Heritage \ Writings \

Alfred E. Bousfield (1855-1937)
President of Bousfield & Co., of Bay City, MI.

Biography 1892: Contributed by Patrick Wilhelm. (Jan., 2005)

Portrait and Biographical Record of Saginaw and Bay Counties, MI
Chicago Biographical Publishing Co. - 1892 (Pages 969-970)



ALFRED E. BOUFIELD. Among the most prominent business men of Bay City, whose thorough methods of conducting business affairs are worthy of special note, we present the name of Mr. Bousfield. Few men have by their own fine qualities of enterprise and system organized so thoroughly the concerns in which they are engaged, and the delightful social qualities which distinguish him are most kindly value in the community. He is the President of the firm of Bousfield & Company and their establishment may probably be cited as the largest in the United States engaged in the manufacture of wooden-ware, and it is also one of the oldest. This family was one of the first to engage in this line of business on an extensive scale, as they began operations many years ago in Cleveland, Ohio.

The members of the present firm are sons of John Bousfield, the founder of the enterprise, and the works in Bay City were established in 1869 by George Hood, but came into the possession of this firm in 1875, and was incorporated into a stock company in 1881. The territory upon which the plant is located occupies five blocks, and upon that tract is situated saw-mill, dry-kilns, turning and paint houses, warehouse, engine house, offices and stables, booms and other arrangements for carrying on this immense concern. The fire protection consists of pumping station in center of plant which supplies automatic sprinklers in building and water mains through yards connecting with hydrants. There is one central power station with a Hamilton Corliss Engine of five hundred horse power and Bobcock & Wilcox Boilers. The power is transmitted to the different buildings by what is known as rope-transmission.

The product of this manufactory is chiefly tubs, churns, and pails, and in their manufacture the logs are raised from the boom to the mill where they are sawed into blocks of the required length and then pass through various kinds of new and improved machinery by which they are cut into staves, and loaded into cars which carry them first to the kilns, and afterward to the turning room, without being unloaded from these cars.

The staves that enter this part of the establishment are in the rough, but come out tubs, pails and churns, the bottom of each article being fitted into place by machinery. From this part of the works they are hurried into the paint house, a building three stories high and 84 x 100 feet in dimensions, and again machinery comes into play in their decoration, and they are then delivered at the warehouse where they are ready for shipment.

The sawmill proper is 60 x 90 feet in dimension, and supplied with four circular saws, veneering, bottom and cover-making-machines, steam carriages for raising the logs, and all conveniences for saving labor. The turning house is a two-story brick building 70 x 170 feet, and supplied with seventeen large lathes, while the warehouse measures 70 x 220 feet, and is a building two stories brick, dry-kilns 100 x 225 feet.

The business requires the services of three hundred thoroughly competent and skilled mechanics, and employs four engines of five hundred and fifty horse power. The yearly pay roll is over $100,000, and the daily capacity is five thousand pails and two thousand five hundred tubs. James Potter, the foreman, has been connected with the factory since 1870, and the product of the works is in demand all through the United States. The present officers are beside our subject, the President, Charles J. Bousfield, Vice-President, and R.E. Bousfield, Secretary.

John Bousfield, father of our subject, was born in England, and came to America when a young man settling in Kirkland, Ohio, where he learned pail making, and engaged in the manufacture of this article by hand. He afterwards put in water-power machinery, and later removed to Cleveland, and was the first manufacturer of pails in the West, gradually increasing his business. He finally had the largest manufactory of wooden-ware in the country at that time, and his sons now maintain the same reputation.

The father associated with him Jim Pool under the firm name of Bousfield and Pool Manufacturing Company, but in 1875 they met with reverses and dissolved the partnership. Later he started the Ohio Wooden-ware Manufactory Company in Cleveland, and operated there until 1881, when the business was transferred to Bay City, the father retaining an investment in it until his death in 1888 at the age of sixty-nine, although he retained his home at Cleveland.

