Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History


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The Reminiscences of James Burrill Angell

NY: Longmans, Gree 1912
Angell, James BurrillGo to Book

President of the University of Michigan for 38 years and a “man of national affairs”.

Angell, James Burrill (1829-1916)

The John Askin Papers, edited by Milo M. Quaife

Detroit: Detroit Library Commission 1928
Askin, John Go to Vol 1|Go to Vol 2

Vol. 1: 1747-1795
Vol 2: 1796-1820

John Askin was a young British merchant engaged in the Indian trade in Albany, NY when he ventured into the Northwest soon after British forces won it from France in 1760-61, during the French and Indian War. In 1764 he began conducting a successful Indian trade from Mackinac, where he was also appointed as Commissary for the British army post there. In 1780 he was forced to leave Mackinac through a falling-out with the new commander, so he moved his family and business to Detroit. He remained in Detroit until 1802, moving across the Detroit River to a farm near Windsor soon after Detroit was transferred to American control.

Editor Milo Quaife writes in his introduction that Askin’s papers are of great importance not only because he was a leading merchant in Mackinac and then Detroit, but because he was close friends with other leading citizens of both the Northwest and British Canada. These two volumes contain a selection of Askin’s surviving papers, which unfortunately includes relatively little from before 1880.

John Askin, Indian trade, Old Northwest, History of Detroit, Mackinac history, merchant, colonial America, personal papers, business records, ebook

Askin, John (1739-1815)

Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History

“Reminiscences of Early Days on Mackinac Island”

Wisconsin Historical Collections Vol 14, 17-64, 1898

Madison: State Historical Society of Wisconsin
Baird, Elizabeth T.Go to Article

Elizabeth Therese Fisher Baird was born at Prairie du Chien in 1810, the daughter of fur trader Henry Munro Fisher. She spent much of her youth on Mackinac Island, where she was married to Henry S. Baird at age 14 in 1824. She and her husband, a young lawyer, immediately departed for Green Bay, where she lived until her death in 1890.

Elizabeth Baird published a series of articles about her memories in the Green Bay State Gazette from 1886 to 1887. Those articles were reproduced in condensed and edited form in two articles in the Wisconsin Historical Collections. This is the first of that pair; the second is “Reminiscences of Life in Territorial Wisconsin”, found on the Wisconsin Biographies and Memoirs page of this website. A third article, “Indian Customs and Early Recollections” had been previously published in Wisconsin Historical Collections in 1882. That is also found on the Wisconsin Biographies and Memoirs page.

At the beginning of this article are portraits of Elizabeth Baird and her mother.

Memoir, Elizabeth Fisher Baird, Mackinac Island, Green Bay WI, Pioneer, Indian customs, Wisconsin frontier, free biography books online

Baird, Elizabeth T. (1810-1890)

Of Me I Sing

Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill 1949
Bingay, Malcolm W.Go to Book

A former newspaperman recalls his life in Detroit.

Bingay, Malcolm W. (1884-1953)

Lewis Cass

Boston: Houghton, Mifflin 1891
McLauglin, Andrew C.Go to Book

Cass served as U.S. Congressman from Ohio, military colonel and brigadier general in the War of 1812, Governor of Michigan Territory, Secretary of War, U.S. Ambassador to France, U.S. Senator for Michigan, Democratic nominee for President, and U.S. Secretary of State. The author was a professor at the University of Michigan, and most of the content of the book is based on the written record. However, a number of Cass’s friends and political foes were still living in the 1880s when this book was being researched and they provided considerable input.

