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, May 24, 1998, pg. 8

Each year at this time in this column we feature the Albion High School class of 100 years ago. The Class of 1898 was AHS’ 21st graduating class, and had 27 members. 19 were girls, and 8 were boys. Most had been born in the year 1880 or thereabouts, and most were deceased by the late 1960s.

Class valedictorian was Adelaide Gemberling, who subsequently taught in the Albion Public Schools. Salutaatorian was Robert J. Frost, Jr. Lloyd Knickerbocker wrote the class song. The commencement ceremony was held on Thursday June 9, 1898 at the Methodist Church on E. Erie Street, a practice for many years. In those days every class member had to participate in some way in the commencement ceremony. Special speaker at the event was the Hon. Charles E. Townsend of Jackson, who spoke on the topic, “Watchman, What of the Night?”

The ceremony began with a piano duet by Edith Hamblin and Eva Bowles, folloowed by the Salutatory. The class history by Lloyd Knickerbocker was read by Robert Avann. There followed an essay, a poem, story, a solo, an oration, a recitation, a ladies trio, a class prophecy, and other parts in order to include the entire class.

Here is a listing of the members of the Albion High School Class of 1898--100 years ago! They are also found on page 201 of my book “A History of the Albion Public Schools.” If you haven’t gotten a copy of this book yet, you need to. In fact, I would suggest obtaining one as an “extra gift” to give to one of this year’s AHS graduates. They are available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce, 416 S. Superior St., Albion, MI 49224. The cost is $20 plus $5 p. & h.

The listing was compiled around 1902, only a few years after they graduated, and gives the name or maiden name, married name, occupation, and city of residence at the time. All were residing in Albion at the time, except where specially noted. You may recognize the names of several prominent persons here, whom our older residents may still remember. One in particular, Garfield Farley (1880-1972) was a noted area farmer and was much interested in Albion area history. Another, Mary Dickie, was the daughter of Albion College professor and later college president, Samuel Dickie.

Edna L. Aldrich (Mrs. Herbert Bliss); Robert Avann, student; Joel K. Brandon, mining, Zanesville, Ohio; Bertha L. Carver (Mrs. Robert Bibbins); Lettit M. Decker (Mrs. Dr. G. B. Gesner), Marshall; Genevieve E. Dew, telegraph operator, Lansing; Mary Dickie, student Albion College; Garfield Farley, farmer; Eva P. Folsom; Robert Frost, Jr., clerk; Adelaide Gemberling, teacher; Florence J. Hagle, Ann Arbor; Nellie J. Hard (Mrs. Earl Faust), Ann Arbor; Leo B. Holmes, teacher, Middletown, Ohio; Fadge H. King, student Albion College; bertha King, Parma; Mary E. Potter, Northern Normal School, Marquette; Harriett B. Pugsley, Gale Mfg. Co.; Lloyd E. Knickerbocker, student Albion College; Mary E. Ritchie (Mrs. Verne Mayette), Jackson; Ada G. Rogers (Mrs. Frances L. Smith), commerce; Henry W. Wolcott, fireman, C. & G. T. (railroad), Battle Creek; Elmer A. Sturdevant; Nellie Bly Thorne, student, Detroit.

Unfortunately I do not know of a class photograph that exists, although I am positive that one was taken as that was the well-established practice beginning in the 1880s. If you have an 1898 class photograph let me know and I can copy it for this column and we’ll feature it. In fact, if you have one for the Class of 1899 next year, let me know, too.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present an 1896 photo of Albion High School. All is gone now except the first floor of the west wing, which is now the choir and band rooms at the Junior High School.

Albion High School 1896


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