If youâ€™d like to know more Lansingâ€™s interesting past, youâ€™ll be highly entertained by the latest publication of the Mid-Michigan Genealogical Society. â€œShopkeepers, Soldiers, Statesmen, and One Naked Ladyâ€ isnâ€™t your average cut-and-dried history of the general area. Instead, it focuses on stories of Lansing area families, using much information and photos supplied by the descendents.
This attractive historical compilation was issued to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Lansingâ€™s incorporation as a city. Rebecca Stimson and William A. Atkinson are Co-editors; Roni Sionakides is the Assistant Editor.
Over thirty vignettes are provided, showcasing a wide assortment of family and organizational history, but not necessarily emphasizing well-known names like Olds or Turner. Instead, there are chapters on many of the successful small businessmen and people who were important to the areaâ€™s continued growth and prosperity.
Eighteen people worked in multiple teams to research the articles, including chapters on the First Baptist Church of Lansing, the North Presbyterian Church and the Central Methodist Episcopal Church of Lansing.
The chapter many people are likely to examine first is devoted to â€œThe Naked Ladyâ€, which covers the 1890â€™s arrest and trial of Mrs. Catherine Ketchum. She was accused of having a nude picture of her and showing it around. It was quite scandalous for the time; court transcripts as well as newspaper articles are used as reference.
There are many prominent family histories disclosed, with numerous accompanying photographs, including those of the VanDervoort, Stebbins, Sparrow, Larned, Priggooris, Foster, Gauss, Dungey, Pena, Cena, Higgins, Muir, Celentino, Jackson and Sattler families.
Other fascinating accounts detail the histories and contributions of George W. Henderson, the son of a slave, who was a barber and City Band director. William O. Thompson was the first African-American to graduate from Michigan Agricultural College (now MSU) in 1904.
Another chapter explores prominent businessman Daniel W. Buck and his involvement with the racially oriented lynching of John Taylor in Mason in 1866.
More recent aspects of the local family recollections include those of Elizabeth and Lucile Belen, who were prominent politically and began Belenâ€™s Flowers in 1933.
Detailed bibliographical information is provided in each chapter; a useful index is also included. Paperbound copies may be obtained for $25 plus $5 postage. Click here for ordering information.
This post was supplied by Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansingâ€™s Curious Book Shop. Walsh is the co-editor of â€œThrough the Years, A Pictorial History of Greater Lansing, 1847-1997â€. He has reviewed Michigan books and crime novels regularly since 1987. This review first appeared in the Lansing State Journal.