The father was a fine mechanical genius and inventor of many patents which are used in the factory to-day, besides which he was an efficient business man. He was one of the first to form the Gas Company in Cleveland, and assisted in organizing two banks, and was President of the People’s Savings and Loan Bank. He was a strong Republican in politics, a prominent citizen, and a pillar in the Congregational Church. His wife was born in England, and was in maidenhood, Sarah Featherstone. She came to America with her parents, who were farmers at Kirtland, Ohio, and she still resides in Cleveland at the age of sixty-eight. Of her ten children six are living. Charlotte A. resides in Cleveland, Emma L. is Mrs. Darby, of St. Louis, Mo., Edward F. was formerly with the Company at Bay City, but is now connected with the Minneapolis Wooden-ware Company, and the three brothers at Bay City complete the family.

Alfred E. Bousfield was born in Fairport, Ohio, January 28, 1855, bus was reared and educated in Cleveland, attending the city school. At the age of fifteen he entered the Mt. Pleasant Military Academy at Sing Sing, N.Y. and two years later became book-keeper for a coal company in Cleveland. After a year in their service he entered his father’s factory, and learned the business in every detail, and in March 1875, he and his brother Edward came to Bay City, and bought the factory belonging to the Bay City Wooden-ware Company, which was then run on a small scale, and which they have increased to three times its former size.

In April 1890, the whole establishment was destroyed by fire, reducing to ashes the new buildings and all the stock at a loss of $60,000 above insurance, but this enterprising firm immediately began rebuilding employing two hundred mechanics in the work, and quickly completed larger and more substantial buildings, and had the business running again in October the same year. They have side-tracks, connecting the works with the Michigan Central and the Flint & Pere Marquette Railways, and have their own cars for shipment which are built extra large.

Our subject was married in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1877 to Miss Carrie Lockwood, who was born in Dubuque, Iowa, but reared and educated in Cleveland, where her father, Ira H. was in the oil business. She is most estimable lade and possessed of social and scholarly attainments. Their two children are Charlotte E. and Lottie L. Mr. Bousfield is a Knight Templar and a thirty-second degree Mason and a member of the Mystic Shrine, of Detroit. He is a strong Republican, but not active in politics. He built for the pleasure of his family the steam yacht “Outing”, which is furnished in fine style, and upon which they make most delightful trips on the Lakes to Mackinaw, Cleveland, and other points.

1937 - Death notice. (Added Jan. 2005)

The Bay City Times - Friday, December 31, 1937 (front page)

Retired Industrialist Was Pioneer Manufacturer Here.

Alfred E. Bousfield, pioneer Bay City manufacturer whose activity was closely linked with Michigan’s romantic lumbering era, died Thursday afternoon at his home, 1200 Center avenue.

Death came at 1:25 p. m. following an illness of 13 years. His condition had been serious for the past year. He was 82 years old.

An active man throughout his life, Mr. Bousfield suffered a serious heart attack in 1924. His health had declined steadily since that time.

Came to Bay In 1875.

Coming here from Cleveland in 1875, he and a brother bought a small factory which manufactured wooden-ware, chiefly pails and tubs. This they expanded into the largest firm of its kind in the world.

Overcoming a disastrous fire which destroyed the plant in 1890, Mr. Bousfield continued expansion of the business until Michigan’s seemingly inexhaustible lumber supply was so depleted that he was faced with the necessity of moving farther north if he was to continue.

However, he chose to remain in the city he had adopted and in 1916 sold his business to retire as one of Bay City’s leading industrial figures.

Although he continued active in many other business affairs, Mr. Bousfield now found time to engage in many personal activities denied him in earlier years.

Was Camera Enthusiast.

He hunted and fished. He traveled extensively. In a day when golf was in its infancy and links were relatively scarce, he became an enthusiastic golfer.

He studied photography and became proficient in the use of the cumbersome time-exposure camera of that period.

He loved the water and for many years his yacht, “Outings” was a familiar caller at Saginaw bay and river ports.

In the midst of this activity his heart failed and declining health forces him into virtual retirement during the past ten years.

Private funeral services will be held Sunday. The Rev. Alvin C. Sawtelle will officiate at services at the home at 3 p. m. Only the family will attend and friends have been asked to omit flowers. Burial will be in Elm Lawn cemetery.

