Heritage \ Writings \
View Military Section.

James C. Danforth (1843-1896)
Born in New York, Civil War veteran,
moved to Midland, then West Bay City in 1869.

1892 biography. Added Dec., 2009.

History of Saginaw and Bay Counties, Michigan, 1892


In reviewing the varied interests of West Bay City, with a desire to convey to our readers knowledge of its resources and its prominent citizens, we are called upon to notice the life of this gentleman, who is the most extensive sewering and paving contractor in West Bay City. As a soldier in the late war he has creditable record, and as a citizen he possesses the confidence of the community. His portrait is presented in connection with the following biographical notice.

In Java, Wyoming County, N. Y., our subject was born August 25, 1843. His father, John Danforth, was born in Dungavin, Ireland, in 1798, and was reared on a farm, learning the trade of a stone cutter and mason in his youth. In 1827 he emigrated to the United States, locating in LeRoy, N. Y., and removing thence to Java, which was at that time but sparsely settled. He purchased one hundred acres in the Holland Purchase and built thereon a log house containing two rooms and roofed with bark. After placing substantial improvements on the place he sold it for $56 per acre.

In 1858 John Danforth removed to Mt. Morris, where he engaged in the grocery business and also ran a canal boat with the assistance of his sons. In 1867 he came to Bay City where he bought some real estate and remained until his death in 1878. A prominent Democrat, he held various township offices, and during his residence in New York served as an officer in the militia. His religious belief brought him into sympathy with the Catholic Church, of which he was a devout member. His wife, whose maiden name was Mary A. Carroll, was born in Droheade, County Meath, Ireland, and was the daughter of Michael Carroll, a linen manufacturer of that place, who came to the United States about 1830, locating in Wyoming County, N. Y., where he died when more than eighty years old. Mrs. Mary A. Danforth passes away in 1862.

Three children were born to the parents of our subject: Catherine, now Mrs. Keenan, of Midland County, this State; our subject, and Patrick who enlisted in 1863 in the One Hundredth Pennsylvania Infantry and served until the close of the Civil War, his decease taking place January 2, 1892, in Cleveland, Ohio. Our subject was the second in order of birth and remained upon his father's farm in Java until fifteen years of age. On the removal of the family to Mt. Morris he assisted his father in the grocery business for a time, and afterward ran a boat on Erie Canal between Olean and Albany, becoming a captain, and for three years carrying on a successful business.

In November, 1863, Mr. Danforth entered the service of his country in the War of the Rebellion, enlisting at Rochester in Company H. Fourteenth, New York Heavy Artillery. The regiment was mustered in at Elmira and sent South into Virginia. Mr. Danforth took part in the following engagements: Battle of the Wilderness, Spottsylvania, North Anna River, Cold Harbor; the siege of Petersburg June 16, 19, 20, and July 30, receiving a gunshot would which fractured his right leg about the ankle.

In spite of his injury Mr. Danforth went into battle with his regiment July 30, at Petersburg, where he was again severely wounded by a bayonet thrust through the abdomen. This laid him up for awhile, but with indomitable spirit he insisted on getting well and in a few weeks afterward was again with his regiment. He was engaged with his company in tearing down and destroying corn-cribs, when he was caught under a falling crib and badly crushed. This incapacitated him for service for a long time but he remained with his regiment until the close of the war and was discharged May 17, 1865, at Washington, where he took part in the Grand Review.

Mr. Danforth returned home after his discharge from the army and in the spring of the same year took a trip to Ireland where he remained for three months, visiting relatives. Returning home in the fall he went to Pennsylvania oil regions, visiting Pithole City and West Hickney. There he invested in land and bored for oil, and was there during the great excitement which ensued on the discovery in that region. However, he was not successful in his undertaking and soon afterward went to Bufalo where he engaged in the blacksmith and wagon business.

In the spring of 1867 Mr. Danforth sold out and came to Midland City and here he engaged in the lumbering business until 1869 when he removed to Wenona, now West Bay City. For several years he acted as foreman in a number of lumber camps, among them those of Bailey & Co., on the Rifle River where he remained for two years with sixty or eighty men under him. He was also employed in Sage's mill for four years. For five years he served as Street Commissioner of West Bay City, during which time he did much hard work for the city in the way of improving the streets.

In 1882 Mr. Danforth resigned his position to engage in the construction and putting in of the water-works, taking the contract to lay seven miles of mains, which took over a year's time to complete. He also took subsequent contracts for the same work, and in in fact may be called the father of the water-works system of the city. The mains were laid in 1885 and he has since been engaged in sewer contracting, putting down $20,000 worth of city sewers in 1889. His contracts with the city this year (1892) will aggregate $11,000 for sewage and $32,000 for pavements.

Mr. Danforth was married October 10, 1870, in Saginaw City, to Miss Mary A. Abraham, a native of County Kilkenny, Ireland, who was reared in Goderich, Ontario. They have two children: Etta, who is attending St. Mary's School at Monroe, Mich., and Mary A., at home. Of late years Mr. Danforth has been a Republican and opposed to adopting free trade. He served as Alderman of the Fourth Ward and also one year as Constable. He was a member of the building Committee of St. Mary's Church, and also belongs to the Catholic Mutual Benefit Association, the West Bay City Building and Loan Association, and the West Bay City Business Men's Association. He has been a delegate to both county and State conventions. A genial and social man, of fine appearance, he is very popular wherever known.

Additional Notes.

    1880 Census West Bay City, Mich.

  • Danforth, James, b. 1841 New York
  • Danforth, Mary, wife
  • Children: Ester, Mary.

    1893 - Directory West Bay City, Mich.

  • Danforth, Miss Ettie, bds 300 N Dean.
  • Danforth, James C, contr, 300 N Dean, res same.

    1896 Michigan Deaths.

  • Danforth, James, age 53, Oct. 31, 1896, West Bay City, b. New York.

    1899 Directory West Bay City, Mich.

  • Danforth, Etta, bds James C Danforth.
  • Danforth, James C, contractor, res Jane s w cor Catherine.
Related Notes/Pages

James C. Danforth

Related Pages:
Bay Co. Civil War History
People Referenced
Abraham, Mary A. (wife)
Carroll, Mary A. (mother)
Carroll, Michael (g-father)
Danforth, Catherine (sis.)
Danforth, James C. (subject)
Danforth, John (father)
Danforth, Patrick (bro.)
Keenan, Mrs.
Subjects Referenced
14th NY Artillery
100th PA Inf.
Albany, NY
Bailey & Co.
Bay City, MI
Civil War
Cleveland, OH
Co. Kilkenny, Ireland
Co. Meath, Ireland
Droheade, Ireland
Dungavin, Ireland
Elmira, NY
Erie Canal
Goodrich, Ontario
Java, NY
LeRoy, NY
Wenona, MI
Midland, MI
Midland Co., MI
Monroe, MI
Mt. Morris, NY
Olean, NY
Pithole City, PA
Rifile River, MI
Sage Saw-mill
Saginaw, MI
St. Marys School
West Bay City, MI
West Hickney, PA
Wyoming Co., NY
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.