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General History / Pioneers 10 of 22

In 1846 the government directed and built a light house at mouth of the Saginaw river and the first keeper was a Mr. Thompson. Joseph Trombley was employed to dig the well to supply water for the keeper.

The pioneer school here was taught by David Smith, brother of Dr. Geo. E. Smith, in the town of Portsmouth, and the scholars were Peer and Hiel Rogers, and Ester Rogers, now the wife of Capt. R. Burrington, A.J. Crutchfield, Elizabeth McCormick, wife of Orrin Kinney, and Sarah McCormick, wife of Mador Trombley, and W.R. McCormick, of Bay City, seven in all. The first school house was built on the lot just south of where the Detroit and Bay City passenger depot now stands, and was sold to B.F. Partridge in the spring of 1854, and removed to give room for his mill boarding house and the school house in the Second ward on Adams street, was built the same year.

At this writing the school system of Bay City is second in efficiency to those in any city in Michigan, as an in numeration of the school houses and advantages will justify anyone in saying. The elegant and costly High School building in the Third ward is second to no similar building in the state. The new and elegant brick school houses in the First, Sixth and Seventh wards, and the large wooden house in the Second ward for 500 scholars. Those in the Fourth and Fifth wares, elegant houses and sufficient for those wards for some time, estimated to be worth $140,000 at least, under the management of school board composed of a president, clerk (the recorder of the City being clerk) 14 members, two from each ward, one superintendent, and one principal at each ward school, with a corps of assistant teachers in each school, at an annual expense now of not less than about $30,000.

West Bay City has been equally well provided with the elegant school houses and teachers. Mr. Lankenaw being the principal. The townships are not behind the cities, but seem to be with them in the education of their youth, when we are able to count up the townships alone over fifty organized school districts with teachers during some portion of the year.

The first ferry was run between First street Lower Saginaw and the road north of the Drake mill in 1854 with row boats; in 1859-60 John Hays kept a hotel; the only house on Midland street, at the west end of Third street bridge, and a steam ferry run then from the foot of Third street.

The first vessel built here was the schooner Bay City by H.D. Braddock & Co. in 1860-61; and the first steamer was built at Bangor by Thomas Whitney & Co. called the Whitney.

The first wheat raised in the county was by Cromwell Barney on his farm more recently known as the Longton farm; the old family farmhouse is now standing, but the farm is covered all over with streets and saw mills, salt blocks and houses.

The first steamer that made regular trips on the river for passengers and freight as a river boat was the old Buena Vista; Captain Ad. Mowry; engineer Oren Kinney, now living in the Sixth ward of Bay City on his 40 acre farm, were the chief officers.

Thomas Watkins, a genial lumber inspector, built the first brick structure here for a residence on the corner of Center and Washington streets in 1862, and the same house has just been torn down to make room for a four story brick block, 125 x 100 feet, by James Shearer.

In the same year James Fraser put a a brick store adjoining the building where W.H. Miller's hardware store now is, the building caved in and was rebuilt. In 1865 James Fraser built the Fraser House a substantial brick building on the corner of Center and Water streets.

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Names Referenced
Barney, Cromwell
Braddock, H.D.
Burrington, R. (Capt.)
Crutchfield, A.J.
Fraser, James
Kinney, Orrin
McCormick, Eliz.
McCormick, Sarah
McCormick, W.R.
Miller, W.H.
Mowry, Ad.(Capt.)
Partridge, B.F.
Rogers, Ester
Rogers, Heil
Rogers, Peer
Shearer, James
Smith, David
Smith, Geo. E.
Trombley, Joseph
Trombley, Mador
Watkins, Thomas
Whitney, Thomas

William R. McCormick

James Shearer

HISTORY: James Shearer as a young engineer supervised the building of the new Alabama state capital.