Wednesday, May 24, 2023
Drawing on the Past: Accolades to the American Soldiers of World War One (Columbia Gives to her Son the Accolade of the
New Chivalry of Humanity by E. H. Blashfield)
12:23 pm edt
by David Hohenstein
Image Source: Bay County Historical Society
Columbia, Spirit of America
in the colonial days of the United States of America, as we now know it , the spirit of the Country was seen as something
wild and “uncivilized”. The Land was “New”, “Undiscovered” and untamed; full of beauty,
bounty and mystery. It was just being born, formed out of the rejection of Olde Europe and the quest for freedom and
new beginnings. Out of the clash between an ancient and diverse people’s culture and people from practically another
In those times the image for this new Spirit of the Nation was a goddess. Not a cantankerous Uncle
Sam and before Lady Liberty, her name was Columbia - the rebellious Spirit of this new America. Conceived in poetry and named
in close relation to Christopher Columbus, Columbia was a feminine counterpoint, the daughter of the Old and the mother of
the New. Her image is the symbol for American ideals, her likeness similar to that of the Greek Goddess Athena or the heroic
Lady Liberty of French imagination by Eugene Delacroix. Her image and name are repeated throughout US history in wartime imagery
and iconography, and the name has been passed down in the Nation’s Capital as well as our cinema and music companies.
She lives in many works of art throughout history and in the minds & hearts of our predecessors.
Bay County Historical Society
In the Bay County Historical Museum collection there are multiple examples of her image and role she plays in American
culture, memory and art. Columbia Gives her Son the Accolade of the New Chivalry of Humanity is one such example. Commissioned
by former President Woodrow Wilson and designed by the acclaimed artist Edwin Howland Blashfield in 1919, it is a memorial
and honor to those who were wounded or killed while serving in battle during the First World War. In it Columbia stands centered
in a ceremonial service with a massive star-spangled banner billowing behind her. In one hand she holds aloft a proclamation
document, and in the other an elegant and severe sword. With the weapon placed gracefully on a kneeling soldier's shoulder
she acknowledges and knights him. The soldier takes a knee before the barefooted vision and looks into her eyes from below
the brow of his steel helmet. He is dressed in a full field uniform with his rifle in hand while the ranks of his brothers
in arms stand in solidarity and witness behind them. Blashfield’s rendition is an example of a master artist at the
height of his talents, one with a keen understanding of medium, realism, composition and symbolism. This image would be copied
and dispersed to thousands of Americans and soon after be adopted as the seal of the Disabled American Veterans Organization
Edwin H. Blashfield was born in New York in the year 1848
and lived until 1936. During his lifetime he studied and practiced Art in America and Europe, earning degrees and awards from
some of America’s finest Art Institutions. He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and afterwards traveled,
worked and exhibited throughout the United States and Europe. He learned from academic traditions and honed his skills and
expertise in easel and mural painting.
Blashfield’s murals decorate numerous American institutions including
the Wisconsin, Iowa and Minnesota capitol buildings, the Detroit Public Library, the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.
as well as churches in Washington D.C. and New York. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts by New York University
and served as President of the National Society of Mural Painters. He authored the book “Mural Painting in America”
(1913) which was a compilation of lectures he gave expounding his knowledge and insight of mural painting.
Blashfield drew this image of “Columbia” and “Her Son" and from the original artwork a print plate
was made. To do this the drawing would have been photographed and with the negative the image would be etched into a copper
plate. Using light exposure and a photosensitive coating, the impression is made chemically - changing the surface of the
plate. Once the plate was prepared, printing was accomplished in the traditional manner. The resulting image is referred to
as a photogravure. In this way the drawing was reproduced efficiently in mass and the copies made out to veterans by inscribing
the individual's name in the allotted space. Sometimes copies like these are referred to as “broadsides” - a term
from earlier mechanical printing days meaning one side of a sheet of paper was printed on. These could be widely reproduced
at low cost and often used as advertising, posters and ephemeral art. E. H. Blashfield’s design went beyond a marketing
or advertising tool and became a piece of art, dedicated to the many wounded and fallen soldiers he aimed to honor.
Image Source: Bay County Historical Society
From 1914 - 1918, Europe waged the First World War. After
several years of intense fighting, American President Woodrow Wilson agreed to send his troops abroad to combat the Axis powers.
Men from the Michigan and Wisconsin National Guard were called to service as part of the American Expeditionary Forces in
1917, making up infantry and ambulance units. They were sent first to Waco Texas for training and arrived in France in early
1918. These Midwestern Recruits formed what was called the “Red Arrow Division” and nicknamed “Les Terribles”
by the French. Their fighting was furious enough to conquer twenty-three German divisions in French territory, after which
they captured their opponents as well as their weapons, ammunition and artillery. They fought in three major battles, gained
back the French ground, and became the first American soldiers to set foot in German soil during the conflict.
those who survived the battles and the influenza pandemic, many were left maimed with wounds to their bodies and minds. New
inventions for human slaughter resulted in casualties that reached into the millions. It was named the “War to end wars”,
but in many ways it ushered in a new era of war on our planet. In Columbia Gives her Son the Accolade of the New Chivalry
of Humanity it seems the title is chosen as something hopeful. Columbia, the Mother of all Americans, knights her Son to bestow
on him honor, victory and gratitude. She is electing him the status of a heroic and humble warrior. With this commemorative
art, it is a gesture of recognition and respect to all those soldiers who fought and died hoping for a better world. The work
recalls the highly refined Classical style and with that harkens Nobility. It is the nobility of each common person who fought
this war and gave their lives and limbs, enduring treacherous conditions and terrible danger. It elects them all to the status
of knights as they each played their part in a hard won victory.
