The Fading Days of Michigan’s Bach General Store

Bach Michigan General Store
The Pepsi Logo Still Shows Well Along the Road

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 Michigan
Bach General Store

Bach’s Economic Focus in Agriculture in the Thumb

Michigan Central Railroad Depot at Bach
Michigan Central Railroad Depot at Bach – Arthur G. Nitz Collection c1902

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

Bach from Google Earth
Bach Michigan – Courtesy Google Earth

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.

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Michael Hardy

Michael Hardy is the owner of Thumbwind Publications LLC. Michael was born in Michigan and grew up near Caseville. In 2009 he started this fun-loving site covering Michigan's Upper Thumb. Since then, he has authored a vast range of content and established a loyal base of 60,000 visitors per month.

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4 thoughts on “The Fading Days of Michigan’s Bach General Store

  1. I am a former resident of Bach, Michigan. If you need odd information, I can provide. Sorry, I have lost all photos I had of several things that once were. But I can name who lived where and about when.

      1. Well, I love history mike, and always loved that big old store in Bach,mi. What I am looking for is souvenir glass from Bach,mi. I do library displays at the Caro,mi library on history. I am doing a display on history across the thumb. Do you know of anyone who may have glass fro Bach that I could use in my library displays. Call me at 989-672-6435. Thanks, Rick

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