The first known European to visit the Saginaw Area was Father Henri Nouvel back in 1675. Father Nouvel was a Jesuit Priest from St. Ignace. From that time to 1819 the people of the Saginaw area were the Sauk and Chippewa Native American tribes, European fur trappers and traders also lived with them. In 1819, however, Europeans established a permanent settlement that would draw families into Saginaw. The treaty of Saginaw was also signed in 1819 which would take land from Native American tribes and added them to the US territory. Fort Saginaw was established in 1822, only three years later, and was abandoned by the military the following year. The commander of Fort Saginaw would say “Nothing but Indians, muskrats, and bull frogs could possibly subsist here” to explain his abandoning Fort Saginaw.
An act put in place January 28, 1835 organized Saginaw County as an official state recognized after the Saginaw Township was organized in 1830. In 1847 the first shipment of Pine is sent to New York from Saginaw. This shipment creates a massive demand for Saginaw’s high quality lumber in the east. A plank road was built from Flint to Saginaw in 1850 by Norman Little. At this time East Saginaw is expanding much faster than Saginaw City to the west. There is not yet a bridge to cross easily and so the separation of the east and west begins.