Heritage \ Writings \

Bernard Witthauer (1834-?)
Native of Germany; engaged in lumbering and other businesses, residing in Bay City.

1883 biography. (Added Dec., 2009)

History of Bay County, Michigan, 1883


Bernard Witthauer was born in Germany, June 26, 1834; came to the United States in the Fall of 1852. Landing at New York City, he made a short visit to friends there, and before the close of the year he was stationed behind the desk as book-keeper for a wholesale and retail boot and shoe business, on Market Street, in the city of Philadelphia, the place of his destination. In the Spring of 1854 he was engaged by the late Maj.-Gen. David B. Birney, then manager of the mercantile agency of B. Douglass & Co., of Philadelphia, as book-keeper for E. B. Ferris & Co., general store at Lower Saginaw, (the General being a member of the last named firm.) When that concern pulled up stakes to move their goods to Scranton, Penn., where Gen. Birney was interested in coal mining, Mr. Witthauer engaged as clerk with Nathaniel Whittemore, general store. While acting as clerk he was also officiating as express agent for Lower Saginaw. On

February 1, 1859, Mr. Witthauer was united in marriage to Miss Margaret, the eldest daughter of the Hon. Sidney S. Campbell. From this happy union resulted the birth of three children, the eldest of which is their son William, head clerk with Lucien S. Coman; two daughters, Kittie and Bella, still living with their parents. Mrs. Margaret Witthauer, always a very retiring lady, delights now as much as ever in the management of her home and the proper training of her children.

During the last described period of Mr. Witthauer's business life, and later on, he occupied various official positions of trust. He was elected register of deeds for three consecutive terms, acting at the same time as deputy for Algernon S. Munger, county treasurer, doing almost all of the clerical duties of that office. During his official term as register of deeds there was added to his duties that of superintending the compiling of the records of the county into a set of abstract books.

After the close of his official career, he opened a real estate and abstract office, conducting with this an extensive business as money broker and conveyancer. He took into partnership with him Henry T. Evans, under the firm name of Witthauer & Evans. This was then the only concern of the kind in town, and nearly all the heavy real estate and pine land transactions and large loans on real estate of those days were effected through this firm. At the same time he was the assistant land agent for the Jackson, Lansing & Saginaw Railroad lands, under the Hon. 0. M. Barnes. Later he purchased some pine land and lumbered the same, selling the logs; he then went into partnership with Charles Scheurmann, under the firm name of Witthauer & Scheurmann, in the same line of lumber business, and subsequently we find our subject as a partner of the lumbering firm of Kaiser, Witthauer & Co. This firm purchased a large tract of pine on the Kawkawlin River, and after cutting 15,000,000 feet during their first Winter's operation, the subsequent Summer, the firm made sale of their lands, horses and lumbering utensils, etc. Mr. Witthauer then purchased with Charles Scheurmann the then so-called "Burrows Mill," of Au Sable, which they operated one season and sold out.

Mr. Witthauer, with Charles Scheurmann, of Bay City, and Bernhard Stroh and Henry Weber, as partners, purchased the one hundred thousand dollar tract of land of Alexander Swift, of Cincinnati, O., located on Lake Saint Helen, on the northern division of the Michigan Central Railroad. There, under the management of the subject of this sketch, this firm erected a large saw mill with planing mills, dry kilns and box factory, and carried on manufacturing under the firm name of Witthauer, Scheurmann & Co. By the further erection of boarding houses, store and a lot of dwelling houses, the village of Saint Helen was called into existence. After two years operation at Saint Helen, the times continuing dull and threatening, Mr. Witthauer concluded, with Mr. Scheurmann, to sell out to the remaining partners, Stroh and Moebs. This sale was consummated in the Fall of 1875, and in the early part of the Spring following, we find Mr. Witthauer boarding an ocean steamship at New York City, for a trip to the old country, and, more especially, a visit to his aged mother and relatives in Germany, after an absence of twenty-four years from his birth-place, and the home of his boyhood. He sojourned in the old world for a period of seven months and returned home again in October, 1876.

