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, April 12, 2020, pg. 6

In Albion’s history there have been numerous persons who have lived and worked here for a few years, and then moved on to bigger and better things. Their experiences in Albion however proved to be a positive stepping stone and learning experience which helped propel them into future successes. Such was one person, Dr. Charles Elihu Slocum (1841-1915).

Slocum was an educator in New York state who taught at various county schools, and then as an instructor at teacher institutes there. Continuing with his own education, Slocum attended and graduated from the Eastman Business College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. in June, 1862. With diploma in hand, Charles came to Albion in early 1863 where he was hired as an instructor at Ira Mayhew’s Commercial College. This was a private business school located on the 3rd floor of the Peabody Block in downtown Albion from 1860 to 1869.

As part of the course work, students would use "college currency" (play money) to purchase goods and services, and record their work in ledgers. Ira Mayhew produced local college currency in $1, $2, and $5 denominations. The design and format resembled the obsolete currency that had been issued by private banks across the country before the Civil War. On the bottom of the Mayhew college currency notes were the signatures of the two officials of the college: Ira Mayhew as president, and Charles E. Slocum as the cashier.

Slocum must have made a big impression with educators at nearby Albion College, for "in the summer of 1866 the Faculty of Albion College, the late Rev. George B. Jocelyn, D. D. President, unanimously recommended him for the degree of Master of Arts," states the Slocum family history.

It was at this time that Slocum became interested in the study of medicine, and studied under the tutelage of Dr. Willoughby O’Donoughue (1832-1915), local physician and Civil War surgeon who later became president of the First National Bank of Albion. Slocum left Mayhew’s college in the summer of 1867 to study at the University of Michigan where he passed his courses there. He then entered the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City in the Medical Department of Columbia College. He graduated there as a Doctor of Medicine on March 1, 1869, and later earned a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania.

Slocum moved to Defiance, Ohio in 1871, where he established a very successful medical practice. Dr. Slocum continued with his medical education however and received several more degrees. Throughout his career he was a member of many medical organizations, historical organizations, and genealogical organizations. He invested stock in the banks in Defiance, serving on boards of directors, and even served as acting president of the Merchants National Bank there. He invested stock in several Defiance manufacturers and served on their boards of directors. He was the author of several books, including a Slocum family history and genealogy.

Having amassed a large sum of funds, the Doctor turned to philanthropy to help his fellow citizens. His manufacturing stock was used to fund scholarships for students. In 1894, Slocum donated the funds for a new library at Ohio Wesleyan University at Delaware Ohio, which was named the Charles Elihu Slocum Library. He donated funds to the new Carnegie Library in Defiance, and also funded other noteworthy endeavors. His love of teaching was evident in his elderly years when he served as chief of the Biology and Geology departments at Defiance College. He passed away in July, 1915, and was interred in Riverside Cemetery there in Defiance.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a picture of Charles E. Slocum. Also pictured is a photograph of a $5 Albion Commercial College "college currency" note from 1863 with Charles’ signature in the lower left-hand corner.

Dr. Charles Elihu Slocum

$5 Albion Commercial College "college currency" note from 1863


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