The first settlers at “The Forks” (Albion) were the Peabody and the DeVoe famileis, (1833). The next family to settle here was the Finch family (1834). In 1835, Jesse Crowell came, also the Patterson and Blodgett families arrived, in 1836, the Eslow, Warner, Belcher and Harround families came to make their homes in what was still a wilderness.
Wareham Warner built the first frame house which still stands at 308 W. Erie Street, also the first brick house, still standing at 302 W. Erie St. Champion Eslow built the second frame house, the lumber being cut and drawn from Homer and was built on what is now the southwest corner of Cass and Eaton Streets.
Champion Eslow’s family at this time consisted of a wife, Pn, and a son, James C., only four months old. After his family was in its new quarters, Mr. Eslow erected a blacksmith shop on the same plot of ground as his home. After eight years of hardships and steady labor in his shop he built the Eslow stone mill.
In 1844 his better judgment lead him to see the use of the ground located between Porter, Center, Clinton and Superior Streets, on which in later days was erected the Eslow block. On this plot of ground he constructed a brick shop in the front and home in the rear, transferred his business here, working steadily and taking part in the betterment of the village. The home built at this time was moved to 408 W. Ash, located to another home built by Eslow at 406 Ash St, later moved to 116 W. Erie street to make room for Ed Monteers two family flat.
Later, a daughter, Ada Eslow Clark, of Chicago, was born. Mrs. Eslows death occurredafter helping her husband establish the new home. Mr. Eslow married again and to this union was born a son, Champion and a daughter Phebe Ann, later Mrs. E.W. Banks. Mr. Eslow built a large frame house on the Eslow farm located on Irwin Avenue, later owned by Titus Russell. Here Mr. Eslow died January 19, 1880, leaving to carry on his work, the oldest son, James C., who built the block on the northeast corner of Porter and Center Streets for a city post office, also the Air Dome theater, the Lottie Eslow block in memory of his wife, and the old commercial hotel which belonged to the family. Later, James Eslow had a hardware store in the Eslow block, and also ran a moving picture show in the same block. K166
Source: Phebe Eslow Banks in Krenerick, Miriam. Albion’s Milestones and Memories. Albion, MI: Art Craft Press. 1932.
The plat for the village of Albion was laid by the Albion Company in 1836, and by 1838 approximately forty homes had been built. The second frame home built in Albion was erected in December 1836, by Champion Eslow (1815-1880), Albion’s first blacksmith. Eslow had purchased a plot of land on what is now the southwest corner of Cass and Eaton Streets. The Eslow family had been living hear Homer, and it was there that Champion cut, scored and hewed the timbers for his new home. He came to Albion with six teams loaded with the frame house, knocked down, all ready to set up. The work was accomplished in a weeks time; it could be called Albion’s first “pre-fabricated” home.
Champion Eslow built the large four-story building (the Eslow Block) on the northwest corner of Superior and Porter Streets in 1869. It still stands, minus the top story. In his “Biographical Sketches” series, Dr. Elmore Palmer mentions ChampionEslow:
In those days the east side of Superior Street was mostly occupied as a log yard, with a sawmill located in the rear of where R.J. Frost’s shoe store now stands. About 1846 Mr. Lyman Munson built a carding and woolen mill where rolls were carded and woolen cloth made. This mill stood near the rear of the stone mill. In the evolution of time and business affairs, Mr. Eslow became the owner of the carding mill and water privileges connected with it, and continued to operate the mill for many years, and at one time he had a sash, door, and blind factory on the same water power.
Mr. Eslow was one of the most enterprising of me. In his time, with the assistance, advice, and executive ability of his son, James, they erected many buildings, projected many enterprises and to them is given the credit of contributing to and doing as much for the growth and development of Albion on its present size and beauty, as any other two men. (Dr. Elmore Palmer. “Biographical Sketches.” Albion Mirror July 10, 1908.)
The saw and carding mill was located where the Albion Meat Locker sits today, while Eslow’splaning mill and lumber yard was just to the north, where the Albion Elevator now sits. From that site Albion’s pioneers obtained lumber and supplies which were used to buildnumerous houses throughout the community.
The Eslow Mills smokestack was an Albion landmark for many years, and stoodsouth of where the Albion Meat Locker sits today. A portion of that building is actually the remains of the Eslow Mills. Photographs taken of the 1908 flood will often focus on the stack, with the flooded Market Place in the distance.
Source: Frank Passic. Homestead Savings and Loan and the Builders of Albion: One Hundred Years of Service, 1889-1989. Albion, MI: Homestead Savings and Loan Association. 1988.