Heritage \ Writings \

James Clements (1831-1895)
Founding member of the Industrial Works (Brownhoit), of Bay City, MI

Biography: Father of William L. Clements. (Added Jan, 2009)

Past and Present of Washtenaw County, MI, by Samuel W. Brakers, 1906


Among the builders and promoters of Ann Arbor who contributed to the business development of the city was numbered James Clements, a pioneer banker, who became one of the most prominent and well-to-do residents of Washtenaw county. He took up his abode in Ann Arbor over fifty years ago, or about 1855, being then a young man of less than twenty-four years. He was a native of England, born November 28, 1831. His parents passed away years ago.

James Clements was left an orphan at an early age and when a youth of only fourteen years he came to America, landing at New York city. During his early manhood he followed various business pursuits that would yield him an honorable living and being of an economical and ambitious nature he saved his earnings whereby he was enabled to purchase an interest in a gas plant at Flushing, Long Island. For several years he was connected with that industry and was also interested in gas plants in other cities in the east, continuing the management of the same until he came to Ann Arbor. He sought a field of labor here in a similar direction and erected the first gas works of this city, his interest in the business continuing throughout his remaining days. In 1870 he went to Bay City, Michigan, where he became identified with manufacturing interests, building a large plant for that purpose. It was devoted to the manufacture of all kinds of railroad machinery and this represented Mr. Clements' largest and most important investment. He continued to make Ann Arbor his home but continued to go to Bay City each Monday morning, remaining there throughout the business days of the week, returned in order to spend Sunday with his family. His business is still carried on by his children, his son having charge of the same. It is one of the largest plants of the kind in the state and employs many men, while its product is sold to railroad companies throughout the country. With the business Mr. Clements was connected until his death and it proved a profitable source of income, returning him a gratifying financial reward. A gentleman of resourceful business ability, however, he did not confine his attention to one line and his name figures conspicuously in connection with important interests of Ann Arbor. He was the found of the First National Bank here, one of its directors and a heavy stockholder. His judgment in business matters was very reliable and his worth was acknowledged by all who had regard for successful accomplishment along honorable lines.

Mr. Clements was married in the east to Miss. Agnes Macready, who died in this city in 1893. Of the children born unto them three are now living: Mrs. Ida C. Wheat, who resides in Ann Arbor and has two children, James Clements and Renville; Mary A. Clements, who has always lived in Ann Arbor and makes her home with Mrs. Wheat; and William L. Clements, who resides at Bay City and is in charge of the manufacturing plant there.

The death of James Clements occurred on the 12th of November 1895. He cast a presidential vote for Grover Cleveland but afterward became a republican in politics and continued to support that part for some time. He and his wife held membership in the Episcopal church of Ann Arbor, of which his children also became communicants. For many years he served as vestryman and was always deeply and actively interested in church work. He owned a home on South State street, where he always resided. For years he figured as one of the prominent and worth citizens of Ann Arbor, winning prosperity through well directed effort nor was his path path strewn with the wrecks of other men's fortunes. He was always just in his treatment of those with whom he had trade relations but was watchful of opportunity and his utilization of the advantages which came to him was one of the strong and moving forces in his success.

Related Note & Pages

Industrial Works (Brownhoist)

Bay City, MI

Related Pages:
Clements, Henry (bro)
Clements, Wm. L. (bro)
Industrial Works
People Referenced
Clements, James Sr.(subject) Clements, James (g-son)
Clements, Mary (dau.)
Clements, Renville (g-son)
Clements, Wm. L. (son)
Cleveland, Grover Pres.
Episcopal Ch, Ann Arbor
Mcready, Agnes (wife)
Wheat, Ida C. Mrs. (dau.)
Subjects Referenced
Ann Arbor, MI
Bay City, MI
Bay Co. Savings bank
Flushing, L.I., NY
New York, NY
Washtenaw Co., MI
Internet References
[Founders Day at James Clements Libary - 4/25/09] Article by Dave Rogers, of MyBayCity.com, includes history connecting James Clements to Bay City's early industrial period.
[Wm. Clements Library] - Univ. of Michigan.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.