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A Brief History of the Kawkawlin River

CONTRIBUTED BY TINA VANOCHTENSky Picture

Historical information taken directly from the book: Ghost Towns and Place Names of Bay County by Odeal Sharp; Copyright 1974, Museum of the Great Lakes 1700 Center, Bay City, Michigan, Historical Booklet No. 1

An Indian settlement took the name of the Chief or Headman BOKOWTONDON-Kawkawlin River Area (p. 22)

Kawkawlin was a name derived from the Indian language (p.11)

The Indian name for Kawkawlin was U GUH KON NING or 'place of pike fish' (p. 42)

1819

The Saginaw Treaty of 1819 negotiated by Lewis Cass with the Chippewa Indians opened the lands of Saginaw Valley to the white man for $1.25 per acre. Indians withheld from the sale, large reservations about the mouth of the Saginaw and Kawkawlin Rivers. -6,000 acres on the north side of the Kawkawlin River(p. 21)

1837

Judge Albert Miller, James Fraser ,and James McCormick built the first sawmills on the Saginaw and Kawkawlin Rivers in 1837-44. (p.17)

1839

William Hemingway became first settler in Section 32, township of Monitor, followed by Joseph Dill in 1839. They reached their land by going up the Kawkawlin River in a dug out canoe. (p.36)

1844

In 1844 the second sawmill built in Bay County was erected on the Kawkawlin River by lower Saginaw promoter James Fraser and Associates. (p.41)

1847

The first church in Bay County was a Methodist Indian Mission established in 1847 on Euclid Avenue North of the Kawkawlin River. (p.22)

1855

"In 1855 Kawkawlin had 2 mills, 5 cottages, 2 log huts, several Indian wigwams and 100 million mosquitoes," stated an early settler. A famous dynamite factory was once located in Kawkawlin. (p. 42)

1880-1920’s

Seidler’s Corner
Seidler’s located on Garfield and Seidler Roads, on the south bank of the Kawkawlin River. It never did have a post office but was a good size settlement and a very busy crossroad in the 1880's to 1920's. It claimed a hotel, saloon, livery stable where travelers from southern Michigan stopped to rest horses on the way to Crump in Garfield Township. Henry Seidler ran a hotel, livery stable and a general store and was known for his good meats. There was also a blacksmith shop and cheese factory, two lumber and stave mills owned by Archambeau and Trowbridge located on the south branch of the Kawkawlin River. (p.47)

Beaver
Beaver, on the North Branch of the Kawkawlin on the intersection of Nine Miles and Parish Roads, developed because Polish families built St.Valentine Church. They moved into farm land but first worked in the lumber woods. Catholic mass has been said in the home of John Nowak by missionaries. Enough Polish settlers found homes in the area that JahnZboralski donated land for church purposes. More land was purchased from Ed Tucholski, The church, school and store and blacksmith shop were established. It never had a post office. (p.48)

1910

The North Branch of the Kawkawlin River runs through south western Garfield township and had the Soper Mill, Karbowski and Duford Mills on its banks. LaForest, Confer and the Skelton Mills were not on a waterway. The Saginaw Division Lumber Company at Crump was the largest and Princing Mill, one Mile west and one mile north, was the most famous for the tragic saw mill explosion in 1910. (p50)

McCaskill
On the north branch of the Kawkawlin River, west of Crump, a post office was named for Thomas McCaskill, mill owner, who was the first post master on June 13,1900. The office operated until March 15,1901. (The Michigan manual 1901 shows this short lived post office) (p.51)

The area on the western shore of Saginaw Bay became famous for it's beautiful sandy beaches after fishermen had made it known. Later the Detroit and Mackinaw Railroad brought many picnic groups to the beach Area from Bay City and Saginaw and elsewhere. Picnic baskets, watermelons, ice cream freezers, all would be loaded in the baggage car and off a happy group would go for a day of swimming, games, contests and a big picnic meal. There were a lot of hands to turn the crank of the ice cream freezer and lot of tongues to lick the dasher! Groups also came by boat and by wagon to these beautiful sandy beaches after the turn of the century.
(p 54)