See also related works on this site: political history of Michigan on Michigan History: Politics & Government

For biographies and memoirs of early 19th century governors in the Great Lakes states, see:
– Edwards, Ninian Wirt, History of Illinois, from 1778 to 1833; and Life and Times of Ninian Edwards in Illinois History Politics & Government
;
St Clair, Arthur and Smith, William H., ed., St. Clair Papers: The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair in Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History;
Esarey, Logan, ed., Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison in Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Alvord, Clarence W. ed., Governor Edward Coles in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Reynolds, John, My Own Times, Embracing also the History of my Life in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Hemans, Lawton Thomas, Life and Times of Stevens Thomson Mason in Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History;

Lewis Cass, Governor of Michigan, Presidential candidate, political history, Michigan Territory, history of Michigan, biography, ebooks

Cass, Lewis (1782-1866)

Fifty Years of Public Life. The Life and Times of Lewis Cass

NY: Derby & Jackson 1856
Smith, W. L. G.Go to Book

Lewis Cass’s long public career included service as Michigan’s Territorial Governor, and as Secretary of War under President Andrew Jackson. This biography by W.L.G. Smith was published during Cass’s lifetime, while he was a U.S. Senator. Also see the biography of Cass by Andrew McLaughlin, on this page.

See also related works on this site: political history of Michigan on Michigan History: Politics & Government

Lewis Cass, Governor of Michigan, Presidential candidate, political history, Michigan Territory, history of Michigan, biography, free ebooks

Cass, Lewis (1782-1866)

An Informal Biography of Ty Cobb: The Tiger Wore Spikes

NY: Barnes 1956
McCallum, JohnGo to Book

Cobb spent 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers; the last six as player-manager. He was known for his surly temperament and extremely aggressive playing style, described by the Detroit Free Press as “daring to the point of dementia”. He set some 90 Major League records during his career, including a career batting average of .366. In 1999 the editors of “The Sporting News” ranked Cobb 3rd on their list of “Baseball’s 100 Greatest Players”.

Cobb, Tyrus Raymond “Ty” (1886-1961)

Six Months among Indians, Wolves and other Wild Animals, in the Forests of Allegan County, Michigan in the Winter of 1839 and 1840

Niles, MI: Cook 1889
Cook, Darius B.Go to Book

A colorful and lively writer, Cook combines a narrative of his sometimes-harrowing six-month stay with a Pottawatamie Indian tribe in southwestern Michigan with a variety of stories he heard from them.

Pottawatamie, Allegan County MI, Memoir, Michigan history, Michigan frontier, Indians of Michigan, free ebooks

Cook, Darius Burgess (1815-1901)

George Armstrong Custer

NY: Macmillan 1917
Dellenbaugh, Frederick S.Go to Book

Custer, George Armstrong (1839-1876)

Custer: The Life of General George Armstrong Custer

Boston: Little, Brown 1959
Monaghan, JayGo to Book

Custer, George Armstrong (1839-1876)

Timberland Times

Urbana: University of Illinois 1950
Davenport, EugeneGo to Book

An autobiographical account of pioneer life in the Grand River Valley at about the time of the Civil War.

Davenport, Eugene (1856-1941)

Dewey: An American of This Century

NY: Whittlesey 1944
Walker, Stanley Go to Book

Dewey, Thomas E. (1902-1971)

Thomas A. Edison

NY: Stokes 1914
Cooper, Frederic TaberGo to Book

Edison, Thomas Alva (1847-1931)

Thomas Alva Edison

NY: Macmillan 1922
Rolt-Wheeler, FrancisGo to Book

Edison, Thomas Alva (1847-1931)

Life and Adventures of William Filley, who was stolen from his home in Jackson, Mich., by the Indians, August 3d, 1837 …

Chicago: Filley & Ballard 1867.
Filley, William and Ballard, James Z. Go to Book

(title continued) “… and his safe return from captivity, October 19, 1866 after an absence of 29 years”

A dramatic story, that one reviewer called ‘fraudulent’.

Indian captivity, History of Jackson MI, William Filley, free books online

Filley, William (1832-1900?)

