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Memories: Christmas Time Histories.
Historical events during Christmas season related to Bay City, Bay Co., Mich.
(Added Dec., 2010.)

Listed by chronological date.

1793 – {Joseph F Marsac}, prominent pioneer resident of Bay City, was born on CHRISTMAS day near Detroit.


1800 – John Laing, a farmer in Bay County, was born on CHRISTMAS day in Scotland. He emigrated to Ontario, Canada prior to coming to Michigan. He and his wife, Sarah E. Youmans, had 10 children. Sarah died in 1891, and a year later John moved to Chicago, where he died in 1901, at his daughter's home.


1833 – A pioneer Peter Grandin departed Detroit on his way home to St. Ignace, and on the way, he stopped at Lower Saginaw (now Bay City), where he spent CHRISTMAS day with the only settlers living here at that time in three log cabins, each erected by Leon Trombley, Louis Masho, and the brothers, Joseph and Medor Trombley. Leon was the first to building a log-cabin, in 1831, giving him the distinction not only being the first white settler here, but the first to celebrate Christmas in what is now Bay City.


1839 – The Trombley brothers, {Joseph} and {Medor}, enjoyed good success in fur trading business with the local Indians, and they decided to erect a larger trading post, which was finished in time for CHRISTMAS. It was a framed structure, and was the first to be built here. They must have been good builders, as it still in exists, and remains in pretty good shape.


1842, Nov. - The first twins born in Bay County were Joseph and Aleck Guillette in the Old McCormick home (aka: Trombley House, which is still standing).

1866 - “Mr. McGurn is a son of John and Elizabeth (Maloy) McGurn, and was born in Bay City on CHRISTMAS day.” [History of Great Lakes, 1899]

  • Christopher J. McGurn worked as a marine engineer, and later made his home in Cheboygan, Mich.

    1870 – A longtime resident of Bay City, {Frances Margaret Fox}, was born at Framingham, Mass. She became a prominent author of children books, which included the following CHRISTMAS titles: How Christmas Came to the Mulvaneys; The Country Christmas; and Seven Christmas Candles. Some are still being sold.


    1877 – C. S. Ford, a single man, gave a CHRISTMAS dinner at his hotel, inviting gentlemen friends who latter formed a Bachelors Club at West Bay City. Ford was a native of Jefferson Co., N. Y., and in 1864 came to West Bay City, then known as the village of Wenona.


    1884 Dec. – Arthur Gelston, '82, is to be married on the 21st. A young lady of Bay City is his choice. (The Chronical, Univ. of Mich., 1885)


    1886 – The St. James' new brick church on Columbus Street, in Bay City, was dedicated on CHRISTMAS day, and was opened for services. It replaced an old wood frame structure that burned down in Dec. 1884. The brick church has has since been replaced by a modern church building, as fire destroyed the brick one.


    1886 - Christopher J. McGurn was born in Bay City on Christmas to John and Elizabeth (Maloy) McGurn.


    1889 - Morton Gallagher, born in Otario, and a doctor in Bay City, married Emily Tecker, of Centerton, Ont., on CHRISTMAS. Over the follow years they they would have eight children.


    1889 Dec. – A. H. Berger, jeweler, Bay City, Mich., was last week compelled to move his stock out in a hurry owing to fire in an adjoining building. His loss was nominal. (The Jewelers' Circular & Horological Review, Vol. 39, 1889, page 40.)


    1889 Dec. - F. B. McArthur, Bay City, has opened a jewelry and bazaar stock at Elsie, Mich. (The Jewelers' Circular & Horological Review, Vol. 39, 1889, page 35.)


    1889 Dec. – George J. Boyden, jeweler, Bay City, Mich., has purchased a place on Broadway, near 32d St., that city. (The Jewelers' Circular & Horological Review, Vol. 39, 1889, page 51.)


    1889 Dec. -- Chas. Graves has purchased the jewelry stock of C. S. Graves, Bad Axe, Mich.; also the jewelry stock of W. B. Godfrey, Bay City, Mich. He will probably consolidate the two into one stock at the later city. (The Jewelers' Circular & Horological Review, Vol. 39, 1889, page 40.)


