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Mrs. Elizabeth Wilcox Rogers (1809-1881)
First pioneer doctor during settlement of Bay City, MI.

1905 biography. (Added Mar., 2009)

History of Bay County, by Augustus H. Gansser, 1905


Page 262.

Mrs. Elizabeth (Wilcox) Rogers, wife of Thomas Rogers and daughter of Dr. Wilcox, of Watertown, New York, who came here about 1837, was for years the “Good Samaritan” of the pioneer settlement. Bornoffice of her father, and early learned to compound medicines and fill prescriptions. She was an ardent student of medicine, and when 18 years of age was often consulted by her father on various and difficult cases that occurred in his daily practice. After marrying Mr. Rogers, they came West by way of Toledo, Canada. Judge Miller hired Mr. Rogers as blacksmith and millwright to assist in establishing the first sawmill in what is now Bay City, and he filled a multiplicity of minor public positions during those early days. He was constable, then mail carrier between here and Saginaw, and justice of the peace for a number of years. Thus the husband tied the nuptial knot of the first couple married here, -- Fred Derr and Miss Clark, the school teacher of the little settlement. And it was his good wife who was present when Elizabeth Barney, and later wife of A. G. Sinclair, was born in May, 1838, in the little log cabin, where the Maxwell Block stands to-day, --- the first white daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Cromwell Barney, child born in Bay County. From that time forth until 1850, Mrs. Rogers was the ministering angel of the backwoods settlement. The early settlers never forgot her many acts of benevolence and her womanly devotion to the sick and dying, in days that tried men's souls. At all hours of the day or night, through storm or snow, rain or shine, on foot or on horseback, she would hasten through the woods, infested with wild beasts, to the bedside of the sick or dying. There was scarcely a child born in the settlement for 20 years that she was not present, even after practicing physicians came to the growing lumber town. And all this she did because she felt it was a duty she owed her fellow-men, without remuneration, happy if here humble efforts relieved the suffering and cheered the dying. And during all these years she was raising a family of her own, four boys and three girls remaining with her, when Mr. Rogers was stricken with the cholera, during the epidemic in the summer of 1852, while cutting prairie hay a few miles south of his home. He was found by Orrin Kinney, and tenderly carried home in a blanket, but died in a very few hours despited all his devoted wife could do. Her daughters all married men of local prominence: Esther became Mrs. Riley M. Burrington; Bettie became Mrs. Charles B. Cottrell, Ellen became the wife of the late Prof. Fred W. Lankenau, for years superintendent of the West Side schools. Mrs. Rogers of blessed memory died July 16, 1881. She lived to see the four families that were here when she first came multiply and grow to a prosperous city of 20,000 souls.

McCormick's recollections. - Added Mar., 2009.

Pioneer Society of Michigan
Pioneers of the Saginaw Valley for the Last Fifty Years. (1884)

Mrs. Elizabeth Rogers

by William R. McCormick

(Excerpt pertaining to Elizabeth Wilcox Rogers.)

And now in regard to this noble man's wife! I fear that I am inadequate to do her justice. It would take a better pen to portray her many acts of benevolence; her many acts of womanly devotion to suffering humanity and to the pioneers and their families, in the hours of sickness and death in those early days that tried men's souls.

Mrs. Elizabeth Rogers, wife of Thos. Rogers, was the daughter of an eminent physcian, Dr. Wilcox of Watertown, New York, who afterwards moved to Toronto, Canada. She was born Nov. 12th, 1809. When a young girl she attended her father's office and filled his prescriptions. She became a great student and to such an extent did she pursue the study of medicine that at the age of eighteen she was often consulted by father on different cases, and it was that which fitted her in after years to be of such great benefit to the settlers of the Saginaw Valley. At the age of nineteen she became the wife of Thomas Rogers. After residing for a year near Toronto, she came with her husband to Michigan in 1837-8 and settled in Portsmouth, now South Bay City.

