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A bottom boat lazed along the river bank on a summer day in 1860. An observer could be forgiven for not realizing the single occupant was a youth who would grow to dominate two Michigan industries, log train and sugar production, and promote a number of companies in other industries that would provide invaluable wealth to the developing economy in Michigan.

The shovel bobbed in an infinite back and forth motion, influenced by waves washed against the bank and then recalled in accordance with the movement of the steamboats and strokes that hugged the Saginaw River canal. Its creator, sixteen-year-old Benjamin Boutell, sighed in sleepy satisfaction. The river's rocking moved deeper into the slumber as he basked in the sun's heat and dreamed of sea adventures where he was the central figure.

He did not hear the sounds of sawing and hammering, ships off the coast and other boisterous docking activities common to Bay City, Michigan in 1860. In ten years, the city had populated exploded from just fifty souls to more than three thousand, with more arriving every day from Canada or Detroit to take jobs in one of fifteen sawmills that climb the river bank. Before the carpentry drew nearly forty years later, thirty thousand people would call Bay City and more than a hundred sawmills that were in the river basins from Bay City to Saginaw, twelve miles away.

His father, Daniel Boutell, owned one of the hotels within hail distance of the southeastern corner of water and third streets. Not long before it had been Sherman House. Located opposite the Detroit Steamboat Company landing, it was often the first stop for newcomers to the city. Daniel Boutell had moved his family thirty miles north from Birch Run to take over the hotel, and after extensive renovations, a new single hung near the entrance. Now it was Boutell House, a home from home for Great Lakes sailors who were made to feel more like family guests than hotel masters because many of Boutell's nine children shared the hotel with them

Fascinated by the stories that the sailors told, Ben grew to the beloved of the river and the great Saginaw Bay, the doorway to the great lakes, a doorway which he planned to pass through one day. At the same time he earned his way by continuing to call the fire safety company where he served as the first assistant foreman and helped his father to the hotel where he bathed sailors with questions about schooners, castles, barges and tugs. An infectious grin and a sincere interest loosened the tongues of sailors who liked Ben's enthusiasm. They shared joy accounts with their adventures and knowledge of all things nautical.

After learning a lot about the nature of the goods that moved from port to port on the great lakes, he began paying special attention to the movement of logs dragged by powerful tugs. The task of moving felled trees into mills located in one of the state's largest sawmills, Saginaw, Bay City or Muskegon was crucial to the success of the wood industry. Water transport provided the cheapest solution. Logs carved from Michigan forests flowed downstream, gathered at estuaries, sorted into floating corals, called "booms", and towed by tugboats to sawmills that lined the river from Saginaw to Bay City. From forests along Canada's Georgian Bay Shoreline, tugboats towed boats containing thousands of logs across Lake Huron and into Saginaw Bay for delivery to await sawmills.

Tugboat captains faced many dangers: sudden storms that would threaten to crush the delicate lumbering of logs that formed the boom, boarding disasters, exploding boils and fires that could leave crews abandoned to cooling waters far from rocky beaches. The idea of ​​touching such a boat's fire fired the hotel consultant's son.

His ambition gained momentum in his first twenty years when the fire destroyed Boutell House. Dan Boutell fought the flame until only the melting mill was left. His lungs wounded by smoke, he fell in health until death claimed him the following year. The family's livelihood in danger, Ben immediately signed as a full-time sailor on the steamboat Wave. During the year, he was Wave's friend and in the following year, paper earned him a responsibility for a ship's master.

As Captain Boutell, he took command of Ajax, a steamboat that had recently become the property of Bay City's first national bank. The bank had acquired it in the way that the banks often acquire assets - via ordinary notes. The 25-year-old beginner captain came to the aid of an engineer named Samuel Jones, whose salary the captain was dependent on the ship's revenue and a chef he addressed with love as aunt Kitty and who had both an impressive circumference and an outline of adventure. Ben, Jones and Aunt Kitty ran the trailer that falls with leg handling with just as easy everyday chores as cutting wood for the boiler and handling the boat's operations. The trio cleared the owners $ 6,000 (about $ 84,000 in 2009 dollars), giving the young captain a reputation as a needy ship's master with first-class knowledge of the Great Lakes.

Bold skills were recognized by Captain William Mitchell, the master of the tug. Mitchell admired the difficult youth with the engaging smile, whose energy seemed to expand to face any challenge. The two became fast friends and partners and over time purchased a fleet of tugboats, barges, schooners and freight transports that eventually numbered more than fifty. Boutell organized large rafts containing as much as four million foot feet of timber, making him the single largest craft of timber from the hour. In total, rafting and other bog work for their trailers utilized the service to five hundred people. He counted among them. Even when his assets and his reputation grew, he stopped at the wheel of a towbar or another, five years alone as captain of Annie Moiles, until finally the responsibility created by his fast-growing wealth kept him on the beach.

