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Albert May Todd of Kalamazoo MI
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Albert May Todd8, (Alfred7, Caleb6, Caleb5, Stephen4, Samuel3, Samuel2, Christopher1) born June 3, 1850, in Nottawa, Mich., married Jan. 23, 1878, Augusta Margaret, daughter of John and Mary (Engle) Allman, who was born Sept. 20, 1855.
Mr. Todd was born on a farm near the village of Nottawa, St. Joseph County, Mich., the youngest of ten children, all of whom were supported upon forty-five acres of cleared land, which was the total area that was practical for tillage on his father’s eighty acre farm. Their lives were necessarily plain, but extremely happy. For the first few years after he entered school, he walked one and one-half miles to the “red school house” and afterwards a little school house was built upon their own farm, which he attended for a number of years, working upon the farm when not in school. Afterwards, he studied at the High School at Sturgis, seven miles distant, where he graduated. Meantime when eighteen years old he engaged with his next older brother, Oliver, in an experiment in the growing and distillation of peppermint, which started with a very few acres only at first, but as it appeared that the crude methods thus far employed in the business were susceptible of material improvement, and his brother desiring that he should assume his (Oliver’s) interest in the business, Mr. Todd set to work at once, to invent new appliances, and to perfect improved processes. He thus was able to make the business successful, and has continued it to the present time, the business having constantly grown until the A. M. Todd Company, of which he is the president, operates and controls an area of approximately 10,000 acres devoted largely to the growing of peppermint, spearmint and other aromatic and medicinal plants, and to the extraction of volatile oils, alkaloids, etc., which these plants contain. This company has become the most extensive essential oil producers of the world.
His father was, in politics, a republican, and Mr. Todd’s first vote was cast with that party both from environment and principle, but soon after it became apparent that certain interests had taken possession of the machinery of the party for private gain, and the prohibition party then being in process of formation and its principles being in accord with his ideas, he joined the ranks of the party, and voted its ticket for about twenty years. During much of this time he studied the question of public ownership of public utilities and the issue of the nation’s money directly by the government. These principles which others endorsed with him were included in the platform of the prohibition party. But in 1896, the party rejected them, and Mr. Todd, feeling that social justice could not be secured by prohibition alone, left the prohibition party and united with other citizens in organizing the national party which included all of these principles in its platform. Having been nominated by this party as its candidate for Congress, and being endorsed by three other parties advocating similar principles, he was elected as the Representative of the Third District of Michigan to Congress. During his term of service in the House of Representatives, he took special interest in the affairs of the railroads and of other public utilities which by their nature are necessary to the lives and happiness of all the people, the operation of which he looked upon as one of the most natural and necessary functions of government.
His interest in public ownership increasing, he arranged to make a thorough study of its operations in foreign countries, and accordingly sailed in May, 1812, visiting thirteen countries of Europe, returning in August, 1913, being more than ever impressed with the fact that public ownership is the only way to secure economic justice and political purity. During his trip, he had the honor and pleasure of being entertained by men high in the councils of foreign governments who extended every possible facility for investigation, the opportunities for which he gladly made use of, so that in addition to securing a vast array of original and official data, he was able to personally take over one thousand photographs showing the railroads, telephone, parcel post, gas works, electric plants, water works, schools, hospitals, banks, theaters, etc., etc., all under public ownership, either national or municipal. The results of these investigations he has already placed in part before the American people.
Soon after his return from Europe the Public Ownership League of America was organized largely through his initiative. He became its president and has since been repeatedly re-elected to this office, the last election, prior to the writing of this sketch, having been held in November, 1919. The general office of this League is in Chicago, but during the years 1918-19, Mr. Todd maintained the president’s office in Washington, D. C., where special attention was given to aiding the government in working out the railroad and other national utility problems in the interest of democracy.
He is a member of twenty-six various other scientific, commercial and political associations, a list of which may be found in the issue of “Who’s Who” for 1919.
Mr. Todd early acquired a love of literature and the fine arts, and now possesses a large and rare art museum and library of books in all branches of literature, history, political economy, the fine arts, as well as first editions of ancient classics, rare books from the presses of the world’s greatest printers, and wonderful hand-painted bird books, etc. Twenty-five rooms in his home and office building are filled with the museum and library.
His permanent home address is Kalamazoo, Mich.
*1975. William Alfred, b. May 20, 1879.
*1976. Albert John, b. April 24, 1881.
1977. Ethel May, b. July 12, 1885, m. June 8, 1910, Edwin Le Grand, son of Edwin and Elizabeth (Cowlan) Woodhams. Mr. and Mrs. Woodhams are both members of the A. M. Todd Company, Mr. Woodhams being the assistant secretary of the company and manager of its 2,100 acre mint plantation at Mentha, Mich., (near Kalamazoo) where they reside. Mr. Woodhams is a graduate of the University of Michigan. Mrs. Woodhams was graduated from Kalamazoo College and the University of Chicago. Before her marriage she twice accompanied her parents on their trips to the Old World. She shares interest with her father in art, literature and economics.
1978. Paul Harold, b. Sept. 10, 1887, he graduated from the University of Michigan in 1909, with the degree of Bachelor of Science. While there he was a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity. After his graduation he accepted the position of secretary of the A. M. Todd Company. He spent the winter of 1911-12, abroad, traveling over a large part of Europe. He has since renewed his acquaintance with a portion of the country seen in his former trip, as he spent a year and a half in France as a Lieutenant in the American Expeditionary Forces in the Great War. He sailed for France on Christmas Day, 1917, and upon his arrival there attended the Field Artillery School at Saumur, France, and later at the Tractor Artillery School at St. Maur. His qualifications were such that he was retained as Acting Adjutant to the Major in charge of the Training Center for Tractor Artillery at Libourne, where he was engaged in instructional work and in authority as Judge Advocate in military trials when the war closed. Later he was transfered to the Staff and thence to the 41st Coast Artillery. He arrived in America, January 25, 1919, and was demobilized at Camp Dix, February 27, 1919. He has since renewed his active connection with A. M. Todd Company.
*1979. Allman, b. March 16, 1889.
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