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 14, 1993, pg. 10

Occasionally someone hands me an old 19th century Albion photograph which I’ve never seen before, and asks me to identify it. There are probably numerous persons in the area who have old Albion photographs in their attics, and I am more than happy to identify them or place them in my own Albion history archives if the owners don’t want them. Recently, longtime Albion carpenter Claire Torrey showed me a photograph he had of his grandfather, Aldie S. Torrey, who was a grocer in town in the late 19th century.

Torrey was the son of Ripley A. Torrey (1823-1891), who came to Albion in 1843. The family home was at 210 W. Porter St., a structure which was built around 1867. This house just suffered a major fire in March of this year. The house has historical significance, as it was here that the first graduating class of Albion High School, 1878, held its class reception following the graduation ceremonies. Ripley’s daughter Lulu (Lucy) was a member of the first graduating class of Albion High School. She later became the first woman killed in an automobile accident in Detroit around the turn of the century.

Ripley’s son Aldie S.Torrey engaged in the grocery trade, and operated a grocery store with Fred L. Crane at 50 S. Superior St., present location of the Superior St. Barber Shop (302 S. Superior St.). The grocery was located here in the 1880s.

In the early 1890s, Torrey teamed up with the Laberteaux brothers H. Bidwell and Frank, and operated the firm of Laberteaux & Torrey at 208 S. Superior St. location of present-day Davis Decorating. The 1894-95 city directory lists the firm as the Central Market, operated by Torrey and Charles H. Burnett, a future Albion mayor. By 1897 Torrey was out of the grocery business and it was owned by Mary Howard and Charles H. Burnett, according to the 1897-98 directory.

Aldie S. Torrey married Nellie Warner, daughter of Marcellus Warner, a descendant of the Warner clan that helped found and build Albion in the 1830s and 1840s. Following his grocery experience, Aldie purchased a farm on W. Erie St. (Division Drive) which he operated for a number of years. He died in Jackson in 1924 and is interred there. Aldie’s son Edwin (1885-1960) was the father of local carpenter Claire Torrey, who furnished us with this interesting photograph.

This photograph, taken circa 1890 by photographer Mast, shows the front of the store as it appeared at the time. On the far right is Aldie S. Torrey (the short one), standing next to the Laberteaux brothers. The Laberteaux brothers were Bidwell family descendants. H. B. Laberteaux later moved to Niles, Michigan. Frank Laberteaux later served as an Albion city clerk in the 1890s.

In this photograph, the window signs are painted, “The Central Grocery,” and “Groceries.” On the left we can see the reflection across the street of the building which used to sit where Homestead Savings was located by City Bank. On the right is a reflection of the Stone Mill, now City Bank. Not too many Albion stores today retain their original 19th century storefront look, and it is always interesting to compare old photographs with the appearance of storefronts today.

The Central Grocery, circa 1890


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