Heritage \ Writings \

Daniel H. Fitzhugh, Jr. (1826- 1896)
Son of Dr. Daniel H. and Anne Frisby (Dana) Fitzhugh.

1905 history. (Added Feb., 2009)

History of Bay County, Michigan - Agustus H. Gansser, 1905


Page 21.

Daniel H. Fitzhugh, Jr., came to Bay City in 1843 and built a large dwelling house (for that time) on the corner of Third and Water streets, which was afterwards occupied by his brother, William D. Fitzhugh, till it was destroyed by fire. D. H. Fitzhugh, Jr., remained in Bay City at first but two or three years, when he went East and was engaged in the brokerage business in New York for some years. About five years since he returned to Bay City for a permanent residence. The northern extention of the J., L. & S. R. R. serves as a means by which Mr. Fitzhugh can gratify his early taste for hunting and fishing. Mr. Fitzhugh was the first to discover the habits and cause to be properly classified the fish known as the grayling, which are abundant in the waters of the northern portion of our peninsula. In after years those who have in any way been instrumental in promoting the interests of fish culture will be looked upon as benefactors of the human race.

1873 Michigan legislature. (Added Feb., 2009)

Journal of the House of Representatives
Michigan Legislature, 1873

Page 1048.

Mr. D. H. Fitzhugh, of Bay City, has sent a number of specimens of the grayling, (Thymallus tricolor, Cope.,) to the Smithsonian and in a letter desires that an amendment to the protection law, covering the brook trout, should inlude the grayling. This beautiful little game fish, of the family of salmons, is only found in a few rivers of your State, and the head waters of the Yellowstone river. It wouild be a great pity to have it exterminated, as it will be if not protected, as it is not nearly as numberous as its relatives, the brook trout. A species of the same genus, Thymallus volgaris, of Europe, is a spring spawner, and spawns in the month of April. The same period will, undoubtedly, be found to be the habit of the Michigan species, and in this month it should be protected from capture.

Hoping that the points referred to in this letter may be of benefit to the fish interests of Michigan.

I remain yours, respectfully,
U.s. Deputy Commissioner, Fish and Fisheries.

1876 Disovery of grayling fish. (Added Feb., 2009)

Annual Record of Science and Industry, by Spencer F. Baird, 1873.


The discovery of the grayling in the waters of the Au Sable River of Michigan, some years ago, has attracted much attention to this locality recently, and induced efforts to secure and multiply this fish in some more southern waters. Our knowledge of this species is due mainly to Mr. D. H. Fitzhugh, of Bay City; and by his invitation to Mr. Fred Mather, the well-known fish-culturist of Honeoye Falls, New York, visited the locality in him company on the 1st of April, 1874, but found that the eggs were not then ripe. On the 1st of May Seth Green went to the same region, at which time the fish had all spawned. He, however, dug out from the gravel about one hundred eggs, which he game to Mr. Collins, of the Caledonia fish farm, to hatch out. These grew slowly at first, but at the end of six months were much larger than brook trout of the same age. On the 5th of April of the present year Mr. Mather revisited the Au Sable River, remaining there until the 12th. On the 8th he took spawn from two fish, and on the 9th and 10th from several more. He brought away 8000 spawn and 40 yearlings, the latter about five inches long. He also packed 4000 eggs for Mr. N. W. Clark, of Northville, Michigan, and gave him a considerable number of fish. These eggs, at latest count, were thriving finely, and the embryo was expected to hatch out very soon.
--- Live Stock Journal, May, 1875, 150.

1896 Death. - Contributed by Jim Petrimoulx, Feb., 2009.

The Bay City Times Press - Saturday, June 27, 1896



He Came to Bay City the First Time in 1847 and Again in 1870.

The death of Daniel H. Fitzhugh, which had been looked for for several days, occurred last night at 10:15 o'clock at the age of 70 years. With death came a relief from all pain, and in this regard the mysterious visitor was welcome. Mr. Fitzhugh died of cancer of the stomach and was a great sufferer.

