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.


Morning Star, June 23, 2013, pg. 3

The Albion Public School Board has made its decision to close Albion High School and send our students to Marshall. Rather than expound an editorial comment about our local predicament, let's instead look at the historical record and focus upon where it all began: at the very first graduating class at Albion High School.

The first graduating class at Albion High School was the class of 1878. Yes, they had high school before then beginning in November, 1872 when classes commenced. However the first superintendent (1872-1877) Frank B. McClellan was a "man of iron" according to one source. He believed that education was never finished and therefore there could logically be no graduation. So there weren't any graduations for five years (Classes of 1873 through 1877) even though the course work was completed. One source stated, "Satisfied with the purely practical in life, he had no patience with the fanciful embellishments which go to make occasions memorable in the minds and hearts of youth."

After McClellan left in the summer of 1877 (along with his philosophy), a new superintendent took over, E. C. Thompson, who allowed subsequent classes to formally graduate.

The first graduating class of 1878 consisted of seven students, five girls and two boys, most of whom were born in 1860-61. They were: Valedictorian Mary R. Fanning, Lucy Torrey (Mrs. Niram Mudge), Maggie Woolsey (Mrs. J. B. Ware), Kirtland Davis, Marion Crosby, Emma T. Lewis (Mrs. H. M. Weed), and George Graves. Are any of our readers descendants or somehow related to those persons? I know of at least one area name still around that is related, Torrey.

The first graduation ceremony was held downtown in the Opera House on Saturday, June 15, 1878. The Albion Evening Recorder recalled the event 50 years later in 1928: "The Opera House was aglow with brightness from the ornate and old time gas chandelier, which hung suspended from the zenith of the high ceiling. Flowers galore sent by loving friends added their gay colors and the hearts of the five young women and the two young men as well as those of their families and friends were palpitating with excitement.

At 8 o'clock the hour set for the program to begin, the board of education: Charles W. Dalrymple, Eugene W. Hollingsworth, John Fanning and Henry Montgomery Dearing, trustees, took their places on the platform together with Prof. Thompson, his dozen teachers and the class.

Following the ceremony, graduates, teachers, and the school board went a couple of blocks away to the home of Lucy "Lulu" Torrey (her father was Ripley A. Torrey) at 210 W. Porter St. for the first Albion High School graduation party. Lucy (1861-1903) (Torrey) Mudge holds the dubious distinction of being the first woman killed in an automobile accident in Detroit on October 6, 1903.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a cartoon depicting events in recent years regarding our local schools and their fate.

Albion School Closing Cemetery Tour Cartoon


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