Pioneering Families
... with Roots in Madison County


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  HON. AARON T. BLISS, M. C., of Saginaw. It would almost seem, to those who have given the matter thoughtful attention, that the two most important factors in the success which has attended the elevation of almost all the men who are now eminent, or who are occupying a prominent position in the world, have been early experience on a farm, and such little education as the primitive district school of the neighborhood has afforded. There are but few among the practical men of this age who have ever received a classical training. Every man who has so risen, has done it by sheer pluck and perseverance. The old adage that it is necessity which makes men, is as true as any of the wise sayings of Solomon. The successful men of today are apt to bewail their lack of educational advantages in youth, having the firm conviction that the possession of such privileges would have carried them up much higher than the enviable point they have reached, forgetting that the time which would have been devoted to study and to books was utilized in a more practical way for themselves. Education is a good thing, but it is not everything. The man who is the subject of this sketch adds one more name to this list, affords another example of what a farmer-boy can accomplish, with no other helps than all farmers' sons can enjoy; but who has the incentive in him to better his own condition. Aaron T. Bliss was the son of Lyman Bliss of Smithfield, Madison County, New York, and was born on the twenty-second day of May, 1837. He was one of seven sons, all of whom had the early advantage--by reason of its healthfulness, if for no other--cause of a life and work on a farm. The district school gave young Bliss the rudiments of learning, and this was afterwards supplemented by a short teen at a select school in the neighborhood. Then occurred the greatest disaster the country had ever known or experienced; and yet this same War of the Rebellion, as it is termed, has been a great educator for the men of this generation. It taught them how to love and value their native land; it nurtured in them thoughts and feelings, relative to a free government like that of America, which no college, however eminent, could so fully and effectually instill. Many laid down their lives for this sentiment. All who entered the army, in this behalf, offered all that they had, and were, on the sacred altars of home and country. Many, very many, of the young men of the North did this; but among them all, none were more loyal and devoted than were the farmer-boys of New England and of the Northern and Western States. Young Bliss enlisted in a cavalry regiment, the Tenth New York. He did more than that; he induced over a score of others to enlist with him. They were all, or nearly all, farmers' sons, and they offered to furnish the horses they expected to ride into battle with. Aaron Bliss had all the experiences which the young soldiers of that day have lived to tell of. He has something more and worse to recount; for he was one of the number who were taken in battle, and who underwent the horrors and the sufferings which have become the curse and the blot upon the civilization of the times--he was in the prison-pens of the South. For years after the war ended, any allusion to this barbarity and outrage would cause a shudder to pass through the listener, and almost a doubt that such a statement could be credited. Captain Bliss lived through it, however, and he fairly won the title which was given him. Three years and six months of honorable war service, and six months of the time a prisoner, with all that the latter term implied at that day--well, no one will cavil or object if such a man is called captain. He did not rest long upon his laurels, however. Life had something more for him to accomplish than to sit idly down and recount his war experiences. And so, in 1865, we find him emigrating to Saginaw City, Michigan, where he had a brother, Dr. Lyman W. Bliss, enjoying a good practice as a physician. As the lumber business was the business of the Saginaw Valley, the two brothers began then to lay the foundation for one of the most successful industries in that line in all that region. Obstacles were met bravely, and as bravely overcome. Fire would destroy their saw-mills, but heroic courage enabled them to build their future mills stronger and better. And, better than all this, during all this time-during the years which have intervened between 1865 and 1889--Aaron T. Bliss has become known to, and loved by, a vast number of people, who have delighted to do him and his brother honor, because they have deserved it. Their workmen are they who speak the best words of praise of the "Bliss Brothers," because they have felt, all through those many years, that their employers were such in name, but that they were friends, too, in many acts of timely kindness. Captain Bliss has been a busy man--that goes without saying. He was not wedded to his business, however, so fully as to have no time to be helpful to the community in which he has lived. In March, 1868, he was married to Miss Allaseba M. Phelps, of Solsville, Madison County, New York, and his home has been one of the most pleasant and charming among the many beautiful homes in the Saginaws. He was a member of his city's government for four years; he was a member of his county's Board of Supervisors; he was elected to represent his county in the State Senate of Michigan; and while General Alger was, the governor of the State, Captain Bliss was one of his military staff. Yes, Captain Bliss is a prominent man, a successful business man, a man respected wherever he is known. Is not that eminence? And so, in the prime of his life, and when his usefulness is at its fullest, the people who knew him best among whom he has lived. for over twenty years--said to him that they wanted his services in the Congress of the Nation; and so they elected him. It is a proper ambition, and he can bring a good, clear business intellect to bear on many questions which the people want to have solved rightly. A young man still; and, God willing, with many more years to give to home and country, family and friends.

Source: Anonymous. Cyclopedia of Michigan, historical and biographical comprising a synopsis of general history of the state and biographical sketches of men who have, in their various spheres, contributed toward its development. New York: Western Pub. and Engraving Co., 1840, p. 146.

 

 

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