Alfred Leonzo Williams & Benjamin Oliver Williams co-founded what was to become the city of Owosso in 1836 --- 180 years ago. The brothers’ conscious selection and recruitment of upstate New York State highly-trained craftsmen, artisans and designers - set the tone helping to make Owosso a significant and unique community in Michigan.
This section of the 1873 Map of Owosso shows the mill race which ran parallel to what is now Water Street. This bend in the Shiawassee River, with its natural downward slope and gentle rapids, was the reason that AL and BO decided to make this location their home.
Amos Gould, a railroad attorney, came to Owosso from Auburn, New York in 1843. Amos initially worked as an attorney for the Grand Trunk Railroad and also for the Amboy. His long, illustrious career included Michigan State Senator from 1852-55 and in 1860, Probate Judge for Shiawassee County. When Owosso was incorporated as a city in 1859, Amos became its first Mayor. In 1865 he organized the First National Bank of Owosso in his home at 515 Washington Street and remained its President until his death in 1882. His grand home still stands today and is the headquarters of the Owosso Historical Commission. Amos, an explorer, land speculator and later a timber Barron, owned his own railroad company as well as land throughout Michigan’s Lower and Upper Peninsula and Canada.
Amos Gould’s check book from the First National Bank dated 1873. It was the same year he renovated his home on 515 N. Washington Street from a classic Italianate Villa style to the then “modern” Second Empire. On March 13, 1873, Amos wrote a check to Judge (Elias) Comstock for the amount of $23.50.
The 200 block of North Washington St. facing west, taken circa 1880. The small white building on the left is the first Shattuck Store, which sold pianos, organs, music boxes and sewing machines. Later they were to add bicycles and phonographs. Three buildings down is Osbourne & Sons Dry Goods. In 1901, their store boasted $97,552.43 worth of inventory that included “furniture and fixtures, carpets, silks and trimmings, corsets and gowns, cloaks and suits, ladies underwear, hats and umbrellas and linens.” On the far right is the First National Bank of Owosso, founded by Amos Gould.
Elias & Lucy Comstock moved from Pontiac to the Big Rapids, the first name of the settlement of what was to become Owosso. Their 1836 cabin, which has been moved several times and now sits in Curwood Castle Park, was built on a trail, which is now Main Street west of Tim Horton’s, and was open to all travelers to the area in those early years
The Dewey Stewart Flour Mill was built in 1850 near the end of the mill-race and opposite the “old mill site”. It stood where the 1915 National Guard Armory is currently located at the west end of Exchange Street. It was the only mill for miles around. In 1858 the community had 1,000 residents. In 1859, the city of Owosso was incorporated. This photo of the mill was taken circa 1880.