April 2004 - Edition No. 16

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Featured History - Go to: History | Featured Websites | News | Websites Updates |

Wenona Beach Amusement Park

In 1887, Spencer O. Fisher, Henry H. Aplin and Theodore F. Shepard lead a group of investors to develop forty acres along the Saginaw Bay at the foot of Patterson road in Bangor Township. Their goal was to develop it as new entertainment park known as the Wenona Beach Amusement Park. The area ad had previously been used for recreational purposes as far back as 1876 -- that year the steamer "Willington R. Burn" began taking groups to the sandy beach for swimming and picnics. The firm "Root and Miller" that owned the steamer decided to put up a two-story building that featured a dining room, ballroom and bar. Thus began an era of growth leading to the area becoming an amusement park.

S.O. Fisher was mayor of West Bay City (1881-84), a Congressman (1885-89) and built the Fisher block (1882) which still stands on Midland street. Henry Aplin was a state representative and served in Congress (1901-03).

Learn more about the features and history of Wenona Beach and why it became one of Michigan's most popular destinations.

  • Heritage/Places/ {Wenona Beach Amusement Park}
  • Featured Websites - Go to: History | Featured Websites | News | Websites Updates |

    (Featured local and regional websites.) For a complete list of local websites, see

    Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe (Mt. Pleasant) [Website]

    The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe organization plays an important role in maintaining, preserving, and communicating the values and culture of our area. Among it's societies is the "Ziibiewing Cultural Society" with a focus on preserving the tribe's culture and traditions.

    The organization is involved in all phases of Indian life from historical traditions to current activities that encourages fellowship among the members of the organization and associated communities.

    The website is full of information on the tribe's activities which are organized under five categories, Businesses, Culture, Government, Education, History and Services. It is a good starting point for learning more about the role and progression of the Saginaw Chippewa Indians communitity.

    Monitor Sugar Company (Bay City) [Website]

    Located in Monitor Township on South Euclid avenue, the Monitor Sugar Company's history is over 100 years old. It began in 1901, and was originally formed as the "German-American Farmers Cooperative Beet Sugar Company."

    You'll enjoy visiting their website which goes beyond the normal business information topics with features on the history of sugar, their community involvement, environment, sugar beet grower's page, nutrition and recipes. I highly recommend their "Tours" section which features a "flash" version of a tour through their "exhibit" at the Bay County Historical Society Museum. Kids can enjoy a fun activitity, "Bernie Beet's Seed to Sugar Coloring Book," while both kids and adults will enjoy, "Behind-the-Secenes Photo Tour."

    Local/Regional News & Commentary - Go to: History | Featured Websites | News | Websites Updates |

    (Highlighted news items and our commentary about it or other subjects. For more extensive news coverage online we recommend [MLive.com - Local & Regional Michigan News] and [MyBayCity.com - Articles on Bay Co.].)
      News Index:
    • April 1 - Introduction
    • April 2 - Passing of Bishop Kenneth E. Untener
    • April 2 - Old Kawkawlin Bridges May Disappear
    • April 3 - Alarming News About Lack of Progress
    • April 9 - Three Bits of Local History in the News
    • April 11 - Pipeline in Townships Expected to Increase Growth
    • April 24 - Plan Ready for Uptown At River's Edge
    • April 26 - Weitzman Group Presentation Retains History

    ^ April 1 - Introduction

  • Bay-Journal Commentary by Marvin Kusmierz

    This month Bay-Journal will be marking its second anniversary having gone online April 24, 2000.

    A year ago in the April 2003 edition of this monthly magazine, I reported that Bay-Journal had grown from 40 pages to 282 during it's first year with over 53,000 visits to the website. As we near the end of our second year the figures stand at over 700 webpages and the number of visits is about 150,000. During the past twelve months over 400 new pages have been added and about 100,000 visits were made to the website.

    We also added the "Writings" and "Kidz-Only" sections and spent a considerable amount of time reworking some of the old ones.

      The Writings section contains old documents as they were written. The largest number comes from old newspaper articles. The idea for this came from Alan Flood whose contributions to its growth have been exceptional.

      The Kidz Only section was added to encourage youngsters to become familiar with their community's history. It contains a variety of fun things to do with "Bubbles," our kids tour guide. And, of course -- it includes a simplified version of local history with plenty of pictures.

      The Maps Library received a fair number of new maps including old plats documents additions to Banks, Essex, West Bay City, Salzburg, etc. Each includes the names of owners, clerks, surveyors and others. We hope to add more cemetery maps this summer.

