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Eugene Fifield (1851-1929)
Native of Oakland Co. Sugar, grocery and live stock businesses in Bay City, MI

1905 biography. (Added Dec., 2009.)

History of Bay County, Michigan, Augustus H. Gannser (1905)


Secretary of the Bay City-Michigan Sugar Company, one of the largest business enterprises in this section of the State, is also identified with other important business concerns of this locality, which have been furthered more or less by his influence and good management. Mr. Fifield was born in Waterford township, Oakland County, Michigan, March 5, 1851, and is a son of Hon. Francis W. and John (Morris) Fified and a grandson of Samuel and Sarah (Norris) Fifield.

Samuel Fifield was born in New Hampshire, August 23, 1793, from which state he entered the patriot army during the Revolution. He died September 10, 1843. Until her death, his widow drew a pension on account of his services. She was born in New Hampshire January 21, 1794, and died in Bay City, May 26, 1884.

Hon. Francis W. Fifield, our subject's father, was born April 10, 1821, and came with his parents to Michigan, where the older Fifield took up land in Oakland County. In early manhood he bought a farm in Waterford township, Oakland County, which he operated successfully until 1865, when he embarked in a mercantile business in the town. He was a man of business enterprise and owned and operated at this time a flouring-mill, a plaster-mill and an old-time upright sawmill. In 1877 he disposed of his mercantile and manufacturing interests and returned to farming, settling in Decatur township, VanBuren County, where he lived until his death, December 3, 1893. He was one of the representative men of his time in his locality, a strong Democrat and an able member of his party. In 1863 he was elected to the State Legislature and at various times filled local offices of trust and responsibility. His name is still recalled as that of a man who was noted for his ability and for his uprightness of character. For many year he was a member of Waterford Lodge of Masons, of which he was worshipful master for 21 years, and he was also high priest of Decatur Chapter, Royal Arch Masons.

Francis W. Fifield married John Morris, who died in July, 1899, aged 80 years. She was a consistent member of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Of their seven children, only three grew to maturity; Eugene, of this sketch; Ann Nettie, who married Cassius M. Lanning, of Decatur township; and Hattie, who is the wife of Samuel S. Bradt, of Detroit.

Eugene Fifield was reared by a wise father and a pious mother. He grew to manhood in the family home, securing a good common school education and then becoming his father's chief clerk in the store and subsequently, in 1871, his partner, the firm style being Fifield & Son. This continued until 1876, when our subject came to Bay City and went into partnership with Gustin & Merrill, the firm name becoming Gustin, Merrill & Company. This firm did a large grocery business and Mr. Fifield continued in this association of interests until 1884, when changes were made, our subject and Mr. Merrill buying the Gustin interests. The firm then became Merrill, Fifield & Company. The congenial business association was formed without any legal papers, simply the spoken agreement of two honorable and upright men. Without a single jar or difference of opinion, the partnership continued until broken by the sudden death of Mr. Merrill on November 17, 1891. Mr. Fifield deeply felt the loss of his friend both in a personal and business way, but he continued the business alone until the partnership term expired in 1893, and then closed out its affairs, his other business interests pressing for more attention.

In 1892 Mr. Fifield, with others, operating under the firm name of Mundy & Fifield, bought a tract of 1,200 acres of land in Buena Vista and Zilwaukee townships, Saginaw County, Michigan. At that time this land was submerged during the greater part of the year, but when the new owners took charge a dredge was put in, dykes constructed and three centrifugal pumps installed, each having a capacity of 10,000 gallons of water per minute. A large part of this land is devoted to the growing of sugar beets, but general farming is also carried on, grain and hay being harvested and stock raised. Mr. Fifield also owns a farm of 240 acres in Monitor township, Bay County. This was formerly owned by Gustin & Merrill and later came into the possession of Merrill, Fifield & Company. Mr. Fifield operates both farms in the same way. Before he became so thoroughly identified with the beet sugar industry, he made a specialty of Shropshire sheep and Hereford cattle, but he found that in order to make them profitable he would have to devote too much time to them, which was more valuable to him in other pursuits. On this farm, therefore, he now raises high grade cattle only for market purposes. In 1903 the F. M. B. Live Stock Company, of which Mr. Fifield is a member, purchased 2,100 acres of land in Iosco County for a sheep and cattle ranch. The sheep and cattle are wintered on the 1,200 acre farm in Saginaw County, and the 240-acre farm in Monitor township, Bay County, and in the spring are driven back to this ranch, in Isoco County, where they are summered.