Although Ben never left behind the boy who probed on the riverbanks aboard a small skiff, the capital gathered as boat owners and the captain of Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron and Georgian Bay would eventually generate additional fortunes. When Ben Boutell, William Mitchell and future partner, Peter Smith joined the timber industry, they had tied themselves to a star that would rise but a little distance before they flared out. When the white pine forests melt during the onslaught of shoulders and saws, the need for Boutell's tugboats disappeared. For a while it was his plan to continue where he had started, hanging logs from Canada. However, unintentional customs prohibited any hope of benefiting from Canadian timber. With a sinking heart, Ben, who once transported an average of one hundred million feet of bread in timber and looked at his boats on the piers, saw.

So it was that Captain Benjamin Boutell, in 1897, at the age of fifty-five, found himself rich but unemployed and eager for new opportunities. Although he was no longer the trim youth who inspired legends, he was still gracious, easy going and, as always, engaged in upset clothing. A sharp mustache was all that was left of a once-prominent beard, and even though he paid close attention to the weekly bill at Madison Avenue Methodist Episcopal Church, he whispered his speech with unpleasant phrases that would have brought deep furrows to his minister's features. has been expressed in his presence. A general portrait, the result of too many dinners prepared under the direction of Amelia, his wife for nearly thirty years, robbed him of his once-athletic building. Even though the body had become rounder, fuller and less capable of alone handling a schooner's rig, the curious youth was still present in eyes that sparkled at the suggestion of adventure.

When the thread went, thirty years after Ben dragged his first log, many who had acquired riches in Michigan forests moved their wealth to distant cities. Ben Boutell stayed put, reinvesting most of his wealth in Michigan. He opened up for opportunities in many industries. Knowing a little about any of them guided his unimaginable curiosity. Soon, he owned large shares of column, shipping companies, machine manufacturers, cement factories, banks, telephone companies, foundries and sugar factories. His interests spread across the country from Boston, where he owned shipping parties to Redwood City, California, where he founded the state's first Portland cement factory. He eventually served as an officer or director in thirty-two companies, nine of them in the Michigan sugar beet industry. He also appeared in the Colorado and Canadian Beets Sugar industries, chairing two Colorado sugar companies and serving on the boards of two Canadian companies that later became the foundation of the Canadian Dominion Sugar Company. In addition, he owned large farms where he grew sugar beets as well as a 4,000 acre ranch in the state's northern reach.

His sugar interests alone would have been enough to keep two or three managers busy all year round. No single individual in Michigan devoted so much of his wealth and time to the state's developing sugar beet industry as Captain Benjamin Boutell. He was one of the founders of Michigan's first sugar beet, the Michigan Sugar Company, where he served as director and vice president. He served in similar capacity at the Bay City Sugar Company. He founded Saginaw Sugar Company where he served as treasurer and held a leadership. He was chairman of the Lansing Sugar Company and treasurer of the Marine City Sugar Company and held board positions in Mount Clemens, Carrollton and Menominee sugar companies.

The big sugar trust, an organization that kept the country's supply of sugar in a steel grip for decades, did not have its support. When confidence grew, he sold his corporation in companies that fell under control and invested in independent companies and kept a distance from a form of business organization that lost favor in America.

Captain Boutell ordered sails of sailboats and boardrooms with equal ease, routinely making investments that led to the formation of companies employing hundreds. But when he went through the portal in his home, he entered a matriarchal society ruled by his wife Amelia and her identical twin sister, Cornelia.

Amelia Charlotte Duttlinger and her sister were born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1850 or 1851. The tragedy came early to the twins. Their father died when they were three months old and had their mother Catharine move to Bay County. There she operated a hotel with the help of the twins when they were old enough, two servants and a bartender. Among the guests in 1869 were Ben Boutell, an exciting young sailor who had already become legends and a man of means at twenty-four. That he was a catch surely does not avoid the message of Amelia and Cornelia, or their widow's mother.

Amelia had a brilliant personality and good looks, and although she was physically identical to her twin sister, she somehow presented a difference to Ben. Perhaps it was friendlier disposition and an unforeseen attitude that delighted her eyes and the kind of smile that will linger in a man's memory. Her butt hair cascades long and full over her shoulders and ended up in ring bracelets bouncing with every step she took.

In comparison, Cornelia seemed more guarded and often critical of hotel guests, many of whom fell away from her strict dressing and deportation standard. Amelia's non-stop references to Ben began to sound like wedding bells to Cornelia. She hinted at her own love love.

