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, October 8, 2017, pg. 16

This past summer construction workers spent many weeks digging up Superior St. in downtown Albion in order to install new utility pipes and remove "bad" base soil. Original base dirt was removed to at least two feet down and replaced with a proper base mixture. You may have noticed the times when the street was temporarily "lowered" during this process. The Superior St. brick project moved a lot of dirt, indeed.

Another type of dig was concurrently going on however. Frozen in time since 1903 when the first pavement was laid on Superior St., were 19th century pioneer-day artifacts and lost items buried under Superior St. These included coins, broken pottery, brass buttons, lantern parts, nails, original wooden conduit lines, leather strappings, and charred wood, just to name a few.

These and other items were uncovered by a few metal detectorists who used the evening hours after the construction workers had left for the day to accomplish their detectorist work. The items they found give us an idea of life in 19th century Albion. Not one item found under Superior St. itself was dated after 1903, although soil from the sidewalk/curb areas yielded later dates.

This Tuesday, October 10 at 7:00 pm at Stirling Books & Brew, 119 N. Superior St., yours truly will be giving a presentation entitled "Albion Numismatics, Part 1." I’ll begin the evening by featuring a couple of 19th century Albion College medals, as well as Albion’s merchant Civil War tokens dated 1863. The latter includes the Comstock Brothers Druggists in the Hannahs Block (present-day site of the new hotel being constructed), and Ira Mayhew’s Commercial College located in the Peabody Block. Those interested in Albion College history will especially enjoy this presentation.

We’ll then transition to metal detectorists Rob Knolle and Kerry Schaller who will reveal what was found under Superior St. this past summer, and where. Some of these have very interesting stories behind them which they will share, including a counterfeit "Bust Liberty" half dollar from the early 19th century! The oldest item they found is an 1804 U.S. half-cent. Why, that’s thirty years before Albion was settled! Rob and Kerry have photographed the items for their "power point" presentation, and will have a display of some of the actual artifacts found under Superior St. They will also bring their metal detectors with them and answer questions about how they work and give a demonstration.

It will be an enjoyable evening indeed. Remember to enter via the back entrance to the store off N. Clinton St. just north of the River due to road construction on Superior St. Our thanks to Jim and Staci Stuart for hosting this event at their popular bookstore.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present two photographs. The first is a beautiful 1884 medal featuring the Albion College Central Building, later re-named Robinson Hall. These were originally given to donors as part of a fundraising campaign. I’ll cover this as part of my talk. Our second photograph shows the reverse of an 1868 U.S. 2¢ piece found under Superior St. this past summer by our metal detectorists. This denomination was the first coin to bear the motto "In God We Trust." Come find out this Tuesday evening what else was found under Superior St. I’ll see you there.

1884 medal featuring the Albion College Central Building

1868 U.S. 2¢ piece found under Superior Street by Metal Detectorists


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