George W. Weadock was a small, genial man who left a giant’s footprint on Saginaw history.
He was one of Michigan’s most able attorneys and a thorough student who knew how to look up law applicable to his case. He had few peers in the trial of a case and prided himself on his integrity.
He was the first mayor of the consolidated Saginaws, and his calm reasoning did much to smooth the acrimony which existed between the first-elected aldermen of the combined cities. Weadock was an indefatigable worker for the public good.
Most of his life’s chief interests were the welfare of St. Mary’s Hospital, St. Vincent’s Orphans’ Home and St. Mary’s Cathedral. He did monumental work for each. A street was named after him and so was a nursing home at St. Mary’s Hospital.
George W. Weadock was born in 1853 in St. Marys, Ohio, a son of Lewis and Mary Cullen Weadock, who had immigrated from Ireland four years previously. His father died when he was 10 years old, his mother when he was 23. Weadock spent his early years on the family farm. His primary education was in St. Marys’ schools. While there, he developed a strong interest in the law.
He began his legal studies in earnest under tutelage of one of Ohio’s leading lawyers, Isaiah Pillars, attorney general of the state. In 1875 he entered the University of Michigan, paying his college expenses with money he earned teaching. After leaving the university, he went to Bay City where his brother, Thomas A. E. Weadock, already had entered the practice of law. George Weadock was admitted to the bar in 1876. Soon after, he came to Saginaw and entered the office of Timothy E. Tarsney, one of Saginaw’s prominent lawyers who also had political ambitions.
Tarsney was elected to Congress, and during his four-year absence representing the Eighth Congressional District, Weadock ran the office. Their association continued until 1891, when Tarsney moved to Detroit. In 1888 Weadock had been made a member of the bar of the U. S. Supreme Court.
Weadock had attained respected public stature on both sides of the river. When the wrangling Saginaws were united—at least by law—in the 1890 consolidation, Weadock was a logical choice for mayor. He served two terms as mayor, until the spring of 1892. In 1890 the voters elected two aldermen from each of the new city’s 15 wards. With Weadock, that made a common council of 31 men. The new government for a time was hobbled by traditional jealousies and cross purposes. Great was the bickering and political sniping. Weadock later recalled those early days of municipal mishmash. The trouble began, he once related, when the consolidation bill was being drafted in 1889. Sectional jealousy caused provisions to be picked to pieces almost as fast as they were drawn up, leaving the charter committee pretty well baffled. The most vexing problem was the location of the future City Hall. East Saginaw at the time had a City Hall site at Jefferson at Federal. The west siders wanted no part of the long walk or buggy ride over town to transact city business. The difference of opinion explains why the City Hall, at Washington and Holland, is nearer the geographical foot, rather than the heart, of the city. They agreed on the City Hall location in the new city’s charter. When the first council took office, some of the councilmen wanted to renege, but Mayor Weadock dissuaded them.
Later in his career, Weadock recalled, chuckling, that west side officials of the former Saginaw City first wouldn’t give up their books—even after the consolidation occurred. Their stubbornness gave way to open defiance. They wouldn’t vacate offices and close shop. “Let’s see you put us out,” they jeered. So, one by one, they were ousted on grounds of defalcation. They aligned themselves with a group of South Saginaw dissidents and brewed trouble for the new government whenever they could.
In connection with his practice, Weadock built up one of the finest law libraries in the state. He was generous in making it accessible to other members of the bar, particularly to younger lawyers who could not afford such books. He was always willing to help young attorneys starting out in the profession. George W. Weadock practiced law 60 years, being among the deans of Michigan barristers. He had been president of both the Saginaw County Bar and State Bar Associations. The University of Detroit conferred upon him the honorary degree of doctor of laws.
He was president and director of the former Saginaw Welfare League. He had worked to guide expansions of both St. Mary’s and Saginaw General Hospitals. He also had been active in the Saginaw Council and Knights of Columbus. One of the highest honors of his life came in 1927 when Pope Pius XI conferred on Weadock the Knighthood of St. Gregory, one of the highest awards given laymen by the Roman Catholic Church. This was for Weadock’s many services to the church and his selfless devotion to its causes. He had worked as legal counsel for the Diocese of Detroit and later for the Diocese of Grand Rapids. He also had been legal counsel for St. Mary’s Hospital and St. Vincent’s Orphans’ Home.
Weadock was married twice. His first wife was the former Anna E. Tarsney, sister of his former law partner. She died in 1893. He later married the former Mary Grace McTavish. Weadock had 10 children. George W. Weadock died in 1937 at 84.