Remember when… | Davison Index

Why would people come to Genesee County anyway? As we have examined our history, there are many good reasons to come here, one being our wonderful Great Lakes and immigration to America which was on the rise from 1830 to 1919.

Genesee County has always been a place of community, hard workers, volunteers and many innovators. We have always had a lot of trees and natural resources to make any village or town sustainable.

Loggers and large logging companies like Henry Crapo (later he became our governor) used the Flint River to haul logs.

Let’s talk about some of the inventions here and how the world has changed because of our city, from being established to becoming the “Vehicle City” as the headquarters of General Motors in 1908.

My family was even in the “sitting strike” in 1837-38. It didn’t start in Detroit, but it was here in Flint.

The Flint Road Cart Company was founded in 1886 by Billy Durant and Dallas Dort and in 1890 the name changed to the Durant-Dort Carriage Company. They were the largest manufacturer of horse-drawn vehicles.

Flint became known as the “Vehicle City” in 1890. Our city was a melting pot of European nations coming to start a new life. It wasn’t until the 1940s-1960s that people from Missouri, Kentucky, and other southern states moved here to work at General Motors. A lot has started in the Flint area, although you may never have heard of it. In an “All About Michigan” book, they mainly talk about Detroit. But you might be surprised at what started here in Genesee County.

Thomas Pettit started the first bottled beverage company, M&S (Moon and Stars) in the 1880s. Who remembers starting a Kewpee’s Hamburgers or an Angelo’s Coney Island in 1949?

The Hamady Brothers grocery stores were started in 1911 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 AC Spark Plugs Co., and Faience Tile 1921 -1933, made in Flint at the AC factory on Dort Highway.

Other things like windshield wipers, a car’s cruise control or many other car parts all originate from here

Many of the diners were started by Macedonian immigrants I have met, such as 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, making the best Coney meat ever and still family owned today. Enjoy your hot dogs on the grill all summer long!

Remember When is a weekly Burton View column featuring historical stories about the Burton Area Historical Society community. If you have any Burton story to share, send an email to [email protected]

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