Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, September 11, 2011, pg. 11.
Iíll be looking forward to meeting you at my Albion History Booth at the Festival of the Forks on Saturday, September 17 in front of Citizenís Bank. Iíll have my Albion history books and materials for sale and autographing, so come on down. If you have old Albion photos and other materials, Iím always looking for new material for my articles here in this column.
Since this is Festival of the Forks week, letís go way back to the beginnings of Albion history. Have you ever wondered in what house did Albionís first settler, Tenney Peabody, die? Donít worry, it wasnít your house.
When Tenney Peabody came with his family in March, 1832 to "the Forks,Ē he first lived in a crude log cabin he constructed by E. Erie and. S. Monroe Sts. There is a faded State of Michigan historical marker (several of Albionís older markers are now faded and need to be restored) located near the site today. Shortly thereafter, Mr. Peabody constructed a permanent block house just north of there in the same block on E. Porter St., across the street from the Presbyterian Church.
The Albion Recorder recalled that first settlement in March, 1886: "Fifty-four years ago today Charles Blanchard arrived in Albion in company with the late Tenney Peabody and a young man named Dowling. At the time there was not even a shanty or a clearing to mark the present site of this now beautiful and flourishing little city. They reached here about noon and devoted the remained of the day to preparing the ground for the erection of a cabin. The first night, the wagon afforded the only sleeping accommodation. When the cabin was completed the members of the family, who had been left at Blashfields six miles east, came on and thus formed the nucleus of the village. Mr. Blanchard says the weather was delightful and continued so through the spring months.Ē
Six years after living in "the first home,Ē Peabody then constructed a new large house at 1101 E. Michigan Ave. and moved his family there. This was a prominent structure which contained several large white pillars in the front. It was in this house that Tenney Peabody, Albionís first settler, died on July 12, 1856 at the age of 63.
Within a year after Peabodyís death, the property was purchased by Methodist clergyman Rev. Andrew Mason Fitch (1815-1877). His name appears on the 1858 (drawn in 1857) Plat Map. Fitch Street was named after him. Fitch constructed a new elegant home on the site, and it is the Fitch (not Peabody) home that is pictured in the 1894 "Souvenir of City of Albion, Michigan In Photo-Gravure,Ē by James Field.
What happened to the Peabody house? Peabodyís house was moved across the street to the northeast corner of E. Perry and Park Sts. The 1890 Birdís Eye View of Albion by Pauli shows a house on that corner with pillars.
Later after Mr. Fitch passed away, his house became the home of Albion College professor Delos Fall. It was in the back of that house where professor Fall rented a room to Rev. George Bennard, and where the famous hymn "The Old Rugged CrossĒ was composed in 1912. A State of Michigan historical marker is located in front of the site. In the 1920s the house became the home of the Delta Tau Delta fraternity, which stayed there until 1966. The house was then demolished.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a painting of Albionís first settler, Paul Tenney Peabody. Did you know that our town was almost named Peabodyville? Imagine having a Peabodyville College, and a football team, the Peapods here in town.
Paul Tenney Peabody (1793-1856)
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic