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Evander S. Van Liew (1832-97)
Born in Ovid, Seneca Co., N.Y., recorder and engineer for West Bay City.

Biography. - Added April, 2011.

History of Saginaw and Bay Counties, Michigan -1892


A well-know civil engineer and real-estate dealer of West Bay City, is numbered among the most successful business men in the county. He is prominent in many ways and has helped to build up the city from a hamlet to a populous town. He is interested in pine and lumber lands in Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Florida, and as a civil engineer is one of the most practical in the country. During the '60s he estimated the cost of laying a gas pipe from Pennsylvania to New York and demonstrated its practicability, but others attacked his statements with ridicule, and even the writers in the Scientific American were opposed to his opinions. He defended himself with vigor, and the very plan he then advocated is now in common use, showing him to have been far in advance of his day. He was the engineer of the West Bay City Electric Street Railway during its construction. One of his greatest undertakings is the improvement of the resort known as Wenona Beach, which is the finest place of the kind on Saginaw Bay or on the upper lakes, with elegant pavilion, boat house, walks, and band stand, upon which he and S. O. Fisher expended over $25,000.

Mr. Van Liew was born in Ovid, Seneca County, N. Y., October 7, 1832, and is a son of Elhanan Van Liew, whose father, Frederick, was born upon Staten Island and was a captain in the army during the War of 1812. The family is of Dutch descent. The father, who was a manufacturer and fancy weaver, became a lumberman, and after he had sold the lumber disposed of the land as farms. He was the most extensive lumberman in the vicinity and took his son into partnership with him, the firm being known as Van Liew & Son. He died in Cayuga County, N. Y., from paralysis of the heart, passing away February 4, 1864, while visiting one of his lumber camps. He was convinced of the truth of Democratic principles, but was also a strong Prohibitionist and a sturdy worker for temperance in every way. His wife, Eliza A., daughter of Abijah Wood, was born in Danbury, Conn., and was descended from the best blood of New England. She now resides with her children at the old home in Cayuga County, N. Y., and is still active worker in the Presbyterian Church. There were nine children in the family in which our subject grew to maturity and seven of them are still living. Evander S. attended the district school and at the age of fifteen entered the academy of Ovid where he completed his literacy course. He then studied civil engineering, and on receiving his degree took a position as engineer upon the Genesee Valley Canal in the employ of the State. Eighteen months later he returned to Ovid and became a partner with his father in the lumber business, while at the same time he was in the employ of the New York Central Railroad as civil engineer.

The marriage of Mr. Van Liew and Miss Laura J., daughter of Darwin Leonard took place in 1857. Two years later the young man purchased a farm near Seneca Lake, and engaged in farming, while at the same time he carried on lumbering and engineering. In the spring of 1866 he came to the Saginaw Valley and entered the service of Sage & McGraw, remaining with them as engineer until July, 1872; he then began work for the Detroit & Bay City Railroad, and during the succeeding years went South twice to superintend important work. In 1875 he was made City Recorder, which position he held until 1882, and during that time he was one of the promoters of the building of the water works and was the engineer and superintendent, as well as the Secretary and Treasurer of the Board. He has also been City Engineer at various times.

For a number of years Mr. Van Liew has taken an interest in real estate and invested in various parts of the country. In 1865 he bought twenty-two thousand acres of coal land in Bradford County, Pa., for which he paid $200,000, and soon sold it at an advance. In 1882 he formed a partnership with the Hon. S. O. Fisher in real estate, and they are still interested together. Mr. Van Liew has built a great many houses in the city and owns many lots here. The children who have gathered about the home of Mr. Van Liew are three in number. The son, I.D. is one of the finest chemists in the Northwest and is the general superintendent of the Westmoreland Specialty Company at Grapeville, a suburb of Pittsburgh, Pa.; Frank M. is in the crockery business at West Bay City, and Zaidee resides at home with her parents. The social orders command the attention of Mr. Van Liew and he is prominent in the Free and Accepted Masons. He believes in free trade, and free silver, and is frequently a delegate to county and State Democratic conventions. In 1860 he was a delegate from New York to the National Democratic Convention which met at Charleston, S. C., and there was a pronounced man, but in 1872 he disagreed with his party in their nomination of Greeley and “bolted,” becoming a delegate to the National Straight Democratic Convention which nominated Charles O'Connor, at Louisville.

Water-works, West Bay City. - Added April, 2011.

The Manual of American Water-Works, Vol. 1, 1888.


WEST BAY CITY, Bay Co. (Pop, 6397; est., 12,500) Near Bay City.

History – Built in '80-3 by city. Engr., E. S. Van Liew. Contrs. For masonry and building, Donovan & Holland, West Bay City.

