The McCreery and Fenton families were prominent Genesee county residents some of whose members distinguished themselves in local and state government, as soldiers during the Civil War, and in the United States diplomatic service.
William M. Fenton (1808-1871), for whom the city of Fenton, Michigan was named, was a lawyer, state senator (1846), lieutenant governor (1848, re-elected 1850), mayor of Flint (1858), and Democratic candidate for governor (1864). During the Civil War, although in his fifties, Fenton raised some of the first troops in the state. His initial appointment was as major in the 7th Michigan Infantry. He later transferred to command of the 8th Michigan Infantry. In 1863, he was discharged with the rank of colonel.
His son-in-law, William B. McCreery (1836-1896), also served in the Civil War. As colonel in the 21st Michigan Infantry, McCreery was wounded and captured at the Battle of Chickamauga (1863) and imprisoned for a time at Libby Prison, but escape with others through the famous tunnel. After the war, he became involved in public service. He was mayor of Flint (1865) and state treasurer (1875-1879). He later was selected to be United States Consul to Chile. During his period of service (1890-1891), relations with Chile were difficult as the country underwent a revolution against the Balmaceda administration. There was an attack on U.S. sailors, sometime referred to as the "Baltimore Affairs" that threatened to bring the United States into a war with Chile.
Assisting McCreery in Chile was his son Fenton R. McCreery (1866-1940) whose subsequent diplomatic career would take him to different countries of Central and South America. Graduating from the Michigan Military Academy in 1888, he accepted assignment with his father as a clerk in the United States consulate in Valparaiso, Chile (1890-1891). Fenton was later appointed secretary of the legation in Santiago (1891-1893), serving as chargé ¤'affaires for four months. Subsequent assignment included posts as secretary of the legation and embassy and chargé ¤'affaires in Mexico (1897-1906), minister resident and consul general in the Dominican Republic (1907), envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary in Honduras (1909-1911) and military attaché ©n Brazil (1919). Fenton, additionally, served as an advisor to a senate subcommittee on foreign relations investigating Mexican affairs (1912-1913). He also lectured widely on Latin American affairs. During World War I, he served in Europe with the Red Cross.
From the guide to the McCreery-Fenton Family papers, 1818-1948, 1860-1940, (Bentley Historical Library University of Michigan)