County Historical Society Exhibit “Trails Through Time: Bay County Boys, Les Terribles, The 128th Ambulance Corp”
“Artists - Edwin H. Blashfield, American 1848-1946” Le Trianon Fine Art and Antiques. 2018
(printing)” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. February 6, 2023.
“Edwin Blashfield” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. March 17, 2023.
“Columbia (personification)” Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia. May 11, 2023. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Columbia_(personification)
“Columbia Gives to Her Son the Accolade of the New Chivalry of Humanity Anna Cecelia [i.e., Cecilia] Foldese
[i.e., Foldesi], Army Nurse Corps served the honor in the World War and died in the service of her country / designed by E.H.
Blashfield, 1919.” Library of Congress. 2023 https://www.loc.gov/item/2013650540/
“Columbia Gives to Her Son the Accolade of the New Chivalry of Humanity, World War I” Tennessee
Virtual Archive. 2023 https://teva.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/broadsides/id/74/
“Women at the Center; American Woman? Amerique’, Columbia and Lady Liberty” New-York Historical
Society Museum & Library. October 23, 2018. https://www.nyhistory.org/blogs/american-woman-amerique-columbia-and-lady-liberty
Whitaker, Luke. “What is a Photogravure Print?” Bosham Gallery Collect Photography. April 25, 2021
“WWI Memorial Print Columbia Liberty New Chivalry of Humanity Blashfield” The Designers Consignment.
Photos from BCHS Collection
Thursday, May 11, 2023
Did You Know? Bay County's Railroad History
1:30 pm edt
by Sam Fitzpatrick
Image source: Bay County Historical Society
railroad history can be traced back to 1867 when A. S. Munger constructed a line between Bay City and East Saginaw. Originally,
the marshes and swamps made it impossible to build a railroad in this region. The solution was to dredge a canal along the
route and add clay subsoil to build up the embankment that supported the tracks. Soon both passenger and freight train lines
crisscross Michigan and eventually, the Midwest. People and goods, such as lumber and salt, that were being transported by
boat on the Great Lakes now utilized the rail lines. This mode of transportation was deemed less dangerous.
In 1868, Henry Sage and Charles Fitzhugh were instrumental in extending the Jackson, Lansing, and Saginaw Railroad from
Saginaw to Wenona, Henry Sage’s company town before merging with West Bay City in 1877. This opened a line to a Chicago
connection. In 1871, the Jackson, Lansing, and Saginaw Railroad line became part of the Michigan Central Railroad (MCRR).
In 1873, this line connected with Detroit through Vassar and became known as the Beeliner. A rail bridge was constructed over
the Saginaw River to connect to Wenona, which can be seen today just north of the Liberty Bridge. In 1930, New York Central acquired a 99-year lease of the Michigan Central System and the ‘Big Four’—Cleveland,
Chicago, Cincinnati & St. Louis Railroad lines.
Image source: Bay County Historical Society
Construction on Bay City’s Michigan Central Depot., located at 801 First Street, started in June of 1889 and was
completed in August of 1890. On September 22, 1890, it opened for business. The architectural firm, Spier and Rohns of Detroit,
built it in the Romanesque style, and it was considered an architectural jewel. It cost $65,000 to build and occupied two
blocks encompassing Van Buran, First, Monroe Streets, and the railroad tracks. The depot was constructed of Indiana Vermillion
sandstone, had an Akron red-stoned roof, and a 104-foot clock tower with a 6’2” clock with faces on all four sides
that illuminated at night. The building was 286 feet long, 50 feet wide, and three stories in height. The foundation was made
of Point au Barque stone and Joliet water table. Indiana Sandstone was used for the baggage claim. It was a separate building
located directly west of the main structure, which still stands at First Street, measuring at 61x36’.
The ceilings were oak, except for red birch in the women’s waiting room and the superintendent’s office.
Some sources mentioned that their reflections could be seen in the wood polish. The south entrance of the building had a semi-circular
driveway extending from Monroe to Van Buren streets. It spanned east to west with a porch supported by Romanesque sandstone
pillars. There was also a walkway from First Street to the main doors.
Image source: Sanborn Map, Bay County Historical Society
Inside the main doorway was a 15-foot wide tiled vestibule. The only exit to the outside platform
was located here. Uniformed employees guided travelers to their trains. Between the building and the tracks laid a wooden
plank platform. The women’s waiting room was red birch with pressed brick, a sandstone fireplace, and upholstered furniture.
The gentlemen’s waiting room was oak. Between the waiting rooms was a ticket office. The dining room was located on
the main floor. Each table setting contains a silver-plated monogram “M.C.”. A covered walkway connected the depot
to the baggage and express building. The depot also housed the freight and engineering offices, baggage department, and telegraph
room. At one point, the depot had a staff of over 100 individuals.
A lavish stairway made of
polished oak gave access to the second and third floors. On the second floor's northwest corner was the superintendent's office
with a semi-circular window that looked out to the yard. This floor also contained sleeping quarters for employees. The third
floor featured a private office and drawing room for the civil engineer. The entire depot was heated by hot water and lighted
by incandescent electric lamps. Surrounding the entire property was a cast-iron fence.
