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, December 31, 1995, pg. 7

This is part of a series about some early 20th century Albion businesses. Recently I acquired an old blueish medicine bottle on which was molded, “J. W. Brant Co. Albion, Mich.” It was a bottle of “Brant’s Pulmonary Balsam,” with directions first in English, then in German! The stuff sure got around, didn’t it?

The J. W. Brant Company was located at 214 E. Mulberry Street, on the SW corner of Monroe and Mulberry for over 50 years. The firm had come to Albion from Hillsdale in the late 1880s, and was incorporated in 1889. It had originally been founded in 1848 by Dr. J. W. Brant (who else?). Owner of the firm was James W. Shanley, who eventually served as Albion Mayor in 1901. He is the only Albion mayor we do not have a photograph of. Other business partners included C. A. Bolster, and James H. Ford.

The firm was later acquired by J. Clifford Smith and Robert W. Baldwin, who operated it until World War II, when it was purchased by none other than Albion’s state senator: Warren G. Hooper! After his untimely demise via the Purple Gang in 1945, his widow Callinetta closed the factory and sold what remained of the inventory our of her home at 1232 Jackson Street through the remainder of the 1940s before it closed operations.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a drawing of the firm as it appears on the 1918 Insurance Map of Albion. Today this is the site of a former contemporary Union Steel Products building. Just to the west of the Brant Company was the Wochholz & Gress Coal elevator and Wood Yard. Occasionally people will dig up bottles in their yard that are of the Brant Company, and this map will let you know where the firm was located. Does anyone have a photograph of this business?

1918 Insurance Map of Albion


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