Villages Helping Hands

Destination: The Americas

United States



Sanilac County, Michigan (MI)

Archivist: Judy Ottinger


The largest city in Sanilac County is Sandusky which is the County Seat.  Agriculture continues to be a high source of industry in the county.  The early settlers of this area were Scotch, Irish & English from Canada.  Later Germans & Polish came.  This area was mostly covered with large tracts of white pine & the lumbar barons quickly bought up the land after it was surveyed in 1834.  Ninety percent of Buel Township was purchased by such speculators.  After the lumber boom was over in the late 1800's in the Saginaw Valley of Michigan & Sanilac County, the land was left barren and unusable except for tree stumps. The State officials started searching for other options to bring in revenue.  Buel Township is 83.4 miles north of Detroit, Michigan. It consists of 37.6 square miles. Lake Huron is 12 miles to the east.  The closest city is Croswell which is to the East and was established in 1845. The Village of Applegate is to the northeast and the Village of Peck is to the west. 

Sue Clarkston who wrote "History of the German Settlements in Southern Hungary 1996" was also from Croswell. Her Putz family was from Lugos & Szarcsa. Other Banaters in the area are:

Hass from Szarcsa, Torontal
Haupt from Perjamos, Torontal
Haefele/Hefeli - Kolut, Bacs Bodrog
Korche/Kortje from Szarsca
LeFleur from Nakofalva, Torontal
Jost from Kathreinfeld, Torontal

My Grandfather, Anton Brassinger b. 25 Jan 1881 in Bereg, after arriving in the US in 1907 lived in Chicago, then they moved to Sanilac County in 1915, and lived in various towns there: Croswell, Applegate, Buel, and Worth.

In 1884 Joseph Seemann purchased some sugar beet seeds from Germany and gave them to his friend, Dr. Robert C. Kedzie, Professor of Chemistry at Michigan State Agricultural College (now Michigan State University). After those seeds produced great results, 1500 lbs of seed were bought from France and distributed to farmers across the State and the sugar beet industry was born.  The first factory was built in 1898 in Essexville, just outside of Bay City, Saginaw County, Michigan.  Fifteen years later there were 24 factories in Michigan.  The factory in Croswell was opened in 1902 and remains in operation to this day.  Right from the beginning there was more work to do than workers to do it.  In 1902 125 orphans between the ages of 7-15 were working in the fields.  In 1903 900 Volga Germans, who lived in Nebraska, were brought in by train and distributed to the areas where needed.  About 250 stayed in Croswell  to help in the fields & the factory until the season was over & then returned to Nebraska.  In 1904 again the Volga Germans came from Nebraska but also others came from Wisconsin & the Chicago area.  In 2018 this one plant produced 200 million pounds of sugar, 10,000 tons of dried beet pulp, 200 million pounds of pressed pulp, & 32,000 tons of molasses.  In 2019 there were 900 growers in Sanilac Co. & Michigan Sugar which is now a grower owned co-operative is the #2 employer in Sanilac Co.  160,000 acres were harvested. 

Another interesting fact was that between the years of 1943-1945 Croswell had 3 German POW camps.  One of the camps housed 250 prisoners of war to work in the sugar beet fields & factory.  There was a large canning factory in Croswell as well that needed workers as all of the able bodied men had been drafted into WWII.  After the war all of these men were returned to Germany. 

Buel Township was founded in the mid-1800's and named after one the area's original settlers. This was followed by a community settled in 1852 by Ezra Van Camp. A post office went into operation in 1856 with James McGrath as the first postmaster and the community was named 'Buel P.O. '

My Grandparents, Anton Praschinger/Brassinger who was born in 1881, Bereg, Bacs Bodrog, Austria Hungary and Anna Heckenberger, born 1884, Kolut, Bacs Bodrog, Austria Hungary and their young son arrived at Ellis Island, New York 20 Sept 1907.  Since my grandmother's brother was already in the U.S. & living in Chicago, Ill. that is where they first settled.  My Aunt was born in Chicago.  Sometime between 1910 & 1915 they came to Buel Twp.  My Dad was born in Buel  3 Aug 1915.  I often wondered what brought them to this small farming community in Michigan but I now believe it was the sugar beet industry.  

