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, July 4, 1993, pg. 19

As we approach Independence Day, let us recal the life of Albionís most distinguished citizen in its 160 year history: The Honorable Washington Gardner (1845-1928). A Civil War veteran, Gardner was originally from Ohio and came to Albion in the 1880s, serving as a professor at Albion College and as a pastor at the local Methodist Episcopal Church on E. Erie St., now torn down. It was during his tenure in 1888 that the church building was constructed.

Gardner served as Michiganís Secretary of State from 1894 to 1899. Continuing in politics, he was elected to the United States House of Represenatives from Michiganís 3rd District. He held that office from 1899 to 1911, serving in the 56th to the 61st Congress. While there, he was a member of the Commission of Appropriations. It was Washington Gardner who secured the funds for our present U.S. Post Office which was erected a few years after he left office. Following his service as a Congressman, Gardner served as Commissioner of Pensions for the U.S. Government from 1921 to 1925, until an auto accident forced him into retirement.

Washington Gardner wrote several books, his most well-known being ďA History of Calhoun County,Ē a huge two-volume set which was published in 1913. In February 1928, the Albion High School was named after this famous Albion citizen, and the name of Washington Gardner still remains in front of the Junior High School today.

Albion went into mourning with the passing of this great leader on March 31, 1928, and many tributes poured into the city remembering the accomplishments of this man. He was buried in Albionís Riverside Cemetery. A grandson, Gardner Lloyd, still lives in Albion today.

One of Washington Gardnerís accomplishments was his leadership in the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization made up of Union Civil War veterans. Gardner was elected as Commander of the Michigan Department of the G.A.R. in 1888. The biggest honor for our local post No. 210 came in 1913, when Washington Gardner was elected Commander-In-Chief of the enitre national organization! He served in that position for one year. At the National Encampment held in September 1914 in Detroit, a spectacular parade was held, in which Albionís Washington Gardner was the main attraction. An issue of the Detroit News at the time featured a huge front page photograph of the parade, with Washington Gardner making headlines. Albion sure was proud! For the convention, delegates could purchase special commemorative badges, which featured a beautiful medal bearing the likeness of Washington Gardner. This badge is a true honor to Albionís most distinguished citizen.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a classic photograph of Washington Gardner, wearing his G.A.R. hat, and displaying his image of stateliness, leadership, and honor.

Washington Gardner


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