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Michael Garland (1838-1913)
Native of New York, moved to Bay City in 1878,
where he engaged in several businesses

1905 biography. - Added Nov., 2009.

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


Michael Garland, one of the representative business men of Bay City, Michigan, president of the M. Garland Company, and majority owner of the stock in the Valley Iron Works, of Bay City, of which he is president, was born at Cape Vincent, Jefferson County, New York, January 17, 1838, and is a son of William H. and Aurelia (Cross) Garland.

William H. Garland, father of our subject, was a native of Leeds, Yorkshire, England, where he was born March 11, 1808. Seven years of his life were given to learning the machinists trade, but just as he was prepared to make the knowledge profitable, he was pressed into the English naval service. After some years before Constantinople and other ports, he was sent to Canada as one of a body of surveyors working in the mountains, and then his service ended. He first settled at Clayton, New York, but subsequently removed to Cape Vincent, where he built a machine shop and was engaged as its superintendent for a number of years. About 1845 he erected for himself a sawmill at Warren Settlement, New York, and he operated this mill during the remainder of his active life. He died July 21, 1871. Politically he was a stanch Whig.

William H. Garland married Aurelia Cross, who was a daughter of Moses H. Cross, who was in the military service of the United States during the War of 1812. Of the 11 children born to this marriage, nine reached maturity, viz.: Michael, of Bay City; Sarah E., born February 1, 1840; Jane, born May 29, 1842; James and Edward (twins), born November 4, 1843, the former of whom died November 3, 1865; William Harry, born August 21, 1848; John, born May 26, 1850; Aurelia, born April 10, 1852; and Cynthia, born August 23, 1855, who is the wife of Capt. E. T. Rattray, of Cleveland, Ohio. The parents were worthy members of the Methodist Episcopal Church. The father was a whole-souled man, full of generous impulses.

Michael Garland was educated in books in the local schools, but his natural mechanical abilities were encouraged in his father's mill, very little of its construction or operation being unknown to him while he was still a child of tender years. When but 12 years of age he was perfectly competent to operate a steam engine. Naturally he learned the business of millwright and steam engineer and knowledge of these trades has been the basis for much experimenting and for innumerable inventions, Mr. Garland and his fellow stockholders at this time owning some 60 patents for improvements in sawmill, windmill and other kinds of machinery.

At the age of 17 years, Michael Garland left home for the West, going first to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from which point he sailed on October 17, 1857, for Manistee, Michigan. He had been engaged to put up a double-cutting circular sawmill for Adam and James Stronach at Old Stronach, Michigan. This contract he satisfactorily completed, but when its owners were ready to operate it they could not find sawyers of sufficient knowledge to run it. Mr. Garland consented to run it through the winter, filing for himself and other sawyers, but in the spring returned to his parents home in New York, where, at their earnest solicitation, he remained through the summer. In the following year he went to Dubuque, Iowa; from there he proceeded by boat to Cassville, Wisconsin, and shortly afterward went to Turkey River, Iowa. The summer was spent in that locality, full of work, erecting sawmills and building freight barges. As operator of a mill for Brown LeGraff & Company, at Cassville, Wisconsin, he remained in that village about two years, and during this period he also completed the manufacture of a number of barges in association with Homer Smith, a partnership having been formed under the name of Smith & Garland.

About 1859 Garland sold out to his partner and returned to Manistee, Michigan, where he engaged with the firm of Canfield, Coles & Company (lumbermen) and had sole charge of the mechanical departments of two mills, including the engines as well as all mill machinery. He remained in this important and responsible position until 1860, when he went to Chicago. During his stay there he had the pleasure of seeing the Prince of Wales, on his visit to the United States, who is now King Edward VII, of Great Britain.

