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George Campbell (1831-1910)
Born in Scotland, came to Bay City in 1862, as a contractor.

1883 history of Bay County, Michigan. Added Nov., 2010.


George Campbell was born in 1831, at Thurso, County of Caithness, Scotland. Thurso is only eight miles from “John O'Groat's House,” the most northerly point in Scotland. When but a mere lad, in 1843, he emigrated to Canada, his first stopping place being at Kingston, where he commenced to learn the trade of a carpenter and joiner. When he landed in that city he was the possessor of but one English shilling, save what clothing he had. But he was fortunate enough to get steady employment, and during the first year he was in Canada he was economical enough to save some $40, which he sent home to his parents in Scotland, who were in but moderate circumstances. During the two years following he commenced to make payments on some 200 acres of land in the township of Zorrs., Oxford County. In 1845 have some ten acres cleared, he brought his father and mother out from Scotland and settled them on it, and where they remained as long as they lived. Times being dull in Canada, and thinking that he could make the money to pay for his land easier in the United States, he removed in that year to Cleveland, O., where he followed his trade. Before he was eighteen years of age he became a contractor, and as a builder quote noted in that city. He remained there for nearly seventeen years, and at one time was the owner of some twenty-one buildings, among which was a four-story block of four dwellings, which to-day is one of the ornaments of the famous “Euclid Avenue.” It is known as the “Highland Block.”

In 1861, owing to failure in health, he determined to retire from active business for a time, and spent some months in traveling. On one of his pleasure trips, (on the Hudson River, if his memory serves him right), he met the late James Fraser, who induced him to visit Bay City. On first coming here he had no intention of locating, but Mr. Fraser managed to get him to undertake some building contracts, and afterwards getting interested in some real estate, he decided to make Bay City his home for the future. In those days, 1862, it was but an insignificant village, and some of the best buildings of that day were erected under Mr. Campbell's supervision. He built for Mr. Fraser the first brick business block that was put up in Bay City, being the one now occupied by Meeker & Adams, on Water Street. Among the more prominent buildings of which Mr. C. was the contracting builder, may be named the “Fraser House,” the high school, school houses in what were then Portsmouth and Wenona, the First Baptist Church of Bay City (now used as an armory), and a large number of business places and dwellings. In 1867 he commenced building the “Campbell House,” which was opened to the public in 1868. He remained proprietor of the house until 1878, part of the time running it himself. It has since passed into other hands.

For a number of years Mr. Campbell had been more or less interested in lumbering operations, but in 1874 he became the managing member of the firm of Van Etten, Campbell & Co., in which position he continued some four years. His headquarters were in Pinconning, where he built two sawmills. He also built what was probably the first iron logging railroad in the state. It was fourteen miles in length, and ran from Glencoe to the lake, and was known as the Pinconning, Glencoe & Lake Shore Railroad. It is now under the control of the Michigan Central Ry.

Mr. Campbell has always been known as a public spirited citizen, and has lent his aid to all projects which have had for their object the promotion of the growth of the city. In company with James Fraser, William McEwan, N. B. Bradley and Muron Butman, he helped to organize the street railway company, of which he was a director for a number of years, and at one time president. He was also a subscriber to the stock of the Bay City East Saginaw Railroad, Detroit & Bay City Railroad, the Midland Railroad, and Grand Rapids projects, and as some other citizens know, money paid on railroad stock has been the same as a gift to the companies who now run the roads which were built. He was also a stockholder in the Twenty-third Street Bridge.

Mr. Campbell, though always taking a deep interest in public affairs, has never been an office seeker. While in Cleveland he served one term as alderman and also one term as alderman for the Second Ward of Bay City.

Although he has retired from the contract building business, yet he is putting up an occasional building on his own property. He is also interested in farming to some extent, having some forty acres in the eastern part of the city, which he cultivates partially. He possesses some blooded stock. In horses his taste runs to Mambrino Turk breed, and in cattle to Durhams and Holsteins.

Mr. Campbell was married in the Fall of 1881 to Miss Maggie A. Johnson, of Windsor, Ont. They have one child, a daughter.

1905 - History of Bay County, Michigan, Gansser. - Added Nov., 2010.