In 1897 the Michigan Sugar Company was incorporated in Bay City, with Thomas Cranage, president; Nathan B. Bradley, vice-president; Henry S. Raymond, secretary; and E. T. Carrington, treasurer. In June, 1903, this organization was consolidated with the Bay City Sugar Company, and the new concern was called the Bay City-Michigan Sugar Company. The new officers being; Benjamin Boutell, president and manager; Baptist Benton, treasurer; and Lorenzo S. Boutell, secretary. On February 7, 1901, Mr. Churchill became secretary upon the resignation of Mr. Boutell and continued until May 28, 1901, when these officers were elected: W. L. Churchill, president and treasurer; Benjamin Boutell, vice-president; and Eugene Fifield, secretary. The officers of this company remained the same until the consolidation above mentioned.

The company with which Mr. Fifield is so prominently identified has become one of the largest employers, operators and producers of any in this section. It has slice more beets than an other company. One year this company slice 63,000 tons of beets and made nearly 15,000,000 pounds of sugar. What this means to this section, where the money is distributed for the beets and the operation of the plant, may easily be estimated. It is interesting to note the prosperity this industry has brought into the agriculture districts. It costs a farm from $30 to $35 an acre to raise beets, for which he gets from $50 to $75 an acre.

In addition to his duties with the above company, Mr. Fifield is interested in the Tawas Sugar Company, of which he is secretary and a director. In 1886 he was elected director of the Michigan State Agricultural Society and has been a director every since, and for the past eight years he has been general superintendent. When he became superintendent, the association was $25,600 in debt and his administration has been marked by the payment of all debts, with a balance in the treasury of $20,000.

In 1875 Mr. Fifield was married to Hattie B. Hammond, who is a daughter of Joel Hammond, of Oakland County. One beautiful daughter was born to Mr. and Mrs. Fifield, a child who became the idol of her parents and one beloved by all who knew her. Her death occurred February 23, 1893, when but 13 years of age. Mrs. Fifield is a member of the Baptist Church. They occupy beautiful residence on Fifth avenue, Bay City.

In political sympathy Mr. Fifield is a Republican, but his business interests have always been of so much importance that he has had no time to give to politics. For many years he has been one of the leading members of the Masonic fraternity in Michigan. He is a 33d degree Mason and has taken all the York Rite degrees, receiving this highest honor at Buffalo in 1896. He belongs to Bay City Lodge, No. 129, F. & A. M., and Blanchard Chapter, No. 59, R. A. M., is post eminent commander of Bay City Commandery, No. 26, K. T., is past thrice potent grand master of McCormick Grand Lodge of Perfection; is high priest of Bay City Council, Princes of Jerusalem; is past most wise and perfect master of Saginaw Valley Chapter, Rose Croix; is a member of the Michigan Sovereign Consistory of Detroit; and of Moslem Temple, A. A. O. N. M. S. He is president of the Bay City Masonic Temple Association, has been on the finance committee for years and is a trustee, and has long been identified with the Bay County Masonic Mutual Benefit Association.

1901 News

The Louisiana Planter and Sugar Manufacture., 1901

Beet Sugar Notes.

Page 344.

The Michigan Chemical Company has just completed a plant in Essexville, which is on the outskirts of Bay City, is which they propose from the low grade molasses of the beet sugar factories. The company, which is composed of Pittsburg capitalists, has contracted with about a dozen factories for their molasses. The annual output of their plant will be about three million gallons of alcohol and 9,400,00 pounds of potash.