During the height of rail travel, the Michigan Central depot was the busiest place in town. The train schedule for the
MCRR ran from 3:45 am until 9 pm. In June of 1907, a total of 24 daily departures and arrivals on the Michigan Central Line
were made at this depot and the west side depot on Marquette; including the Detroit Express, the Chicago Special, Saginaw
Division Local, Mackinaw & Marquette, Duluth Special, Vassar Trains, Saginaw, and Midland Accom.
Image source: Present day baggage department. Taken by Sam Fitzpatrick,
The depot remained busy until after World War II. Rail travel saw a decline with the
growing popularity of air travel and the affordability of automobiles. The depot closed in 1958, transitioning service to
the west side depot on Marquette Avenue.
The vacant building suffered fires in 1948 and 1963.
The cause of the first fire was the result of defective wiring on the third floor. The second fire was started by children
who ignited paper stuffed in rafters. In 1964, the building was razed to make way for a warehouse for Northern Tobacco and
Candy Company. The same week it came down, The Beeliner made its last run from the Pere Marquette Depot, marking the end of
96 years of passenger rail travel in Bay County.
Today, all that remains of the former
depot is the baggage building on First Street across from Maplewood Manor and Baytown Family Neighborhood.
BCHS Vertical Files
“Era of Passenger Rail Service Fading” Bay City Times. February 23,
Veterans Looks Back” Bay City Times. February 9, 1964.
Fans Ride ‘Beeliner’ to Oblivion” Bay City Times. March 22, 1964.
“AND DOWN SHE GOES” Bay City Times. February 20, 1964.
“Railroad Passenger Depot Is a Vanishing American Institution” Bay City Times.
“New Central Depot.” Bay City Times Tribune. June 11, 1890.
“Imposing Edifices” Bay City Tribune. October 11, 1891.
Atlas of Bay City, Mich. Chicago, Il: Published By The Rascher Insurance Map Publishing
Michigan’s Railroad History 1824-2014. Lansing, MI. Published by the Michigan Department of Transportation
Wednesday, April 12, 2023
Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame: Bay City’s First Pop Music Festival
12:03 pm edt
Gary (Dr. J) Johnson
Image: The audience at Roll-Air Outdoor Skating Rink. Source: Gary Johnson
On August 26,
1969, the 1st Michigan Pop Festival, became the biggest rock and roll event in Bay City, Michigan, during the 1960s.
It drew an estimated 4,000 music lovers to the Roll-Air outdoor skating rink on State Park Drive for a day-long show that
featured some of the state’s finest bands.
Although this type of event was new to Bay City,
similar festivals had been held in cities across the state, the first being Detroit’s Belle Isle Love-In followed by
the Southfield Pop Festival in 1967. Festivals in 1968 included the first Saugatuck Pop Festival, the Oakland Pop Festival,
Detroit’s Dialogue ’68, and the Kalamazoo Pop Festival.
The festival movement blossomed
in Michigan in 1969. Detroit staged three more large music events that year, and by early August there had also been pop/rock
festivals held in Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Midland, Kalamazoo, Saugatuck, Petoskey, Mt. Clemens, and at Delta Community College.
Image: Crowd outside the Roll-Air skating rink. Source: Gary Johnson
less than two weeks after the nationally acclaimed Woodstock Festival held at Max Yasgur’s 600-acre dairy farm, near
the town of Bethel, New York. The 1st Michigan Pop Festival, with an estimated crowd of 4,000, paled in comparison
to Woodstock’s 400,000 attendees and 32 performing acts. Numbers aside, however, the Bay City event and the other 1969
festivals in the state occurred at what seemed to be a peak time for Michigan rock and roll bands.
the previous year, a number of the state’s top groups had signed recording contracts with nationally-known labels and
had already released albums. The Bob Seger System and SRC were signed to Capitol, The Frost with Vanguard,
The Amboy Dukes were on Mainstream, Frijid Pink was signed to Parrot, and both the MC5 and The Stooges were on Elektra Records.
The Rationals had inked a contract with Crewe Records and were working on their debut album; and a new group called
Grand Funk Railroad had recently signed with Capitol Records even though they had formed just months earlier.
addition, some of the Michigan bands had also enjoyed hit singles on Billboard’s Hot 100 during the past 12
months. Both The Amboy Dukes’ “Journey To The Center Of The Mind”, and the Bob Seger
System’s “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man” were Top 20 hits; and the MC5’s controversial “Kick
Out The Jams” also charted early in 1969.
Roll-Air was a walled-in outdoor skating facility
that, along with Putt Tee miniature golf and Tony’s Amusement Park, was part of a popular summer entertainment complex
located just west of Bay City State Park. The owners were two married couples who were also educators in
Bay City schools. Bob and Ilene Darbee and Octavian and Chris Gavrila had purchased the properties in the 1960s and had turned
the Roll-Air skating rink into a weekly rock and roll hotspot.
Image: Rationals at Roll-Air Pop Festival. Source: Gary Johnson
accomplished this by partnering with DJs Bob Dyer and Dick Fabian from WKNX-AM to host teen dances and the extremely popular
Battle of the Bands competitions on Tuesday nights. After a few years, the rock and roll nights had evolved
into concerts featuring top Detroit-area bands. It was common for these weekly events to attract 2,000
teens into the 70 ft. x 206 ft. concrete-floored skating rink.
According to the Bay City Times
article ‘Pop Festival Draws Thousands’, published the next day on August 27th, three organizations
– Tony’s Amusement Park, WKNX Radio, and Mike Quatro Inc. – collaborated to bring the festival to Bay City.
Bob Darbee and Octavian Gavrila, owners of Tony’s Park and Roll-Air, organized the operation and the physical plant.
