GRAND BLANC TWP. -
Many of you may have noticed references to something called "Whigville" when driving near the Saginaw/Dort/Hill intersection. With a large growth in population over the last several years however many newer to the area may not know what it means.
Grand Blanc Township was formally organized in 1833, pre-dating both Genesee County and the State of Michigan. One of the earliest settlers in the area was a businessman named Charles DeWitt Gibson, who like many early Michigan pioneers, was from New York. After the Erie Canal opened in 1825, creating a faster and more cost-effective means of transportation from New York to what was then the wilderness of Michigan, pioneers began to set out in search of new opportunities.
Gibson was a cabinet maker by trade. He married Artemisia Frost in 1831, and in 1833 he set out with his family for the Michigan territory. He bought roughly 400 acres in northern Grand Blanc Township, opened a saw mill and General Store where He sold and traded with other settlers and Native Americans. As the area became more inhabited, other store and businesses opened and the village was given the name Gibsonville after its leading citizen.
Throughout its brief history, the village was known by several names, including Gibsonville, Dibbleville and Whigville. The name Whigville presumably refers to the Gibson Family's afiliation with the Whig political party, a very popular party in the mid-19th century.
At one point, Whigville grew to encompass the area from the historic First Baptist Church on Saginaw Street to the township's northern boundary at Maple Road. The Gibson Tavern, also known as Whigville Tavern, did considerable business and was a main hotel for travelers between Saginaw and Detroit. However, the settlement fell into a rapid decline after the railroad bypassed it in 1864. As the railroad traveled through Grand Blanc Centre, as it was known then, it became the main center for activity and trade in the township. Whigville reverted to Hamlet status by 1877.
You can still find a few references to Whigville today if you look closely, including the sign on Hill Road and the Whigville Party Store. - Ryan Redding