Daniel H. Fitzhugh was a native of Livingston county, New York. He first came to Lower Saginaw in 1847 and built a house on the corner of Third and Water streets. It was the seventh dwelling house in what was at that time the corporate limits of the town and was a very pretentious dwelling for that time. It was afterwards occupied by his brother, Wm. D. Fitzhugh, until destroyed by fire. Mr. Fitzhugh remained in Bay City about three years and returned east to engage in the brokerage business in New York, where he remained some years. In 1870 he again came to Bay City for a permanent residence, and has since been engaged in the real estate business. Mr. Fitzhugh was quite a noted sportsman, and was the first to discover the habits, and cause to be properly classified, the fish in AuSable river known as grayling, which immediately became a famous fish.

About five years ago Mr. Fitzhugh erected a residence at 914 Center avenue were he has lived in peace and comfort every since.

“Dan” Fitzhugh was a man who had a host of warm friends and very few, if any, enemies. He was a jolly, wholesome person with a good word for everybody, no matter what his station in life.

1901 grayling fish. (Added Feb., 2009)

My Angling Friends, by Fred Mather (1901)


No man's name was more prominently connected with the discovery of the grayling as a new fish of the highest game qualities in America than that of the genial angler who is the subject of this sketch. He was credited with being the discoverer of this fish in Michigan waters, but this he properly disclaimed; lie merely sent some species to New York City, where they were the subject of a hot debate among the English anglers and epicures who frequented Sutherland's Cafe, where the fish were shown and served in 1872. He wrote to a New York journal that Dr. J. C. Parker, of Grand Rapids, Mich., had classified the fish some five years before in a letter to the late Prof. E. D. Cope, of Philadelphia, to whom he sent specimens, and correctly diagnosed them as true grayling.

Science is a cold-blooded thing, dealing in refrigerated facts, and is as much interested in a new chub as in a newly discovered game fish; it records fins, fin rays, and maps out the geographical surface into head, eye, number of scales, and souses the specimen into alcohol and has done with it. That's all right, and is all that science wishes to know about a fish, but not all that the angler, at present, wishes to know from science.

All this I read with that interest which was commonly given to passing items concerning fish and fishing, and having pasted the item in my scrap-book it was as everlastingly disposed of as if science had entombed it, only to be resurrected by some future investigator. But when Mr. Fitzhugh wrote an article telling how his new fish rose to the fly, and how gamy it was, the scrap-book was overhauled, and an interest was awakened in the new game fish. One day, early in 1874, Mr. Fitzhugh invited me to go to northern Michigan to try to get the spawn of the new fish. I was then breeding trout in western New York, and the invitation was accepted. Arriving at his home in Bay City, we planned the campaign, and with his nephew, Frank Fitzhugh, and his favorite guide, philosopher and friend, Len Jewell, we started for the little hamlet of Crawford, now Grayling, some ninety miles north, on a rickety railroad which ran a train up one day and down the next. The time of spawning was uncertain, and we had burned out five whisky barrels to take home some live fish if no spawn was to be had. We launched our boats in the Au Sable River on March 28 in a snowstorm, with the thermometer down to 17° Fahr.

To see Len Jewell pole a flat-bottomed scow down the swift current and over rapids was a revelation only equaled by seeing him pole the boat upstream on the return. A prominent trait in the character of "Dan" Fitzhugh, as I soon learned to call him, was that his guest always was put in the best boat, given the best guide, and was put in the most likely spots for fishing that he knew of. In after years, when comparing notes with George Dawson, Thad Norris and others, who have made their final cast on earthly waters, this trait was one of the first things mentioned, and it may be taken as an index to the character of one of the kindest-hearted, whole-souled gentlemen whom I ever wet a line with.

It was practically mid-winter on the Au Sable in early April and our bed of balsam boughs was made above 2ft. of snow, with a gum blanket between, and there was no sign of thawing under us when we left on April 3, with no eggs, but with 200 live fish for my ponds. Dan begged me to stay, but my word had been given to Prof. Baird that I would start for the Southern shad waters before April 10.

Such days and such fishing! Flies frozen to the side of the boat at the slightest contact and snapped off with the attempt to cast; the line so heavily coated with ice that it would not render through the rings and a grayling weighing lib. out of water, pulling and boring for the bottom, and even when nearly exhausted turning his great dorsal fin sideways to resist the strain of the rod. At a pause in the struggle Len would bite the ice off the line near the tip so that a few more feet could be reeled up, but if the fish was a small one he would bring it in by hand. Then he would bite the ice off the whole line down to the leader, which was comparatively free from it because it was longer in the unfrozen spring-fed river, but at times the reel line was as large as a lead pencil with ice accumulated by repeated castings before a fish stuck. No matter if fingers were numb and ears tingled, there was that within us that voted the sport to be grand.

