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First Saw Mills in Saginaw Valley.
by Albert Miller.

1872: Lumberman's Gazette. (Added Aug., 2010)

Lumberman's Gazette, Vol. 1 - 1872

Michigan Pioneer Lumbermen.
By Hon. Albert Miller.

(First Saw Mills in Saginaw Valley)

Page 24.

The first saw mill that was ever built on the waters that are tributary to the Saginaw river, was the one built on the Thread river, at Grand Blanc, in 1828 and 1829, by Rowland Perry and Harvey Spencer. The object of building a mill was to supply the wants of that settlement, the nearest mill to it then being at Waterford, about twenty miles distant. There was no pine timber in the immediate vicinity of the mill, the nearest being a small pinery four or five miles distant, in a north-easterly direction, from which the farmers used to haul logs, to be manufactured into lumber for their own use. The mill was a poor affair, not profitable to the owners, and after three or four years was wholly abandoned, and the land which was occupied by the pond has been cultivated for over thirty years. The second mill was built by Rufus Stevens in 1829 and 1830, on the same stream, four or five miles north of the one first mentioned, and within two miles of the Flint river, just above the present location of the Thread Mills. That mill was run a portion of each year for several years, but without much profit to the owner. The supply of pine logs was procured from the pinery heretofore mentioned, the pinery being with about two miles of the last mentioned mill. The first raft of lumber that ever floated on the tributaries of the Saginaw was manufactured at this mill, and hauled across the Flint river and floated down that stream. There was an attempt made in 1830 by Alden Tupper to build a mill on the Flint river below Flushing, but never progressed any farther than to erect a frame which was suffered to stand without covering till it rotted down. No mills were built on any of the tributaries of the Saginaw except those above mentioned previous to the building of the steam mill by Harvey and G. D. & E. S. Williams in 1835. Harvey Williams had previously been engaged in Detroit in building engines of the steamboat Michigan, which in her day was the finest boat that had ever floated on the western lakes, and after completing his contract in winding up his business in that city he took a steam engine and machinery for a saw mill which he transported to Saginaw, and in company with G. D. & E. L. Williams, erected in 1835 the mill at Saginaw City, which was the first steam mill erected in the Saginaw Valley, if not the first in the State of Michigan. Joel L. Day, late of Bay City, performed the mill-wright work and put in the first mulay saw that was ever used in this part of the country. During the winter of 1835 and 1836, a fine stock of logs for the mill was provided on the banks of the Tittabawassee, near Sturgeon Creek and run to the mill, and owning to the local demand for lumber, I think the Messrs Williams did a profitable business with their mill during the season of 1836.

Full document / Google Books.

Related Pages & Notes


Judge Albert Miller

Michigan & Great Lakes 1835
(Click to enlarge.)
Maps at this time were very rough estimates based on information accumulated from travelers of an area.
Related Pages:
Miller, Albert
Lumbering, Saginaw Valley
Williams Family
People Referenced
Day, Joel L.
Miller, Albert
Perry, Rowland
Spencer, Harvey
Stevens, Rufus
Tupper, Alden
Williams, Ephraim S.
Williams, Gardner D.
Williams, Harvey
Subjects Referenced
Bay City, MI
Detroit, MI
Flint River, MI
Flushing, MI
Grand Blanc, MI
Saginaw, MI
Saginaw River, MI
Saginaw Valley, MI
Steamboat Michigan
Sturgeon River, MI
Thread Mills
Thread River, MI
Tittabawassee River, MI
Waterford, MI
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.