March 2003 - Edition No. 3

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Beginning this month we are will be changing the Home page graphic each month. Shown is a scene of a coal mine located near Auburn. The Saginaw Valley sits on the richest coal mineral deposits in Michigan and for many years there were coal mines being ran in most of the townships.

Commentary by Bay-Journal

Most of of our time during March was devoted to the family of James G. Birney as reflected in this newsletter -- all made possible by contributions from viewers for whom we give public thanks. This month marks the beginning of, "Featured Local Websites" and "Highlighted Local News" to draw viewers attention to these subjects. Each includes links to websites for further information.

As we enter into April, Bay-Journal is on the verge of its first anniversary - we'll be burning one "virtual" candle on April 24th. You, your family and friends are all invited to our "virtual" birthday party!

The Birney Family
March might be called "Birney month" on Bay-Journal as much of our focus has been on the family of James Gillespie Birney. James was a lawyer and prominent political figure during the 19th Century -- a devout Christian, he was outstanding spokesman of the anti-slavery movement for which he devoted much of his life. Born in Kentucky in 1792, it wasn't until 1841 that he moved to Saginaw and a year later settled in the wilderness community of Lower Saginaw (now, Bay City). He spent the rest of his life here except for his final two years in New Jersey. His contributions played a major role in shaping our community. Many of his family became outstanding citizens carrying forward his tradition of public service.

We've up dated his biography page and added pages on some of his family members in the Heritage/People section. In researching the Birney family -- much was learned about the depth of their contributions to our country's history. It is a family one can not help but admire and hold up as a fine example of "God, country and family."

US Soldiers Sent to Remove Hussein:
Whether you are for or against this action, the realty is that many sons and daughters have put their lives at risk to achieve this goal. Let us pray for their safe return and that the horrible results of war will be minimal to the combatants and innocent civilians.

Highlighted Local News

Center Avenue, Bay City
- Planners are looking to enhance Center avenue to take advantage of this heritage home district. Plans call for changing it into a boulevard, and, adding new time period lighting, historical markers, park benches and more. This is a wonderful idea that I hope becomes a realty soon. Maybe down the road, Madison will return to being a boulevard?

Shearer Building, Bay City
- Construction is well underway to convert this historic building into a condominium complex. The $3.8 million renovation project when completed in the summer of 2004 will include 12 upper level units and retail stores on the street level. The project belongs to Bay Area Renaissance LLC, a company founded by local individuals; James Reid, Thomas Hickner and David Dawson.

Vision for Banks Area
- Residents of the Banks area and Bay City planners met to share ideas about what should be included in plans to enhance this area that has seen recent improvements to Defoe Park and the removal of the old via-duct. Besides general landscaping and lighting that has been featured in other business district up dates, there is considerable interest in developing the Fletcher property for local use and river access.

Uptown at Rivers Edge
- A casino is now officially out of consideration for this project as it is without local support. Potential developers will need to submit new plans accordingly. A few blocks north and just beyond Veterans Bridge, construction on the new hotel/conference center is well underway with many of the footings in place.

Featured Local Websites

This is a new feature that will become a regular part of our journal. The community of local websites is growing rapidly and we want to help call your attention to them. We've spent countless hours hunting down local websites for the "White" and "Yellow" pages section of Bay-Journal. If we've missed any -- its not from lack of effort! Let's us know who they are and they'll be included.

The subject focus of our picks for this month go from "current information" to "historical preservation". Both provide an informative service to our local community and we hope you will take time to visit their websites to understand why we picked them.

My Bay City
Another fine resource for people interested in what's happening around Bay County. It includes "feature articles" written by various individuals including Dave Rogers formerly with the Bay City Times newspaper. The articles are good and to the point -- on timely subjects related to our community. It includes a "free Classified Ads" to help you sell or buy items and an "Events Calendar" to stay on top of local activities. Out of towners may want to bookmark this site to stay in touch with current events or better yet -- join their mail list and they'll inform you by email when a new article is posted.

