February 2004 - Edition No. 14

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Featured History

Henry W. Sage

Henry W. Sage had already made his fortune in lumbering before his first visit to Bay City. He invested wisely in lumbering in New York, Wisconsin and Canada, and profitted well from each. He knew his business well and wasn't about to miss out on the opportunity of increasing his wealth with the infant lumbering boom taking place here.

He was a master at handling money, and skilled in bargainer who always got the best deal. In 1860, he picked 116 acres of wilderness land on the westside of the Saginaw River across from Bay City for the mill he and his partner, John McGraw, wanted to build. However, it took four years to consumate a contract. The owners, Mrs. Elizabeth Birney and her brother, Dr. Daniel Fitzhugh, were equally stubborn about what they considered a fair price. The Sage and McGraw Mill opened in the Spring of 1865, and at the time was considered the largest mill in the world. It quickly transformed what was a wilderness into a company town of the mill which became known as "Wenonah", and later "West Bay City."

Henry had a particular fondness of education which he supported extensively with his hard earned money. He paid for the Sage Library that carrys his name and is a treasured piece of architecture in the community today, and continues to serve as a library. As generous as this gift was, it is small in comparison to the gifts he gave to Cornell University in Ithaca, NY where he lived.

Along with our brief article regarding Henry Sage's contributions to our community, you'll find a biography that was written in 1894. His life story is the subject of a book written by Anita Shafer Goodstein which is available from the Bay County Library System.

  • {Heritage/People/Sage, Henry W.}
  • Bay-Journal Commentary

    (Editorial comments and whimsical thoughts of limited interest and value.)

    Introductory Comments

    It's that time of the year when winter seems to be too long, and too cold! At least for me.

    It's a good time to work on some Bay-Journal projects that have been sitting idle and that's what we did for most of January. The big addition was the "Kidz Only" section. It's something we've been toying with for many months because we are hoping it will draw interest from youngsters so we can introduce them to our local history. The star of the Kids Only section is "Bubbles." We introduced Bubbles when we did the Kids History Tour section. We like the job he did there and we are counting on him to be a big hit as the Kids Only rooms helper. If you haven't this new section, have a look now.

  • {Information/Features/Kidz Only Rooms}

    If you have children, we'd appreciate it if you would introduce them to the Kidz Only pages. If you do, drop us an email and give us your feed back and any hints on what might improve it.

    We also did some house cleaning. We added icons replacing the text menu on the main entry pages. We added some cross-links from one subject to another to make it easy to hop over to another page that has related material. And, did some cleaning of poor html coding done in haste or too late in the evening.

    We have a backlog of materials to work for new content. We'll continue to plug away at them, but the process is slow and consumes a great deal of time. We're hoping some of you viewers will help us by sharing an article of your own which makes our task so much easier. (hint)

    The new Focus Forum that went online in December apparently is not catching much interest from viewers. While there have been a fair amount of viewers that have looked at the postings, only two have contributed a posting of their own. We encourage you to help make the forum your spot to interact with others who also have an interest in our local communities. Forums are typically hard to get going... but with a little help from you and others it can come alive very quickly. We've tried to make the boards broad enough to cover all who share life along the Saginaw Bay. We even included a board where anyone can post anything about whatever subject they want. If you haven't been to the forum boards yet, have a look at...

  • [Focus Forum Boards]

  • Featured Websites

    (Featured local and regional websites. Visit the for more websites.)

    Bay County Library System (Bay City) [Website]

    If you utilize the library system, you are mostly likely using their website as well. It certainly is convenient as you are able to do some of the normal tranactions online, like reserving a book or extending it for an additional period. In addition, their website features search and browsing of a catalog of the library's holdings, Ebooks, and some special online reference service for magazines, newspapers and other reading resources.

    Looking for information about the library's programs? Need to practice on some tests? Interest in what's happening with the current library expansion program? In need of a computer to use? Information on all of these and more are available from the library's website.

