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.

ALBION IN THE 20th CENTURY

Morning Star, June 16, 2002, pg. 3

To the readers of this column and the citizens of the Albion area: You are cordially invited to attend the “grand opening” book signing of my latest book, “Albion in the 20th Century” on Tuesday, June 18 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Albion Volunteer Service Organization, 203 S. Superior St. You may purchase my book at this event, and I’ll sign it for you. It’s been 10 years since I’ve come out with a book, which is long overdue. Your support by supplying me with historical photographs over the past 10 years has helped make this book possible. Let’s celebrate together on Tuesday evening. I’ll see you there.

The book was printed by Arcadia Publishing, the largest local history publisher in the country. It arrived 6 weeks ahead of schedule which was a big surprise to yours truly. This company is really “on the ball” and was so easy and pleasant to work with. “Albion in the 20th Century” is a 128-page pictorial featuring Albion by decades from 1900 all the way up to the present year, 2002. This is a “people” book, focusing on everyday workers, people, places, and events that helped shaped Albion, an industrial town of the 20th century. This is a positive look at our community which can be used to help promote our town and its heritage in many ways in the months to come. Make sure your professional office has a copy in the waiting room.

You’ll be surprised at some of the 225 photographs in this book I’ve come up with. Space does not permit us however to list and describe each one here or the people in them. If you want to know who or what is in the book however, Robin James has prepared a special 10-page index to the book which is available for free on the www.albionmich.com web site. Check it out. You can print one off on your own printer and keep it with your copy of the book for a handy reference.

The beautiful sepia-tone cover of the book shows boys at the Washington Gardner High School 1931 automotive class repairing old cars in their basement classroom (the room is still there, and is presently being used for storage of school supplies). This fittingly represents Albion in the 20th century, as our factories were closely tied to the automotive industry. The Albion Malleable Iron Company produced thousands of castings for the automotive industry, beginning in 1902 for the Reo Corporation in Lansing. Heavy-grade tracks were laid on the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad in order to transport Albion-produced castings to Lansing.

In the 1910s, the Malleable began producing castings for seven Jackson-made automobiles, and Ford, Chevrolet, Maxwell, and others. Parts included differential carriers, spring brackets, running board braces, lamp brackets, foot pedals, rear wheel housings, and thousands upon thousands of wheel hubs. Hubs produced at the Malleable were towed across town by horse cart to the Hayes Wheel Company on N. Clark St. (the future site of Lonergan Manufacturing Company), and later trucked to its successor in Jackson, the Kelsey-Hayes Wheel Company. Henry Ford selected the Hayes wheels (the hubs of which were produced at the Malleable in Albion) for his famous Model-T “flivver.” In one particular year, over 2 million of these were produced.

If you can’t wait until the book signing and want your book “right now,” they are available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce, 416 S. Superior St. (517) 629-5533. You can purchase them there on a regular basis in the coming months. I will also carry copies with me around town, and will have them at the Festival of the Forks. From our Historical Notebook this week we present the cover of “Albion in the 20th Century,” now part of the celebrated “Images of America” series by Arcadia Publishing. For more information about Arcadia, visit their web site at www.arcadiapublishing.com.


Albion in the 20th Century Book Cover

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