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, February 23, 2014, pg. 9

Back in the April 28, 2013 edition of this column we featured an unidentified Centennial Farm dedication photo. I’ve since heard back from former Albion resident James Radkte now of Fairfield, Iowa. James has identified the photo as being taken at the historic Howell farm on the east side of S. 29 Mile Road about one-eighth of a mile north of H Drive South. Pioneer brothers Ashbel and Hiram Howell settled South Albion in Albion Township in 1835. Howell School on the northwest corner of 29 Mile Road and H Drive S. was named after this family.

The photo was taken in the summer of 1959. The man on the far left is Edward G. Martin, and his wife Marie (Howell) Martin is on the far right wearing sunglasses. The lady standing next to Edward is his niece Fernanda Conway, and the children are hers. Jim Radtke writes, "Marie had married late in life and never had children. She and Edward lived on Brockway Place in Albion, and my parents were tenant farmers who lived on the Howell farm and worked the land on shares for Maries. My parents lived there from 1944 until 1968 when they moved to Albion."

"I recognize the photo because I was there. Although I was just going into the 4th grade that summer, I remember the visit because I played with Fernanda’s kids. She actually lived in Arizona, but had come to Michigan to see her uncle and to visit the Centennial farm."

"The building on the right and behind Marie is the corn crib. The building on the left behind Edward is a portion of the front of the very large red barn. The two sliding doors opened into an area where my father used to store farm implements, and I remember the broken board on one of the doors. Dad backed a hay wagon into it. It never did get repaired. The house was to the right of Marie but it is out of the picture."

What happened to this farm? Jim continues, "Nothing is left of the farm yard or buildings anymore. Marie passed away in 1959 and had no heir. In her will, Marie left the farm to Michigan State University, but she gave Fernanda a life lease on the farm so my parents did not have to leave it right away. After Fernanda passed away, MSU took over the property. After a number of years, the buildings fell into a sad state of disrepair and through an agreement with MSU, the buildings were destroyed by a controlled burn as a training exercise conducted by several township fire departments."

Jim concludes, "On a side note, Marie is buried in Riverside Cemetery in the Howell family plot. I believe Edward has a headstone next to hers, but he is one of those people who "never died," [no death date engraved on the tombstone] because after her death he moved out to Arizona, where he died and was buried out there."

From our Historical Notebook this week we present that photo of the Howell Farm Centennial Plaque group photo. Special thanks to Jim Radkte for this week’s story.

The Howell Farm Centennial Plaque 1959 group photo


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