Heritage \ Writings \

William Orrin Clift (1852-1935)
Native of Syracuse, N.Y., long-time insurance agent in Bay City, MI.

History of Bay County, MI and Representative Citizens (1905),
by Augustus H. Gansser.


William Orrin Clift, senior member of the well-known firm of W. O. Clift & Company, of Bay City, Michigan, who carry on a general insurance, real estate, loan and investment business, is one of the city's progressive and public spirited men. Mr. Clift was born near Syracuse, New York, March 20, 1852, and is son of Myron and Elizabeth (Hutchinson) Clift.

The Clift family originated in New England. The great-grandfather, William Clift, was born in Vermont and moved at an early day to Onondaga County, New York, where his son William was born, near Skaneateles.

Myron Clift, father of our subject, was born in 1821 at Skaneateals. In 1865 he went to Illinois where he bought property and resided upon it until 1880, when he removed to Kansas. He married Elizabeth Hutchinson, who was born near Syracuse, New York, and is a daughter of Orrin Hutchinson. They had eight children, five of whom reached maturity, namely: Martha E., who resides with her parents at Burlington, Kansas; William O., of this sketch; Lodema H., wife of Marshall Mitchell, of Ottawa, Illinois; Lenora, wife of O. A. Smith, of Burlington, Kansas; and Emma (Mrs. Cruser), of Burlington, Kansas. The family belong to the Universalist Church.

William Orrin Clift enjoyed common-school advantages both in New York and in Illinois, and completed his education in the Columbus (Ohio) High School. Soon after this, he entered the office of Superintendent G. A. Doran, of the Ohio State Asylum for Feeble-Minded Youth, and continued to be employed there about 10 years. After coming to Michigan, Mr. Clift became superintendent of the Western Plaster Works, at Alabaster; one year later, in the fall of 1880, he became a resident of Bay City. He accepted a position as bookkeeper in the First National Bank and continued there until the summer of 1887, when he assisted in organizing the Commercial Bank of Bay City, of which he was cashier until 1895. For the past 10 years Mr. Clift has given all his attenton to insurance, investment and loans.

The insurance agency now conducted by W. O. Clift & Company was established in 1878, when the late C. B. Cottrell embarked in the insurance business, which he conducted until 1885, being succeeded by James B. Corwin, who carried it on until his death, in April, 1895, when each partner started an agency separately. Mr. Clift represents some of the oldest and most reliable insurance companies of the world, his list including the Hartford Fire Insurance Company, of New York; Mutual Benefit Fire Insurance Company, of Newark, New Jersey; and the Liverpool & London & Globe Insurance Company, Commercial Union Assurance Company and the Phoenix Assurance Company, of England.

Although politically a staunch Republican, Mr. Clift prefers that others should hold the public offices, as he has no political aspirations. He has long been very prominently identified with Masonic affairs and is known all over the State in fraternal circles. He is past master of Joppa Lodge, No. 315, F. & A. M., and past high priest of Blanchard Chapter, No. 50, R. A. M.; has been thrice illustrious master of Bay City Council, No. 53, R. & S. M., for a number of years, and is eminent commander of Bay City Commandery, No. 26, K. T.; is grand master of ceremonies of McCormick Grand Lodge of Perfection and is most eminent sovereign grand master of Bay City Council, Princes of Jerusalem; is a member of Saginaw Valley Chapter of Rose Croix at Bay City, of the Michigan Sovereign Consistory, S. P. R. S., at Detroit, and of Saladin Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S., at Grand Rapids. His social connection is with the Bay City Club, of which he was one of the organizers.

Mr. Clift has a very pleasant home at Bay City. He married Ella Gertrude Stocking, who is a daughter of A. W. Stocking, of Painesville, Ohio, and they have two sons: Myron W., who is a member of the class of 1905 of the ;University of Michigan Medical School; and Lyle M. The family attend the Congregational Church, of which Mr. Clift is trustee and treasurer.

Additional Notes.

    1894 - Census: Bay City, Bay, Mich.
    Cliff, W.O. - age 44
    Ella, wife - age 45
    Willie, son - age 11
    Lyle, son - age 1
    stockings, Susan, mother - age 84

    1900 - Census: Bay City, Bay, Mich.
    Cliff, W.O. - b. 1851, New York, insurance agent.
    Ella, wife - b. 1849, Ohio
    Lyle, son - b. 1892, Mich.

    1917 - Michigan Marriages: Bay City.
    Date: Dec. 31, 1917
    Groom: Lyle M. Clift, b. 1892, Bay City, Mich, son of William Cliff and Ella Stocking.
    Bride: Helen C. Macdonald, b. 1893, Bay City, Mich., daughter of John A. Macdonald and Caroline Tomphina

    1920 - Census: Bay City, Bay, Mich.
    Clift, Lyle M. - b. 1893, Mich.
    Helen, wife - b. 1894, Mich.
    William O., father - b. 1852, NY

    1935 - Michigan Deaths: Bay City, Bay.
    Death of William O., Sep. 16, 1934. Son, of Miron W. Clift and Elizabeth Hitchinson. (wife - Ellia Gertrude Stockings died Jul. 19, 1912.)

Viewer's Comments:

    Contributed by Bill Clift, 2nd great-grandson of William and Ella (Stocking) Clift, family photos and William's obituary and family bible which appear below his picture.

    Myron William Clift, son.

    Lyle Minar Clift, son.

    Ella's baby picture.

    Artemas W. Stocking
    Ella's father.

    Susan C. Kent, Ella's mother.

Related Note & Pages

William O. Clift
{W.O. Clift obituary} pdf
{Family Bible} pdf
Related Pages:
Clift, Myron W.. - son
First Congregational Ch.
Moulthrop-Clift, Inc.
People Referenced
Clift, Emma (sister)
Clift, Myron (father)
Clift, Myron W. (son)
Clift, Lenora (sister)
Clift, Lodema H (sister)
Clift, Lyle M. (son)
Clift, Martha E. (sister)
Clift, Willie (son)
Clift, Wm (g-father)
Clift, Wm. (gg-father)
Corwin, James B.
Cottrell, C.B.
Doran, G.A.
Hutchinson, Eliza. (mother)
Hutchinson, Orrin (g-father)
MacDonald, John A.
MacDonald, Helen C. (dau-inlaw)
Mitchell, Marshall
Smith, A.O.
Stocking, A.W. (f-inlaw)
Stocking, Ella G. (wife)
Stocking, Susan (m-inlaw)
Tomphina, Caroline
Subjects Referenced
Alabaster, MI
Bay City, MI
Burlington, KS
Columbus, OH
Commerical Bank B.C.
Commerical Union Ins.
Congregational Church
First Natl. Bank
Hartford Ins. Co.
Liverpool & Globe Ins.
Mutual Bene. Fire Ins.
New Jersey
Ohio State Asylum
Onondaga Co., NY
Ottawa, Illinois
Painesville, OYH
Phoenix Ins. Co.
Skaneateals, NY
Syracuse, NY
Universalist Church
Univ. of Michigan
Western Plaster Works
W.O. Clift & Co.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.