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History of Calhoun county, Michigan : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principle interests (Volume 1) online

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east quarter, section 2, 73 south, range 4 west. This with the location




made by Noble ilcKinstry, covering the water power at Marshall, were
the only lands entered in Calhonn county in 1830. Early in 1831 some
fifty parcels were taken, among these was the northwest quarter of sec-
tion 2, on which is now situated the naain part of Albion. Sidney Ket-
chum entered section 35 in Sheridan township, bordering on Albion.

At this time there was no road, not even a trail, leading to or from
the present site of Albion. Prom Detroit there was one main territorial
road westward through Ypsilanti, Ann Arbor and Dexter to Jackson.
From Jackson, two territorial roads diverged to the westward ; one lead-
ing through Sandstone, Parma, Marengo and Marshall ; the other going
through Spring Arl)or, Concord and Homer on to Niles. The future

Tenney Peabody

Albion lay between these two. Eastward the nearest point to the terri-
torial road was about three miles, and to the westward about four miles
at Waterburg, located on the farm now owned by Reuben Emery.

The Coming of the Peabodys

To the "Forks of the Kalamazoo,"' now Albion, on the 4th day of
March, 1833, came Tenney Peabody and his family, consisting of wife
and seven children, four sons and three daughters. With him also came
Charles Blanchard, a nephew. Mr. Peabody was in the forty-first year
of his age. He had been a jeweler in the East. Gathering up what little
worldly effects he had, he purchased two wagons and three yoke of oxen,
loaded up his household goods and with his family and .young nephew.


after a long and wearisome journey from New York state through Canada
and Detroit westward, ended his journey, unyoked his oxen and estab-
lished his family very near where the Presbyterian church now stands.
He first put up a rude shack on East Erie street, about where the resi-
dence of Dr. Marsh is now located. The roof was of thatched grass cut
from the marsh by the river. Soon a substantial and commodious log
house was built just across the road from the site of the Presbyterian
church. This home was long the centre of the social and intellectual life
and the birthplace of many of the activities of the new and growing

Indeed, the history of Albion cannot be written and leave the Peabody
family out. The husband and father was one of the men who helped
to lay wisely and well the foundations of our city. The wife and mother
exercised a most wholesome social, intellectual and religious influence in
the formative period of the community. The sons all became more or less
prominent in the business affairs of the to\\'n. The oldest daughter
became the wife of the first president of the Wesleyan Female Seminary
and her daughter, after having graduated from the seminary in Albion,
was the fii-st woman to take a degree in Cursu from the university at
Ann Arbor. The second daughter married Marcus H. Crane, for many
years one of the leading men in this part of the county. The third
daughter married James W. Sheldon, who was a banker and business
man of state reputation. He wa.s long a trustee and treasurer of the
college. He was for many years a prominent member of the Methodist
Episcopal church. At the time of his death, he was possessed of more
nujterial wealth than any man who, up to this time, has amassed in
Albion or immediate vicinity. Mrs. Sheldon, who survived her husband,
caused to be erected the commodious building occupied by the Leisure
Hour Club and the "Ladies' Library.'" As a contribution to the city,
it is greatly appreciated by many of our citizens.

The second family to settle in what is now Albion was of French
extraction, named DeVoe. They lived on Ionia street, just north of
Michigan avenue. The first school in Albion was conducted in DeVoe's
barn, which stood just south of the freight house of the Lake Shore and
Michigan Southern Railroad.

The Finches

At this time there are living in Albion, Robert Y. and James Finch ;
the former in his 86th and the latter in his 85th year. As a child of seven,
Robert remembers when in the spring of 1834 his father set out on foot
and alone and walked all the way from his home in Monroe county. New
York, through Canada and as far west in Michigan as the "Forks of the
Kalamazoo" in search of a home. Having determined to locate here, he
sent for his family, which arrived in the fall of the same year, and built,
at what is now the junction of Clinton and Centt;r streets, the first house
west of the river. The Finch family was the third to settle in Albion.

