On leaving for Detroit, where his family lived, he made arrangements with an Indian and his squaw to hoe and take care of his potatoes through the summer of 1832. In the fall on arrival at his house with his family, Mr. Trombley discovered to his astonishment and great disappointment that the potatoes had not been hoed or cultivated at all, and mourned over the instability of character of the red man and his want of the expected supply of potatoes, and paid but little attention to them for some time. After getting well settled in his home it occurred to him that there might be a few small potatoes that would do to plant the next year, and he proceeded to secure them but on digging them found to his great astonishment and happy disappointment that he had an abundant supply of nice large potatoes, the first crop of potatoes raised in the limits of Bay City.
Mr. Joseph Trombley came to the Saginaw Valley about 1829 or 1830 to look over the country with a view of trading with the Indians. After exploring, and camping, and becoming somewhat acquainted with the red man, left for his home Wayne county. Mr. Trombley returned, however, and selected his place, and built his store and house below any other settlement near the old Center House and then supplied himself with the first stock of goods ever brought to the limits of this county, in time to attend the Indian payment in the fall of 1833. In order to illustrate the extreme hardships and expenses and great difficulties in reaching the Saginaw river in this early time, it is well to show the indomitable will and perseverance of the men and women who became the pioneers of this wild country, we will detail the hardships and the extreme labor patiently born by some of them.
When Mr. Trombley had determined to remain in this wild country he went to Detroit and hired the mechanics required to accomplish his work, bought such materials as could not be obtained from the timber here, shipped to the Saginaw river, a small quantity of boards at $8 m paying $8 m freight, other freight $3.50 -- 100 pounds, using mostly wrought nails at 18 cents a pound. These were a part of his material.
Himself and the men hewed his timber, split his shingles and wipsawed a part of his lumber, and built a house 25 x 30, near where the old Center House now stands, of timber flatted to six inches, well roofed and floored, and ready for use in the fall of 1833 in time to be used as his residence and store for his goods, hauling his timber by hand for not a team was in this region at that time. There being no road but an Indian trail from Flint to Saginaw, sixteen miles up the river, from there the travel, while the river was open, was done by canoes, and in the winter on the ice. His men had to travel on foot from Detroit, camping on the way, like the Indians and frequently in common with them sharing their scanty provisions, wading streams and bayous, and sometimes being obliged to swim across them each with his pack of bed and board upon his back, carrying his ax and gun in the meantime. Canoes and paddles being the only steamboats then, in general use, every man or family was the owner of one, and his family fashioned maple or white ash paddles.
Mr. Trombley being the only trader at the lower end of the river, through his shrewdness he managed to secure the Indian payment to be made at his place, and reaped a rich harvest for his efforts in getting established here. In the meantime others followed and share the hardships, and great promise of rich returns, it required not a little bravery and shrewdness in every one of them early settlers to live and thrive here. In the meantime others were casting their nets in this far off region. There are always in every community those who are not content with status and are prone to seek a better home in the confines of the most promising wilderness, facing the dangers incident to the most severe privations. The wild red man, the wild beasts, and not the least to sickness and perhaps death in the far off wilds among Indians and strangers. Having sought these conditions the pioneers in every new settlement seem to gravitate to one thing, to fraternity, to reliance upon each other, more or less, to close social relations, sympathy with each other in their prosperity and sufferings, turning out to assist each other in putting up the houses and making each and all feel among their friends.