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.


Morning Star, November 12, 2000, pg. 16

I do hope youíll make a trip to the Albion Chamber of Commerce, 416 S. Superior St. and look over my Albion history books and materials available there as possible gifts to relatives and friends this coming Christmas season. These make interesting reading and are filled with local history topics of all kinds which they will enjoy. Give them something theyíll remember this year, even a Riverside Cemetery tour booklet.

There are also other books there too which you may wish to purchase. One is a history of the Cheek family entitled, "Bridging the Gap With Reflections from Burkesville, Kentucky to Albion, Michigan" by Frank M. Simmons (1995). Donít let the name fool you--there is alot of Albion history in this. Frank Simmons (who lives in Jackson) of course is well known as being a special education and industrial arts teacher at the Albion Junior High School and Albion Public Schools from 1964 to 1992. He graduated from Washington Gardner High School, Class of 1949. Frank traces his family origins back to Joel Owsley Cheek (1852-1935), who founded the Maxwell House Coffee empire, which is a story in itself and is amply covered in the book. There are numerous stories, charts, photographs, etc. of the Cheek, Simmons, and related families and of course their Albion connections throughout the book.

Simmons also includes ample space in the book however for information and photographs about local people, including students he taught. This particular family genealogy is so interwoven with Albion youíll soon realize it is more than a genealogy book. There are family recipes in this, newspaper clippings, various club and organization memorabilia, personal letters, as well as an array of interesting photographs. It is a book about Albionís diversity, about racial relations, about teachers and others who made a difference here. After reading portions of the book, youíll exclaim, "I didnít know that!"

For example, there are a few pages about the old West Ward School, and some of its teachers such as Mattye L. (Howard) Vest, and Lena Cable Holmes. There is a picture of Boy Scout leader Edward "Doc" Anderson, and a photo of longtime school teacher and counselor Ernest Gray.

We need more books like this one written. Numerous families in town have old photographs from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s that need to be identified and explained for future generations. These include photos of neighbors and friends, and scenes of Albion from long ago that need to be shared. I encourage you to dig out your old family photographs and bring them to Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, and write in pencil on back the identities, dates, and other information. You might even try writing your own family history. If you need an example to follow--read Frank Simmonís book.

The book is 247 pages long, features a colorful cover, and is available for $30. The price is well worth it. How many people remember having Frank Simmons as their teacher? Youíll want to get a copy of this book. From our Historical Notebook we present a photograph of teacher and author, Frank M. Simmons, as many remember him from their Junior High days in the late 1960s.

Frank M. Simmons, teacher and author


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