Morning Star, August 28, 1994, pg. 13
In the mid-19th century, many communities across Michigan were still too small to support the publication of a village or city directory. In order to advertise their community and promote their local businesses however, communities advertised in the Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory. Usually published in Detroit, these gazetteers were issued annually, and contained brief histories about each community. What do some of these early gazetteers say about Albion?
The 1838 gazetteer states, “ALBION-A village of recent origin, situated on the Kalamazoo River, on the located route of the central rail road, in Albion township, Calhoun County. It has a post office, a saw mill, a flouring mill, a tavern, 3 stores, and 4 physicians. It is on the surveyed road from Monroe to Marshall, and one and a half miles south of the territorial road, ten miles from Marshall, and 100 from Detroit. It contains about 40 dwellings, and is in a thriving condition.”
The listing for neighboring Albion Township states, “ALBION TOWNSHIP. Statistics as per-census: Population, 773. A saw mil; 7,166 bushels of wheat, 5,300 bushels corn, 7,285 bushels oats; 547 head net stock, 99 horses, 167 sheep, 648 hogs.”
As the years went by, the listing for Albion grew larger, with more history given, and businesses added. Of interest to us is a gazetteer issued during the Civil War, 1863-64, which gives us a glimpse of the importance of water power in Albion. It concerns Jesse Crowell and the 1845-built Stone Mill, presently the City Bank & Trust Company building.
“One of the largest flouring mills in the state (the Albion Stone Mill, Jesse Crowell, proprietor) which turns out an average of 25,000 bbls of flour annually, is located here. Among the noticeable features of Albion is the artesian well on the premises of Jesse Crowell, Esq., the only well of the kind in the county. It is 285 feet in depth and discharges a continuous stream of pure water, at the rate of two barrels per minute, the water maintaining a mean temperature of 53 degrees Fehrenheit, which never varies a single degree in summer or winter.”
Where was this artesian well located? There were a few notable artesian wells in historic Albion--all on the property of Jesse Crowell. One was located in front of the mill office, in front of the present-day Fedco in downtown Albion. For many years people could walk down some steps beside the sidewalk and fetch a cup of water out of a common community cup. And then there was the spring located in the Market Place (now the Stoffer Plaza spring) which had a quaint little park with a drinking fountain and watering trough. Of course there is the big spring that is now part of Victory Park which was also owned by Jesse Crowell.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present an 1857 lithograph of Jesse Crowell’s office, present-day location of the north half of Fedco. To the left is the large Stone Mill, now City Bank & Trust Company.
1857 Lithograph of Jesse Crowell’s Office
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