    Besides Alan's important contributions, many others have also shared history content for Bay-Journal and their help is greatly appreciated. However, one family in particular deserves special attention for their generosity. My initial contact with them came through Kathy Czuba who suggested that I contact her parents, Gladys and Clarence Stroemmer who have a large collection of memorabilia on local history. I did, and I wasn't disappointed. Gladys and Clarence had boxes full of scrap-books which contained a treasure of history from the early 1900s in photos and old newspaper clippings. For over six months I have been digitizing much of this material which has yet to be put online, but will be in the near future.

    Thank you Kathy, Gladys, Clarence, Alan and all who have contributed to putting our history online.

    While progress during the past two year has exceeded my expectations, there is much more that needs to be accomplished. I spent a great deal of time in seeding various sections of the website with a few articles in each to create a structure for viewers in finding information, and for contributors to help in growing their content. I've purchased a new digital camera to replace the old one which yielded some pretty bad images and I need to take new pictures to replace those I posted to the website. I would like to spend a considerable amount of time this summer visiting the townships and capturing pictures of historical sites to add to their individual pages in the Community section. Ideally, it would be great if someone from each of the townships were able to contribute these instead. My wish list is long and typically, I do things as opportunities arise. This practice while inconsistent with the idea of planning, has none the less contributed to the volume of content that has gone online.

    Some time ago I adopted the slogan, "Help Us If You Can!" for the website -- I encourage you to participate in putting your community's history online. I have found it be one of the most interesting and enjoyable projects I have ever undertaken. Together, it can be our way of saying, "thanks" to the generations went before us while making it easier for others to learn about it.

    ^ April 2 - Passing of Bishop Kenneth E. Untener.

    Local Catholics and friends who knew the Bishop, regret his loss which occurred on Saturday. Funeral services were held yesterday with mass taking place at Saginaw St. Stephen Catholic church. The Rev. Thomas E. Sutton, serving the Auburn churches of St. Joseph Catholic church and St. Anthony church, spoke about the Bishop at the mass. Bishop Untener was the spiritual leader of diocese with about 139,000 members. The Bishop will be interned at Mt. Olive Cemetery in Saginaw. A notice has been posted on the diocese's website at the link below:

  • [Roman Catholic Diocese of Saginaw]

    ^ April 2 - Old Kawkawlin Bridges May Disappear. (Garfield, Kawkawlin, Monitor & Williams townships)

  • Source: Bay City Times, article by Steve Neaving, Apr. 1, 2004)

    Three old bridges traversing the Kawkawlin river may soon be replaced. Their replacemend funding is being made possible by the combined resources of local, state and federal government. The local government portion is a small fraction of the overall funding. The bridges in the proposal are the chip Road Bridge in Williams Township, Old Beaver Road Bridge between Monitor and Kawkawlin townships, and Flajole Raod Bridge in Garfield township.

    ^ April 3 - Alarming News About Lack of Progress. (Bay City)

  • Commentary by Marvin Kusmierz

    News reported in two front page articles of today's Bay City Times is disburbing!

    A 1.4 million grant to clean up the former Industrial Brownhoist property will be lost on April 23rd because the city has not yet picked a developer for the Uptown At River's Edge (UARE) project. Not to worry -- because Robert Belleman says the city will reapply for the grant once it has a developer sign up, but he has no guess as to when that will be? I for one would like to know why the city couldn't have worked with the granting agency, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to clean up the property before selecting a developer? After all, its obvious that work needs to be done and doing it now would speed up process by getting this out of the way regardless of who the developer is. Some form of progress has to physically take place on the UARE project quickly -- it was even a recommended by the Wiesman Group hired by the city to study what UARE should be. Another concern I have is will the funds be available from the MDEQ when the city reapplies for another grant? The economic situation of the state isn't getting any better and there is no guarantee a grant will exist even be possible then.

    The other article speaks to the "Cool Cities" project began by Governor Granholm started in which 30 city majors have joined in an advisory panel to promote the cool cities project aimed at improving the image of Michigan's cities. Former Major Newsham is a member and attended the last September. Although a local advisory committee has been formed, there has yet to be a first meeting! Inaction of this group apparently got caught up in the majoral change and lack of someone to take leadership. Governor Granholm annouced this past Thursday that the state will be giving 12 grants of $100,000 each to cities that subject a bid for one. Pressured by the announcement, the city is now scurring to educate itself on how to make a bid. The city has until May 7th to submit their application!

