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Missing 1863-64 Bay City Newspapers Now Available At Library.
by Marvin Kusmierz
March 7, 2006


(Click to enlarge.)


Tid-bits from newspapers:
Nov. 28, 1863
Drowned. On Monday morning
last a man named John Powell was drawned in the boom of Mr. Augus Miller's mill, in this city. He was seen after he fell in, but before assistance could reach him he sank. A Coroner's inquest was held on the body, which was recovered in about an hour after. -- He had no family, was about 30 years old. His brother was present at the inquest.
Feb. 27, 1864
Another Improvement.
Our readers will be glad to learn that a stock Company has been formed to construct a bridge across the Saginaw river at this place. We consider this a very important and necessary improvement, and one that will commend itself to every citizen, more easpecially to the people of the townships on the west side of the river, afforing them reliable facilities for crossing at all seasons. Mr. W. H. Gilber, of this city, is the originator of the movement.
Apr. 16, 1864
RAIL ROAD. -- The Bay County people seem to be in earnest about their Railway, and on Monday voted to loan the Co. $75,000 in County Bonds, to help the road along. We are informed that responsible parties in New York have made overtures to build the road at once. -- Sag: Republican, Apr. 7th.
May 28, 1864
The Bridge. -- We are informed by Mr. W. H. Gilber, that the Bay City Bridge Company have file their bonds to erect a bridge across the river from the foot of Third street. Also that the contracts for the same been let, work to be commenced immediately. Thus has been fairly inaugurated one of the most important improvements in this region.
Jul. 16, 1864
The Bay City Press & Times, one of the best Republican papers in the State, is now published semi-weekly. It is the only paper published in the Saginaw Valley oftener than once a week. -- Ingham Co. News.
Aug. 24, 1864
FALSE ALARM. -- At about nine o'clock A.M. on Monday moring, a dense smoke was seen issuing from the room of Mr. Huggins, at the back of the hall in Fraser's new block, on the corner of Centre and Water sts., but on kicking in the door, it was found that owing to the dampness of the morning the draft of the chimney was downward instead of up. A dilapidated door was the only damage.

For many generations no one has ever been able to read the local news stories published in the 1863-64 editions of the Bay City Press And Times newspaper until now. They were considered lost forever until January 2005 when they came into the possession of Bay-Journal. They have since been micro-filmed and are now available for public viewing at the Alice and Jack Wirth Public Library in Bay City.

These rare editions of the Bay City Times And Press were donated to Bay-Journal by Linda and Rick Pierson. They were part of the inheritance of Rick’s father, Harry Pierson who was the region manager of this area for the Detroit Free Press. How the newspapers came into Harry’s possession is unknown. When Rick took over there possession he was unaware that they were original printings. The fact that they have become available to the public is nothing more than chance.

Rick and I have been friends since the 1960s when I married into the Pierson family. Neither he or I, had any idea that the newspapers were originals when he showed up at my home one Saturday to drop them off. Rick had just retired, and he and Linda were getting ready to move to California. But, before they did they wanted to give these old newspapers to use on Bay-Journal.

I was tickled pink to have them. After they left, I spent about an hour browsing through the pages and reading some of the articles. My excitement was now bursting and I had to share what I had Alan Flood, a new friend who has been a local history buff since he was a kid. The telephone conversation went something like this, “Al, you won’t believe what I have! I have copies of the Bay City Press And Times newspapers from the 1860s.” Al’s reply, “That’s great, but are you sure they are copies and not originals?”

After not being able to convince Al that what I had were copies and not originals, my excitement turn into concern. If they are originals, I would have to take great care in preserving them. It was my hope Al’s persistent attention to detail would be wrong and I could use them as I wish, marking them up, bending page corners, etc., and not having to deal with concerns about preservation.

The following week I went over to the Bay County Historical Museum with the newspapers in hand to have them take a look at them. Ron Bloomfield, the curator at the museum, took one look at them with his trained eyes and said, “Yup, they’re originals!”

From the museum I headed over to the Central Library to see if they had been microfilmed, and this series of the newspaper didn’t appear the list of those that were micro-filmed. Now, I was in a near state of panic knowing that in my possession was the only newspaper record for the 1863-64 period about Bay City. I spoke with Mary McManman in the Research Department of the library to see what might be done to get the papers micro-filmed.

A few weeks later, I got a call from Mary saying that Central Michigan University has agreed to do the micro-filming. I delivered the newspaper to Mary feeling relief that held them as long as I did without my home catching on fire and destroying the originals. It took about six months before the originals were returned and another few months before the actual micro-films of it were delivered to the library.

The Bay City Times and Press was owned by William A. Bryce. He began printing the newspaper in 1859 which he called the Bay City Press. A year later, he changed the name to the Bay City Press and Times. The was last published in 1864, as that year Bryce decided to participate in the Civil War that he had been writing about. He enlisted as a staff officer with the 29th Michigan Infantry which was organized in Saginaw.

The newspaper operated out of an office on the corner of Saginaw and Fourth streets. It was published weekly on Saturdays until June 1864, when it became a bi-weekly newspaper. Shortly thereafter, Bryce made his decision to leave the paper and enlist in the army.

I haven’t been had much luck in finding information about Bryce. There was one record found of a William Bryce, age 21, who married Asebell S. Morse in 1854. If it is the same Bryce, he would have been 26 years old when he began the newspaper.

In the 1866-67 Indian and Pioneer Directory of the Saginaw Valley, William is listed as one of the deceased members of the Masonic. It further identifies him as a founder of the Lodge which chartered on January 11, 1861, and was elected its Master presiding over the first meeting which took place in the upper part of the building formerly occupied by C.R. Jennison.

More details about Bryce may be contained in the old records of the former Masonic Lodge if they have not been lost.

The good news is that the papers he published during 1863-64 are no longer lost thanks to some good fortune, generosity and professional assistance from individuals dedicated to preserving our local history.


Examples and information on the Bay City Press And Times newspaper are available in the {Civil War News} section of Bay-Journal.

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