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, May 14, 2017, pg. 14

Each year at this time we feature one of Albion’s Civil War veterans. Dr. Willoughby O’Donoughue (1832-1915) was a prominent 19th century businessman. A native of Bergen, New York, O’Donoughue received his medical degree from Albany College in 1853, and came to Albion two years later where he practiced medicine. He was a member of the local Masonic lodge.

It was on September 12, 1861 that he joined the Union Army as part of the First Regiment of Michigan Engineers and Mechanics as an assistant surgeon. He was commissioned as surgeon in early 1864, and his assistant-surgeon position was filled by another Albionite, Dr. Robert H. King. O’Donoughue served until September 22, 1865 and was mustered out at Nashville, Tennessee.

At the end of the Civil War in 1865, Dr. O’Donoughue returned to Albion and continued practicing medicine. He also engaged in the drug and book business in the firm Williams & O’Donoughue until 1871. He was secretary and treasurer of the Albion Manufacturing Company from 1881 to 1886, was a member of the Village Council in 1875-76, and played a major role in the establishment of an electric plant for Albion. He also served on the board of directors of the Albion Malleable Iron Works.

His home was at 514 E. Erie St. In a handwritten notation discovered by yours truly in one of the publications, it stated, "Mrs. O’Donoughue [Donna Kennedy of Jackson] was queer. Had a phobia about germs. Put newspapers on chairs when guests came to call; later she burned the papers."

Dr. O’Donoughue began his long relationship with the National Exchange Bank of Albion around 1870 as its vice-president. This bank was later reorganized into the First National Bank of Albion, where O’Donoughue later assumed the role of bank president in 1890 upon the death of Samuel V. Irwin. His signature by the way, appears on $10 and $20 denomination notes issued in the name of the bank by the U.S. Treasury. O’Donoughue remained bank president when it was reorganized into the Albion National Bank in 1905

The elderly O’Donoughue was unaware of the forgeries being committed by the bank cashier during this time. When the bank failed on New Year’s Day 1912 and was closed the U.S. Bank Examiner, he remained at his post, answering questions of depositors. He died at his home on March 13, 1915, and was interred in Riverside Cemetery.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of Dr. Willoughby O’Donoughue.

Willoughby O'Donoughue, 1st Mich Engineers & Mechanics


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