ARENAC COUNTY INDEPENDENT
Thursday, Mar. 28, 1912
The History of Standish, by Dr. R. McGurk
The city of Standish, situated on the Macinac
division of the M. C. R. R., was first a part of the Arenac township, Bay County, becoming
a part of Lincoln township in 1882. The town was first platted in 1871 by Mr. John
D. Standish, who owned all the land in the vicinity. The plat was made by the late
P. M. Angus, who came on foot from Whitefeather to do the work, the railroad not having
been built as far as Standish at that time. Before the plat was recorded Mr.
Standish had disposed of some of his interests and the name was changed to Grenton and was
so recorded. At the next session of the legislature, Mr. Standish succeeded in
having the name changed back to "Standish". The first industry in the
place was a saw mill built and operated by Mr. Standish. This he afterwards disposed of to
Cross, Wright, and Co.
Standish was incorporated as a village in 1893
and Mr. James E. Austin was elected as its first president. In 1903 it was
incorporated as a city. Mr. H. J. Randall was elected its first mayor.
Standish was without a railroad until the early
part of 1871, when the Jackson and Lansing road was built, now the Michigan Central.
The train at that time ran as far north as Wells Station. The building now
used as a freight house and office was the first depot built. This was used as a
passenger and freight depot until 1889, when the new stone depot was erected. The
grounds surrounding the new depot were cleared and graded by the Business Men's
Association. Previous to the building of the railroad Standish was reached by stage
from Pine River. The first passenger coach to arrive in Standish was attached to a
construction train on July 4, 1871.
The first hotel in the village was built in 1871
by Sheriff Burmel, of Bay City, and named the Standish House, and was under the management
of William Shillinger. This hotel was afterwards purchased by George W. Shillinger
who occupied it until 1881, when he sold it to Jerome B. Davis. It was destroyed by
fire in March 1902. Mr. Jacobs, of Bay City, built the Jacobs House in 1871 on the
lot now occupied by Mrs. Norn's residence. It was burned in about 1875 and was not
rebuilt. The Sherman House, built by R. Callahan in 1893 afterwards sold to Mr.
Cummings of Flint, was also destroyed by fire in 1902.
The present hotels are the Ryland Hotel, the
Hotel Central, built in 1881 by George W. Shillinger, now owned by Weaver and Nerreter,
and conducted by Mr. S. B. Warren, and the Farmers Home, owned and occupied by Mr. Maxon.
The first store was owned by a Mr. Currie, in
1871. Cross, Wright & Co. built the Richardson building and put in a stock of
general merchandise. The building and stock was purchased by the late D. W.
Richardson in 1875, who did an extensive business for a number of years. This store
and the one owned by Mr. J. M. Groat, were the only ones in the village until the spring
of 1884, when Gould and Wells put in a stock of merchandise, occupying a building
adjoining the Standish House until 1886, when the Wells block was built. Since that
time the number of stores and business places have steadily increased.
The following named firms and individuals are now
doing business in the city. Otto Bernthal & Co., S. Blumenthal and Harry
Blumenthal, dry goods and gents furnishings; Keller & Co., Francis, Smith & Lee,
George Grier, J. Gwisdala and W. Biskner, groceries; N. B Weaver, hardware and furniture;
A. Hanses, hardware; Forsyth & Downer and O. A. Marfileus, drugs; C. M. Schoerpf,
Jewelry; William Gidley, shoes; D. Fish, jewelry and bazaar; W. N. Pomeroy & Son and
D. C. Beaton, agricultural implements; H. A. Hardy, pianos and musical instruments; J. C.
Howard & Son, furniture and undertaking; H. G. Greanya and Claud Snow, tobacco, cigars
and confectionery; Peter Halcro, harness; Nelson Ireland, Ford automobiles, with an up to
date machine shop and garage; W. C. Grottemeyer and James Harrison, meat markets; J. S.