Quatro provided the entertainment, and WKNX with Bob Dyer added the publicity and co-sponsored the event.
Dyer was already a legend at WKNX, mid-Michigan’s most popular AM station in the 1960s. He had joined
the station in 1950 and, in those pre-rock days, had hosted live country music shows on the air and booked country acts at
the Saginaw Auditorium. When WKNX-TV started broadcasting in 1953, Dyer was one of the station’s
early on-air personalities. By the mid-1950s, Dyer smoothly moved into playing rock and roll on his daily
show and quickly became one of the area’s most popular DJs.
Dyer was honored by Billboard
magazine in 1960 and also received an accolade from Michigan governor G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams for his on-air
achievements. After co-hosting the weekly Battle of the Bands for three years at Roll-Air, Dyer, along with fellow DJ Dick
Fabian, started renting the gymnasium at the Saginaw Y.M.C.A. for Saturday dance/concerts that they called the Y A-Go-Go.
Booking national acts through the famous William Morris Agency, Dyer and Fabian brought performers like Simon &
Garfunkel, the Dave Clark Five, Glen Campbell, and the Lovin’ Spoonful to their Saginaw events.
the entire story of the festival at: https://michiganrockandrolllegends.com/index.php/blog/186-bay-city-s-1st-michigan-pop-festival
Enjoy more great Michigan rock and roll history by visiting the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends
Hall of Fame exhibit at the Historical Museum of Bay County.
Monday, April 3, 2023
In the Stacks with Jamie Kramer: South Bay City Fire, 1892
2:28 pm edt
Image: View looking North on
Broadway. The left side of the photograph is where Miller & Turner would have been located. Source: Bay County Historical
In July of 1892, a fire blazed through South Bay City, which decreased the manufacture of lumber, significantly.
Albert Miller and his family lost significant businesses, one on the Middle Grounds and another at the foot of 33rd
Street in Bay City’s south end. A few weeks before, Miller’s son’s box factory and planing
mill had also gone up in smoke.
The Miller Bros. Fire
Image: Judge Albert Miller, Started the Miller & Turner Mill in 1851
July 23, 1892, just after 6:00 a.m., an alarm rang out from fire alarm box 63 at 23rd and Water. Men,
women, and children flocked to the scene: Miller Bros Mill was up in flames. The mill, located to the north of the Middle
Grounds and just north of the 23rd Street Bridge was owned by Andrew Albert and James Miller. It
was erected in the late 1870s.
Theories were swirling as to how a fire of this magnitude had started.
Some said that they thought it was started by someone lighting a pipe inside of the mill and dropping a match in sawdust
debris. Witnesses say that the fire started at the southwest corner of the mill closest to West Bay City. However,
that day was particularly windy. Gales came in and blew the wind in an easterly direction.
7 a.m., the fire was raging. It has spread to tramways in different directions. The
heat of the day made it even worse for the firemen. There were no hydrants located near the mill.
Unfortunately, the closest was at Water and 23rd and was too far away to use. The 4th,
5th, 7th ward hose companies, steamer Neptune, hook-and-ladder truck, and chemical engine all came to help where they could.
Neptune was stationed on the bridge and pumped water from the river to the fire.
Requests were made to West Bay City
for use of an additional steamer and hose. Steamer Defiance arrived and by 8:00 a.m. the fire was under
control and it was thought that the danger of the flames spreading to other properties was over.
the mill only had $1000.00 of insurance on it. It was estimated that there was a loss of over $30,000.
The fire itself was still smoldering more than a week later.
South End Fire
Two days later on the 25th at 2:00 p.m., alarms rang out again
when the lumber piles of Miller & Turner’s Mill caught fire. Winds were still heavy spreading
the flames at rapid speed. Boards that had caught on fire were blowing into the wind, landing on houses,
and catching them on fire. The scene was described by the Bay City Times a being a “Cyclone of dust and smoke all over
the south end of Bay City.” Wind blew the fire, spreading it, across Harrison Street and taking out a hardware store
and a row of frame buildings that extending that entire block. Within 10 minutes all of Harrison Street
was on fire. Firemen laid water hose along Water Street. They were not equipped for
a fire of this scale. It ran hot and spread fast. It was called “one of the most serious conflagrations
which have ever visited this city” (BCT 7/25/1992_5). West Bay City sent every company that could be spared.
People continued to ban together to salvage what they could of household items. Items were quickly
taken from buildings that were in the process of burning and others that were in danger.
At 3:00 p.m., a call was
placed to Saginaw for aid. A fire steamer and two hose carts were on their way. Flint
was also called for assistance. Stated in the Bay City Times, “The combined efforts of the departments
of the four cities could do little toward checking the flames,” (BCT, 26 Jul 1892). By 3:15, Miller
& Turner’s Mill and buildings were overtaken.
At 3:45 p.m. the wind direction changed. Harrison
Street was almost completely burned away. Flames had spread to Fremont Avenue and Webster Street, four
blocks away from where the fire started. The fire was still not slowing. Dwellings between 30th
and 32nd Street, as well as East of McCormick, had been destroyed or continued to burn. The
fire then reached Polk, Taylor, and 30th, 31st, 32nd, Fremont Baptist church (which was leveled
almost instantly). Flames from the church went as far as 29th. The fire passed east on Wilson to Marsac, then north
half a block, and north on Marsac, where it cut northeast half a block” (BCT, 26 Jul 1892). The Fremont Avenue Methodist
Church between Taylor and McCormick was enveloped in flames.
The fires burned so hot that railroad tracks were
twisting and warping. The cobblestone broke away. Street car tracks were also curling.
