History of Bay County, Michigan and Representative Citizens (1905)|
by Augustus H. Gansser.
Now by our Fathers' ashes! Where's the spirit
Of the true hearted and the unshackled gone?
Sons of old freedom, do we but inherit
Their names alone?
Thus sang the heroic bard of New England
and through all the regions of our land, from
the Potomac to Lake Superior, and from the
Atlantic to the Pacific, the fire was kindled that
burned the fetters which bound a human race,
and through four years of deadly strife and the
blood of thousands of heroes the dividing line
of "Dixie's Land" was wiped away forever, until today there is indeed "no North, no South."
The first public utterance among the handful of settlers in Bay County was James G.
Birney's stirring appeal for the down-trodden
slaves of the South on Independence Day, 1842.
His was no idle flight of oratory. He had
practiced the liberation he now preached, and
this sire of Bay City may well stand with William Lloyd Garrison on history's undying pages,
as a worthy champion of humanity:
Champion of those who groan beneath
Oppression's iron hand;
In view of penury, hate and death,I see the fearless stand.
Still bearing up thy lofty brow,
In steadfast strength of truth
In manhood sealing well the vow
And promise of thy youth.
What wonder, then, that this frontier settlement should have rallied so nobly for the defense of liberty and unity, during the dismal
years of the Civil War! The children of 1842
were the young men of 1861-65, and the noble
precept and example of James G. Birney, the
outcast from his native heath and self-denying
pioneer, was rewarded by their devoted service
in times that tried men's souls.
The records of the office of the Adjutant
General of Michigan show that Bay County
during those four years sent
51 soldiers forth to battle,
of whom 83 died in service,
while many more gave up their young lives after being mustered out, from wounds and sickness,
before peace again came to bless our land. When
we find that the
Federal census of 1860 gave Bay County a population of but 3,164 men,
women and children,
we can more readily appreciate the sacrifices of men and money male
by this community, that our nation might live,
one and indivisible. Five hundred and eleven,
volunteers, out of a population which at no
time during those years reached 5,000, these
are historic figures of which we may well be
proud, and that speak more eloquently of patriotic devotion than aught else could do. Eighty-three names engraved forever upon the heroic records of a grateful republic. Alas, how
soon their names are forgotten at home, how
long and how well preserved in the halls of
One may search through all the early annals of this county, without finding a single
connected record of these 511 citizens who went
bravely forward at Lincoln's call for volunteers. Here and there appear isolated records,
like beacon-lights on dark waters, but no attempt has apparently been made to preserve the
names of those who went out from this county
at their country's call, nor do we know the
names of those who died at their post of duty.
Here and there in the disconnected sketches of pioneers we find a name worth preserving.
Gen. Benjamin F. Partridge,
born in Shelby, Michigan, April I9, 1822, came to Bay City
in 1854, where lie engaged in lumbering and
surveying. When the Civil War broke out, he
was sheriff of Bay County, and later recruited
men for the 16th Michigan Infantry, being
commissioned 1st lieutenant of Company I, in
March, 1862. In three years he rose through
all the intermediate grades to colonel commanding this regiment; was wounded in the neck in
the battle of Peeble's Farm, and in March, 1865,
was breveted brigadier-general. Wounded in
the head at Quaker Road, he still remained in
command of his brigade through General
Grant's final campaign, from Petersburg to
Appomattox Court House, where his brigade
received 28 of the 71 tattered battle-flags captured by the Union Army. His brigade took
part in the Grand Review in Washington. He
commanded seven regiments at Louisville, Kentucky, until July, 1865, w-hen his brigade was
honorably mustered out. The 16th Michigan
participated in 54 engagements and battles,
General Partridge being in all but two of them,
when he was in hospital. Pre-eminently a
Michigan and Bay County product, lie is a shining example of the patriot of 186I, who when
the cruel war was over went back to the duties
of civil life here at home with the same energy
and devotion that had marked his volunteer
Col. Henry S. Raymond,
who died in Detroit in I904, came to Bay City with his father, Col. H. Raymond in 1849. In 1862 he was mustered in as captain of Company F, 23rd Michigan Infantry, the first complete company
raised in Bay City and by successive promotions
in the next three years attained the rank of
brother of the late Judge
Andrew C. Maxwell, went into the army among
the first from Bay City, just after he had been
admitted to the bar here; served four years, and
in after years became judge of the Supreme
Court of Nebraska.
Archibald L. McCormick,
the first white
child born in Michigan, north of the Flint River, often heard James G. Birney's plea for
liberty and equality to all, when as a boy he
played among the well-kept vines of the Birney
cottage, and he sealed the determination of his
boyhood, to see justice done, with his life at
the battle of Kenesaw Mountain in Sherman's
famous "March to the Sea," while charging a
battery at the head of his company. He had
been previously wounded and suffered much in
Rebel prisons after being found on the battlefield by the enemy.
Such were the men and their heroic deeds
and such were the sacrifices of many thousands
who sank down to nameless graves, the individual lost in turmoil of strife, but their collective
achievements in defense of human liberty and
human rights live on forever.
In the shady grove at Pine Ridge Cemetery
stands the plain granite monument, commemorating the services of our "Boys in Blue," and
the appreciation of those services by posterity.
Grouped about it, side by side as in life and war,
lie the veterans who have answered the last long
roll, while scattered through every other cemetery of Bay County lie other veterans in family plats.
Among those who enlisted from Bay County and have passed away, we find the names of
G. A. Van Alstine,
Company L, First Michigan
Engineers, 1862-65, wounded in the Wilderness, taken to Andersonville Prison, where he
suffered until the close of the war, returning
home in June, 1865, after all his loved ones had
long ago given him up as dead in a nameless
Alonzo B. Freeland,
Infantry, 1861-64, wounded at Petersburg.
Third Michigan Cavalry, serving unscathed, 186I-65. J. S. Fox, First Michigan Infantry, 1861-65, wounded at Savage
Station, spent six months-in Rebel prisons and
one year in hospital.
John M. Schucker,
Second Michigan Cavalry, 186I-65, wounded at
Gettysburg; he was a pioneer who came here in
1853 and his widow still lives and remembers
his grave on each Memorial Day.
Maj. Newcomb Clark,
lieutenant, 14th Michigan Infantry; promoted major, 102nd United States
Infantry, Colored, 1861-65.
Capt. Albert W. Watrous,
Fifth United States Infantry.
born in 1815, who came to Bay City
in 1844, did not allow his age to deter him from
serving his country, as in 1862 he enlisted in
Company A, 14th Michigan Infantry, and
served until the close of the war. He was the
oldest recruit from Bay County.
Charles W. Dease,
Company D, 10th Michigan Infantry, 1861-65.
W. E. Carney,
15th Michigan Infantry, 1863-65.
Horace B. Mix,
Company C, United States Engineer, Veteran Corps,
wounded at Vicksburg, in hospital 11 months,
served to the end of the war.
First Mounted Rifles, 1862-65.
Charles A. Vosburg
came here in 1853; he was a member
of Company D, 10th Michigan Cavalry, 1862-65;
First United States Engineers, 1864-65.
Second Michigan Infantry, 1861-64, lost a leg at Spottsylvania Court House.
Capt. B. W. Merrick,
Company E, Fifth Michigan Infantry, shot in the shoulder at Fredericksburg, spent
five months in hospital and served to 1865.
Company C, 30th Michigan Infantry, 1864-65.
was the law partner of the late Judge Andrew C. Maxwell
here; when war broke out he enlisted and died
Company A, Fifth Michigan Infantry, enlisted in 1861, was
wounded in the Shenandoah campaign, and
died January 18, 1865.
George E. Aiken
was in the shoe business here, when he heard the
call for duty; he served with Battery D, First
Michigan Light Artillery, 1861-65.
17th Michigan Infantry, 1862-65, later
register of deeds for Bay County, died in 1904.
who came here in 1858, served with the Fourth Michigan Infantry; was prosecuting attorney for Bay County, 1883-84.
for nearly 40 years an industrious citizen of Bay City, typified the worldwide le spirit of devotion to liberty and equality. His German ship, on which he served as sailor,
hailing from Reugen, happened to be in Wilmington, Delaware, when Fort Sumter was
fired on. He could speak no English, and it was not his country's fight. Yet that quiet,
peace-loving foreigner promptly enlisted in the First Delaware Infantry, served faithfully to
the end of the war, was wounded several times, and took part in over 40 engagements, including Gettysburg. He died in January, I905, and on the coming Memorial Day his green
grave will be accorded the same loving attention he himself extended for so many years to
his comrades that had gone before.
L. H., Griffin,
for many years in the laundry business
here, was among the first to enlist, serving in the First Michigan Cavalry, 1861-66, as orderly sergeant.
WV. H. Lynch
was too small to shoulder a musket, so he became drummer in
the First United States Infantry, was captured at Chancellorsville and spent more than a year
amid the horrors of Andersonville and Belle Isle prisons.
