Albion Interactive History / Additions / Wesleyan Seminary Addition, 1840

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Wesleyan Seminary Addition, 1840

Registered: 1840
? Lots

Registrants: Jesse Crowell

Blocks Included +
34-118 [partial]

Streets Included +

On February 1, 1840 Jesse Crowell was given power of attorney for the Albion Land Company. In that role he promptly framed the indenture which constiutes the first concrete offer of specific property from the company to the seminary. Though only two pages of legal foolscap, this is a document of prime importance in the history of Albion College. As found in the vaults of the Register of Deeds at Marshall, the unrevised text reads as follows:

Register of Deeds, Liber 9, Pages 267-268
Jesse Crowell and Others
Wesleyan Seminary

This Indenture made the twenty-second day of April in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty between Tenney PEabody and Eleanor his wife Issachor Frost and Polly his wife Daniel S. Bacon and Eleanor Sophia his wife William J. Carroll and Sally his wife Jesse Crowell Charles N. Carroll and John McVickor heir at large of Bard McVickor deceased fo the first part and Loring Grant Elijah H. Pilcher Benjamin H. Packard Almon Herrick Alvan Billings, Thomas W. Pray MArving Hannah Jesse Gardner Warham Warner Peter Williamson Arzon C. Robinson and Jesse Crowell Trustees of the Wesleyan Seminary at Albion of the second part. Witnesseth that the said members of the first part for and in consideration of the said Wesleyan Seminary being located and erected on or adjoining the land hereafter described by the said parties of the second part have granted bargained sold remissed released aliened and confirmed and by theose presents do grant bargain sell remiss release alien and confirm unto the said party of the second part and to their successors in office all that certain piece or parcel of land lying in the township of Albion county of Calhoun and state of Michigan bounded as follows to wit beginning at the northeast corner of section number two (2) in township number three (3) south of range number four (4) west and running from thence south eighty seven degrees west thrity chains and forty seven links along the north line of said section to the center of Ingham Street in the village of Albion thence south three degrees east twenty one chains and fifteen links along the center of said Ingham Street to the center of Erie Street thence north eighty seven degrees east thirty oen chains and thirty seven links to the east line of said section two thence north six degrees west twenty one chains and fifteen links along the east line of said section to the place of beginning containing sixty five acres and thirty two 100 of land including five blocks or fifty lots agreeably to the new plat of the village of Albion be the same more or less. Together with all and singular the herditaments and appurtenances thereunto beloning or in anywise appertaining and the reversion and reversions remainder and remainders unto fees and profits thereof and all the state right title instant claims or demand whatsoever of the said parties of the first part either in law or equity of and to the above bargained premises with the said hereditaments and appurtenances To Have and To Hold the said premises as above described with the appurtenances unto the said parties of the second part and to their successors forever. And the said parties of the first part for themselves their heirs executors and administrators do covenant grant bargain and agree to and with the said parties of the second part their successors that at the time of the sealing and delivery fo these presents they are well seized of the premises above conveyed as of good sure perfect absolute and indefeasible estate of inheritance, in the law, in fee simple and that the said lands and premises are free from all incumbrances whatever and that the above bargained premises in the quiet and peaceable possession of the said party of the second their successors agains all and every person or persons lawfully claiming or to claim the whole or any part thereof they will forever warrant and defend.

In witness whereof the said Jesse Crowell hath herunto set has hand and seal and the said Tenney Peabody and Eleanor his wife Issachar Frost and Polly his wife Daniel S. Bacon and Eleanor Sophia his wife William T. Carroll and Sally his wife Charles H. Carroll and John McVickor heir at large of Bard MCVickor deceased have severally herenuto set their hands and seals by Jesse Crowell their attorney hereunto duly authorized by a power of attorney bearing date the first day of February eighteen hundred and thirty eight recorded in the registry of Miscellany in the county of Calhoun in Liber A folios 196 197 198 & 199 of said records November secodn eighteen hundred and thirty eight at two o clock in the afternoon. [Here omitted are six lines describing alterations in the legal form to eliminate any payment of “legal money of the United States.”

