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Robert Anderson's Memories of Early Bay City History
  • Contributed by Jim Petrimoulx - Mar. 2008.
  • In 1927, The Bay City Times published a series of articles about the early history of Bay City, that were based on the accounts of Robert Anderson, a pioneer of the city. Mr. Andersons's recollections of this early time gives a unique insight, coming from someone who lived during that period. At the time of these interviews, Mr. Anderson was 84 years, and was residing at 603 North Catherine Street, with his wife, Catherine (pictured).

    Brief Sketch of the Anderson Family.

    Robert Anderson was born in Glasgow, Scotland in March, 1843, the son of Willaim and Elizabeth Anderson. His father was born in 1820 and mother in 1821. The family emigrated to the U.S. in 1848, settling in Philadelphia, Pa., where Robert, his parents are picked up in the 1850 census, along with a new child, Agnes who was born earlier that year. According to Robert's account, Agnes died and the next sister born was named Agnes, who Robert states was with the family when they came to Bay City. The family is next found during the census of 1880, living in West Bay City, where Robert is identified as a farmer, with his parents residing at his residence. Nothing more on Agnes could be found. Robert is next found living in Kawkawlin during te 1900 census, with his wife Silva (Catherin) and his mother Elizabeth. The last record found was the 1930 census, where he is now living in Bay City, with Catherine, who is noted as having emigrated from Canada in 1856.

    Menu with Story Headlines.

    Part 1 - June 19, 1927:

    Aided By Almost Incomparable Memory, Pioneer Recalls City's Early History.

    Robert Anderson, at 12, Steamed up River in 1855; Side-Wheeler Whistle Echoed Through Wooded Lands While Indians looked on From Shores.

    It Took Him Seven Weeks to Sail Atlantic in coming Here; Marvels at Record Trip Lindbergh Made Over Almost Same Route.

    Part 2 - June 26, 1927:

    Believe It Or Not, Cows Used to Roam Center Ave.

    Robert Anderson, Here since 1855, Relates History of Lower Saginaw; Say Bossies Pastured in What is Now Downtown Business District.

    Part 3 - July 3, 1927:

    Only Three Churches Here In 1855; City Directory Now Shows 56; Mr. Anderson Recollects Location of First Blacksmith Shop In Lower Saginaw, and Talks of Early Industry, Too.

    Part 4 - July 17, 1927:

    Sharp Axes of Woodsmen Ring Through Forest Primeval as Pioneers Hew First Roadway Out of Historic Lower Saginaw.

    Robert Anderson's Father Helped Lay Plank on Road Built in 1856; Was Only Highway Leading to What Are Now Saginaw, Flint, Other Points to South.

    Early Settler Recalls Primitive Scenes in Locality Where Now Stands City Hall; Philip Simon Kept Slaughter House There, Avers One Here Since '55.

    Part 5 - July 24, 1927:

    Pioneer Goes Back Into His Yesterdays; Sees Water Street as Roadway of Slop.

    Travel Over Thoroughfare Along River Accompanied by Squirts of Mud, Says Robert Anderson; Story Dates Back to 1855; Recalls first Telegraph, Boiler Works In Lower Saginaw.

    Part 6 - July 31, 1927:

    Water Street Was Roaring Furnace In Big Fire of '65.

    Robert Anderson Recalls When Disastrous Blaze Swept Many Buildings on Historic Thoroughfare From Fourth Avenue to Tenth Street.

    Red Rover, Fire Engine of Early Days Responds To Alarm of Disaster, and Tips over; Also Tells of First Grist Mills in Lower Saginaw.

    Part 7 - August 7, 1927:

    Robert Anderson Says Two Railroads Raced to See Which Would Have Locomotive Here First; Bay City-East Saginaw Won With Two Weeks to Spare.

    Remembers Old Wooden Jail on Sixth Street; Says Prisoners Wore Balls and Chains; Names First County Officers, and is Still Going Strong.

    Part 1
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.