Your humble servant was once taken with the cholera. She was immediately sent for and but for her I might not now be here to pen these few lines as a tribute to her memory. Sometime since in conversing with the old lady, she said: "How things have changed" "Yes" I answered, "we have seen Bay City and its surroundings rise from three or four families to a population of 20,000." "No" she said, "I do not mean that; but there are no such noble hearted men and woman now, as among the early pioneers. It seems almost as if God had chosen such men and women to have the beginning here, or it never would have been done." I thought she was right.
She said, when we first came here, we lived in a little log house on the bank of the river, and the wolves howling so at night we could not sleep. I have looked out of my door many a time in the middle of the day, and have seen a pack of wolves playing on the opposite side of the river where Salzburg now stands.
One day two Indians who had been drinking came to her house while her husband was away to work some miles from home. She fastened the door. They demanded admittance and told her if she did not open the door they would break it down. They went to the wood pile, got an ax and began breaking in the door. She seized an iron rake, opened the door and knocked the first Indian senseless; the other ran off. This is only to show what a courageous woman she was. When circumstances required she was as brave as a lion, and when her sympathies were called into action she was as tender as a child. May she lived long to enjoy the love of those early pioneers who are still living and who can never repay her for her many acts of kindness."
Another early pioneer, (1845) P.J. Perrott, has been one of those who contributed to build up the county, is counted one of the estimable citizens and has honorably held the office of sheriff, deputy sheriff, and comptroller of Bay City, and was a near neighbor of mine for many a year. Mr. Perrott married Elizabeth, daughter of old Leon Trombley, the first settler in this county, while Job Trombley married another daughter of the name Trombley, and still another daughter married John B. Trudell, who now lives in West Bay City.
Among the number who have contributed their brick blocks and mills and fine residences to swell the beauty and wealth of Bay county is Thomas Cranage Jr., who came here about the first year of the war. Captain J.P. Phillips, long a resident and capitalist has displayed large liberality in distributing his means among all branches of business to the great benefit of the county.
N.B. Bradley, one of the most energetic and sound business managers, has contributed very largely to the advancement of Bay county in the lumber and salt trade and manufacturing and banking, while politically he has ably represented his district in Congress two terms, and been of the foremost citizens in promoting the welfare of Bay county.
W.H. Miller, supposed to be the king of the hardware men in this valley has contributed his means in increasing the fine residences in various parts of the city, while several other hardware stores in this city and West Bay City are scarcely inferior. This brand of business is simply immense in this end of the valley.
Then Gustin & Merrill come to the front with the largest grocery business ever done in the valley which they have nursed from infancy in a small way to its present immense proportions, their annual sales amounting to not much short of three-fourths of a million dollars.
Among the representative men of Bay county may be name T.C. Phillips of the Tribune. Mr. Phillips came to Bay City during the war of the rebellion (1862) and engages in building State road and other matters, among which was the securing to the credit of Bay county the correct quota of drafted men for the army. He was for a time engaged in the grocery trade, and joined with Mr. Perkins and others in building the Union block on Water street. After this he was appointed postmaster and held that position for about eight years, and at the same time engaged in farming and other enterprises and publishing the Tribune, etc.
H.H. Aplin came in 1865 and started a small grocery in Bay City but soon removed to the little hamlet at the west end of the Third street bridge and open his store there. Securing the appointment of postmaster and had held the same for ten or more years, and has made his mark as a successful business man. He has several fine business blocks and a fine residence in West Bay City.
James McKnight is another of the same stamp, and possesses a good share of worldly goods, and a large share of political success, being the present county treasurer.
George and James Shearer removed to Bay City immediately after the war, engaged in the lumber manufacture and continued in that business for some years, but finally closed it out. Then George engaged in the grist mill business, while James Shearer prosecuted other branches of business, building find brick blocks and fine residences and thus ornamenting the city and increasing banking facilities, and has at the same time for many years been the foremost of the State Building Commission to build the new State capital and is now one of the regents of the State University.
Among the great enterprises originating in Bay county, is one not known anywhere else in the whole State of the same kind, known as the Miller and Daglish reclamation of the Saginaw marches located partly in Bay and Saginaw county. This is one of Judge Albert Miller's pets, and consists in the draining by dredging by a steam dredge around some 1,000 acres of marsh, much of which was under water making the land fully susceptible of raising grain or grass, and all this was done at much less expense than to clear any timber land, leaving the land completely cleared without stumps. The land is kept clear of water by a small steam engine run at occasional times, at very small cost.
The number of men in this county of fine business talent are so numerous that it is impossible to give them even a mention here. The peculiar combination of circumstances contributing to the settlement and rapid development and advancement in every thing pertaining to build up and perfect all the interests in the county, are being seized upon as soon as presented and carried to final success.
The county stands financially high, the two cities are equally so, and the townships have been so well managed that there seems to be a bright future for every municipality in the county.
A careful review of this paper will reveal the talents that have so able contributed to these almost unequalled results.
Cranage, Thomas, Jr.
Trudell, John B.