    On another note, I sent away for a copy of the "Michigan Travel Ideas 2004" magazine and there were three great articles about Bay City attractions in it. This magazine is produced by the state and distributed worldwide as a way of promoting Michigan. In browsing through the many other articles in the magzine, I couldn't help but notice the many full page ads of cities promoting themselves to the viewership of this magazine. Guess who wasn't doing so? Three featured articles about Bay City, but no full ad page about Bay City. Nor was Bay City listed under the "free travel information" section. I wonder how we blew this opportunity? For those of you that would like to know what Michigan has done already to promote our community, you can order a "free" copy of the magazine - use the following link to their website:

  • www.michigan.org

    While a lot of possitive things have been discussed about promoting Bay City in the past year, it's time for possitive action. We can no longer afford endless discussions and studies get in the way of what we can do now to help us progress even if it is a small step at a time.

    ^ April 9 - Three Bits of Local History in the News.

  • (B-J Commentary Bay City Times aricles.)

    Zielinski Hardware, Made-Rite Pototo Chips, and Lewis Manufacturing each were featured in the news this past for week for different story lines, but all because of their history in the Bay City community.

    Better Made Snack Foods which bought out Made Rite a decade ago has put the building up for sale. They are looking for another building in the Tri-City area which will improved their storage distribution operation in this area. Potato chip manufacturing was transferred to their Detroit plant shortly after they took ownership. Since then, they've fill the Made-Rite labeled bags with their own product (I thought they tasted different!), and will at this time be oboleting the the Made-Rite label from their product line.

    Made-Rite came into being during the 1940s as a local chip manufacturer. I can remember as a youngster know a friend who had a family member working there, and we were allow to go there a few times with him. As a kid, it was quite amazing to see a river of boiling oil with potatoe slices being cooked as they made their way down the production line, for salting, drying, then, bagging. They tasted pretty darn good too!

    Lewis Manufacturing:
    Tim Younkeman, who writes featured articles for the Times, many of which give us a glance back at local history, made Lewis Manufacturing the topic of his last article. Lewis was located on Lafayette Avenue where the neighborhood mall is now. They had a steady employment of around 125-150 workers manufacturing all sorts of window sashes and panes.

    Zielinski Hardware:
    In 1908, when Martin Zielinski started himself a hardware business on the north western corner of Cass and Michigan. It closed down in 1955 by his son, but he didn't sell off the goods inside -- so, 49 years later on April 14th they'll be auctioned off. Whether you're an antique collector or just want to by a bit of history, this is the place to go on April 14th.

    ^ April 11 - Pipeline in Townships Expected to Increase Growth

  • (Source: Bay City Times, April 10, 2004, article by Tim Younkman.)

    New sewer lines are expected to be completed in late 2005. The lines will run along M-13 in Fraser and Kawkawlin townships, and are expected to spur new growth to the affected areas. Some presents businesses are expecting to expand their operations as a result of the increased sewer capacity, and new businesses may be attracted to these areas which would not have been possible before due to limited sewer capacity.

    ^ April 24 - Plan Ready for Uptown At River's Edge (UARE)! (Bay City)

    This Monday at 6:30 pm in the City Hall, the City Commission will be given a presentation on a plan for this project which has been in the works for over a decade. The presentation will be televised live on Channel 3. Representatives from the Weitzman Group of New York will present the plan. Information shared by the city manager indicates that some of the old Industrial Brownhoist buildings may be saved, although demolition is planned on others. Work on cleaning up the site is expected to begin as early as this summer.

    We have strongly favored saving at least a couple of the large historical industrial buildings and the Bay City Traction and Electric building which not only represent a unique bit of local history, but could be valuable and unique assets that'll create an interesting destination along the river. A few months ago we did an article on the subject where we laid out our own vision for a plan of the UARE project. Free from the constraints of money, we proposed many changes to not only this property but around the east and west sides of the city. We envisioned a trolley car systemt that tied all of these area together, a new Heritage Park, and several outdoor malls. You can see the article at:

  • Dreams of An Uptown At River's Edge

    ^ April 26 - Weitzman Group Presentation Retains History.

  • By Marvin Kusmierz

    This evening the Weitzman consultant group presented their plan for "Up Town At River's Edge to city officials and a public audience at the City Hall which was broadcast live over Channel 3 television. As the presentation was being laid out, I was shocked and surprised to learn that the giant industrial buildings of the former Industrial Brownhoist are to play an important role in developing this 48 acres along the river's edge. I had prepared myself for the worse - that none of these buildings would make it through the market justification of a seasoned professional group. I was wrong, and I couldn't be more excited that these historical structures will play a role in the future of Bay City.

