled the various objects, of both historical and sentimental interest., that first made their appearance with the growing interest among Bay county residents of the background of their native heath.

First Collection Small.

First collection of the society hardly large enough to be termed a museum, was displayed in the public library, later being lodged in Central High school.

In May, 1928, a Junior society was organized, which still maintains a large membership, both of young people whose parents are members of the senior group, and those who find membership a valuable extension of their school work.

The society’s present headquarters, on the second floor of the county building, were opened with the occupancy of the beautiful new building in March 1934.

Spacious chambers provide ample space for the ever-growing collection of historical objects, documents, and pictures, with the office of Mrs. Maude L. Patterson, curator, and board rooms for the society’s directors.

Present officers are: George E. Butterfield, president; Mrs. F. W. Braman, first vice-president; Miss Erma Hodgson, second vice-president; Mrs. Ellen Wynn, third vice-president; Fred Asmun, historian; Mrs. Buck, secretary, and George X. Allen, treasurer.

1919: Orgaization Pioneer & Historical Society. (Added Feb., 2009)

Michigan History Magazine, Michigan State Historical Society, 1919

Notes and Comments.

Bay County.

Bay is one of the newest counties to organize for historical work. Last February a preliminary meeting was held at the beautiful home of Regent William L. Clements, at which time a committee of five was appointed to perfect the organization of the Bay County Pioneer and Historical Society. Mrs. George Shields, Prof. George Butterfield, Mrs. W. W. Williams, Mrs. C. J. Smith and Supt. F. A. Gause composed this committee. Principal Butterfield and Supt. Gause gave excellent talks on the work which the schools of Bay City have done in local history. Readers will recall the book made by the schools under their supervision (Bay County Past and Present), which was reviewed at length in the Magazine for July 1918. These young people when they grow up will doubtless be vigorous workers in the new Society, and indeed should become members now. There is no good reason for having an age limit in such an organization. Young and old are interested, and now that so many of the pioneers are gone, it is doubly needful that the young should catch the living spirit of the olden days from those who are still among us.

The following notice of the completion of the organization of this Society is quoted in the Bay City Times-Tribune of May 7: “The Bay County Historical Society was placed upon a permanent basis last night when a hundred residents of the city met in the common council chamber and elected the following officers under the constitution of the Michigan State Historical association: President, John L. Stoddard; first vice-president, Frank A Gause; third vice-president, Mrs. Thomas L. Handy; recording secretary, A. H. McMillan; corresponding secretary, Mrs. Harry J. Daily; historian, George E. Butterfield; treasurer, John Donovan; directors, William L. Clements, Fremont J. Tromble, William Gaffney, William F. Jennison, Mrs. C. J. Smith, Mrs. Daniel Shannon, W. H. Gustin, Mrs. Henry B. Smith.

Mrs. Shields, who has been the moving spirit in the formation of the society, called the meeting to order and asked Mr. Donovan to act as chairman. After the election of officers Mr. Donovan retired and Mr. Stoddard went to the chair.

“The program included a paper on the 'Organization of Bay County' by John Donovan; a paper on 'News-paper Reminiscences ' by W. H. Gustin, and a talk by Fremont J. Tromble on the first house erected within what is now the territory of Bay City. Mrs. Henry B. Smith read a letter from Mrs. Chester L. Collins, of Cleveland, in which it was said that she would present to the society, oil portraits of her father and mother, Judge and Mrs. Albert Miller, who were among the earliest settlers of Bay City. The society accepted the gift with thanks.

“It is expected that in the new library building there will be a room that can be used by the historical society, and it is proposed to gather for this room literature and relics of the early days of Bay County, assembling them at the library for preservation. Doubtless there are many relics, such as pictures, books, old deeds, letters and diaries, connected with pioneer life of Bay County, which their present owners would be willing to donate to the society if they were sure that they would be preserved.”

