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Charles Ewer Jennison (1829-1915)
Early pioneer and prominent businessman.

1875 - Early years. (Added July, 2009)

The History, Commercial Advantages and Future Prospects
of Bay City, Michigan, by Henry S. Dow - 1875

Page 16.

Charles E. Jennison came to this place in 1850 and commenced the mercantile business in company with the late James Fraser. After continuing in the partnership for about eighteen months he purchased Mr. Frasers' interest and continued the business alone till 1854, at which time he was joined by his brother, the late H. W. Jennison. After that the business was enlarged and carried on under the name of C. E. Jennison & Bro., till the death of the brother, which occurred in 1864. He was cut off in the vigor of his manhood and usefulness, and the people of Bay City felt that they had been upon to part with one of the most useful and prominent members of society. Not long after the occurrence just referred to Charles E. Jennison sold out his mercantile business in order that he might give his whole attention to his greatly increasing general business. During the continuance of his successful mercantile business he was wise enough to invest all the surplus profits in real estate, which has made him one of the most successful business men in the Saginaw Valley, and perhaps the wealthiest in Bay City. Mr. Jennison's sterling business qualifications have served greatly to promote the interests of the city, and is hoped they will long continue to do so.

1892 Biography - Added July, 2009.

History of Saginaw and Bay Counties, Michigan, 1892


Charles E. Jennison is one of the oldest merchants in the city, being the senior member of the hardware firm of Jennison & Son, besides being engaged in the real estate business. He was born in Baton Rouge, La., July 5, 1829, and his father, William Jennison, was a native of Boston and a merchant of New York. The grandfather, William, was of English descent, and belonged to an old New England family, which was found by two brothers, Robert and William, who came together from England on the ship Arabella. The grandfather was a participant in the Revolutionary War, in both army and navy, and was wounded at Bunker Hill. He was a literary man who compiles a number of educational works.

The father of our subject, who is a member of the New York firm of Mackey, Oakley & Jennison, in the iron business, was a merchant at Danville, Pa., and at Baton Rouge. While in Pennsylvania he operated the Monitor Iron Works, and after retiring from business spent the last five years of his life in Philadelphia. His firm started in Saginaw City in 1837 as a speculation, employing Norman J. Little as their agent. The financial crisis of 1837 put a stop to growth here, and it was not until 1843, that Saginaw again showed sign of life. The father was a Whig in his political views and a man of influence. His wife, whose maiden name was Maria Antoinette Fowler, was born in West Farms, N. Y., and was the daughter of an English officer. She died in Philadelphia at an advanced age.

Of the children of this family, Mary is deceased; William was Circuit Judge for six years in Detroit, and is now an attorney there; Henry W. died in Bay City; Rev. Joseph F. is a minister in Baltimore; Maria A, is the widow of the late Maj-Gen. David B. Birney, of Philadelphia, and resides in that city; and J. Morgan lives at Cape May. The education of our subject was largely received in the Danville High School and academy, and in Dr. Sheddon's boarding school at Ewensfield, Pa. In 1850 he came to Michigan when Lower Saginaw was then only a few shanties in the woods, with a population of one hundred and twenty-five people, and he here entered into partnership with James Fraser in the general merchandise business. The firm of Jennison & Fraser continued for eighteen months, when our subject bought out the interest of his partner and ran an independent business until his brother came West in 1854 and joined him under the firm name of C. E. Jennison & Bro., continuing thus for ten years until the death of Henry W.

In 1871 the brick block now occupied by Mr. Jennison & Son, was put up by him to accommodate his extensive hardware business which he had began in 1865. The building is three stores and basement, and comprises four stories, two of which are used for hardware. He is also interested with Mr. Eastman of Saginaw, in the barge “Nirvana” and the steamer “Wilhelm.”

Mr. Jennison married Miss Florence Birney, who was a daughter of James G. Birney, the first candidate for President of the Liberty party. This distinguished statesman was born in Danville, Ky., and graduated at Princeton College in 1810, and after studying law practices his profession at his native home, and afterward at Huntsville, Ala., where he was elected Solicitor-General of the State. In 1828 he was made President Elector of the Whig party of that State and soon after this had his mind awakened to the enormities of human slavery; and after manumitting his own slaves became one of the foremost advocates of human freedom.

In 1840 James G. Birney, visited England, as one of the vice-presidents of the World's Convention and in May of that year was nominated for the Presidencyof the United States by the Liberty party and received seven thousand votes. His second nomination gave him sixty-two thousand three hundred votes. In 1841 he removed to Lower Saginaw, now Bay City, and there resided for many years. He was Trustee of the Saginaw Bay Company, and was prominent in the early history of this Valley, where his son James became a very prominent man, serving in the State Senate and becoming Lieutenant Governor of the State, and one of the Circuit Judges. From 1876 to 1882, he was United States Minister to Hague, Holland. The father died in 1857 at Eaglewood, N. J., and the son passed away in Bay City in 1888.

Six children have blessed the home of our subject, namely: Elizabeth, who is Mrs. F. L. Gilbert; Charles M., who is a member of the Medical Department of the University of Michigan; George B., who is a commission merchant in Chicago; William F., who is with his father in the hardware business, and Secretary of the Riverside Storage Company, which he organized in 1889; Dudley, who lives in Seattle, Wash.; and Agatha, who attends school in Philadelphia. To all of these the parents have given excellent advantages in every way, and they have taken an active interest in educational matters and all public improvements. They are Episcopalians and are stanch Repulicans in politics.

1905 - Historical biography. (Added Nov., 2008)

History of Bay County, Michigan and Representative Citizens
by Augustus H. Gansser (1905)


C. E. JENNISON, president of the Jennison Hardware Company, of Bay City, Michigan, is one of the city’s early business men and representative citizens. He was born in 1829, at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and is a son of William Jennison, who removed to New York City when our subject was five years old.

William Jennison engaged there in the iron business in the metropolis under the firm name of Mackey, Oakley & Jennison. His home was in Brooklyn, but his death occurred in the city of Philadelphia.

C. E. Jennison came to Lower Saginaw (now Bay City) in 1850 and entered into general business in partnership with James Fraser. In 1864 he sold his other interests and entered into the hardware line, but is no longer active in its work, the business being under the management of William F., G. B. and D. M. Jennison. Formerly, Mr. Jennison was interested in other industries of this section and was one of the first in the salt business.

For many years after coming to this city, Mr. Jennison took a very prominent part in its development along all lines, and he served on civic bodies and assist in the found of the present school system. Politically he has always been in sympathy with the Republican party. In earlier years he was active in the Masonic and other fraternal societies.

Mr. Jennison was married to Florence Birney, who is the surviving daughter of the late Hon. James G. Birney, of national fame.

1915 - Obituary (Contributed by Jim Petrimoulx - Jan. 2009)

The Bay City Tribune – Thursday, July 1, 1915 (page 1)



Took Keen Interest in the Commercial and
Civic Development of the Community.


Charles E. Jennison died at 6 o'clock Wednesday afternoon at his home, corner of Ninth and Jackson streets, of a complication of disease. He had been failing for near a year.

Mr. Jennison was one of the eldest of the Bay City pioneer settlers. He was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 1829. He came north in 1834 with his parents and lived in Brooklyn until 1841, when they removed to Danville, Pa. In 1850 Mr. Jennison came to Lower Saginaw, now Bay City, to go into the merchantile business in company with the late James Fraser. After continuing the partnership for about 18 months, he purchased Mr. Fraser's interest and continued in business along until 1854, at which time was joined by his brother, the late Henry Walter Jennison.

After that the business was enlarged and carried on under the name of C. E. Jennison & Bro., till the death of the brother, which occurred in 1864. Mr. Jennison continued to be more or less interested in the hardware business until about 1870, when he gave up active work and devoted his entire time to real estate and other business activities. He was founder and president of the Jennison Harware company. He organized the Michigan Pipe Works and served as its first vice-president.

He built the first steel bridge across the Saginaw river at Third street and constructed the Jennison block on the corner of Fifth avenue and Water street in 1870. This building is still occupied by the Jennison Hardware company. He was also largely instrumental in the reorganization of the German-American Sugar company. Mr. Jennison was never active in politics although in the early days he served one term as alderman.

