Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, November 20, 1994, pg. 5
"Come to your senses, and answer the Census." In the local history room at the Albion Public Library is an important roll of microfilm which has only been available for a couple of years. It is the 1920 14th United States Census for the City of Albion and Calhoun County. In it is information about every person who lived in Albion in January, 1920.
This information heretofore unavailable by law, is important for those whose ancestors came to Albion between the period 1910 and 1920, and who want to learn more about their family heritage. This would include much of Albionís black population, who were recruited to work at the Albion Malleable Iron Company in 1916-17, and European immigrants who were recruited by the same during the 1910s also.
The census has revealing information, such as: name, occupation, age, date, immigrated to the U.S., country or state of birth, can read or write, childrenís names and ages, mothers native tongue, fatherís native tongue, occupation, can speak English, if attended school address, and those living at the same address.
Albionís enumerators for the 1920 census were: 1st Ward--Clyde M. Bacon; 2nd Ward--Lua H. Miller and Mrs. Mary B. Baker; 3rd Ward--Kate Bromeling; 4th Ward--Hamilton White and Francis White Pattison. In looking through the microfilm, some of these enumerators had excellent penmanship (or is it now "penpersonship?) and are easy to read and copy.
Others, however, you suspect wrote down the information as fast as they could so they could get out of the area, especially the enumerator for the First Ward--the west end of Albion which contained the so-called "foreign settlement" along Austin Avenue where many European immigrants lived in Albion Malleable Iron Company housing; and of course this area included the black population in the W. Cass and Culver Street areas. The penmanship leaves much to be desired for that enumerator, who had to try and spell those long and difficult Polish, Italian, Lithuanian, and Russian names as they were pronounced to him.
The 1920 Census reveals Albionís diverse ethnic mix. In looking through the countries of origins, you will discover just about every country and province in the world represented, from Palestine to Pommerania; from Croatia, to Canada.
As an example, in the 2nd Ward at 807 Prospect Street lived a Michael Sibal, age 38 and his wife Mary, age 31. He came to the U.S. in 1897 from Austria, and Croatian was their native tongue. Austria-Hungary controlled Croatia during the period before World War I. Hence we conclude that they were from the present-day country of Croatia.
Another example is Barto Gianformaggio, who lived in Albion Malleable Iron Company housing on Austin Avenue where McAuliffe Park now stands. His address was 16Ĺ "Company Housing," and of course he rented his house. He is listed as a laborer in a foundry. Barto was 35 years old, and came to the U.S. in 1913, along with the rest of his family. listed as an alien, he was born in Italy, and Italian was his native tongue. His wife Carmelia was age 27, and also is listed as an alien, as are their two children Mary age 9, and Tina age 7. Both children were attending school.
The enumerator would go up and down the block, house by house, and then cross over and do the other side of the street. Letís look at three houses next to each other on Mechanic Street and see the diversity of the neighborhood. At 512 Mechanic Street lived Solomon Union, a factory laborer. Age 43, he lived with his wife Kate, age 37. Both were natives of Alabama. Their children, however, William B., 17; Ulah, 12; and Georgia, 10; had been born in Florida. Next to them at 514 Mechanic Street lived Roy Streeter, age 35, and his wife Nola, age 33. He is listed as an auto parts molder. There are listed four children living with them, and a brother-in-law border, Elmer Dean, age 28.
At 516 Mechanic Street lived Tony Jasienski, age 37, a molder who worked with furnaces. A native of Warsaw, Poland, according to the Census sheet, he came to the U.S. in 1903, and was naturalized in 1913. He lived with his wife Steffa, age 33, and their son Henry, age 16.
Some rainy or snowy afternoon, why not stop at the Albion Public Library and take a look at your ancestorís listing in the 1920 U.S. Census for Albion. You might find some things you donít know about. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of Kate Bromeling (1874-1935), enumerator for the 3rd Ward in the 1920 Census. Bromeling by the way, was the first woman to be elected to a municipal office in Albion (1924), and served as Justice of the Peace for many years.
Kate Bromeling (1874-1935)
Next: MORGAN FIELD
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic