Algansee History

Algansee Township is situated on the eastern border of Branch County. Its surface is rolling and well drained by numerous streams, the largest of which are the Fisher and Tallahassee Rivers. The Southern end of Marble Lake extends into this township and Archer, Middle and Bartholomew Lakes, in the chain-of-lakes, continue in a southerly direction in Sections 5 and 8. Hanchett Lake lies to the east of these lakes. The entire lake surface includes and area of about seven hundred acres.
In the early days the township was well timbered with the exception of several hundred acres in the southwest corner which consisted of burr oak openings. As population continued to increase timbered portions were cleared and occupied. The work of drainage was of prime importance to the development of agriculture and the benefits from the labor of those early pioneers is realized as agriculture continues to be practiced today using the most modern methods and equipment.

Most of the roads are improved and many are paved. Fremont and Ray-Quincy roads are the main roads of travel which lead to Indiana, and Central road extends across the township east and west.

Typical of most rural areas today, churches and schools that once dotted the communities no longer exist or are serving other purposes.

While there are no villages of any size within the township, at one time there were several small hamlets- Algansee, Gorton, Towns, and Lester. These have since vanished except Algansee, also known at Egypt. There are two general stores that serve the residents in their respective areas. Dove’s Store serves the Algansee Community with their merchandise as well as provide an area library service, being a branch of the Branch County Library system.

Hughey’s Store – corner of Central and South Fremont roads. James and Alice Hughey standing on porch

In the western part of the township at the corner of Central and South Fremont roads is another general store which, after the turn of the century, was owned and operated by James and Alice Hughey. Their son, Earl, and his wife continued with the business until they retired for health reasons. Earl Hughey also traveled over a wide area dealing in poultry and eggs for many years. The store has since changed ownership several times. The present owners, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Parker operate under the name of Parker’s General Store. The community, as well as the summer residents at the lakes find it a convenient community center where they may obtain groceries, supplies, licenses for the sportsman, as well as a gas service station.

At the lake shores and river banks have been developed, attractive year round homes have been built so that the lakes are now a residential and recreation area. The township continues to be a thriving social and agricultural community.

Main Street in Algansee (Egypt) in an early day. Note the grocery wagon – “Fine Groceries & Meats”

On April 2, 1838, just one year after Michigan became a state, Algansee was set off from Quincy Township by the state legislative body. The inhabitants petitioned for the name Carlton but when it was announced that they were a township, it was also announced that the name was Algansee. The significance of neither name was recorded. Algansee is designated in the United States survey as township number 7 and 8, south of range 5 west.

The first settlers of Algansee were Jedekiah Jessup whoarrived on September 12, 1835, Charles Butler who arrived November 9, 1835, Luther Stiles and Ludovico Robbins. Other names of early settlers, which are still seen as street and road names or the names of schools, are Brown, Sprague,Hayward, Alden, Moss, Culver, Bickford, Craig, Quimby, Tift, Phillips, Mudge, Shumway, Draper, and Purdy. The first School was taught by Miss Jane Woodard in the summer of 1838. The first building, a log structure, was erected in 1843.

It was located in the corner of Brown and Fremont roads, and across from Asheal Brown’s. Oddly enough it was called the Brown School. It was destroyed in the late sixties.

Street scene in Algansee (Egypt) with Dove’s store in foreground

The town hall was erected in Section 16 in 1877 at a cost of $600. In the late fifties outdoor toilets were put up at a cost of $900. The records from 1838 to 1843 are missing but it is known that the first meetings were held at Horace Purdy’s house in Algansee.

The first church building was the United Brethren which was later sold to the Methodists. Now (since the fifties) it functions as the Algansee Community House. The interior, though decaying, still shows the beauty of the earlier era with leaded stained glass windows, paneled doors, and a fancy belfry. It is located south of Safford’s store.

