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North American Chemical Company (1898-1928)
Established in 1898, by its parent company, United Alkali Company, Ltd., England.

1898 news article. (Added Feb., 2011)

The Michigan Miner, Vols. 1-2, 1898


Page 19.

What is destined to become the most important industry that has ever been established in the Saginaw Valley went into operation in Bay City this fall on the site of the old McGraw property in the southern part of the city. The corporation is known as the North American Chemical Company, and is practically the child of the United Alkali Company of England, with a capital of $42,000,000. Some months since representatives of the parent concern were sent to this country to seek a suitable location in which to erect a branch factory, and after making a thorough investigation selected Bay City as the place affording the greatest advantages for the purpose. The McGraw property was purchased and under the supervision of M. J. Hammill, resident manager, and Mr. Duff, mechanical engineer, the work of erecting immense buildings of iron, brick and stone was commenced. The plant covers a large area of ground and the motive power will be furnished by two engines of 1,500 horse power each. The daily consumption of coal will be about 200 tons. The works will be operated the year around and will give employment to a very large force of skilled and unskilled workmen. The company is capitalized at $600,000, and is registered under the laws of Michigan. Under the articles of association the company has power to carry on a great variety of business undertakings, but it is understood that their main stay will always be the manufacture of chemicals. They have at their backs the accumulated experience obtained by the United Alkali Company in their extensive operations covering a large variety of chemical products, both of the so-called “heavy chemical” and of finer grades. The site was chosen chiefly on account of the facilities the valley offered for the supply of cheap fuel. Since its inauguration the company has bought up the whole of the shares of the Bay Coal Mining Company, and is at present working that concern under the management of Alex. Zagelmeyer.

1900 Plant opened. (Added Mar., 2009)

The Mineral Industry, Its Statistics, Technology & Trade, 1900

Page 486.

With regard to the factory of the North American Chemical Co., at Bay City, it was stated by the chairman at the 1899 annual meeting of the United Alkali Co., in Liverpool, that the works were in full operation and that good results were being obtained. The plant was designed by the late Dr. Hurter and by Mr. Duff, the company engineer, and it is probable that some modified form of the cell patented by Dr. Hurter, in 1893 (No. 15,396, English Patent), is used. The chief feature of this cell is, that the wall serves as cathode, and that a cement lining to this wall, acts as the diaphragm. The cells are arrange one above the other in tiers, and the electrolyte flows through the vertical series of four or more cells. The weak point in the original form of cell, is the absence of any provision for dealing with the hydrogen liberated at the cathodes; and this detail has no doubt been dealt with by altering the construction of the cell. The Bay City works has a capacity of 28 tons potassium chlorate per week; but the writer is unable to say whether it is in full operation. Two large dynamos supply the current and 672 decomposing cells are state to be installed.

1903 Company stats. (Added Jan., 2009)

Annual Report – Michigan Bureau of Labor and Industrial Statistics, 1903

The North American Chemical Company

Bay City, Mich.

The institution, the only one in Michigan, is located at Bay City. It began operation in 1901 for the purpose of converting the waste molasses from the beet sugar factories into merchantable products. The products are mainly alcohol and cologne spirits, the refuse being used from which to manufacture fertilizers. The factory runs above five months in the year, from October to March, the output during the campaign being about 1,500,000 proof gallons of alcohol. A large portion of this is sold to the United States government for use in the manufacture of smokeless gun powder. In addtion to this the alcohol is used by manufacturing chemists and druggists. The plant also produces from three to six thousand tons of refuse used in the manufacture of fertilizers.

The cost of the plant was $250,000; manager, Carmon N. Smith. During the year 5,490 tons of coal are used in the operation of the plant. Work is given to about 50 employes. The average wages of skilled workmen are $3.50 per day, while the unskilled laborers receive an average of $1.75 per day. The outlook of the factory for the future is good and the institution take high rank among Michigan's special industries.

Company history. (Added Jan., 2009)

History of Bay County, Michigan, Augustus Gansser, 1905

North America Chemical Company.