From Chicago, Mr. Garland went to what was then a more progressive place, one where business opportunities were better, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and there he operated a mill until June 15, 1862. The Civil War was then at its height and the military spirit penetrated every industry and aroused patriotic feelings in every loyal breast. Mr. Garland was now a young man only 24 years of age and had accomplished more than many men succeed in doing in double the time. He was known all through the section where he had followed his line of work as a thoroughly competent man and most reliable engineer. Openings were ready for him with many companies, but he decided to offer his services to his country, and on the last-mentioned date enlisted in Company I, 30th Reg., Wisconsin Vol. Inf., and continued with that organization until it was mustered out October 28, 1865, at Madison, Wisconsin.

Mr. Garland spent the winter of 1864-65 at Fort Union, at the mouth of the Yellowstone River, and during this period was in a number of Indian skirmishes. His mechanical skill was frequently called into play in the building of boats designed to carry four companies of soldiers down to Fort Randall, at Sioux City, and he also had charge for 60 days as a noncommissioned officer with a guard of privates, of a steamboat on the river. He made a trip from Fort Union to St. Louis, on the steamer “Yellowstone.” While at Fort Union he built and operated for the government a portable sawmill, fitted with circular saws. Another experience far from pleasant, was an attack of smallpox, at Yankton, Dakota.

After his final discharge from military service, Mr. Garland returned to Eau Claire and resumed his place in a machine shop there, that of superintendent, but later game it up to rebuild a sawmill at Gravel Island, Wisconsin, which he had originally assisted in building and which had been destroyed by fire. This mill was owned by Taylor & Bussey and was fitted with gang and circular saws; after he rebuilt it, he remained two years as superintendent of all its departments. In 1867 he returned to Eau Claire, resumed his old position of superintendent and built a comfortable home for himself and wife there. He next took charge of a mill for Ingraham, Canada & Dole, which he operated until 1869. During the two years he had spent at Gravel Island, he had been in partnership with Samuel Sykes, under the firm name of Sykes & Garland, and it was during this period that he patented his first invention, a sawdust feeder for furnaces. A patent was granted June 15, 1869. Mr. Garland went to Muskegon, Michigan, looking up opportunities to sell his sawdust feeder patents, but returned to Eau Claire for the winter, returning to Muskegon in the spring of 1870. He installed a sawdust feeder for O. P. Pillsbury & Company, founded an agency there and then came on to Saginaw and Bay City. On March 17, 1870, he entered into a contract with a A. Rust & Company, for the introduction of the sawdust feeder in their mill. This feeder was installed and remains in the mill, which has passed into the control of the Kneeland-Bigelow Company, of Bay City. In the spring of 1871 he returned to Eau Claire and worked through that summer for Ingraham, Canada & Company, but came back to Bay City in 1872, leaving his family at Eau Claire. He entered into the manufacture of his invention and of mill machinery. He was kept busily occupied inputting up sawmills and installing his sawdust feeder all over Michgian and other lumbering States. For many years his office in Bay City was on Water street, opposite the Fraser.

The M. Garland Company as organized with Michael Garland as president, H. W. Garland as secretary and treasuer, and Maude G. Garland as vice-president. With the exception of two shares, the stock is all owned in the family. The plant covers 13 city lots, on both side of 23rd street and includes a fully equipped foundry and machine shop, with every facility for manufacturing machinery. Employment is given 71 men and the product includes all kinds of machinery. Mr. Garland's conveyors are in use in all sorts of manufactories all over the United States, in sugar houses, wood pulp mills, coal mines, etc. In July, 1903, Mr. Garland and wife purchased the Valley Wind Engine & Iron Works, the product of which is windmills, grain grinders and pumps, and here also is a splendid foundry and machine shop. This plant covers a space of 375 by 100 feet. The business was incorporated October 28, 1903, with Mr. Garland as president; Mrs. Garland as secretary and treasurer; and W. H. Shapley of Toronto, vice-president.

Mr. Garland was married first to Cyrena L. Vradenburg, who was daughter of Christopher Vrandenburg, of Durand, Wisconsin. One child survives this union, Harris W., who is secretary and treasurer of the M. Garland Company. Mrs Garland died February 26, 1901. Mr. Garland's present wife was former Emma Collins, of Bay City, Michigan.

