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, November 16, 2008, pg. 13

Occasionally in this column we like to write a book review which might interest our readers. In our December 14, 2003 Historical Notebook we discussed the book “Michigan’s Irish Hills,” a thinly-disguised attempt to expose the internal politics of the Albion College administration during the Great Depression. Names were changed, but locals at the time knew those whom the author was writing about and annotated copies left no doubt as to the identities.

Two years ago, a new book appeared on the market entitled Cameron, authored by historian Dr. Patricia Averill, a 1962 graduate of Albion High School. Borrowing from Albion’s history as a backdrop, the author weaves together various themes into a novel representative of Michigan history covering the period from 1830 to 2006.

Averill liberally uses actual Albion names in her novel up to 1950, and after that period fictitious names are given to protect the living. You’ll find names such as James Sheldon, Charles Bogue, Charles Diffenbough--all early Albion names. You’ll also find “rust belt” factories mentioned such as the Gale Manufacturing Company and Union Steel Products within its pages.

Billed as “Family, Technology, and Religion in a Rust Belt Town,” the author personally relates to her father, the late Charles Averill (1911-1987), who worked as an industrial engineer at Union Steel Products for many years and held various patents. There is a color photograph of the family home at 802 Bennett St. on the cover.

The author traces Albion’s, oops, I mean Cameron’s industrial rise and fall up to the present time. Some of the time periods covered and mentioned in the news release include: “Civil War and Copperheads who oppose the War; Farm market center, 1870s-1890s, industry supports needs of community; Industrial town, 1900s-1940s, foundry hires immigrants and Negroes, community responds with early Prohibition and the Purple Gang invades.” Seem familiar?

The book is over 500 pages long. This includes 31 pages of end notes and a 134 page index of people including dates, names of parents and spouses. It comes in both soft cover, and hardcover. Under the “Os” on page 512 I find someone named “Our local historian” with various relatives listed which remarkably reminds yours truly of some people I know. Is your name or your ancestors name in this book? You’ll have to read it to find out. Unlike “Michigan’s Irish Hills,” no scandal is involved in this work. People will be thrilled to see if they can find theirs or their ancestor’s name weaved in this historical novel--and there are lots of names.

The book was published by Xlibris Corporation of Philadelphia, with a direct Cameron book information website address of www.xlibris.com/Cameron.html. Telephone: 1-888-795-4274. Copies can also be ordered locally at Books & More bookstore. This would make an unusual Christmas gift this year for some special reader in your family who thought they had read it all. From our Historical Notebook we present a photograph of the cover of the book Cameron.

Cameron, by historian Dr. Patricia Averill


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