    American Amusements [Website]

    Have you played shuffle board, air hockey, pool, pinball or similar games? Then you may be familiar with American Amusements as they sell all of them over on 13th Street. They also provide pop machines, JukeBoxes and Kiddie Rides! You don't hear much about them, but they've been doing in business since 1973. It's quite a unique business right here in our own backyard.

    You can get a complete tour of their products at their website which includes plenty of photos. Another nifty feature they provide is a website with "League Info" covering darts and pool with teams from both the counties of Bay and of Saginaw.

    In The News (highlighted local/regional topics)

    (Bits of news about the Saginaw Bay area for our out of town viewers. For more extensive local news we recommend MLive.com (Local & Regional Michigan News) and MyBayCity.com (Feature articles).)

    February 4 - CAFTA Threatens Local Farmers (Bay City & Saginaw)

  • (Source: Article Bay City Times by Rob Clark - Feb 3, 2004)

    Two local sugar companies, Montitor Sugar Co. of Montitor Township and Michigan Sugar Co. of Saginaw, have come together to oppose the proposed Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) believing it's passage is a threat to the U.S. sugar industry and thousands of sugar beet farmers.

    Negotiations of the CAFTA concluded in December 2003 and still needs to come before a vote of Congress which isn't expected to happen until after the elections in November. The agreement opens up free trade between the U.S. and most Central American countries which could be the beginning of the end of local sugar producers. Therefore, they are making a concentrated effort to inform the public in hopes of altering the current CAFTA agreement. A press conference is scheduled for 9 a.m. this Thursday at the Monitor Sugar Company at 2600 Euclid Ave. where officials from both companies will express thier objection to CAFTA. Below are some resources on this subject:

  • Fact Sheet - US - Central America Free Frade Agreement (www.whitehouse.gov)
  • Stop CAFTA (www.stopcafta.org)
  • Monitor Sugar Co. (see Press Releases)
  • Michigan Sugar Co.

    (Editor note: Michigan's sugar industry had its beginnings in Essexville in 1898. That year the Michigan Sugar Co. opened as a pilot project at north end of Sheurmann Street and was highly successful. Many other sugar plants followed creating an economy for local sugar beet farmers that remains strong to this day. See Michigan Historical Markers)

    February 24 - It's Official -- Bay City is Destination for Romance!

  • (Source: Bay City Times, Feb 23, 2003 - article by Crystal Harmon.)

    At least that is the conclusion of an article appearing the latest issue of the "Michigan Travel Ideas" magazine. Bay City and four other communities are described as a romantic spot for lovers. A full page on Bay City describes the attractions that make for a romantic vacation. This is not a new awareness to most Bay Citians who have always preferred to celebrated the fact quietly. But the secret is out now, 800,000 issues of the magazine have been published for distribution to readers in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom, and Germany.

    The magazine is free. If you are not a subscriber -- a copy may be available from you local tourist bureau. Otherwise, visit Michigan's Travel website where you can subscribe to this publication or one of many newsletters on various topics about enjoying Michigan. Their website provides plenty of online resources as well.

  • Michigan Travel and Recreation

    February 25 - Local Developer Jim Reid Recognized
    (Source: Bay Area Businiss Journal - Feb. 25, 2004.)

    Jim Reid who has been renovating buildings for nearly 20 years in Bay City will recieve the Bay Area Chamber of Commerical "Brick Award" at its Eye Opener Breakfast on March 2. The award is given in recognition of a business that has improve its facility. Jim could just as easly carry out more than one Brick Award as he has done much to improve the appearance of our community. Over the years he has renovated a number of our heritage buildings -- the Columbia Building on Midland Street, the Old City Hall, the Tanner Building, the Rush Building (known as the Antrim Place today), and currently, he is renovating the Shearer Building at Center and Adams.

    Jim has quietly gone about his business for a long time and it's good to see that he is getting his well deserved recognition. As we have a bias towards retaining heritage buildings -- we are pleased that Jim is doing his thing to preserve our history. I can hardly wait to see the Shearer Building when its done!

