The oldest surviving residence on Saginaw County was erected by two of its prominent settlers. In 1844 Benjamin and Adelaide Cushway built this house one-half mile northwest of here, near what is now the intersection of Court and Hamilton Streets. The house was moved twice, once in 1867 and again in 2001 to its current location across from the WMCA on Fordney Street. The broken pediment at the roofline, the entrance with classic pilasters that flank the door and support the entablature, and the simple exterior are hallmarks of the Greek Revival style, fashionable at the time. While built by Americans of French-Canadian descent, the Cushway House was subsequently owned by the Vogts and the Nacaratos, families of German and Italian ancestry – a testimony to the diverse ethnic makeup of Saginaw Valley.
Benjamin (1810-1881) and Adelaide (1812-1877) Cushway (formerly Cauchois) were prominent settlers in the Saginaw Valley. Both were descended from early French-Canadian families of Detroit. Between 1827 and 1834, Benjamin apprenticed with Harvey Williams of Detroit, a notable blacksmith and one of Michigan’s first. Harvey Williams built the first two sawmills along the Saginaw River in 1834 and 1837. Benjamin and Adelaide were married in 1833. In 1834, three years before Michigan achieved statehood, Territorial Governor Lewis Cass appointed Benjamin official blacksmith to the Chippewa (Ojibwa) Indians at the Saginaw Indian Agency. Cushway served in that capacity until 1866 and was highly popular with the Indians due to his standing up for them and for his ability to tell stories in their own languages. In 1844 the Cushways built their home on the site of what was once Fort Saginaw. From 1837 to 1844, the Cushways were serving the Indians at Lower Saginaw (Bay City) at what is today called Salzberg, their log cabin just to the west of the Lafayette Street Bridge.
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