Water Supply. – Saginaw river, by direct pumping.

Pumping Machinery. - Dy. Cap., 4,500,00 galls.; Holly pumps, and 5 by 14-ft boilers.

Distribution. - Mains, e. i, Wyckoff wood, 9 miles. Services, wood, lead, w.i. Pipe furnished by Michigan Pipe Co., Bay City, and 1 laid under the direction of the Water Board. Taps, 146. Meters, none. Hydants, Galvin, Flower, Ludlow, Bailey, 83.

Consumption, 600,000 galls. Debt, $14,000. Int., 5%, Ann. op. Exp., about $3,000. Ann. Rev.: consumers, about $7,000; city about $8,000.

Management. - Supt., Secy., and Treas., E. S. Van Liew.

Additional Notes.

    1869-69 – Directory: Wenona, Bay, Mich.

  • Gilbert, J. - carpenter, h Henry
  • Van Liew, L – laborer, bds. J. Gilbert
  • Van Liew, E.S. - engineer, bds J. Gilbert

    1869 – Michigan Births: Wenona, Bay, Mich.

  • Agnes Van Liew born May 8, 1869, daughter of Evander S. and Laura Van Liew. She died Aug. 4, 1869.

    1879 – Directory: West Bay City, Mich.

  • Van Liew, Evander S. - City Recorder
  • Van Liew, E.S. - Opera House Block n s Midland, 2d ward.
  • Van Liew, E.S. - member of Royal Arcanum, Wenona Council No. 38.

    1883– Directory: West Bay City, Mich.

  • Van Liew, Evander S. - Real Estate Agent and Civil Engineer 7 and S Fisher Block, res 323 N. Linn, 2d ward.

    1887 – Michigan Marriages: West Bay City, Mich.

  • Date: Feb. 3, 1887.
  • Groom: Francis M. Van Liew, b. 1863, Romulin, NY
  • Bride: Hattie W. McCormick, b. 1862, Bay City, Mich.
  • Official: L. W. Chapman, minister.
  • Witnesses: Phillis Chesborough and W. J. McCormick.

    1897 – Death Notices: Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan

  • Evander S. Van Liew, a well known resident of Bay City, died Friday of last week. The deceased was the father of F. M. Van Liew, a salesman of the Ferguson Hardware Co., Ltd, who had been laid up with rheumatism for several weeks in a hospital at St. Louis, Mich.

    1900 – Census: West Bay City, Mich.

  • Van Liew, Laura – b. Jun 1839 NY
  • Zadie, dau. - b. Nov 1873 Mich.

    1901 – Michigan Marriages: West Bay City.

  • Date: Dec. 4,1901.
  • Groom: Cloyd E. Marsh – b. 1874 Ashland, OH, son of Chas. O. Marsh and Rosanna Brandt. Bride: Zaidee L. Van Liew – b. 1873, W. Bay City, daughter of Evander Van Liew and Laura J. Leonard.
  • Official: Edw. K. Strong, pastor.
  • Witnesses: Mrs. Nellie Kimball and Frank M. Howard.
Reference Notes & Pages

Evander S. Van Liew

Related Pages:
Fisher, Spencer O.
Wenona Beach
People Referenced
Brandt, Rosanna
Chapman, L.W.
Chesborough, Phillis
Fisher, Spencer O.
Gilbert, J.
Greeley, Mr.
Howard, Frank M.
Kimball, Nellie Mrs.
Leonard, Darwin (f-inlaw)
Leonard, Laura J. (wife)
Marsh, Charles O.
Marsh, Cloyd E.
McCormick, Hattie (d-inlaw)
McCormick, W.J.
O'Connor, Charles
Strong, Edward K.
Van Liew, Agnes (dau)
Van Liew, Elander S. (subject)
Van Liew, Elhanan (father)
Van Liew, Frank M. (son)
Van Liew, Frederick (g-father)
Van Liew, I.D. (son)
Van Liew, Zaidee (dau)
Wood, Abijah
Wood, Eliza A. (mother)
Subjects Referenced
Ashland, OH
Bay City, MI
Bay Co., MI
Bradford Co., PA
Cayuga Co., NY
Charleston, SC
Danbury, CT
Fisher Block
Genesee Valley Canal
Grapeville, PA
NY Central RR
opera House Block
Ovid, NY
Pittsburgh, PA
Presbyterian Church
Romulin, NY
Sage & McGraw mill
Saginaw Bay, MI
Saginaw Valley, MI
Sault Ste. Marie, MI
Scientific American
Seneca Co., NY
Seneca Lake, NY
Van Liew & Son
Wenona, MI
Wenona Beach, MI
Westmoreland Spec. Co.
West Bay City, MI
W.Bay City St. Rwy.
WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.