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, September 11, 1994, pg. 17

With this next weekend being our annual Festival of the Forks, this week I’d like to feature a very historical Albion item which I acquired this past June--a $10 banknote from the First National Bank of Albion. During the 19th and part of the 20th century, some currency (paper money) was printed in the name of local national banks across the country. For example, in our own area, there were national banks that issued money in Marshall, Concord, Eaton Rapids, and of course, Albion, in denominations such as $5, $10 and $20. These notes contain the name of the bank, and the hand-signatures of the local bank’s cashier and the president of the institution.

These notes were full legal tender and could be spent anywhere, as they were printed by and backed by the U.S. Treasury Department, which had received bond-backed funds from the local banks. This type of arrangement was used until the Great Depression of the 1930s. It is always interesting to find one of these notes from our local region banks that survived.

The First National Bank of Albion was located in the north half of where the Federal Discount Company (FEDCO) is today. During the 1890s, the bank issued $10 bills, bearing the Federal charter number of our local bank, No. 3316. These were called “brownbacks,” because of the brown color ink on the bank.

Records show that this bank issued $271,250 worth of $10 and $20 bills during its existence from 1885 to 1905. It’s successor, the Albion National Bank, also issued banknotes, as did its predecessor, the National Exchange Bank of Albion.

This $10 bill contains the signature of bank cashier Henry Montgomery Dearing, and the bank president Dr. Willoughby O’Donoughue. The national bank era in Albion ended in1912 with the discovery of a spectacular forgery scheme instituted by the bank cashier in which over $325,000 was embezzled.

This past July I had the honor of displaying this Albion banknote at the American Numismatic Association Convention in Detroit, where it took first place in the local numismatic interest category. If you would like to view my display, I will have the $10 Albion banknote on exhibit this Saturday, September 17 at Gordon Pahl Jeweler’s, during the Festival. His establishment is the other side of the wall of where the bank once was. If anyone has any area national banknotes that have survived redemption, I am always looking to expand the display. Feel free to contact me.

I obtained this particular note from Harold Schumacher, whose mother Otilega received it from Warren S. Kessler, the founder of the Albion Malleable Iron Company. Kessler gave it to Mrs. Schumacher in 1926 in recognition of her cooking an annual appreciation dinner for Mr. Kessler. Kessler served as a director at the First National Bank of Albion in the late 1890s.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present an illustration of the face side of this Albion $10 banknote. If you want to see it in person, come to the Festival of the Forks this Saturday.

Albion $10 banknote, Face side

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