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 20, 2019, pg. 4

We go "on the road" this week to the village of Springport in northwest Jackson County, where we have just finished researching an obscure token issued by a man with an odd name: Cratie Jewell. Cratie (1879-1938) was an early 20th century merchant in Springport. He grew up there and was an 1898 graduate of Springport High School. He then went into the shoemaking (cobbler) and repair business and is first listed in the 1907 Michigan Gazetteer. During this period, Cratie played cornet in the local O. J. Perry band, and teamed up with other Springport merchants to help sponsor silent movies in town.

His store was nicknamed "Craties," with the motto "Little Store With A Big Door." A 1915 advertisement in the Springport Signal stated, "Cratie Jewell, Shoe Repairing, News Stand, Cigars, Tobaccos, Candy, Etc. Where was Cratie’s establishment located? In those days, merchants did not use numbers for their stores on Main St. The 1918 Sanborn Insurance Map of Springport however, easily identifies the "Cobbler" location. Today this is 134 E. Main St, the building which has housed the Twirlz Dance Studio in recent years. In the 1920s Cratie subsequently purchased the clothing and variety store of neighboring merchant Elson Cranson. Cratie operated that business (the building has since been demolished) before retiring in 1937 due to ill-health. He still continued working in his shoe-repair shop however until he died of a heart attack on October 24, 1938. Cratie was interred in Springport Cemetery. He remained single all his life and was only survived by a brother-in-law and two cousins at the time of his death.

In 2017 there appeared a small 19 mm. diameter aluminum token on the numismatic market which came from Cratie’s business. The obverse text states "CRATIE JEWELL SPRINGPORT MICH," within a rim border. The reverse declares, "GOOD FOR ONE 5? CIGAR."

From our Historical Notebook this week we present both sides of the Cratie Jewell token, and a photograph of Cratie from the early 1900s playing in O. J. Perry’s band. The latter comes from the book "Oyers Corners to Springport," (1976) page 246. How many of our readers have ever heard of Cratie Jewell? Special thanks to Jackie Merritt and Linda Griffith of the Springport Library for their help with this week’s article.

Cratie Jewell Token, OBVERSE side

Cratie Jewell Token, REVERSE side

Craitie Jewell in the early 1900s


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