The court was brief, formed by the busy schedule of a seven sailor. The two were in love and although the term had not yet come into use, they were soul mate. Each one had lost a father at a young age, each had spent formative years of adult responsibility who helped in the operation of a hotel and each pursued a life measured in performance. The marriage occurred on December 22, 1869, after the sea lanes were closed for the winter. Ben and Amelia looked forward to a long honeymoon that would end when the great lakes thawed in March.

Before the honeymoon was over, Cornelia, in great distress, died on her door to recover from a tragic event in her love life. Then the sisters became inseparable; one would go nowhere without the other. At Amelsi's insistence, Ben bought two of everything, jackets, dresses and hats that were monogrammed to identify the twin it belonged to. In a node to accept Cornelia's presence in life, he named one of his ore-bearing barges "Twin Sisters". The twin he loved called him "Meil".

The only difference between the twins was a small mole on Amelia's neck behind an ear. However, Ben had a secret method to distinguish one from the other: Amelia's features generally showed satisfaction while Cornelia's aspect was sour and irritable. The birth of three sons, Frederick, William and Bennie, gave special purpose to Amelia's life, while monitoring their development to cultured gentlemen in the Green River Town became a special assignment for Cornelia. She had submitted some hope of doing the same for her brother-in-law. His bulk in combination with restlessness made each delicate item within its reach vulnerable to crime. Teacups, glasses, jewelry clips and fine furniture seemed to break and break in his presence.

The sisters decided that the time had come for the captain to establish a home that was large and adorned in a way that properly announced the breadth of his life's achievements. At their request, he bought four contiguous parties in Bay City at fifth and Madison Streets, one block off Center Avenue. Today, Center Avenue displays a spectacular display of residential architecture in the 1800s and early 1900s, for which it has won a place on the National Register of Historic Places. For Bay City's distinguished citizens in the 1890s and the next century, it was the right place to live. Lumbermen and leaders in sugar beet, coal, shipbuilding and other industries built stylish homes that reflected their great fortunes.

Phillip C. Floeter, a prominent architect who had designed the Trinity Church of the Trinity a few years earlier, was engaged to draw up the plans and then built a mansion calculated at Avenue Avenue's dwelling in both size and ornament.

Floets imported Italian tiles and marble into eleven fireplaces and ordered large quantities of mahogany, maple, birch and pine for both house and interior. The food showed Ben's love for the great lakes. It was in the shape of the boat's arch and at the far end stood a floor-to-ceiling mirror flanked on each side by long, mirrored cabinets. Another tribute to the great lakes - bright stones that are transported from the Erie lake and installed in a prominent gable - attracted the attention of passers-by. Panels covered the inner walls at a height of five meters with the area over them covered first with cloth and then decorated with gold leaf. Lighting fixtures were made of sterling silver.

In addition to the storage areas, the basement contained a kitchen and dining rooms where Ben entertained business associates and friends who preferred to push cigars while paying Bacchic tribute to each other, activities banned elsewhere on the premises. Two private balconies opened off the bedroom on the second floor, and a first floor porch ran the entire length of two sides of the house. From that vantage point one could look over the river and hear the sighs of sloops passing by at night. The house was painted green with white trim - with natural color of course. A large barn, which contained four riding horses and a cart, was behind the house.

Boutell was low-keyed. He avoids the limelight that is often favored by business leaders and community leaders, previous speeches, public office holdings, or any of the other successful staircases. Compared to those who mounted pulpits or appeared before Bay City's business and social groups, Benjamin was bashful and almost retired. Except for his mansion, a concession to his wife, which he did not deny, he avoided public exhibitions of wealth. He was more likely to give encouragement to children who gathered on their spacious lawn where he built a sledge for them than to engage in politics and more likely to spend time with their family than on business.

January in the Saginaw Bay region is a cold time. The ice thickens on the bay and the rhythm of the river slows down to a crawl and finally ends altogether. Every day, the warmer days of colder days come as winter sets in to keep the region in a cold environment in the spring. It was 1902 and Bay City was no longer captured by frozen watercourses five months each year. Railways now had to travel to the places where Ben did business. He often took advantage of them to travel in the US and Canada where he attended board meetings and shareholder meetings or to assess new investment opportunities.

When he returned from such an excursion at the end of January 1902, he entered his home where he found Amelia and Cornelia together in the living room. Cornelia's hands were busy writing a shawl, one of many gifts she and Amelia did throughout the year for family members and church members. Amelia's hands were on her knees, one folded over the other, an unusual posture for Amelia, who, like Ben, was usually busy from dawn to dusk.

Something else caught their attention and sent a cold scrub along the spine. The twins were no longer identical! It was true that, as always, their dresses were the same, fashionable Edwardian afternoon dresses, blacks, and in line with stylish slanted methodical views, impeccable with jewelry. Each now carried her hair pulled back tightly and secured in a chignon on the back of the head. But Amelia's features had changed over the few weeks he'd been gone, or at least he noticed an accumulation of changes that had left his attention when he saw her every day.

