Bay City Press - Wednesday, September 14, 1859.
BANKCROFT HOUSE FESTIVAL
One of the most commodious and convenient of hotels has recently been completed at East Saginaw, at the cost, it is said, of more than fifty thousand dollars. Its friends, as was very appropriate, resolved on having an opening celebration. On the evening of the 7th inst., at six o’clock, three tables, extending the entire length of the spacious dining hall, were occupied by a large number of ladies and gentlemen, embracing guests from New York, Buffalo, Upper Canada, Detroit, Flint, and other cities of Michigan.
Is the evening the hall was crowded by the lovers of the dance, and there was an array of beauty and elegance not heretofore surpassed in this vicinity.
After a very satisfactory discussion of the bill of fare, regular toasts were read by Col. W. L. P. Little, mayor of East Saginaw. Fit and happy responses were made by Mr. Robinson, Mr. Hess, Mr. Morr, His Excellency Gov. Wisner, Mr. Birney, Dr. Potter, Dr. Challis, Mr. McDugall, the mayor of Goderich, Mr. Webber, Gov. Fenton, Judge Avery, and others. We have rarely witnessed any occurrences of the kind that was characterized with more pleasantness of feeling and sentiment.
The fifth toast was: “The Saginaw Valley.”
To this Mr. Birney was called upon to respond, and as he made reference to some items that will be of general interest, we will endeavor, from recollection, to mention some of them. Mr. Birney said:
Mr. Chairman and Ladies and Gentlemen:
Although called upon unexpectedly, I am always glad to respond to the sentiment just read. The same waters that have the shores of those beautiful streams – the Cass, the Flint, the Shiawassee, and the Tittabawassee, as they flow through the counties of Huron, Sanilac, Lapeer, Tuscola, Genesee, Livingston, Shiawassee, Clare, Gladwin, Isabelle, Gratiot, and Midland, pass by our doors after having emptied themselves into the more spacious stream of the Saginaw, thus making a large part of the most desirable portion of Michigan tributary to the valley of the Saginaw, and forming a natural outlet for all its surplus produce. That the interests of the valley had progressed; that they were now prosperous, that prospects of the future were still brighter, would appear by a few facts. There stands, said he, upon the opposite side of the river an old log house that in 1822 contained the entire white population of the valley, and that consisted of a small company of soldiers garrison there by the order of the government. And so late as 1824 the entire traffic of this region was conducted by the agent of the American Fur Company. He recognized among those present Judge Davenport, who, prior to 1835, kept the nearest post office, and to which all here who expected letters had to apply; but it was kept at Grand Blanc, in Genesee county, more than forty miles distant. He also saw among the guest of this occasion Gen. Hascall, of Flint, who, was candidate for the Legislature, received the whole support of Saginaw county number, all told, fifteen votes.
The Federal Census of 1850 gives to Saginaw county a population of 2,609, and yet the files of the Clerk’s office show that the vote for Representative in 1854 was 982, giving a population, by the ordinary ratio of estimate of 5,000. The vote for the same office in 1856, only two years after, was 2,350, showing a population at that time of 12,000. And if during the last three years it has grown at the same rate, a more rapid progress in population can scarce anywhere be shown. These facts show that when, under the next census, there shall be another apportionment for representatives in our State and National Assemblies, our interests will be more fully and directly represented.