Naked lady gets Lansing’s attention

1turner_streetIf you’d like to know more Lansing’s interesting past, you’ll be highly entertained by the latest publication of the Mid-Michigan Genealogical Society. “Shopkeepers, Soldiers, Statesmen, and One Naked Lady” isn’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 Lansing’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 area’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 “The Naked Lady”, which covers the 1890’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 Belen’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 Lansing’s Curious Book Shop. Walsh is the co-editor of “Through the Years, A Pictorial History of Greater Lansing, 1847-1997”. He has reviewed Michigan books and crime novels regularly since 1987. This review first appeared in the Lansing State Journal.

Bill Castanier has been an award-wining weekly newspaper editor, advertising and public relations executive in his 40 year career. In addition, he has been an executive with a newspaper trade association and founded Michigan’s first technology association, I-TE@M. He writes a weekly newspaper feature on Michigan authors and is on the Board of the Kerrytown BookFest and the Michigan Notable Book Awards. He has the only daily blog on Michigan literature (Mittenlit) and founded Spartanpodcast.com.

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