L.C. Sanford, R.C. Hamill, witnesses

Jesse Crowell
Tenney Peabody
Eleanor Peabody
Issachor Frost
Polly Frost
Daniel S. Bacon
Eleanor S. Bacon
William Carroll
Sally Carroll
Charles H. Carroll
John McVickor

On this eighth day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and forty Jesse Crowell personally came before me and acknowledged that he had executed the within conveyance for himself as his free act and deed and also as the free act and deed [of the above signers] by virtue of a power of attorney duly executed by the within named [persons] bearing date the first day of February in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and thirty eight and recorded in the office of the register of deeds in said county of Calhoun in Liber A of Miscellany folios 196 197 198 & 199. And I further certify that I know the said Jesse Crowell who made the said acknowledgement to be the same individual who is still there.

Jonathan S. Barclay
Justice of the Peace
Albion Township
Ira Tillotson, Register

Recorded Oct. 12th 1840 at 9 o’clock A.M.

Though nearly lost amid the maze of legal jargon, the fundamental fact emerges – the original grant of April 22, 1840, was a plot “containing sixty-five acres and thirty two 100 of land.” This specific point of information clears up several perplexities of long standing. Most important among these, it settles the discrepancy between the “four blocks” designed in the 1842 document and the extensive holdings of the seminary which were on record by that time. It also explains the former mystery around the date of the cornerstone-laying ceremony. In brief, according to previous accounts the seminary grounds were ceded to the Michigan Conference in July, 1842; yet the ceremony attanding the laying of the cornerstone for the Central Building occurred a fully year earlier in July, 1841. This apparent discrepancy in years raized a question of long standing – how could the trustees begin construction on property which was not theirs until a year later? In fact, they did not. As the 1840 Indenture demonstrates, they had gained possession of the land the year before Rev. Pilcher plied the trowel. Discovery of the earlier document now places the events in proper sequence.

One also must not overlook a significant duplication of one name on the 1840 document. Pioneer Jesse Crowell is listed among both the grantors and the grantees. In other words, Crowell already functioned as both a member of the company which transferred the property and as a trustee for the instiution which received it. In this dual role, there is little doubt that he did much more for the seminary cause than heretofore suspected.

Clearly the grant of land was given with two purposes in mind – one, to provide a campus for the semianry; two, to provide property for a real estate development. As noted earlier in connection with the tuition certificates, the enterpreise sorely lacked capital to erect buildings, hire a staff, and hold classes. With the utmost liberality, Crowell and his associates gave of their holdings to create a contributive adjunct for their own endeavors.

Constrained at every step by legislative fiat, the trustees had to petition for a further amendment which would name them as corporation officers with legal authority to buy or sell property for the Wesleyan Seminary. With the Act of 1841 the way was opened for the board to prepare the major portion of the grant for public sale. In a matter of months after the act the development area was surveyed and building lots were platted. Finally, on March 14, 1842, the Wesleyan Seminary Addition was registered as a legal extension to the village of Albion.

In present-day terms, the addition consisted of that area bounded by Hannah Street on the west, Michigan Avenue on the north, Clark Street on the east, and Erie Street on the south. Still well woodded and on high ground, the addition became a prime residential area much in favor by faculty and townspeople alike. As a matter of fact, so much of the land was sold off through the years that the college has been compelled to pay premium prices to regain property needed for recent campus expansion in that direction. When the lots were put on sale in the ‘summer of 1842, one could have his choice for one hundred dollars. According to the REgister of Deeds, Financial Agent Loring Grant was his own best customer when he purchased the first five lots on August 29, followed in later years by such familiar Albion names as Prof. Delos Fall, Rev. William H. Brockway, and Dr. Arthur M. Chickering.

With the real estate development extending east from Hannah Street, it was inevitable that the central campus eb situated where it is. At that time, Ingham and Oswege Streets ran unbroken between Michigan Avenue on the north and Erie Street on the south. Between Cass Street and Porter Street lay an open stretch which extended westward to Huron Street. The 1842 indenture identified this area as Union Square and required that no building or cultivation occur there. From every indication, as the years went by these limitations upon the use of Union square were quite forgotten. Long before the campus expanded to its present bounds, this area was built up on all sides to form the college quadrangle which is still considered the core of the campus. Back in 1841, however, Union Square was an unkempt field. Nevertheless the trustees situated the Central Building atop the rise off Ingham Street midway between Cass and Porter Streets and overlooking the Square to the west.

Source: Keith Fennimore. The Albion College Sesquicentennial History: 1835-1985. 1985.

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