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 VICTORY DAY PHOTOGRAPH, 1919

Morning Star, November 13, 2005, pg. 3

As we’ve just celebrated Veteran’s Day this past Friday, we are reminded of its origins which date back to World War I. Armistice Day was celebrated on November 11 for many years in our country, for it was on that date in 1918 that Germany surrendered and World War I was officially over. Here in Albion, a massive “welcome home” Victory Day celebration was held the following summer on August 7, 1919. Albion’s World War I servicemen were honored that day with a massive parade, dinner, programs, ball game, and other events. Thousands of persons attended the festivities as Albion was decorated to honor Albion’s 300 World War I soldiers, sailors, marines, and others. The day included airplane acrobatics at Finley Field east of town, and an evening fireworks presentation at the Albion College athletic field.

One of the events, the “Victory Dinner,” was held at 1 pm. that afternoon at the Eagle Temple (later the Masonic Temple) on W. Center St. Prior to the dinner, a photograph of Albion’s World War I veterans was taken in front of the Temple, and that is the subject of this week’s article.

This classic photographs shows about 240 of Albion’s War veterans posing in their uniforms. This is one of those l-o-n-g photographs that were quite popular in those days. People who wanted a copy could order/purchase one, and several serviceman did. Sometimes the serviceman or the family put an “x” to identify themselves in the photo. As the years went by and Albion’s World War I soldiers died off, these photographs remained with individual families, but no one could remember who the people were in the photo, other than “grandpa.”

Journal of Albion editor Rae Corliss reprinted this photograph in six installments, beginning with the December 29, 1962 edition and continuing in January, 1963. Rae asked if anyone could identify the people in the photo. Several could, who stated something like, “I see Donald Stevens, Ben Honeywell, Dwight Landon, Stuart Kingsnorth, John Osborn, Warner McKinney, Dick Witchinski, Howard “Bud” Welburn, Dewey Russell, Harold Porr, Lillard Culver, Hayes Campbell, Eddie Shideman, Oscar Cummings, Lester Seekell, Warren Brody,” and others. Unfortunately, Rae did not clarify WHERE these persons were in the photo. Some readers did attempt that in letters that were published in subsequent issues, but it was hard to interpret which row they were writing about in their identifications and where those rows started. Rae also confused some of the soldiers with the first name of their older/younger brother instead.

As the years have went by, we have discovered that no one attempted to identify Albion’s World War I veterans in this photograph. Copies were hung in our local American Legion and VFW halls, but no identifications were written down. We can just imagine years ago some of the remaining World War I veterans pointing to themselves in that photo before they themselves passed on.

During the past few years yours truly has been working on identifying the veterans in this photo, and has produced an enlarged-copy display containing the names of those that we do know who they are. If you could recognize any of the aforementioned names, or could identify your lone relative in that photo, please let me know. Your club/organization is also welcome to borrow this display and look through the Journal letters written in 1963 from persons trying to make identifications.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a portion of that historic photograph showing the far right side. We’ve added some identifications. In the front row, the man identified towards the left is Floyd VanSickle. On the right the last three men seated (left to right) are Ralph Huffer, Win Burnett, and Edgar VanMeter. In the back on the left we see African-American veterans Eddie Washington and William Tucker standing next to each other. The man in the back row under the “V” shaped tree is Arthur Hudnutt.

How many of our readers have this photograph amongst their family possessions and could identify their ancestor? This entire photograph with the identifications known so far is being published here for you to study and decipher.


World War I Newspaper photograph

Next: UNION STEEL PRODUCTS 1948 OPEN HOUSE

The entire 1919 photograph of Albion Veterans with identified persons is here.


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