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.

IRATE DEPOSITORS MET AT OPERA HOUSE 100 YEARS AGO

Morning Star, December 2, 2012, pg. 16

Hereís a friendly reminder that my Albion history books make great Christmas gifts. They are available from yours truly, or at the Albion Chamber of Commerce. Buy one of each for yourself, too!

Many Albion citizens lost a substantial percentage of their life savings in the failure of the Albion National Bank in January, 1912. Due to the efforts of the bank receiver Frank L. Irwin, depositors were eventually able to get just 30% of their funds returned to them. This bank was located in the north half of where Fedco is today in downtown Albion.

A committee was established representing the depositors, consisting of community leaders at the time: William Porr, Hadley H. Sheldon, Delos Fall, Charles Krenerick, the Hon. Washington Gardner, and A. J. Brosseau. A mass meeting was held nearly a year after the failure, on the evening of December 4, 1912 at the Albion Opera House. At that meeting, a 15-page petition and resolution of the group of depositors was signed and sent to the Comptroller of the Currency along with a photograph.

The petition stated, "Whereas, the history of the events culminating in the failure of the Albion National Bank presents a record of criminal misconduct on the part of the bank, and gross negligence on the part of the government almost unparalleled in the annals of banking, and

Whereas, nearly a year has elapsed since it became certain that the depositors of 1,200 of our people aggregating $250,000 has been sacrificed by said bankís felonious violations of the peopleís trust and the nationís laws and

Whereas the crimes committed through said bank have been peculiarly heartless and wicked, sparing neither the savings of a multitude of laborers nor the resources of widows and orphans, and

Whereas, the government has thus far contended itself by mildly punishing two persons who confessed their guilt without taking effective steps to ascertain who, and how many more are likewise guilty; there, be it

RESOLVED, that we as depositors of the said Albion National Bank condemning the negligence and inaction of the government, do hereby demand that a vigorous and thorough investigation be immediately made, for the purpose of ascertaining and bringing to justice the remaining offenders, if there are any, who may be found to be criminally responsible for the failure of said bank. Be it further

RESOLVED, that copies of this resolution be signed by the depositors and be transmitted to the Department of Justice and the Comptroller of the Currency, at Washington."

From our Historical Notebook this week we present the photograph of that group of irate depositors that accompanied the petition. This is a rare photograph of the inside of the Opera House, a major Albion entertainment center in the late 19th century. It was located above where dentist Judy Warrenís office is in downtown Albion today.

In the front row, left side, just to the right of the chair is Jacob Perine, Albionís oldest Civil War veteran. The name list of depositors who signed the petition is found on pages 55-58 of my 1985 book, "Albionís Banks and Bankers." Four persons were eventually convicted in the bank failure: the father Henry M. Dearing and his two sons Palmer, and George; and Addie Hollon, secretary to Palmer Dearing at the Cook Manufacturing Company. All served time in prison.


The Irate Investors meeting of December 4, 1912

Next: Albion 100 Years Ago - December 1912


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