Michigan's History in Poetry
The Rivers of the Saginaw Valley
By Judge Albert Miller
The Kawkawlin I first will name,
A noted stream for fish and game:
And to your notice I will bring
Its Indian name Ogohcawning [Gawaak Ning],
Which in English means the home
Where wall-eyed pike are wont to come;
For at its mouth there then was found
A very famous fishing ground.
The Williams Brothers traded then,
And, with the help of a dozen men,
A cargo there each spring they'd take
And ship them all across the lake
To sell at Cleveland or Detroit,
And though it then no great exploit.
No white man's dwelling then was seen
Along the banks of the Kawkawlin;
The nearest settlement that day
Was fully twenty miles away.
In sailing southward on the bay
On any pleasant summer day,
When off the mouth of Kawkawlin,
The Saginaw was plainly seen.
The perils of its navigation
Were then unheeded by the nation.
No friendly light was there to show
The troubled sailors where to go,
But, unobstructed by a bar,
Its free commerce then to mar,
Six feet of water scarce was found
Between the surface and the ground.
But, when the vessel sailed inside,
In deeper water she would ride,
And on each hand there might be seen
A broad expanse of living green.
The prairie coming to each shore
With groves of trees was dotted o'er.
Thus it appeared on left and right,
Until was reached Bay City's site,
Where there was seen on either hand,
Timber growing on higher land.
On the right, tall pines were seen,
Distinguished by their darker green;
And on the left the banks were high,
And, could all freshets then defy.
Here, in two channels the river is cleft,
The broader one is on the left;
There lies a middle ground between,
Where many hay stacks have been seen.
Upon the right and at the south,
Lies the broad Squaconing's mouth;
To the north of which you'll see
The first old Indian apple tree.
The fine location soon did draw
A settlement at Saginaw.
It is not now quite fifty years
Since Harry Campbell there appears;
A joker of the ready sort,
Always looking out for sport.
One day at Saginaw, he found
A dentist there on business bound,
Whom of him inquired to know
The chance for business down below.
Harry bent upon a joke,
Thus of business prospects spoke:
"Yes, there's Squire Conning, now, forsooth,
With a big mouth and not a tooth:
His mouth, it is so very large,
To fit with teeth you well can charge
So that great profits will inure,
For teeth Squire Conning must procure."
The dentist then on business bent,
Straight to Lower Saginaw went.
This is a work whose typing is in progress . . .