As one looks upon these two brothel's, the universally respected sons
of godly parents, passing to and fro upon our streets, it is hard to


realize that when they eame to Albion there were no railroads, no high-
ways, no bridges, no mills, no postoffice, no public utilities of any sort
or kind ; that for years after, the homes were heated by and the cooking
done at the open fireplace; that the light in the hovLse was from a tallow
dip or a saucer of liquid fat which fed the flame from a lighted wick;
that oxen were the beasts of burden in genei-al use; that the wool clipped
from the few sheep grown was carded into rolls and spun into yarn and
knitted into socks or mittens or woven into cloth and made into garments,
all by the same hands that rocked the cradle, tliat did the cooking, the
washing, the ironing, the sewing and the mending for the household.

Second Family Tuat Cajie to Albion

These were the pioneer motliers and daugliters who toiled side by side
with the pioneer fatliers and sons, who wrought so well in laying the
foundations of our splendid later-day civilization. Honor a2id reverence
to these worthy toilers of the earlier time who, in the deepening twilight
of life's long day, still linger in our midst !

Wareham Warner was another who came in 1834. Though born in
Connecticut, he came, wlien fifty years of age, direct from the state of
New York and settled in Albion. He was one of the first in endeavor to
build up tlie new town. He and his children are still held in honor liy
those who reap where they sowed.

Jesse Crowell and What He Did for Albion

In the early spring of 1835 came Jesse Crowell, who for the ensuing
twenty-five years was to be Albion's most enterprising and influenti:il




(.■itizen. Crowrll was honi in

tliirty-eiglit yrar whoi hv faiii

excellent water power, that tin

advantageous place to locate.

of pleasing address. lie had

native state, which gave him some knowledge of men and

had aceumidated some money, which he brought with hii

he stale ol' New York and was in his
to .Michigan and tlecideil, because of the
'Forks of the Kalamazoo" woidd be an
He was a man of tine appearance and
■rved one term in the legislature of his
rs. lie
1 which

gave him a great advantage in a new ;
Honest and enterprising; resointi
long continued a dominating iH'ison;

owuig section.

(actful. he soon became and

II the business affairs of the

Jksse Crowell

Mr. Crowell, in (■oniiiany with 'rciiney Pealwdy, Issachor Frosl and
1). L. J5acon. the last iiamed of JMoiiroe, and father of the wife of the
late General (-uster, formed the Albion Company. This company bought
up different holdings, so that it controlled about three-fourths of the
ground on which the present cit\- is located. Mr. Crowell was jiresident
and general manager of the company. In 18:^6, the vilhiuc jilnl was laid
out and the place given the name il now bears. It is said that the honor
of naming the town was given to Mrs. Peabody, in recognition of her
having been the first white woman to live in the place, and that she
recommended that it lie called Albion, out of regard for Mr. Crowell who
came from a town of that name in the state of New York.

At the time the village was plotted, the township had not bi'cii named.
It was known only by the surveyor's description as "Town :! South,


Range 4 West. " For judicial purposes it was attached to Homer. Homer
and Concord were considerable communities before Albion had a name.
After the village was plotted and the first mill built, the Jackson road
was opened, intersecting the territorial road about three miles to the east.
A road was also opened to the northwest, striking the territorial road
about four miles from Albion. At this point, on the farm now owned
by Reuben Emery, was a postoffice named Waterburg. To this place the
people in Albion went, or sent, for their mail until 1838 when, through
the influence of Jesse Crowell, the Albion postoffice was established and
that at Waterburg taken up. Mr. Crowell was the first postmaster and
retained the position until 1849. At that time the office was located on
the southwest corner of Erie and Superior streets, where the Warner
block, now owned and occupied by Mr. Mounteer, stands. A hotel was
built on the opposite corner on the site of the Sheldon block. As an
inducement, the Albion Company proposed to give a lot to any one who
■would put up a building and conduct a general store. This proposition
was accepted by Philo Taylor, who built and ran a store, which first
stood on Superior street near Erie and later moved on to the present
site of the Methodist Episcopal church. The grist mill stood where the
Commonwealth Power Company's building now stands. The saw mill
was a little north of the grist mill, about in the rear of the old National
bank, while the east side of Superior street from Bullen's store to the
stone mill was used as a log yard. Later there was a store, conducted
by Jesse Crowell, where the Commei^cial and Savings Bank building

The first death in Albion was that of a young millwright named
Green, who was employed in the construction of the grist mill. A place
for his burial was selected on the south side of the river. Later Mr.
Crowell dedicated a plot of ground for burial purposes which, with the
additions made from time to time since, now constitutes beautiful "River-
side cemetery."

