12 November 2013

American Lumberman

Lumber was a very important part of Michigan's economy.  My Cameron ancestors immigrated from Canada to Roscommon County to harvest lumber.  It's been told to me that my great-grandmother, Anna (Cameron) Johnston, worked in a lumber camp when she was a young widow.

One of the important players in the lumber industry was Russell Alger.  He was an associate of Martin S. Smith, whose obituary was found in the American Lumberman.  Russell Alger's history is of interest to me because his wife was my grandkids' first cousin, 5x removed. 


The obituary of Martin Snyder Smith, who died 28 October 1899 :

"In the death of Martin S Smith, of Detroit Mich., which occurred in that city on Saturday last, October 28, the lumber industry of the northwest loses one of its heroic figures.  A pioneer in the lumber industry of Michigan and who for years has been regarded as of the mainstays of the business interests of and for twenty five years past a partner in the lumbering firm of Alger, Smith & Co., his name been a household word among lumbermen.  During recent years owing to the fact that his partner, General Alger, has been greatly engrossed in political life. Smith was the managing director of the vast business."

"Martin S. Smith was born at Lima, Livingston, NY, November 12, 1834.  When he was ten years old his parents removed to Pontiac, Mich.  His father, being a farmer, his education was obtained in the haphazard way of pioneer days attending school in the winter and working on the farm in the spring and autumn.  At the age of fourteen he entered a store and shortly afterwards worked in a newspaper office...".

"Mr. Smith leaves, besides his widow, a daughter, Miss Helen Smith; two brothers, C.A. Smith, Pontiac, Mich., and F.B. Smith, of Detroit, and nephews and nieces. The funeral, which was one of most largely attended events of its kind ever witnessed in Detroit, was held from the family residence, 120 Lafayette avenue, that city, at 11 o'clock on Tuesday last." [Bio of brother Thaddeus Smith]

For some background about the lumber industry see a blog post at the Archives of Michigan entitled "Life in a Logging Camp."

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