Henry Ford’s own Story

NY: Jones 1917
Ford, Henry and Lane, Rose WilderGo to Book

Subtitle: “How a Farmer Boy Rose to the Power that Goes with Many Millions Yet Never Lost Touch with Humanity, as told to Rose Wilder Lane”

“A very human book. If it were just plain fiction it could not interest one more. . . . To read it is to get a new realization of what work means, what persistence will do, on what efficiency must build, and of the tremendous power in unselfish will.”
“The platitudinousness and naiveté, the well-meaning but sophomoric approach to a problem that are revealed in Mr Ford’s utterances on all subjects not relating to engineering are almost incredible. Such intellectual infantilism would be impossible in any grown man in any other civilized country — as would Miss Lane’s ecstatic admiration of it. But the story of Henry Ford does not end there. Against his contempt for the amenities of life and the finer cultural satisfactions may be set his hatred of poverty and wretchedness. In that balance, who can say that the admiration of Miss Lane is misplaced?”
– The Book Review Digest

See also: Arnold, Horace Lucien and Faurote, Fay Leone, Ford Methods and the Ford Shops (1915) in Section 629.2 Motor vehicle engineering in Airplanes, Autos & Motorcycles

Page, Victor Wilfred, The Model T Ford Car; Its Construction, Operation and Repair in Section 629.2 Motor vehicle engineering in Airplanes, Autos & Motorcycles;

Ford, Henry, My Life and Work in Century Past Biographies: D, E & F

Ford, Henry (1863-1947)

The First Twenty Years

Philadelphia: Dorrance 1962
Gallery, Douglas C.Go to Book

“Looking back in laughter at boyhood days in Caro, in the “Thumb.””

Gallery, Douglas C. (1904-1991)

Alex J. Groesbeck; Portrait of a Public Man

Detroit: Wayne State University 1962
Woodford, Frank B.Go to Book

Biography of a Michigan governor.

Groesbeck, Alex J. (1873-1953)

A Quaker Pioneer: Laura Haviland, Superintendent of the Underground

NY: Exposition 1961
Danforth, Mildred E.Go to Book

Also see Haviland’s memoirs on this web page.

Haviland, Laura S. (1808-1898)

A Woman’s Life-Work: Labors and Experiences of Laura S. Haviland

Cincinnati: Walden & Stowe 1882
Haviland, Laura S. Go to Book

Autobiography of a leader of anti-slavery activities in Michigan. She helped found the “Logan Female Anti-Slavery Society” in 1832, and founded the “Raisin Institute” in Lenawee County in 1837, which brought together African American and white children for vocational training. She later became very actively engaged in the Underground Railroad, even traveling in the south at great personal risk to help slaves escape to Canada.

For biographies of people in the American abolition movement, see:
– Swift, Lindsay, William Lloyd Garrison in Century Past Biographies: G & H
;
Stowe, Harriet Beecher, Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe in Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History;
Coffin, Levi, Reminiscences of Levi Coffin, the Reputed President of the Underground Railroad in Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Washington, Booker Taliaferro, Frederick Douglass in Century Past Biographies: D, E & F;

Laura S. Haviland, autobiography, memoir, abolition, anti-slavery, underground railroad, History of Lenawee County MI, Logan Female Anti-Slavery Society, Freedmen’s Aid Commission, Freedmen’s schools, Raisin Institute, free biography books online

Haviland, Laura S. (1808-1898)

“Dr. Douglass Houghton”

Historical Collections Vol 39, 1915, 127-134

Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society
Allen, Rolland C.Go to Article

A short biography of Houghton, a medical doctor and geologist who was a leader in science in Michigan in the 1830s and early 1840s. Among his contributions were geological surveys of the state; most importantly in the Keweenaw Peninsula.

Houghton, Douglass (1809-1845)

The Story of a French Homestead in the Old Northwest

Columbus: Nitschke Bros. 1907
Howe, Frances R. Go to Book

The French homestead was also a trading post, established in 1824 on the Calumet River near present-day Chesterton, IN by the author’s grandfather. The author’s mother and her sister were sent to the Detroit area for education, where part of this story takes place.