Mr. Garland votes with the Republican party and takes much interest in politics, but is not a seeker for office. He was a charter member of the Bay City Club and is a stockholder and regular member of the news club, in which his son is also actively interested.

Mr. Garland has an immense volume of accomplished work behind him. In additional to his other business associations just mentioned, he is a member of the firm of Oaks & Garland, of West Bay City, manufacturers of new device, in the way of metal nozzle for a fire hose, so constructed that it can be driven into a solid wall of wood. This has met with approval all over the country and it is destined to be used in every fire department in the world because of its general utility. The largest mill Mr. Garland every built, among the many scattered all over the lumbering districts, was the Whitney & Batchelor mill at Melbourne, Saginaw County, Michigan, erected in the winter of 1878-79. This mill has cut 30,764,000 feet of lumber in a season, not running nights, and during a season of 202 days of 11 ¼ hours each has cut an average of 166,666 feet per day, the record for the Saginaw Valley.

Mr. Garland is not only a man of exceptional business ability, but of most remarkable mechanical talent. Personally he possesses a winning, courteous manner, is the dispenser of universal esteem.

Obituary - Added April, 2014.

Lumber World Review, Vol. 25, December 25, 1913.


Michael Garland who did more to create and raise the stnadard and efficiency of sawmill machinery in the United States than any other individual passed away at his home 1505 Fifth avenue, Bay City, Mich. at 8 o'clock p. m., Dec. 18, after a long and distressing illness.

Had Michael Garland lived until January 17, 1914, he would have been 75 of age for he was born at Cape Vincent, Jefferson County, N. Y., January 13, 1838.

The patent office at Washington, D. C. records the fact that in his time Michael Garland took our over one-hundred and fifty patents but he originated thousands of other things on which no patents were ever secured because he became disgusted at the insuffient protection of the patten laws of this country.

Only a partial list of the important things on which he put the mark of his intellect would fill three columns of this publication.

He was such a modest and unssuming man; so prone to efface himself from his own acts that it is doubtful if many of his close associates quite realized the place he held in the creation of the labor saving devices of this mechanical age. The things he did were not for this country alone but for the world at large.

He invented the automatic sawdust boiler feeder which cut down the power costs of saw mills to a minimum and this sawdust boiler feeder was the original and the first of any automatic fuel feeder and was adapted in hundreds of other lines of manufacture. The original idea, however, beongs to Michael Garland.

With W. D. Ewart he invented and designed nearly all of the attachment links for detachable chain and originated the "No. 500" steeple-top chain.

He invented the drop saw trimmer and the overhead slasher used in saw mills. His, also, was the wick oiling pillow block, generally adopted in mechanics.

Also to Michael Garland belongs the air bag method for raising sunken ships.

He also invented an electric set works; a flume system for handling pulp logs and nearly best of all cable coveyor which has made possible the economical and efficient storing and restoring of pulp logs for paper mills.

In his prime, such tasks did not seem to come rapidly enough to his mind and hand in his own home country and he lived for a number of years at Memphis, Tenn., in a business sence, where he was vice-president of one of the largest cotton-seed oil mills and during that time he designed and built many machines for that business which are still largely in use. One of his principal inventions which has made possible more than any other thing the rapid rise of the cotton-seed oil business of this and other countries was a device known as the "delinter", a machine now used in every cotton-seed oil mill, whereever situated.

Michael Garland only retired from actual business in December, 1911, his son Harrison W. Garland purchasing from his father at that time the business of the M. Garland Machinary Co.

Michael Garland was a "man's man." He picked his friends out of the shifting crowd of men as they came by and once put a mark on a man -- his own mark of approval -- there it always remained.

The writer of these few lines of appreciation of this giant intellect that was housed in the active body of Michael Garland remembers that he -- this Wizard of Mechanics -- stopped long enough in the whirl of his busy life to give the writer a friendly greeting of this character, after which their friendship ran evenly though all the years.

Personal History.