Michigan Central Railroad lost three box cars.
At 5:00 p.m., the flames were still spreading. 1800 Broadway
caught fire and was destroyed. At 7:30 p.m. the fire was finally under control. However, firemen stayed
stationed through the next day. By July 26th, there were 232 dwellings, 2 churches, 30 stores and saloons, 3 hotels,
1 roller rink, 38 barns, 1 blacksmith shop, 1 paint shop, a livery stable, and an office, shingle shed, sawmill, salt block,
cooper shop, and two lumber yards lost.
After the Fire
the end of the fire, the view between Harrison and Broadway and 28th Street all the way through 33rd
Street was an unobstructed view. Trees that had been standing in the 6th ward for “half a century”
were destroyed (BCT, 26 Jul 1892).
“The telephone wires had been burned away and communication with the lower
part of the city was cut off, but messengers were sent there post haste and every available vehicle in the city, slab carts,
lumber wagons, drays, delivery wagons and everything on wheels, even dog carts were ushered into service to remove household
goods” before people’s homes were completely swept away” (BCT, 26 Jul 1892).
Another unforeseen issue
had to do with sanitation. Many privies and cisterns were left open, the tops of them having been burned
away. Not only was it an issue concerning sanitation, but safety. Open wells dotted
the South End and there was worry that people would fall in them.
People from all over came to Bay City’s South
End to see the devastation. Hundreds of people arrived daily from Flint and Saginaw and large excursions were planned out
Image: The relief headquarters would have been around this intersection
in 1892, toward the left hand side of the postcard. Fraser House would have been to the right. Source: Bay County Historical
An emergency meeting of the Common Council gathered. The Mayor appointed a committee of three
citizens and three members of the council to give those affected immediate relief. They also encouraged “liberal, open
hearted and generous people,” to give what they could. They had asked that merchants sell products to the victims at
low prices for 60 days. Manufacturing industries were called to help replace homes destroyed and give employment
to those out of work.
R.B. Taylor had suggested that the $25,000 the city had set aside for the new city
hall, be utilized in rebuilding the burned factories. He had also called for the thousands of feet of hose
that the fire department lost, to be replaced at $1.00 per foot. However, Alderman Switzer said that according
to law this money could not be reallocated (BCT, 27 Jul 1892).
Relief headquarters were set up opposite of Fraser
House. Those affected by the fire would go to the headquarters and request the items needed.
The relief headquarters gave relief first to those who lost everything and did not have insurance or goods, and then
those who owned their property but didn’t have insurance, and lastly to store owners and home owners that had partial
insurance. Food continued to be sent to Broadway Park and the Union Block Store was used for clothing and
C.D. Vail, of the relief committee stated that “the citizens are responding generously to the call for aid,
but the demand is so great we are unable to anywhere near supply it. Hundreds of applications have been
made for us for children’s shoes and clothing, and we have been under the painful necessity of letting the poor people
leave empty-handed. The committee would be very grateful for donations of shoes and clothing, especially
for the little folks. We are also in need of all kinds of household goods,” (BCT, 29 Jul 1892).
Broadway Park (now Roosevelt Park)
Source: Bay County Historical Society
Broadway Park was used as an escape for the people who had lost their homes. Tents
were erected. Grocers delivered provisions for people to be fed. People were stationed at the park to help
care for the families and keep track of the food. They also used the park for the household goods that
were removed from the homes. The idea was that people would be able to claim their items.
are doing everything possible to take care of the hungry,’ remarked C.H. Ueberroth, of the Broadway Park Committee.
‘We must have fed 1,000 people Tuesday and as many Wednesday. I tell you it makes tears come to our
eyes to see the suffering. It is something the people down town cannot realize because it is so aggravated.
We must have help or else the people will continue to suffer. They have not only lost their homes,
but they have not the means with which to buy a bit to eat. We must feed them until they are taken care
of. They cannot be allowed to starve right under our eyes when so many have plenty. We
see children, little ones, barefooted, bareheaded and with hardly a stitch to their back, come to us asking for something
to eat,” (BCT, 29 Jul 1892).
By July 30, 1892, families were no longer using the park as temporary housing.
Housing had been found for all families. Some landlords that owned housing in Saginaw moved some
of the victims there. The tents that had been erected in Broadway Park were still being used for unclaimed
Attorney Weadock moved that Mr. Cranage open the subscription list—many individuals
and businesses gave a donation of upwards of $500.00. The Michigan Central Railroad donated $1000.00 to
the relief fund. They also began asking their passengers for donations to go to the relief.
By July 29th, over $12,000 had been donated.
offered the use of their machinery and workshops for when people were ready to rebuild. Ross, Brandley & Co offered special
rates on building materials.
Bay City and West Bay City citizens were continuously supplying clothes and household
goods daily. Many stores also donated clothing. Walther’s Store contributed “100 cups and saucers,
100 plates, 50 stew pans, 48 10-quart pails, 50 pudding pans, 25 crocks and 20 tea and coffee pots” (BCT, 29 Jul 1892).
Living spaces were also donated. The Arious Society offered use of their hall as temporary quarters
for people without homes. Mrs. Caroline M. Till, who owned buildings on Water Street, opened some of the space to those who
lost everything in the fire. She had enough space for three families and allowed them to stay for a month
free of charge.
Donations came from places all over the state and throughout the country. Monetary donations were sent from Detroit,
Saginaw, Marquette, and Grand Rapids. Saginaw sent extensive groceries to the fire relief.
