Monday, October 26, 2009

Judge Thomas Webster made his mark on the Bay City area

It didn’t take long for Thomas E. Webster to enter a life of service to others. Born in 1848 to Ebon and Margaret Webster in New York, he ran away from home to join the Union Army in 1864, at age 16. After an honorable discharge from the military, he entered an educational pursuit that would take him from the Delaware Literary Institute to Cornell University to the University of Michigan.

In 1874, he moved to Bay City, Michigan, where he would live out his years. He would immediately make his mark on the city, practicing law and winning election as a Bay County probate judge in 1880. In 1886, he commissioned the construction of his majestic Fifth Street manor, where he would start his family with wife Ella Howell of Bay City, who died shortly after the birth of sons Charles and Warren. He later married Isabel Ingraham, with whom he had daughter Amelia. A house that Webster had built for Amelia is next door. It shares the driveway with the Webster House.

Webster’s service as a teen in the military instilled in him a compassion for others who served. He organized the Peninsula Military Company of Bay City, the city’s first organization for war veterans. Until he died in 1940 at age 92, he was the last living Civil War veteran in Bay City, as well as the last member of the Grand Army of the Republic, also a veterans organization. He lived in his Bay City home — now the Webster House bed and breakfast — until his death. He is buried in Elm Lawn Cemetery.


Where’s the Beach?

I am often asked that question.  You would think that with a name like Bay City we would be situated somewhere on a bay of water.  Bay City is located on the Saginaw River which flows into the Saginaw Bay which then opens up to Lake Huron.  So, where are the beaches?  I have answers!
The nearest beach is at the Bay City Recreation Area 5 miles from downtown Bay City on the shores of Saginaw Bay.  The Recreation Area offers swimming, camping, hiking, biking, picnicking, fishing and bird watching.
 Another beach is located at the William H. Haithco Recreation Area 12 miles away in Saginaw Township.  The park offers a lifeguarded beach as well as paddleboat, rowboat, canoe and kayak rentals, fishing, sand volleyball and horseshoe pits.
The next beach is 15 miles away in Midland.  Stratford Woods Park is situated around Kiwassee Lake.  The lake is fully stocked for fishing and it has a sandy beach for swimming, basketball courts and sand volleyball.  There is a picnic area with grills and tables and trails for hiking and walking.
Sanford Lake Park in Sanford just west of Midland has a large beach, a boat launch for motorized boats and jet skis, a fishing pier, sand volleyball and an 18-hole disc golf course.
Recent guests on their way to Pinconning to buy Pinconning Cheese came across Pinconning Park.  Mostly known for its fishing and its wildlife observation towers, the park also offers camping and a small, very private beach on the Saginaw Bay.  Cattails Kayak Rental is conveniently located there so you can enjoy kayaking on the Bay.
Last but not least, for a day trip you may want to head east to Caseville, a very quaint, touristy town.  They have a wonderful beach on the Saginaw Bay.  So bring your bathing suits and have some fun in the sun. then enjoy a restful, relaxing night here at the Webster House.