This trip was a short one, and a failure as far as obtaining eggs was concerned; but it was a glorious success in making the acquaintance of two such men as Dan Fitzhugh and Len Jewell. A full account of this trip will be found in Forest and Stream of April 23 and May 21, 1874; but only the fishing, the fish and the river are described, with no attempt to portray the character.

Len was frying some grayling for dinner, and had just entered the tent where we lay for salt, pepper, or some other thing, when Dan called my attention to a Canada jay which was hopping about the fire. Len had covered everything eatable except the fish in the pan.

"Bet a million dollars," said Dan, "that that jay takes a red hot fish out of that pan."

"Go you ten millions better," said I. "He can't do it, for the rim of that pan is too hot for his feet, and the boiling fat will take his toes off."

Dan hadn't time either to raise or call me before the bird flew up, poised over the pan to see what was there, flirted a grayling out into the snow by some means unknown to the deponent, and when Len turned and saw the bird take the fish off into a tree, he made remarks highly derogatory to "venison hawks" and the whole tribe of jays, whether blue or gray, and I was indebted to Dan for a few millions of dollars. This debt was soon canceled, for I won fifty millions from him within half an hour on a bet that I would catch the next meat hawk that came into camp. This gray jay is very familiar. One perched on the toe of my boot, and looked us all over as I lay on my back in the tent. They would hop around camp, and carry off bread, pork, fish, or anything eatable; yet, like the familiar European sparrow, they keep a sharp eye on every movement. I placed a bit of pork on a slanting stick, and fixed a noose on a twig just below it; and when the jay flew up to the bait a twitch on the string lassoed it, and then such a screaming! In a minute a score of jays assembled to help their kinsman, and their united screams brought more. The bird was released, and although my winnings had enriched me "beyond the dreams of avarice," I sat down with Len and Frank, and ate fried grayling and drank coffee out of a tin cup on terms of equality just as we would at Casey's table d'hote; and I can recall that winter camp, and say of Len's fried grayling as Eugene Field says of Casey's "tabble dote":

"The very recollection of them puddin's 'nd them pies Brings a yearnin' to my buzzum 'nd the water to my eyes."

And as I write there seems no way to express the longing for the days that can never return unless I again quote from the same poem, and mentally substitute the Au Sable River for the mining camp, where Field says:

"Oh, them times on Red Hoss Mountain in the Rockies fur away—

There's no such place nor times like them as I kin find to-day! What though the camp hez busted? I seem to see it still, A-lyin' like it loved it, on that big 'nd war y hill; And I feel a sort of yearnin' 'nd a chokin' in my throat when I think of Red Hoss Mountain 'nd Casey's tabble dote!"

Those days seem like a dream, or, perhaps, as Tom Moore puts it, "like the faint, exquisite music of a dream," for the keen air, the morning mist on the spring-fed river, the novelty of taking a new and grand game fish, in the company of a most charming host, whose constant thought was to give his guest the best of the fishing and of everything else within his power. There are men who believe that we will do all these things over again on the other side of the Styx, and keep at it as long as we like. If so, Len Jewell will fry grayling while Dan Fitzhugh and I will swap yarns while watching the meat hawks dodge Len's boot, and Len will chew the ice off my line before I make a cast. But, then, other people say there's no ice there; and just how we can rehearse those days without snow and ice is a problem.

To turn from the realm of fancy to cold facts is sometimes necessary to a truthful historian, and at the end of my first grayling trip a fine lot of Thymallus were swimming in my trout ponds. Seth Green had declined Dan's invitation to get their eggs, but when a rival brought the fish so near him he came and looked them over, found that they had not spawned, and next day started for the Au Sable. He was too late; the fish had spawned, but he dug some 200 eggs out of the gravel, took them to his partner, Mr. Collins, who hatched the first grayling eggs in a trough that were so hatched in America; but none were raised from these eggs.