States throughout the country sent letters and well wishes. Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New
York, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, also sent donations.
Benefits for the Cause
Benefits started arising around
Michigan. The ladies of the Mehan Quartet gave a concert at the opera house to gather more donations for
the fire victims. Professor Walton’s Military Band also gave a concert. Concerts were held at the
Arbeiter Garden Park, where the Third Regiment Band played a concert. The Essexville band gave a concert at Arion Park.
Professor L. Bernstein made a donation of 400 admission tickets to his ‘Museum of Anatomy’ on Water Street
near Center, to be sold to benefit the fire victims. Concerts held at Germania Garden in Saginaw and a
performance by the Elite Minstrel Quartet netted over $3,000 (BCT, 30 Jul 1892).
There was said to be only one casualty of the burned district. Jesse M. Miller was a long-time
resident who had lived in the south-end for years. His house at 415 Fremont was a noted landmark. The day
of the fire he had been seen diligently working to save his home. It was said that Miller went back into
his home to recover the money he had stashed away. However, in his attempt to escape it was too late. Once
the fires were out the remains of his body was found.
40 blocks had been burned.
300 families or 1,300 people had lost their homes. A large percentage of these families were said
to have been “left penniless,” and had little to no insurance (BCT, 26 Jul 1892).
What was not burned was
moved out to Broadway Park. “People were looking for lost articles all over the city, clothes, sewing
machines and other household goods” (BCT, 29 Jul 1892). Others were said to be going through the
ruins and pilfering items.
Image: View looking North on Broadway. The left side of the photograph is where Miller & Turner would have
been located. Source: Bay County Historical Society
No one really knows what caused either fire on Bay City’s East Side in July
of 1892. There is much speculation surrounding it. It is also unknown if the first fire
even had anything to do with the second, as some sources blame a possible spark from the tug “Haight’s”
funnel (BCT, 26 Jul 1892). However, what is known is the evidence that two communities
pulled together to aid both the businesses and families of Bay City’s 6th Ward.
August 10, 1892, the Bay City Times published a poem that was written by Stone Road Commissioner, William Henry, that was
entitled “The Great Fire.” He was inspired during the fire’s raging on July 25, 1892.
The sun was one hundred in the shade
and the wind it blew a gale.
And there was a fire broke out to-day
At Miller’s and Turner’s mill in South
Bay City that caused thousands
for to wail.
It was a little after one o’clock that the fire bell did sound
and soon Chief Harding with all his hosts was at their posts the fire for to drown’d.
the flames they spread both north and south, then east to Harrison Street,
like a hungry lion in search of prey they licked up everything complete;
were they satisfied with Harrison Street and all of Miller & Turner’s docks,
they hastened on their mad career till they wiped out forty blocks.
and sixteen buildings is burned down to the ground.
And nothing but the nails
that held them together is anywhere to be found.
And the trees and shrubs
that adorned the streets and made a shade for many a wearied brow,
What is left
is standing black all over this wasteless track but there is
No leaves upon them now.
Twenty-five or thirty years ago I sold hundreds of those trees and hardly
one of them has been broke
But little I thought when they from me were bought
that I would see them carried off in smoke.
And the street car track was burned
and warped but the company’s force did rally,
And in great haste they
were soon well placed by the Superintendent Mr. Alley.
This is a terrible calamity that has on our citizens fell,
So if you
give me time I will try in this
My rhyme a few of their names to tell.
The first is Albert Miller & Sons, that lost most everything they had
Beebe, Reynolds, Johnson, Stover & Larkin for them we do feel bad;
the barber and Richardson and Nash who kept a grocery store,
Then Gardiner and Laird
had no insurance, at least so I have heard, and I supposed there was hundreds more.
And Silas Forcia’s mammoth store was all wiped out to-day,
all that Uncle Thorp had left was on a wheelbarrow, and he was wheeling them away.
was a hustling time and the fire did roar and crack,
And thousands of poor
people was glad to get away with the clothes upon their back.
thousands came through fire and smoke to lend a helping hand,
things did save from the fiery wave just as long as they could stand.
Yes it is
a great destruction and it fills many hearts with sorrow.
I do declare I can only it compare to the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah.
But of all that befell South Bay City
I will tell you of its greatest
That is the burning to death of Jesse M. Miller, that old soldier of
He was a man that feared not death and to him it was no foe
I remember he said to me one day because Jesus lives, I shall live also.
I remember once he and I were pallbearers and whilst in the burying ground he said to me, I am saved I know.
And he raised his right hand and struck the other palm and said Henry, I seal it with a blow.
Although Squire Miller’s body was almost burned entirely up, his soul with God does reign,
The fire cut him down at a single bound and onward went the flame.
He will be missed upon the street but more so at his abode,
He will be
missed and badly missed in the Union Sabbath School out on the Bullock Road.
he will not be missed in heaven, for surely he will be there;
So let us
like him to be true, and we will go there too, all the heavenly joys to share.
Now many thanks to the firemen of Bay City, for they are worthy of great praise,
I tell you there is few that can beat West Bay City boys in putting out a blaze,
the boys that came from Saginaw was worth to-day a mint.
there is but few that could better do, I mean the boys that came from Flint.
And many thanks to Mrs. George Lewis, of Broadway, who had a bountiful table spread
bread and meat for the firemen to eat that almost raised them from the dead.
Though I have lost quite heavy, I don’t mean to complain;
I will just heave a sigh and let this pass by and go on and try again.
I hope that we may all live to see all those blackened trees cut down;
ones growing in their place and better houses on the ground.
