City of Clio, Michigan 


History of the City of Clio

Clio was named after the Greek Goddess, muse of history and poetry and daughter of Zeus.

On March 13, 1873, by Senate Bill No.234, the Village of Clio" was "incorporated".

But the beginnings of Clio as a settlement came much earlier.  Theodore P. Dean began the first improvement upon the village site in 1837 when he erected a saw mill south of where the old swimming pool stood on North Mill Street;  This sawmill and a few shacks were all that stood among the tall trees until around 1855.

Mr. Varney was the thought to be the first grain buyer, and the town took his name.  Austin Griffes came to town in the early 1850’s and added a grist mill. 

The building and completion of the Flint and Pere Marquette Railway in 1861 was the most important factor in the development of Clio’s (then known as Varney) identity as a town.  The Village was platted, stores and manufacturing establishment sprang into existence, lumbering became an important interest, and the new village rapidly increased in numbers. 

The first engine was called the "Pollywog". The train did service for many years under the name of the "Pioneer".  The "Pioneer" consisted of one baggage car and one coach. Making a run of 26 miles from Saginaw to Mt. Morris took approximately 4 hours.  The railroad is now owned by the Saginaw Bay Southern Railway and still runs through Clio today. Although today it now handles freight, instead of passengers.

In 1864, Colonel Hill, who had served in the army of the rebellion, kept a hotel in Varney, known as the Revere House.  He was of a literary turn of mind, and he asked that the town be renamed and called “Clio” after the Greek goddess, muse of history and poetry and daughter of Jupiter.  Colonel Hill’s request had fallen on deaf ears, until one night at a party at the hotel.  Many ladies from the community were present and the Colonel made the appeal to them about “Clio”.  The ladies at once decreed that Varney should become Clio and so it was. 


The first charter election for village officers was held on April 28, 1873 with the following elected:  David S. Halsted, President; Isaac K. Kelsey, George Holmes, Jerome B. Garland, Trustees; Charles B. Mann, Clerk; William W. Blackney, Assessor; Isaac M. Beeman, Treasurer; and Sidney W. Smith, Marhsall.


By early 1900 the Village of Clio had a population of 800, a new school, mill pond, wide streets, small industries and various merchandise establishments.  One of the first landmarks was known as the “Ice Pond” in the winter and the “Mill Pond” in other seasons.  The first fire department was established in 1881 and reorganized in 1888. 


In 1928 Clio was incorporated as a 5th class city with M.C. Doyle as the first mayor.  The main streets had been paved.  Vienna Street was first paved in 1914. 


A new City Charter was adopted in 1961 under the Michigan Home Rule Act. 

In accordance with Federal law and U.S. Department of Agriculture policy, this institution is prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, religion, sex and familial status. (Not all prohibited bases apply to all programs). To file a complaint of discrimination, write USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202) 720-5964 (TDD).