About This Post
Leighr A. Wright
Leighr A. Wright Post 53, American Legion of Hillsdale, Michigan was organized by a group of local World War One veterans in the summer of 1919. Named in honor of Pvt. Leighr A. Wright, a local casualty of the War, its charter was issued on July 28, 1919. The original fifteen charter members were, John R. Sutton, Jr., Robert H. Morlock, Foster P. Sipe, Leo B. McSherry, Charles M. McSherry, Arthur M. Porter, Arthur B. Hammond, M. Percy Mills, Azel W. McDowell, Forrest H. Wolcott, Harry F. Burnett, Lincoln C. Smith, A.J. Ustis, Herbert E. Ziegler and Ralph T. Jennings.
What Makes this Post Unique
The Post enjoyed the hospitality of the G.A.R. Hall for its meetings until 1922 when it moved to its own clubroom on the corner of Broad and McCollum Streets in downtown Hillsdale. In 1929 the Post moved to the upstairs hall of the building at 43 McCollum Street. In 1933 a lease was secured from the City of Hillsdale and in 1939 a conditional deed for the property was furnished.
In the summer of 1947 due to increased membership and expansion of activities, the current lake side property at Baw Beese Lake was purchased from Albert Wheeler for the sum of $5000. The property contained an old two story structure formerly known as the “Tally Ho Inn”, which was used for Post 53’s club site. The success of the club project led to the replacement of the original Inn with the present one story structure in 1963. Post meetings continued to be held at the Post Home on McCollum Street until 1979 when that building ownership was returned to the City of Hillsdale, and the Post Home and all activities were officially moved to the lake property on Steamburg Road.
Membership continued to grow to an all-time high of 990 members in 1973 when Post 53 was the second largest American Legion Post in the State of Michigan.
For 80 years, from 1926 thru 2006, Post 53 held its annual Fourth of July Celebration in Hillsdale. Since the early years, the 4th of July celebration at the fairground had been notable for sporting events, special programs, carnival activity, raffles, etc. The special 4th of July Committee had achieved a long list of successful celebrations for the community.
In the past 100 years the Post has had 79 Commanders, some completing multiple terms. The first Commander was Oliver L Aldrich who completed two separate terms.