Taken from The History of Tuscola County, Biographical Sketches and Illustrations, H. R. Page Co., Chicago, 1883. Thanks to Bonnie Petee.

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Village of Vassar

This village is situated on the Cass River, a little more than twenty miles from its confluence with the Saginaw. It is distant from East Saginaw City about eighteen miles and from Bay City twenty-two miles, and occupies a position in the northwest corner of the town of Vassar.


The village is spread upon both sides of the river, and mainly on a level plat of ground, skirted all along on the west by an elevation, which from the river presents a bold and sometimes high and irregular front, that having been ascended brings to view a country whose surface is an almost unbroken level away to the Saginaw, twenty miles distant. This ridge of terrace affords building sites which are most delightful, some of which are already crowned with elegant residences. Upon a conspicuous point on the bluff stands the Union School building, a mammoth brick structure which proclaims the intelligence and enterprise of the community.

There is a general expression to the village that is inviting. There is a picturesque beauty about its location that delights the eye, but its chief charm is in the air of thrift and refinement that pervades its business places and its homes. The population of the village in 1883 is something over fifteen hundred and is steadily increasing, as is also its commercial strength and importance.

The history of Vassar is particularly interesting and important from the fact that its birth and that of general progress in the county were simultaneous. The men who projected Vassar were the ones who opened the gates for settlers to come into the county.

Early History of Vassar

On the morning of March 1st, in the year 1849, a company of four persons, consisting of Hon. Townsend North, the late Hon, James M. Edmunds, the late James Saunders and Joseph Grovenor, swung their packs from their shoulders and dedicated the site of Vassar to civilization and industry. Messrs. North and Edmunds were the proprietors of the place and the two men accompanying were in their employ. They had spent the previous night at Tuscola, and from that place made the journey on ice.

They halted at the mouth of the creek, near where the mill now stands. Some lumber had been sent up in advance and with this they built a shanty, leaving a large opening in one side for a fire. At night they cooked a supper and partook of a meal that perhaps may have tasted better than many others served amid more gorgeous surroundings. After dark they gathered boughs and made beds upon which they slept during the night, and the next morning preceded to lay the foundation of a village.

They went immediately at work clearing a piece of land and putting in crops in order to provide supplies for the future, as markets were distant and difficult to reach.

Work on the saw-mill was soon begun, a dam across the river built, and thus the wheels of industry were put in motion. The mill commenced running early in 1850.

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May 1998

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