Small villages dot the countryside of Michigan. This shot was taken at Bach, Michigan. The Bach General Store, long since closed. Once the center of the community, these shops were common in the days before Walmart and Dollar General. They served as local focal points one could walk to or arrive on horseback or wagon.
Bach’s Economic Focus in Agriculture in the Thumb
Christian Frederick Bach
The founder of Bach was actually from nearby Sebewaing. Christian Bach became a partner at age 22 with renowned Sebewaing businessman John C. Liken in 1876. The partnership must have worked because, in October 1878, Christian married John Liken’s daughter Hannah. They had four children.
He turned Bach into an economic hub for the growing agricultural area east of Sebewaing. By 1900 the Michigan Central Railroad had a depot in Bach. Farmers from miles around would bring cattle to the stockyards for shipment to market. Bach had a two-story hotel, two bars, a bank, four retail stores, grain elevator, and livery at its height.
C.F. Bach had interests and served on the boards of Michigan Sugar Company, banks in Bach and Colwood, and was a partner in Steely, Andrews, Back and Company. He was instrumental in getting the Michigan Central Railroad to go through Bach in
Biography of C.F. Bach
The following sketch was taken as an obituary from the National Coopers Journal May 1919.
“Christian Frederick Bach was born on March 18. 1854, in Sebewaing Township, the son of Christian and Christina Bach, who had moved there the year previous from Washtenaw County, where they had first settled after coming to America from Germany.
In 1876 he formed a partnership with the late John C. Liken in the stave and heading business. He continued for many years, their mill operating until about ten years ago when elm timber supply became exhausted. He was one of the movers for the location of the sugar factory in Sebewaing. He was a heavy stockholder and had representation on the board of directors of the Michigan Sugar Company for many years. He was also one of the builders of the Sebewaing Sandstone Brick Company plant, and at the time of his death, was president of that concern. He also was president of the village for seven years.
Years ago, what was known as the Columbia swamp was the scene of extensive lumber and logging operations. The swamp was the source of a goodly supply of elm logs for Liken & Bach’s stave mill. When the timber supply gave out, the swamp was a vast waste of land valued at a few dollars an acre. Mr. Bach, with others, saw the possibilities of opening the waste to farming and was one of the strongest supporters for the digging of the State and Columbia drains.”
Bach Retains its German Heritage
Local lore tells that Bach Michigan kept its German identity and that the first English service at Bach’s St. Peter’s Lutheran Church was held in 1930. However, the Great Depression of the 1930s wiped out much of the key businesses, and Bach’s sole bank was closed.
What is Left of Bach Today
Today the village is a quaint stop and Lutheran Church on a country road that heads north to the Upper Thumb shoreline. Bach’s satellite view on Google Earth shows the village with a faint diagonal line that demarks the former railway tracks from the Michigan Central Railroad.
Related Local Thumb Reading
- Pinnebog – Champagne General Store – Shots from the when Pinnebog was one of the interior four corner villages in Huron County. The ruins of Champagne’s Pinnebog general store can still be seen across from Heck’s Bar. Pinnebog has just about faded away.
- Jackson Train Station – Living, Working History – The Jackson station (JXN) is one of the oldest continually operating railway stations in the United States. The brick Italianate depot is embellished with a rich variety of woods harvested in Michigan.
- Where in the Heck in Kilmanagh – Kilmanagh is a place stuck in lore and time? In the Spring of 1891, then this western Huron County village hosted a grist mill or two general stores, a blacksmith shop, and two or three saloons. When these shots were taken only a couple relics of the village remain. The aging general store, a 1940’s service station, and a closed liquor store.
- The Legend of Whiskey Harbor – On the eastern edge of Michigan’s Thumb lies the lonely and rocky cove of Whiskey Harbor on the shore of Lake Huron. The remote area sits on a layer of limestone that makes it hard to build on so it remains undeveloped to this day. It’s hard to imagine that this beautiful remote setting was the site for criminal activity during the time of Michigan Prohibition for over 12 years.
- Hints for a Day at Caseville Cheeseburger Festival – The Cheeseburger in Caseville is a fun way to goof off for a day eating, imbibing, and enjoying the Parrothead life. In years past, official estimates were that over 100,000 people visited Caseville during its 10-day festival.