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, July 22, 2001, pg. 17

Regarding the Billinghurst School photograph in our July 8 article, Mary Katherine (Neitzke) Brown of Springport recognized her mother Katherine (Semon) Neitzke as the teacher. Anna (Waito) Neitzke recognized the others in the photo. Thanks so much for your help. The new identifications are as follows: Front two rows, left to right, down/up/down, etc: Orville Patton, Helen Waito, Donald Cook, Anna Waito, Keith Waito, Helen Patton, Lambert McClintic, John Bartel, Arnold Lewis, Bernard Schmidt, Thomas Emery, Glen Bliss, Richard Emery, Harold Bliss, Marie Cook, Cook boy, May Waito, Delose Patton. Back row, (L-R) teacher Katherine (Semon) Neitzke; Norma Emery, Mary Patton, Charles Lewis.

Have you ever wondered what local laws were like here in Albion in the 19th century? Recently I read through the 1869 “Revised Charter and By-Laws of the Village of Albion,” printed at the Albion Mirror (newspaper) Office. Let’s find out and read together some of the highlights, and share some thoughts:

Don’t let your geese run on your neighbors lawn. By-Law 12, Section 4 states “It shall not be lawful to permit any geese or other poultry to run at large within the village during the month[s] of April [through] September in each year. For a violaton of this section, the owner of said geese or other poultry, shall be subject to a penalty of fifty cents, and the geese or other poultry may be destroyed, without liability for damage, by any persons on whose premises they may be found trespassing.”

Is your pet offensive? How about one of your vegetables? By-Law 8 section 1 states “It shall not be lawful for any person to keep in or about his shop, dwelling or premises occupied by him, any offensive animal or vegetable within the limits of the village, or carry on any filthy or loathsome trade or occupation that may be deemed prejudicial to health therein.” Does that include lima beans?

The Cow Pound. By-Law 12, Section 1: “It shall and may be lawful for the Common Council of the village to establish and maintain a Pound at such place as they may designate, and the same to regulate, for the purposes of impounding, keeping and restraining horses, cattle, sheep, swine, mules, and other animals that may be found running at large in any of the streets, lanes, alleys and parks.” To satisfiy our readers’ curiosity, the Albion Cow Pound was located along the Kalamazoo River where Lloyd Park (formerly the site of the White Mill) now sits. “The Pound” was located there until the White Mill was built in 1876.

The Running of the Cows. While forbidding other animals from running loose in town, Section 3 of the above By-Law gave special treatment however, to cows, “...excepting cows which are permitted to run at large from five o’clock in the forenoon to nine o’clock in the afternoon of each day from the first day of May’ to the first day of November.” How about a “Running of the Cows” for next September’s Festival of the Forks? It’s an historic tradition in Albion that should be revitalized. That would “spice up” the Festival, wouldn’t it?

Do you have a violating velocipede (no, that isn’t an insect)? Yes, there was even a law against that back then. A general ordinance adopted on May 21, 1869 and announced by James W. Sheldon, village president, stated that “the use or running of velocipedes on the sidewalks on Superior St. from Michigan St. to Ash St., on Erie St. from the River bridge to Eaton St., on Porter St. west of Superior and on Center St., are hereby prohibited; and that on the sidewalks of all other streets the person or persons using them shall run slow in meeting or passing any other person, and run on the outer edge of the walk; and also that any person in the use of velocipedes, who cannot fully control the same, is prohibited from running on the sidewalk of any street.” For our uninformed readers, a velocipede is the old name for a bicycle.

Auction off your living room couch on the street, hey--it was OK! By-Law 14, Section 4 stated, “It shall be lawful for any auctioneer to sell in any street the following articles, to wit: Carriages, wagons, farming utensils, household furniture, and also goods or merchandise in packages or parcels which shall weigh 100 pounds and over: Provided however, that such auctioneer shall not obstruct or encumber any street so as to interfere with travel.”

The horse speed limit. By-Law 6, section 1 regulated the traffic speed in Albion. “Any person who shall ride or drive any horse, mule, or other animal, in any street or alley within the village of Albion, at a greater speed than 10 miles an hour...shall be subject to a penalty, on conviction thereof, before a competent court, in a sum not exceeding twenty-five dollars.” I wonder what they used for radar back then.

How to get out of jury duty. The Village Council provided several means to avoid being compelled to serve on a jury. Section 38 of the Revised Village Charter stated “Each member of the fire department, of an engine, hook and ladder, bucket or hose company, duly organized by the Common Council, Ministers of the gospel, and teachers in any public schools or institutions of learning in said village, shall be exempt from poll tax, or serving on a jury.”

Finally, do not skinny dip in the Kalamazoo River. By-Law IV warned “Any person who shall exhibit any lewd or lascivious behavior or conduct in any of the streets or public places, or bathe in the river ponds or races in the village of Albion unless clothed, shall...be subject to a penalty not exceeding fifty dollars.”


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