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 4, 2018, pg. 8

This Tuesday, February 6, at 7:00 pm, yours truly will be giving a presentation entitled, "Albion Numismatics, Part 2"at the Stirling Books & Brew bookstore, 119 N. Superior St. I will continue my talk about Albion numismatic items, focusing on paper money this time. As part of the presentation, Kerry Schaller and Rob Knolle, two metal detectorists, will come and reveal what they found under North Superior St. during "Phase 2"of the brick reconstruction project in October and November. This will be extremely interesting and I know you will enjoy it. We'll also have a couple of door prizes at the end, so be sure to come. I'll see you there!

One item found by metal detectorist Kerry Schaller in late 2017 is an oval brass nameplate measuring 1" long, and 1"7/16 wide. It has four knobs on the back indicating this was attached to something, such as a wooden travel trunk for identification. The name engraved on this nameplate is "I. MAITLAND."This was found on October 19 on the east side of N. Superior St. in front of the car wash under about two inches of dirt.

That name would be Isabella (Galloway) Maitland (1819-1881), wife of John M. Maitland (1811-1878). The couple were natives of England and were married there in Manchester on August 1, 1834. They eventually came to the U.S. to New York, and settled in Albion. The couple had four children: Juliet, Flora, Emily, and John O. If the name Emily Maitland sounds familiar, we wrote about her as the Albion native (Emily Maitland Fish) who operated a lighthouse in California, in the February 20, 2011 edition of this column.

The Maitland's operated a general store here in Albion. John is listed as a merchant in the 1850 U.S. Census for Albion. Their store was one of the original five buildings in Albion standing here in 1837 when Juliet Calhoun Blakeley moved to Albion, as she recalled in a 1918 interview celebrating her 100th birthday. She stated, "Maitland's General Store was generally out of everything anyone wanted."

Where was Maitland's store? I suspect it was the successor to Philo Taylor's store, Albion's first merchant in 1837. It was located in the northeast corner of Superior and Erie streets. Years later the building was moved a block away to where the old Methodist Church use to sit on E. Erie. Anyway, Philo sold his store to Isaac Johnson in the late 1830s, but he died in 1840. Jesse Crowell then came in with other partners and the store continued in existence until January, 1853. I surmise that it was the Maitland's who partnered with Crowell and operated the store. When Mrs. Blakeley came in 1837 it would still have been Philo Taylor's store.

In 1855 however, the Maitland's are mentioned as living in Chicago, Illinois as they appear in the Illinois 1855 Census. So, they operated their general store in Albion for about 13 years. The Maitland's also appear in the U.S. Census of 1860 in Chicago. They became quite well-to-do. In his will, John states that he was a produce merchant who owned $31,000 worth of real estate, and had $100,000 in his personal estate.

John died of a sun stroke in St. Joseph, Michigan on July 22, 1878 and was interred in Saint Joseph City Cemetery. At the time of his death, the Maitland's son John Oliver, daughter Flora and her husband Charles Thielke were also living with the couple in Chicago, as well as two live-in servants. The Chicago board-of-trade issued a special resolution expressing condolences to the family of their long-time and active member. Later that same year the couple's only son, John Oliver Maitland, passed away on December 2, and is also interred in St. Joseph. The Maitland's apparently had some connection to St. Joseph, perhaps a "summer cottage"or "second home"as well-to-do Chicago people were accustomed to.

What happened to Isabella? She passed away in Florence, Italy on February 11, 1881, and we assume that she was interred there. What was she doing in Italy? Her daughter Flora and husband Charles Thielke had moved to Florence and were living there. Probably Isabella went to live with her daughter after her husband John passed away a few years earlier.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of that nameplate, courtesy of Kerry Schaller whom we thank for finding this special pioneer Albion item. Come this Tuesday evening when it will be on display. Special thanks also to Kathryn Keller for her genealogical research about the Maitland's.

Isabella Maitland brass name plate found N. Superior St. Oct 19, 2017

Isabella Maitland metal tag

Next: Albion 100 Years Ago -- April 1918

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