Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, February 15, 1998, pg. 24
With this being the season of the Winter Olympics and various individual sports in the news recently, we are reminded that Albion was once the home of a roller skating world champion back in the 1880s.
Elliott C. Gale (1866-1951) was the son of Orlando Charles and Adaline (Smith) Gale, the family that operated the Gale Manufacturing Company here. Elliott was born and raised in Albion, and attended the Albion Public Schools. He was then educated at Albion College, where he was an all-round athlete, winning MIAA field day total points honors for four straight years.
Gale specialized in roller skating competition and traveled across the country during the 1880s competing in various events, and became famous as a result. He would race even if he didn’t feel well. The March 6, 1885 issue of the Albion Republican mentioned (pg. 3): "The third 5-mile race for the championship of Michigan, between Gale of this village, and Lockwood, of Pontiac, took place at the Princess Rink Detroit, Wednesday night, and was witnessed by one of the largest crowds ever in that popular resort. Gale ate too much watermelon for supper, or something, and got left."
Elliott won the "2 to 5 Mile Race" world’s title in 1886 at the Princess Rink in Detroit, winning a match against Englishman K. E. Skinner. He raced on skates a total of 169 times during his career, and had a total of 142 medals gained from MIAA and rink competition.
In adulthood, Elliott was in partnership with his brother O. Harry Gale in the Gale Hardware, located in downtown Albion. Elliott served as a traveling salesman for many years. He was married to Floy A. Robinson (1870-1950) in 1891. They lived at 206 W. Mulberry St. where other Gale family members also had elegant homes along the block. The couple had one son, Harold L. Gale (1892-1949). Elliott died in 1951 in Marshall at the age of 84, and is buried in the Wood family plot behind the Riverside Abbey in Riverside Cemetery.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present an 1880s photograph of Albion’s world champion roller skater, Elliott C. Gale. We wonder how he would have fared on the new 20th century "rollerblades" which are very popular now.
* Photo Credit Information Below
Elliott C. Gale,circa 1880s
Next: AUGUSTUS J. GALE
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic
"Albion Historical Society Collection / Local History Room / Albion Public Library Collection"