The purpose to establish an institution of learning of the higher
grade at Spring Arbor, in Jackson county, having been abandoned, the
people called "Methodists" were attracted by the exceedingly liberal
offer made by the Albion Company, through Mr. Crowell, consisting of
sixty acres of land lying east of Ingham street and in addition two full
blocks and two half blocks for a college campus. This proposition was
accepted by the Michigan Annual Conference, at that time the Methodists
of the entire state were under one conference supervision, and in 1839 a
successful application was made to the legislature for an amendment
to the charter, changing the location to Albion. The board of trustees
was re-organized. The new institution was named Wesleyan Female
Seminary. Jesse Crowell was elected a member of the board of trustees.
He was a good friend and a liberal contributor to the institution in the
days when its wants were many and its friends comparatively few. Not
only did the Albion Company give the lands already named, but it gave
to each of the churches putting up a house of worship the land on which
it was to stand. It also, largely under the favoring influence of ]\Ir.
Crowell, gave the ground for the beautiful park on "Baptist Hill."


The stoue mill was built in the year 1845. It is another nioniunent to
the enterprise of Jesse Crowell. Though built nearly seventy years ago
and when there was but a handful of people in Albion, it is still, in 1912,
the most pretentious structure in the business part of town. This mill
made Albion, for many years, a sort of wheat emporium for all this sec-
tion. A high-grade iiuality of flour was manufactured, nuich of which
found a ready market in Europe. Jesse Crowell, Albion's greatest bene-
factor, died at his home on Michigan avenue, this city, in 1872. Business
reverses came to him in his later years, but no stain ever rested on his
financial honor. He died, as he had lived, deserving and receiving the
respect of all wiio knew him. For forty years, Mr. Crowell slept in an
unmarked and neglected grave in the plot of ground he had given for
cemetery purposes. Recently the people, awakening to the debt of grati-
tude they owed him, placed a substantial and an enduring monument
above ids mortal remains. The name of the park he gave, long called
Washington, has within a few weeks been changed to Crowell. A street,
opened and dedicated to the city last year, is called Crowell in honor
of this man, who did so much for Albion.

The Eslows

In 183(j, there came to Albion another man destined lo leave his
impress on the material features of our city. Champion Eslow, a hlack-
smith by trade, came from Homer to Albion in the fall of the year
named, and built the second frame house in the then hamlet. It stood
on the southwest corner of Cass and Eaton streets. James Eslow, his
son, now in his 77th .year, was a babe but six months old when his
parents moved to this place. For more than three-quarters of a century,
he has gone in and out of Albion and the mental and physical vigor lie
manifests gives promise of many more years, ilr. Eslow, senior, at
once became a felt force in the town. He was not only u first class me-
chanic, but withal a man of thrift and enterprise and did much for the
material advancement of Albion. In his later years, his son James was
associated with liim in wool carding, clotli making, and in the manu-
facturing of sash doors and blinds. These industries were located just
east of .Superior street and back of the stone mill. An enduring me-
morial to the Eslows, father and son, is the imposing four story brick
block standing on the northwest comer of Porter and Supei'ior streets.

WiLLI.VM H. Brockw.w

Among those of a generation next following tlie earliest pioneers,
there is perhaps not one who has done more for the upbuilding of the
town than William H. Brockway. Born in the Green .Mountain state,
he went, as a lad, to the State of New York, where lie learned the
blacksmith's trade. At sixteen he was converted and .ioined the jMeth-
odist Episcopal church. At seventeen he came to Michigan, making his
home for a time at Dexter, where he was made a class leader in the
cluirch. In the spring of 1883, he was licensed to preacli and in the fall
of the same year, .ioined the Ohio conference, which a1 tluit lime em-



braced all of Michigan and nearly all of Ohio. For four years he per-
formed the arduous duties of a junior pioneer preacher. In 1838 he
was sent to take charge of and develop the Indian Mission at Sault
Ste. Marie and in the Lake Superior country generally. For ten years
he was a very laborious and useful missionary in that then far away

