1976 bicentennial compilation by Thurlo C. Holcomb with Linda Shultz and Judy Richter
Albion, located in the center of Noble County, is the present county seat. Over the years, it has had many features like its rich history, its varied businesses, its many modes of transportation, its variety of entertainment, and its hotels, schools, and churches. Albion has also been the home of a few famous people.
In 1847, the county seat was moved from Port Mitchell to "Center” or Albion. On June 4, 1854, Albion township was formed from York and Jefferson townships, and is the smallest township in the United States of America. The first courthouse, made of wood, burned January 25, 1859. In June, the contract for a new brick courthouse was awarded to John WESTON for $8,000.00. County business was conducted at various places in Albion until the new building was completed in 1861. That building was taken down and county offices were moved across the street north to the Opera House. The present building was completed in 1888-1889 at a total cost of $114,062.41.
In 1850, Albion had 75-100 people. Nearly all the buildings in town were facing the square. Samuel CLYMER built the first residence in Albion south of the square. Forty new residences were completed in 1874.
In October of 1882, hogs continued to roam the streets in spite of an ordinance against it. In 1885, cows were still being pastured in the courtyard. Albion got her first paved street in 1913, but never has had parking meters.
The first jail was located where the Noble County Library is today. Later it moved west to the site of the present Old Jail Museum. When that building was deemed inadequate, a new jail was built at the east edge of town.
The Albion Post Office was established August 19, 1847, with William ENGLE being the first postmaster. At one time, Myron HURSEY, riding a motorcycle, carried and delivered mail on a rural route. Cary DAVIS was postmaster for the longest time. At present, the post office is located on the northwest corner of Main and Hazel Streets. The building was dedicated Jan. 31, 1965.
There were many different businesses in town. At the foot of South York Street near the railroad tracks, there was once located a stock yard; a creamery, which also made ice cream, but eventually failed; a handle factory, which also failed; the Atwood Buggy factory, which burned November 20, 1905 and was not rebuilt; a county garage, which burned April 11, 1945, and was rebuilt at the east edge of town. The only business at the foot of Albion today is E. H. Moorhouse, Inc., an Amoco Oil distributor.
The brick building on South Orange Street now occupied by dentist, Dr. John P. HAYES, was once a hotel. Early in the century, Dr. MORR established the New Hope Hospital there which prospered for a few years. Later it was the home office of the Albion Production Credit Association which moved to a new building erected on the south edge of town.
At one time Albion had a seminary at the northwest corner of East Hazel and South Liberty Streets. It was still operating in 1889.
The Varagon Roller Mills burned August 16, 1911 after thirty years of successful operation. It was not rebuilt.
HARKLESS had a photograph gallery just north of the Corner Stop and made splendid large photographs for 99cents per dozen.
There was a tile mill in the southeast part of town which was discontinued a generation or more ago.
The power house once stood across the street from the South Side Grocery where lights and power for the town were generated. Later, the building became the beginning of Lyall Electric Company which is the largest employer in the county today. Also they have plants in Iowa, Texas, and Mexico, as well as neighboring counties in northeast Indiana.
Charles BECK conducted a poultry and produce business from the building next to the Corner Stop on West Jefferson Street. Much later William CARMICHAEL had a hatchery there. Then it became a drug store, an American Legion Post, and now it is storage area for Excel Distributing.
The J. D. BLACK dry goods store on the northwest corner of Orange and Main Streets was where the Christianson Jewelry store is now located. Three floors were stocked with clothing and merchandise. Later the building was a grocery owned by Glen BLACK and Frank CLOUSE. Then it became a restaurant, owned by John and Mid BECKLEY, which was famous for the home-made pies that Mid baked every day.
Years ago, Albion had a blacksmith shop on South Orange Street, one on East Main Street, and one at the north end of Liberty Street. The smithy's main work was nailing iron shoes on the hooves of horses and “setting” (shrinking or tightening) iron tires on buggies and wagons.
Before artificial ice and electric refrigerators, BECK and LEMON supplied the town with ice from their ice house at the little lake west of Albion. Charles CAMPBELL once had a cider mill 3/4 mile west of Albion on River Road.
