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Walker Family Retires From Cab Business

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Walker Family Retires From Cab Business

Ann Arbor Taxicab And Transfer Co. Sold To Smiths

The Walker family, which has been engaged in hauling passengers and luggage in Ann Arbor for 50 years, first in horse-drawn hacks and wagons and later in gasoline-powered automobiles and trucks, has retired, selling its Ann Arbor Taxicab & Transfer Co.

New owners of the Company are Marion O. Smith and his wife, Jeannette K. Smith, 1122 Hutchins Ave. Mr. Smith has been in the taxicab business here for nine years.

Formerly a partner in the Radio Cab Co. for eight years, Mr. Smith also was owner of Mac's Taxi for a few months last year. He sold out both his Radio and Mac’s interests to his Radio partner, Kenneth Martin, in November of last year, continuing as a private operator.

Began In 1893

The Walker family entered the carrier business back in 1893 when the late Adlebert B. Walker, more familiarly known as A. B. Walker, purchased the McMaster Livery on E. Jefferson St., where the Play Production laboratory theater is now located. He named it the Columbian Livery after the world's fair being held in Chicago that year.

In 1901 Mr. Walker bought out George Craig's livery, adding its equipment to his own. In 1909 he purchased Alfred H. Holmes' livery and moved into the building at 515 E. Liberty St. which Mr. Holmes had built in 1897. He changed the firm's name to the Walker Livery.

Business was good but the coming of the horseless carriage prompted Mr. Walker in 1914 to auction all of his equipment--32 horses, about 20 hacks, and several buggies, surreys and wagons.

Mr. Walker then went into partnership with William and Herman Myers and Walter Lind, who had the Buick agency as the Ann Arbor Garage, opposite the post office on N. Main St. They set up the Ann Arbor Taxicab & Transfer Co., still at 515 E. Liberty St., starting with a fleet of 10 cabs and three trucks.

Dissolved Year Later

A year later the partnership was dissolved, Mr. Walker taking over the taxicab company and the other three staying in the garage business. The firm’s peak business was reached in 1924-25, when it had 25 Checker and Yellow cabs.

Since Mr. Walker’s death, March 15, 1928, the business has been managed by his son, Berle H. Walker, 1330 Sheehan Ave. It has been owned as a partnership by Mr. Walker, his mother, Mrs. Carrie H. Walker, 509 E. Liberty St., and his sister, Mrs. Florence W. Higginson, of Detroit.

The sale included eight cabs and three trucks, givin Mr. Smith a fleet of 14 cabs and three trucks. The Walkers, however, are retaining ownership of the building, which they hope to convert into a factory storage site. For the present Mr. Smith is operating from it.

Retirement of the Walkers from the taxi business also brings the retirement of J. William Phelan, 301 Maple Rd., who has been associated with the company since 1909, working as dispatcher for many years. Mr. Phelan has taken a position with the University buildings and grounds department.