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Judge Sidney S. Campbell (1804-1887)
Pioneer settler of Lower Saginaw (now Bay City).

1905 biography. (Paragraphs edited for easier viewing. Added Sep., 2007)

History of Bay County, Michigan: And Representative Citizens
by Augustus H. Gansser (1905)



HON. SYDNEY S. CAMPBELL, deceased, whose portrait accompanies this sketch, was one of the pioneer citizens of Bay County, Michigan, and located at Lower Saginaw (now Bay City) as early as 1838. He was actively identified with the growth and progress of the community, and conducted the first tavern here, long known as the Globe Hotel, which still stands.

Sydney S. Campbell was born in Paris, Oneida County, New York, February 29, 1804, and was a son of Moses and Phoebe (Stewart) Campbell, being the youngest of five children. He was of Scotch descent. He received his early intellectual training in the common schools of his native county, then attended college at Utica, New York, where he graduated from the law department.

In 1830 he came to Michigan, settling first at Pontiac and then at Cass River Bridge, where, in 1836, he laid out a town and called it Bridgeport, his partner in this venture being Judge G. D. Williams. A post office was established with himself as postmaster, but the town was blighted by hard times in the winter of 1837-38. He was induced by James Fraser and Judge Williams to remove to the new city on the Saginaw, known as Lower Saginaw, and start a hotel.

He arrived on March 1, 1838, and the following day killed a large buck on the opposite side of the river, the last one seen by him for a period of five years. That month, as described by Judge Campbell afterward, was as warm as is usual for the month of June. His family lived in the block-house on the bank of the river for a short time until the tavern was completed, it being located on Water street, where it still stands as a relic of Bay City's early history.

It was often difficult to get the provisions necessary for his table, but Judge Campbell was always a liberal provider. Often he found it necessary to paddle a canoe 16 miles to Saginaw for a pound of tea or some equally small article.

A year or two after his arrival, he and his brother Harry borrowed the government team of oxen and plowed a piece of land near where the Folsom & Arnold old sawmill stood, which they sowed to buckwheat. When the time came to gather it, he and his wife would go down the river in a canoe to the field, and as they proceeded he would shoot ducks, which were plentiful those days. Arriving there, he would spread out a sail-cloth upon the ground and on this thresh out the buckwheat as his wife carried it to him. They then placed it in bags and took it to the tavern in the canoe, emptying out the bags of grain in an upstairs bedroom.

The following winter there was a scarcity of flour and in February the supply in Lower Saginaw became exhausted and none could be obtained from Saginaw or Flint. To the people of the settlement, Judge Campbell's store of buckwheat was indeed welcome.

Frederick Derr, who lived in the "wild-cat" bank building opposite the tavern, owned a large coffee-mill, of which the settlers soon took advantage, taking the amount of buckwheat needed and grinding it in this mill. In this way the only flour used in the settlement for a period of three weeks was made, and none was obliged to go hungry.

In those days Judge Campbell was very friendly with the Indians, and traded extensively with them. He conducted the tavern for a number of years, and in after years when retired from business activity he formed the habit of going to the hotel for a social visit twice a day.

In 1873, he built a brick business block, just north of the hotel, and in many ways was prominently identified with the development of the city.

He made many interesting notes with regard to the early history of this vicinity, and these appear in the historical portion of this work. He witnessed the gradual change of Bay County from a wild and sparsely settled state to its present condition, with its richly cultivated farms and populous towns and cities.

He was the first supervisor of Hampton township, the first meeting being held in his tavern. He held that once a number of years and when the county was organized, became probate judge, serving as such for a period of 12 years, from 1857. He was elected on the Democratic ticket, and was always a consistent member of that party, frequently serving as delegate to county, State and congressional conventions.

In March, 1830, Judge Campbell was joined in the bonds of matrimony with Catherine J. McCartee, one of those sturdy pioneer women who bravely faced the hardships and thrilling experiences of the early days in this country. She was of Scotch-Irish descent and was a daughter of William James and Clara (Dunlap) McCartee.

