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.

THE ALBION MIRROR

Morning Star, September 5, 1993, pg. 11

During the 1830s ane 1840s there were no newspapers in Albion. Our pioneer families relied upon newspapers in the nearby communities of Marshall and Battle Creek for printed news. That all changed however on December 26, 1849 when the first issue of the Albion Press went to print. Although the paper failed in 1850 after only a few months in existence, Albionites were determined to have a local weekly newspaper. This week in our Historical Notebook, we are going to learn of the history of Albionís pioneer newspaper which was in existence for a period of 55 years, and was the key source of local information. We are speaking of the Albion Mirror newspaper.

The Albion Mirror made its debut on Octuber 11, 1855. Its founder and editor was Lawrence W. Cole. For many years the Coleís lived on S. Eaton St., before building a large home on S. Albion at the end of W. Center St. in the 1880s. That house was just demolished this past March. Cole tried to steer the paper on an independent course, but soon found himself on the Democratic side in his poitical opinions. It became known as a Democratic newspaper, and had frequent editorial scraps with the Marshall Statesman, the Albion Recorder, and other more Republican-minded newspapers. Cole remained as editor of the Albion Mirror from its inception until his death in 1894--a period of over 39 years.

Upon his death, his son Frank F. Cole succeeded him. Frank was a former postmaster of Albion, and was on the original Citiy Council when the City of Albion was organized in 1885. He died suddenly at the age of 55 in 1905. At that time Lawrence W. Cole Jr., grandson of the founder, took over the Mirror. Unfortunately, competition in the newspaper business was fierce at the turn of the century. The trend at the time was to move to a daily paper, something the Mirrorís competitor, the Recorder, had accomplished in 1904.

Cole sold the newspaper to Kalamazoo interests in mid-1909, and the Mirror began daily operations. The name of the paper was updated as the Albion Mirror-Gazette, after the parent firm paper, the Kalamazoo Gazette. C. P. Luyendyk of Kalamazoo served as president of the company, with Karl W. Lambody as general manager. A. Bennett Anthony served as the managing editor of the paper, as well as secretary and treasurer of the company.

The new company continued to publish the Mirror-Gazette, but the main business of the firm was printing labels. The label business grew so much that it was decided to cease printing the paper, and concentrate on label making. The final issue of the Albion Mirror-Gazette appeared on January 22, 1910, and with its demise went Albionís pioneer newspaper. Only the Albion Recorder was left in town as a daily paper, although the weekly Albion Leader continued until 1918.

The Mirror Printing Company moved its Albion plant to Kalamzoo a few years later, after its business increased to a point where it was decided it would be able to expand and grow better in that city, and that only a very small amount of commercial printing was being done in Albion.

The Albion Mirror was located on W. Center St., in the building which later housed the Marshall Label & Tag Company, a firm owned by the late Roger Lewis, which printed funeral cards across the country. In a bit of irony, it was the Albion Recorder, the old Mirrorís main competitor, which acquired the building and had it demolished several years ago between its main offices and the distribution building.

Copies of the Albion Mirror have been microfilmed and are now available for reading in the local history room at the Albion Public Library. Occasionally, a singular issue turns up, discovered in an attic or under a floor mat in an old Albion home. If anyone has copies of the Albion Mirror, please let this writer know.


The Albion Mirror

Next: ALBION'S ETHNIC MAKE-UP


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