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William F. Benson - Oldest Fish Plant (1905)
  • Transcribed (May 2005)
  • Bay City Tribune - March 26, 1905

    OLDEST FISH PLANT.

    Established by W. F. Benson in 1863. Known as the Dormer Co.
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    It was away back in 1863 that W. F. Benson first engaged in the fish business on the Saginaw river. In those days nets were practically unknown, the inhabitants of the river and bay, being either speared or hauled ashore in seins by Indians and a sprinkling of white men.

    It was not longer after 1873, however, pond nets came into use. The advent of these nets revolutionized fishing and with their introduction the Indian gradually gave way to the whites and the fishing industry began to grow until now it is recognized as one of the big institutions of the Great Lakes in which thousands of persons find employment. After being in the business 22 years Mr. Benson associated himself with his son, Henry and the firm was known as W. F. Benson and Son. After 30 years of continuous service the elder Benson retired. The concern was then known as the Saginaw Bay Fish company, remaining so until some time since when it emerge with the Dormer Co., by which name it is now known and doing business. The Dormer Co., is by far the largest on the chain of lakes and ship to all parts of the United States. The headquarters of the concern is at Buffalo with branch houses in Menominee, Mich., Bay Field, Wis., Cleveland and Bay City.

    Thus it will be seen that the Bay City branch of the Dormer Co. is from a point of service the oldest plant in this vicinity. Mr. W. F. Benson relates many interesting stories of his early experiences in the fish business. He has watched the industry in its march forward during his 45 years resident in West Bay City and is as enthusiastic as ever when talking fishing.

    Mr. Dormer also embarked in the business in 1863, at Buffalo and some of the best known men in the trade. He, however, only handled salt fish. Mr. Dormer is not only well known but is popular with all the men who catch the fish for him and those who buy them off him.

    Henry A. Benson, the local manager of the Dormer Co., having been brought up in the fish business, naturally is well posted. He is a young man who is strictly business and one who has the confidence of all with whom he has business dealings. The others of the Dormer Co. are: President J. H. Dormer, Buffalo; vice president and manager, J. W. Wiekham, Buffalo; treasurer and secretary, G. H. Bryon, Buffalo and E. I. Zimmerman, Buffalo. While it may not generally known it nevertheless is a fact that Saginaw bay for sure is the largest fresh fish producing body of water in the United States.

    Bay City Tribune - Tuesday, May 25, 1909

    UNDER NEW REGIME.
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    Dormer Fish Co. Will Operate as Branch of Booth Fisheries Co.

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    The Dormer Fish Co. branch of the A. Booth Co. which went into the hands of a receiver several months ago, will carry on its operations as a branch of the Booth Fisheries Co., recently organized. It will probably make little difference in local fishing conditions, as the Dormer company has been hand handling its fish under the receivership the same as otherwise.

    Related Note & Pages

    Wm. F. Benson

    1880 Cenus:
    William (b. 1837, Eng.), married Anna E. Savage (b. England), with son William, Jr., living in West Bay City.
    People Referenced
    Benson, Henry A.
    Benson, W.F.
    Bryon, G.H.
    Dormer, J. H.
    Wiekham, J.W.
    Zimmerman, E.I.
    Subjects Referenced

    Bay City, MI
    Bay Field, WI
    Buffalo, NY
    Cleveland, OH
    Dormer Co.
    Menominee, MI
    Saginaw Bay
    Saginaw Bay Fish Co.
    Saginaw River
    West Bay City, MI
    W.F. Benson & Son.
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