    1889 Dec. - Jeweler Wood, formerly of Pinconning, Mich., has opened up a new store at East Tawas. (The Jewelers' Circular & Horological Review, Vol. 39, 1889, page 35.)


    1889 Dec. 12 - Henry W. Simms lost $700 worth of diamonds while he lay ill in the Central block, Bay City. They were brought there in the rough by George D. Sidman from South Africa, and Simms prepared them for sale by having them cut by a Chicago lapidary. Soon afterwards they disappeared. Last week, 10 years afterwards, a Bay City detective recovered them, but no prosecution will follow the discovery. (The Jewelers' Circular & Horological Review, Vol. 39, 1889, page 35.)


    1890 - {J. Madison Johnston}, native of Green Bay, Wisconsin, was married Miss. Mattie Starke at Cincinnati, Ohio on CHRISTMAS day. Mr. Johnson, an engineer, worked as a surveyor in Bay City.


    1890 - Reference is to ice fishing on Saginaw Bay. “You have never heard of the City on the Ice? Well, there are many who have not. Come up and spend CHRISTMAS with me, and I will give you some good sport among the ducks and fish, and also show you the City on the Ice, which has not its duplicate in the World.

    “The speaker was Charlie Denman, a man who now lived retired, near Bay City, Michigan, on a hillside that overlooks the site where Gabriel, the lover of Evangeline, made his camp. [Fore's Sporting Notes & Sketches, Vol 6.]


    1894 Dec. - G. W. Milligan will shortly open up a drug store on Washington avenue, Bay City. It was formerly occupied by the City Pharmacy. He was employed by the store as a clerk and purchased the interests of his employer. (American Druggist & Pharmaceutical Record, 1884, page 413.)


    1895/6 – “SHEEP AND HOW TO MAKE THEM PAY. - L. W. Oviatt, North Williams at Bay County Institute: For those who have plenty of winter feed and a good place, we would say, get a CHRISTMAS contract and feed for Christmas. Or, if you have many lambs, and buy a few more, feed for the Buffalo market. But in this case do not sell them until from February to April. If you have a warm place to shear, you can sell in February. We me clover and corn have proved to be the most satisfactory feeds. [Mich. State Farmers' Institute]


    1898 – The Michigan Public Department of Public Instruction, issued a document suggesting exercises for public days activities. The following was provide for CHRISTMAS:


    INVOCATION – By Resident Pastor.
    RECITATION – The Date of Christmas Day.
    READING – Santa Claus Myths.
    RECITATION FOR A CHILD – A Christmas Problem.
    *EXERCISE – Children Fairiers.
    READING – Myths of the Misletoe.
    DIALOGUE – A Christmas Gift.
    READING – Some Christmas Customs.
    READING – The True Home of the Christmas Tree.
    *CONCLUSION – Christmas Exercise by the School.

    *If both these exercises are used, it may be wise to omit some of the shorter ones. (Give to the school room a festive appearance by means of evergreen wreaths, festoons, clusters of holly, and everything in keeping with the day. “Merry Christmas” made of cotton batting sprinkled with diamond dust makes a pretty motto.)


    1901 – Post CHRISTMAS. At the the reception and ball of Detroit Commandry No. 417, of Detroit, on December 31, Grand Commander Charles R. Hawley, of Bay City, was present with his staff and was made an honorary member of the Detroit body. [American Tyler-Keystone, Jan., 1902]


    1903 – The Grace Protestent Episcolpal church, in West Bay City, celeberated a debt-free building, during their CHRISTMAS day service, having relieved the debt incurred in purchasing and making improvements to the old Presbyterian church building.


    1904 - “BAY CITY PROFITS – December 16th was pay-day at the Bay City sugar factories and the chicory factory. The merchants did a thriving business the entire day, the farmers investing a large part of their money in CHRISTMAS presents. It was late in the afternoon before they started homeward and their sleighs were loaded to the brims with furniture, hardware and farming implements, and in many cases enough groceries to last an ordinary family the entire winter.” [The Sugar Beat, Vol. 25, Feb., 1904]


    1904 – The newly formed South Baptist Church held their first service in their new building on CHRISTMAS day. This group, previous known as the Broadway Baptist, lost their church in a fire swept through the south end of the city, and decided to reorganize and relocate to a spot on Cass avenue at the foot of Marsac street.


