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, August 12, 2001, pg. 10

Occasionally "out of the blue" a never-before-seen historical photograph from the 19th century will surface after having been passed along in a family for many years. This week we have a real treat for our readers and are publishing such a photograph featuring the north side of downtown Springport circa 1870.

Springport Village originally was largely developed by John Oyer (1819-1889), who arrived in the autumn of 1836 from Cayuga County, N.Y. Oyer helped organized the first township government, built the first store in the village, and erected several brick stores, hotel, mill, etc. For many years the community was known as Oyerís Corners before it was changed to Springport, named after a town in Cayuga County. The village was incorporated in 1882 with a population of 600 people.

Our photograph this week comes from Margaret Horton and Barbara J. Cramer, great-grandaughters of Jacob A. Upright (1816-1910). Jacob came to Michigan with his brother George in 1845 first settling in Convis Township. Jacob then moved to the Albion area. Jacob was one of Albionís early undertakers, and together with Frederick Erhardt (1827-1912) operated an undertaking and furniture-making business in downtown Albion during the Civil War. Back then carpenters would make your casket, and your kitchen table all in the same shop. Jacob is buried in Hotchkiss Cemetery.

Jacob went into business for himself in Springport in the late 1860s where he remained several years before moving to Eaton Rapids in the 1870s. His brother Georgeís descendants lived in Convis Township in Calhoun County, and in the Brookfield Village area in Eaton County. Another brother Edward Upright lived in Albion and served in the Civil War. Margaret has several unidentified photographs from the Brookfield-Convis area she would like identified. Anyone descended from the Upright family is asked to contact her e-mail at: jmhorton@skat.net.

From our Historical Notebook this week in this spectacular photograph we see the two-story brick structure grocery of John Oyer in the center. The name "Oyer" is distinctly found on top, topped off by a flagpole. To the left is a wooden building which appears to be a hardware store. On the right, no mistake about it, is clearly the "Undertaker," i.e. Jacob Upright (no, he didnít bury them that way). On the far right in the distance is an unidentified church. So we have in this order: hardware, grocery, undertaker, church. Is there a lesson to learn in this pattern? Special thanks to Larry Randall for his help in identifications in this photograph.

Notice the wooden sidewalk lining the storefronts, and the abundant merchandise placed out front. In front of the undertaker establishment is a cabinet chest, various chairs and tables, and what appears to be a couple of paintings. The horse-and-buggy in the road adds a classic touch to this priceless photograph, which we are honored to include in this weeks Historical Notebook. This photograph is being placed on our www.albionmich.com internet site for those who want to view it bigger and more clearly. Also pictured in this internet version is a photograph of Jacob A. Upright.

Grocery of John Oyer, Undertaker Jacob Upright

Jacob A. Upright

If anyone has a copy of the 1976 book "From Oyerís Corners to Springport" that they donít want, please let me know, as I need one for my own library.


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