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, September 12, 1993, pg. 2

At this time of year we turn our thoughts towars Albion’s annual ethnic festival, the Festival of the Forks. The Festival was originally designed to celebrate Albion’s diverse ethnic make-up, and features ethnic foods and entertainment on the third Saturday of September each year.

Albion’s ethnic make-up has much to do with the formation of industries here in the 19th century. The relocation of hte Gale Manufacturing Company to Albion during the Civil War soon brought large numbers of Germans, Irish, and Italians to our community in the following decades. After the Albion Malleable Iron Company was formed in 1888, it began recruiting workers form foreign countries, particularly Russia. early in the 20th century, Albion saw a substantial influx of Eastern Europeans, such as Hungarians, Lithuanians, Poles, Russians, Yugoslavians, and others who went to work at the Albion Malleable Iron Company. The Malleable also recruited black workers from Pensacola, Florida in 1916 and 1917. Mexican workers came to Albion during the early 1940s, and an influx of persons from Kentucky and Tennessee came to Albion to work at the Corning Glass Works which opened in 1950. These are jsut some of the many examples of the origins of Albin’s ethnic make-up.

What is Albion’s ethnic make-up today? Back in 1990 if you will remember, we all filled out the official U.S. Government census forms. The data has now been compiled for Albion, adn I am happy to bring you some very interesting information. Albion’s population is officially just above 10,000 persons. If it weren’t for counting the students at Albion College, we would be in the low 9,000s, and would have lost even more tax dollars and prestige. So thank the Albion College students for being part of our community.

Anyway, on the census forms we had to indicate our race. On the longer forms it also asked for our ethnic nationality background. The 1990 census results show that Albion has 6,594 white persons, 3,106 black persons, and 43 of American Indian descent. Also, 57 are of Asian descent, with 266 others listed as “other races.”

What is even more interesting is the ancestry origin data. Listed here is the official ethnic make-up of the City of Albion taken from the 1990 U.S. Census. Please bear in mind that if you had the “short form” you did not have to list this information, and not everyone did. There were a total of 12,023 ancestries reported. Also keep in mind that some persons reported two ancestries, which accounts for the “higher than our city population” figure. It also includes the children in the particular household.Again, those who filled out the “short form” were not able to indicate this information. The figures however, are designed to be an accurate representation of Albion’s ethnic make-up, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The listing presented here is for the most part whites from various countries. The last column, “other ancestries” would include Albion’s blacks which are analyzed elsewhere in the Census statistics.

Arab-18; Austrian-37; Belgian-23; Canadian-92; Czech-29; Danish-67; Dutch-329; English-1,358; Finnish-59; French (except Basque)-314; French-Canadian-78; German-2,307 (Albion’s largest white ethnic group); Greek-84; Hungarian-32; Irish-1,301 (Albion’s third largest white ethnic group); Italian-335; Lithuanian-38; Norwegian-34; Polish-476; Portuguese-12; Romanian-0; Russian-115; Scotch-Irish-109; Slovak-43; Sub-Saharan African-7; Swedish-131; Swiss-36; Ukrainian-17; United States or American-308; Welsh-76; West Indian (excluding Hispanic origin groups)-0; Yugoslavian-1; Other ancestries-3,918. Of course we all know that these figures are not really mathematically correct, as they only indicate those who filled that information in on their Census forms. But these are the official figures that will be used for our community for another 7 or so years.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present the classic photograph taken around 1912-13 of white immigrant workers at the Albion Malleable Iron Company. Only a few persons have been identified in this photo, which appears on page 42 of my History of Albion pictorial history book. Front row (left to right): Emil Hahn, Fred Baerman, Ballard “Skinny” Bennett. No. 7 is rank Tech, followed by Stephen Horosko (with the mustache). In the center row, No. 7 with the sports coat after the man with the folded arms is Fred “Happy” Bieske. Can our readers identify any others?

One postscript: A copy of the 1990 Census statistics for Albion is on file at the Albion Volunteer Center, thanks to the hard work of its director, Sandy Skaar who spent several hours in Lansing photocopying the information from microfilm. The data is very interesting, and makes a great study about our community.

Maleable Iron Company Workers 1912-13


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