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 5, 2017, pg. 3

On Monday, April 5 1909, voters in Calhoun County were faced with the issue of "Local Option,"meaning the county could "go dry" of alcoholic beverages if a majority of voters decided as such. They did. It had been a long and hard-fought campaign. Albion of course in those days was a strong supporter of the Prohibition movement, as Albion College professor Dr. Samuel Dickie was a national orator on the subject, and Frederic Goodrich had been a candidate for governor on the Prohibition Party ticket. Albion was the headquarters of the Prohibition Party National Committee in the 1890s, headed by Dr. Dickie.

When the election was over, the "Dry Option"passed by the totals of 1,346 for and 1,215 against—a difference of just 167 votes. The Albion Recorder stated, "Thus ends a fight that has been waged between the allied liquor interests and the local option forces for the past three months, and it means that after May 1, the sale of liquor except for medicinal, mechanical or sacramental purposes is illegal. Saloon men in Calhoun County have but twenty-five days in which to close out their business and dispose of their stock and fixtures."

On Saturday April 3, 1909 a few days before the vote, several hundred women and children marched through downtown Albion in support of the measure. Included were floats, band wagons, automobiles, and carriages.

That evening a mass meeting was held at the Women’s Christian Temperance Union building on E. Erie St. and the Albion College Male quartette furnished the music. The speaker of the evening, Judge Albion [yes, that was his first name] Z. Blair of Portsmouth Ohio stated, "I have made a study of mankind and will say that to the perfect development of the same, the saloon is a menace. Take away the saloon and you will add to the prosperity of the town."Such were the thoughts and political actions during those times.

1909 Prohibition Parade

From our Historical Notebook this week we have a real treat. It is a picture postcard of that "Local Option"parade. The scene looks towards the southeast corner of S. Superior and E. Ash Sts. as the parade heads north into the downtown area. The man in front is parade marshal Oscar E. Cummings, followed by the Parma Band behind him, and then the masses of participants. This postcard has been etched by the photographer with the text "Vote Yes For Me. Albion Local Option Parade, April 3, [19]09. Result Co. Dry."I took my loupe to this photo and was able to decipher some of the signs being held by the ladies. Some of them stated, "Saloons Must Go,""Thou Shalt Not. ___,""Vote as you Pray,"and "Lead Us Not Into Temptation." The religious themes were quite obvious. In fact, the next day on April 4, a Local Option Rally was held at the WCTU building consisting of all of the Sunday schools of the city, with Albion Public Schools superintendent William McKone giving an address at that event.


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