1920 - Historical donations. - Added Aug., 2009

Michigan History Magazine, Vol. IV, No. 1, January, 1920

Bay County Historical Association is displaying great interest in the preservation of old landmarks, historical records, etc. At its last meeting held Jan. 22 in the Community Building at Bay City, C. B. Jennison read several letters written by his grandfather, James G. Birney, several years prior to the Civil War. It will be remembered that Mr. Birney was a candidate for the office of President of the United States in 1840. These letters portray the condition of the times in which they were written and also show the modes of life and travel in lower Michigan. After the destruction by a mob of Mr. Birney's establishment in which he was printing the Antislavery paper he fled to Michigan and became secretary of the Saginaw Bay Company which was one of the first organizations in this section and which took over the land that is now Bay City. There were no roads and all travel was by canoe or boat in summer and ice in winter.

Mr. M. M. Andrews, Civil War veteran, gave a history of Bay County's contribution of men to the Union Army with the formation of the first company. Bay County sent in all 51l men into service during the war.

Interesting historical reminiscences were related by Mrs. Cornelia Moots, who was in this vicinity.

Severval contributions have been made to the society since its organization last spring, including oil portraits of Judge and Mrs. Albert Miller, old books, pamphlets and Indian relics. -- (Reported by Irene Pomeroy Shields.)

1922: Activities (Added Jan, 2009)

Michigan History Magazine, Michigan Historical Society, Vol. VI, 1922

Page 218.

At a recent meeting of the Bay County Historical Association a paper on "The Life and Characteristics of Chief Shoppenagon" was read by Mr. F. L. Westover, written by Mr. Babbitt of West Branch. Mrs. L. G. Howlett read a charming sketch of Indian life, based on an interview with Mrs. Nockchicima, a picturesque old Indian woman, in which she gave the Indian meaning and derivation of many names of places near Bay City. Mrs. G. A. Shields of Bay City, who is largely reesponsible for hte fine impulse given to historical work in Bay County, gave a report of her attendance at recent meetings of the State Historical Society.

Related Notes & Pages

Related Pages:
People Referenced
Allen, Geroge X.
Andrews, M.M.
Asmun, Fred
Birchard, Seeley R.
Birney, James G.
Bothe, Eva, Mrs.
Braman, F.W., Mrs.
Brown, Ann Miss
Buck, Homer E., Mrs.
Butterfield, George E.
Clements, William L.
Collins, Chester L. Mrs.
Daily, Harry J.
Dilas, George, Mr. & Mrs.
Donovan, John
Gaffney, William
Garber, Otto
Gause, Frank A.
Goddeyne, Joseph C.
Gustin, William H.
Handy, Thomas L. Mrs.
Hodgson, Erma, Miss
Houghton, Samuel G.
Howlett, L.G. Mrs.
Jennison, C. B.
Jennison, William
Jones, E.T.
Kavanagh, D.J.
Lusk, George L.
MacDonald, Howard N.
MacKinnon, A.C.
Manary, Victor
McMillan, A.H.
Miller, Albert Mr. & Mrs.
Moots, Cornelia
Mundy, Robert V.
Nockchimcima, Mrs.
Patterson, Maude L., Mrs.
Perry, E.B.
Richardson, Carrie Moots, Mrs.
Shannon, Daniel Mrs.
Sheldon, C.L.
Shields, George A. Mrs.
Shields, Irene Pomeroy.
Shoppenago, Chief
Smith, C. J. Mrs.
Smith Sr., Henry B. Mrs.
Stoddard, John L.
Thomas, Clara, Mrs.
Tromble, Fremont
Westover, F.L.
Wynn, Ellen, Mrs.
Subjects Referenced
Antislavery paper
Bay City, MI
Bay Co., MI
Bay Co. Pioneer Soc.
Bay Co. Historical Soc.
Central High school
Civil War
Cleveland, OH
County building
Junior society
Michigan Historical Assn.
Pioneer Society of Bay Co.
Public library
Saginaw Bay Co.
Sag. Valley Pioneer Soc.
The Bay City Times
West Branch
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.