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Henry Fenton (1840-1904)
Born in Fenton, he move to Bay City where he lived the rest of his life.

1892 biography. - Added April, 2010.

History of Saginaw and Bay Counties, Michigan, 1892


This enterprising business man of Bay City is engaged in the real-estate and insurance business. He was born in Fenton, this State, November 10, 1840, and is a son of Col. William M. Fenton, who raised and commanded the Eighth Michigan Infantry. His grandfather, Joseph S. Fenton, who was of English descent, but born in Connecticut, was a banker at Norwich and Palmyra, N. Y., but came to Michigan in an early day and established a sawmill and gristmill at Fenton. For several terms he was a member of the Michigan State Legislature, and after an honorable life passes away in Flint.

Col. Fenton was born in Norwich, N. Y., and after his marriage in the Empire State, came to Michigan in 1837, devoting himself largely to building up the town of Fenton, which was named in his honor. In 1845 he was admitted to the Michigan bar, and three years later located in Flint, where he organized the Citizens' National Bank, and was its President until his death. In 1861, he went out with his regiment, the Eighth Michigan, with which he serve for two years, and then resigned his office. After serving for three months as a colonel he was placed in command of a brigade.

After returning from the war the Colonel continued the practice of law until his death. He built the Fenton Block which comprises five stores, three stories high, and did much in various ways to built up the town. He was Lieutenant-Governor under both Gov. Barry and Gov. Bingham, and in 1864 was nominated for Governor of Michigan on the McClellan ticket, but was defeated by Henry H. Carpo. He was a member of the first Legislature that met at Lansing and served in that body both before and after that epoch. His death in 1872, at the age of sixty-two years, resulted from an accident while he was acting as chief engineer of the fire department. He was a prominent Mason, having held the position of Grand Master of the State, and a thorough Democrat in his political views, while in religion he was attached to the Episcopal Church.

The mother of our subject bore the maiden name of Adelaide S. Birdsell, and was born in Norwich, N. Y. Her father, Judge James Birdsell, a prominent attorney, was at one time a member of the New York Legislature and also Judge of Green County. In 1837 he came to Michigan where he located at Flint and spent the remainder of his days. Mrs. Adelaide S. Fenton died in 1868. Her daughter, Ada B., who married Col. McCreey, now Consul to Chili, died in Flint; our subject was the second child; the third, J. R. was Second Lieutenant in the Eighth Michigan Infantry, and was wounded at the battle of Chantilly; he now resides at Flint. The youngest child, Sara, died at Topeka, Kan.

After he was five years old Henry Fenton resided in Flint, and there attended the common school. At the age of twelve he entered the Normal School of Ypsilanti where he remained for two years; he then studied in the Lodi Seminary until he was sixteen, when he entered the Literary and Classical Department of the University of Michigan. At the close of his Sophomore year he returned to Flint, then went to Syracuse, N. Y., where he accepted the position of book-keeper in his uncle's (H. A. Dillayes) drug store, remaining in this place two years until the war broke out; he then joined the army and acted as Division Commissary clerk in the Commissary Department of the First Brigade, First Division, Ninth Army Corps, a position secured him by his father.

After one year and six months' service in that direction the young man came to Saginaw in 1864 and started in the hardware business as a member of the firm of Fenton & Ganschall. Two years later he returned to Flint where he studied law under his father and was admitted to the Michigan bar in 1867. He practiced with his father in Flint for about six years, after which he was connected with Judge Howard for a year. In 1874 he located in Bay City, and engaged in the mercantile business, wholesale and retail, becoming a member of the firm of Fenton & Barlett. In 1877 Mr. Fenton sold out his interest in the mercantile business and engaged in the practice of law, becoming the assistant prosecuting attorney, and in 1881, he became Deputy Register of Deeds, which position he filled for three terms. In 1890 he embarked in the real-estate and insurance business together with the handling of loans.

The marriage of Henry Fenton to Miss Isabella Thurber, the daughter of Wm. M. Thurber an old pioneer of Genesee County, -- and Mary G. Thurber, took place in Flint in the year 1869. This lady was born in Fenton and is the mother of five children, namely: William J., a lumberman in Canada; Harry D., also in the same line of work; Chester, who is at home; Thomas, Weadock, and Mary I. The mother of this family is an earnest Christian, and a member of the Congregational Church. The poltical view of Mr. Fenton bring him into affiliation with the Democratic party, and he has served his ward as alderman under Mayor Wright's administration.

Additional Notes.

    1880 Census: Bay City, Mich.

  • Fenton, Henry b. 1841, Mich.
  • Isabella wife
  • Children: Wm. Joseph, Henry Dillery E., Chester Thurber, & Thomas Weadock.

    1893 Directory: Bay City, Mich.

  • Fenton, Chester T., clk Register of Deeds office, bds 1803 Center ave.
  • Fenton, Henry Register of Deeds, Court House, res 1803 Center ave.
  • Fenton, Henry D. - clk Register of Deeds office, bds 1803 Center ave.
  • Fenton, Thomas student, bds 1803 Center ave.

    1904 The Purple and Gold, Vol. 22, 1905

  • Henry Fenton, '61, died at Bay City, July 7, 1904.


  • His daughter, Mary, married Walter Cooley in September, 1906, the son of Edgar Cooley and Adeline L. Seymour.
Related Note & Pages

Henry Fenton

Related Pages:
Cooley, Edgar
People Referenced
Barry, Gov.
Bingham, Gov.
Birdsell, Adelaide (mother)
Birdsell, James (judge)
Carpo, Henry H.
Cooley, Edgar
Cooley, Walter (son-inlaw)
Fenton, Ada B. (sister)
Fenton, Chester T. (son)
Fenton, Joseph S. (g-father)
Fenton, Henry (subject)
Fenton, Henry D. (son)
Fenton, J.R. (bro.)
Fenton, Mary L. (dau.)
Fenton, Sara (sister)
Fenton, Thomas W. (son)
Fenton, Wm. J. (son)
Fenton, Wm. M. Col. (father)
McClellan, Mr.
McCreey, Mr.
Seymour, Adeline L.
Thurbur, Isabella (wife)
Thurbur, Mary Mrs.
Thurbur, Wm. M.
Wright, Mayor
Subjects Referenced
8th Mich. Inf.
Bay City, MI
Citizens Natl. Bank
Congregational Ch.
Episcopal Church
Fenton, MI
Fenton Block
Flint, MI
Genesee Co., MI
Green Co., NY
Lodi Seminary
Mich. bar
Mich. St. Legislature
Mich, Univ.
New York Legislature
Norwich, NY
Palmyra, NY
Topeka, KS
Ypsilanti, MI
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.