History of Marysville
The City of Marysville has a rich, interesting history that begins in the early days with lumbering and saw mills and progresses through eras of shipbuilding, automobile manufacturing and the building of the Buhl aircraft.
From the stories of the Native American tribes who inhabited Marysville’s shores to those of the early founding fathers and industrial giants, it is a tale of men with vision and courage. Visit our museum and discover little known facts about the town and its people.
In 1817 Zephaniah W. Bunce sailed up the St. Clair River and settled at the mouth of Baby’s Creek, serving as merchant, postmaster, lumberman, judge and legislator for 65 years. There was no habitation nearer than Fort Gratiot to the north and Palmer (St. Clair) to the south. The pine forest that stretched from Pine River to the Strait of Mackinac was barely touched by man. This was woodland. Eventually saw mills dotted the shorelines of streams in Marysville along what is known today as Carleton Creek (near the golf course), Bunce Creek (Detroit Edison Plant), and Mud Creek (in Marysville Park).
Meldrum and Park erected a sawmill in 1792 at Carleton Creek and was later succeeded by Colonel Andrew Mack – a prominent Detroit man. The colonel constructed a house there which later became the home of George W. Carleton. A model of this house may still be seen on the lawn of Marysville Historical Museum in Marysville Park. The tombstone of Andrew Mack and his wife, Amelia, still remains standing on the north bank of Carleton Creek in Marysville Golf Course.
Another mill located at Bunce Creek was owned by Judge Bunce and his sons, Mumford and Lefferts, which was built on the site of an earlier mill started by Antoin Morass in approximately 1786. The mill was water powered and in operation from 1818 until 1870. Initially it was called Bunceville, serving as a port of call for passenger steamers running between Chicago and Detroit. It was the trading post for Indians and trappers, the post office for Fort Gratiot and Desmond, of which Judge Bunce was postmaster. The judge later became a member of the first Michigan Legislature.
In 1843, Edward P. Vickery purchased land from Cummings Sanborn and erected a sawmill at the point where Mud Creek flowed into the St. Clair River, near the foot of the present Huron Boulevard. He named his operation Vickery’s Landing. As the settlement grew, it was renamed Vicksburg. In 1859 the name was changed to Marysville, after Nelson Mill’s wife Mary. Vickery sold his mill in 1852 to Lewis Brockway and Horace E. Bunce, who in turn sold it in 1854 to Nathan Reeves, Myron Williams and Nelson Mills. Mills became the sole owner in 1862. Nelson Mills operated three specialized mills on the St. Clair River near the mouth of Mud Creek. These continued to function until about 1900. The Williams-Mills operation was the largest enterprise in Marysville up until the arrival of C.H. Mills.
Another establishment within the present boundaries of Marysville was Hubbard’s Corners, where Isaac Hubbard built a tavern, blacksmith shop and a store on the corner of Bartlett Road (Huron Blvd.) and Gratiot Turnpike. Hubbard married Edward Vickery’s daughter, Mary.
From 1853 to 1883, Vicksburg was also a shipbuilding town. Myron Williams built the following schooners; Marry-88 tons and the Mary Williams-88 tons. These small schooners were built to transport lumber from Vicksburg to Detroit and other Lake Erie ports. In 1862 Williams built the schooner Emeline- 121 tons and in 1864 the tug Tawas, named after a Native American. The tug exploded in 1874 killing some of its crew.
In 1864, Williams also constructed the City of Tawas – 572 tons and the scow D.G. Williams in 1874. N & B Mills rebuilt the Clifton in 1866, built the N. Mills in 1870, the Mary Mills in 1872 and the Steamer J.E. Mills in 1883.
Following the lumber era from 1900 to 1919, Marysville was a quiet little village extending from the river west to what is now Michigan Avenue. There was no industry at that time, although there was a rapid transit system to Detroit and Port Huron via the electric interurban railway known as the D.U.R. (Detroit Urban Railway).
In 1919, C. Harold Wills, a millionaire motor car engineer from Detroit, changed the face of the village. Within two years his “Dream City” had become a reality. New streets were laid out and new homes built. C.H. Wills and Company built a factory to produce the Wills Sainte Clair (from1921 to 1926) automobile, whose design and engine were far ahead of its time. Unfortunately, due to the high cost of production and a severe economic depression, the operation failed. The building Wills had constructed was later purchased by Chrysler Corporation and houses the Mopar operation there today.
Marysville was first incorporated as a village in the year 1919 and as a fifth class city in 1924 under the city manager form of government. The population has grown steadily and is approximately 9,959 today. New businesses have sprung up in the area, attracted by our fine school system, efficient police and fire departments and excellent municipal services.
For more information regarding Marysville’s Founding Father’s, click here.
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