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Grand Rapids in 1856

Scene of early Grand Rapids viewed from the...

Who Was Delos A. Blodgett?

by Albert Baxter


DELOS A. BLODGETT, lumberman and capitalist, is a descendant of an early Vermont family. He was born in Otsego County, New York, March 3, 1825. His life has been one of work, of study, of enterprise, of adventure and of material and financial success. His educational acquirements are such as could be attained in his youth by the privileges of the district and select schools, and the later and varied experiences of active business. When twenty years of age he spent a year in the Southern States. In the early part of 1848 he began saw-mill work, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and in the fall of the same year entered the camp of Henry Knickerbocker on the Muskegon river; soon became a foreman, and continued with that gentleman until July, 1850.

Afterward, with T. D. Stimson, of Muskegon, his operations in lumbering were extended at points on the tributaries of Muskegon river. In 1851 he improved land where now is the village of Hersey, Osceola County, which he founded in 1869. There he has (1890) a farm of six hundred acres; one in Clare County of four hundred acres; and in Missaukee county one of seven hundred acres. On these farms he is raising French draft horses. His partnership with Mr. Stimson terminated in 1854; and in 1858 he began manufacturing on his own account, erecting a saw-mill and grist-mill at Hersey.

In 1871 he entered partnership with the late Thomas Byrne, of Grand Rapids, the firm name being Blodgett & Byrne; the business of which was the purchase of pine lands, logging and manufacturing lumber; the latter being done chiefly by contract with mill owners at convenient points until they in 1880 purchased the property at Muskegon known as the old George R. Roberts & Company mill. In 1878 Mr. Blodgett purchased a half interest in the mill of George Tillotson, at Lakeside by Muskegon Lake, and the firm of Tillotson & Blodgett was formed, and continued for six years, at the end of which time he bought Mr. Tillotson's interest, and erected on the same site a new mill with all the modern improvements, that is classed among the very best in the State. These Muskegon mills have done large and steadily increasing business, their output for 1888 being upward of sixty million feet. The active management there has been largely in the hands of D. A. Blodgett's son, John W. Blodgett.

For years past, there and in connection with Mr. Blodgett's other lumbering interests, employment has been given to some 600 men, in the average. In participation with others Mr. Blodgett has been instrumental also in the building up of Evart and Baldwin. In 1881 D. A. Blodgett purchased residence property in the city of Grand Rapids, to which in that year he removed from his Osceola county farm. His financial connections and investments are numerous and extensive. He owns some 300,000 acres of pine lands South, chiefly in Mississippi.

He was one of the incorporators and is a director of the Northern National Bank, of Big Rapids, and is similarly interested in the stock or management, or both, of the Fourth National Bank, of Grand Rapids; a private Bank at Cadillac; the Kent County Savings Bank; the Lumberman's National Bank, of Muskegon; the Preston National Bank, of Detroit; the Grand Rapids Fire Insurance Company; the Standard Accident and Life Insurance Company, of Detroit, and the Leaf River Lumber Company, of Grand Rapids, owning large tracts of pine timber lands in Mississippi.

Mr. Blodgett is the owner of much real estate in Grand Rapids, including the seven-story brick block with stone trimmings at the corner of Ottawa and Louis Streets, completed in 1889 at a cost of $165,000; also a large brick block, five stories and basement, on South Ionia Street, used in mercantile trade. He is interested in the Valley City Street and Cable Railway Company, and has very large real estate investments in Chicago. He takes an active interest in local and State agricultural and horticultural associations.

Politically, he is a staunch Republican, and was a delegate in 1880 to the National Republican Convention, at Chicago. Religiously, he classes himself as "an agnostic," believing in "one world at a time." Mr. Blodgett married, September 9, 1859, Jennie S. Wood, of Woodstock, Illinois. They have two children, John W. and Susan R., the latter now the wife of Edward Lowe, of Grand Rapids. As a stirring, enterprising, energetic and philanthropic citizen, Mr. Blodgett as yet betrays no intention of resting.

From The History of the City of Grand Rapids, Michigan, by Albert Baxter, page 686

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