    The Plan

    I created a graphic on the right that shows the Weitzman plan in comparison with a 1918 image of the area when this area was heavily used for industrial purposes. The circle identifies the foundry building that will become the focus attraction of the new development. Below are figures on land use of the UARE plan.

    • 21% residential
    • 17% commercial
    • 18% reserved for future use
    • 13% open space
    • 16% streets and parking
    • 15% unknown (may be marina areas)

    Foundry Market, major attraction.

    The Weitzman plan turns the old foundry building into large merchant/activities center that on a smaller scale would be similar in nature to Boston's Quincy Market or San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf. Two new harbors are created off the Saginaw River that border the Foundry market on the north and south. To the east is an open area that includes an oval street scape connecting Water and Saginaw streets. The setting provides a spacious and inviting view of the Foundry complex from all four directions.

    Further north of the Foundry Market Place is a triangular shaped park, and to south a condo residential complex (yellow) with 75 units angles around the south harbor. To the east of the new park area is land set aside for future development (purple) aimed at office buildings or an educational campus. The areas (red) surrounding the Foundry's entrance would have a multi-use, but most like a combination of commercial and public activities. Public access to the river's edge is provided by a walkway that extends from the southern edge of the UARE property north to Wenonah Park. A Water street extension to the UARE area is possible from Wenonah Park by opening the underpass that already exists at the Veterans Memorial Bridge, which would run past the east side of Foundry Market and through the residential area to the southern portion of the existing Water Street.

    Overall Costs.

    The plan as it exists now would cost about $75 million to complete, but it can be built in three or four development phases. The Weitzman group believe the first phase which would include infrastructure and the Foundry Market could begin as earlier as January 2005. The plan is intended to be flexible, but should serve as a long-term concept of what this new area should be to become vital and meet the needs of our community.

    I fully endorse this conceptual plan as I agree with the professional judgement and experience of the Weitzman group. They have avoided the attractive pit-fall of creating a modern plan based solely on commercial interests. Instead, their plan embraces the existing character of historical business districts. The result will be a continuity of a historical theme that compliments the success already established by Bay City's business communities. Their approach balances the realty of what has worked well for Bay City and what might be done done to take this success to a higher level.

    Baseball Stadium.

    Apparently aware of local interests to bring a professional baseball team to Bay City, the Weitzman team made a point in their presentation that they highly recommend using property of the UARE for the purpose of a new stadium. They strongly believe the long-term interests of the community is best served if the overall concept of property remains focused solely on growing a merchant/public base on this property. It has been mention in recent discussions of using the northern portion of UARE property for a stadium if the city is successful in bringing a club here. I agree with Weitzman opinion. I would still like to see professional baseball here if it is financially feasible. I would suggest the Middle Grounds area south of the Lafayette bridge connection would be an ideal location for a ballpark named after local baseball Hall of Famer, John Clarkson. A water front ballpark there would stimulate new development to the south end that would benefit business districts in that area.

    Personal Preferences.

    I like what the Weitzman group has generated, and I certainly would be proud and pleased to enjoy it as is. But, if I had my rathers, there is some tweaking I would like to see take place.

    To begin with, I don't believe the private marina south of the Foundry building needs to be as large as it is or even reserved as private docking belonging to the new condos owners. Many that will desire buy a condo along the river will not be boating enthusiasts and there is plenty of other marinas with winter storage capabilities that those are enthusiastic boats would probably prefer. I would begin by allowing condo owners to purchase a reserve docking space if wanted. The biggest draw for buying a condo in the new is being along the water front close to the Foundry market area.

    I would also rearrange the condo layout to put the most expensive condos on the water front, with less expensive one to further form the water. And, I would redirect Water to separate the higher end condos by the water from the smaller less expensive ones on the east side of the road. A small portion of these could be one or two room rental complexes for middle income senior citizens. Each area would have their own private parking, but public walkways traversing the property to allow easy river access for all.

    I also favor replacing the oval court east of the Foundry market with a large parking area which is bordered on the north a one way street going south to Water Street and on the south by a one street connection to Saginaw Street. Both of these one streets would also control traffic in and out of the large parking. In future years the parking lot if warranted could be expanded to a parking multi-level ramp building with merchant or business offices on the upper level leaving the park levels open to maintain some level of openness to that area.

    The marina north of the Foundry building could be done later on when it's clear the south marina has run out of capacity.