The newspapers of the day had many items concerning the new fish and its future as an addition to our game fishes. Mr. Charles Hallock, then editor of Forest and Stream, had some sent by Mr. Fitzhugh and served at a dinner of the Blooming Grove Park Association, at Sutherland's, baked, boiled and fried, and the guests were loud in their praise of the grayling. Before I visited Mr. Fitzhugh the next year he had urged the Legislature of Michigan to protect this fish during its spawning season, and failed. He then urged me to again attempt their salvation, although I told him that the adult fish in my ponds had not, and would never spawn.

Next year I arranged with Professor Baird to let me have my own time on the Au Sable, and so striking in between the dates when I left the river and when Green arrived there, we got a fine lot of eggs. We struck Grayling on April 5, and our party was as before, except that Dan took Charles Pierce as his boatman, leaving the giant Len Jewell to me. Our success last year had been talked of among the lumbermen, and when we arrived at the Grayling House the host, Mr. Hartwick, was anxious to have our rods unpacked in order that he might prove his statements that fish of 2lbs. weight could be taken on "slim Jim switches." The split-bamboos were brought out and limbered for inspection. Pardon the artillerist's term; it's wrong; but I don't know what else to call it. We unlimber a gun for action—i. e., detach the limber chest—but when we put a rod together for action it must be "limbered," for it is assembled.

The wood-choppers looked the rods over with ill-concealed contempt; the artificial flies and gut leaders were handed around with smiles which broadened into grins until one young fellow, whose views of things had been temporarily estranged by backwoods whisky, thought it necessary to show how weak such a slim rod tip was by breaking it between his powerful hands while Len Jewell held the butt, and was telling of the beautiful workmanship necessary to build up such a rod. Quicker than thought Len had the man's hands in his grasp and he was as quiet as a babe. There was no row because most of the men were sober and knew that the fellow had done wrong, and then all knew Len Jewell, who was a "land looker" and constantly traveled through northern Michigan. Still these lumbermen wanted to see how such slim "poles" could take a fish, and in the morning Dan and I went down to the railroad bridge and cast for nearly an hour before we took a y2lb. grayling on an artificial fly. They were incredulous at first and we cast until hope had become hopeless, when at last Dan had a strike and landed his fish. Blessings on that little grayling! To us it was a great victory. The light rod kills; the mild power cures and the victor can always afford to refrain from rejoicing.

It was not as cold on this trip as on the one the year before. There had been a thaw, and the river was a foot higher, and somewhat discolored. There were no fish in the old places and we went down twenty miles before stopping to fish. Len said the river had been netted and speared as far down as the market fisher could pole a boat in one day. We took one fish that had the marlcs of a spear on it, and this in the breeding season! The spawning beds were on shallows, but there were no fish on them; all that we caught were in the deep, dark pools. Suspecting that they were night spawners, we rigged up a jack-light and saw them on the beds. We released the unripe fish and only found four fully ripe females, and from these and half a dozen others that had partly spawned, I took 8,000 eggs home, besides giving a lot to Mr. Frank N. Clark, the well-known fishculturist, then running a hatchery in southern Michigan. This was the first lot of grayling eggs taken by hand in America. The spawning season was about over when we left the river on April n. A full account of this trip may be found in Forest and Stream of May 13, 1875. Up to this time it was lawful to take grayling on April i, but after several years of effort Mr. Fitzhugh got the Legislature to change the date.

Before I met Mr. Fitzhugh he wrote me a characteristic letter. He said: "You say you would like to go after grayling if it will not interfere with my business. I am quite a busy man, and never allow pleasure to interfere with business. My pleasure is to look after a lot of lumbermen, log drivers and others, keep account of the amount of lumber they get out and make out pay rolls. My business is fishing, shooting and vagabondizing in the woods, and pleasure is never allowed to interfere with it. I am at your service if you come." And it was not to me alone that such an offer was made. He entertained Professor James W. Milner, who wrote a monograph on the grayling for the United States Fish Commission; Thad Norris, George Dawson, Seth Green, and other lesser known anglers. His boats, guides and camp equipage were not only at their service, but the party was liberally provisioned by him for his guests. His fund of anecdote and his peculiar gift of humor made him a most charming companion, and it came naturally, for his cousin, Greene Smith, the ornithologist, was famous in this line, to the sorrow of his solemn father, Gerrett Smith, the famous abolitionist. Greene Smith could tell funny yarns for a week and never repeat, and Dan Fitzhugh was a good second. I may say, par parenthesis, that I believe myself a fair judge of that sort of thing.

