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 25, 1996, pg. 8

Continuing with our series on some early 20th century Albion industries, this week we are featuring a firm which sprang up in October, 1902 in the old Oberties Egg House on the southeast corner of S. Eaton and W. Ash Streets: The National Spring and Wire Company. This firm was a wholesale manufacturer of automobile and upholstering springs of all types. It shipped its products across the U.S. and to foreign countries. Some of the officers and stockholders of the firm included: A.J. Abbott, S.M. Raferty, Elmer Jacobs, Otis A. Leonard, H.W. Wochholz, and F.B. King.

The firm was well adapted to the switch-over from horse-drawn carriages to automobiles, as everyone still had to sit down on a spring cushion in order to drive either. The National Spring and Wire Company purchased a brick building at 505 N. Berrien St. which had formerly been part of the old Albion Buggy Company. Employment grew at this new site, and the firm soon was employing about 40 men.

In 1907 the firm established a branch in St. Catherines, Ontario. The latter moved to Windsor in 1911. The National Spring and Wire Company stayed in Albion until the early 1920s. The site was thereby acquired by Union Steel Products, and incorporated into its complex of buildings.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the National Spring and Wire Company with its workers, taken on December 31, 1913. The man at the top under the doorway just to the right of center is William F. Lutzke, Sr., who was the plant superintendent at the time. This was a remarkable feat for being only 24 years old when this photo was taken. If any of our readers have a copy of this photo with identifications on them, please let me know so I can add the names to my photo.

[NOTE: THIS INTERNET VERSION includes this article in the Journal of Albion clipping entitled, “Hugh Eddy Names Many of Old National Spring Employees.” “Hugh C. Eddy was quick to furnish identification for most of those shown in the 1913 picture of the old National Spring and Wire Co. carried in last week’s issue of the Journal, for Mr. Eddy was a former employee of the company and is pictured in the group.

National Spring and Wire, located at the SW corner of Mulberry and Monroe in a building now owned by the Union Steel Products Co., manufactured auto seat springs and employed possibly 20 more men than the 40 shown in the picture, according to Mr. Eddy. He remembers that Fred King was general manager; Robert Stevens, general shop superintendent; and Howard Stevens was tool room foreman. Mr. Eddy and Bill Lutzke, Sr., and August Bieske were also foremen of various departments.

Identified in the picture, front row, left to right are: Tony (last name forgotten,) Kearney (last name forgotten), Ray Stahl, Oscar Halen, H. C. Eddy; next two unknown; Abe Thayer and George Kaiser.

Second Row, same order: First unknown, Bill Kirkbride, next unknown, William Sauer, next unknown, Fred Rutz, Don Stevens, Julius Rutz, Leon Claucherty, Arthur Sovern, “Ike” Kaiser and Don Ruff.

Standing: Earl Conner, next two unknown, John Sutton, Asen Gregoff, next unknown, Alfred Fierke, Don Hubbard, Paul Adams, unknown, George Markle, Bill Coulson, Little John, Karl Kaiser Fred King, “Hummy” Schenman, “Nip” Thurow, and Otto Kaiser.

In the window are a Mr. Walker and M. Chatfield; standing, Carl Engelter, Ralph Dodd, Herb Behling, Ted King, next two unidentified, Oscar Hubbard, a Wochholz and a Trader and “Unk” Thurow; in the doorway are Lynn Tiigay, next unknown, Auggie Bieske, Charles Jeffry, William Lutzke, Sr., “Buck” Sherman, Emil Gull, Bob Stevens.

Top: Cleve Wolcott, next unknown; partly hidden, Ed Beers and next five unknown.

Writes Mr. Eddy: “Being in the picture and having worked with these boys, I know quite a few. Lots of them are dead and gone, but the rest are doing fine.”

National Spring and Wire Company, December 31, 1913


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