The History of Genesee County, MI
Chapter IV
The Professions

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Clayton



The professions of law and medicine were not represented in early Flint. The first resident attorney in the county, however, lived in Fentonville. He was Philip H. McOmber. About 1832 he came to Michigan from Saratoga county, New York, practicing first in the Oakland county courts, but removing in 1834 to Fenton township. Hon. William M. Fenton, who knew him very well, says of him that his talents as a lawyer were of a superior quality. He not only stood high as a lawyer, but was most highly esteemed as an honest and public-spirited citizen and a hospitable gentleman. He was the first prosecuting attorney of Genesee county. His death occurred about 1844. The first resident attorney in flint, who settled here in 1836, had also previously practiced law in Oakland, to which, after a few years, he returned; this was Thomas J. Drake. According to Judge Baldwin, Mr. Drake was connected as counsel with most of the leading cases in northern Michigan during a long term of years, and was always happy and in his element when advocating the interest of the people. He was senator from Genesee county from 1839 to 1842. The same year Mr. Drake settled in Flint, 1826, came John Bartow, who was soon after appointed register in the land office. He was elected state senator in 1837. In partnership with Mr. Bartow was Edward H. Thomson, who had been a student in the office of Millard Fillmore, afterwards President of the United States. He had practiced in New York. He came to Flint in 1838. In 1845-6 he was prosecuting attorney for Genesee county and was state senator from Genesee for the years 1848 and 1849. He also served in the lower house and filled many other important offices.

As with the lawyers so with the doctors--the first physicians who served the settlers of Genesee county came from the neighboring Oakland. Among these pioneers of the profession were David L. Porter, J. B. Richardson and Olmstead Chamberlain. The most frequently employed was Doctor Chamberlain, although he was not compelled to rely on his profession for a livelihood and did not follow it as a regular business. He was present with Colonel Cronk in the fatal sickness of the latter at Flint in 1832. The first physician to locate and practice in the county was Dr. Cyrus Baldwin, who settled at Grand Blanc in the spring of 1833, where he became a deacon in the Presbyterian church. In the following year Dr. John W. King located in the same settlement and for many years was a mighty influence for moral and spiritual, as well as the physical health of Genesee county. The first resident physician in flint as Dr. John A. Hoyes, who settled here in 1835. He was a graduate of the medical school at Fairfield, Herkimer county, New York. About 1847 his health began to fail and two years later, on December 20, he died at Flint, aged forty-three years. Another of the earliest physicians in Flint was Doctor Richardson, who came about 1837, but removed west soon after 1840. Thus in the professional as well as the business and social life of Flint there has been considerable progress by the time Michigan was formally admitted to statehood.

The rapid growth of flint, and its condition at the time Michigan became a state, is fairly reflected in Blois' "Gazetteer of Michigan":

"Flint: A village postoffice and seat of justice for Genesee county, situated on flint river. It has a banking association, an edge tool factory, saw-mill, two dry goods stores, two groceries, two physicians, a lawyer and the land office for the Saginaw land district. The United States road passes through it. There is a good supply of water-power in and around it. The emigration to this place has been very great the past two years, and still continues. The village is flourishing and the country around it is excellent. It is estimated to contain three thousand families."


History of Genesee County, Michigan, Her People, Industries and Institutions
by Edwin O. Wood, LL.D, President Michigan Historical Commission, 1916

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

HTML by Deb

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