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, August 20, 2000, pg. 2.

When Henry S. Ismon (1830-1901) married Mary (Peabody) Sheldon on November 23, 1897, he had been living for some time in Chicago where he had operated his mercantile business and was retiring. Henry had been associated in various businesses with his elder brother Horace S. Ismon (b. 1824) for many years. In certain references the letter "d" has been added to the end of the last name.

After initially living in Albion when their father Aaron bought the family here in 1843 the two brothers moved to Jackson and worked in a general store. (Brother Charles C. Ismon also moved to Jackson where he served as Jackson City Treasurer 1874-76, and descendants still live in the Jackson area today). Knowing that they could make it on their own, the brothers moved to Paw Paw in Van Buren County where they operated a general store for two years. Horace decided to move back to Jackson where he opened his own general store there on the corner of Michigan Ave. and Mechanic Sts., and operated it for 20 years. Brother Henry stayed in Paw Paw, but both brothers in partnership erected a tannery, gristmill, and sawmill there in Paw Paw under the name of Horace S. Ismond and Company according to the 1856-57 Michigan Gazetteer. Also partners in the firm were another ex-Albionite F. M. Manning, and an Edwin Martin of Kalamazoo. The firm was instrumental in the construction of the Paw Paw Railroad which went to Lawton. After operating them for many years in the 1860s and 1870s, the brothers eventually sold their Paw Paw businesses. Horace also sold his holdings in Jackson and spent his retirement years there. Henry moved to Chicago in the 1880s and continued the mercantile trade there until his retirement.

How did Henry meet Mary (Peabody) Sheldon? As an ex-Albionite, Henry visited Albion on numerous occasions. One member of the Ismon family in Jackson where brothers Horace and Charles lived was Nellie Ismon. Nellie was one of the witnesses at the wedding of Mary’s daughter Madelon Sheldon to Albert A. Riley in 1878.

Henry became a widower when his first wife died and was "available." He had two daughters, Mrs. George L. Bradbury, and Mrs. Harry T. Elwood. Husband Bradbury was vice-president of the L. E. & W. Railroad. Both daughters were a witness at the 1897 wedding which occurred at Mary’s home here.

When Henry Ismon died in February 1901, the Sheldon-Ismon clubhouse was closed to social entertainment during the entire month. The obituary stated, "All games were discontinued during the early part of the week, the billiard, bowling and card rooms of the Leisure Hour club being closed, the flag on the club house floated at half mast and the entrances were appropriately draped."

Henry was not interred in Block 20 of Riverside Cemetery where many of the Ismons are buried. Rather he was placed in the Sheldon Mausoleum at the entrance to the cemetery where Mary’s first husband banker James W. Sheldon (1830-1894) and Mary (1832-1905) are interred. Cemetery sexton M. John Fox wrote in 1980, "It is about him [banker James W. Sheldon] that the only ghost story in Riverside Cemetery that has maintained any sort of currency concerns. It is said that late at night, voices can be heard emanating from the mausoleum. But it is reported to be just Banker James trying to collect rent from Henry Ismon, widow Mary’s second husband, who is also interred within."

Alas, no identified photograph of Henry Ismon exists to our knowledge. In lieu of this, we present a postcard photograph of the Mary Sheldon-Ismon building on at 300 S. Clinton St. We all wonder how this building will be used in the future as the Friends group contemplates the restoration project in the months to come. Mary Sheldon-Ismon explicitly had written into the lease that it could not be used as a place of voting. We’ll reveal why in a future "election time" article later this fall.

The Mary Sheldon-Ismon Building


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