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.

JUSTICE DOCKETS

Morning Star, March 10, 1996, pg. 14

If you are doing research on your family history, one place I have found you might like to check is the Criminal Justice Dockets from the late 19th and early 20th centuries found in the Albion Public Library in the Local History Room. These large ledgers contain various cases handled by Albionís Justice of the Peace at the time, Arza L. McCutcheon (1855-1920). Arza was an insurance man by trade and erected his fine residence at 412 E. Michigan Avenue in 1883. The house is still standing today. Arza served as Albionís Mayor in 1897, and held the post of Justice of the Peace for many years.

Each case is readily indexed at the beginning of each ledger in alphabetical order. Each individual case gives the names ofthe plaintiffs and defendants, as well as the charges. There follows the details and results of the trials or plea. A glance at some of these charges involve such things as gambling, drunkenness, assault and battery, larceny, vagrancy, pushing cart on sidewalk, riding bicycle on sidewalk, non-support, malicious injury to cattle, violating liquor laws, disorderly conduct, assumption of debts, and similar offenses.

Of special interested is the ledger covering the 1914-1916 period, in which numerous European immigrant names appear for various offenses, as well as the names of well-established citizens. Some "sample" names among the 300 cases include: John Walsh, George Parks, Mike Bilicki, Frank OíDell, Edgar McCullough, Linn Lautenslager, Helen Ignituck, Jim Weidener, Frank Fields, Andrew Fleming, Taka Garrison, Charles Cozine, Fred Burns, John Brezette, W.A. Bunde, Theo Greenman, Emi Hobus, Harry Handrick, Charles Hoaglin, Paul Lohrke, G. VanPatton, William Powell, Mike Bilinski, Fred Beilfuss, Homer C. Blair, Frank Dean, Leman Lake, Aldie Torrey, John Haag, Pauline Zolinski, Averko Awidenowicz, Egnat Strachatenko, Sergi Scautinowicz, and many others. Under the "Ps" I found my own name! Actually, it turned out to be my grandfatherís brother Frank who lived here in 1915.

Specifically ask for the Criminal Justice Docket Ledger for the 1914-1916 period. When you do find the proper page and read the interesting material, jot down the date the offense first occurred, and the date the trial was held. Then go to the microfilm reader and check the local news column in the newspaper on those dates or the days before and after. Most likely you will find something written about it by a reporter, and learn of the juicy details behind the charges. In those days, nothing was "alleged;"--it actually happened! I encourage our readers to check these dockets--you may be in for a surprise.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of Arza McCutcheon, Albionís Justice of the Peace during the early 1900s.


Arza McCutcheon, Albion's Justice of the Peace

Next: JAMES W. SHELDON MEMORIAL HOSPITAL


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