And I hope our merchants
will fresh courage take, although they may feel sore, and build on a rock and have a better stick than they ever had before
And the yards and lawns that is now black and brown may they soon be green again.
I know we have a friend that will assistance lend by refreshing showers rain.
“Up In Smoke.” Bay City Times. July 23, 1892. (Accessed March 2023).
“A Big Blaze.” Bay City Times. July 25, 1892. (Accessed March 2023).
“Dire Desolation.” Bay City Times. July 26, 1892. (Accessed March 2023).
“The Work of Relief.” Bay City Times. July 27, 1892. (Accessed March 2023).
“Additional Fire Notes.” Bay City Times. July 28, 1892. (Accessed March 2023).
“Belated Fire News.” Bay City Times. July 29, 1892. (Accessed March 2023).
“Further From the Fire.” Bay City Times. July 30, 1892. (Accessed March 2023).
“It Is Still Going On.” Bay City Times. August 1, 1892. (Accessed March 2023).
“Mr. Henry’s Poetry.” Bay City Times. August 10, 1892. (Accessed March 2023).
from the collection of the Bay County Historical Museum
Jamie Kramer, Map of Bay City’s South End Fire, 1892,
Friday, March 17, 2023
Did You Know? Holy Rosary Academy
4:22 pm edt
By Sam Fitzpatrick
Image Source: Bay County Historical Society
Holy Rosary Academy located at 512 N. Lincoln
Ave, was a Catholic Preparatory School. The original building was constructed 1896 and located in Essexville
on the south side of Hudson Street, west of the former St. John’s School. Today, this is where St.
Jude Thaddeus Church stands.
The Academy is Destroyed by Fire
Administered by the Dominican Sisters of
Marywood Motherhouse out of Grand Rapids, the Academy remained in this location until 1904, when it suffered a catastrophic
fire. The cause was believed to be the product of arsonists.The fire occurred around midnight during the evening of
March 8, 1904. The three-story frame building was just shy of a decade old. The house infirmarian, Sister Chrysostoma, found
the fire and rang the alarm to wake the building’s occupants. Sister Alexia Flynn slept through the alarm, awoke
to find herself trapped and jumped from her window, resulting in her breaking her low jaw and leg. She was rushed to Mercy
Hospital where she passed away several days later. Originally, the sisters intended to rebuild in Essexville
but decided to relocate to central Bay City. One reason was that Essexville had a history of fires leading
up to the Academy burning, but the Essexville Council voted down a waterworks system. The Academy chose
512 Lincoln Ave. right beside St. Boniface Church and rectory as its new home.
The New Academy
The structure was built and designed by a local architecture firm Pratt & Koeppe.
They also designed and constructed Elm Lawn Cemetery, the Historic Masonic Temple, and First Presbyterian
Church. Holy Rosary Academy was built using stone, pressed brick, and galvanized iron. It
had cost around $40,000, or $1.2 million today. Construction started on the building in 1904 and was opened
for classes on October 2, 1905.
time of opening, the first floor contained a kitchen, dining halls, sitting rooms for the sisters, and two recitation rooms.
The second floor was used as the main floor and included a library, chapel, music rooms, guest chambers,
reception rooms, and recitation rooms. The third floor consisted mainly of classrooms. The
fourth floor was used for dormitories with bathrooms, toilets, and more recitation rooms. The basement
had a gym, a playroom for younger students, laundry, and drying and ironing apparatuses. The building was
also said to be full of lavish woodwork and built-in cabinets. The building accommodated 80 pupils in its
dormitories and had additional day students.
Years of Operation
On June 14, 1906, the Academy was re-dedicated by Most Reverend Henry Joseph Richter on the Feast of Corpus Christi.
Priests from around the region attended, along with a 400-member procession, which included the academy’s
forty pupils. The dedication included blessings, a Gregorian Mass, and other ceremonial events.
Father Wyss, of nearby St. Boniface, served as a temporary chaplain.
He had aided in finding a new location after the 1904 fire in Essexville. The building
only had resident chaplains on and off.
was an all-girls boarding school for 1st through 12th grades until 1924. It had a focus on language, music,
art, and elocution. The last class of all-girls graduated from the academy on June 21, 1924, and consisted
of seven pupils. During the graduation ceremony, the graduates were followed from the rear of the building
to their place on stage by a procession of 30 in the academy chorus. The girls wore caps and gowns and
held an arm bouquet of sweet peas, the class flower.
same year, after a suggestion made by the Bishop Rev. Grand Rapids, Edward Kelly, it became a residential school for boys
and a day school for both boys and girls. In September 1954, a kindergarten class opened. The
boarding school closed in 1959, but the Academy continued as a coeducational elementary school. In 1974,
it became a Montessori program for 3–5-year-olds.
Image Source: Sam Fitzpatrick
In 1954, the academy turned 50 years old and held a Golden Jubilee celebration on October
7th and 10th. It featured many clergy members from across Michigan. The October 7th
celebrations consisted of a Pontifical Low Mass, a dinner in the dining hall for diocesan clergy members, and a Solemn Benediction
of the Most Blessed Sacrament in the academy chapel. The October 10th ceremonies included a homecoming
celebration consisting of a Mass of Thanksgiving, a Solemn Benediction, and other festivities.
