Michigan Transportation History

Hunter Savidge

Public PersonLumberBusinessOttawa CountyMichiganGrand Haven

Hunter Savidge (April 6, 1828-April 11, 1881) was a businessman in the lumber industry and a well-respected citizen of Spring Lake, Ottawa County.

Savidge was born in Columbia County, Pa., April 6, 1828, to Benjamin and Esther (Hunter) Savidge who came from New Jersey to settle in Pennsylvania. Hunter attended the public schools during the winter months and apprenticed in the carpenter's trade during the summer months.1 When he turned seventeen, Hunter became a schoolteacher, but continued in carpentry to supplement his income. In 1850, he moved to Rockford, Illinois, and continued as both schoolteacher and carpenter. In 1853, he quit teaching altogether and became a housing contractor, a calling at which he seemed to have excelled.[Ref-1] [Ref-2]

In 1856, Hunter moved to Spring Lake and entered into the lumber business. He set up the first steam mill and bought forests in the Grand River Valley. Dwight Cutler? from Grand Haven partnered with Savidge in 1861 to form Cutler & Savidge.2

Savidge was a conscientious citizen of Spring Lake and Grand Haven. He had constructed Grand Haven's Odd-Fellows' Block in 1873, and the summer resort of the Spring Lake Hotel? (or Spring Lake House?) in 1875. Spring Lake was gaining a reputation as a spa, renowned for its "magnetic waters."[Ref-2]

Later in life, Savidge took to breeding horses.[Ref-2]

Savidge was a Mason, an Odd-Fellow, a Democrat, and a Baptist. His wife, Sarah, was Presbyterian. He ran once for public office (state senator in 1868) and lost.[Ref-1]3

Savidge married Sarah C.?, daughter of Lyman Patten?, of Grand Rapids. They had three children: William of Detroit; Esther Savidge, who married N. Robins, Jr. of Grand Haven; and George P.?, who attended Yale's Sheffield Scientific School.[Ref-1]

Savidge was also a Director of the National Bank of Grand Haven?, President of the Ottawa County Booming Company?, a Director of the Grand River & Greenville Log Rolling Company?. His wealth was estimated at half a million dollars when he died.[Ref-1]

He was a public-spirited man, generous and benevolent, and never failed to respond to any call for aid in public improvement. Churches, schools and charities always found in him a valuable friend, and the poor and needy were never turned from his door empty-handed. In cool, clear judgment he had few equals, never losing perfect control, no matter what the emergency. His advice to a man in an emergency, was "Cut down your expenses and keep cool." He had the respect of all with whom business or social relations brought him in contact, and his word was as good as his bond. He passed away April 11, 1881, and in his death the community lost one of its best citizens, his associates a faithful friend, and his family a loving husband and father.[Ref-1]


[1] Portrait & Biographical Record of Muskegon & Ottawa Counties, Michigan. (Chicago: Biographical Publishing Company, 1893), 130-132.

Includes a portrait of Savidge.

[2] American Biographical History of Eminent and Sell-Made Men with Portrait Illustrations on Steel, Michigan Volume (Cincinnati: Western Biographical Publishing Co., 1878), 107.


1. The Portrait & Biographical Record notes that elder Savidge was a "mechanic" and that Hunter took up this trade. Other sources note that Hunter was a carpenter. Carpentry seems more consistent with Savidge's career.

2. Charles Moore, The History of Michigan, vol. I (Chicago: The Lewis publishing Co., 1915), 514.

3. See http://ottawa.migenweb.net/churches/1stBaptSprgLk.html for information about Savidge's religion.

Other Sources to Consult for Hunter Savidge

Spring Lake Historic Conservation Commission. Spring Lake Village: An Historical Profile Featuring the Hunter Savidge Family. Spring Lake, Mich.: by the commission, 2003.

Historical and Business Compendium of Ottawa County, Michigan. Volume 1 (Grand Haven, MI: Potts and Conger, 1893)

History of Ottawa County, Michigan, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Chicago: H. R. Page & Co., 1882.

History of Spring Lake Township starts on p. 64. Includes two-page illustration of the Spring Lake Hotel with, what is probably, the Cutler & Savidge Mill to the right.

Citation: When referencing this page please use the following citation:

R. D. Jones, "Hunter Savidge," Michigan Transportation History (Ypsilanti, MI: 2020), www.michtranshist.info/.

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Page last modified on January 01, 2020, at 08:49 PM EST

Page last modified on January 01, 2020, at 08:49 PM EST