Historical Museum of Bay County
I'm sure you know that our local museum is located in the "old armory" building right next to the City Hall on Washington street? Then again, maybe you didn't! The current museum facilities is leaps and jumps better than its previous ones that included a small brick home on Center avenue and before this, in a small are of the County Building. If you haven't been to the new facilities -- your missing an enjoyable experience that is "free". They have many exhibits, a gift shop and an extensive historical library. The museum is constantly putting on learning and fun events -- including trolley bus tours. Again, out of towners may want to bookmark their site or better yet, get a membership which includes a newsletter mail right to your doorstep.

Featured Local History

Birney's Sword - Participate in it's history.
A campaign is underway by the Bay County Historical Society to bring a piece of history to the home community of "James G. Birney". Grandson, also name James G. Birney, joined the Union army during the Civil War. He served in the "7th Michigan Calvary" and participated in the Battle of Gettysburg under General George Custer. On the third day of the battle, on July 3, 1863 Gen. Custer led his troops against the Virginia cavalry, Lt. Birney was captured, but later escaped returning to help Union forces defeat the Confederate army. For his feats during the Gettysburg battle, Birney was honored with a finely crafted silver sword. He remained in the army as a career soldier serving in the West with the "1st Michigan Cavalry" and later, with the "9th U.S. Calvary" that was composed of "Buffalo Soldiers." Birney remained a bachelor and in 1870, died of disease at Fort Davis, Texas. The Birney name has a prominent place in local history and nationally. Birney's father, James Birney was a local judge and acting governor of Michigan. Birney's grandfather also named James G. Birney, twice ran for President of the U.S. under the banner of the Liberty party. All five of his sons served as officers in the Civil War, three died during the war: Lt. Dion, Major Fitzhugh and Gen. David B.; James and his older brother Gen. William remained in service after the war.

The society has seeking donations to raise $25,000 in order to purchase the sword and create an proper exhibit for its display at the local museum in Bay City. If you would like to support this project with a donation, visit their website for contact information:

Changes and Up Dates to Website

Birney Family (Heritage/People)
The following new pages have been added:

Birney Descendants & Pictorial:
Thanks to Birney descendants Michelle Panton and Ken Birney, we've added a family chart and pictorial pages. The chart shows five generations beginning with Birney's father who was born in Ireland and came to the U.S. at age sixteen. The pictorials has photos of some of the Birney family members and images of some memorabilia including a letter to President Abe Lincoln and a 1948 Saginaw News full page story.

Birney Family Pictorial: Photos of various family members, includes James (son) letter to President Lincoln.

Birney - 1893 Kentucky Advocate Articles: Eight articles published in 1893 by the Kentucky Advocate based on 1826 articles from the Olive Branch newspaper.

James Birney: The eldest son -- James was a lawyer and politician. He held positions as a state senator and Lt. Governor.

James G. Birney IV: Grandson -- joined Civil War at 19, fought under Gen. Custer and served with "buffalo soldiers".

William Birney: Lawyer and Civil War General who led black regiments in battles against the south.

Agatha (McDowell) Birney: The first wife of James G. and member of the prominent McDowell family of Kentucky.

Fitzhugh Birney: The only son of James G. and his second wife, Elizabeth (Fitzhugh). Reprint from the "Harvard Memorial Biographies, 1866, written by Thomas W. Higginson." It's an interesting account of Fitzhughs thoughts share with his mother during the Civil War.

Link to the Heritage/People menu page:

Family Center (Information/Special Features)
We reorganized some of the Information pages into what is now the, "Family Center". The section includes: Food Recipes, Crossword Puzzles, Surf the Net for Kids, Virus Advisory, and, a new Featured Articles page.

Directories (Heritage/Places)
We've added a directory of the "sawmills" on the Saginaw River as listed in the "1866-67 Indian and Pioneer Directory of the Saginaw Valley." The listing shows total feet sawed in 1865 by each sawmill at the following locations: Bay City & Portsmouth.; Wenona, Bangor and Kawkawlin.; Saginaw City.; East Saginaw, Florence and Carrollton.; Salina.

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