Page 181.

The main event of 1868 was the completion of the passenger station for the Michigan Central Railroad, to-day the road's freight state on River street. It is 200 by 40 feet, roofed with slate, was built by George Campbell and cost $10,500.

Page 185.

In February, 1865, the first board of directors of the Bay City & Portsmouth Street Railway Company was elected as follows: James Fraser, Nathan B. Knight, William McEwan, Myron Butman and George Campbell.

Page 311.

In 1868 George Campbell built the Farragut School for $67,350, the first session being held in April, 1869.

Page 314. (West Bay City)

George Campbell built the Central School for $9,500, while the school furniture $1,200, an extravagant outlay in the minds of sturdy pioneers.

1910 - Michigan Manufacturer & Financial Record, Vol. 2, Iss. 16 – Added Nov., 2010

Feb. 19, 1910.

Page 7.

George Campbell, one of the pioneer contractors of Bay City, is dead. In the early 70's he was the managing member of the lumber firm of VanEtten, Cambell & Co., building two mills at Pinconning and the first iron logging road in the state. It was 14 miles long, running from Glencoe to Lake Huron, known as the Pinconning, Glencoe & Lake Shore Railroad, and afterwards became a part of the Michigan Central. He had been prominently identified with many improvements in the history of the city, helping to organized the first street car company, of which he was a director and for a time president.

Additional Notes.

    1880 – Census: Bay City, Mich.

  • Campbell, George – b. 1831 Canada, single.

    1889 – The Book of Detroiters (1914)

  • Harry L. Zeese, born in Detroit in 1875, and went on to a career in hotel busines, began as a bellboy at the Campbell House, working there from 1889 to 1892.

    1889 -The Conductor and Brakeman, Vol. 6.

  • In March, the Railroad Conductors Association organized a new division #62, at Bay City, and afterward went to the Campbell House to celebrate.

    1900 – Census: Bay City, Mich.

  • Res. 415 Sheridan:
  • Campbell, Geo. - b. 1832 Scotland
  • Marguerite, wife – b. Nov 1859
  • Jessie, dau. - b. Sept. 1882 Canada
  • Florence, dau – b. Dec. 1886 Mich.

    1903 - The Michigan Alumnus: Vol. 9

  • BAY CITY ALUMNI ORGANIZE. - The alumni of Bay City and West Bay City, Mich., held a meeting at the New Campbell house in Bay City, on the evening of Monday, March 9, and completed the organization of a local association.
Related Pages/Notes

Campbell House

Related Pages:
B.C. School History
Buchanan, John G.
Campbell House
Fraser, James
Foss, Edgar B.
{Memories Early B.C. Days}
People Referenced
Bradley, Nathan B.
Butman, Myron
Campbell, Florence (dau)
Campbell, George (subject)
Campbell, Jessie (dau)
Fraser, James
Johnson, Maggie A. (wife)
McEwan, William
Zeese, Harry L.
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
B.C. E. Sag. RR
B.C. & Portsmouth St. Ry.
Cleveland, OH
County Caithness, Scotland
Det. & B.C. RR
First Baptist Church
Farragut School
Fraser House
Glencoe, MI
Kingston, Canada
Meeker & Adams Co.
Michigan Alumnus
Michigan Central RR
Midland RR
Oxford County
Pinconning, MI
Pinc., Glen., L.Shore RR
Portsmouth, MI
Railroad Conductors Asso.
Thurso, Scotland
Twenty-third St. Bridge
VanEtten, Campbell & Co.
Wenona, MI
West Bay City
Windsor, Ont.
Zorrs, Canada
Newspaper History
The Bay City Press and Times.
Oct. 31, 1863
-- The walls of the new brick block now in progress of erection on Water Street, by Mr. Jas. Fraser are nearly complete. The work is to be prosecuted with all possible dispatch, under the direction of that excellent architect, Mr. George Campbell.
Dont't Fail to Go!
and see
Wilds & Kenzie's


on Wednesday and Thursday Evenings, November 4th and 5th
Doors open at 7 o'clock - Concert to Commence at 8 o'clock. Admission 25 cents.

W.H. MUNSHAW, Agent.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.