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Gen. Patridge's 1880 Paper on Bay County History

Volume 4, No. 18, February 5, 1880


A paper read by Gen. B.F. Patridge, of this city, before the State Pioneer Society at Lansing.

The following brief history of Bay County and vicinity written by Gen. B.F. Patridge, of this city, and read before the Pioneer Society, which convened at Lansing yesterday, will doubtless prove very interesting to our readers, more particularly so to those who may be called "pioneers."

Gen. Patridge being one of the early settlers in this part of the country is in every way qualified to prepare such a history and although several such papers have been heretofore written by different persons, none, we think, will proved more readable and correct than this one, and it is a subject upon which our citizens cannot become too familiar. This paper shows clearly the hardships endured by the early pioneers, the marvelous growth and prosperity of our city and county, and the wealth yet undeveloped. It should be carefully read and preserved for reference in the future.


- The Address -

The recording of the history of the County of Bay, will include the time as far back as the white race made the first settlement in its territory. Allusion will be made to the occupancy of the banks of the Saginaw river by the red man, and perhaps his right here. But it concerns us most to know when, why and by who Bay County was first settled. By what methods the country was so rapidly filled with the enterprise, the wealth, the intelligence, by what steps she has risen to so much prominence which we so much admired, and what it is that constitutes our true and rapid prosperity.

It is of equal value to enumerate the manners of the different nationalities composing our community, their genius and customs, and especially show the character, disposition, the talents, virtues and perhaps the vices of those having from time to time the management of corporate and municipal affairs of the towns, villages and cities composing the county.

The rise and progress of the lumber trade centering in Bay City, deserves some attention, it being unequalled in magnitude by any other community of equal numbers.

The salt manufacture is another great interest, the magnitude of which is not equalled by any other part of the world in so small a territory.

Such are subjects which this history presents, seeming as if it were to pass in review before us, and at the same time some of the men who where the more conspicuous in carrying forward the great enterprises or completing the corporate or municipal division of the county, thus instructing us by example in the art of building up communities to successful results, as well in a business view, as in the principles of government, the rules of policy and conduct at society, and education.

The Saginaw river had many visitors prior to any permanent settlement in the present limits of Bay County. The Saginaw river was the highway to Saginaw where the American Fur company had their headquarters for this region. The United States had a fort, or block house at Saginaw City with her soldiers stationed there some years before any lodgment was made in the limits of this county, even in those early days it was found difficult to navigate the Saginaw river above Bay City. and those who had stations up the river, found it convenient to make stations below. So one Leon Trombley, an old Frenchman having an interest in Saginaw in 1831 came down the river and erected a small log house on the bank of the river on Water Street, about in the front of where Forsyth and Pierson's hardware store now stands, where half an acre was soon cleared for an Indian camp ground. Mr. Trombley was the scientific farmer employed by the government to instruct the Indians in the practical science and secrets of farming. After Mr. Trombley had built his house and cleared his half acre he planted a patch of potatoes in order to have some for his next winter's supply at hand.

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Bay City Observer:
This local publication printed Mr. Partridge's paper in two separate issues.

At various times, their were many publications that existed and fell for a given time. Unlike today where news is dominated by a few companies, anyone with a desire could easily begin a business reporting on what is happening during these early years.

The lumber, salt and coal industries played vital roles in the building the economy of the county during it's pioneer. Initial growth came with fishing and lumbering while mining salt and coal followed later. (The Geology section touches on minerials found in Bay County.)

History Tid-Bit
Newspapers had a hard time getting established in pioneer communities. Bay City's first paper, "The Press," was started by Perry Joslin (Joslyn) in 1869. The paper ran only three weeks before shutting down. {Learn More}

HISTORY: The Bay City Observe newspaper began operations during the 1870s.