Aaron Thomas Bliss
Born: May 22, 1837 in New York, United States
Died: September 16, 1906, Milwaukee, WI
Occupation: Governor (State)

Source Citation: Dictionary of American Biography and Genealogy of the Bliss Family in America.

Aaron Thomas Bliss (May 22, 1837 - Sept. 16, 1906), a governor of Michigan, was born at Peterboro, Madison County, N. Y. He was the seventh child of Lyman Bliss, who traced his ancestry back to Thomas Bliss, a settler in Hartford, Conn., in 1636. His mother was Ann (Chaffee) Bliss. From his dry-goods store at Bouckville, Aaron T. Bliss enlisted, Oct. 1, 1861, in the 10th New York Volunteer Cavalry, and went to the front as a first lieutenant, becoming captain a year later. Wounded while stubbornly defending the retreat of Wilson's Raiders, he was captured and suffered imprisonment in Salisbury, Andersonville, Macon, Charleston, and Columbia prisons, escaping from the latter in November 1864. Broken health caused his resignation three months later. In 1865 he went to Saginaw, Mich., and in the pine forests began a career that took him from a driver of logging teams to the head of one of the successful lumber firms of the Saginaw Valley. A paying farm of a thousand acres afforded recreation. His wife, Allaseba, daughter of Ambrose Phelps of Madison County, N. Y., shared both early privations and later success, and in philanthropy had a life all her own. Taking a leading part in the Michigan department of the Grand Army of the Republic, Bliss was elected first to the state Senate in 1882, and next as a member of the Fifty-first Congress, 1889-91. He was defeated for reelection to Congress; but in 1900 he wrested from six other candidates the Republican nomination for governor. He succeeded the spectacular H. S. Pingree, and was reelected in 1902. His name is linked with the establishment of the Indian School at Mt. Pleasant and the Michigan Soldiers' Home at Grand Rapids. He was a good administrator, and during his service as governor the educational and charitable interests of the state advanced steadily. He stood for the equal taxation of railway properties, and without being a reformer was a sound progressive. His gifts to Saginaw and to the Methodist Episcopal Church were extensive.

Source Citation: Michigan Biographies


Senator from Saginaw County, 1883-4; member of Congress from the Eighth District, 1889-91; Governor of Michigan, 1901-5. Was born May 22, 1837, in Smithfield, Madison County, N. Y. He was the seventh child of Lyman and Anna (Chaffee) Bliss. He spent his early life on the farm, obtaining his education in the little schoolhouse near by. At seventeen he left home and secured employment in a store, where he remained until the Civil War broke out and President Lincoln made his second call for troops. He then enlisted as a private in Co. D, 10th N. Y. Cavalry, taking the oath the first day of October, 1861. Later he was commissioned Captain. He spent three years and five months in the service. He was captured at Reem's Station, Va., and was held for six months as a prisoner of war in the prisons at Salisbury, North Carolina, Andersonville and Macon, Georgia Charleston and Columbia, South Carolina. After several fruitless attempts, he escaped from Columbia prison, Nov. 29, 1864, and finally reaching the Union lines near Savanna, Dec. 16, nearly starved. In the fall of 1865, he settled in Saginaw and began his successful career as a lumberman. Mar. 31, 1868, he married Allaseba M. Phelps, of Solsville, Madison County, N. Y. The scope of his business enterprises gradually enlarged until it embraced besides the manufacture of lumber and salt, banking, mercantile and farm enterprises, giving employment to large numbers of men. In politics a Republican. He served his city as Alderman, Supervisor and member of the board of Education. In 1882, he represented the 25th Senatorial District (Saginaw County) in the State Senate. When the board to organize and locate the Michigan Soldiers’ Home was constituted, he was made a member and served thereon until he entered the 51st Congress, representing  the Eighth District. While in Congress he secured the appropriation which resulted in the splendid federal building which adorns Saginaw, and the Government Indian school at Mt. Pleasant. In 1855 he was appointed aide on the staff of Governor Alger. His long service in the Grand Army of the Republic was signalized in 1897 by his election as department commander. He was nominated for Governor at the Republican Convention held at Grand Rapids in June, 1900, and was elected; was re-nominated on the first ballot at the convention held in Detroit, June, 1902, and re-elected. He died at Milwaukee, Sept. 16, 1906.

#00001 Thomas Bliss and Margaret Hulins of England and Springfield, MA
#00014 Samuel Bliss and Mary Leonard of Springfield, MA
#00052 Thomas Bliss and Hannah Cadwell of Springfield, MA
#00149 Edward Bliss and Rachel Warriner of Warren, MA
#00420 Edward Bliss and Hannah Blodgett of Warren, MA and Smithfield, NY
#01161 Ephraim Bliss and Polly Keep of Peterborough, NY
#02628 Lyman Bliss and Anna M. Chaffee of Madison County, New York
#05378 Aaron T. Bliss and Allaseba Morey Phelps