In the mid-1870s, Dr. William Bruce Hamilton Jr. researched the first history of Almont Township. From personal knowledge and interviews with people who were here at the beginning, he finished writing it in 1876 and gave it as a speech at the Fourth of July celebration in 1877. The booklet was entitled “A Short History of Almont, Lapeer County, Michigan.” It was published in the Almont Herald for the celebration. It was re-published by the Herald in 1911 as a series of articles. Shortly thereafter, the Flint School for the Deaf used it as a training exercise for their students. This booklet is available at the Almont Community Historical Society Museum.
For the country’s centennial celebration in 1876, Congress requested that counties write their histories. “History of Lapeer County, Michigan” was published in 1884. No authors were listed. It provided listings by township of the original settlers and their homestead purchases but omitted purchases by speculators and lumber companies, a brief history, and multiple short biographical sketches.
For the first Community Homecoming in 1909, a booklet, “Souvenir for the Almont Home Coming – Summer 1909,” was written and given away to the people returning to the Village and Township for the celebration. It is available in booklet form at the Almont Community Historical Society Museum.
Edith Foe Waltz wrote a series of articles for the 1955 Homecoming addition of the Almont Times-Herald, which was almost the entire paper. Some of the stories came from the 1884 book but most were based on original research.
Beginning in 1970, Hildamae Waltz Bowman (Edith’s daughter) wrote four more books. In 1970, she published “The History of Almont – 1834-1970.” In 1976, she expanded on the 1970 book and published “Almont . . . the way it was.” For the 1985 Community Homecoming, after extensive additional research, she wrote “Almont, The Tale of Then and Now.” For the 1990 celebration, she wrote a history of the First Congregational Church entitled “First Congregational Church – Almont, Michigan.”
Gertie Park Brooks, who wrote weekly history related columns for the Almont Times-Herald and then the Tri-City Times, wrote the history of the Community Homecoming celebrations for the 1995 Community Homecoming entitled “The history of Almont’s Homecoming.”
In early 2010, Betty Walton and her daughter, Cindie Walton-Wade, decided to continue where Hildamae had stopped in 1985. They researched and got numerous people and organizations to update their stories from the 1985 book. The result was “Almont, The Story Continues,” which was sold at the 2010 Homecoming celebration.
Cindie and I decided to continue the tradition of publishing a new history for the Community Homecomings. So in 2015, we wrote and published “Remembrances of Almont 2015.” It had updates of many of the stories in Hildamae’s 1985 book but also many original stories. It led off with a detailed story on Mary Bryce Spangler, the elementary school principal when I was in school, an Almont institution in her own right.
In February 2016, the Almont Community Historical Society, which operated the museum, was in dire financial condition. They had conducted several fundraising activities but ended up worse off after each event. They were actually fund losers not fundraisers. The funds needed to operate the museum were not available. I attended the Society’s monthly meeting, which was scheduled to close the museum. I was elected Society president and sent out an emergency call to the community for funding, to which the community positively responded.
Cindie and I donated the remaining copies of “Remembrances of Almont 2015” to the museum to help fund the museum.
For the monthly Society meetings, I prepare presentations about the Township’s earliest settlers. From each of these presentations I have prepared a booklet on the family. The booklets are available at the museum at a cost ranging from $2 to $5.
In October 2019, I began writing weekly articles for the Tri-City Times. These articles were primarily based on the research that I have done for the monthly Society presentations. I also began researching and writing “Remembrances of Almont 2020” for the 2020 Almont Community Homecoming.
Unfortunately, COVID disrupted both the celebration and my research. The celebration was postponed to 2021. The completion of over a dozen stories for the book could not be done because I could not get to the people or resources to complete them. As a result, I began researching and writing additional stories. When I finally could get to the resources I needed, the book which I planned to be 150 to 200 pages had ballooned to 356 pages (including the index). With the assistance of the Four County Community Foundation, we ordered 200 copies and received them just before Christmas in 2020.
At the end of 2019, the Society created the Almont Community Historical Society’s Endowment and Project Fund through the Four County Community Foundation. The earned income from the endowment portion of this fund is intended to help cover the operational costs of the museum. The revenue from the “Remembrances of Almont 2020” is intended to complete Phase I of the endowment fund – reaching $10,000 in the fund. Phase I only permanently creates the fund. Completion of Phase II, which is a goal of $100,000, would allow the fund to cover all of the operational costs of the museum. This essentially would permanently secure the operation of the museum as it currently exists.
In early 2021, the Almont Homecoming Committee made the hard decision to cancel the 2020 Homecoming celebration and start again in 2025. Unfortunately, this meant that expected sales of “Remembrances of Almont 2020” were reduced.
Since the publication of “Remembrances of Almont 2020,” the Society has published three additional books. First to be published was “In the Beginnings – Coming to Almont – Volume 1.” This book details the history and genealogy of the earliest settlers of Almont. Four additional volumes are tentatively intended to be published in the future covering more of the Township and Village’s early settlers.
“Stories of Almont’s Past – Volume 1” covers the stories I have written for the Tri-City Times from October 2019 to October 2020. “Stories of Almont’s Past – Volume 2” covers those stories written from November 2020 to November 2021. Volume 3 (covering November 2021 to November 2022) will be published next spring. Additionally, we have reprinted “Remembrances of Almont 2015.”
These books are currently available at the museum from 1 to 4 p.m. on Saturdays. They will make excellent Christmas presents.
• Remembrances of Almont 2020 – $40.00
• The Beginnings – Coming to Almont – Volume 1 – $15.00
• Stories of Almont’s Past – Volume 1 – $15.00 • Stories of Almont’s Past – Volume 2 – $15.00 • Remembrances of Almont 2015 – $20.00
Copies of the Almont Historical Society’s various books can be purchased by contacting Jim Wade at 810-796-3355 or firstname.lastname@example.org or stopping by the museum on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m.