From 1837 to 1850 she was the only practicing physician to the early settlers. At all hours of the day or night, when called upon, you would find her at the bedside of the sick and dying. Through storm, or snow, rain or shine, it made no difference to her. Sometimes on horseback, sometime on foot through woods. She felt it to be her duty, and like an angel of mercy, she did it, and would have continued to do so, but as settlers began to come, also doctors came. She still visited the sick of a few old settlers for they would have none other but her. There was scarely a birth for twenty years but what she was present. In that dreadful year of the cholera, which swept off so many of the inhabitants, she was at the bedside of the sick and dying, administering assistancea and comfort without money and without price. Yes, without any renumeration, for she made no charge. She felt it a duty she owed her fellow creatures, and nobly did she do it. Of-enimes, the settlers would bring her something and she would accept it thankfully.

Your humble servant was once taken with the cholera. She was immediately sent for and but for her I might not now be here to pen these few lines as a tribute to her memory. Sometime since in conversing with the old lady, she said:

"How things have changed" "Yes" I answered, "we have seen Bay City and its surroundings rise from three or four families to a population of 20,000." "No" she said, "I do not mean that; but there are no such noble hearted men and woman now, as among the early pioneers. It seems almost as if God had chosen such men and women to have the beginning here, or it never would have been done."

I thought she was right.

She said, when we first came here, we lived in a little log house on the bank of the river, and the wolves howling so at night we could not sleep. I have looked out of my door many a time in the middle of the day, and have seen a pack of wolves playing on the opposite side of the river where Salzburg now stands.

One day two Indians who had been drinking came to her house while her husband was away to work some miles from home. She fastened the door. They demanded admittance and told her if she did not open the door they would break it down. They went to the wood pile, got an ax and began breaking in the door. She seized an iron rake, opened the door and knocked the first Indian senseless; the other ran off. This is only to show what a courageous woman she was. When circumstances required she was as brave as a lion, and when her sympathies were called into action she was as tender as a child. May she lived long to enjoy the love of those early pioneers who are still living and who can never repay her for her many acts of kindness."

Obituary - Contributed by Alan Flood - 2014.

Bay City Daily Morning Call, July l7, 1881


Mrs. Elizabeth Wlicox Rogers, One of the Pioneers of Bay City, Dies Yesterday.

It is with regret that we announce the death of one of Bay City's pioneers, Mrs. Elizabeth Wilcox Rogers, whoe died at the residence of her son-in-law, Riley Burrington, on Woodside avenue and Lincoln street, at six o'clock yesterday morning. Mrs. Rogers was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1808, but her parents were originally residentss of the state of New York. She married Thos. Rogers and came to the Saginaw valley in 1837, and has lived here continually ever since, and was ain sense one of those brave enduring women which are found only in new countries. Her husband died from cholera in 1852, which terrible disease prevailed in this part of the country at that time. Mrs. Rogers was indeed a superior woman in various ways. She was at one time the old white physician in Bay City, and her skill in that direction was fully appreciated by the early settlers, who availed themselves of her services from far and near; in fact, she would not hesitate to administer the the sick even if obliged to travel many miles through what was at that time almost unbroken wilderness, and many of the old settlers who are yet alive continued their demand upon her almost until the day of her death. Her many true acts of chirstion benevolence, heroism and bravery will long remain cherished in the memory of all who knew her, particularly among the pioneers of Bay City, among who Mrs. Rogers was always honored and respected.

Mrs. Rogers was the mother of eight children, six of whom survive her. Four of her children live in this vicinity, viz: Capt. John Rogers of the river steamer Mason, Mrs Chas. B. Cuttrell, and Mrs. Ester wife of Riley Burrington of this city, and Mrs. Ellen wife of F. W. Lankenaw of West Bay City.

The furneral of Mrs. Rogers will take place from the residence of Capt. Burrington to-morrow afternoon at 3 o'clock.

Burial. Contributed by Alan Flood - 2014.

Bay City Evening Press - July 18, 1881.

The list of pall beares at the funeral of Mrs. Rogers this afternoon were composed of the following gentlemen, all old pioneers of the City: Jesse M. Miller, W. R. McCormick, Judge Albert Miller, Alex McKay, Curtis MUnger, Dr. George Smith.

Additional Notes.

    1850 Census: Hampton, Saginaw, Mich.

  • Rodgers, Thomas - age 42, b. Scotland, blacksmith
  • Elizabeth, wife - age 40, b. Canada
  • Hial, son - age 21, b. Canada
  • Peter, son - age 21, b. Canada
  • Ester, dau. - age 16, b. Canada (died 1902)
  • Elizabeth, dau. - age 12, b. Mich.
  • John, son - age 6, b. Mich.
  • Ellen, dau. - age 6, b. Mich.
  • Thomas, son - age 2, b. Mich.
    Note: Bay County wasn't organized until 1857, and the area north of the village of Saginaw was under Hampton Township attached to Saginaw Co.