There was a livery barn where the Fire Department is now located, also one in the Excel building north of courthouse square, and one near the north end of Liberty Street. Livery men also kept horses and buggies to rent to town people who had no transportation of their own.
Transportation in Albion went from horse and buggy to train to automobiles. Before automobiles were plentiful, it might take several hours for a farmer to make a trip to and from Albion with a horse and buggy or a wagon load of produce and take care of his purchases, so he “put up” his horse or team in a livery barn for feed and water.
In 1874, the first train from the east on the B & 0 arrived in Albion. Trains continued to stop going both east and west well into the 1940’s. Special arrangements were made for Albion’s school children to have train rides, well into the 1960’s, by driving to Syracuse, Indiana, and riding the train back to Albion. Over the years, those who had time, gathered at the depot at train time to see who got on and off the train. The depot was torn down in the 1950’s. At one time, there was an overhead bridge across the tracks about two blocks east of Orange Street. The first “horseless” carriage entered Albion on June 13, 1900, driving time from Fort Wayne – two hours.
Albion has had many forms of entertainment over the years to draw people to town. Anthony KIMMELL was manager of the Opera House and secured many clean and entertaining shows, which were well attended and brought people to town. In 1892, Jay HARDENBROOK and Albert WILLIAMS staged a 75 mile walking match in the Opera House, accompanied by band music.
The stores were open Wednesday and Saturday nights in the 1930's and 1940’s. The streets were crowded. Band concerts and talent contests were held on a portable stage which was pulled to the east side of the courthouse. John SINGLETON, auctioneer, had sales on the street, selling anything brought in by people. Drawings were held Saturday nights, giving away $5.00, $10.00, or more. People came from miles around to be there to see if their names were drawn.
HALFERTY Drug Store, on the south side of courthouse square, made their own ice cream and piled it in cones about four dips high for 5cents. People stood in long lines waiting to get a cone.
At one time, Albion had a Chautauqua which furnished good wholesome entertainment to the area people for several years. Judge BULL of Reno, Nevada, took the part of Abe Lincoln and dressed and looked as we would expect “Abe” to look. Albion’s Jim EDWARDS traveled with Chautauqua one summer.
In 1897, J. D. BLACK and his wife made an extensive trip through Ohio on their bicycles, averaging 80-100 miles per day.
Albion has had many nice hotels, schools, and churches. In 1876, Albion had three hotels. The present license bureau building was once the Williams House built in the early 1880’s. Then it became a hotel for many years run by RUMBAUGHS. Later it housed several businesses, the last being Ron’s TV and Appliance.
The first school in 1847-1848 was taught by Ephriam WALTERS. A small frame school was built in 1849 and another toward the end of the 1850’s. In 1863, a two story frame school was built and used until 1876, when another was built. The building was abandoned as a school in 1923, becoming a manufacturing building and was eventually torn down in March 1969. Our present school was built in the early 1920's on the east side of town. An addition on the north side of the building consisted of three classrooms. This was completed in 1933. In 1938, a new gymnasium and auditorium was added. In 1972, a new high school was built and just this year, 1985, a new middle school was built on the campus, tearing down the old part for parking and playground.
The present churches of Albion are: Albion Wesleyan, Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ, Asbury United Methodist, Berean Baptist, Blessed Sacrament Catholic, First United Presbyterian, St. Mark’s Lutheran, and Trinity United Methodist.
Some of our more interesting people of Albion are as follows: E. Ross ADAIR was born, raised, and schooled in Albion. After serving twenty years in the United States Congress, he then became Ambassador to Ethiopia. Ed EAGLES and Dr. GREEN, at different times, served in the State Legislature. Willis EAGLES became a General in the United States Army. Also Dr. MORR was a candidate for Congress in 1906. Another famous Albion area resident was Earl BUTZ. He served as Secretary of Agriculture from 1971-1977 under presidents Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.
In conclusion, Albion today is a bustling, small, friendly community with the courthouse in the center. There are two parks, a library, a cemetery, and many businesses. At the north and at the east edge of town are factories which employ many Albion as well as Noble County residents. Also there are many clubs and community service organizations that help the community.