On October 2nd, 1955, during the afternoon services, the rosary shrine was dedicated
with the Most Rev. Stephen S. Woznicki, Bishop of Saginaw, officiating. The homecoming event was held with
tea served in the academy lounge by the Third Order of St. Dominic. The outdoor dedicatory rites concluded
the Golden Jubilee. The shrine was a three-figure rosary group statue composed of white Bianco marble set
on a French stone base. Mrs. Joseph St. Laurent donated the main figures, the Virgin Mary and the child
Jesus. The Third Order of St. Dominic donated the statue of St. Catherine of Siena, and friends and alumni
of the Academy donated the statue of St. Dominic.
The Academy Closes
In December 1977, Holy Rosary Academy failed a fire inspection. The Wenonah Apartment building
fire had occurred that same month. In an interview with the Bay City Times, Fire Marshal
Chester Rezler said they had performed an extra inspection due to not wanting another catastrophic fire with loss of lives.
The Academy was given 18 months to bring the building up to code. This included the
installation of closed stairways, removing combustible materials, installing smoke detectors and fire alarms, enclosing the
boiler room, and fireproof window frames, and rewiring areas that did not meet the city’s electrical code. Also,
reported by the Bay City Times, were claims from volunteers who were putting on a festival at the Academy
that lights were out for short periods. It was found that 30 amp fuses were being placed in fixtures designed
for 15 amp fuses.
The plans for bringing the building up to
code were rejected as being too costly. In 1979, the building was sold by the Sisters of the Order of St.
Dominic out of Grand Rapids. Patrick Brady, a Bay City attorney, and former student converted the Academy
into law offices. In September of that year, the antiques and old-school materials inside were auctioned
off. Over one thousand people attended to bid on items which ranged from leaded stained-glass windows,
Bentwood chairs, a Wurlitzer reed organ, a 1904 Steinway Piano, mahogany tea carts, a French curio cabinet with glass shelving,
and a cane wheelchair. Other items that weren’t set for auction were donated to area parochial schools.
In total, there were 440 registered buyers for the 777 items up for auction. In 1980,
the Academy moved into the former St. Mary’s School located at 607 E. S. Union St. The very last item to be removed
from Holy Rosary Academy was the white Bianco marble statues of the Virgin Mary, Jesus, St. Dominic, and St. Catherine of
Siena. They had stood at the school from its golden jubilee until its removal in July of 1979. They
were relocated to the St. Mary’s location where it still stands to this day.
Eleanor Meagher, one of the last seven students to graduate from the all-girls school
in 1924, attended the auction. She reminisced to the Bay City Times about her days at
the Academy as a day student during World War I and the early 1920s. She recalled meeting students from
Detroit and studying piano. The nuns there were well-known for being good music instructors. She
did not pursue a career in music but moved to Detroit to work for the Internal Revenue Service. After retirement, she returned
Holy Rosary Academy remained operational
at the St. Mary’s location until June 1987. Due to declining enrollment and revenue losses, the Academy
merged with Visitation Elementary School and was named Notre Dame Academy. It was located on State Street,
now the home of State Street Academy. Today, the former Holy Rosary Academy building on N. Lincoln is home to Martin Law.
“56 Lives in Danger.” Bay City Times.
March 14, 1904, The Evening Times Edition.
auction attracts 1,000.” Bay City Times. September 16, 1979.
“Academy auction reflects school’s colorful
history.” Bay City Times. September 14, 1979.
“Academy Plans Jubilee Rites.” Bay
City Times. August 14, 1954, The Bay City Times Extra edition.
“Academy Shrine Rite is Today”. Bay
City Times. October 2, 1955, The Bay City Times Extra edition.
“Academy Slates Shrine Rites.” Bay
City Times. September 25, 1955, The Bay City Times Extra edition.
“Bishop to Officiate in Dedication of Academy
Rosary Statue Group.” Bay City Times. September 24, 1955, The Bay City Times Extra edition.
Deborah. “Tale of Two Schools.” Bay City Times. April 26, 1987.
“Contracts Today.” Bay
City Times. July 19, 1904, The Evening Times edition.
“CPI Inflation Calculator,” n.d. https://www.bls.gov/data/inflation_calculator.htm.
“Dedicated Today.” Bay City Times. June 14, 1906, The Evening Times edition.
Fails Fire Standards; Old School May Have to Close.” Bay City Times. March 10, 1978.
Academy in Golden Jubilee Celebration.” Bay City Times. October 3, 1954, The Bay City Times Extra edition.
“Holy Rosary Has 18 Months To Meet Codes or Relocate.” Bay City Times. March 18, 1978.
Opens Thursday.” Bay City Times. September 4, 1954, The Bay City Times Extra edition.
Saved by Donor?” Bay City Times. April 29, 1978
“Is A Murderer.” Bay City Times. March 19,
1904, The Evening Times edition.
“It Opens Today.” Bay City Times. September 30, 1905, The Evening
“Last Girls’ Class Graduates From Holy Rosary Academy.” Bay City Times.
June 13, 1924, The Bay City Times Tribune edition.
“Miss Meagher recalls Academy days.” Bay City Times. September 16, 1979.
“People To Decide.” Bay City Times. February 16, 1904, The Evening Times edition.
Pratt & Koeppe Newspaper BCHS Library
Rogers, David. “Academy moving to west side.”
Bay City Times. February 22, 1979.
Schwind, Mona."Period Pieces: An Account of the Grand Rapids Dominicans,
1853-1966". United States: Sisters of St. Dominic, 1991.
“Souvenir The Golden Jubilee of The Rev. John G. Wyss Pastor of St. Boniface Church. Bay City, Michigan.”
June 27, 1937.
is the last to leave academy.” Bay City Times. July 26, 1979.
“To Open Sept. 18.” Bay City Times. August
10, 1905, The Evening Times edition.