From that time on until March, 1877, he traveled extensively through the United States, making a very large collection of articles for an extensive business of export from this country, to be established at a suitable point in the United States and Hamburgh or Berlin, in Germany, having already arranged for a partnership with a wealthy business house in Leipzig, Germany, Mr. Witthauer to act as the purchasing partner in this country. Immediately after the return from this trip to his home he at once started again for Germany, where his samples and goods were being received at the time. On the day of his arrival at Leipzig, the declaration of war between Russia and Turkey was bulletined through the streets; business was prostrated in consequence of the news, and the parties to the business combination concluded to go no further. Disposing of the samples, Mr. Witthauer returns home in June of the same year.

In the Spring of 1878, we find our subject at the head of the business in which he is at present engaged as manager of the Bay City Dry Dock and Shipyard Company. Being musically inclined, and with much of the talent inherent in his countrymen, he was instrumental in organizing the Teutonia Society and Glee Club, and was for many years the president, and through it furnished much musical entertainment to the residents of the city. It will thus be seen that while he is persistent with business affairs of life, he does not omit the enjoyments of the same. He is much respected, not only by his friends, but by the public at large, who appreciate his public spirit and enterprise.

Additional Notes.

Margaret (Campbell) Witthauer: She was among the students attending the first school house erected in Bay City, in 1842. Three years later another school building was erected, where she was a student taught by her uncle, Harry Campbell. After her father died, Margaret apparently inherited the Bay City Dry Dock, and established a parnership with her cousin, Robert J. Campbell.

  • Sources: History of Bay County, Mich. (1883); biography of Robert J. Campbell (1905).

      1866-67 Directory Bay City, Mich.

    • Bernard Witthauer, Register of Deeds, Bay County, cor Jefferson and Center.
    • Bernard Witthauer, 2nd Asst. Engineer, 1864 Bay City Fire Department.

      1870 Census Bay City, Mich.

    • Witthauer, Bernard, age 36, Money Broker, b. Prussia
    • Margaret, age 33, wife, b. Mich.
    • William, age 10, son, b. Mich.
    • Catharine, age 7, daughter, b. Mich.
    • Isabella, age 2, daughter, b. Mich.
    • George, age 26, Baker and Brewer, b. Prussia

      1880 Census Bay City, Mich.

    • Witthauer, Bernard, b. 1884 Germany, occupation dry dock & shipbuilding.
    • Kittie, wife
    • Children: Isabella, Willie.

      1883 History of Bay County, Mich.

    • Margaret Campbell was a student at the first school erected in 1842. Three years later another school was built, there she attended classes taught her uncle, Harry Campbell. Her father, Sidney Campbell owned the Bay City Dry Dock,

      1891 Directory Bay City, Mich.

    • Witthauer, Louise (wid Bernard), res 912 McLellan.

      1934 Ohio Deaths (Toledo, Lucas Co., Ohio)

    • Belle Witthauer, died May 25, 1934, single, b. 1869 Bay City, Mich., father Bernard Witthauer, res 2410 Hollywood Ave.
  • Related Note & Pages

    Related Pages:
    Bay City Dry Dock
    Campbell, Harry
    Campbell, Robert J.
    Campbell, Sidney S.
    People Referenced
    Barnes, O. M.
    Birney, David B.
    Campbell, Margaret (wife)
    Campbell, Sidney S.
    Coman, Lucien S.
    Douglas, B.
    Evans, Henry T.
    Ferris, E.B.
    Munger, Alernon S.
    Sheurmann, Charles
    Swift, Alexander
    Whittemore, Nanthaniel
    Witthauer, Bernard (subject)
    Witthauer, Catharine (dau.)
    Witthauer, Isabelle (dau.)
    Witthauer, George
    Witthauer, William (son)
    Subjects Referenced
    AuSable, MI
    Bay City, MI
    Bay Co., MI
    Bay City Dry Dock
    B. Douglas & Co.
    Berlin, Germany
    Burrows Mill
    Cincinnati, OH
    E.B. Ferris & Co.
    Hamburgh, Germany
    Jackson, Lansing, Sag. RR
    Kaiser, Wiithauer & Co.
    Kawkawlin River, MI
    Lake St Helen, MI
    Leipig, Germany
    Lower Saginaw, MI
    Michigan Central RR
    New York, NY
    Philadephia, PA
    Scranton, PA
    St Helen, MI
    Toledo, OH
    Witthauer & Evans
    Witthauer, Scheurmann & Co.
    WRITINGS: History As It Was Written Then.