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.

STARR COMMONWEALTH MILK BOTTLE

Morning Star, December 12, 2004, pg. 14

Don’t forget to check out my Albion history books and materials at the Albion Chamber of Commerce for “extra” Christmas gifts to your friends and family. Even my Riverside Cemetery tour programs make great “stocking stuffers,” and no doubt will get conversation started at your house when they are opened. Themes such as three different ethnic tours, a German Hill tour, a pioneer tour, and a musical tour are just some of what is available.

I’m always on the lookout for historical objects that are reflective of Albion’s history. This week I’d like to feature something from Albion’s other revered institution, Starr Commonwealth Schools, which was originally known as Starr Commonwealth for Boys. This week’s featured object came from the Starr dairy.

The Starr dairy was located on the old Daniel Billinghurst (1819-1896) farm on B Drive North south of the Starr main campus. 200 acres in size, it was one of the several area farms acquired by Starr, and was managed by the Halderman Farm Management Service of Wabash, Indiana. The complex contained a large cowbarn, a small milkhouse, three silos, and also a chicken house. The latter, by the way, was home to 1,100 chickens with “self-cleaning” nests and high quality eggs. This farm was considered an asset at the time because it supplied the Starr campus with food essentials. Some of the buildings later burned. Just down the hill from the farm of course was the Billinghurst School, named after this early pioneer of Sheridan Township.

Milk was processed and placed in Starr Commonwealth’s exclusive half-pint milk bottles which were sealed with a 33 mm. diameter light cardboard milk cap. The milk would be delivered to the main Starr kitchen. The boys would then deliver the bottled milk to their respective cottages as part of their daily chores. No milk was sold locally in town from these milk bottles. That would have constituted competition for the regular commercial dairies operating in the Albion area which too had their own milk bottles and delivery routes. Thus these Starr Commonwealth milk bottles are rare today, although a few have made their way through the years into collector’s hands The Starr half-pint bottle is listed in the standard reference, “The Milk Bottle Book of Michigan.” There also appears to have been a quart-sized bottle, according to photographs.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present two photographs. The first is of a Starr half-pint milk bottle. The fancy written text in raised letters state, “Starr Commonwealth For Boys Albion, Mich.” On the bottom edge is the statement “Half Pint Liquid,” and “Registered Sealed” followed by a code ending in “48,” meaning this bottle was made in 1948.


Starr half-pint milk bottle

Our second photograph shows Wilcox Cottage housemother Marie Bright with her boys at the evening snack in January, 1950. Left to right: Richard Ross, Robert Johnson, Mrs. Bright, and Duane Patten. The latter is pouring milk from a Starr Commonwealth quart-sized bottle into a glass. How many of our readers still have bottles from Albion’s numerous dairies which once operated here?


Wilcox Cottage Evening Snack, January, 1950

Next: 1961 BOOSTERS & KNOCKERS CLUB


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