Pioneering Families
... with Roots in Madison County

Index to
  COL. AARON T. BLISS. Among the prominent and representative men of the Saginaw Valley, few, if any, are more widely known. than Col. Bliss in both business and political circles. He was born in Madison County, N. Y., May 22, 1837, to Lyman and Anna M. (Chaffee) Bliss. His father was a native of New York and his grandfather of Massachusetts, and they are descended from a long line of English ancestry.
  Born on a farm our subject was early inured to the hard work and toil incident to farm life. The rudiments of his education were obtained in the district schools, and with the industrious traits characteristic of the boy and man his leisure hours have been spent in reading and research until now we find him to be a man of intelligence and a broad grasp of the questions of the day.
  On the breaking out of the late Rebellion our subject was among the first to respond to the call of our imperiled country. He enlisted October 1, 1861, in the Tenth New York Cavalry Regiment as a private. On the organization of the regiment at Elmira he was elected Lieutenant, and for a time the regiment formed a part of Kilpatrick's Brigade. Ordered to the front and joining the Army of the Potomac, he participated in the second battle of Bull Run, commanding the detailed squadron from Washington, and after that battle he was made Captain. He participated in the battles of Bull Run, Fredricksburg, the Wilderness, Petersburg, Ground-squirrel Church, Stony Creek, South Mountain, Falls Church, Warrenton. On Gen. Wilson's raid near Richmond, after they had been out eight days, he was captured on the morning of the ninth day on their return, and incarcerated in Saulsbury, (N.C.,) prison, thence taken to Columbia, Andersonville, Macon, and was one of the six hundred officers placed under the Union fire at Charleston, S. C. He suffered the usual discomforts and privations of prison life, and was subsequently sent to Columbia. From there he made his escape and after eighteen days and nights on the road reached Sherman's army at the time of the capture of Ft. McAlister. Soon afterward he joined his regiment, via New York.
  The war ended our subject received an honorable discharge, having served three years and six months, six months of the time a prisoner of war. He returned to his home and in 1865, removed to Saginaw City, Mich., where he resided with his brother, Dr. Lyman W. Bliss. a leading physician of the city.
  The principal business of the Saginaw Valley was the lumber interests. The two brothers began then to lay the foundation for one. of the most successful industries in that line in all that region; difficulties were bravely met and overcome. Fire would destroy their sawmills, but with their sturdy pluck they were enabled to build their future mills stronger and better.
  Col. Bliss is regarded by his associates as a very level-headed business man, capable of grasping large enterprises and carrying them through to successful conclusions. He is an extensive lumberman, a practical farmer and strong in the banking institutions of Saginaw.
  Politically, our subject is a stanch Republican. He was a member of the city government of Saginaw for four years, likewise a, member of the Board of Supervisors. In: the fall of 1882 he was. elected to the State Senate of Michigan, and proved to be a practical and hard-working member. He was largely instrumental in getting the bill and appropriation through the Legislature for the establishment and maintenance of the Soldiers' Home at Grand Rapids. The bill, however, was not passed during the session of which he was a member, but Col. Bliss took a great interest in the measure and helped secure its passage. The Home was built at large expense, and is now in successful operation. On the election of Gen. Alger Governor of Michigan, he appointed Capt. Bliss a member of his staff, with the rank of Colonel.
  In 1888 our subject was elected a member of Congress, and proved to be an influential and useful member. An old friend, speaking of him, says in illustration of his tact and determination: "He offered a bill in Congress asking for an appropriation of $200,000 for a public building in Saginaw. The bill passed both houses the last day in the afternoon, was sent to the President, who refused to sign it, as being too much, but intimated that he would sign it for $100,000. Col. Bliss promptly had the bill remodeled, and in the great hurly-burly of the last day of the session he caught the Speaker's eye, was recognized, the bill offered, passed, and was signed the same day, Col. Bliss taking the bill himself to the President, who laughingly signed and presented the Colonel the pen."
  So to the energy of this indefatigable worker Saginaw owes her new public building. Mr. Speaker Reed has said that probably no other man in the house could have, under the circumstances, engineered the bill successfully through.
  Col. Bliss also caused a bill to be passed appropriating $25,00Q for an Indian school at Mt. Pleasant, Mich., which is now being constructed. He is a strong political worker. and lays his plans on a broad scale, and carries them through successfully. He has always had the warm political and business friendship of such men as Gen. Alger. His influence in the ranks of the Republican party in Michigan and the Northwest has for years been recognized as strong and potential.
  In 1868 Col. Bliss was married to Miss Allaseba M. Phelps, of Solsville, Madison County, N. Y., daughter of Ambrose Phelps. Mrs. Bliss is a lady of culture and refinement, and at their handsome home dispenses an elegant and graceful hospitality.
  It may be said of Col. Bliss that he is recognized as a very benevolent man. He aided in the building .of the Bliss Hospital, and is one of the main supports of the Home of the Friendless. He is liberal with the schools and churches, and any and all enterprises calculated to promote the public good.

Anonymous. Portrait and biographical record of Saginaw and Bay 
Counties, Michigan: containing biographical sketches of prominent and representative citizens, together with biographies of all the governors of the state, and of the presidents of the United States
Chicago: Biographical Pub. Co., 1892, pp. 1043-1044.



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