In 1851 Mr. Jennison built a residence on the corner of Center and Washington aveues, the site on which is now located the Carpo block. At that time there were the improvements in that part of the town and beyond where the courthouse now stands was a thick forest. He had made three additions to the city and was interested in one other. He was married in Bay City in 1853 to Miss Florence Birney, daughter of the late Hon. James G. Birney, of national fame. Mr. Jennison is survived by his widow and four sons, Charles M., George B., William F. and Dudley M. Jennison, and two daughters, Mrs. David Williams, of Duluth, Minn., and Mrs. A. J. Barton, of Colorado Springs, Colo.

Mr. Jennison was one of the men whose faith in a prosperous future for Bay City has been strong from the very first. He began early to invest in real estate and has always advised men in his employ to do the same with what means they could save. The correctness of his judgment has long since been demonstrated. Mr. Jennison was very fond of travel and had visited nearly every section of the globe. His last trip was last winter when he went to Florida.

The funeral services will be held from Trinity Episcopal church Saturday morning at 10:20 o'clock.

Additional Notes:

    1850 Census Danville, Montour, Pennsylvania:

  • JENNISON, Wm., age 54, merchant, born MA.
  • M.A., female, age 48, born NY
  • H. Waller(?), male, age 22, clerk, born LA. (Henry)
  • Chas. E., age 21, clerk, born LA.
  • Maria A., female, age 14, born NY
  • M. W., female, age 12, born NY
  • J. Morgan, mail, 8, born NY [Note #1]
  • ALAIN, Mary, female, age 16, born NY
  • BROWN, Jenny, female, age 11, black, born PA
  • SMITH, Chas., mail, 15, clerk, born PA
    - Note 1: Death cert #29115, Phila., PA: Died Dec. 17, 1914, attorney, married, age 75, born PA; burial Woodlands Cem. PA; parents: Wm. Jennison & Mary Beatte

    1880 Census Bay City, Mich. (2d Ward)

  • JENNISON, Charles E. - age 50, b. LA, merchant
  • Florence B. - wife, age 42, b. KY
  • Charlie - son, age 22, b. MI, bookkeeper
  • Barney - son, age 19, b. MI, at school
  • Willie - son, age 15,B. MI, at school
  • Dudley - son, age 12, b. MI, at school
  • Agatha - dau., age 4, b. MI, at home
  • Elizabeth B. - dau., age 23, b. MI. Mrs. Gilbert
  • Giblert, Frederick L. - son-inlaw, age 27, b. NY, lumberman
  • O'Neil, Abby - other, age 31, b. CAN.
  • O'Neil, Lizzie - other, age 21, b. CAN.

    Michigan Marriages - Bay City, Mich.

  • Date: Jan. 28, 1885
  • Groom: Henry W. Jennison, age 27 (brother of Charles)
  • Bride: Josie B. Lord, age 27,
    Official: J.A. Wight, past Presbyterian Church.
    Witnesses: George Lord & Mrs. H. B. Smith

    1886: Pioneer Collections of Michigan.

  • By Rev. A. A. Butler, Rector -- "The first marriage on the register (Trinity Episcopal Church) is that of Charles E. Jennison and Florence Birney. It has been appointed for early twilight, but the wedding party waited until ten o'clock before Missionary Spauding arrived from Saginaw. The good man had attempted to come down in a dignified way, on a chance steamer, but when aground on the bar concluded that he would have made better speed in the old-time canoe. Detained hour after hour was seriously contemplating swimming ashore and completing his journey on foot, when the steamer happily floated off and reached his destinatio in safety." (Marriage took place in 1853)
  • C. E. Jennison was on the church building committee with Thomas Cranage, Jr. and

    1890: History of Northwest.

  • Bio of Judge William Jennison, says he had three brothers and two sisters: Charles E., in the real estate and lumber business at Bay City; Rev. Joseph F., and J. Morgan, lawyer; Miss Miriam W. and Mrs. Maria Antoinette, widow of the late General Birney, of the United States Army.

    1891: Pioneer Society of Michigan.

  • By Judge Albert Miller -- "Florence Birney, now Mrs. Charles E. Jennison, has been a rsident of this locality (Bay City) since 1842.

