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.

FRATERNAL ORDER OF THE EAGLES

Morning Star, October 19, 2003, pg. 11

One fraternal group with a long history here is the local Fraternal Order of Eagles. We featured three different Eagles flagholders on my Riverside Cemetery tour on October 5 (tour programs are still available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce). Our local Eagles Aerie (Aerie means bird’s nest) No. 1265 was organized in 1905. The national organization was organized in 1898 in Seattle, Washington as a benevolent fraternal organization. It takes credit for starting Mother’s Day, and for providing the impetus for Social Security. The Eagles portray themselves as “people helping people,” and are involved in many worthwhile causes.

The Eagles have gained a local reputation through the years of putting on some great dinners. This included one in February, 1911 which made headlines, “Eagles Serve Muskrat Dinner. Albion has now joined the ranks of those who favor the water-rat as a delicacy. Thursday night the Albion Eagles served a muskrat dinner to about 150 members...the ‘water-squirrel,’ as some of the more fastidious called it, was the popular dish. Those who came to taste, remained to eat, although one guest, while admitting that he liked it, said he couldn’t stand the ‘rat’ part of the name.”

Our local Eagle Hall was located above 410 S. Superior St. for many years, where weekly meetings were held. The membership swelled in the years before World War I. As a result, the group built a new, large Eagle Temple in 1913 on the northwest corner of S. Clinton and W. Center Streets and moved there. Unfortunately, World War I saw the departure for overseas of many men in the community as they went off to War, and membership began to decline. As a sidelight, that long-sized Albion World War I veterans photograph taken in 1919 was shot in front of the Eagle Temple on W. Center St.

After the War, membership numbers did not recover to pre-War levels. The Eagles found themselves with too large a building on its hands. So they sold their building to local Masonic groups in 1925 and the building has been known as the Masonic Temple ever since. The Eagles thereby moved back to their old location where they remained for many years. They were able to survive the closures of numerous fraternal lodges in Albion, and remain in existence today. Currently the Eagles are located at 2498 E. Michigan Avenue east of town.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph taken on December 1, 1913, the evening the Eagles moved from their 410½ S. Superior St. location above Mounteer’s Bakery, and marched to the new Eagle Temple on W. Center St. Numerous merchandise vendor booths filled the new building. This was called the “Eagle Fair” and was a big celebration in Albion. The event was coordinated with the City of Albion by the inaugural turning on of the newly-installed “boulevard” type globe street lights in downtown Albion. If you look in front of the Masonic Temple on W. Center St. today, you’ll see two sets of those very same street lights that date back to 1913. Those are the only ones remaining today.

The march to the new Temple, the street light turning-on, and the Eagle Fair attracted between four and five thousand persons who lined downtown Albion that evening. Three-hundred members of the local Eagles marched in a double line in back of the marching Boos’ brass band from Jackson, preceded by several automobiles filled with dignitaries. The new Eagle Temple was so packed that evening, that “probably thousands were turned away at the hall, unable to get in,” stated one account, and “the crowd was the largest ever brought out to such an affair in Albion.”

In this photograph we see people lining the 400 block of S. Superior St. in front of the Eagles old location, awaiting the parade. The big banner on the second floor states “Eagle’s Fair in the New Temple Dec. 1-6.” The “F.O.E. 1265” round sign is on the far left. The far right three storefronts housed groceries: two of them the People’s Cash Grocery (two locations), with the W. G. Wallace grocery separating them. You can see signs and merchandise through the windows.


The Eagle Fair, December 1, 1913

Next: A DEER HUNTING STORY


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