Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, September 28, 1997, pg. 30
Coming up on Sunday, October 12, at 1:30 p.m. is my annual tour of Riverside Cemetery. By popular request, this yearís tour is entitled, "An Ethnic Tour of Riverside Cemetery, Part 2." We will again be walking through the southern sections of Riverside and honoring the memories of about 40 different persons. Meet along M-99 at the south entrance. Bring your whole family for an enjoyable afternoon together. The event is sponsored by the Community Enrichment Program of the Albion Public Schools.
One of the graves we will be visiting is that of William Curtis (1896-1930), the namesake of the Will Curtis Post No. 144 of the American Legion. This local post was made up of black World War I veterans who lived in Albion. Curtis was a native of Jeffersonville, Georgia, and was recruited by the Albion Malleable Iron Company along with 15-20 other black men from Jeffersonville in 1922.
A mutual agreement among the local black veterans was that the first person to die would have the local American Legion post named after him. William died of pneumonia in 1930, and was buried in Riverside Cemetery. Organizational papers were filed in Lansing in 1930 by William Moorehead, and the post was named after Curtis. Moorehead served as the first commander. Succeeding him were William Barge, Alonzo Campbell, Rufus Simmons, and Calvin Smith, among others.
The Legion subsequently purchased an available section of lots in Section 120 of the Cemetery, and the majority of Albionís black World War I veterans are buried here. Ironically, William Curtis is not. This is because he died prior to the purchase of the Legion lots and is buried near the southeast corner of Section 129. His gravesite has been well kept by family members, and will be one of the stops of our tour.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of William Curtis and his wife, Frances (Hall) (1890-1984), courtesy of Dr. James Curtis, their son, now of Jamaica, New York.
William Curtis and his wife
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