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, December 21, 1998, pg. 4

"Benham family reunion photo a reminder of family gatherings"

Tis the season for families to get together and take photographs, or as the song goes, "I’ll be home for Christmas." Albion had several large pioneer families in its history that used to hold massive annual family-clan reunions in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

As an example this week we are featuring a Benham Family reunion photograph. The Benhams were pioneer settlers of "South" Albion Township four miles south of Albion just north of M-60. The Benhams came to Albion Township in 1836 from Roxbury (Delaware County) New York. The Benhams had been pioneers in that community also. For example, Eliakim Benham (1787-1861) operated the first carding mill in Roxbury, while his brother Charles S. (1790-1871) helped organize the first Masonic Lodge there in 1825. The Benhams had settled in Roxbury, N.Y. in 1796 after living in New Haven, Connecticut for many years in the 1600s and 1700s. The oldest ancestral record we have available lists a John Benham who died in New Haven in 1661, considered the chief patriarch several generations back of those who came to Michigan.

Martin C. Benham (1822-1896) (son of Norman Benham 1795-1843) and his uncle Eliakim (son of James Benham 1753-1831) purchased 240 acres of land in Sections 34 and 35 of Albion Township at $12.50 an acre. Soon afterwards many other family clan members arrived, purchasing property and populating Albion, Burlington, Clarendon, Homer, and Tekonsha Townships in Calhoun County. Several Benhams married members of the Doolittle family clan, another prominent pioneer family. There are numerous branches of the Benham genealogical line and many descendants, some of whom still live in the area today.

This particular aforementioned reunion was held in August 1912 at the home of Delos D. Snyder (1844-1933) located at 73553 28 Mile Road/M-99 four miles south of Albion. The house is still standing today on the west side of the road [vinyl siding added in 1999]. Delos’ wife Viola (Benham) (1849-1904) was the daughter of Holmes S. Benham (1818-1880), son of Eliakim Benham. Delos’ daughter Carrie (Snyder) Hartung Ott (1877-1959) was the mother of Clifford Snyder Ott (1909-1987) whose son Clifford C. Ott (born 1942) of Cleves, Ohio supplied us with this week’s photograph. Carrie operated a boarding house for college students at 406 Allen Place in Albion behind Sigma Nu fraternity during the 1920s through the 1940s.

The identities of these Benham family descendants are printed as identified on the original copy, which includes spouse and child relationships. FRONT ROW (all left to right): Floyd Fisher (son of Charles Fisher); next two unidentified; Vera McAllister (daughter of John McAllister); Margaret McCulley (daughter of Jim McCulley); Doris Doolittle (daughter of Byron Doolittle); Clifford Snyder Ott; a Haight boy (son of William Haight); Rhoda Doolittle (daughter of Haskell Doolittle); unidentified; and Kathryn Howard (daughter of William Howard).

SECOND ROW: Ruth Benham (wife of James Benham); Allie Benham (wife of Jule Benham); Ella (Doolittle) Allman Haight (wife of Lewis Haight); May Fisher (wife of Charles Fisher); Mary Benham (wife of A. Benham); Delos D. Snyder; his daughter Carrie (Snyder) Hartung Ott; Alice Howard (wife of Will Howard); Maud Doolittle (wife of Haskell Doolittle); Mary Lacey (wife of Burdette Lacey); Lucreta McAllister (wife of S. McAllister); and Mate Harris (wife of A. Harris).

THIRD ROW: Andrew Benham; Ada Haight (wife of W. Haight); Lydia Carr (wife of Ed Carr); Julia Doolittle (wife of Byron Doolittle); Marie Kellogg (wife of Arthur Kellogg); Nell Lacey (wife of Ralph Lacey); (up) Neva Lacey (daughter of Burdette Lacey); Lydia Doolittle (wife of Harvey Doolittle); Nettie McAllister (wife of John McAllister); Olivia McCulley) wife of Jim McCulley); Hazel Brown (later Mrs. Mays) the daughter of Herman Brown; and Mate Harris (wife of A. Harris).

FOURTH ROW: Harvey Doolittle; Roy Haight (son of William Haight); Byron Doolittle; Seth McAllister; Ellen (Benham) Brown; (up) Herman Brown; Elizabeth Noble (wife of Mr. Noble); Mr. Noble; Arthur Kellogg; Ralph Lacey (son of Burdette Lacey); Bernice Brown (later Campbell) daughter of Herman Brown; Whit Benham; Edith Benham (wife of W. Benham); Jim McCulley; Leora Doolittle (daughter of Haskell Doolittle); Maud Harris (daughter of A. Harris); Hester Allman (wife of Milo Allman); Clara Fisher (daughter of Charles Fisher); Lewis Haight; and Will Howard.

TOP ROW: William Haight; Charles Fisher; Ed Carr; John McAllister; Burdette Lacey; Don Carr (son of Ed Carr); Amasa Harris; Haskell Doolittle; and Frank Benham.

As you gather together this Christmas season and take photographs, be sure and pencil in the identities of each person in the photo in order on the back as a gift to future family generations. Your descendants will be glad you did.

A very Merry Christmas to all my readers of this column. I thank you for your support and interest as we explore the fascinating topic of Albion area history each week.

The Benham Family Reunion in 1912


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