Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, April 20, 2003, pg. 6
Occasionally in this column we feature a particular Albion street name, and the biography behind its namesake. This week we are featuring Arthur St. Do you know where it is located? Arthur St. is the first street you come to on the west side of N. Eaton St. north of Austin Avenue. It is also the first street you come to on the north side of Austin Ave. west of N. Eaton St. How can this be? If you look at a map, you’ll see that Arthur St. is “L” shaped; thus it has two “entrances.” Arthur St. of course is where long-time Albion City Councilman Ron Gant lives.
The namesake of Arthur Street was Bradford Joseph Arthur (b. February 4, 1805, d. May 13, 1900). A native of Maine, Bradford was married to Caroline Allan (1814-1883). The couple lived in Hamilton, Ontario during the 1830s, and in Paris, Ontario in the 1840s. Mr. Arthur returned with his family to the U.S. and came to Albion in 1854. He purchased the 80 acre farm of John Wild (Albion’s second village president after whom Wild St. is named) on the north, plus an additional 21 acres adjoining it on the south which today includes the northwest corner of Austin Avenue and N. Eaton St.
At the time, what is today Arthur St. served as the approximate boundary between the village and the township, so part of his farmland was inside, and part of it outside the village. The Arthur family home was located at 927 N. Eaton St., on the west side just south of North St. The 1873 Atlas shows a water well just west of the residence. The village boundary was extended by 1871 to be even with North St. which thereby included the farmhouse. By 1894 the boundary was moved further northwards to Broadwell Avenue to include the entire farm. The part of Arthur St. that curves into Austin Ave. was the western boundary of the property.
The Arthur’s are listed in the 1860 through 1880 U.S. Census.’ Bradford and Caroline moved back to Canada for a few years to be near their eldest daughter Amelia (b. 1834), and son Edward (b. 1841) who had lived in Albion with his parents and married Zilpha “Fanny” Leach here in 1863. Mrs. Arthur died in 1883 in Dundas, Ontario. Another daughter, Jennie Arthur (b. 1836), had married Munson Warner Church here in Albion on March 4, 1858. That couple moved to California where the Church family ranch was located near Sacramento. Munson was the son of Lura Ann (Warner) and Chandler Munson Church, Lura being the daughter of Albion pioneer Wareham Warner. Lura was the subject of a 1942 “Death Valley Days” radio broadcast about “fetching the horses” from Michigan (Albion) and driving them to California. We covered that topic in the May 3, 1998 edition of this column.
At the time of his move back to Canada in 1882, Bradford Arthur subdivided the southern portion of his farmland, and Arthur Street was platted. It appears listed in the 1885 Albion City Directory, with two residences already located there. The northern portion of the property was sold to William H. Hartwell who moved into the former Arthur farmhouse and continued to farm the remaining land. Hartwell St. was subsequently named for him when he subdivided his property. Just to the north is Wild St., named after the original owner of the land.
Bradford and his son Edward and family decided to move to California to be near Jennie’s family. The Monrovia Messenger of November 1, 1888 states, “B. Arthur of Albion, Michigan, and Philo Gibbs of Homer, Mich. are stopping at the Grand View hotel. They are in quest of property in this vicinity.” The November 8 edition stated that Arthur “had bought through the Syndicate the J. F. Brossart house and lot in the Pacific View tract, and will occupy it at once with his son’s family. Mr. Arthur also intends improving some lots in the same tract which he bought last winter.”
Following his move to Monrovia, the remains of his late wife Caroline were disinterred from the cemetery in Dundas, Ontario, and transported to California for re-burial in 1889. Bradford Arthur spent the remainder of his years in Monrovia. The family purchased a plot in the Live Oak Cemetery there, where Bradford was interred upon his death on May 13, 1900. His son Edward passed away in 1891, and was buried in the family plot.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of Bradford Joseph Arthur, the namesake of Arthur St. in Albion, courtesy of Edward Huson of San Francisco, California, a descendant. His information, along with that of a cousin, Steve Baker of Monrovia, was helpful in the preparation of this week’s article. They also had a couple of family group photographs showing the Arthur’s, and some Albion friends that moved to Monrovia in the 1890s: Violetta McMurtrie, and her daughter and son-in-law Susan (McMurtrie) and Theodore Crandall.
Bradford Joseph Arthur
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic