Monday, December 25, 2006

John Bagley - and Bagley, the Dog in the D

Merry Christmas, Detroit!

It was a very merry one for me. My husband and I expanded our family with a new puppy, Bagley.

Why Bagley?

If you're familiar with Detroit, you already know about Bagley street, located on the city's near west side.

What you may not know is the street was named in honor of John J. Bagley, a Detroit resident.

Who was John J. Bagley?

Born in Medina, New York in 1832, John J. Bagley moved to Detroit during his mid-teens. Bagley's family didn't have much money, so he began working as an apprentice for tobacconist-Isaac Miller at age 15. Seven years later, he bought out his mentor and renamed the business the Mayflower Tobacco Company. Mayflower took off under Bagley's leadership - and so did Bagley's wealth and power.

During his short life - Bagley died at 49 - the native New Yorker held several positions within the city of Detroit - including Alderman (1860-1861) and Police Commissioner (1865-1872) - and later served two back-to-back terms as Governor of Michigan.

Along with his involvement in local and state politics, Bagley also helped form the Detroit Metropolitan Police Commission, the Michigan Mutual Life Insurance Company, and the Republican Party.

Aside from the Detroit street named in his honor, John J. Bagley is remembered in Detroit by the Bagley Memorial Fountain, which was dedicated after the late-Detroiter's death and created per his will as a gift to the people of Detroit.

Designed by noted-architect H. H. Richardson, the fountain was modeled after the ciborium in St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice. It is Richardson's only known work in Detroit and was recently placed on the site of the future Cadillac Square Park, part of Campus Martius Park.

For more information on the people behind some of Detroit's most well-known streets, check out this article in the Detroit News.

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