    1896: Bay City Directory:

  • Jennison Block - n.w. cor. Water and 5th.
  • Jennison, Charles E. (Tousey & Jennison), vice-pres. The Michigan Pipe Co., real estate and lumber dealer n.w. cor. 5th and Water, res. 713 9th.
  • Jennison, Dudley M. - clerk Second National Bank, bds 713 9th.
  • Jennison, Frank J. - bkkpr Bay City bank, bds. 600 6th.
  • Jennison, Henry W. - salesman Maltby, Brotherton & co., bds. s.e. cor. 4th and Madison.
  • Jennison, Wm. - bookkeeper, res 600 6th.
  • Jennison, Wm. F. - bookkeeper, Bay National bank, bds. 713 9th.
Related Note & Pages

Charles E. Jennsion

Related Pages:
Jennison Centennial Book
Jennison & Co., 1886
Michigan Pipe Co.
Trinity Episcopal Church
Catlin-Jennison Mill
- People:
Birney Family
Catlin, Israel
Hill, Isaac H.
Eddey, Newell A.
People Referenced
* Heritage page available.
Ayraut, Miles
Barton, A.J. Mrs (dau.)
*Birney, David Bell
Birney, Florence (wife)
*Birney, James G.
Butler, A.A Rev.
*Cranage, Thomas Jr.
Eastman, Mr.
*Fraser, James
Fowler, Maria A.(mother)
Gilbert, Frederick L.
Hill, Isaac H.
Hill, Susan Mrs.
Hobbie, Isaac S.
Hobbie, John A.
Jennison, Agatha M. (dau.)
Jennison, Barney (son)
Jennison, Charles E. (subject)
Jennison, Charles M. (son)
Jennison, Dudley M. (son)
Jennison, George B. (son)
Jennison, Elizabeth B. (dau.)
Jennison, Frank
Jennison, Henry W. (bro.)
Jennsion, J. Morgan (bro.)
Jennison, Joseph F Rev.(bro.)
Jennison, Maria A. (sister)
Jennison, Mary (sister.)
Jennison, Miriam W.(sister)
Jennison, Robert (ancestor)
Jennison, Wm. (father)
Jennison, Wm Sr.(g-father)
Jennison, Wm. F. (son)
Little, Norman J.
*Miller, Albert
O'Neil, Abby
O'Neil, Lizzie
Sheddon, Dr.
Spaulding, Rev.
Williams, David Mrs. (dau.)
Subjects Referenced
Baltimore, MD
Baton Rouge, LA
Bay City, MI
Brooklyn, NY
Boston, MA
Bunker Hill
Cape May
Crapo block
C.E. Jennison & Bro.
Danville, PA
Danville, KY
Detroit, MI
Eaglewood, NJ
Ewensfield, PA
German-American Sugar Co.
Huntsville, AL
Jennison Hardware Co.
Jennison & Son Co.
Libety party
Lower Saginaw, MI
Mackey,Oakley& Jennison
Monitor Iron Works, PA
Michigan Pipe Works
New York, NY
Philadelphia, PA
Princeton College
Republican party
Revolutionary War
Riverside Storage Co.
Saginaw, MI
Saginaw Bay Co.
Saginaw Valley, MI
Seattle, WA
Third street bridge
Trinity Episcopal Ch.
Univ. of Michigan
West Farms, NY
Related Photos
Jennison Family: Contributions on Jennison family history, genealogy and photos were provide by Cynthia Jones.

Agatha McDowell Jennison
Daughter, b. 1876.
m. Wm. Farrington
Dudley Miller Jennison
Son, 1867-1915
m. Alice E. Galusha
Elizabeth Birney Jennison
Daughter, b. 1859
m.Frederick L. Gilbert
George Birney Jennison
Florence Tye Jennison
Daughter of George B.
William F. Jennison
Internet Resources
1893: Hobbie v. Jennison.
Pipe patent violation case filed by Isaac S. Hobbie and John A. Hobbie against Charles E. Jennison and Issac H. Hill. References to firm, Ayrault, Jennison Co., owned by C.E. Jennison, Susan Hill and Miles Ayrault. [View]
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.