In December, 1877, he wrote me: "I have been on the Manistee three times this summer, always with good success, but not such as we had a few years ago. We have to work harder, and it is more satisfactory. The vandals have invaded our pleasant waters with bait and all other devices to lure the gentle grayling. One party from Chicago took 5,000 from the Manistee this summer—fish from 102. upward—salted them and shipped them home to count! Then they have dammed the river at Grayling, and are going to put dams in the Manistee next spring. I think I can see two more seasons of reasonably good fishing in those streams, and then, in my old age, must seek new fields. Is it not hard? Do try and come and go a-fishing with me once more in the old holes."

Again, in August, 1879, ne wrote: "Have been to the Manistee once, with fair success. My last trip was poor as regards bag, but pleasant otherwise. * * * I have been trout fishing. Had not fished for trout in ten years. Before that all my fly-fishing was for trout, and I had an exaggerated idea of the staying qualities and resistance of the trout. Now, after mature deliberation and some experience with both, I believe the grayling of equal size has twice the resistance and all the staying power of his relative. I have never seen a trout come out and shake himself over two or three times before surrendering, while it is common for the grayling to make half a dozen desperate leaps before he comes to grief." Yet men who have fished for grayling once have denied that it leaps from the water. It seems like a crime to let this grand fish become extinct. Mr. Fitzhugh paid all the expenses of a trip after grayling eggs for the State of Michigan, and Mr. Chase, the fish culturist, got some eggs in 1878 and sent them to the hatchery at Pokagon, but I have no further knowledge of what was done with them. I also think Mr. Frank N. Clark attempted to get some eggs, but am writing from memory.

In 1884 Mr. Fitzhugh called me down for saying in "Fishing with the Fly," that the grayling does not leap, therefore I am in with the others of small experience. He said: "You have made a grave error, which I do not attribute to your ignorance but to lack of experience. You assert boldly that the grayling never leaps from the water to take the fly. You were with me on what were probably the only trips for grayling you ever made, in what was almost the depths of winter, and you were right, as far as your experience went. They do then take the fly, as you say, just at or below the surface. But, take the grayling in the proper season, it is as 'leapin'' a fish as any trout. I have lost my end fly, and with nothing but the hand fly, when fish were rising, have trailed it some inches above the water to see them leap and take it, and have caught many in that way, hooked 6in. in the air. Moreover, I have never seen a trout leave the water over two or three times after being hooked, while I have seen the grayling leap six times, for all he was worth, and Len backs me in this." The dear old soul! Doesn't he let me down easy?

I had another trip with Mr. Fitzhugh and Len Jewell, which I will relate in a sketch of Len, Dan's constant and faithful friend. I last met Mr. Fitzhugh in Detroit, in 1888, when we met by appointment at a meeting of the American Fisheries Society, and how we did fish in the hotel that night! The old stories were retold, and we renewed our youth with memories of the past. He told of a priest who fished with him occasionally, and whom I had seen in the woods, retiring at the proper hours to tell his beads, and then joining us with a smiling face, brim full of good nature, to ask what we thought of the fishing prospect. Some careless remark of mine about our not following the good example of our clerical friend caused Dan to say:

"Speak for yourself, my boy. All men do not perform their devotions in public, and only for your happening to stumble on the reverend gentleman and seeing him telling his beads, you would never have known that he did it. Neither do you know what I may do in that line; but 'as for you, I think you incline more to the jovial creed of the sporting monk of Fountain's Abbey, who said:

"'Little I reck of the matin bell,
But drown its toll with my clanging horn;
And the only beads I love to tell
Are the beads of the dew that hang on the thorn.'"

Hon. Herschel Whitaker, president of the Michigan Fish Commission, wrote me that Mr. Fitzhugh died on June 26, 1896, and that he attended his funeral, adding: "He was one of nature's noblemen, a true sportsman, a brave spirit, with a heart as gentle as a woman's." Asking Mr. Whitaker to get me a picture of my old friend, he replied that Mr. Fitzhugh would never sit for a photograph, but that Mr. E. A. Cooley, of Bay City, had one that was worked up from a snap shot, taken by a young amateur, of a group among whom Mr. Fitzhugh was sitting. This picture Mr. Cooley sent, and is here used.

