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.


Albion Recorder, Monday, January 19, 1998, Page 4

There are some businesses in downtown Albion that have a long history, although not originally under the present name. Many businesses were sold to new owners who changed the name of a firm, but continued with the same product-line as before. One such example is Gordon Pahl, Jeweller at 215 S. Superior St. Our story begins back during the Civil War with a prominent 19th century Albion jeweler, William Steele.

William Steele (1832-1915) was a native of Scotland, and came to the US at the age of 23 with his wife Jesse. He was a jeweler by trade and practiced in Scotland; Brantford, Ontario; and Erie, Pennsylvania. Steele moved to Adrian where he as in partnership with his brother-in-law James Thompson during the 1850s. Steele came to Albion during the Civil War and opened his own jewelry store here, temporarily locating at three different sites.

He then erected his own business block in 1863 at 211 S. Superior St., a building that is now demolished. It is the former site of Homestead Savings and Loan that now contains a sidewalk south of Citizens Bank. Steele sold and repaired watches and jewelry, as well as practicing as an optician and selling optical goods and clocks. He was Albion’s sole agent for Rockford Railroad watches. In its later years the business was known as “Steele & Son.” The later being Matthew Steele.

Steele was also a believer in “Doan’s Kidney Pills.” In a Recorder advertisement from April 24, 1912 for Blair’s Drug Store, Steele’s testimonial stated in part, “I suffered constantly from pain in my back and if I attempted to stoop or lift, sharp twinges darted through my loins. The kidney secretions were unnatural in color and their irregular passages annoyed me. I could not rest well and the loss of sleep caused me to become all run down. Getting Doan’s Kidney Pills at Blair’s Drug Store, I began using them and the effected a cure.”

Steele served on the Albion Village council twice during the 1870’s and was active in Masonic organizations. He erected and lived in a well-kept elegant Victorian home at 712 N. Eaton St., which featured an ornamental porch and decorative trim, especially on the roof peaks. Its well kept beauty and large yard made his home an attractive neighborhood landmark for many years.

Following Steele’s death in 1915, his location was taken over by Byron D. Robinson (1869-1926) an early 20th century Albion jeweler. Robinson had formerly been located next door (north) at 209 S. Superior St. in a small one-story building that once sat where the Citizens Bank driveway is today. Robinson began his business here in 1897. He subsequently moved his store two door northwards to 215 S. Superior St. around 1925. You can still see the mosaic tile today in the entranceway to Gordon Pahl’s establishment with the name of “B. D. ROBINSON.”

After his death in 1926, Robinson’s establishment was followed by Arthur H. Tuchtenhagen (1893-1950) Jewelers. Upon his death it was taken over by his son-in-law Don McAuliffe, who sold it to Gordon Pahl in 1973. Today the business is known as Gordon Pahl, Jeweller (Notice that jeweler can also have two “l’”s for all our spelling perfectionists).

This week we present an 1875 photograph of William Steele, and a 1916 photograph showing B. D. Robinson’s original one story building (then being used by a piano sales firm) location on the left, with his new location (originally Steele’s Jewelry) on the right.

William Steele, 1875

Steele Jeweler's Location in 1916


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