In 1848, Mr. Brockway came to Albion and for the next forty-three
years, or until his death in 1891, was a positive force in all that made for
Albion's betterment. He became thoroughly identified with the inter-
ests of the town. Few, if any, have sat so manj' years in the cit}- council,
as did he. For a long period he served as agent of the college. He was

William H. Brockway

a trustee and for a time president of the board of trustees. He served
successively in both house and senate of the Michigan state legislature.
Though in his forty-ninth year, when the war for the Union broke out,
such was the temper of the man and such the quality of his patriotism
that he not only gave his son. Porter, to be a soldier, but himself went
as chaplain into the army. In all these varied positions, Mr. Brockway
served faithfully and well those who entrusted their interests to his care.
As agent, he made friends for tlie college and brought it both mone.y
and students. It was during his term of service and under his direction
that the north and south college buildings were erected. In a way,
they serve to typify the man, who supervised their construction, in
that they are plain, substantial and enduring; meeting well the pur-
poses for which they were built. Nine stores and some twenty dwelling

liis'roijv OF cALiioix corxTV 4l>;{

houses attest his material eoiitribution to tiie city of Albion. To liiin, i)er-
haps more than to any other one man, is the city ami seetion iudehteil
for the Lansing hraneh of the Lake Shore and Miehigaii Southern
Railroad. For many years a locomotive, wiiieh made the rounil ti-ip
daily with the jiassenger train between Lansing and Hillsdale, was called
the "William IL Broekway," in his honor and in recognition of his
valuable services in l)uilding the road. "Sir. Broekway was one of Ihe
leading spirits in planning, one of the liberal coutril)utors to tiic build-
ing fund and one of the valuable members of the committee charged witli
the construction of the present Jlethodist Episcopal churcii. The deep
and rich toned bell, that serves to call together the people who worship
in that edifice, was bought at his sole expense. But of all his vai-ied
public service, that which is perhaps most enduring and which gave to
him most of satisfaction while living, was what he did for the college.
It is eminently fitting that his only daughter should be the accom-
plished wife of one who served long as a professor, and wlio now and for
some years past has filled the position of president with great credit to
himself and profit to the institution. Samuel Dickey. iiusl)and of
Mary Broekway Dickey, will long be enrolled among the ablest and
most successful of Albion College presidents.

James .AIo.nroe

In 1846, a young man, James Monroe l)y name, came to Albion and
erected a foundry and machine shop on the east side of south Superior
street and .just north of the stone mill. Monroe was a practical molder
as well as a business man. Threshing machines, plows and other farm
implements were made. Under Mr. Monroe's management, the business
grew and prospered. After operating the plant for twelve years, it
was sold to Robert Y. Finch and Fred Sheldon. ;\Ir. ilonroe removed
from the city. In his later years he gave much attention to politics
and he was generally recognized as one of the most influential men in
the Republican party in ^Michigan.

The Coming of The G.vles

In the year 1836, a family came from New York State to JIoscow,
Hillsdale county, which was destined to exercise a great and lasting in-
fluence upon the future of Albion. It was in the year named that
George Gale, with his wife and seven children, first settled in the county
next south of us, where he built a furnace and began the manufacture
of plows. The coal used for melting the iron was hauled by ox teams
from Detroit or Toledo and in the same way, the pig iron was brought
from Mishawaka, Indiana. Mr. Gale went to the forest and cut the
timber that was to be shaped into beams and handles for his jjIows.
After operating for a few years at ]\Ioscow, the Gale plant was moved to
Jonesville and drags were added to the output of jtlows. .Mioul this
time, Orlando C. the oldest son, came to .Mbion and cngaircii in the
hardware business, wliich is now liciiifr succi'ssfiiDy corHJuctcd by his
youngest son. Harry.


Some two years after Orlando came, he was followed by his brothers,
A. J. and Horatio. The three brothers, together with E. W. Hollings
worth, a brother-in-law, purchased the establishment founded by I\lon
roe, but then owned by Lane and Porter, successors to Finch and Shel
don, and organized the Gale Manufacturing Company, with Orlando C.
Gale as president. The new company added to the already somewhat ex
tended list of agricultural implements made. The business grew and
prospered to such an extent that it was necessary to enlarge the plant.
To this end, a new location was selected and a large brick structure cov-
ering the site of the present postoffice block was erected where, for many
years a large number of men were employed and the output of the fac-
tory found a market in various parts of the United States.