Michael Garland was educated in the local schools of his New York home and when he was 12 years old operated a steam engine. He learned the business of millwright and steam engineer. At the age of 17 he left New York for Milwaukee, from there went to Manistee, in 1857, to erect a double cutting circular sawmill at old Stromach.

After he built the mill nobody could be found to run it and he remained and started the mill, returning later to his parents in New York.

In 1859, Mr. Garland returned to Manistee by the way of Dubuque, Iowa and Caseville, Wis., where he had been engaged in building lumber barges,. In Manistee he engaged with a lumber company having mechanical charge of its two mills.

He spent 1840 to 1842, in Chicago, and Eau Claire, Wis., and in 1862 he enlisted in Company I, 30th Regiment, Wisconsin Volunteers, and continued in the organization until it was mustered out in 1865, at Madison, Wis.

Whatever in life Michael Garland took up, if there were any wheels about the institution, any sort of mechanism, he gravitated to the wheels and the mechanism.

Even while in the army he built boats for the troops and when his regiment was at Fort Union he built portable saw mills for the government.

His sawdust feeder was his first considerable invention, it seems, and he journeyed variously in Michigan -- Saginaw, Bay city and round about, building saw mills and selling his inventions.

He finally settled in Bay city and there remained until the day of his death, being the founder of the M. Garland Machinary Co., which his son now owns and operates.

He was first married to Cyrena L. Bradenburg, of Durand, Wis. Mrs. Garland died Febuary 26, 1961, and Michael Garland married, the second time, Miss Emma Holland of Bay City, who survives him. Harrison W. Garland now of Bay City, was his only child.

Additional Notes.

Related Notes & Pages

Mr. Garland was partner with J.G. Emery, in the Emery & Garland Co., which was established in 1874, and manufactured equipment used in saw mills.
Related Pages:
Emery & Garland Co.
M. Garland Co.
Cranage, Thomas
People Referenced
Bradenburg, Christopher
Bradenburg, Cyrena L. (1-wife)
Cross, Aurelia (mother)
Cross, Moses H.
Ewart, W.D.
Garland, Aurelia (sis.)
Garland, Cynthia (sis.)
Garland, Edward (bro.)
Garland, Harrison w. (son)
Garlnad, James (bro.)
Garland, Jane (sis.)
Garland, Maude
Garland, Michael (subject)
Garland, Sarah E (sis.)
Garland, William (father)
Garland, William H. (bro.)
Holland, Emma (2-wife)
King Edward VII
Rattray, E.T. Capt.
Shapely, W.H.
Smith, Homer
Stronach, Adam
Stronach, James
Sykes, Samuel
Subjects Referenced
30th WI Reg. vols.
Bay City, MI
Bay City Iron Works
Brown LeGraff & Co.
Canfield, Coles & Co.
Cape Vincent, NY
Cassville, WI
Chicago, IL
Civil War
Clayton, NY
Cleveland, OH
Constantinople, Eng.
Dubuque, IW
Duran, WI
Eau Claire, WI
Emery & Garland Co.
England Navy
Fort Union
Fraser House
Garland Ingraham & Co.
Gravel Island, WI
Industrial Works
Ingraham, Canada & Dole
Ingraham, Canada & Co.
Jefferson Co., NY
Leeds, Yorkshire, Eng.
Madison, WI
Manistee, MI
Melbourne, Saginaw, MI
Methodist Episcopal
M. Garland Machinary Co.
Milwaukee, WI
Minneapolis, MN
Muskegon, MI
Oaks & Garland Co.
Old Stronach, MI
Saginaw, MI
Saginaw Valley, MI
Smith & Garland Co.
Standard Machine Co.
Sykes & Garland Co.
Taylor & Bussey Co.
Toronto, Canada
Turkey River, IO
Valley Iron Works
Valley Wind Eng.&Iron Works
WAr of 1812
Washington, DC
Warren Settlement, NY
West Bay City, MI
Whitney & Batchelor mill
Yankton, DK
Yellowstone River
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.