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 26, 2001, pg. 9

Recently in this column we read examples of old Albion laws from 1869. This week let’s read some interesting minutes of one of Albion’s early fire departments. The Hook & Ladder Company was formed in July, 1868 to succeed the original "Alert" fire department. Back then Albion’s fire and village hall building was located at 115 S. Superior St.. Erected in 1865, it served this use until 1888. Today, a storefront church is located in the building.

Although it was a volunteer organization, requirements for the H & L Co. were stiff. Members were expected to attend meetings, pay dues, and be at all the fires. Attendance was taken at each fire, and some were expelled for not participating. Any member absent from a fire or a public parade without permission had to pay a fine of 25˘. Failure to attend a regular meeting landed you a fine of 10˘. In order to join you had to have a sponsor recommendation from a member. Let’s learn what life was like for a fire fighter during the 1870s here in Albion by reading selected fire and meeting reports from the official minutes book of the organization.

July 14, 1868. Election of Officers: Foreman, James Jameson; Assistant Foreman, William D. Fox; Secretary, James H. Taggart; Treasurer, Charles K. Williams; Steward, George W. Eastman."

"Sunday Morning, 9:30 a.m., December 20, 1874. Alarm of fire given. Members of H & L Co. at Engine House at first tap of bell. Residence of G. F. Bunday on fire at which place the company repaired immediately and did good service. All members of Hook & Ladder Co. present save R. J. Frost and W. T. Reed. After laboring one and one half-hours, the Co. returned to the Engine House at 11 a.m. Fire extinguished. D. H. Goodenow, secretary."

June 22, 1876. At 12:30 this morning the alarm of fire was given. The H & L Co. rushed to the Engine House, thence to the Gothic Mill which was in flames. All members present did their duty and the company can be credited to a great extent for saving the stone house adjoining the mills. The wagon and equipment were returned to the Engine House at 3:15 a.m."

Thursday, 11th April, 1878. Alarm of fire given. H & L Co. proceeded to the Albion House [Hotel] where the fire was discovered to be in the roof of said House. But as it had not got under very good headway a few pails of water quenched the flames. And here allow me to say that our ladders were locked on the wagon and when we were about to take them off, we were short a key to unlock the lock. Consequently we broke the chain. Hereafter be sure the key is in a ready place or the breaking of the chain may be repeated at some future time. E. S. Atkinson, Secretary."

May 10, 1879. "At about 11 o’clock alarm of fire is given, and fire was discovered in the hay loft of J. G. Wright’s barn. The fire spread fast and soon consumieated to Mr. Torrey’s & Watkins barn, which were soon in flames. The H & L Co. turned out and harder work was never done since the organization of the Company. Members worked hard and did not leave the ground until the fire was extinguished."

January 6, 1880. "The H & L Co. met in regular session, roll was called...moved and supported that Mr. C. Fletcher and A. W. Gale be expelled for non-attendance and non-payment of fines. Moved and supported that the secretary be authorized to draw up a petition to the common council for 12 buckets and 4 lanterns, and that the ladders and axe be found and repaired ready for use."

From our Historical Notebook we present a photograph of the Albion Fire House on S. Superior St. in downtown Albion. Notice the cupola on top, and the archway on the first floor.

Albion Fire House, 1894


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