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Richard Prosper Gustin (1837-1889)
Native of Canada, grocery and lumber business in Bay City, MI

1879 biography. (Added Dec., 2009.)

American Biographical History of Eminent and Self-made Men,
by F. A. Bernard, 1878


Gustin, Richard Prosper, of Bay City, Michigan, was born in the county of Middlesex, Ontario, March 18, 1837. He is the son of Eliphalet and Sarah Ann (Edwards) Gustin. His father was born in New Jersey, and, while young, went with his family to the county of Norfolk, Canada. Subsequently, he moved to Middlesex County, Upper Canada, and was identified for years, with the milling business.

Mr. Gustin received a grammar-school education, in Canada. He spent one year at the Michigan University, and then served five years as an article clerk, in the city of Toronto, Ontario. He attended all terms required, and was admitted a member of the Osgood Hall.

In 1861, owing to ill health, he visited Charleston, West Virginia, then the head-quarters of General Cox, and entered the service with Captain M. D. W. Loomis, Acting Quartermaster, who was then Chief Quartermaster on General Cox's staff. From Charleston, he was ordered under Captain Loomis, to New Creek, Virginia, -- the base of General Fremont's operations in that State. At that time, New Creek was a small station on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, twenty-one miles from Cumberland Ford. On ' arrival, he found nothing to shelter or supply an army, and so telegraphed to Colonel Clary, Chief Quartermaster. He replied: “Create a post.” The command was literally obeyed; and, within three weeks, every thing necessary for the wants of a vast army was ready. Mr. Gustin was detailed to relieve Captain Harrison, at Cumberland, of quartermaster's stores, camp and garrison equipage, and transportation, and forward them to New Creek. Afterwards, he was at General Sigel's headquarters, and served as chief clerk to Captain Loomis and Captain J. G. C. Lee, Acting Quartermaster at Hope Landing, on Aquia Creek, Warrenton Junction, and Alexandria. Subsequently, he served in the Quartermaster-General's office, on reports, returns, and roster. In October, 1863, he was appointed auditor and attorney for the Quartermaster's Department, at Baltimore, Maryland.

In 1865 he resigned the position, and opened a United States claim office, in Baltimore. Being thoroughly posted in all branches of the United States service, his business was a success. He invested large amounts of money for private banks, and individuals, for whom he never lost a dollar. In April, 1866, he visited Bay City, and concluded that its future would be a bright one. He returned to Baltimore, sold his business and removed to Bay City, where he has since resided, and carried on the wholesale grocery and provision trade.

Mr. Gustin, at first, transacted business alone; and afterwards with a partner, in the firm known as Gustin & Co. This was succeeded by Gustin & Merrill, which partnership lasted until January 1, 1877, when, by the admission of another partner, the firm became Gustin, Merrill, & Co. This firm has one of the largest and most prominent wholesale establishments in the West. The stores were built especially for them, and consist of an imposing four-story brick building, with a frontage of forty-five, by a dept of ninety-five feet; an iron warehouse; and unsurpassed dock privileges. They keep on hand a very fine stock of groceries and lumbermen's supplies. They are extensive jobbers in flour, feed, oats, and hay; and have an elevator with a capacity of fifteen thousand bushels, operated by an engine of five-horse power. They make a specialty of handling choice brands of tobacco and cigars, and are agents for many of the leading tobacco houses in the country.

Mr. Gustin is a Republican in politics. He is of medium height, of a delicate frame, and wears a full, well-trimmed beard. His is a man of substantial acquirements, keen penetration, cultivated tastes, and unaffected piety. He married, October 19, 1863, Rachel Smith, daughter of Hon. Henry Willmaster, of Norfolk County, Ontario, Canada. They have seven children.

1889 deceased. (Added Dec., 2009)

Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society, 1889.
Page 60.

Mr. Gustin at first transacted business alone, and afterward with a partner, in the firm known as Gustin & Co., whose place of business was in the Griswold block. This was succeeded by Gustin, Merrill, which partnership lasted until January 1, 1886, when by the admission of Eugene Fiefield, the firm became Gustin, Merrill & Co. About three years ago Mr. Gustin retired from the grocery business go give closer attention to his lumbering interests in Alcona county. Some six months later he opened another wholesale store on Adams street, opposite the F. & P. M. freight depot, which business is still carried on.

Deceased was largely interested in the lumber business in and about Killmaster, Alcona county, and he was also president of the Alcona gas and oil company.

In politics he was a republican and six years ago was elected alderman in the second ward, which was a surprise to all his acquaintances. On Sunday, February 17, he was taken sick, but the following Wednesday, feeling much better, he went to his place of business. Thursday he suffered a relapse, and Friday, calling his wife and family about him, said the he was going to die. He realized that he could not recover. He grew gradually worse until death took place, February 25, 1889. He was conscious until within an hour of the time he breathed his last.

Mr. Gustin was married to Rachel Smith, daughter of Hon. Henry Killmaster, of Norfolk county, Ont., October 19, 1863. He leaves a widow and six children.

Additional Notes.

    1880 – Census, Bay City, Mich.

  • Gustin, Richard Prosper, b. 1837, Canada
  • Gustin, Rachel S., wife
  • Children: Lillie Lee, Harry K, R. Prosper, Mary K., Grace K., Alice Cary, Maggie.

    1893 – Directory, Bay City, Mich.

  • Gustin, Bert H, city editor Bay City Tribune, bds Campbell House.
  • Gustin, Charles C, see Bay City Chamber of Commerce, res 715 N Monroe.
  • Gustin, Frederick K, lawyer 6 Bank Block, res 308 N Jefferson.
  • Gustin, Henry A, bookkeeper, res s w cor 6th and Madison.
  • Gustin, Herbert H, clk Gustin, Merrill & Co, bds Campbell House.
  • Gustin, Merrill Co (Richard P. Gustin, Henry P Merrill, Eugene Fifield), Wholesale Grocers Jennison Block, Water bet 4th and 5th.
  • Gustin, Richard P (Gustin, Merrill & Co), res cor 4th and Sherman.
Related Note & Pages

Related Pages:
None at this time.
People Referenced
Clarey, Colonel
Cox, General
Edwards, Sarah A. (mother)
Fifield, Eugene
Fremont, General
Gustin, Alice C. (dau)
Gustin, Elphalet (father)
Gustin, Grace K. (dau)
Gustin, Harry K. (son)
Gustin, Lilly L. (dau)
Gustin, Maggie (dau)
Gustin, Mary K. (dau)
Gustin, Richard P. (subject)
Gustin, R. Prosper (son)
Harrison, Capt.
Killmaster, Henry
Loomis, M.D.W. Capt.
Sigel, J.G.C General
Smith, Rachel (wife)
Willmaster, Henry
Subjects Referenced
Alcona Co., MI
Alcona Gas & Oil Co.
Baltimore, MD
Baltimore & Ohio RR
Bay City, MI
Charleston, WV
Civil War
Griswold block
Gustin & Co.
Gustin & Merrill & Co.
Killmaster, Alcona Co, MI
Michigan University
Middlexe Co., Ont.
New Creek, VA
New Jersey
Norfolk, Canada
Toronto, Ont.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.