Judge Campbell died August 28, 1887, aged nearly 84 years, and his wife died June 1, 1888. They were parents of the following children : Margaret, deceased, who was the wife of Bernhardt Witthauer; Emily, who resides in the old family home at No. 1704 Woodside avenue, and is the only one of the children living in Bay City; Edward McCartee, deceased, was the first white boy born in Lower Saginaw; William James, a farmer residing in Pinconning township ; and Catherine, who died in infancy.

Judge Campbell was a man of the highest character, and had his influence in the moral, intellectual and financial affairs of the community. He and his wife were Presbyterians. Miss Emily Campbell is a lady of literary attainments and accomplishments, and has always occupied a prominent place in the refined circles of Bay City.

Judge Sidney's family history. - Added Nov., 2010.

History of the Town of Paris (New York) - 1881
  • Page 132.

    Moses Campbell, Sr. was born in Connecticut, September 14, 1737, and came to Paris in 1793, and settled on the farm in the northeast part of the town now owned by Richard and John Gilloran. He had twelve chidren: Agnes, Patrict, Sarah, Moses, Jr., Allen, Eleanor, John, Martha, Anna, Daniel, Elizabeth and Polly. He died April 8, 1827, age 90 years. Patrict his eldest son, lies buried on Paris Hill by the side of his wives and ten children. Moses, Jr., was born March 12, 1764, and was married to Phebe Stewart, September, 1789. His children were seven in number: John Dixson, Laurinda, Ruth Minerva, Mandone, Henry, Sidney and Leander. Moses, Jr. settled on the farm near Elisha Wetmore, where Philip Miller now resides, and when they came into the country (1793) there being no road through the woods, his wife rode on horseback along the bridle path from Utica, her riding whip being a popular twig, which, upon arriving at her future home in the wilderness, and dismounting, she stuck in the moist ground, where, taking root, it has grown to a tall tree, now standing in the corner of the door-yard. Moses, Jr., died February, 1817, aged 53, and with his father lies buried in the old buring ground at Norwich Corners. They both endured the hardships and privations of pioneer life, and were held in high esteem by their neighbors and townsmen. John Dixon Campbell was born November 28, 1790, and was three years old when he came into the wildernes with his parents. He married a daughter of Johnathan King, and sister of Noah E. King, and succeeded to the farm, where he ever afterward resided. He was a prominent man in the affairs of the town and neighborhood, and possessed to a marked degree the faculty of commanding the respect of all his townsmen. J. Dixon Campbell had many warm friends to mourn his death when he passed away, May 1, 1878, at the ripe age of 78 years. (His brother Sidney, of Bay City, Mich., alone survives of the old family.)

  • Pioneer Society history on Bay County. (Added Dec., 2009)

    Collections of the Pioneer Society, Volume 3, 1881.


    The Hon. S. S. Campbell came to Lower Saginaw in March, 1838, with his family, and built his house on the corner of Fifth and Water street, where the Globe Hotel now stands; Judge Campbell being the first permanent resident on the surveyed plat of Lower Saginaw, where his family lived and kept the first hotel opened in this county, and continued this business till several other hotels were in successful operation, when the house was greatly enlarged and opened as the Globe. Mr. Campbell, in about 1873, built a fine brick block on the lot north and adjoining the Globe, and has lived on his property on Woodside avenue for nearly sixteen years, and is enjoying the fruits of his early efforts and hardships in peace and quietness, having his family around him to cheer up his fast approaching age.

    Pioneer Society memorial biography. (Added Mar., 2009)

    Michigan Historical Collections, Michigan State Historical Society, 1890



    Judge Sidney S. Campbell, one of the first pioneers of Bay City, died at his home in the first ward of Bay City, August 28, 1887.

    Judge Campbell was born in Paris, Oneida county, N. Y., February 29, 1804, and was in the 84th year of his age at the time of his death.

    He came to the territory of Michigan in 1829, and settled in Rochester, Oakland county, where he was married to Miss Catherine J. McCarter, March 28, 1830, when they moved to Pontiac. In 1835 he removed to Bridgeport, Saginaw county, where the territorial road crossed the Cass river, where he platted a village, expecting to get rich; but the bubble of wildcat times burst, and left him a poorer but wiser man. He left it in disgust, and removed to Lower Saginaw (now Bay City) in the spring of 1838, where he built a small hotel on what is now the corner of Water and Fifth streets, being the first and only tavern, at that time, in what is now Bay City. At the first election, in 1843, after the organization of the township of Hampton, which composed the now counties of Tuscola, Huron, Midland, Arenac, Oscoda, Gladwin, etc., etc., there were in all thirteen votes cast. Mr. Campbell was elected the first supervisor by one majority over his competitor, James G. Birney, which office he held for may years. After Bay county was organized he was elected judge of probate, which office he also held for many years. Some twenty years ago he left his hotel and removed to his little farm, which is now in the city, corner of Johnson and Woodside avenues, where he died.

