Was the Michigan Town of Burt Named After a Bitter Old Man?
Burt is an unincorporated community located in Taymouth Township, Saginaw County. It was a train station along the Cincinnati, Saginaw & Mackinaw Railroad and a post opened on February 9, 1889.
Not too much else is known about Burt, but looking at old atlases and photos we notice that there was a school, depot, hotels, general store, opera house, and church...but not much else except some homes and possibly another store or two.
It's believed that the community was named after lumber baron Wellington R. Burt from Saginaw. When Burt died, he was worth up to ninety million dollars, which would transfer to over 1.3 billion dollars now.
Not only was ol' Wellington in lumber, but also iron and salt mining, railroads, and handling finances. He was mayor of East Saginaw and a member of the Senate. One of the United States' eighth wealthiest men, Burt ended up living alone in his old age, except for the servants who also resided in his mansion. He was distanced from his friends and family and achieved the nickname “The Lone Pine of Michigan”.
Why the distancing? He was embroiled in some kind of family feud and set out to get revenge...what the feud was about, who knows. But in his will, he specified that none of his children or grandchildren would get any part of his millions after he was dead. The will had a clause that stated all future descendants of his grandchildren would have to wait 21 years after all his children and grandchildren were dead; then and only then would the estate fortune be split up and handed out. His last grandchild passed away in 1989 but it took until 2011 before any of his great-descendants received their shares of approximately 100 million dollars.
Burt passed away on March 2, 1919; the official cause of death: “senility”. He was 87.
Historians and locals have mixed feelings about Wellington R. Burt, some admiring him for his helping Saginaw County's prosperity; others think of him as a bitter, sour old man. This man is believed to be the guy the community of Burt - and a street in Saginaw - were named after. I may be wrong, but it makes perfect sense. I'm still hoping more history about Burt, Michigan comes to light.
Take a look at the photo gallery below for past and present photos and see where to visit the small community of Burt (and pictures of Wellington, too).
The Town of Burt and the Man It Was Named After
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