Sebewaing, MI - history

The Village of Sebewaing, pronounced See-ba-wing, was founded in 1845 by Rev. John J.F. Auch, a Lutheran Minister ordained by the Michigan Synod of the Lutheran Church from Ann Arbor. He was sent by the Church to spread the Gospel among the Indians. Rev. Auch was looking for good farmland for a settlement and planned on doing missionary work among the Indians. He proceeded to set a crude log cabin for his home and church, which became the second wooden structure in the area.  The village was first spelled Sibbewaing, an Indian name for crooked creek, of which one flowed nearby.

Sebewaing Village was incorporated by a legislative act on March 13, 1879. As with most new governments, early meetings attempted to solve troubling problems that concerned the young village. One early ordinance forbade horses, bulls and swine running at large. Another set a fine for disturbance of the peace or use of profane language. Peddlers and auctioneers were to be regulated and exhibitions and shows needed to be licensed. Later, an ordinance prohibited fireworks and skyrockets inside the village. The area prospered through the efforts of industrious farmers, workers in the forests and lumber and stave mills, through trappers and fisherman, and through dozens of tradesman who saw the opportunity and invested their money and their time to establish businesses.

The Township of Sebewaing is situated in the southwest corner of Huron County on Saginaw Bay and contains the Village of Sebewaing and the hamlet of Kilmanagh. This township was organized February 12, 1853. prior to this it was attached for judicial purposes to Tuscola county under the name of Auchville. On February 10, 1857, the Township board officially approved a special act of the Legislature authorizing the changing of the Township's name from Auchville to Sebewaing. As of 1884, the township has four school districts. The township moved into its new Township Hall in 2002, to serve the community into a new century. Sebewaing Township has a volunteer Fire Department and Ambulance Service. The Sebewaing Township Library and Harbor Commission are under the township's jurisdiction.

The first full-fledged brewing operation was started started by E. O. Braendle in 1880, on East Main Street. The arrival of Prohibition in 1920 through the 18th Amendment closed the brewery. The Sebewaing Products company was organized in 1927 and bought back the building to produce malt extract, which was legal, and was used in the home manufacture of beer. The extract company sold its product in many parts of the thumb, and continued until Prohibition was repealed in 1933. The brewery was reorganized and the manufacturing of Sebewaing Beer was resumed. Taxes from state and national levels were increasing, and they cut deeply into the company's profits, as they cut deeply into the earnings of all Michigan breweries. At the time of World War II there were 62 breweries in Michigan, and by 1965 the number had dwindled to 7 --6 in the Lower Peninsula and one in the Upper. The Sebewaing Brewery closed it doors forever late in 1965.

The harbor of Sebewaing became another important venue for the area's economy and in the year ending July 1, 1879 the following was shipped from Sebewaing's harbor: 135,000 bushels of grain; 15,000 cedar posts; 40,000 railroad ties; 2,000 cords of wood; 2,000 bushels of apples; 50,000 pounds of butter; 3,000 bushels of potatoes; 15,000 barrel heads; 4,000,000 staves; 7,000,000 barrel hoops; 4,000,000 board feet of hardwood lumber. 

Ground was broken September 28,1901  for the sugar factory with the first campaign beginning October 27, 1902 and was completed January 31,1903, operating 96.5 days. In 1906 local factories were combined into the Michigan Sugar Company.

Electricity was known and understood, and some villages had installed a few street lights. There was an 11 year wait until the first dozen arc lamps were installed and current was purchased from John C. Liken & Company, which owned the only generator in the village. On May 11, 1911 a bond proposal of $10,000 to finance a municipal electric light plant was passed. This was the beginning footsteps, what is now known as Sebewaing Light & Water Dept. The largest firm doing business was the John C. Liken and Co. who were dealers in general merchandise, all kinds of agricultural implements, and manufacturers of flour, lumber, staves and heads, and operators of an elevator to handle their grain. Besides this company were these businesses for distributing drugs, harness, saddler, dry goods, carriage and wagon, grocery, stationery, and furniture merchants. Livery stables were an important part of the economy, and there was a doctor, and two attorneys.

Prior to 1947, land bordering the Saginaw Bay was purchased by the Sebewaing Township for an airport. A 40 x 60 hangar was built to house four airplanes. In October of 1947, the first students of Hofmeister Flying Service began their training in seaplanes. By 1950 the Michigan Department of Aeronautics, Sebewaing Township and Huron County had joined forces to develop two very good runways. Sebewaing Airport was the only airport in Michigan with both land plane and seaplane facilities; the only airport where seaplanes could taxi right up to the gas pumps. Since the business demanded much attention Frank & Joan Hofmeister built a home/motel adjacent to the airport. Frank retired, after 40 years, the airplane service was assumed by The Bay Flying Club. In 1987 the motel was sold and is still in operation today.