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 24, 2002, pg. 7

One of Albion’s leading industries in the early 20th century was the Hayes Wheel Company, which was located here from 1913 to the end of 1930. It produced millions of wheel hubs for the automotive industry. During its heyday the local plant employed over 450 persons and produced 66% of all automobile hubs sold in the United States, and 54% in the world. Located on the east side of N. Clark St., the firm merged with the Kelsey Wheel Corporation in 1927 to form the Kelsey-Hayes Wheel Corporation. Operations here were shut down in November, 1930 and moved to the company’s east-end plant in Jackson. The Albion plant later became the headquarters of the Lonergan Manufacturing Company which purchased it in the 1930s.

Our focus this week is on the company newsletter which was entitled “The Hub.” Several of Albion’s factories had their own company newspaper/magazines, but they did not appear until the 1940s. The Hayes Wheel plant publication however is the earliest such newsletter we know of. Volume 1 No. 1 was published on March 23, 1920, and subsequent issues appeared in two-week increments.

The newsletter contained company news which chirped about the growth of the company, the costs involved, safety tips, and other “plant-related” items. It also published a wealth of personal news about its employees, such as: weddings, births, trips taken, company parties, illnesses, promotions, want/for sale ads by employees, softball game results, bowling, poetry, and other items. It was a great way to communicate to its employees and the public concerning news about one of Albion’s major manufacturers.

Managing Editor was M. B. Gilbert, who was assisted by: Ira L. Decker, Albert Gale (who did the artwork), Menno H. Davis, Frank L. Herrick, R. G. Richner, Lillian Barratt, and Rena Comstock. It was customary in those days to just give initials instead of full first names when writing about someone, which saved typesetting space in publications.

In browsing through several early issues of “The Hub” in my personal collection, this historian has found one particular issue interesting, as it contains numerous photographs of the Albion plant management team. The July 8, 1920 issue features a photograph of company President and General Manager C. B. Hayes of Jackson. The rest of the photos are of Albion plant officials, beginning with factory Manager William D. Brundage who had just been promoted to Assistant General Manager for the whole company. The back page contains the names of every one of the 481 employees of the Albion plant who were wishing Mr. Brundage well in his new position. There also is an article on page 1 entitled “Republicans or Democrats not to Blame--Blame Adam and Eve.”

Continuing with the photographs are found: Brundage’s replacement Fred S. Brown, formerly the Superintendent; new Superintendent Charles L. Warner; Division Engineer W. E. Hallett; Production Manager Ross M. Gillett; Office Manager and Cashier Ira L. Decker: and General Foreman, Claude J. Miller.

From our Historical Notebook this week we illustrate page 1 of the July 8, 1920 issue of “The Hub.” This writer is always looking for copies of Albion factory newspapers or magazines, such as the Gale Manufacturing Company “News;” the Albion Malleable Iron Company “Circle-A-Tor;” the Union Steel “Messenger;” “The Hub;” and others. Don’t throw these out; I can use them.

I am also on the “lookout” for other “Albion stuff” such as city directories, Albion High School Breeze newspapers and yearbooks, Albion tokens, Calhoun County books and atlases, Albion dairy bottles/caps, and of course Albion postcards and photographs. These help me immensely in the preparation of these articles. You can contact me at: Frank Passic, 900 S. Eaton St., Albion, MI 49224. (517) 629-5402. E-mail: albionfp@hotmail.com. Check your attic this week. I thank you for your support. A happy Thanksgiving and best wishes to all of my readers of this column.

Top part of July 8, 1920 issue of “The Hub”

Bottom part of July 8, 1920 issue of “The Hub”


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