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Capt. Joseph Defoe (1846-?)
Father of shipbuilder Harry Defoe.

Portrait and Biographical Record of Saginaw and Bay Counties, Michigan
Biographical Publishing Co., Chicago (1892)
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JOSEPH DEFOE. We here present a brief biography of one of the residents of West Bay City and the son of Francis and Catherine (Kruger) Defoe, both of whom were natives of Ontario. The father was one of the patriots in the McKenzie Rebellion and left his native country on account of the oppression, coming in 1843 to Bay City, which was then called Lower Saginaw. He was a fisherman and remained there upon the place where he first settled until 1849 when he removed across the river where he since resided. He was one of the first settlers in Bangor Township, Bay County, and he located on an island in Saginaw Bay, which is still call Defoe Island; he also owned the land where the Cincinnati, Saginaw & Mackinaw railroad now has its docks. His wife died in February, 1873, on the place which is now his home.

Six of the seven children of Francis and Catherine Defoe grew to manís and womanís estate and one, Helen, died at the age of nine years; only two are now living, our subject and his brother John, who make their home in Detroit. Catherine, who was the wife of Capt. Welch, died in 1873; Mary died when about fifty-six years old; Angeline was the wife of Reuben Ferris, and passed on from life in 1887; Charles II, died in 1889.

Joseph Defoe was born April 13, 1846 in Bay City, and was married in 1869 to Lucy, daughter of Martin and Mary J. Cony. She is a niece of A. B. Wilson, of the Wheeler & Wilson sewing machine company, and was born in Cortland County, N.Y. Her father has passed from this life but her mother is still living and makes her home in Bloomington, Neb. The children of Mr. and Mrs. Defoe are Mary E., who was born August 1, 1870; Lucy Fay, born December 24, 1873; Harry J., September 2, 1875; Frederick W., December 25, 1878; Arthur W., October 11, 1886; and Addie, October 19, 1889. Lucy Fay and Harry will graduate at West Bay City High School in June 1892; Mary E. completed her course at the same school in 1890.

Mr. Defoe owns sixty acres of land which is all well improved and in the fine state of cultivation and his home is just inside the limits of West Bay City. He was formerly Marshall of the village of Banks before it became incorporated as West Bay City and he has held numerous city and township offices. In the order of Maccabees to which he belongs he is Sir Knight Commander and his wife is Lady Commander of the Bee Hive, a lodge auxiliary to the Maccabees. His political sympathies bring him into alliance with the Republican party and he casts his vote and influence in that direction. He is a license steamboat captain and spends some time every season upon the water.

Additional Notes.

    1850 - Census: Hampton Twp., Saginaw Co. (before Bay Co., organized in 1857)

  • Defoe, Francis - b. 1814 Canada, farmer
  • Catherine - b. 1807 Canada
  • Catherine - b. 1833 Canada
  • Mary A. - b. 1835 Canada
  • John - b. 1838 Canada
  • Charles - b. 1843 Mich.
  • Joseph - b. 1846 Mich.
  • Angeline - b. 1848 Mich.

    1896 - Directory - Bay City, Mich.

  • Defoe, John L - apprentice C C Gustin, bds West Bay City
  • Defoe, Joseph - laborer Eddy Bros & Co, res 613 Shearer ave.

    1896 - Directory - West Bay City, Mich.

  • Defoe, Charles - fisherman, res n w cor Frank and 6th, 1st wd.
  • Defoe, Francis - farmer, res Praire road nr river, 1st wd.
  • Defoe, John L. - fisherman, res s w cor Bangor and 3d, 1st wd.

    1900 - Census - West Bay City, Mich.

  • Address: 1205 Washington.
  • Defoe, Joseph - b. Apr. 1846 Mich., farmer
  • Lucy A. - wife, b. Oct. 1858 New York
  • Mary E. - daughter, ? 1870 Mich., school teacher
  • Harry J. - son, b.Sep. 1879 Mich., school teacher
  • Arthur D. - son, b. Oct. 1886 Mich., at school
  • Alta - daughter, b. Oct. 1889 Mich., at school
  • Covey, Mary J., mother-in-law, b. Feb. 1820, New York
  • Poirler, Annie May - Unk., b. May 1882, Mich.

    1910 - Census: Bay City, Bay, Mich.

  • Defoe, Joseph - age 64, b. Mich.
  • Lucy, wife - age 63, b. New Yok
  • Mary/b., dau. - age 35, b. Mich. - single
  • Chick, dau. - age 19, b. Mich.
Related Note & Pages

Joseph Defoe

Harry J. Defoe Son
Joseph's son, Harry, was initially a school teacher before starting his own small boat building company, which later became the Defoe Shipbuilding Company, building military vessels and lake freights.
Defoe Shipbuilding Co.
People Referenced
Cony, Lucy (wife)
Cony, Martin
Cony, Mary J. Mrs.
Defoe, Alta (dau.)
Defoe, Angeline (sis.)
Defoe, Arthur D. (son)
Defoe, Catherine (sis.)
Defoe, Charles II (bro.)
Defoe, Francis (father)
Defoe, Frederick (son)
Defoe, Harry J. (son)
Defoe, Helen (sis.)
Defoe, John (bro.)
Defoe, Joseph (subject)
Defoe, Lucy F. (dau.)
Defoe, Mary A. (sis.)
Defoe, Mary E. (dau.)
Ferris, Reuben
Gustin, C.C.
Welch, (Capt.)
Kruger, Catherine (mother)
Wilson, A.B.
Subjects Referenced
Bangor twp., MI
Banks (village), MI
Bay City, MI
Bloomington, NB
C.C. Gustin Co.
C.S.& M. railroad
Cortland Co., NY
Defoe Island
Detroit, MI
Eddy Bros & Co.
Lower Saginaw, MI
Maccabees
McKensie Rebellion
Ontario, Can.
Saginaw Bay
West Bay City, MI
Wheeler & Wilson sewing
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.