Mr. Fitzhugh was born in Livingston county, N. Y., in 1826, and consequently was seventy years old when he died. He was a strong, healthy man, barring occasional attacks of gout, which, when they came on in the woods, rendered him helpless, and then Len Jewell has actually carried him on his back over twenty miles through the woods when so afflicted. He went to Bay City in 1847 and built a house, and went to New York City three years later, but in 1870 made Bay City his permanent residence. He left a wife, but no children.

Additional Notes.

    1850 Census Groveland, Livingston, New York.

  • Fitzhugh, Daniel H. - age 56, New York, farmer
  • Daniel H - son, age 23, farmer
  • Elizabeth - daughter, age 21
  • Isabel F - daugher, age 17
  • Frank - son, age 14
  • Maria - daughter, age 13
  • Alida, daughter, age 8
  • Hellen, daughter, age 6

    1880 Census Bay City, Mich.

  • Fitzhugh, Daniel H. - b. 1827 New York
  • Catherine - Wife, b. 1836 Dist. of Columbia, U.S.
    -- Note: Daniel married Catherine B. Brent (reference in father's Fitzhugh Family History).

    1896 Michigan Deaths.

  • Dan. H. Fitzhugh, died Jun. 26, 1896, at Bay City, Mich, age 68 yrs., 6 mos., 15 days. Parents Dan and Anna Fitzhugh.

    1900 Census West Bay City, Mich.

  • Fitzhugh, Catherine - b. Apr., 1834 Virginia, landlord
Related Note & Pages

Daniel H. Fitzhugh, Jr.
Burial at old Saint Patricks Cemetery on Ridge Road.

Fred. Mather (author)

The Fitzhughs:
Many of the Fitzhughs of Livingston County, NY, played prominent roles in the early settlement period of the Saginaw Valley. Dr. Daniel Fitzhugh was the first to take an interest in this area having visited here in 1835, and subsequently becoming one of the largest land holders in the Saginaw Valley, which led to the Birney and Carroll families from Livingston Co., settling here.
Related pages:
Cooley, Edgar A.
Fifield, Eugene
Fitzhugh Family
Fitzhugh, D.H. Dr.(father)
Fitzhugh, Wm. D. (brother)
Jewell, Leonard
People Referenced
Baird, Prof.
Brent, Catharine B. (wife)
Clark, Frank N.
Clark, N.W.
Cooley, Edgar A.
Cope, E.D.
Dawson, George
Field, Eugene
Fitzhugh, Alida (sis.)
Fitzhugh, Daniel H. Dr.(father)
Fitzhugh, Daniel H., Jr.(subject)
Fitzhugh, Frank (bro.)
Fitzhugh, Frank (nephew)
Fitzhugh, Alida (sis.)
Fitzhugh, Isabel F. (sis.)
Fitzhugh, Maria (sis)
Fitzhugh, Wm. D. (bro.)
Green, Seth
Hallock Charles
Hughes, Anna (mother)
Jewell, Leonard
Mather, Fred
Milner, James W.
Moore, Tom
Norris, Thad
Parker, J.C. Dr.
Pierce, Charles
Smith, Gerrett
Smith, Greene
Whitaker, Herschel
Subjects Referenced
American Fisheries Society
Au Sable River, MI
Bay City, MI
Bay Co., MI
Blooming Grove Pk. Assn.
Brook trout
Caladonia fish farm
Chicago, IL
Crawford, MI
Detroit, MI
Forest & Stream magazine
Grand Rapids, MI
Grayling fish
Grayling, MI
Groveland, NY
Live Stock Journal
Livingston Co., NY
Manistee, MI
Michigan Legislature
New York, NY
Northville, MI
Livingston Co., NY
Philedelphia, PA
Pokagon, NY
Red Hoss Mountain
Salmon fish family
Suthernlands, NY
U.S. Fish Commission
Yellowstone river
Internet Resources

Grayling Fishing

[-] The Century: A Popular Quarterly (1880), story on The Michigan Grayling.
[-] The American Angler, Feb., 1892. Concerns raised about extinction of grayling in AuSable river. (Refs. to D.H. and Ed Fitzhugh.)
[-] The American Angler magazine of 1895 on fishing the Manistee and AuSable rivers.
[-] Field & Stream magazine of 1909 on grayling fish's disappearance from the AuSable river.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.