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 19, 2020, pg. 4

Recently, metal detectorist Kerry Schaller paid a visit to my yard here in Albion and uncovered a three-inch long nameplate from an Elms Buggy Company buggy manufactured here in Albion in the 1890s. Our long-time readers of this column might remember that it was Kerry who dug up another nameplate in 2017, on N. Superior St. during the reconstruction period. That nameplate bore the name of I.[sabella] Maitland, who with her husband operated a general store here in the 1830s when Albion was first founded. Read the February 4, and April 15, 2018 editions of this column on the www.albionmich.com website for reference.

The Elms Buggy Company was a major manufacturer here in Albion from 1890 to about 1901. It was located north of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad tracks between N. Berrien and N. Huron Streets., bounded by E. Chestnut St. on the north. The office was located at 319 E. Mulberry St. The Company had been founded in Jackson in 1885 by Frederick L. Elms (1846-1912), who moved the business to Albion in 1890. Elms had formerly lived in Charlotte where he had manufactured buggies since 1875. Vice-president and superintendent was Augustus J. Gale; treasurer was Charles B. Gale, with H. A. Waldorf as its secretary. It is interesting to note the Gale family members participation in the firm, as their ancestors had been the organizers of the Gale Manufacturing Company a farm implement manufacturer here.

The Elms Buggy Company had a total floor space of about 90,000 square feet. It manufactured a full line of carriages, wagons, and carts in the final years before the automotive age. In its final years of operation in the late 1890s, L.J. Wolcott was president, Mr. Elms was vice-president, and John Johnson was secretary. The company was reorganized around the turn of the century as the Albion Buggy Company, and closed a few years later in the early 1900s. The Union Steel Screen Company purchased the site in 1908, and took over the buildings for its own use.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present the recently-found nameplate of the Elms Buggy Company. We’re also featuring an artist’s illustration of one of their buggies from their 1892 catalog. This is a "Top Buggy" according to the catalog. A handwritten notation on this page lists the price of this buggy at $47.50, horse not included. Imagine riding through downtown Albion on Superior St. in this. I wonder if any of these buggies have survived?

Elms Buggy Company 1892 Catalog Illustration

Nameplate of the Elms Buggy Company


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