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Village of Portsmouth (1868-69)
Pioneer history.
  • Transcribed December 2005.
  • Polk Directory, 1866-69.



    The early history of Portsmouth is introduced by the name of Trombly, a family of this name having been engaged in trading with the Indians during the later part of the century, and one Leon Trombly have been appointed in 1832 by the government to instruct the Indians in agriculture, were the means of bringing two brothers, Joseph and Mader Trombly, nephews of Leon, to this valley.

    Joseph arrived a few months in advance of his brother, in the summer of 1833, and selected the present site of Portsmouth as one suitable for farming purposes, and on his return to Detroit, he and his brother entered a fractional section of 140 acres, the price of which was $1.25 per acre. Joseph returned to take possession, while Mader, with some cattle, followed the Indian trail to Saginaw, where he swam them across the river and met his brother at this point; the journey occupied five days,. Previous to leaving Detroit they shipped provisions and goods by a small vessel called the Savage, which used to make two trips every year to Saginaw City – one in Spring for furs, and the other in the Fall for cranberries – and on her arrival the goods were put into canoes and landed.

    The first building they erected was a log cabin, which stood near where the Center House now stands. In this they traded with the Indians. They did not devote much time to agriculture – merely raising such necessities as they required – as they found trading, fishing and hunting more profitable and congenial. The description of this place at that time, as given to the write by Mader Trombley, fully explains the choice of the brothers in locating at this point, so far from a white settlement. The land lay high and dry, and was sheltered by trees which grew not too thickly to spoil the picturesque, yet dense enough for shade. It was a romantic looking spot and a choice camping ground for the Indians, who had their place of burial close by; it commanded a good view of the river, and the arrival and departure of canoes. After two years’ trading with the Indians, the brothers erected a frame building, the first erected in Lower Saginaw, and the lumber for which was brought from Detroit, on board the Savage. That building, with its subsequent alterations and improvements, is now known as the Centre House, and after changing shapes and owners is to-day the property of Mader Trombley.

    Joseph and Mader Trombley had separate interests in the land on which the village now stands. The former sold his, the northern part, to his uncle Benoit, or Benedict, who deeded it to Albert Miller, in 1836. In the following year a company was formed under the name of the Portsmouth Company, of which Albert Miller was a member, and they purchased from Mader Trombley three quarters of a mile and laid out a village, to which they gave the name of Portsmouth. Mader then entered another tract of half a mile, south of this, on which he erected his present dwelling; and in 1856 Mr. Daglish surveyed and made a map of the present village as it stands to-day, about one and a half miles long and half a mile wide at its broadest part.

    The first saw-mill which existed here was built by Albert Miller, B. K. Hall and Cromwell Barney, in 1837; this was burned down in 1862. It had several competitors and companions in after years, all which are alive and healthy; these, with the erection of salt works, have built up the village as it now exists.

    The future prospects of the village of Portsmouth are decidedly in the ascendancy; progress and improvements meet the eye everywhere. Already two more shingle-mills and another planing-mill are being fashioned by the millwrights, and will shortly be in operation; and the steady increase of dwellings, the recent erection of a fine school house, and other encouraging features, all “conclusively show that the natural advantages of the place – its elevated situation, fertile soil, manufacturing facilities, together with the enterprising character of its citizens, are duly working out former predictions of its prosperity, causing it to keep pace with its Siamese-twin city, and eventually to form part of the future metropolis.

    Township Officers.
    Supervisor: H. A. Braddock.
    Town Clerk: A. E. McClain.
    Treasurer: A. R. Lewis.

    Village Officers.
    President of Council: Albert Miller.
    Town Clerk: J. E. Taylor.
    Treasure: B. F. Beckwith
    Trustees: A. C. Braddock, A. Stevens, C. G. Southworth, A. R. Lewis, Wm. Daglish, A. W. Miller.
    Highway Commissioners: Capt. J. F. Marsac, William Daglish, Albert W. Miller.
    Justices of the Peace: A. Stevens, Geo. Lewis, Michael Winterhalter.
    Marshal: A. P. Tripp.
    Postmaster: A. L. Cumming.

    Related Pages & Notes
    None at this time.
    People Referenced
    Barney, cromwell
    Beckwith, B.F.
    Braddock, A.C.
    Braddock, H.A.
    Cumming, A.L.
    Daglish, William
    Hall, B.K.
    Lewis, A.R.
    Lewis, Geo.
    Marsac, J.F. Capt.
    McClain, A.E.
    Miller, Albert
    Stevens, A.
    Southworth, C.G.
    Taylor, J.E.
    Tripp, A.P.
    Trombley, Benedict (Benoit)
    Trombley, Joseph
    Trombley, Leon
    Trombley, Mader
    Winterhalter, Michael
    Subjects Referenced
    Centre House
    Indian trail
    Lower Saginaw
    Portsmouth Co.
    Portsmouth, vil.
    Savage, vessel
    School house
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.