    1880 - Census: Bay City, Bay, Mich.

  • Rogers, Elizabeth - age 71, b. Canada
  • John, son - age 39, b. Mich.
  • Bell, dau-in-law - age 25, b. canada

    1859 - History of the Great Lakes (1899)
    Ester (daughter) married Captain Riley M. Burrington on August 9, 1859. They had two children: Ralph R., a lumber inspector; and Laura B. Their homestead was near Bay City.

    1869 - Directory: Bay City, Mich.

  • Rogers, Mrs. - "Wheeler & Wilson," Shearer block.
  • Rogers, Mrs. Elizabeth - h 210 S. Jefferson.
  • Rogers, Mrs. H.B. - Milliner, Shearer block, h Fifth, cor. Jefferson.
  • Rogers, John - tug owner, bds 210 S. Jefferson.
  • Rogers, Peter L. - engineer, h 635 S. Jefferson.
  • Rogers, P.L. - h N. Madison.
  • Rogers, Thomas - tug owner, bds 210 S. Jeffereson.
  • Rogers, William = fireman, h 622 Williams.
    Notes from history section:
  • Thomas Rogers' blacksmith shop was located Water street, opposite the National Bank.
  • In 1852, cholera brook out, and Thomas Rogers was one of its victims.
  • Hial B. Rogers, a member of the Masonic Lodge, died before 1868.
Related Note & Pages

Mrs. Elizabeth Rogers

Daughter of Dr. Wilcox of Watertown, NY, who taught her the knowledge of medicine which she applied during her life. Married Thomas Rogers, lived in Canada before immigrating to Bay City, MI.
-- She was interned at Pine Ridge Cemtery on July 18, 1881.
Related Pages:
Rogers, Thomas husband
Burrlingto, Riley M. s-inlaw
Pine Ridge Cemetery
People Referenced
Barney, Cromwell
Barney, Elizabeth
Burrington, Laura B.
Burrington, Ralph P.
Burrington, Riley M. (s-inlaw)
Clark, Miss.
Collins, C.L.
Collins, C.L. Mrs.
Cottrell, Charles B. (s-inlaw)
Daglish, Mary Ann
Derr, Fred
Hart, Nancy M.
Kendall, Amos
Kinney, Orrin
Lankenau, Fred W. (s-inlaw)
McCormick, W.R.
McKay, Alex
Miller, Albert (Judge)
Miller, Jesse M.
Monroe, Mr.
Munger, Curtiss (s-inlaw)
Rogers, Bettie (dau.)
Rogers, Elizabeth (dau)
Rogers, Ellen (dau.)
Rogers, Ester (dau.)
Rogers, Hial B. (son)
Rogers, John (son)
Rogers, Peter L. (son)
Rogers, Thomas (husband)
Rogers, Thomas, Jr. (son)
Rogers, William
Sinclair, A.G.
Smith, Geo. Dr.
Wilcox, Elizabeth (subject)
Wilcox, Dr. (father)
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
Bay County, MI
First Presbyterian Church
Hampton Twp., Saginaw Co.
Masonic Lodge
Maxwell Block, B.C.
Memorial Presbyterian Church
Mexico, NY
National Bank
New York
Pine Ridge Cemetery
Saginaw, MI
Saginaw Co., MI
Saginaw Valley, MI
Shearer block
Toledo, Canada
Toronto, Canada
Wheeler & Wilson Co.
1870 Michigan Census
ROGERS (Bay City, Bay Co.):
Elizabeth: 59,f,Canada
Riley: 33,m,sailor,MI
Esther: 30,f,MI
John?: 20,m,sailor,MI
Thomas: 21,m,sailor,MI
Luzzie?: 7,f,MI
Ralph: 3,m,MI
  • [Roll 662, Page 422R]
  • [Roll 662, Page 423]
  • Internet References
  • [1870 Census List]
    View listing of Bay County residents. Modify search to find specific names.
  • WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.