    Judge Campbell was the most widely known man of any person in northern Michigan, both by whites and Indians. He was a great hunter, and for this reason he was called by the Indians “Che-Me-gun,” meaning big wolf. Judge Campbell was a man greatly respected by all who knew him, he being on of the first settlers of Bay City.

    Additional Notes.

      1850 Census: Hampton Twp., Saginaw County, Mich.
      (Note: Location would have been the village of "Lower Saginaw" (now Bay City), which at this time was a part of Saginaw Co. Bay County wasn't organized until 1857, when Lower Sagainaw was renamed Bay City.)

    • Campbell, Sydney - age 41, hotel keeper, b. New York
    • Catherine, wife - age 37, b. New York
    • Margaret, dau. - age 15 b. Mich.
    • Emily, dau.- age 12, b. Mich.
    • Edward, son, - age 9, b. Mich.
    • William, son - age 6. b. Mich.
    • Bay City directories, Sidney Campbell's addresses:

    • 1866/67 - Johnson at Woodside avenue; Probate judge.
      -- Directory history states son, Edward was second child born in Lower Saginaw.
    • 1879 - s.e. cor. Woodside ave & Johnson; includes William Campbell, sailor.
    • 1883 - 1704 Woodside ave.; includes Caroline Campbell, dress maker.
    Related Pages/Notes

    Sydney S. Campbell

  • 1857 June: Elected probate judge.
  • 1858: Elected first chairman of Bay Co. Board of Supervisors.
    Related pages:
    Campbell, Harry brother
    Campbell, Robt. J. nephew
    Derr, Frederick
    Witthauer, Bernard s-inlaw
    Globe Hotel
    1868-9 Directory
    1847 Residents of Bay Co.
  • People Referenced
    Birney, James G.
    Campbell, Allen (uncle)
    Campbell, Agnes (aunt)
    Campbell, Anna (aunt)
    Campbell, Daniel (uncle)
    Campbell, Edward M. (son)
    Campbell, Eleanor (aunt)
    Campbell, Elizabeth (aunt)
    Campbell, Emily (dau.)
    Campbell, Henry (bro)
    Campbell, John (uncle)
    Campbell, John D. (bro)
    Campbell, Laurinda (sis)
    Campbell, Leander (bro)
    Campbell, Madone (bro)
    Campbell, Margaret (dau)
    Campbell, Martha (aunt)
    Campbell, Moses, Sr. (g-father)
    Campbell, Moses, Jr. (father)
    Campbell, Patrict (uncle)
    Campbell, Poly (aunt)
    Campbell, Ruth M. (sis)
    Campbell, Sarah (aunt)
    Campbell, Sidney S. (subj.)
    Campbell, William J. (son)
    Derr, Frederick
    Dunlap, Clara
    Fraser, James
    King, Johnathan
    King, Noah E.
    McCartee: aka. McCarter
    McCartee, Catherine J. (wife)
    McCartee, William J.
    Millar, Philip
    Stewart, Phoebe (mother)
    Williams, G. D. Judge
    Witthauer, Bernhardt
    Subjects Referenced
    Arenac Co., MI
    Bay City, Mi
    Bay Co., MI
    Bridgeport, MI
    Cass River, MI
    Flint, MI
    Folsom & Arnold sawmill
    Gladwin Co., MI
    Globe Hotel
    Hampton Twp., MI
    Huron Co., MI
    Lower Saginaw, MI
    Midland Co., MI
    Oakland Co., MI
    Oneida Co., NY
    Oscoda Co., MI

    Paris, NY
    Pinconning Twp., MI
    Pontiac, MI
    Rochester, MI
    Saginaw, MI
    Saginaw Co., MI
    Tuscola Co., MI
    Utica, NY
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.