Elwell, undertaking; J. C. Frye, cabinet shop and undertaking; Otto Wendt, photograph
gallery; S. O'Keef, pool room and bowling alley; F. C. Conrad, pool room; John Rancour,
soft drinks; Leon Larocque, shoe repairing; Mrs. P. M. Miller, bazaar and millinery; Mrs.
Hardy, millinery; Mrs. Oetting, restaurant; Mrs. DeFord, bakery; A. Page, cabinet shop;
Chamberlain & Henderson, insurance and real estate; P. Betzing, tailor shop; C.
Walters, feed barn; Glasure & Glasure and H. G. Smith, livery; E. M. Knight, Geo.
Jackson, F. Server, Sr. and August Schauer blacksmiths; Thomas Williams, W. A. Beebe and
Joseph Pero, barbers; L. H. Weaver, Star theater; D. Kiley, coal and ice; Forsyth &
Nowak, real estate and the Michigan Cooperage Co., who own and operate a heading mill at
In 1890, Mr. C. L. Judd opened a private bank in
the north part of the Shillinger building, now the Hotel Central. This was the first
bank in Arenac County, and was under the management of Mr. H. F. Barbour. In 1891,
the bank was moved into the Opera House block, erected by Mr. Judd, did business until
Nov. 1896, when it failed. The depositors received about 60 per cent of their money
when its affairs were settled. In 1897 Mr. A. Forsyth opened a bank in the same
building, which he conducted until 1898, when he sold out to Noble, Sleeper & Co.
This bank under the management of Mr. C. R. Holden did a successful business until
1903, when the State Bank of Standish was organized, which purchased the interests of the
old bank. This institution under the able management of its president H. A.
Chamberlain, has had a rapid growth and is doing a prosperous business.
The Arenac Independent, the first paper published
in Standish, was owned and edited by Mr. E. J. Dunn during the latter part of 1883, and
until April 1884, when it was purchased by Mr. J. J. Decker. It was a four page
sheet, only two pages being printed by Mr. Decker. The plant was moved to Omer, the
county seat, in 1885 and the paper was published in that place until March, 1889, when it
was moved back to Standish. Mr. Decker sold out to Nelson Ireland in 1893. Mr.
Ireland improved and enlarged the paper, added new presses, and a gasoline engine for
power, and continued to publish the paper until December 1908, when he sold out to the
present owner, Mr. Harry Myers, under whose management the paper has been enlarged to 12
pages part of the year, and otherwise improved until it is one of the best county
newspapers in northern Michigan. Mr. Decker also published the Standish Daily Times
in connection with the Independent. In 1895, the Leroy Brothers opened a printing
establishment and published the "Wave". It was a weekly paper. This
was discontinued in 1896, on account of lack of patronage.
In 1895, Mr. George Cassidy built the first grain
elevator, on land east of the railroad opposite the Norn Mill. This he afterwards
sold to the Standish Elevator Co. This Company erected a large elevator north of the
freight depot. The bean elevator that is owned and operated by Francis, Smith &
Lee was built by France and McRae in 1902.
The first church erected in Standish was the
Catholic Church, on the lot north of the S. Tong residence. It was a small frame
edifice of Gothic design and was used for service until 1889, when the new church was
completed. Under the care of Rev. Father Ducet the church has been enlarged and the
Priest's residence completed.
The Congregational Society first held services in
the old school house, with Rev. E. Branch as pastor. In 1882, the present church was
erected on land donated by Cross & Dyer. Rev. Hill is the present pastor.
The M. E. church was erected in 1893, and the
Rev. George Huckle was the first pastor. It has been under the charge of Rev. J.
Bacon for the past three years.
The Episcopalians, Dr. Nimmo, pastor, hold
services in the Weaver Hall. This society expects to erect a new church during the
coming summer on a lot owned by them on Grove street.
The Polish Catholic Church, erected in 1911, has
a resident priest and a large congregation.