Alfred Eugene Bousfield was born in Fairport, O., Jan 28, 1855, the second of four brothers in a family of six children. He was educated in Fairport and Cleveland until at the age of 15 he entered the Mt. Pleasant Military Academy at Ossining, N. Y.

In 1872 he became a bookkeeper for a coal concern in Cleveland, but a year later entered his father’s firm in that city. It was the first pail factory in the Middle West and the largest wooden-ware producers in the country at the time.

In March, 1875, Mr. Bousfield and his brother E. Frank Bousfield came north to Bay City and bought the factory owned by the Bay City Wooden-ware Co.

Frank Bousfield later withdrew from the firm and two other brothers, R. E. Bousfield and C. J. Bousfield joined. Subsequently, however, they too severed their connections, the former moving to California and the latter dying in Grand Rapids 10 years ago.

In April 1890, fire destroyed the plant in one of Bay City’s historical mill fires. It was rebuilt, however, and at its peak employed 300 men in addition to those in the woods. From 10,000 to 12,000 tubs and pails were produced daily and shipped to all parts of the world.

Wife, 2 Children Survive.

After his retirement in 1916, the plant was sold and occupied by the Hanson-Ward Veneer Co.

Mr. Bousfield was married in 1877 to Miss Carrie Lockwood, a native of Cleveland, who survives. They would have celebrated their 61st anniversary Monday. They have two children, Mrs. Arthur G. Walsh, of New York City, and Mrs. F. B. Ward, of Richmond, Mich.

Other survivors include a brother, R. E. Bousfield, of California; six grandchildren; and two great grandchildren.

Mr. Bousfield had lived for the past 54 years at the home which he built on the southeast corner of Center avenue and Sherman street.

When Mr. Bousfield came to Bay City, all of the business houses were on Water street and on Center avenue from Water street to Washington avenue. Saw mills extended half way from Saginaw to the mouth of the river. Washington avenue was a residential street, and Johnson street marked the city limits.

Mr. Bousfield was a Knight Templar, a Thirty-second degree Mason, and a member of the Noble Order of the Mystic Shrine. He was an honorary member of the Rotary club, and a lifelong member of the Presbyterian church.

1938 - Funeral Services. (Added Jan. 2005)

Bay City Times - Sunday, Jan. 1, 1938

Bousfield Rites To Be Held Today

Private Service For Pioneer Industrialist Scheduled.

Members of the family will serve as pall bearers at private funeral services for Alfred E. Bousfield, 82, pioneer Bay City industrialist, to be held at the home, 1200 Center avenue, at 3 o'clock this afternoon.

The Rev. Alvin C. Sawtelle will officiate and burial will be in Elm Lawn cemetery. Friends have been asked to omit flowers.

Mr. Bousfield died at his home Thursday afternoon following an illness of many years. He came here from Cleveland in 1875 and with a brother took over a wooden-ware manufacturing plant which he built into the largest of its kind in the world.

The dwingling of Michigan's lumber supply forced his retirement in 1916 although he continued active in many other business fields.

Father of Alfred E. Bousfield. Source: [Project Gutenberg] (Added Jan. 2005)

(Extract from) Cleveland Past and Present - It's Representative Men, etc.
by Murice Joblin.

John Bousfield.

The wooden ware manufacture of Cleveland is an important part of its industry, the manufacturing establishments being the largest within the United States and doing a business that covers the entire west. Large as the industry now is, it is of but very recent growth, and Cleveland is chiefly indebted for its permanent establishment, in spite of a series of discouraging disasters, to the enterprise and determination of John Bousfield.

[Illustration: Yours Truly, John Bousfield]

Mr. Bousfield was born at Stockport, in the county of Cheshire, England, July 22, 1819. After serving an apprenticeship to the saddle and harness business for seven years, he engaged in that business on his own account, adding to it the manufacture of whips. Four years were thus spent, when he decided on removing to America, leaving his native land in December, 1843. Having brought two of his workmen with him, he established himself in the same business in a small way in the city of New York, but his health failing after a few months, he determined on leaving for the west, hoping that a change of atmosphere, and possibly of business, would be of benefit.

