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Saginaw, Michigan
Brief history and heritage photos.

Brief History of Saginaw

Other History Sources:
- Rare films on video.
[Book - R.W. Stroebel (pdf)]
[City Rescue Mission]
[Castle Museum]

The first permanent settler along the Saginaw river was Louis Campau who set up an Indian trading post on the west bank in 1815 that later became the settlement of Saginaw, the first settlement north of Flint. At the time Michigan was still a territory of the U.S.

In 1818 Michilimacknac county was organized which covered all of northern portion of the Michigan Territory, including the Upper Peninsula and Saginaw. A year later Saginaw became a part of the Oakland county which stretched north to Tawas. In 1822 the town of "Sagana" was platted by Judge James Witherell and James McLoskey, and that same year the U.S. government built a fort there which was abandoned in October 1823. The fort was located where Court and Hamilton streets are today.

The valley was rich with natural assets of water and rich soil make it an excellent habitat for animals which attracted fur traders to this area from Detroit which returned there to sell their hides. However, in 1824 the that all changed when the American Fur Company set up a fur trading post at Saginaw, which helped spur the growth of the Saginaw settlement. Only six years later, in 1830, the township of Saginaw was organized under Oakland county, its geographical area covered portions of the present counties of Midland, Oakland, and all of Bay. The following year, Gardiner D. Williams opened a sawmill where homesteaders could buy cut wood to build their houses.

By 1835 the area had grown sufficienty to organize itself as a county, and the county of Saginaw was created which included all of present Saginaw county and Bay county, and a portion of Arenac county. The following year, the of Saginaw City with a population of about 400 was founded by Norman Little.

In the years that followed a settlement grew up on the east side of the river and was called East Saginaw, which was incorporated as a village in 1854. The two Saginaw communities competed fiercely for growth, however, East Saginaw had the edge due to financial support from pioneer Jesse Hoyt.

Both communities were organized as cities in 1859, and in 1890 they merged to form the present city of Saginaw.

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