The first post office was established in Standish
in 1872, with W. S. Gaily as postmaster. D. W. Richardson received the appointment
in 1873, and held the office until 1889, when George N. Shillinger was appointed. He
was succeeded by Daniel Sullivan in 1893, who held the office one term. The present
postmaster Mr. L. H. Tovatt, received the appointment in 1897 and has held the office
continuously ever since. During his incumbency the office has advanced from a fourth
to third class, three rural routes have been established and a postal savings department
In April 1892, the question of removing the
County Seat from Omer to Standish was submitted to the voters of the county and carried by
a substantial majority. On May 10th of the same year the books and records of the
county were officially moved to Standish. The county officers had quarters in the
Opera House block, and the session of the circuit court was held in the Opera House until
the new court house was completed. Mr. C. L. Judd contributed three thousand dollars
and the Standish Business Men's Association one thousand dollars toward the erection of
the present court house. The following citizens of Standish have held county
offices: Sheriffs, - George Hannon, the first sheriff of Arenac county; George W.
Shillinger, George Robinson and Alexander Caldwell; Judge of probate, - J. S.
Elwell; P. M. Angus, county treasurer; James J. Decker and R. J. White, county
clerk; prosecuting attorney, - M. D. Snow, S. E. Hayes, J. J. McCarthy and B. J.
Henderson; register of deeds H. A. Chamberlain. Ex Sheriff Weaver, who served two
terms, was elected while a resident of Omer. James Glasure, who also held the office
two terms, was elected from Deep River township. The late W. N. Pomeroy was a
resident of Adams township when first elected.
George Glasure is the present School
Commissioner. The present Judge of Probate J. W. Dunn, was elected from Moffatt
township and has become a resident of Standish. Three citizens of Standish have been
members of the State Legislature, viz.; W. R. Dyer and J. J. McCarthy,
representatives and A. Forsyth, Senator.
The first school house was built in Standish in
1871 on the lot now occupied by the primary school building. Mr. S. R. Hobler, now
of Bay City, was the first teacher.
The first fraternal society organized in Standish
was the K. of L. assembly. This society developed into a strong organization, but
was later disbanded. The Odd Fellows Lodge was organized in 1887. Bowring
Lodge F. & A. M., in 1895, and the Forresters in 1890. The Maccabees, Lady
Maccabees, Woodmen, Eastern Star, Yeomen and Gleaners have organizations with a large
Standish was first lighted by electricity in
1896. The Standish Electric Co.; organized by parties from AuSable, installed a
direct current system. The dynamo was installed in a building on a lot now occupied
by the bean elevator. In 1897 an alternating current machine was installed for
commercial lighting. The streets were lighted by arc lamps until 1908, when a series
of fifty incandescent lamps were installed. This number has been increased to
fifty-four. The plant was purchased by the Michigan Manufacturing and Mercantile Co.
in 1897. In Oct. 1911, the plant was sold to C. F. Hall who has erected a new brick
power house and will move the lighting machinery as soon as the new building is completed.
The first industry in the town was the saw mill
built by Mr. Standish. This mill was sold to Cross, Wright & Co. in 1872.
A saw mill was also built by Mr. Lane on what is now the D. Wheeler farm. Cross,
Wright & Co. sold their interests to Cross & Dyer, who built a new mill on the
site now occupied by the planing mill. The plant was destroyed by fire in the fall
of 1883, and rebuilt in 1884. Cross & Dyer sold their interests to C. L. Judd,
who sold the mill to the late James Norn, who continued to operate it until about 1902,
when it was destroyed by fire.
Austin & Co. built a large band saw mill in
1890 on the north side of the mill pond and operated it until 1893, when it was
dismantled. The buildings now occupied by the International Milk Prod. Co. were
erected in 1894 by the Star Woodenware Co., who manufactured tubs and pails for two years,
and the plant was sold in 1897 to the Michigan Mfg. & Mercantile Co., who converted it
into a heading mill and operated it for four years. The plant has since been owned
and operated by the Standish Mfg. Co., which went into the hands of a receiver in 1904,
and the Citizens Mfg. Co., who operated it as a woodworking factory until 1908, when it
was sold to the Michigan Cooperage Co.