His first stay was at Kirtland, Lake county, Ohio, where he purchased a farm and at the same time carried on the harness business. At this he continued until about the year 1850, when he purchased a factory and water power, put in a pail-making machine, and commenced, in a small way, the manufacture of pails. In 1854, he removed to Fairport, in the same county, where he purchased a larger building and carried on pail manufacturing upon a larger scale. In March, 1855, he sold out the establishment, taking in pay for it a note which he still holds.

In May of that year he came to Cleveland and organized the Cleveland Wooden Ware Manufacturing Company, built a factory on the ground now occupied by the present firm of Bousfield & Poole, and commenced manufacturing in the following September. The first operations of the company were on a small scale, making tubs, pails, washboards, and similar articles in a limited way, but gradually increasing the business until it reached what was then considered respectable proportions. In July, 1857, the company sold out to Greenman & Co., of Massachusetts, and Mr. Bousfield was retained by the new owners as superintendent of the works, until January 12, 1859, when the factory was destroyed by fire.

In March of that year, Mr. Bousfield rented a building on the West Side and commenced manufacturing again on his own account. Five months afterwards he was burned out. Nothing daunted, he immediately purchased the ruins of the Greenman & Co. factory, rebuilt it, and in January, 1860, associated with him Mr. J. B. Hervey, of Cleveland, and in the following month resumed work.

The new partnership was very successful. The business increased rapidly, the area of their trade enlarged until it comprised all the principal cities and towns in Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin. A planing mill was added to the factory, and this, too, was highly profitable. In 1864, the works were greatly enlarged to meet the rapidly increasing demand for their wares. In 1865, Mr. John Poole, of Harmer, Ohio, was admitted to the partnership, thus bringing in additional capital and experience gained in the management of a similar factory at Harmer. Mr. Poole has devoted himself principally to the financial and sales departments of the business, and has proved himself a man of more than ordinary business ability.

Thus far everything had been going on prosperously, but the old enemy, fire, was as relentless as ever. On the 23d of March, 1866, the whole of the extensive establishment was reduced to ashes, and the unfortunate proprietors sorrowfully contemplated the ruins of years of labor and enterprise, whilst a host of workmen stood still more sorrowfully by, and saw their daily bread swept from them by the pitiless flames. Seventy-five thousand dollars of capital were converted into valueless ashes in a few hours.

The owners of the factory wasted no time in fruitless sorrow. An old wooden building had partially escaped the flames. This was hastily patched up, and within thirty days they were making pails and tubs as earnestly as if they had never known a fire. Mr. Hervey sold out his interest to the other partners, Messrs. Bousfield & Poole, who went to work with almost unparalleled enterprise and energy, built one of the largest and most substantial factories in the country, and entered upon the work of manufacturing wooden ware upon a larger scale than had ever before been attempted. The factory has two hundred feet front on Leonard and Voltaire streets, with a depth of sixty feet, and five stories high; attached to the main building are the engine and boiler rooms. The cost of the building was forty-five thousand dollars. The present capacity of the works is twenty-five hundred pails per day, six hundred tubs, a hundred and twenty-five churns and other small ware, and a hundred dozen zinc washboards.

In May, 1867, the firm commenced the erection of a match factory which was ready for operation in September of that year. A superintendent was engaged who, unfortunately, was unqualified for his position and did much harm to the enterprise, but on his removal, Mr. Bousfield took personal charge of the match factory, and has succeeded in building up an extensive trade. The daily capacity of the factory is two hundred and ninety gross, which, if run to the full capacity throughout the year, would yield to the United States government a revenue of over a hundred and twenty thousand dollars.

The trade of Messrs. Bousfield & Poole extends from Buffalo through the principal cities of the central, southern and western States, to New Orleans on the south, and Salt Lake City on the west, two bills having been sold to the son-in-law of Brigham Young in that city. A branch warehouse has been established in Chicago as an entrepot for the supply of the vast territory of which Chicago is the source of supply.

