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, December 16, 2001, pg. 20

In August, 2000 in this column I featured the Ismon family, of which the late Henry Ismon (1830-1901) who married Mary (Peabody) Sheldon (1831-1905) was a part. Henry was a widower when he married widow Mrs. Sheldon. The Mary Sheldon-Ismon building on S. Clinton St. was built by her and is currently undergoing restoration. Henry’s first wife was Mary R. Jones of Homer whom he married there on March 8, 1851. The couple lived in Paw Paw and raised two daughters, Kittie and Nellie.

By way of review, the Ismon parent’s family farm was just west of Albion on the south side of Michigan/Austin Ave west of where Culligan Water is, and went west to B Drive North. Son Horace S. (a brother of Henry) Ismon (1824-1904) came to Michigan/Albion with the family from his native New York in 1845. Horace soon settled in Jackson where he worked as a grocery clerk for two years. He then moved to Paw Paw with his brother Henry where they very successfully engaged in the grain and lumber business. They built the Paw Paw railroad and Horace was the company president.

Horace married Clara M. Barker of Brandon, Vermont there in Paw Paw in 1848. The couple had no children. Horace and his wife returned to Jackson in 1848 and operated a dry goods store there for 20 years. Horace was quite industrious and continued to invest in wood and produce, and in other investments. He was a major wool trader across Michigan, and one particular year he purchased more than 1˝ million pounds of fleece. At one time Horace had the largest income of anyone in Jackson County. With his profits he opened a bank in Jackson in 1872, called the Jackson County Bank. It had a capital of $50,000, and Horace was president of that institution. On April 1, 1870, he purchased land and platted the village of Hanover. Horace S. Ismon died in Jackson in 1904 and is buried there in Mt. Evergreen Cemetery next to his late wife.

From our Historical Notebook we present a momento of Horace S. Ismon from his general store which was located on the corner of Michigan Avenue and Mechanic Sts. It is a picture of a Civil War token, called a “store card” by numismatists. These were extensively issued and used by merchants 1861-64 in order to give small change when metals and other commodities were hoarded, resulting in a coin shortage. The obverse features the head of Liberty facing left surrounded by 13 stars, and the date 1863. It is the same design that appears on some of the Comstock Brothers Druggists tokens that were issued here in Albion during the Civil War. The tokens were manufactured in Chicago by Child’s Die Sinkers. Many of our area communities had merchants that issued their own Civil War tokens, such as Parma, Marshall, Eaton Rapids, Jackson, and others.

The reverse of the Ismon token features the advertisement, “H.S. ISMON DEALER IN STAPLE & FANCY DRY GOODS JACKSON, MICH.” It is cataloged as 525-B-1a in the standard token reference “U.S. Civil War Store Cards” by Fuld.

Ismon Civil War token

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