Upcoming Fieldwork at Borchard Park

I am pleased to announce that, weather permitting, the Castle Museum’s upcoming archaeological shovel-test survey of Borchard Park will be conducted from Tuesday, August 5th through Friday, August 8th. In the photo below, the building in the foreground is the County Jail, the open area to the right is what is now Borchard Park. Another view of the jail and town square can be seen here.


Image from "Saginaw Illustrated" 1888. International Publishing Company.

Image from “Saginaw Illustrated” 1888. International Publishing Company.


Why, one might ask, do we want to conduct a shovel-test survey of Borchard Park? Good question! Here are a few reasons…

First, according to Mills’ History of Saginaw County Michigan (Mills 1918), Borchard Park is situated in the general vicinity of several events and locations important to the founding and earliest decades of the City of Saginaw. In 1816, Louis Campau established a trading post and residence nearby. In 1819 the Treaty of Saginaw was negotiated and signed at a “council house” built by Campau adjacent to his trading post. Following the Treaty of Saginaw, in 1822, Fort Saginaw was constructed just a stone’s throw from what is now Borchard Park. Although the precise locations of these buildings are not known (and recognizing that Mills is a secondary source at best), it is clear that Borchard Park is centrally located with respect to early 19th century activities in the nascent community.

Second, the area of Borchard Park has been part of a Public Square, or Town Commons, continually since the 1830 Dexter Plat was surveyed. As far as we know, other than being the temporary location of the old Court House while a new judicial building was being constructed, no permanent large-scale architecture has been erected at this location. Smaller constructions such as bandstands, walkways, gardens, etc. were certainly (and continue to be) present. In the midst of an urban setting, there are few locations that have not been built upon.

It follows from the first two points that Borchard Park may be our best hope for finding relatively undisturbed archaeological deposits in this part of the city associated with the earliest Euro-American residents of Saginaw as well as their Native American contemporaries and predecessors. Assessing the potential for such deposits is certainly warranted.

With luck, the Borchard Park project may become a springboard for the development of a program of “Settlement Period” research at the museum in which we can use the tools of archaeology and historical inquiry to learn more about the earliest years leading up to the establishment of the City of Saginaw and other communities across the county.



  1. I am really excited about this upcoming archeological dig! I have doing extensive research about the Treaty of Saginaw and Fort Saginaw for the Castle Museum for the past year! I’m sure the area around present day Borchard Park would have been a work location for the soldiers clearing trees, preparing the logs for use in the stockade or in the buildings. Potential for finding broken axe heads and other discarded tools is very good. Possibly buttons from uniforms could be found as work was intensive. Also, the soldiers could have possibly camped in this vicinity during construction. A future search for the well bottom within the stockade area could yield additional information as well.
    John Fry -Castle Museum Volunteer Researcher

    1. Thanks, John, for your interest and research efforts. I, too, am looking forward to the project! The area certainly appears to have potential to contain relatively intact deposits.

      1. Thanks for the Question, Nick. Unfortunately, we did not find the intact early 19th century deposits we had hoped for. Check out the Borchard Park: Week 1 Update and Borchard Park: Week 2 Update posts from August 2014 for a recap of what we found. Analysis is ongoing and we expect to have a report/exhibit/public presentation on the project in the coming months. I will post an announcement when more information is available.

  2. re; john fry comment. Curently doing research on the 1810 Saginaw Treaty .. I would be interested in any info on the participants. particularly (Louis Beaufait, Louis Campau) ; or any of the Marsac family.

    D Ritchie

    1. Mr. Ritchie, I’m glad to hear that a new dig will take place at Borchard Park! I will do some digging and find what I
      can about Louis Beaufait, Louis Campeau, and the Marsac family.

  3. The Treaty of Saginaw was negotiated over a 10 day period in early September of 1819. The best contemporary history of the event comes in Kim Crawford’s “The Daring Trader: Jacob Smith in the Michigan Territory 1802-1825.” (Michigan State University Press). Most other Treaty of Saginaw info was written many years ago and mostly based on accounts of writers who were not present at the event itself. Information about Louis Campeau can be found by doing a general search on Google. Louis Beaufait and the Marsac family are more difficult. Information is scattered and often very old. A biography of Louis Campeau written by Christopher Mabie exists. Its called “Uncle Louis: The Biography of Louis Campeau, founder of Saginaw and Grand Rapids.” Louis Beafait was born in Hammtramack Township on his fatherts farm somtime around 1780. In 1804 he married Marie Louise Saucier. He was employed by the Michigan Territorial Government as an Indian Interpreter. He served in the War of 1812 with the Michigan Territorial Millitia. He was named Colonel of the Michigan Territorial Millitia by Gov. Lewis Cass following the end of the war. He inherited his fathers farm. He ran for the Michigan Territorial Council in 1825, but was not selected. He was also a Preseidentail Elector in the Election of 1844. In 1847, he was declared incompetent and lived with his oldest son until his death in 1851 in Detroit.
    Joseph Marsac came to Detroit during the French period. He and his children were very involved in the early development of Detroit and Michigan Territory.

      1. Your most welcome! I hope it helps Mr. Ritchie and anyone else. I’ll work on the Marsac family to see if i can assemble some helpful information. JF

      2. Hi hssarcheology;

        Hoping to visit the Castle Museum later this week.. particularly interested in your local Saginaw Valley archaeology program. Are there any tours of your archaeo. lab facility ?

        D Ritchie

      3. Hi D. Ritchie – thanks for your interest in the Castle Museum and Saginaw Valley Archaeology! At this time, there are no regularly scheduled tours of the archaeology lab. However, when you get to the museum just ask at the front desk if the archaeologist is available. If I’m not otherwise engaged, I’ll be happy to give you a personal tour. Enjoy your visit to the Castle Museum!

      4. Hi; HSSARCHAEOLOGY: Thanks for the reply re: a tour of your archaeology lab. I’m an archaeologist working in the New England area; been doing CRM here for years, but have Michigan roots and interest in MI ethnography, archaeology, history etc.


        D Ritchie

    1. John;

      Thanks very much for the info on the Saginaw Treaty, Louis Campau, Louis Beaufait and Jos. Marsac. I know Marsac was employed by the US Indian Dept to serve as “Indian farmer” inthe Saginaw area in the 1830s to 40s. Meaning he was to teach farming/agriculture to the local Saginaw Ojibway…Im hoping to find more details about this.

      Based on whats written in local county histories, he appears to have been a well known resident of Saginaw thru the rest of the 19th century; and
      hes buried in a local cemetery. …. Wonder if there are any Marsac descendants still in the Saginaw area?

      D Ritchie

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