My Grandmother's sister, Marianna Heckenberger had married Jacob Jost in Chicago.  Jacob was born 1887 in Kathreinfeld.  Jakob's sister, Maria Jost, born 1881, Kathreinfeld married Josef Putz who was born in Szarcsa 1875.  I know the Putz family, the Jost family & my grandparents were all good friends.  Josef Putz & his family came first to Buel by 1907 and worked in the sugar beet factory until he had enough money to purchase his farm.  In the 1920 census it states my grandfather was a farmer & rented his farm.  The 1930 census listed him as a farmer but now owns his farm.  I know he lost the farm during the depression.  Did he grow sugar beets?  I have no idea.  I heard at one time he had a fruit orchard. 

Sandusky -

John Haupt (1868-1936) - Born in Austria-Hungary, John later moved his family to the German settlement in Perjamosch, Hungary. Death, 28 May 1936 (aged 68). Sandusky, Sanilac CountyMI. Burial Saint Mary CemeterySanilac CountyGrave Memorial  (Added by Terri (Haupt) Huizenga)

Elizabeth Rollinger (Elizabeth /Oro-Rollinger) Born 3 September 1865 - Orzydorf (Orzyfalva), Temes, Austria-Hungary. Deceased 8 November 1933 - Sandusky, Sanilac County, MI., aged 68 years old. Buried in 1933 - St. Mary's Cemetery, Port Sanilac, MI. (Diana Halas Family Tree)

Anthony Licht - Born Mollifava, Hungary. Married Mary Mueller. They had 4 Children Elizabeth, Annie, Anthony and Frank. DEATH 14 Jul 1937 (aged 84). BURIAL , Carsonville, Sanilac CountyFindagrave

Brown City -

Elizabeth (Koppinger) Himmel, age 88, died December 12, 1968, at the Goodells Medical Center, Wales Township, Michigan. She was born on November 5, 1880, in Austria-Hungary to the late John Koppinger & Eva (Luffe) Himmel. She married John Himmel, February 4, 1897, Uywar, Austria-Hungary, and they emigrated to the United States in 1903. Together they had eight children, Leopold, Frank, Adam, John, Effie, Elizabeth, Margaret, and Katherine. She is buried at St. Mary's Cemetery, Brown City.

Peter Vinande - b. 28 May 1885 Gertianosch, Banat lived in Flynn Twp. which is just north of Brown City.  He is buried at Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery in Brown City. 

Mathias Buby - b. 13 Feb 1864 Rekasch.  Arrived U.S. 1904 & first lived in Cleveland, Ohio but was in Brown City by 1912.  He too is buried Sacred Heart Catholic Cemetery, Brown City.

1906 Standard atlas of Sanilac County, Michigan (including a plat book of the villages, cities and townships of the county...patrons directory, reference business directory.)

Sanilac County External Links:

Cities in Sanilac County: Brown City | Croswell | Marlette | Sandusky
Townships in Sanilac County: Argyle | Austin | Bridgehampton | Buel | Custer | Delaware | Elk | Elmer | Evergreen | Flynn | Forester | Fremont | Greenleaf | Lamotte | Lexington | Maple Valley | Marion | Marlette | Minden | Moore | Sanilac | Speaker | Washington | Watertown | Wheatland | Worth

Michigan History and Genealogy of Sanilac County

Sanilac County Cemeteries

Many districts in the 946 square miles of Sanilac County, Mich. have no meeting places; many people refused to attend anything resembling health meetings. To these places and people this "child welfare special" has gone, this ten-foot trailer, a small house on wheels, dressed up with a cot, a scale, a homemade refrigerator, a measuring table, a baby basket and literature and posters. Hooked on the end of a Ford coupe, it weighs 1,440 lbs. and can be easily moved with the help of a few small boys. Twenty-six baby conferences have been held around this trailer, 1,590 babies and children have been weighed and measured in it. It has appeared at picnics and fairs, in front of country stores and down the long, long country roads where literature and advice and service have been given by the Red Cross nurse.

DVHH < Destination: The Americas < United States < Sanilac County, Michigan (MI)


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