The present industries in the city are: the
flouring mill, built in 1889, by the Grey Milling Co., and now owned by Thomas Milne, who
also handles all kinds of rough and dressed lumber; the woodworking factory of Randal and
Kilmar, under the management of Mr. O. G. Kilmer, does a large business in dressed lumber,
lath, door and window frames, and has recently added machinery for the manufacture of
porch seats. The dried milk factory, owned and operated by the International Milk
Prod. Co., while not employing many men, pays out thousands of dollars to farmers for milk
and furnishes a fine market for that product. During the summer of 1911, over 22,000
pounds of whole milk were received daily at the factory, and this amount will be largely
increased during the present season.
F. Server Jr. has just completed and is operating
a foundry and machine shop and is making a specialty of stump machines. Robert
Ouderkirk manufactures overalls, jackets, and canvass gloves in his factory on Cedar
Street and finds ready sale for the output. L. H. Weaver owns and operates a cigar
factory, and Julius Perlberg manufactures large quantities of brick and tile.
The first physician to locate in Standish was Dr.
Coughell, in 1871, who remained only a short time. The present practicing physicians
are Dr. Gareau, who located in the city in 1904, Dr. G. P. McNaughton, who succeeded Dr.
E. C. Warren in 1906 and Dr. Springer, who came to Standish in Nov. 1911. The dental
profession is well represented by Dr. E. G. Weeks and Dr. Souter.
There are four practicing lawyers in the city. M.
D. Snow, who located here in 1893; S. E. Hayes, at present city attorney, came to Standish
from Maple Ridge in 1893; J. J. McCarthy, who came in 1896, and B. J. Henderson, the
present prosecuting attorney.
Dr. Kellog, veterinary surgeon, has been
practicing in the city for the past five years.
The first telephone line line Arenac County
connected Standish with Omer, the only telephone line in the town being located in the
Shillinger building. The expense of supporting the line was partly paid by the
county. About ten years ago the Michigan State Telephone Co. built a line from Bay
city and opened and exchange in Standish. The business of the company has had a
rapid and substantial growth under the management of Forsyth and Downer. The number
of subscribers at present is about one hundred and seventy.
Standish has only once been honored by the
presence of a candidate for the presidency of the United States. During the campaign
of 1888, the Honorable Benjamin F. Buther, candidate for the president on the Greenback
ticket made a five minute speech from the platform of his special car. His speech
was well received by the large number of people who came from all parts of the county to
hear the distinguished speaker, but his personal appearance did not leave a good
impression. One disappointed Greenbacker remarking that he could not vote for such a
homely, sleeping looking candidate.
In April 1910, Standish, as part of Arenac
County, was placed in the dry column after an exciting contest. The question of
local option will be voted on again at the coming April election. As to the probable
results of the election the writer offers no prediction. After two years observation
of the workings of the law from a moral and business standpoint, each voter should be able
to decide the question for himself and cast his vote accordingly.
A few of the first settlers who located here when
Standish was a hamlet surrounded by dense pine forests are still residents of the
city. They are Mrs. P. M. Angus, who came with her husband from Saginaw County in
1871. Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Larocque, who came from lower Canada in 1872; John Wilson,
who located here in 1872, coming from Ontario; Mrs. D. W. Richardson, who came from
Almont, Mich. in 1872; Mrs. John Ross and Mrs. James Smith, daughters of George Beardsley,
who came to Standish about 1876; Robert Page came from Clio, Mich. in 1873.
Standish is surrounded by a fine farming
country. The land is being rapidly settled and improved, and all kinds of grain,
hay, beans, sugar beets, etc., are produced, which find a ready market. A business
men's association has recently been organized, nearly every business man has signed the
articles of the association and pledged themselves to use their best efforts to advance
the welfare of the city. While the growth of Standish has not been rapid, it has
been substantial, and it has become one of the best business towns north of Bay City.
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