    1905 - St. Nicholas, Vol. 32, Part 2 - 1905, page 666.

    Bay City, Mich.:
    Dear St. Nicholas: It is now exactly two weeks and one day since my eighteenth birthday. I wanted to write and tell you of this sooner, but my eyes were bad; and, besides, I had several other important things on my mind. To-day, however, as I am alone, I will take the opportunity to thank you again for the beautiful gold badge which you sent me a year ago in June, and to say good-by. St. Nicholas, I have been a member of the League for about three years, and during all that time I have sent in only a very few contributions; I have not been as faithful as I should have been, and as I really intended to be, but I loved you none the less for that.

    The gates are now closed upon me and I am left out in the cold, cold world; but may I not sometimes return, -- may I not sometimes linger here outside the gates and look in upon the happy fields where I played in my childhood! Grant me this one wish, dear St. Nicholas.

    And now, farewell!

    Your friend,

    Hilda Van Emster.


    1905 - St. Nicholas, Vol. 32, Part 2 - 1905, page 670.

    Bay City, Mich.
    Dear St. Nicholas: I thought that I would write you a letter, as I have never seen one from Bay City before. My grandma gave you to me for a Christmas present for two years. I enjoyed reading you very much; so do my mother and my father.

    The stories that I like to read are “Denise and Ned Toodles,” “Elinor Arden, Royalist,” and “How Two Dorothys Ran Away from the British.” I also like to read the stories and poems in the League department. I have tried to write something, and I got my name in the Roll of Honor.

    Last summer I went away to visit, and on my way home I stooped at Niagara Falls. I saw Goat Island, Three Sister Islands, and Luna Island. It is a wonderful place.

    Hoping my letter is not too long, I remain,

    You sincere reader,

    Dorothy Dunning (age 11).


    1906 – The Fraser Hotel, erected by {James Fraser} in 1866, on the s.e corner of Water and Center, was destroyed by fire on CHRISTMAS day. Another hotel, the Wenonah, was built on the same spot in 1908. Today, the Delta College Planetarium is at this location.


    1906 - {Dr. William Cunningham}, health officer of Bay City and former mayor, died at his home of heart disease after a prolonged illness, aged 50. He was a graduate of the Saginaw Valley Medical College, 1897, and also of the Law Department of the University of Michigan.” [Mich. State Med. Society, Vol. 5, 1906]

  • His death was on Dec. 6, surviving were his widow, three children and four brothers.

    1908 - Pastor George C. Tenney, Mrs. Tenney and Miss Ruth will spend a portion of the holidays with relatives in Bay City. [Battle Creek Idea, Vol. 2]


    1911 - “Bay City – Rev. Victor F. Brown. Ladies packed and shipped two valuable missionary barrels. Instead of loads of presents for the pupils of the Sunday-school each member and each class vied with the others in the substantial gifts brought to the church to provide CHRISTMAS dinners for the less fortunate ones of the city. Pastor's family presented a load of preserves.” [The Advance, Vol. 61, 1911]


    1911 - Theodore F. Shepard born in 1844, in New York, a prominent lawyer in Bay City, died on CHRISTMAS day. His wife Mary M. (Randolph), a native of Cuba, N.Y., and son Howell G. survived him.


    1917 – Bay City, Mich.: The Rotary club played Santa Claus to forty boys, selected by Superintendent Gause from the public schools, each boy being the special guest of one Rotarian at a "Christmas luncheon". East Rotarian brought a remembrance gift for his little brother and in addition every boy was presented with a winter cap and pair of mittens. After the meeting, the boys were taken to the theatre and the afternoon wound up with a treat at a soda water fountain. -- (The Rotarian, Feb. 1917, Page 170.)


