Fifteen immigrants from Neuendettelsau, Germany, arrived in the Saginaw area in July 1845. They acquired land for a mission on the Cass River in present-day Frankenmuth and established a settlement. During 1846 eighty more settlers arrived, and in less than a decade more than one hundred cabins, dwellings, shops, and farmhouses had been built. With abundant pine forests in the area, logging became the community's first major industry, but the forests were exhausted by the 1880s and the village, whose population included builders, farmers, millers, blacksmiths, brewers, and butchers, began to develop new industries. By 1900, eight cheese factories, the area's first woolen mill, several sausage factories, a brewery, the Star of the West Milling Company and other mills, an insurance company, a bank, and four hotels, which by 1895 already were serving the town's famous chicken dinners, could be found in this German American community. Frankenmuth has remained an agricultural center, a highly popular tourist destination, and the residence of people working in Saginaw and Flint. Although many buildings have been hidden by fantasy Bavarian ornamentation that has come to be a Frankenmuth trademark, others remain intact and reflect the community's earlier past.
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