    To maintain a free flowing walkway along the river, I would like to see a walk bridge along the river that crosses over the marina's entrance. This would increase the areas of access to the Foundry market as well.

    And, somewhere down the line I would like to see the city work with Bay Metro to come up with a trolley bus system devoted to moving people around all the business areas on the east and westside. This to me is better than consuming more land for parking lots. Building parking ramp buildings as the economy warrants and proving the trolley service move them to areas that are to far away to walk to.

    The good news is that after a pause we are back on track to physically reshape this asset which will visually demonstrate to all that it's going to happen. The sooner we do so the sooner we'll begin to enjoy the years of hard work got us to this point.

  • Changes & Additions to Bay-Journal - Go to: History | Featured Websites | News | Websites Updates |

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

    April 1 - Political Biographies. (new)

    In 1924, the Michigan Historical Commission published a series of Michigan Biographies on political figures. These are brief recordings, but most include the individuals date and place of birth, as well as, their political positions as of 1924. The poltical biography has been added for the following persons:

    Henry Harrison APLIN
    Jonathan S. BARCLAY
    William R. BATES

    Mendel J. BIALY
    William J. BIERD
    John E. BONSER

    Samuel K. BRADBURY
    George BRADLEY
    Nathan B. BRADLEY.

    Additional political biographies will be added over time. The individual biographies may be linked to from the Heritage Library in the Writings section in sub-category "People".

  • Heritage/Writings/ {Menu Page}

    April 1 - Residents of Bay County in 1847. (new)

    In 1891, Judge Albert Miller made this document recalling the early people of Bay County for the Pioneer Society of Michigan. It includes the names of many people and their family members and a number includes the place they were from or went to after a living here. We created an index to make it easy to identify the names contained in the document and provided photos on those that have a picture.

  • Heritage/Writings/ Residents Of Bay County In 1847

    April 1 - Bay City Polk Directory 1883-94. (update)

    This directory was originally indexed by name, we've added an index by "location" so it is now easy to see who else was on a street or nearby.

  • Heritages/Places/Directories/ Bay City Polk Directory 1893-94.

    April 5 - Civil War Diary of Mary (Craft) Hemminger of Bangor (new)

    Like so many other young brides, Mary struggled at home while her husband went off to war. Thanks to Phyllis Nilsson, who transcribed and contribute this diary, we are able to better understand what life was like for a Civil War bridge, and the times in which she lived. At home in Bangor township, she was left to care for her young daughter and fend for herself while worrying about the safe return of her husband, Isaac.

  • Heritage/Writings/ Civil War Diary of Mary Hemminger

    April 7 - 1940 School History Articles (new)

    In 1940, The Bay City Times rans a series of articles that appeared in their Saturday editions covering the history of Bay City's schools. The articles give some good details about the early schools most of which has long disappeared. Include with each article was a photo of the school building. At this time we have posted four of the articles -- more will be posted as we get the webpages done. Each of the webpages has a menu that so you will be able to easily move from article to another.

  • Heritage/Writings/ Buildings/1940 Bay City School Histories

    April 11 - More Biographies from Pioneer Society of Michigan (new)

    Brief biographies have been added for the following pioneers:

  • Heritage/Writings/
    - Joseph Trombley - one of the first settlers in Bay City.
    - Sarah (Chapoton) Trombley - spouse of Joseph Trombley.
    - Benjamin F. Partridge - prominate businessman, politician, and county sheriff during Bay Ciyt's pioneer days.
    - Harry Holmes - Contractor and builder in Bay City, 1860-1880s.

    April 12 - Aerial views of Bay City and Ridge Road Cemeteries (new)

    While researching some information on the internet, we stumbled onto an aerial mapping feature available from the US Geologoical Survey. Being of a curious nature, we looked to see what we could find on the Bay City area. The results are presented in three new aerial maps. One is of Bay City metropolitain area, another of the cemeteries along Ridge Road, and the third is a view of the Saginaw River from Bay City to Saginaw. The later two, are a series of images that create an overall composite map.

  • Maps Library/
    - Aerial view of Bay City area
    - Aerial view of Ridge Road cemeteries.
    - Aerial view of Saginaw River

    April 24 - Tourist Information (update)

    We've done some updating to the Tourist page to increase the amount of information on attractions in the Saginaw Bay Area. The idea, of course, is to make it easy for visitors to our area to understand what's we have to offer to them. Feel free to let us know what else you think should be added.

  • Information/ Tourist Center
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