The manufactory of Messrs. Bousfield & Poole is the largest in the country, and for the past three years has turned out about fifty per cent. more work than any other in the United States. It consumes ten millions of feet of lumber and logs annually, besides other material, and gives employment to from three hundred to three hundred and fifty persons, men women and children. Its influence on the population and prosperity of the city can therefore be judged. The money for the support of these people, and for the purchase of the materials employed, is almost wholly brought from abroad, the amount of the wares used in Cleveland being, of course, a very small fraction of the amount produced and sold. The same is true to a greater or less extent, of all the manufactories of Cleveland, and serves to account for the rapid growth of the city in population and wealth within the few years past, in which Cleveland has entered in good earnest on its career as a manufacturing centre.

Mr. Bousfield was married January 1, 1855, to Miss Sarah Featherstone, of Kirtland, by whom he has had ten children, six of whom are yet living. The oldest son, Edward Franklin Bousfield, is engaged with his father in the factory.

The secret of Mr. Bousfield's successful career can be found in his indomitable perseverance. He has been wholly burned out three times, and had, in all, about twenty fires, more or less disastrous, to contend with, but each time he seemed to have gained new strength and vigor in business as his works rose phoenix like from the ashes. Coupled with his perseverance is a remarkable mechanical ingenuity which has served him to good purpose in the construction and management of his factories. Whilst in England, he invented a machine for braiding whips that would do the work of fifteen women working by hand, as was the usual practice.

Related Note & Pages

Alfred E. Bousfield

Mr. Bousfield was a prominent leader in the community affairs of Bay City. He led a group of businessmen that formed a commission which built the {Wenonah Hotel} in 1908, which included the present Wenonah Park in downtown Bay City.
Related images:
(Click to enlarge)

[Bousfield Wooden-ware Co.]

The huge factory was located on the east bank of the Saginaw River just south of Cass Avenue.

[Bousfield Homestead]

The Bousfield homestead located on the south east corner of Center Ave. and Sheridan street is still standing.

Related Pages:
Bousfield Wooden Ware Co.
Bousfield, Charles (bro.)
Bousfield, Edward F. (bro.)
Bousfield, Robert E. (bro.)
People Referenced
Bousfield, Alfred E. (subject)
Bousfield, Charles J. (bro.)
Bousfield, Charlotte A. (sister)
Bousfield, Charlotte E. (dau.)
Bousfield, Edward F. (brother)
Bousfield, John (father)
Bousfield, Lottie L. (dau.)
Bousfield, R.F. (brother)
Darby, Emma L. Mrs. (sister)
Featherstone, Sarah (mother)
Hervey, J.B.
Hood, George
Lockwood, Carrie (wife)
Lockwood, Ira H.
Pool, John
Potter, James
Sawtelle, Alvin C. Rev.
Walsh, Arthur G.
Ward, Frank B.
Young, Brigham
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
Bay City Wooden-ware Co.
Bousfield & Company
Bousfield & Pool Mfg. Co.
Buffalo, NY
Cheshire, England
Chicago, IL
Cleveland, OH
Cleveland Woodenware Mfg.
Congregational Church
Detroit, MI
Dubuque, Iowa
Elm Lawn Cemetery
Fairport, OH
Flint & Pere Marquette Rwy.
Gas Co.
Greeman & Co.
Hanson-Ward Veneer Co.
Harmer, OH
Kirkland, OH
Lake Co., OH
Knight Templar
Mackinaw, MI
Michigan Central Rwy.
Minneapolis Wooden-ware Co.
Mt. Pleasant Military Academy
Mystic Shrine
New Orleans, LA
New York, NY
Peoples Savings & Loan Bank
Ohio Wooden-ware Mfg. Co.
Ossining, NY
Presbyterian church
Richmond, MI
Rotary Club
Sing Sing, NY
St. Louis, MO
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Ikes Asks Business to Purge Leaders' Ranks - Attacks "Plutocracy Of 60 Familes"; C.O.C. Predicts Early Industrial Upswing. - Washington.

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WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.