H. C. Meyers
enlisted in the United States Navy in 1861, but salt water did not agree with
him, so in 1863 he enlisted in the 11th Michigan
Cavalry, serving until 1865.
Lieut. John W. Shearer
passed through 36 battles and engagements with the Second Michigan Infantry,
Benno A. Katthain,
14th Michigan Infantry, 1862-65, was for 30 years piano
tuner here, dying in 1904.
The memory of Hon. James G. Birney, the liberator, was well
honored by his grandson and namesake.
Capt. James G. Birney, oldest son of Hon. James Birney, who served through the war with the Seventh Michigan Infantry, and died on the Indian
frontier in 1869, while serving with United States troops.
Hundreds sleep in our cities of the dead, whose achievements in war and peace equal and
perhaps surpass these isolated service records, but these will suffice to preserve for the perusal
of their surviving comrades, and as an indication to posterity of the character and service of
the veterans we delight to honor.
Equally instructive and worthy of commemoration are the service records of some of
our most prominent citizens.
Hon. James A. VanKleeck,
department commander of Michigan's G. A. R., I900-OI, served with Company
D, 17th Michigan Infantry, known as the "Stonewall Regiment." He was wounded at
Antietam and lay among the dead on that bloody battlefield until the next day; he was
then carried into a field hospital arranged in a nearby church, where for eight long months he
hovered between life and death, and to this day he suffers continually from the wounds sustained at Antietam. It is the current comment of his comrades in arms, that Comrade VanKleeck holds the Michigan record for continuous church attendance, which the popular veteran acknowledges might be true, eight months under the belfry being a rather long devotion.
Maj. Lyman G. Willcox,
national commander of the National League of Veterans and
Sons, recruited Company B, Third Michigan
Cavalry, and served with marked distinction to
the end of the war, being mustered out with the
brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel.
Dr. Henry B. Landon,
who graduated from the University
of Michigan in 1861, promptly enlisted in the Seventh Michigan Infantry as adjutant, and
was wounded in the battle of Fair Oaks. Recovering, he again went to the front as army
surgeon, serving until the brunt of the fighting
was over in 1864.
Judge George P. Cobb
served with the Fifth Michigan Cavalry, 1863-65.
Dr. W. E. Vaughn
rendered splendid service as army surgeon, 1862-65.
J. V. Knaggs
enlisted as private in Company A., Fourth Michigan Infantry, was wounded at
Malvern Hill, losing all arm. After lying seven days upon that bloody battlefield, he was taken
prisoner by the Rebels, confined in Libby Prison, later exchanged, and taken to Bellevue
Hospital, New York City, until his wound had healed in 1863.
Maj. E. B. Nugent
rose from the ranks in the Third Michigan Cavalry,
through meritorious service, 1861-65.
Lieut. H. I. Norrington
at the age of 16 joined the famous Loomis Battery in 1862, participated
in 32 engagements, was wounded at the battle of Stone River, taken prisoner and later exchanged. He received his commission on recommendation of General Reynolds for carrying dispatches through the enemy's lines, after six previous attempts had failed.
George WV. Butterfield,
in I905, national treasurer of the
Letter Carriers' Association, enlisted in Company B, 22nd Michigan Infantry, in 1862; was
later transferred to the Signal Corps, rendered distinguished service as wig-wagger for Generals Rosecrans, Thomas, Sherman and Grant, participating in all the campaigns of the West,
being present at the surrender of General Johnston and the Confederate Army.
for many years deputy United States marshal here, served with the
24th Michigan Infantry, 1862-64, was wounled in the hip at Gettysburg, lay eight months in
hospital, and to this day suffers from that injury.
J. Fred Whittemore
served in the Third
Michigan Cavalry, 1862-65, was prominent in the lumber industry here in later years, and died in 1904.
N. N. Murphy,
Chief of Police, won his spurs in the 10th New York Artillery, 1862-65.
Fred W. Barclay
left his tug on the Saginaw River to serve in "Uncle Sam's" navy, 1863-65.
Lafayette N. Brown,
the dean of Bay City's mail carriers, and the "Uncle Sam"
of all public occasions, his figure, feature and chin-whiskers being the real "Uncle" counterfeit, served with the Seventh Michigan Infantry, 1861-65.
James A. McKnight and
Henry H. Aplin
served in the 16th Michigan Infantry, 1862-65, and
George A. Allen
in Company A, 10th Michigan. Inf., 186I-65. All three came
here when peace returned, and for 40 years have been prominent in the affairs of the West Side.
