Peter C. Smith (1844 - ??)
Born in St. Clair Co., MI; Maritime captain, merchant in Bay City.
Maritime biography, courtesy of Links to the Past (2005).
History of the Great Lakes, Vol. 2 by J.B. Mansfield Published Chicago: J.H. Beers & Co. 1899.
P. C. SMITH
Captain P.C. Smith has evidently the energetic Scotch blood of his paternal
ancestors in his veins, which combined with the fine qualities of mind inherited
from an American mother has made him very successful in his business life. Captain
Smith was born in St. Clair county, Mich., May 1, 1844, son of Peter and Sarah
(Cross) Smith. The father, who was born in Glasgow, Scotland, was a millwright by
trade and constructed various mills in and about his native city. In 1842 he
brought his family to the United States, locating in Clair county, Mich. In 1852
he went to West Bay City, where he built a mill which was operated under the firm
name of Moore, Post & Smith, and in 1857 he removed his family to that place. Prior
to that time his son P. C. Smith, had acquired a liberal education in the public
schools of St. Clair, and he commenced to work in the mill with his father,
continuing thus about four years, during which time he accumulated funds sufficient
to start in life on his own account.
Captain Smith first purchased an interest in a steam ferry plying on the Saginaw
river, and after sailing in her two years, sold out and applied for an received
master's papers, purchasing the steamer Wave, which he sailed about six years,
engaged in towing logs on the lakes and rivers. She was destroyed by fire in 1874,
and he then stopped ashore and engaged in looking after the interests of the mill
until the spring of 1877, when he purchased the tug Sol S. Rumage, which he sailed.
The large lake tugsElla Smith and Peter Smith next came into his line by purchase
and these he sailed in the raft-towing business. The Peter Smith has an interesting
history; she was built inScotland in 1863 and put into the commission as a blockade
runner by the Confederates during our Civil war, making a successful run into
Wilmington, N. C., but was captured by one of the Uniongunboats in an attempt to
run the blockade with a cargo of cotton. In 1866 her name was changed to little Ada
and she was transferred to the lakes and used as a lake survey steamer. After some
service in her new waters the Government sold her to Capt. Peter Smith, the father
of our subject, and her name was again changed to honor her new owner.
In the fall of 1887 Captain Smith entered into partnership with Capt. Benjamin
Boutell, and the next spring they engaged actively in the raft-towing business,
each enjoying an equal interest in the enterprise now known as the Saginaw Bay
Towing Company, which has a fleet of eighteen of the finest tugs in any waters;
this association has continued up to the present time. Captain Smith also owns
individually the steamerMinnie E. Kelton and the schoonersAllegheny and Active.
None but those conversant with the magnitude of the lumbering operations on the
American lakes can comprehend the greatness of this enterprise, or the energy, force
and daring necessary to conduct it successfully, as do Smith & Boutell. But his
interests in this line claim only a portion of Captain Smith's time. In 1883 he
established a general store and coal dock in West Bay City, in which branch he now
has a large growing patronage and he is also largely interested in a match factory
and a stave and heading mill at Goodwin, Mich., as well as numerous other industries.
As will be observed from the foregoing, Captain Smith ranks deservedly as one of
the most enterprising and public-spirited citizens of West Bay City. Few men are
more widely and favorably known through the Saginaw valley, for his integrity and
character and courteous address have made him a prominent figure wherever the demands
of business or calls of social life require his presence. While a strong partisan
he is not an office seeker, and on the only occasions on which he has been before
the public as a candidate he has had the rare pleasure of being nominated by both
political parties, serving his constituents four years as trustee, and as alderman
five years. He brought to the administration of municipal affairs that same determined
will, sterling principle and shrewd appreciation of men and events which have so
eminently characterized his conduct of private business matters, and he has rendered
valuable service to West Bay City. The Captain is preeminently a successful man, and
he has amassed considerable wealth in the conduct of extensive business interests to
which he has always given his attention. Socially, he is a prominent thirty-second-
degree Mason, a member of the Commandery, and a Noble of the Mystic Shrine.
In August, 1865, Captain Smith was united in marriage with Miss Sarah, daughter of
Thomas and Nancy S. Orton, of New York State. They have one son, Capt. Charles O.
Smith, who has always from boyhood been around the vessels owned by his father. He
sailed the schooner yachtHector two seasons, and in the spring of 1895 was appointed
master of the schooner Allegheny, sailing her three successive seasons. In the
spring of 1898 he applied for and received first-class pilot's papers, and has been
assigned as mate to the steamer Traveler, of the Saginaw Bay Towing Company. The
family residence is a handsome structure on Midland avenue, West Bay City, surrounded
by spacious grounds.
Boutell, Benjamin Capt.
Cross, Sarah (mother)
Orton, Nancy S. Mrs.
Orton, Sarah (wife)
Orton, Thomas Capt.
Smith, Charles O. (son)
Smith, Peter (father)
Smith, Peter C.(subject)
Bay City, MI
Midland St., W.Bay City
Moore, Post & Smith Co.
New York State
Saginaw Bay Towing Co.
St. Clair County, MI
Ella Smith, tug
Little Ada, steamer
Minnnie E. Kelton, steamer
Peter Smith, tug
Sol. S. Rumage, tug
West Bay City
Links to the Past Online book, "History of the Great Lakes," Vols. 1 & 2, by J.B. Mansfield.