  • Changes & Additions to Bay-Journal

    (Current month's updates to Bay-Journal. See "archives" for previous updates.)

    February 4 - Header Icons (update)

    The primary page of the main sections now have an icon menu replacing text previously used. No change has been made to the text menu of the content pages themselves. While we have attempted to make the icons symbolic of the contents of each section, this may not be evident to many, however, as you hover of the icon a text of its description will pop-up. An explanation of the icons and the main pages also appears on the primary page of the Information Center in the right-hand column.

    February 6 - 1884 Obituary of Luther Westover (new)

    Luther Westover was a wealthy and prominent citizen of Bay City in the late 1800s. He was involved in lumbering and banking, and was a state representative for three years.

  • {Heritage/Writings/Obituary of Luther Westover}

    February 6 - 1864 Article on Gen. David Bell Birney (new)

    Gen. David B. Birney was the fifth child of James G. and Agatha (McDowell) Birney, pioneer residents of Bay City. Gen. D.B. Birney fought with the Union army during the Civil War, as did many members of the Birney family, Gen. William and Gen. Dion, brothers of David B., Major Fitzhugh a step-brother, and Lt. James G. a nephew. The article was written at the time of Gen. D.B. Birney's death and gives details of his early life and action during the Civil War.

  • Heritage/People/David Bell Birney}

    February 7 - The Park City (new)

    This is the title of an article published in The Daily Tribune of Bay City in 1884 regarding recent improvements made to the city's parks. Parks at that time were: Carroll Park, Washington Park (no longer exists), Park Place (now Battery), Madison Park (now Birney Park) and South Bay City Park (now, Rooselvelt Park). Include with this article are other news items that appeared on the same page.

  • {Heritage/Writings/The Park City}

    February 7 - 1864 Thanksgiving Proclamation (new)

    On November 10, 1864, the Bay City Journal published a reprint of President Lincoln's National Thanksgiving proclamation that year. Included with the reprint is background references on the history of Thanksgiving which dates back to the pilgrims.

  • {Heritage/Writings/1864 Thanksgiving Proclamation}

    February 8 - 1899 Paper on French Missions to Saginaw Valley (new)

    Paper written by Fred Carlisle for the Michigan Pioneer Society in 1899 providing historical references to French Missions in the Saghinaw as early as the 1680s. Include references to the Saginaw Treaty of 1819 and lands distributed to the Riley boys; John, Peter and James, who were sons of Me-naw-cum-e-goqua, a Chippewa woman.

  • {Heritage/Writings/Places - Saginaw River}

    February 9 - Journal of People (updated)

    We've modified this page by replacing the standard static alphabetical listing of people with a dynamic spreadsheet table that allows sorting and search of the data.

  • Heritage/People/Journal of People

    February 17 - Ethnic Genealogy & History of the Saginaw Bay Area (new section)

    We've added a whole new section to the Heritage Library for individuals interested in their family's heritage. This section is intended to include content related to ethnic history and a forum community where individuals can interact with others to further their genealogy. As of this writing there is a content section for Polish descendants and specific forum boards for French, German and Polish heritage groups.

    During the heavy immigration period family's and their neighbors typically migrated to the same location in America. Once settled here, they eventually spread out to neighboring communities to improve their lot. In the case of the new section, the family's neighborhood is the Saginaw Bay Area settled by many ethnic families who had their initial homesteads in places like Saginaw, Midland or Bay City.

    The growth of this new section will rely heavily on contributions from viewers who are interested in furthering the knowledge on their ethnic history with others. If you are doing your family's genealogy this a good opportunity to help us develop what can become a valuable resource that will benefit everyone.

  • {Heritage/Ethnic Groups of the Saginaw Bay Area}

    February 20 - Bay County Historic Plat Maps (new)

    We've created an index page in the Maps Library to some of the older plat maps of Bay County that are available from the State of Michigan website. The index page provides some basic data to browse saving you time searching on their website. There is also a link to pre-seached listing of all Bay County plats.

  • {Maps/Bay County Historical Plat Maps}
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