Algansee proper had two groceries, a barber shop, two blacksmiths, a saw mill, a cider mill, a grist mill, two churches, a dance hall, a baseball t4eam, and a magnificent seven-piece band – when enough were sufficiently sober to play. The band, formed earlier than 1903, played for Fourth of July parades, etc. Its title was the Grandpa-Kid Band because of the fact that Grandpa and all the kids played. The baseball field was located directly across from the Safford’s Store. It was put to use by adults more than children. The other recreation facility was Safford’s Dance Hall, located where Dove’s Garage now stands. It burned in the thirties, along with Ora Safford’s collection of cars.

Street Scene in Algansee (Egypt)

The sawmill was know as the Wakeman and was south of the United Brethren Church . A cider press was directly across from Pierson’s Standard Service. The C.W. Canfield Grist Mill was located the first place in the Grove Road . Its legend of the fourteen year old boy who haunted it after hanging himself there ended recently when the barn burned to the ground.

The Algansee Telephone Company was first located in Fred Waterbury’s old store building. It was owned and run by By Goodman. The company moved from its temporary quarters to the first house north of Safford’s on the right. When it went out of business, Algansee was left without service until the late fifties.

Safford’s Store was built in the 1880s by Fred Fulkerson. It was sold in 1900 to Ruben Thatcher and was again sold in 1903 to Safford and Diment (Mrs. Safford’s brother). Deiment sold his interest to Gage, another relative, in 1904.

Safford and Gage ran the store together until 1910 when Safford bought Gage’s interest. He ran the store until his death in 1936. Roy and Gwendolyn (Safford) Dove helped to run the store from then on. Mrs. Ora Safford died in 1966. The Dove’s have run the store since then.

Safford’s numerous other interests involved the dance hall, the first can in Algansee, the first electricity, the first in door plumbing, and the first “school bus”. He also started the “Store at Your Door”. He ran the grocery on wheels from 1904 on. He started with a horse-drawn, barter-centered wagon. It was affectionately know as “ Egypt on Wheels”, but no one knows why. The next truck was a hard wheeled Ford truck. Then came pneumatic tires in the thirties and a new truck. In 1941, Roy Dove bought a new International Harvester and ran it until the Palm Sunday Tornado. Roy would come down the road in his “Hershey Bar” colored truck and roar up in a puff of dust. He would stop and it took exactly seven “clomps” in the board floor until he got the back of the truck and the double doors popped open. Inside, besides the shelves of cans and produce, was 

an ice box for perishables. He gave you your order, put the bill on the spindle, gave you some candy and off he’d go. His route ran through Algansee, Ovid and California Townships and a section of Hillsdale County.

Back at the store things haven’t changed much except for gas pumps out front and the elimination of the dry goods and post office. As you open one of the double doors and go in you notice the time-worn wooden floor, oiled to keep the dust down. The glad-door cupboards hold the canned goods. No supermarket carts here! A massive wooden counter dominates the room. On the counter in a great glass dome with a twenty to twenty-five pound of cheese under it. The cheese is cut with a large knife and wrapped in a piece of butcher paper and tied with string. Your bill is apt to be figured right on the package. All purchases are written out. If carried on credit, they are put on a spindle. When bills are paid, a sack of goodies from the candy case goes home to the kids.

The tobacco case still has the crocks with sponges in then to keep the proper humidity for the cigars in them to keep the proper humidity for the cigars which, in the past, came unwrapped. A tobacco cutter is displayed from the days when “chaws” came in a bale. A lighter of unique quality was hooked over counter to light gentlemen’s cigars.

The freezer unit is an original ice box which was later converted to a Delco unit and then to electricity. Under the counter are wooden barrels that used to hold sugar, beans, pickles, etc. They swing out and are covered with canvas. Holes in the floor are evidence of when rope was stored in the cellar and pulled up through the floor when sold. The backroom is roomy, has high ceiling and is cool to store produce and eggs.

The shoe and dry goods room was converted to a library in 1940. Librarians were Miss Doris Dove in 1945, Mrs. Hazel Wilkinson in 1966 and now Mrs. Roy Dove. A mobile unit of the Branch County Library used to provide the highlight of the week for local kids. An Edison Phonograph is still in evidence.

Store hours are six days a week from 8:30 in the morning until 10:00 at night and from 10:00 to 1:00 on Sundays. Visitors are always welcome. ~ Mrs. Betty Dove

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