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 14, 1997, pg. 13

A couple of years ago in this column I featured the J. W. Brant Company, but did not have a photograph of the firm. This late 19th and early 20th century firm was located on the southwest corner of N. Monroe and E. Mulberry Street for over 50 years. The firm had come to Albion in the late 1880s and was incorporated in 1889. It was located on the north side of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad tracks.

The company had been originally founded in 1848 in Hillsdale by Dr. J. W. Brant (who else?). During the 1890s the local firm was owned by James H. Ford, George A. Bolster, and James W. Shanley. Shanley served as Mayor of Albion in 1901, and is the only Albion mayor we do not have a photograph of.

The firm was alter acquired by insurance man and photographer J. Clifford Smith, who operated it until World War II, when it was purchased by none other than Albion’s state Senator: Warren G. Hooper! After Hooper’s untimely demise via the Purple Gang in 1945, his widow Calienetta closed the factory and sold what remained of the inventory out of her home at 1232 Jackson Street through the remainder of the 1940s.

The Brant Company called themselves “Manufacturing Chemists,” and their main product was “Dr. Wheeler’s Nerve Vitalizer.” Their advertisements at the time stated, “It seems to be an accepted fact among the gifted medical experts that nearly all diseases are more or less the result of a disordered or weakened nervous system.”

Mrs. L. E. Titus of Coopersville, Michigan was an invalid for 14 years, was dyspeptic, nervous and hysterical--four bottles cured her. Charles Jones, a farmer of Morley, Michigan, had heart disease, dyspepsia, kidney trouble and rheumatism--two bottles of the stuff cured him. It took six bottles to cure Edward Cooper of Cleveland, Ohio, who had the “fits” from one to five a day for eight years until he drank the miracle substance produced here in Albion by the J. W. Brant Company. Mrs. Lena Cooper of Cleveland, Ohio had the “St. Vitus Dance” from childhood, aggravated by the “fits” at age 16. She, too was restored to health by Dr. Wheeler’s Nerve Vitalizer. I bet the stuff could have competed with Lucy’s “Vitameatavegimin” during the 1950s had the company lasted. Does anyone still have a bottle in their medicine cabinet?

From our Historical Notebook this week we present an 1894 photograph of the J. W. Brant Company on E. Mulberry Street. The man in the wagon out front is L. J. Wolcott, on his way to this windmill factory just down the street. Perhaps Dr. Wheeler’s Nerve Vitalizer kept Wolcott healthy too, and he is shown here just stopping by for his weekly supply.

J. W. Brant Company on E. Mulberry Street


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