County will put hitching post on courthouse lawn

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 29 July 2014 at 12:00 am

Provided photo – This undated photo, provided by Orleans County Historian Bill Lattin, shows the Courthouse Square in its pre-automobile days with hitching posts to tie up horses.

Photo by Tom Rivers – A hitching post will be installed sometime soon near the historical marker at the southwest corner of the courthouse lawn.

This hitching post is next to the home where Grace Bedell grew up on West State Street in Albion. Bedell is the girl who wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln, encouraging him to grow a beard.

ALBION – The historic Courthouse Square will soon add an artifact from a bygone era.

The County Legislature has agreed to accept a hitching post from the Albion Main Street Alliance. The post will be added to the southeast corner of the courthouse lawn, likely in August, said Legislature Chairman David Callard.

The post will be located near a historical marker that was installed last July. That marker, with a log cabin logo, honors the pioneering spirit of Albion’s first residents. The marker recognizes William McAllister.

In December 1810, McAllister bought 368 acres in Albion, the east side of the village, from the Holland Land Company. The following year he built a log cabin where the current County Clerks’ Building stands next the county courthouse.

McAllister and his wife, known only in historical information as “Mrs. McAllister,” were Albion’s first settlers. The hitching post adds to that spirit of honoring the pioneers and early residents in the community. That was part of my message last week when I addressed the Legislature.

I showed them pictures of the many hitching posts and carriage steps in the community. I think Albion and Gaines have more of these survivors from the horse-and-buggy era than anywhere else. (I don’t think an inventory has ever been done to see which community has the most of these historical relics.)

Most of Albion’s hitching posts and carriage are on side streets. We don’t have too many along the state roads. AMSA is working with the village and now the county to have four hitching posts put back on Main Street. They will be set back off the state right of way. By having four in more prominent places on Main Street, we’ll be better able to promote the other sites that have hitching posts and carriage steps.

Many of them are in front of grand old houses from the 1800s or other historical sites, including the Cobblestone Society Museum and Mount Albion Cemetery.

I encouraged the Legislature to consider putting six to eight hitching posts along Main Street in front of the courthouse lawn, replicating the setup from the 1800s. I think we could find that many hitching posts or have them made.

I think the county could negotiate the placement with the state Department of Transportation, as long as the county assumes liability. I just wanted to put that idea out there for the county officials to mull over. For now I’m happy the Legislature will allow the one to go by the historical marker.