Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, December 9, 2001, pg. 19
We go “on the road” again this week by traveling to the village of Eckford. This small village is located at the intersection of F Drive South, 22 and 22½ Mile Roads in Eckford Township nine miles southwest of Albion. The Village of Eckford is divided between the Marshall and Homer long distance telephone exchanges.
Eckford has an interesting history, and despite its small size, its heritage has been preserved in recent years by resident Bruce Rapp, who moved the old rural Sackett schoolhouse (closed in 1973) to 403 Maple St. and turned it into a museum. There also is an historical monument dedicated in 1980 in the triangular median where the roads intersect on the north side of the village. Unlike Marengo, Eckford Village has its own village limits sign.
Eckford Township was given its name in 1831 from its first settler, surveyor Oshea Wilder who honored an English poet he befriended in England named Henry Eckford. The village was platted in 1883 as a result of the arrival that year of the Cincinnati, Jackson and Mackinaw Railroad (later known as the Detroit, Toledo and Milwaukee). The railroad helped promote the development of the village as it provided a convenient freight and passenger stop in the middle of the township where the rural roads intersected. The village was by platted by John Taylor, and local streets were named: Maple, Dayton, Liberty, Lincoln (now Linden), Harper, Ogden, and Vine (not developed).
A village school was established and taught up through the 8th grade. In the 1940s and 1950s some rural township schools consolidated with the Eckford village school, where students then attended through grade 5. Students had their choice of Marshall or Tekonsha for their later years. The Eckford consolidated district was the last rural elementary school in our area to remain open except Mar-Lee which still operates today. The Eckford school was closed in 1978, and its territory was thereby acquired by the Marshall Schools, with a small southern slice being assigned to Homer. The former schoolhouse is now a residence today.
The village of Eckford received its own post office on November 20, 1884. Early postmaster through the 1894 Michigan Gazetteer listing was farm implement and grain dealer Luther Rogers, succeeded by implement dealer George Hoffman in the 1895 through 1897 listings. The early location(s) of the post office is not known, but could have been either in an implement firm by the railroad tracks, and/or in a building at 213 Maple St. marked “store” in the 1894 atlas plat map of the village.
George W. Butler erected a general store at 217 Maple St. around 1898, with a Maccabbee’s Hall upstairs. George then became the new postmaster as listed in the 1899 through 1901 Gazetteers. He then moved to the state of Washington. Succeeding him at the store/post office was W.C. Willits, who is listed as postmaster from 1903 through 1910. The building burned around 1910.
A new replacement general store and post office was built across the street at 304 Maple St. and was operated by new postmaster William R. Hoffman, listed from 1911 through 1920. A replacement Maccabbees Hall was erected at 300 Maple St., and was later known as the Eckford Community Club. Succeeding Hoffman as postmaster in the 1923 through 1928 Gazetteers was Mabel Clark whose husband Edward operated the general store. Apparently Hoffman got the store back on account of the Great Depression, because the 1931-32 Gazetteer list Hoffman again who was Eckford’s final postmaster. Mail arrived by train. When the Great Depression came, the railroad curtailed service in 1930. The rural routes were assigned to Marshall and Homer. The tracks were abandoned in 1931 and torn up in 1932. The Eckford Village post office was closed on June 15, 1934, with the mail service being assigned to Homer. Old letters bearing an Eckford postmark are collector’s items today.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the Eckford Post Office and W. R. Hoffman General Store circa 1915, courtesy of Bruce Rapp. An addition was later built on the right to exclusively house the Post Office portion. That has now been torn down, but the original main structure as pictured here is still standing today. In 1914 the Maccabbees held a community fundraiser and a cement sidewalk was laid along Maple St. including in front of the store. In later years the store was operated by Ruth Rataball, and sold Sinclair Gas. The Eckford store closed in 1968 and is now used as a residence.
On the right is the Eckford Community Club building which also is used as a residence today. In the early 20th century another general store/gas station stood between the Hall and the Post Office and is shown on the 1916 plat map. It was owned and operated by John Ackley. Towards the end it was run by the Cupps who closed it around 1965. It sold gasoline, cars, and ice cream among other things. Take a drive through the Village of Eckford soon and enjoy its rural setting and the various landmarks there.
Eckford Post Office
All text copyright, 2014 © all rights reserved Frank Passic