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, 1998, pg. 18

Concluding with our series about the Gale Manufacturing Company, the George Henry Gale (1798-1872) family left Barre, Vermont by ox team in 1835. The family settled in Moscow in Hillsdale County in 1836. In 1843 (one source says 1841) George and his son Orlando Charles Gale (1823-1912) began manufacturing plows. They obtained a melting pot that would hold one-half ton of metal, and they were in business with their foundry. George would go into the woods and hew off some handles and beams, while Orlando operated the foundry portion.

George left the firm in 1851 (another source says 1849) for the California Gold Rush, where he lived for about five years. Orlando continued to operate the foundry alone until selling the business in 1853. At that time Orlando moved to Jonesville and built another foundry and plow factory. He took in his brother N. Brooks Gale (1829-1894) as a partner. Brooks sold his shares to his brother Augustus J. Gale (1834-1912) three years later in 1856. Augustus quickly learned the foundry business.

Augustus Gale.

In the meantime, the father George Gale returned from California and in January 1856 opened a hardware store in Albion, after purchasing stock from Augustus Porter Gardner. The 1858 Map of Calhoun County has a lithograph of the "G. Gale Hardware" in the center of the Crowell Block in downtown Albion, presently the site of Goodwill. George operated it for a few years before selling the store to his son, George Henry Gale (1826--1906), otherwise known as Henry.

The Gale Plow.

Back in Jonesville, the plow firm was called O.C. & A.J. Gale until 1861, when due to ill health Orlando decided to move to Albion and purchased the hardware store from his brother Henry. Henry then moved to Kalamazoo where he operated a hardware store there. Orlando sold his interest in the plow firm to his brother Horatio Gale (1838-1892), and it then became known as "A & H Gale (for Augustus and Horatio Gale)." They remained in Jonesville for two more years, through 1863.

In 1864 (one reference says 1863-1864) Augustus and Horatio sold their Jonesville foundry and moved to Albion. With their brother Orlando and brother-in-law Elliott W. Hollingsworth, the quartet purchased the Lane & Porter farm implement foundry on the southeast corner of Superior and Cass Streets where Dominos Pizza is today. The company became known as "O.C. Gale & Co." and employed 3 to 50 men. The men were paid however at the hardware store, as Orlando served as the cashier and business manager.

The Gale foundry was at this site for 2-3 years, when due to cramped quarters they sold their land to Rev. William H. Brockway and moved "kitty-corner" to the northwest corner and erected their new factory. The factory extended northwards to the Kalamazoo River, and westwards to where City Hall now stands. The Gale Manufacturing Company was located here from ca. 1867 to 1888 at which time it moved to N. Albion St.

In 1873 a stock company was formed, and the firm then became officially known as the Gale Manufacturing Company. In 1887 H. Kirke White, Sr., purchased a controlling interest in the firm, and the Gale family memebers one by one eventually sold off their holdings in the company they had founded.

The hardware store, located at 307 S. Superior St., changed hands within the Gale clan several times, and was in existence until it was closed in 1929. It was known for many years as the Gales Hardware. Final owners were Orlando Harry and Elliott C. Gale.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of a cent-size copper token issued by the firm of "A & H Gale" in Jonesville in 1863 shortly before their move to Albion. Such tokens were common during coin shortages during the Civil War, and are called "Civil War Store Cards" by collectors today. Such tokens dated 1863 were issued here in Albion by Ira Mayhew's Commercial College, and by the Comstock Brothers, Druggists.

The obverse features the text, "A & H GALE MANFRS. OF AGRICULT.RL. IMPLEMENTS JONESVILLE M." surrounded by stars, lines and ornaments. The rim features denticles. The reverse features the advertisement of the die sinker (minter) and reads, "A. GLEASON MANUFR. HILLSDALE MICH 1863" in the center. Does anyone have one of these? Even though it says Jonesville, I would like to obtain one for my Albion numismatic collection.

Gale Token Front Side.

Gale Token Reverse Side.

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