Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, October 23, 2016, pg. 5
Be sure and exercise your right to vote on Tuesday, November 8. This election not only has national, but also important local consequences as well. Your vote is important, so be sure and get out and vote.
With this being the political election season, we are reminded that the Republican Party was founded in Jackson Michigan on July 4, 1854 "Under the Oaks." Many people from Albion participated in that historic event. There is another connection, however. It was an 1896 graduate of Albion College, James B. Field (1866-1936), who designed the 1929 Jackson Centennial/Republican Party 75th Anniversary Medal.
I’ve previously written about Field in the March 20 edition of this column where I featured the classic Albion picture reference source, "Souvenir of the City of Albion Michigan" (1894) he authored. Field was quite an active fellow. The College publication, Io Triumphe mentioned in Field’s 1936 obituary that "as a student, he devised a notebook which was generally used at the time."
Following his graduation from Albion in 1896, Field became a teacher at Parma High School before moving to Jackson in 1905. He was related to Leonard H. Field, founder of Field’s Department Store there in town. James Field became the local representative for the Massachusetts Mutual Life Company, and sold insurance from 1906 to 1934. He was very civic minded and was actively involved in the community. He was also a prominent numismatist and a member of the American Numismatic Association. When the Jackson Centennial was celebrated in 1929, Field served as the chairman of the medal-design committee, and designed the Jackson Centennial medal.
The medal was minted in bronze in these diameters: 3-inch, 4 mm. thick (cost $2); 1 ˝ -inch, 2.5 mm. thick (cost: 50˘); and 1 ˝ inch, 1.5 mm. thick (cost 50˘) with a loop and ribbon. Every baby born in Jackson in 1929 received one of those medals with the loop and ribbon from the Centennial Committee in February, 1930.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present that medal, along with a photo of James Field from the 1896 Albion College yearbook. The obverse of the medal shows the Jackson wilderness on July 4, 1929 at sunrise, featuring pioneers Captain Alex Laverty and Horace Blackman, and Indian guide Pe-wy-tum. They are looking at the wilderness from the Grand River. At center top is superimposed the image of U.S. President Andrew Jackson, from which Jackson derives its name.
The reverse shows the image of President Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President. Below on the left is a U.S. flag, and on the right a State of Michigan flag. The text states, "1854, 1929. JACKSON, MICHIGAN. HERE UNDER THE OAKS JULY 6TH 1854 WAS BORN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY DESTINED IN THE THROES OF CIVIL STRIFE TO ABOLISH SLAVERY, VINDICATE DEMOCRACY AND PERPETUATE THE UNION." A bowed wreath of oak leaves appears at the bottom. At the 4 o’clock position is incused the name of the sculptor, "[Julio] Kilenyi." The medal was minted by the Whitehead & Hoag Company of Newark, New Jersey.
James Field, 1896
Jackson Centennial Medal (front or obverse view)
All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic