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 19, 2000, pg. 13

One thing about history books is that they are always references where you can look things up. Consider giving one of my Albion history books as a Christmas gift this year. Out-of-town relatives and friends especially would appreciate my book A HISTORY OF THE ALBION PUBLIC SCHOOLS if they haven’t gotten one yet. Even my Riverside Cemetery tour booklets can make unusual "stocking stuffers." These are all available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce at 416 S. Superior St. When Christmas shopping this year, stop by the Albion Chamber of Commerce first.

One particular book available at the Chamber is the "The History of Clarence Township: Then and Now" published in 1994 written and published by the Clarence Township Historical Society. We reviewed this book when it first came out, but perhaps many of our readers are unfamiliar with it. The name is not exclusive however; the book goes well beyond the borders of Clarence Township and covers topics occurring in Albion, Partello, Springport, Olivet, Rice Creek, and others. The book costs $25 but is well worth it.

This hard-cover book contains numerous classic articles previously printed in the Journal of Albion newspaper, family histories submitted by family descendants, and is filled with photographs of the Duck Lake area and the families that lived near it. There are numerous memories of people from Albion, Charlotte, Eaton Rapids, and elsewhere who had cottages at Duck Lake. The biographies of area farmers are also amply covered.

In 1872 Dr. Stephen Munroe (1813-1890) came to the Duck Lake area. He’s the one that erected that quaint little private schoolhouse that still stands on the north end of Duck Lake. The book states (p. 132): "The Doctor started a commercial boat livery and a boat office/store on the north shore. Also, there was a livery barn, a carriage barn, drive-on scales, two grocery/general stores, a barbershop, sawmill, and a U.S. Post Office. There was a cooperage (where barrels were made) under the carriage barn."

Dr. Munroe gave over 200 acres of farmland and lake shore to his niece Betsey Munroe Leonard, and 133 acres of farmland across the road to his nephew and James E. Munroe (1849-1917). Dr. Munroe helped both erect their homes and barns, and also their general stores.

Most people remember James’ store in the late 20th century as the Lake’s Duck Lake Grocery operated by Bud and Sue Lake. It was located on the northwest corner of Monroe Rd. and 26˝ Mile Road. The original store, along with the house of James Munroe to the left, is pictured on page 156 of the Clarence Township book. This store served as a Duck Lake Post Office which was in existence from 1875 to 1901. When Rural Free Delivery was established, the Duck Lake post office was closed September 14, 1901, and mail was delivered from rural routes out of the Springport post office.

There was another general store, however, called the Duck Lake Store. It was erected by Betsey (Munroe) Leonard (1838-1914), daughter of Leonard Munroe (1814-1901), and wife of William H. Leonard (1840-1919). It was built directly across the road from the general store of her brother, James Monroe, and was located on the southwest corner of Monroe Road and North Shore Drive. William Leonard served as Duck Lake postmaster from 1889 to 1893, and Betsey’s father Leonard served as postmaster for two years from 1894 to 1896. David Garfield wrote me that this store, too served as a site of the Duck Lake post office.

This store is not pictured in the book, so from our Historical Notebook this week we present a rare 1911 picture postcard of it, looking south towards the lake which can be seen in the distance. A small bench sits on the right side of the porch with an advertisement that states, "J.G. BABCOCK, CLOTHIER, Springport." To the right we find a small building which was a barber shop. In the early 20th century, the store was operated by Charles and Ellen Smith. The building burned to the ground around 1920.

Special thanks to David A. Garfield for supplying information for this week’s article. Betsey (Munroe) Leonard was an aunt of his mother, Marion (Howlett) Garfield (1870-1940)

Duck Lake Store


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