Why would people come to Genesee County anyway? As we have looked into our history there are a lot of good reasons to come here, one being our wonderful Great Lakes and the immigration to America that was on the rise from 1830- 1919.
Genesee County has always been a place of community, hard workers, volunteers and many innovators. We have always had lots of trees and natural resources to make any village or town sustainable.
Lumberjacks and large lumber companies like Henry Crapo (later he became our governor) used the Flint River to transport the logs.
Let’s talk about some of the inventions here and how the world changed because of our town, from settling, to becoming the “Vehicle City” as the then-home of General Motors in 1908.
My family was even in the “Sit down strike,” in 1837-38. It didn’t start in Detroit, but instead it was right here in Flint.
The Flint Road Cart Company was founded in 1886 by Billy Durant and Dallas Dort and by 1890 the name became the Durant-Dort Carriage Company. They were the largest manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles.
Flint became known as “Vehicle City” in 1890. Our town was a melting pot of the European nations coming to start a new life. It wasn’t until the 1940-60s when people from Missouri and Kentucky and other southern states moved here to work at General Motors. Many things started in the Flint area, even though you may have never heard about them. In an “all about Michigan book”, they mostly talk about Detroit. But you may be surprised with what started here in Genesee County.
Thomas Pettit started the first bottled beverage company, M&S (Moon and Stars) soda pop in 1880s. Who remembers getting a Kewpee’s Hamburgers or an Angelo’s Coney Island, started in 1949?
Hamady Brothers grocery stores started in 1911 started by two cousins, Michael and Kamol, from Lebanon, they even helped give food to the strikers during the sit-down strike.
Have you heard of Nicolas McKay of Flint who invented the lint roller (or remover) in 1956 or Albert Champion, born in France, who came to Flint and made the A.C. Spark Plugs Co., and Faience Tile 1921-1933, made in Flint at the A.C. Plant on Dort Highway.
Other things like windshield wipers, the cruise control on a car or many other car parts all originated here
A lot of the diners were started by Macedonian immigrants that I have met, like Starlite, Apollo and Flint Coney Island, to name a few.
Albert Koegels moved his family to Flint in 1916 as a German immigrant and started his own business still here today, which makes the best Coney meat ever and still family owned today. Enjoy your hotdogs on the grill all summer!
Remember When is a weekly column in the Burton View featuring historical stories about the community from the Burton Area Historical Society. If you have some Burton history to share, email History.Mona@yahoo.com.