Oliver H. Irons,
23rd Michigan Infantry, lost his eyesight through wounds, and in
1905, after 40 years of sightless existence, is still a public-spirited and cheerful citizen, enjoying the most liberal pension on the local rolls, as a slight remembrance of the gratitude
of the country he served so well and for which he gave so much.
WV. E. Callender,
Justice of the Peace, served with the Sixth United States Cavalry in 1861-62, later being promoted captain of the Ninth Battery, Veteran Artillery, 1863-65.
Company H., 23rd Michigan Infantry, was wounded at Nashville,
and suffered for II months in hospital.
John C. Rowden,
respected pioneer of Auburn, was with Company F, 23rd Michigan Infantry, and
was wounded at Franklin and Alatoona Pass. His neighbor,
Henry W. Hopler,
served side by side with him, 1862-65, being in every engagement of his company.
Company E, 22nd Michigan Infantry, 1862-65,
was wounded in the collar-bone at Chickamauga.
George A. Schultz
was among the first to volunteer from here, serving with Company
K, Second Michigan Cavalry, 1861-65.
Luman S. Harris,
10th Michigan Infantry, was permanently disabled at the bloody battle of
served in the 10th Michigan Cavalry, 1861-65.
Capt. S. E. Burnham,
First Michigan Artillery, wounded at Petersburg;
Capt. A. J. Cooke,
148th New York Infantry, wounded at Petersburg. suffering from that bullet in the chest to this day:
Dr. Robert WV. Erwin,
Lieut. I. F. Emery,
Capt. Orrin Bump,
Lieut. E. T Carrington,
Lieut. M. Al. Andrews,
Lieut. H. E. Meeker.
Capt. George E. Turner,
Prominent since the close of the war in Bay City's material
welfare and prosperity, are today honored members of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion
of the United States, membership in itself being a living testimony of valiant service.
Hon. Chester L. Collins
just elected circuit judge;
Dr. H. B. Hulbert,
Dr. C. W. Maxon,
Capt. Richard Armstrong,
0. F. Kellogg,
J. N. Syrmeyer,
Benson Conklin, Ex-Sheriff,
H. P. Warfield,
Marion A. Randall,
Henry W. Sims,
E. V. Oakes,
- these are among the several hundred veterans who enlisted in other
States, and after the cruel war was over entered again upon the pursuits of peace, choosing
this busy valley for their future home, and they are today among our most respected citizens
and honored veterans. Their ranks are thinning fast, but the results of their patriotic service will live forever.
Judge Isaac Marston,
T. C. Phillips and
Ransom P. Essex
were the enrolling officers for Bay County in 1863, this being the 85th
Sub-District of Michigan. In 1864 the quota of able-bodied men eligible for war service hadbeen practically exhausted in this village, and, through the representation of this board, Bay
County's quota that year was reduced by 45, a saving in bounties of something like $15,000.
Hon. James Shearer
was alderman in Detroit during the war. So exacting was his work for the families of soldiers, that he gave up his thriving business for the time being and devoted himself exclusively to this work. Repeatedly he visited the battle-fields and hospitals of the South, to provide for the sick and wounded, and everything possible was done for the soldiers and their families here at home.
Verily, behind the dramatic incidents of the battle-fields, there was also much heroic devotion, much devoted work and many self-sacrifices.
Bay County from the first was blessed with a band of noble women, as brave, energetic and
devoted as their fathers. brothers, sons and husbands, and during all the (lark years of the war
they willingly gave up the best of earth, for their country's sake. Volumes might be written of the noble work done by these good women. How they carried on the work on the
farm left in their charge, or worked and eked out a meager living in the village, while their
protectors dared everything for the sake of justice, liberty and equality. How they organized sewing circles, furnishing bandages and wearing apparel for the "Boys in Blue,"
raised money for hospital purposes and for presents at stated periods to the men at the
front. How they kept their troubles at home to themselves, offering nothing but encouragement to their loved ones, thus keeping alive the spirit that finally conquered for the right. In
these and a thousand other ways, the good women of our land and of Bay County contributed much to the final success of a cause proven just by the evolutions of more than four
decades. No monuments or medals mark the heroism displayed by our true women in times
that tried men's souls, but the gratitude and recognition of a nation will endure while life
lasts,-a more enduring monument than slabs of marble or medals of bronze. A million men
fought and thousands died, but back of them all stood other millions and other thousands, who
upheld the hands that carried the muskets and sabers, and all of these are blessed today by a
united, happy and prosperous people. The blood of the sons of Bay County was not shed in vain, and all the sacrifices of our loyal men and women have brought indeed a rich reward.
Long may the memory of their noble deeds survive to bless our land!