The sugar factories at Bay City, Mich., are having trouble with the Bay County beet farmers, who are demanding higher prices for their beets next year. At a recent meeting of the Beet Growers' Association a resolution was passed pledging the members to make no contracts to grow beets for the factories unless the factories paid $4.80 per ton for 12 per cent beets and 40 center per ton extra for each per cent of sucrose above 12. The factories say they will not meet the demands of the Beet Growers' Association, and it the members of the association carry out their threat the factories may be thrown on their own resources for beets and be compelled to do their own farming. However, there are a large number of the farmers who do not belong to the association and who are at liberty to make any agreement they may see fit with the factories.

W. H. Gilbert, of Bay City, and L. S. Boutell, of Lansing, recently shipped 4,000 lambs from Montana to the Lansing factory to be fattened on beet pulp. Pens accommodating 300 lambs each have been constructed at the factory and they will be under the charge of students from the Agricultural College, who will assist in feeding, weighing and caring for the lambs, and will keep a careful and systematic account of all details and results.

Eugene Fifield, the Bay City company's agriculturalist, and Mr. George Boyden, of Delhi Mills, have also received 2,000 lambs from Montana and will experiment with beet pulp and beet molasses for fattening purposes.

The German American factory at Bay City has notified shippers that no more beets will be received until the factory begins work, which is expected to be about Dec. 15. Work on the plant is forging ahead rapidly.

Additional Notes.

    1870 - census: Waterford Twp., Almeron Whitehead, Mich.

  • Fifield, Frank - age 49, b. New York - store keeper.
  • Joan, wife - age 50, b. New York.
  • Eugene, son - age 19, b.Mich.
  • Anetta, dau. - age 17, b. Mich.
  • Harriet, dau. - age 12, b. Mich.

    1893 Directory Bay City, Mich.

  • Bay City Board of Electric Light Commission, Eugene Fifield (and others)
  • Bay City Brick and Tile Co., W H Miller pres, George H Shearer sec and mngr., Eugene Fifield treasurer, office 205 Center ave.
  • Fifield, Eugene, res 1115 4th ave.
  • Fifield, Eugene, f, 11-12-13, 240 acres, $5100, Monitor, Bay City

    1929 - Michgan Deaths: Plainfield, Iosco, Mich.

  • Eugene Fifield, born 1851, died July 15, 1929. Son of Frank Fifield and Jean Morris.
Related Note & Pages

Eugene Fifield

Related Pages:
Gustin, Richard P.
Sugar factories, 1901
People Referenced
Benton, Baptist
Boutell, Benjamin
Boutell, Lorenzo S.
Boyden, George
Bradley, Nathan B.
Bradt, Samuel S.
Carrington, E.T.
Churchill, W.L.
Cranage, Thomas
Fifield, Ann N. (sis)
Fifield, Francis (father)
Fifield, Eugene (subject)
Fifield, Hattie (sis)
Fifield, Samuel (g-father)
Gilbert, W.H.
Gustin, Richard P.
Hammond, Hattie B. (wife)
Hammond, Joel
Lanning, Cassius M.
Merrill, Henry
Miller, W.H.
Morris, Jean (mother)
Mundy, Mr.
Norris, Sarah (g-mother)
Raymond, Henry S.
Shearer, George H.
Subjects Referenced
Agricultural College
Bay City, MI
BC-Mich. Sugar Co.
Baptist church
Beet Grower's Association
Buena Vista twp., Saginaw
Decatur twp, VanBuren, MI
Delhi Mills
Essexville, MI
Fifield & Son Co.
F.M.B. Live Stock Co.
German American Sugar Co.
Gustin, Merrill & Co.
Iosco Co., MI
Lansing, MI
Merrill, Fifield & Co.
Methodist Episcopal Church
Michigan Chemical Co.
Mich. State Agr. Society
Monitor twp., Bay, MI
Munday & Fifield
New Hampshire
Plainfield Twp, MI
Tawas Sugar Co.
Waterford twp, Oakland, MI
Zilwaukee twp., Saginaw
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.