Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Albion Recorder, August 4, 1997, pg. 4
Certain buildings in downtown Albion are known not just for their size, design or various businesses which many have been located there, but also for particular events which occurred on the premises. Such is the case with the Murdock Block, an impressive building located at 106 E. Erie St., presently the Sleep Shop.
Gilson E. Murdock (1835-1910) was a prominent farm implement dealer, and his wife, Sarah (Huxford) (1837-1919) was the daughter of Samuel Huxford (1807-1891), a wealthy Albion pioneer who dealt in loans and mortgages.
Mr. Murdock constructed his implement business at 106 E. Erie St. and lived upstairs with his wife in an elegant apartment. It was here that Mrs. Murdock’s diamonds and jewelry, valued at $2,050 at the time, were stolen in 1907. The story is this:
The Murdocks had invested several thousands of dollars in the ill-fated Albion to Charlotte railroad project. Promoters of the proposed electric interurban road was George Mindeman from Chicago, who used the Murdock home as his promotional headquarters. In Mach 1907, Mrs. Murdock discovered that her jewelry was missing shortly after showing it to Mr. Mindeman and an accomplice. Knowing of the pending charges, Mindeman fled to Chicago and had to be extradited. Mindeman was described as a smooth talker, typical of railroad promoters of that day.
Mindeman was tried and found guilty, but on a technicality the Michigan Supreme Court reversed the decision and the case had to be tried again. This time Mindeman was found innocent by a jury in September, 1909. The local Albion Leader newspaper commented at that time: “It is believed by some persons that the prison has been cheated of its desserts through a failure to establish the man’s guilt, rather than because he was innocent of the crime charged.”
In glee of his innocence, Mindeman issued a 29 mm. diameter aluminum token with the text, “GEO. MINDEMAN ALBION MICH. WHAT IS HIS RECORD GOOD OR BAD?” The back side of the token states, “I SAY IT IS GOOD!” This week we present photographs of the Murdocks, and the Mindeman token. When you drive by the Sleep Shop, be aware that it was on the second floor that Mrs. Murdock’s diamonds were stolen in 1907, resulting in one of the most publicized local court cases of the early 20th century.
Gilson E. Murdock
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All text copyright, 2014 © all rights reserved Frank Passic