John Clift, 1813
Died January 20, 1904
One of the venerable and respected citizens of Albion was John Clift, who passed away January 20, 1904. He had reached the ninetieth milestone on lifes journey and during six decades of his long and useful career was a resident of Albion, having arrived in this city in 1844. He was born in Birmingham, England, April 2, 1813, and there resided until about eighteen years of age, during which time he served an apprenticeship to the shoemakers trade. He then crossed the Atlantic to Canada and after a short period spent in the Dominion, removed to Auburn, New York, where he was engaged in business as a shoe merchant. On his arrival in Michigan he located at Ann Arbor, where he remained for a year and not being pleased with the city he resumed his westward journey, traveling as far as Albion. He was more favorably impressed with this town and made a location, beginning his business career here as a shoemaker on the bench. Later, however, he established a shoe store and afterward became proprietor of a grocery store, continuing in the latter line of merchandising until 1865, when soon after the close of the Civil War he retired from trade and enjoyed a well merited rest until called to the home beyond. He owned and dealt in real estate and through his business interests became well-to-do. He made judicious purchases and sales of property and was the owner of a two-story business block and good residence in Albion
On the 30th of April, 1854, Mr. Clift was united in marriage to Miss Sarah A. Gregory, of Albion, a daughter of Noah and Lucinda (Hackett) Gregory. The father was born in Connecticut and when a young man went to Batavia, New York, where he was married. He afterward removed to St. Catherine, Canada, and there engaged in business as a mason. It was there that Mrs. Clift was born. Her father secured the contract to building the center building of Albion College, and in consequence of this removed to the city in 1840. He continued to make it his home until death, which occurred in 1844, being survived by a wife and seven children. His widow survived him for more than twenty years, passing away in 1865. Mrs. Clift was educated in Albion and remained with her mother until the time of her marriage. She had two children: Ida May, who died in 1871, at the age of sixteen years; and Annette, the wife of H.M. Brown, a grocer of Albion by whom she has three children Mildred, born January 1, 1892; Stanley, deceased; and Catherine, who died when only two weeks old, soon after the death of her mother, which occurred May 2, 1900.
Mr. Clift gave his support to the Republican party for a long period, but afterward became an advocate of the Prohibition party, with which he affiliated during his later years. Both he and his wife were prominent and influential members of the Methodist Episcopal church, to which she still belongs. He took a very active part in the work of the church in its many departments and served as class leader for a long period, while for twenty years he was church steward. Because of the infirmities of old age he was not able in his last years to attend church regularly and this he considered his greatest trial. He took great pleasure in always being at his place in the house of worship and he governed his life by the tenets and teachings of the church, thus living so as to command the unqualified respect of his fellow men. Whatever tended to uplift humanity elicited his interest and in as far as possible he co-operated in all movements in his community for the public good. At the time of his demise he was perhaps the oldest gentleman residing in Albion and his mind bore the impress of the early historic annals of this part of the state. He watched its entire growth and development, and while active in business affairs and also in advancing material improvement of this part of the county, he labored most earnestly for the moral growth of his community. He was a man of strong and honorable purpose, whose integrity was above question and whose life was at all times guided by principles which developed a character of great strength and lofty ideals. He realized fully that the only thing that is of actual value in the world is character that it is this by which man is judged and through long years he made it the aim and purpose of his life to conform his actions to the rules of conduct of Him who gave to the world the two precepts To love the Lord, thy God, with all thy heart, and thy neighbor as thyself.
Source: Hobart and Mather. Biographical Review of Calhoun County, MI. April 1904.