The North American Chemical Company was incorporated April 21, 1898, with John Brock, of Liverpool, England, as president; and Meurig L. Davies, as secretary and treasurer. The company purchased the McGraw mill property and erected mills suitable for the manufacture of its products, locating the plant on the Saginaw River south of 40th street. The main building is a one-story brick, 625 by 225 feet in dimensions, and other smaller buildings are utilized. The company has a salt-block and manufactures salt both by the grainer and vacuum pan processes. The main products are chlorate of potash and chlorate of soda, which go to supply the match, bleaching and fire-works industries of the country. The production of both coarse and fine salt from their 27 wells, 1,000 feet in depth, is a very large part of their business, it being probably the largest concern of its kind in the world.

The company has a river frontage of nearly one and a half miles, giving fine transportation in that direction., and they have the best of railroad facilities, both the Pere Marquette and the Michigan Central railroads running through the plant. The great part of the salt is shipped by water and is entirely consumed in the United States. A force of 160 men is used in connection with the chemical works.

In order to provide fuel for these factories, the same capitalists acquired the Bay Coal Mining Company, which owns coal land in Frankenlust township, some six miles away. The chemical works alone consumes 4,700 ton of coal a month. The coal company does both a wholesale and retail business. In 1904 it hoisted 60,000 tons, but the company handles a large amount of coal over what its own mines produce. The plant of the chemical company at Bay City represents an investment of $1,250,000. Its location in the United States is a direct result of the McKinley tariff bill. The annual pay-roll exceeds $150,000. Mr. Davies came to take personal charge of this plant in 1899. In addition to his official relationships with the North American Chemical Company, Mr. Davies is also president of the Bay Coal Mining Company, vice-president of the Bay County Coal Operators' Exchange, and a director of the Michigan Salt Association.


Addition reference in this book.

Page 251:

The North American Chemical Company is another million dollar plant of which Bay County may be justly proud. This mammouth plant furnished the match-makers of America with the chlorate of potash used on match tips, and came to this country in 1898 from Liverpool, England, because the Dingley protective tariff compelled them to do so, in order to hold their American trade. The company is located just outside of the city limits, on 250 acres of the old McGraw sawmill site, and also owns and operates the Bay coal mine in Frankenlust township. M. L. Davies is the general manager and since coming here in 1899, has become actively identified with the interests of Bay City and, with his charming wife, has become a decided acquisition to the business and social life of our community. Although Mr. Davies is a typical Englishmen, he stops the wheels at the plant just just one day in each year, July 4th, the several hundred employees otherwise never losing an hour. Since 1898 this plant has paid out in wages of $615,000 and to the merchants of Bay City, $1,250,000, and at the Bay coal mine from 1899 to November 30, 1904, $275,000 in wages and $150,000 to our merchants for supplies! The chemical products of this plant include <>bleaches and dyes for dress goods, salt, chlorate of soda, chlorate of potash, and other chemicals, the process of making which is a secret and patented. The main building is 550 by 220 feet with numerous smaller buildings of brick. Fourteen boilers and three Coliss engines of 1,200 horse-power run the plant and consume annually 60,000 tons of coal, mostly slack. It produces 1,000 tons of the purest white salt daily by the grainer and vacuum process.

Related Pages/Notes

Plant on Harrison St.
The plant was located along the east side of the Saginaw River south of 40th street, on property formerly owned by the Thomas McGraw & Co., originally built by John McGraw, when it was the largest saw mill in the world. The house in the above photo was built by the sawmill.
Related Pages:
Davies, Meurig L.
John McGraw & Co.
Zagelmeyer, Alex
People Referenced
Brock, John
Davies, Meurig L.
Duff, Engr.
Hammill, M.J.
Hurter, Dr.
McGraw, John
McGraw, Thomas
Smith, Carmon N.
Zagelmeyer, Alex.
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
Bay Coal Mining Co.
Bay Co., MI
Bay Co. Coal Operators Exc.
Dingley protective tariff
Frankenlust Twp., Bay Co.
Liverpool, England
McGraw mill, Bay City
McKinley tariff bill
Michigan Central RR
Michigan Salt Assoc.
Pere Marquette RR
Saginaw River, MI
Salt blocks
United Alkali Co., Ltd. Eng.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.