The G.vle Works Re-Org.\nized

About the year 1837, the company was re-organized. Mr. H. K.
AVhite, of Detroit, purchased the eontroling interest ; new and greatly
enlarged buildings were put up in the western part of the city, side
tracks were laid and much new and up-to-date equipment was added
and the establishment that, when originally bought by the Gales, gave
employment to from twelve to fifteen men and supplied the local market
with its output, now, under the management of Mr. A. J. Brosseau and
his able corps of assistants, furnish work for five hundred men, largely
skilled mechanics; the mimufactured product competing successfully
in the lines made, in evci> ;iiii'icullur:il iiiipliMiicnt market on the globe.
Though the Gale brothers incntiuiKMl Ikivc all passed from the living and
though no one of their descendants is now connected with the establish-
ment that bears the family name, it still remains that much is due to
them for Albion's oldest and most important manufacturing industry.

The Albion ^Lvlleable Iron Plant

Shortly after the Gale plant moved out of the old buildings into their
present quarters, the Albion Malleable Iron Company was organized
and began operations in a small way. Its capital was small, its mana-
gers inexperienced and the stockliolders were doubtful of the ultimate
outcome. The first years were attended by many discouragements, but
the business gradually increased, the product commended itself to the
trade and confidence in its future took the place of doubt. After a
time the old quarters proved too small, besides being poorly adapted to
the making of malleable iron.

In 1898, the company purchased 67 acres of land northwest of the
city and lying between the Michigan Central and Interurban railroads.
On this plot was constructed a new and up-to-date plant and at that time
thought to be sufficiently large to meet eveiy necessity for many years,
but such was its growth and such the increasing demand for malleable
iron, that it was found necessary to enlarge. During the past five years,
the plant has been virtually rebuilt. It now has eight acres of ground
under roof. It is regarded as one of the best equipped factories of its
kind anywhere in the country. It is melting at this time at the rate of

iiisroijv OF cALiiorx corN'rv a-2:>

sixteen tliciisaml tons nf ii'cii ;i wnr. It jiivcs eiiipldyiiicnt lo dvci- live
humh-ed men. In order to a.-eoninm,iate many of its worUin- m.m, it
has from time to time felt compelled to build houses foi- tliem. niilil
now it has on its own laud ad.jiieeut to the works, thirty dwcllinus w holly
occupied by its own employees.

To W. 8. Kessler, president ami general manager; Harry 15. I'arker,
vice president and assistant general manager; and M. li. Murray,
secretary and treasurer, is the credit largely due for nuiking this one
of our city's most important industries. These three have lieen with it
from the beginning and have guided it through every change and vi-,
eissitude to its present magnitude and to assured success. Washington
Gardner and Ben.jamin 1). Brown together with the three above named
constitute the board of directors.

Another modern Albion industry of increasing im])()rtanee and
magnitude is the

I'xiox Steel Screen Co.mpaxy

The success of this enterprise, so gratifying to the citizens of Albion,
is largely due to ;\Ir. George E. Dean, secretary and general manager.
The plant started in a small building near the ^Michigan Central depot.
Later, the company bought the wooden buildings formerly used by the
Elms Buggy Company. These have been largely replaced by modern
brick buildings and still other additions are in contemplation.

Another eompai'atively new and growing manufacturing industr.\' is

X.iTiox.vi, Si'Rixd \xi> Wire Coiipaxy

which is owned and controlled by Albion men.

A new and what promises to be a very substantial ;iddition tt) the
manufacturing intei'ests of Alt>ion is the branch of the

Haves Wiieee ('ii.\]paxv

recently established in the old Prouty works" buildings. An increasing
force of skilled mechanics is being emj)loyed and constant aildilions of
complicated and expensive machinery are being made. This ])lant,
which came so quietly and unostentatiously into our city. i)romiscs to
soon take an important place among our industrial interests.

The Cook .MAxrFACTiRixG Compax^'

a historical sketch of which appears elsewhere, is now under the man-
agement of ^Ir. John A Rathbone, formerly of Detroit. It is the hope of

Online LibraryWashington GardnerHistory of Calhoun county, Michigan : a narrative account of its historical progress, its people, and its principle interests (Volume 1) → online text (page 51 of 74)