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Saginaw, Michigan. Not a place I had ever really heard of before I took genealogy clients. But interestingly enough, the lineage of several different and unrelated clients passed through this location. For their benefit and my own, I investigated the place that all these people were moving to and through.
Saginaw had only been truly established for about 20 years when they arrived – the land the city eventually occupied was purchased in 1850 and housed only a handful of buildings including a barn, several shanties, and an Indian log house. The city developed quickly, possibly due to its central location.
It was described in 1860 as “An enterprising post city and the capital of Saginaw county, situated on the west bank of Saginaw river, and on the Amby, Lansing, and Traverse Bay [railroad], now in course of construction, 16 miles from Bay City.” Among the amenities it provided its residents, it was “elevated and delightful, commanding a fine view of the river…It contains the public buildings of the county, twenty-five stores of various kinds, one flouring and five saw mills, with a heavy lumber trade, two weekly newspapers…six churches, one union and four select schools, and numerous professions and trades. Population 3,500.” (“East Saginaw,” Central Michigan University Clarke Historical Library, (http://clarke.cmich.edu/migaz.htm: accessed 16 Jan 2010), p.138; digital image from Michigan Gazetteer and Business Directory for 1860, No. 1.)
The elevated part was important…because the, erm, sanitation system was largely a topographical one. You know the saying “S*^% rolls downhill”? Well, that phrase came about because it literally did roll downhill. So saying that a place was elevated essentially meant that it was classy, upscale and not too smelly.