Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Albion Recorder, Monday, January 5, 1998
The brick building where the Subway sandwich shop is now, located at 200 S. Superior St. once was the site of the Hannahs’ Block, a wooden structure which stood in the 19th century. The Hannahs (after whom Hannah Street is named) were tanners and operated their business there. They also rented portions of their large building to such enterprises as the Albion Union Weekly Herald newspaper, the E. F. Swans Sewing Machines firm, and others.
The Comstock Brother Druggists was located here in the Hannahs block from 1863 to 1867. The firm was run by the brothers Dr. Isaac (1834-1905), Charles (1840-1930), and Addison Comstock Jr. (1849-19??), who had come to Albion from Adrian. The brothers were sons of the noted Addison J. Comstock, who settled and founded the community of Adrian, and whom Addison, Michigan is named after.
Of course druggists back then had special challenges peculiar to their trade, in the days of patent medicines and herbal cures, which the Comstocks sold. They also sold wallpaper and general grocery items. What type of drugs did the Comstock Brothers sell here in Albion, Well, the answer is found in their advertisement printed in the February 6, 1866 issue of the Albion Union Herald, a Republican newspaper located upstairs above the Comstock’s store. That advertisement is reprinted here in its entirety:
HASHEESH CANDY, ‘The Great Oriental Nervoine Compound. A most EXHILERANT CONFECTIONIZED, and has been the theme of song and story among the Persians, Arabians and Assyrians.
TRUE SECRET OF YOUTH AND BEAUTY. It is a remedy that ought to be in every house on account of its harmlessness and potency. And above all, because of its exceeding cheapness. It is the cheapest remedy in the world. Colds readily yield to it.
The writer, the speaker, the student, and the businessman, under its influence seem to gather a new inspiration and new energy a readiness of perception unknown before. No Clergyman, Actor, Singer, Lawyer or in fact anyone should be without it.
Major General Mitchell, the celebrated astronomer, says that the Hasheesh Candy helped him when all other remedies failed to relieve him and that it is an excellent compound.
The celebrated Dr. Mott of New York, says the true medicinal virtures of the Hasheesh Candy are very great. Much greater than appears. I could wish that a remedy so potent for good, as it is, were more generally in use.
Sure cure for General Debility and wasting away. Sure cure for all Nervous and Billios Afflictions. Sure cure for Torpidity of the Liver. Sure cure for Quinsey, Croup, and Hives. Sure cure for colds, coughs and asthma. Sure cure for incipient consumption.
Sold by druggists everywhere. Price 50 cents and $1 per box. Postage on $1 box 15 cents. Imported only by the Gunjah Wallah Company, office 36 Beekman St. New York. Comstock & Bro., sole agent for Albion.
During the Civil War there was a shortage of small change in circulation and so local merchants would issue their own. The Comstock Brothers issued a couple of bronze cent-sized tokens which they had minted at the Childs Die Sinkers minters in Chicago. One is pictured here. These circulated in Albion, and occasionally someone will still find one buried even today. They bear the date “1863” and either have a portrait of Liberty with 13 stars on the obverse, or an eagle with surrouding stars. The revers bears the legend, “COMSTOCK & BRO. DRUGGISTS, ALBION MICH.” In the center is a pharmacist’s mortar and pestle emblem.
Comstock Brothers Tokens
All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic