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Oscar (Otto) F. Forsyth (1827-1901)
Owned hardware and real estate businesses in Bay City, MI.

1895 Biography. Added Sept., 2010.

History of Saginaw and Bay Counties, Michigan - 1895


This prominent business man of Bay City was formerly a hardware merchant here, but is now engaged in handling real estate and has a loan and collecting agency. He is highly esteemed and thoroughly like not only for his sterling business qualities but also for his genial and kindly nature. He was born at Honeoye Falls, N. Y., and is a son of Azor Forsyth, who was born in Connecticut. He took part in the War of 1812, and settled in New York in his early manhood, but removed to Washtenaw County, this State, in 1828, and located the place now known as Lowell, where he built and operated the first saw and grist mill, finding good water power there. He also lived for some time at Schoolcraft, Kalamazoo County, where he engaged in fancy cabinet making, which was his trade.

In 1848 Azor Forsyth removed to Niles, Mich., but later returned to this part of the State and settled in Flint, where he died at the age of seventy-six. He was of Scotch descent. His good wife, Hannah Wilcox, was born in New York, and died in Flint. She was a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church, and of her children four grew to maturity, our subject being the youngest of the family. He was born May 25, 1827, and came to Michigan in his mother's arms in the fall of the next year. They traveled by teams in Canada and crossed the Detroit River on the ice, and although so young, he remembers this journey distinctly. During his stay a Lowell, which continued until he was seven years old, he attended school only one day, but at Schoolcraft he enjoyed the advantages of the village schools until he reached the age of fifteen.

This young man then went to Brockport, N. Y., where he engaged as a clerk in a general merchandise store at $50 a year. Two years later he returned to Michigan, where he clerked at Marshall, which was then the terminus of the Michigan Central Railroad. At that time he did not have enough money to buy a supper, so he at once went to work to secure a job, in which he succeeded within twenty minutes. After fifteen months he went to Niles to which point the railroad had been extended and there secured employment at $300 a year; and two years later became an agent for the Michigan Central Railroad.

Mr. Forsyth was married at Brockport, N. Y., in 1849, to Miss Elizabeth Beardsley, and it was in 1852 that he located in Flint, buying an interest in the general iron works, and becoming a member of the firm of King & Forsyth. This foundry and iron works furnished the iron for the Saginaw Valley. Some three years later he took up the mercantile business, buying out the hardware stock and trade of E. H. Hazelton, and proceeding to build two stores. This hardware firm bore the title of Forsyth & Stewart for three years, after which our subject sold out his interest therein, and built his own store, engaging in an independent hardware business. In 1873 he sold out his concern, and located in Detroit, where he remained for two years as a member of the wholesale hardward firm of Prentice, Wood & Co.

It was in 1875 that this merchant disposed of his business in Detroit and engaged in the retail hardware trade in Bay City. Here he also carried a fine stock of agricultural implements, and two years later took into his firm as a partner, Mr. Pierson; together they continued until they sold in 1887 to Holcomb Bros. Although Mr. Forsyth had disposed of his business with the intention of retiring to private life, he found that he was not satisfied to be entirely out of the rush of the busy world, and thereafter began dealing in real estate. His fine property comprises the Forsyth Block, the block occupied by Holcomb Bros., a brick block on Washington Avenue and a store on Center Avenue. He was at one time a stockholder in the Detroit & Bay City Railroad, now the Michigan Central, and also of the Port Huron Road, now the Grand Trunk Railroad.

Mr. and Mrs. Forsyth have been blessed by the birth of four children, namely: Kate, Sadie, Jessie and Edward. The third daughter is now Mrs. Kline, of Bay City, and the son, who is editor and proprietor of the Cheboygan Democrat, is making a great success of that paper. Our subject has seen wonderful changes since he began life in Michigan, and even since he became a business man; in those old times he used to sell nails at a shilling a pound at retail. He is a Democrat in his political opinions, and while a resident of Flint, was a member of the Aldermanic Board. In his social relations he is a member of the Free and Accepted Masons.

Additional Notes.

    1870 Census: Flint, Genesee, Mich.

  • Forsyth, O. F. - age 43, hardware dealer, b. New York
  • Mary E., wife age 45, keeping house, b. New York
  • Kate, age 19, at home, b. Mich.
  • Zaidee, age 18, at home, b. Mich.
  • Edward, age 13, at school, b. Mich.
  • Jessie, age 5, b. Mich.
  • Herms, Katie, age 19, domestic, b. Baden

    1893 Directory: Bay City, Mich.

  • Forsyth, O. F. - real estate, over 115 Center Ave.

    1901 Missouri Deaths: Bay City, Mich.

  • Oscar F. Forsyth, born 1828, New York, died May 18, 1901. Parents Agron Forsyth & Hannah Wilcox.
Related Note & Pages

Related Pages:
Forsyth, Edward son
People Referenced
Beardsley, Mary Eliz. (wife)
Forsyth, Azor (father)
Forsyth, Edward (son)
Forsyth, Jessie (dau)
Forsyth, Kate (dau)
Forsyth, Oscar F. (subject)
Forsyth, Sadie (dau)
Hazelton, E.H.
Herms, Katie
Kline, Mr.
Pierson, Mr.
Wilcox, Hannah (mother)
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
Brockport, NY
Cheboygan Democrat
Detroit, MI
Detroit River, MI
Detroit, Bay City RR
Flint, MI
Forsyth Block
Forsyth & Stewart Co.
Genesee Co., MI
Grand Trunk RR
Holcomb Bros. Co.
Honeoye Falls, NY
Kalamazoo Co., MI
King & Forsyth Co.
Lowell, MI
Marshall, MI
Methodist Episcopal
Michigan Central RR
Niles, MI
Port Huron RR
Prentice, Wool & Co.
Saginaw Valley, MI
Schoolcraft, MI
War of 1812
Washtenaw Co., MI
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.