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Fur Traders

The [fur traders] would endure during and after the periods of French and English control of Michigan. The French had established trading posts at Michilimakinac and Detroit. The English trading was mostly done through a British firm call "Mackinaw Company". And, finally under the American's a newly formed enterprise call the "American Fur Company". The furs trade business was so important that trading posts would be established throughout Michigan along with protection from the U.S. government.

Fur Trader's Goods List - 27 Dec 1834
- 2 pieces of cloth
- 1/3 piece Scarlet cloth
- 2 prs. blankets 3 pt.
- 5 prs blanks 2-1/2 do "
- 2 prs. blankets 2 do
- 6 pieces of calico
- 1 ps. shawls
- 6 ribbon
- 1 lb. white beads
- 1-1/2 lb. black do
- 1 lb. cust glass do
- 1 lb. white cotton
- 2 ps. brown do
- 3 ps. factory do
- 1 doz. knives
- 1/2 keg powder
- 60 lb. balls
- 56 lb. shot
- 150 flints
- 3 copper kettles
- 5 prs. pantaloons
- 8 prs shoes
- 10 socks
- 1 lb Shread
- 200 needle
- 1-1/2 lb. vermilion
- 4 hoes
- 6 fire steels
- 4 hats
- 8 black plumes
- 60 prs. ear bobs
- 4 prs. ear wheels
- 4 sets broaches
- 1 box soap
- 8 bridles
- 6 lb. snuff
- 56 lb. tobacco
- 6 snuff boxes
- 4 silk hat covers
- 5 vests
- 1-1/2 doz. jews harps

One of the first traders mentioned in the valley, is Louis Tromble', a relative of Joseph and Mader Tromble. who would be Bay County's first permanent European resident. Louis was to die an unfortunate death from being speared by an Indian. He was quickly boarded on sail boat by two friends to take him to Detroit where the closest doctor was available. However, on the way they encounter a severe storm and Louis was knocked over board by blow from the sail's boom leading to him drowning.

About this same time period, Louis Campau settled in the area that would become the city of Saginaw. He was sent to the valley as a fur trader by his Uncle who ran merchant business in Detroit. Louis built himself a log home near what would now be Hamilton and Clinton Streets in Saginaw.

Very few fur traders actually lived in the valley. Most used Detroit as their home base where they would sell their furs and acquire trading goods. They would make the trip to the valley hauling heavy back packs of about 125 pounds stocked with goods for trading with the Indians. These later traders became very skillful in dealing with the Indians and at the time provided practical goods desired by the Indians such as blankets, ammunition, knives and other tools. Meeting these mutual needs helped to maintain a civility making the trading business lucrative for both parties.

The Saginaw River and Saginaw Bay would eventually become the primary means for hauling the increasing amount of goods back and forth to Detroit. Thus began the opening up of the Saginaw valley to many other white settlers who were to follow the fur traders.



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Joseph Tromble'

Mader Tromble'

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