Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Trowbridge, Charles

Charles Christopher Trowbridge was a businessman, explorer, politician, and ethnographer of Native American cultures. Born in Albany, New York, on December 29, 1800, Trowbridge was one of six children born to Revolutionary War hero Luther Trowbridge and his wife Elizabeth. In 1813, he became an apprentice to businessman Horatio Ross of Owego, New York. He gained a wealth of experience in his young life and built upon it in many diverse positions in adulthood. Trowbridge moved to Detroit in 1819, where he worked under Major Thomas Rowland as Deputy United States Marshall and Deputy Clerk of the Court.

In 1820, Trowbridge served on the Lewis Cass expedition that explored the Northwest Territory between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi River. Following the expedition, Cass appointed him as his personal secretary. From 1821 to 1825 Trowbridge served as an Indian Agent for the U.S. government and was responsible for treaties and relations with the Native Americans of the region. Around this time, he was appointed secretary of the Board of Regents at the fledgling University of Michigan and would serve on the board for many years. In 1825, he became cashier of the newly established Bank of Michigan, rising to the position of president and serving until 1838.

In 1826, Trowbridge married Catherine Whipple Sibley, oldest daughter of Solomon Sibley, and built their home, which is purported to be the oldest building in Detroit. His business interests expanded to include railroads and real estate investment. He was president of the Oakland & Ottawa Railroad Company and contributed to the development of Allegan, Michigan. He also served as president of the Detroit Board of Public Charities.

Trowbridge became alderman of the city of Detroit in 1833 and was elected mayor the following year. He served through a terrible cholera epidemic in 1834 and resigned the position when it had subsided. In 1837, he ran as the Whig candidate for governor of Michigan but was defeated by Democrat Stevens T. Mason. He lived in the house he built until his death in 1883, three years after his wife died. They are both buried in Elmwood Cemetery.



Charles C. Trowbridge - Trowbridge_CharlesC_

Book detailing the a memorial banquet for Charles C. Trowbridge, 1883 - 1947.166.002

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