    1918 - “A CHRISTMAS program in behalf of physically handicapped school-age children has been a favorite project of the Rotary Club of Bay City, Mich., U.S.A., for more than 20 years. Rotarians invite the youths for an afternoon of Christmas festivities to be enjoyed away from the classroom. The schedule includes a dinner, Christmas music and entertainment, and a gift exchange. Friendships grow out of the program every year, with many months after the Christmas season has passed.” [The Rotarian, Dec., 1981]


    1919 - “BAY CITY. MICH.: The Rotary Club had 63 returned soldiers and sailors as guests at combination patriotic and CHRISTMAS luncheon. East of the guests was presented with souvenir gifts consisting of fountain pens, silver pencils, card cases and pocketbooks. There was a Christmas tree and on it was a little gift for each member of the club accompanied by a limerick the read of which occasioned much laughter.” [The Rotarian, Feb., 1919]


    1943 – Rotary Club: At Bay City, Mich., 65 crippled youngsters – 5 to 16 years old – were entertained and given gifts. Slippers for the children in an orphanage were the Christmas gifts. (The Rotarian, Dec., 1943, page 49)

  • Contributed memories...

      By Marvin Kusmierz (Dec, 2010)
      I have very fond memories of Christmas time in Bay City, while growing up in the 1950s. About the only place to buy gifts were in the downtown district of either the east and west side. There were no suburban malls at that time. The big name stores like Sears, J.C. Penny and Woolworth were located in the east downtown district. Most of the other merchants were all locally owned businesses. Almost all had very nice Christmas displays in their street side windows, some were quite elaborately done.

      On Water Street one store, which I cannot recall, had a life size Santa as a display, which moved its body and arms by some mechanical means. For a kid this was an amazing thing to see. A number of the stores had live Santas, but were were less exciting than the mechanical Santa, as I didn't care that much for standing in line a long time to have a couple of minutes of Santa's time.

      My favorite display, as I'm sure it was for most of the other boys my age, was the large number of railroad on display. I dreamed that some day I would have one of my own, which didn't happend until my son's first Christmas. Since he was to young to enjoy it at the time, I had a few years of memorable pleasure fulfilling my childhood dream before he took over operations.


      Contact us to share your Christmas memory.

    Related Pages/Notes

    Related Pages:
    None at this time.
    People Referenced
    Berger, A.H.
    Boyden, George J.
    Brown, Victor F.
    Cunningham, William
    Denman, Charlie
    Dunning, Dorothy
    Ford, C.S.
    Fox, Frances M.
    Fraser, James
    Gallagher, Morton
    Gelston, Arthur
    Godfrey, W.B.
    Grandin, Peter
    Graves, Charles
    Graves, C.S.
    Hawley, Charles R.
    Johnston, J. Madison
    Laing, John
    McArthur, F.B.
    McGurn, Christopher J.
    Marsac, Jospeh
    Masho, Louis
    Milligan, G.W.
    Oviatt, L.W.
    Randolph, Mary M.
    Shephard, Howell G.
    Shephard, Theodore F.
    Simms, George D.
    Simms, Henry
    Starks, Mattie
    St. Nicholas
    Tecker, Emily
    Tenney, George C.
    Tenney, Ruth
    Trombley, Joseph
    Trombley, Leon
    Trombley, Medor
    Van Emster, Hilda
    Wood, Jeweler
    Yousman, Sarah E.
    Subjects Referenced
    Bad Axe, MI
    Bay City, MI
    Battle Creek, MI
    Bay County, MI
    Broadway Baptist Ch.
    Buffalo, NY
    Centerton, Ont.
    Central Block
    Cheboygan, MI
    Chicago, IL
    Cincinnati, OH
    City Pharmacy
    Cuba, NY
    Delta Col. Planetarium
    Detroit, MI
    East Tawas, MI
    Elsie, MI
    Framingham, MA
    Fraser Hotel
    Goat Island, NY
    Green Bay, WI
    Jefferson Co., NY
    Lower Saginaw, MI
    Luna Island, NY
    Michigan, Univ.
    Niagara Falls, NY
    Ontario, Can.
    Pinconning, MI
    Presbyterian
    Protestant Episcopal
    Rotary Club
    Sag. Val. Med. College
    St. Ignace, MI
    St. James Church
    South Baptist Church
    Sugar factories
    Three Sister Island, NY
    Wenona, MI
    Wenonah Hotel
    West Bay City, MI
    Williams Twp., MI
    Old Time Images








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