A Look Back at Alma, Michigan: 1850s-1950s
One of Michigan’s major cities, Alma, deserves some recognition.
This is not meant to be an in-depth study, history, or scrutiny of Alma – just a nutshell version of a timeline (thanks to myalma.org).
Ralph Ely arrives in this area near the Pine River with a small handful of people. After settling and building a sawmill, he declares the new village as “Elyton”.
The first school is established; the teacher, Miss Rachel Kress, is only paid one dollar a week.
An unseasonable July frost kills many crops, thus resulting in the area being nicknamed "Starving Gratiot".
The community is platted by James Gargett, who lists the new village as “Alma” (his daughter's name).
Another saw mill.
Pere Marquette Railroad comes through, Alma to Saginaw.
Alma incorporated as a village. Population: 425.
Alma’s first newspaper, the "Alma Enterprise”.
Fire burns the Village Hall and all records.
Fire burns the Village Hall and all records again.
Woolen mill and flour mill burn down.
Alma Roller Mills built
Union School (later Washington School) built @ Court and Superior.
Alma College founded.
Alma College begins classes: 9 faculty members and 95 students.
Teddy Roosevelt comes to Alma to campaign for president.
Another major fire. This time, the Tinker & Hannah factory burns down.
The first Alma golf course.
The “Village of Alma” is now the “City of Alma”.
Weekly garbage pickup.
Libby, McNeil and Libby open canning plant.
Streetlights are installed.
Alma High School is built @ Downie and Pine.
First State Bank.
St. Mary's Church.
After constructing a one million gallon water reservoir, river water contaminates the water mains.
City finally allows farmers to use the library.
Two new schools: Stillwell Junior High and Wright Avenue School.
City is overrun with rats, and a serious look at extermination begins.
Rhodes Drug Store is renamed “Doud’s”.
Police force is whittled down to 4 officers.
Barn is bought and turned into a grocery store. During World War II, teachers become in charge of sugar rationing.
Alma Products Company.
Police Department gets newfangled two-way radio.
Alma Sugar Company closed.
If you would like to see the entire, extensive Alma timeline with much more information, go here. But first, take a look at the photo gallery below and see some interesting old photos of Alma, going back over one hundred years…..
Vintage Alma: 1880s-1940s
MORE VINTAGE MICHIGAN: