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, September 26, 2004 pg. 9

Coming up on Sunday, October 3 at 1:30 p.m. will be my annual guided tour of Riverside Cemetery, sponsored by the Community Enrichment Program of the Albion Public Schools. Make plans to attend, and spread the word about this event. This year’s tour is entitled “An Ethnic Tour of Riverside Cemetery, Part 3.” We will be focusing on Section 129, which is the segregated section of Riverside Cemetery. Our tour will begin “way back” in the far southeast corner of the cemetery. So take a southern entrance and go all the way to the back (east) where the tour will commence.

The Hurricane Frances that hit the Florida panhandle and Alabama the third week of September made a direct path right through the area from where many black families came to Albion beginning in 1916. Our tour program will include a map of those areas and will mention various communities in the biographies.

A special feature in the tour booklet will be a complete name listing by grave number of the so-called “Colored Section,” and the “Greek Orthodox Section.” You’ll be able to locate the grave of everyone interred there, whether they have a tombstone or not. This list alone is worth getting a copy of the tour program, which will be available beginning at the tour, and afterwards at the Albion Chamber of Commerce.

One family we will be featuring will be the Union family, at the grave of Katie (Ewing) Union (1882-1922). A native of Evergreen (Conecuh County) Alabama, Solomon Union (1877-1947) arrived here in March, 1917 to work at the Albion Malleable Iron Company. His wife Katie and family left their home in Molino (Escambia County), Florida (just north of Pensacola) and joined him here in Albion the following month on April 6.

The family story is quite interesting. Their ancestors had went by the surname of Stallworth prior to the Civil War, which was the surname of the white plantation/slave owner. Following the liberation of the South by the Union Army, the family chose and adopted the surname of Union, in honor of the Union Army which had freed them. Thus the name Union is an assertion of freedom and independence.

The family lived at 512 Mechanic St. Unfortunately, Mrs. Union died of complications of childbirth in 1922. This was a prevalent cause of death for mothers and infants of many nationalities who lived on the “west end” of Albion in the days before adequate pre-natal care and medical advances were available. One of Katie Union’s daughters, Georgia (Union) Bates, celebrated her 95th birthday this past April. When we visited with her recently, she pulled out a rather large family photograph that is over 80 years old! From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the Union family, taken sometime during the 1910s prior to coming to Albion. Left to right: Katie Union holding Effie Union (b. 1912). Next, Willie Union on top, with Georgia Union below. On the right is Solomon Union, and on the far right is Ulah Union.

The Union Family, circa 1910, Katie holding Effie, Willie, Georgia, Solomon and Ulah (far right)


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