Streams and Mills
The Savoyard Creek, branch of the Huron, or Xavier River, as it is variously called, had its rise in a willow swamp on the Guoin Farm, near where Riopelle Street now crosses Congress. In 1821 the south bank of the stream was one hundred and ninety-one feet north of the south side of Larned Street; meandering westward, it reached Woodward Avenue at Congress Street, and here a wide bridge spanned the stream. At other places, single planks enabled pedestrians to cross. In 1822 L. E. Dolsen, then a boy of nine years, was jumping on one of these foot-bridges on Congress Street, just east of Griswold, when the plank broke, letting him fall into the water, which was about eight feet deep. Becoming entangled in the reeds and rushes which were plentiful at the bottom, he barely escaped drowning.
The stream, in early times, was much used in going to and from the river; and boy-anglers found successful fishing at the corner of Woodward Avenue and Congress Street. Its outlet was at a point on the Jones Farm close to the Cass line, about where Fourth Street intersects Woodbridge Street. Prior to May, 1826, there was a jog in Woodbridge Street at this point, and an old bridge which crossed the creek, not being in line with the street, was removed by order of the Common Council, and a new one of stone was built in proper line. A channel, walled with wood, was also constructed from the bridge to the river. On December 4, 1826, a certificate was issued to De Garmo Jones for $422.31 for constructing said bridge and channel.
In course of time, and increasingly as the years went on, the people living near the border of this stream used it as a drain, and after Fort Shelby was demolished, the bottom and sides, for some distance, were planked with lumber from that fortification. It then became practically an open sewer; and, as such, lost all its primeval charms, and grew so offensive and malodorous that in 1836 the city was compelled, at a great expense, to convert it into a deep and covered sewer by enclosing it in stone. A "grand sewer" it became, and still fulfils its mission. The creek is said to have been named Savoyard from the fact that one of the earliest settlers on its banks came from Savoy.
Parent's Creek, or Bloody Run, is the real historic stream. It was first named, presumably, after Joseph Parent, a gunsmith, whose name appears in St. Ann's records on May 21, 1707. Only a few years ago the entire course of the stream could be traced; now nearly half its length is filled in, and its channel will soon be entirely obliterated.
limits of the city, and the course of the stream can still be traced. Near its terminus, on the Bela Hubbard Farm in Springwells, was located the old Knagg's Windmill, built in 1810. It was in use till about 1840, and was torn down in 1853 or 1854.
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