May 27 • 02:06 AM

Almont, the nation bustled in 1800s

March 24, 2010
In my Homecoming story last week, I mentioned W.O. King and his 'Souvenir for the Home Coming Almont, Summer 1909' booklet. After reading the Preface more carefully I realized he was responsible for presenting the booklet to those attending the festival Home Coming but, it was to his friend R.D. Harris he gave thanks for compiling the information and to G.W. Paton who assisted. G.W. Paton was owner of "The Almont Herald" at the time, now the Tri-City Times.

On page 3 of the little booklet is a picture of "Old Main Street Before the Fire." It tells us that, "A log school-house was built on about the present site of the Town Hall (now gone). Charlotte Freeman was the first teacher at the large salary of 75 cents a week and 'boarded around.' Fires of 1859 and 1861 burned several buildings on the west side of Main St.

Gertie with little brother Roy, taken at Hancock photography.
"During the first years that the early settlers of Lapeer County and Almont were beginning to cut away the forests, and clear for themselves a home and farm, several of the nation's most important incidents occurred. In 1828 Webster's dictionary first appeared. In 1830 the first steam railroad in America was opened in Baltimore. In 1833 Chicago was founded. In 1834 McCormick invented his reaper, and in 1846 Howe completed the first sewing machine. In 1844 the first line of telegraph was completed in the United States."

In the pictures on page 3, horses and buggies are tethered to the hitching posts. The old Ferguson Bank with the Hancock Photography upstairs sits proudly where the Almont Pastry Shop now occupies. Little brother Roy and I had our picture taken there.

Page 4 is a picture of "West Side of Main Street." Muir Brothers Funeral Home was once an elegant hotel, later Dr. David Burley and his brother Jacob started Almont's first hospital there . . . and I was born there . . . so . . . could be that I entered life and exited . . . guess I'd better not say it. On a block further north was the National Hotel, now the Speedway Gas Station.

Also on page 4, mention is made of the starch factory built in 1846 at the site of King's Mill on South Main St. I think we have made mention of it before . . . that 16 tons of starch were produced from 5,000 bushels of potatoes.

"In 1865 the village was incorporated, its population being 818, just one hundred more than it contained thirty-five years later in 1900. July 4th of 1865 was the grand one for the village's history, for on that day the splendid liberty pole was raised, and no village or state ever contained a handsomer one."

That story later.

— Country Cousin

Gertie Brooks is a lifelong Almont area resident. A 'farm girl,' Gertie is the premier historian for the Almont area, and frequently offers her memories and first-hand accounts in her 'Country Cousin' columns.
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