She had lost weight, her face was drawn and narrow; her shoulders fell as if in defeat, and worst of all had the desire left her eyes. He swung his head to the left and noticed a pair of children's gloves sitting on the hallstand and dripping of moisture on the floor. Despite his appearance, he guessed that the two had come home just before him and had hastily arranged to trick him into believing that they had been there for hours. The knitting needles flashed in Cornelia's busy hands. Her gaze first flew to Amelia and then to Ben. Amelia pretended to rise to greet her husband, but Ben, who saw her distress, rushed over the small space between them and took her in her arms.

He called her specialists and took her to those who could not visit her at home. She got worse. Cancer was the sixth cause of death in Michigan during that period, behind tuberculosis, heart disease, pneumonia, cholera and influenza. Despite Ben's hard efforts to save her, she grew worse.

Through Thanksgiving, Ben realizes that Amelia understood that the end was near. He pulled his chair near her bed when, with a dirty movement, he showed him to be close. With a voice too thin to travel more than a few meters, she made her last wishes. Cornelia, she reminded him, had been part of her life from the moment she was born and part of Ben from the moment he was wedding. She asked him to marry Cornelia to protect the family wealth that would be threatened with division or total loss in the event that Benjamin married another. Marry Cornelia, she said, and everything stays together where it belongs.

She grabbed Ben's hand with the small force that remained and prayed that he promised her now. In thirty-three years of marriage, Ben had given her every wish; he saw no reason to slow down now. He made the promise, then smiled and told her that it was a simple promise to do because she would be right as rain at Christmas last!

Amelia died five days later on November 25, 1902. Ben kept his deathbed promise and married Cornelia fourteen months later on February 11, 1904.

Ben increased the pace of his business, formed companies, expanded others and devoted more time to community projects, such as the foundation of YMCA and YWCA, which serve as the church's administrator and provide free time and money to local needs.

In April 1912, he attended a meeting with the shareholders of the Wallaceburg Sugar Company in Wallaceburg, Ontario. At the meeting's conclusion, he arrived at the Chatham train station for return travel just as the engine was heated. Black smoke billowed from smokestack. The chugging engine seemed to scream Hurry! Hurry! The conductor, impatient to have a last secondary boarder, leaned forward as if to remove the small wooden step that the passengers used on board the train. Ben broke into a race. Just as he grabbed the bar that would allow him to swing on board, the train suddenly ran forward. He was doing one hand, crawling on board but lacking the strength to complete the maneuver. He unloaded his grip and fell to the platform. At first he thought he was no more than badly shaken. When he got home he began to feel discomfort, then pain, then anxiety. Within a short time, he fell into a semi-conscious state from which he died on October 26, 1912.

When Benjamin Boutell entered history, Michigan lost a member of a cadres of bold men and women born near the time the state came. He injected power and a risky attitude in the border state makes himself a pioneer in the great lakes and in the Michigan farm field and in the promotion of several industrial problems. When Michigan faced economic turmoil during the exposition of the timber industry, he ignored safer roads and instead entered new industries such as enhanced economic opportunity in Michigan's smaller cities with the risk of uncertain economic returns for himself while others in his situation benefited. Michigan to remote, safer ports, New York, Cleveland and Boston. For the same, he remembers as a true son in Michigan.


Butterfield, George, Bay County past and present, Centennial Edition, George Butterfield, Board of Education, Bay City, Michigan, 1957, pages 117, 195 (photo of mansion), 89, 118 and 142.

Gansser, Augustus, History of Bay County, MI and Representative Citizens, Richmond & Arnold, Chicago, IL, 1905, pages 491-2.

Gutleben, Dan, The Sugar Tramp - 1954, Bay Cities Duplication Co., San Francisco, California, 1954.

Mansfield, J. B. History of the Great Lakes, Vol 1, Freshwater Press, Cleveland, Ohio, 1972

Evening Press, West Bay City, Bay, MI, Friday, November 26, 1880, related to Benjamin Boutell's mother's death.

Cyclopedia of Michigan: Historical and biographical synopsis of the state's general history and biographical sketches of men who, on their various spheres, have contributed to its development, Western Publishing and Engraving Co., New York and Detroit, 227-8, 230-1, Bay City Public Library, Bay, Michigan

History of the Great Lakes with Illus., J.H. Beers & Co., Chicago, 1899. Vol. II, pages 18-22.

INFLATION ADJUSTMENTS: Prior to 1975 data, consumer price index statistics are from US historical statistics (USGPO, 1975). All data since then comes from US annual statistical abstracts. Recorded on

MICHIGAN ANNUAL REPORT, Michigan Archives, Lansing, Michigan