Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

FESTIVAL OF THE FORKS

Morning Star, September 10, 2000, pg. 9.

Get your forks out for some good eatiní at our Festival of the Forks this coming Saturday. No, that is not what it really means, but that is part of it anyway. We are fortunate to have attained a solid reputation for our annual Festival of the Forks, named after the "Forks" of the Kalamazoo River as we were first known in the 1830s before the name Albion was chosen. Make plans to come on down this Saturday for a great day.

Yours truly will be at his usual location in front of Citizens Bank in downtown Albion with his Albion History Booth. Iíll have all my Albion history books and materials available, as well as some interesting historical displays. Come on down and see if you can recognize anyone in the 1919 photograph of Albionís World War I soldiers. I am also looking for specific old Albion city directories, Calhoun County atlases, old Albion high school yearbooks, and other historical references and picture books about Albion for my archives which I use each week in the preparation of these articles. Thank you for your help and support.

As we celebrate the Festival of the Forks, let us review some very early history of our community. On March 4, 1833, Paul Tenney Peabody, his brother-in-law Charles Blanchard, and a young man named Clark Dowling arrived at "the Forks" of the Kalamazoo River. They erected a log shanty covered with poles and marsh hay between E. Porter St. and E. Erie St., just south of the present-day Presbyterian Church. A Michigan historical marker is placed near the site on E. Erie St. One week later, the Peabody family & clan arrived, and thus our community began. Later they erected a log cabin and used the first structure as a stable for sheltering stock. The aforementioned information I found in the book "Homer and Its Pioneers" (1888) of all places (page 28), but donít tell.

A land development company called the Albion Company was formed which laid the plat for the new village. Mrs. Peabody was given the opportunity to name our community, which she was first tempted to call "Peabodyville (can you imagine the Peabody College Pea Pods as a sports team nickname?)," but sanity prevailed and the name "Albion" was chosen. This was in honor of the place where land developer Jesse Crowell had come from in New York (Albion Township in Oswego County, New York). Albion is an old name for Britain and the root word albino meaning "white," refers to the white cliffs found along the coastline there.

The 1838 Michigan Gazetteer gives an early description of our community as follows: "Albion, a village of recent origin, situated on the Kalamazoo River, on the located route of the central rail road, in Albion township, Calhoun County. It has a post office, a sawmill, a flouring mill, a tavern, 3 stores, and 4 physicians. It is on the surveyed road from Monroe to Marshall, and one and a half miles south of the territorial road, ten miles from Marshall, and 100 from Detroit. It contains about 40 dwellings, and is in a thriving condition." What would the Gazetteer have to say about our community today?

From our Historical Notebook we present a painting of Paul Tenney Peabody, our first settler, who looks a bit like George Washington, donít you think?


Tenny Peabody

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