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, January 22, 2017, pg. 9

Every so often in this column I feature an Albion milk bottle. For many years in the 20th century, milk was obtained via home delivery to your porch by local neighborhood dairies. There were plenty of them. Each dairy had their own routes, and would deliver milk by horse-drawn wagon, or by trucks in later years. Many of these dairies issued their own glass dairy bottles with their name embossed in the glass.

This week we are featuring the Chain Dairies. This is somewhat of a misnomer, as the name signifies several dairies spread out all over Michigan. Actually it was just one dairy that was formed as a result of the purchase of its predecessor and the purchase of some dairy delivery routes in town, combining them into one. The Chain Dairies was in existence from 1923 to 1932. It was established and owned by Carl A. Ross (1871-1959), a native of Waterford, Vermont who was originally an attorney and a graduate of Harvard Law School. He came to Albion in 1923 as an experienced dairyman and purchased the Sanitary Milk Company in the Market Place and several established milk routes. Carl and his wife Rosemary and children lived just outside the city limits at 1310 Jackson Road, now E. Michigan Avenue. They were members of the local First Presbyterian Church, where Carl served as an elder.

The dairy was located in the Market Place east of S. Superior St. and south of E. Cass St. in that one-story cement block building that used to sit just north of the Albion Elevator. In 1924, the dairy employed eight people with a yearly payroll of $10,000. Their gross business was approximately $60,000 a year. The dairy produced and sold milk, cream, buttermilk, and cottage cheese.

Their signature brand was Coldpack, found on their product labels. The dairy issued glass Coldpack bottles in which to deliver its milk bearing the last two digits of various years at the bottom, such as "4 (1924),""6,"28,"and "1."

Around 1932 the Chain Dairies was purchased by Glenn E. Mills (1899-1969) who had previously purchased the W. Warren Osmun & Son Dairy at 210 Ĺ W. Ash St. in 1929 and renamed it the GEM dairy. The GEM Dairy subsequently moved into the Chain Dairies headquarters in the Market Place where it remained for several years before moving to N. Berrien St. in the late 1930s.

Following the sale of the Chain Dairies to the GEM Dairy, Carl A. Ross became the state organizer for the "Union Now"political movement and was a writer for this group. His obituary stated that "Mr. Ross carried on a wide correspondence with world figures due to his interest in world government possibilities."The Rossímoved from Albion in 1948 to retire in California with one of their daughters. Carl died there on February 1, 1959.

"From our Historical Notebook this week we present a Coldpack one pint bottle with the numeral "8" at the bottom, signifying "1928." We also present a Chain Dairies aluminum token which was used to purchase milk and other products from the company. It was good for 5Ę in merchandise. Unfortunately I donít have a Coldpack milk cap to illustrate. How many of our readers have old Albion milk bottles and/or caps laying around someplace?

Coldpack Milk Bottle, 1928

Coldpack token, obverse view

Reverse view

Next: Albion 100 Years Ago - FEBRUARY 1917

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