History of Detroit, Chesterton IN, Old Northwest, trading post, free ebooks

Howe, Frances Rose (1851-1917)

White Pine Days on the Taquamenon

Lansing: Historical Society of Michigan 1949
Hulbert, William Davenport Go to Book

“Colorful saga of the land-looker, timber-cruiser, and logger who chewed through Michigan’s pine wilderness.”

Hulbert, William Davenport (1868-1913)

My New Home in Northern Michigan and other Tales

Trenton, N.J.: Sharp. 1874
Jay, Charles J.Go to Book

A long-time newspaperman arrives in Northern Michigan and portrays his new life. Quite entertaining.

History of Michigan, personal narrative, autobiography, frontier life, free biography ebooks

Jay, Charles J. (?-?)

Ring Lardner: A Biography

NY: Doubleday 1956
Elder, DonaldGo to Book

An American sports columnist and short story writer widely known for his satirical writings about sports, marriage and the theatre. The author grew up with Lardner in Niles, MI.

Lardner, Ringgold “Ring” Wilmer (1885-1933)

Joe Maddy of Interlochen

Chicago: Regnery 1963
Browning, Norma LeeGo to Book

The music education innovator founded the National Music Camp at Interlochen, Michigan, in 1928.

Maddy, Joseph Edgar (1891-1966)

Father Marquette

NY: Appleton 1902
Thwaites, Reuben GoldGo to Book

Father Jacques Marquette (1637-1675) was a French Jesuit missionary who founded Michigan’s first European settlement, Sault Ste. Marie, and later founded St. Ignace, Michigan. In 1673 Father Marquette and Louis Jolliet were the first Europeans to explore and map the northern portion of the Mississippi River.
-Wikipedia

Reuben Gold Thwaites was a noted historian and a director of the Wisconsin Historical Society. He carried out extensive research on Father Marquette as well as other French Jesuits in North America, compiling a 71-volume collection of Jesuit documents called The Jesuit Relations and Allied Documents. See the link to that collection, which is available online in translation, on the Explorers and Travelers in Great Lakes History page of this website.

Jacques Marquette, explorer, exploration and discovery, Jesuit missionary, French colonial history, discovery of Mississippi River, St. Ignace MI, ebooks

Marquette, Jacques (1637-1675)

Life and Times of Stevens Thomson Mason, the Boy Governor of Michigan

Lansing: Michigan Historical Commission 1920
Hemans, Lawton ThomasGo to Book

Stephens T. Mason was appointed acting Territorial Secretary (of Michigan Territory) at age 19 and acting Territorial Governor in 1834 at age 22. He was elected Governor of the newly-established state in 1835 and served until 1840. Mason died of pneumonia in New York in 1843, where he had started building a law practice after leaving Michigan politics. Mason’s sister was still alive when the author was researching this book, and she provided most of the details about Mason’s family origins in Kentucky, his boyhood, and his personal life. The political history in the book, which is almost entirely limited to the 1830s, was the product of years of research by the author. The volume contains about 70 illustrations, including portraits of many people prominent during that era.

Some of the chapter headings are:

-The Boundary Dispute with Ohio
-The Constitution of 1835
-Organizing the State Government
-Financial Difficulties and the Election of 1837
-Governor Mason’s Second Term
-The Patriot War
-Banks and Banking
-Internal Improvements and the Five Million Dollar Loan
-“Tippecanoe and Tyler Too”

See also related works on this site: political history of Michigan on Michigan History: Politics & Government

For biographies and memoirs of early 19th century governors in the Great Lakes states, see:
– Edwards, Ninian Wirt, History of Illinois, from 1778 to 1833; and Life and Times of Ninian Edwards in Illinois History Politics & Government
;
St Clair, Arthur and Smith, William H., ed., St. Clair Papers: The Life and Public Services of Arthur St. Clair in Biographies & Memoirs in Ohio History;
Esarey, Logan, ed., Messages and Letters of William Henry Harrison in Biographies & Memoirs in Indiana History;
Alvord, Clarence W. ed., Governor Edward Coles in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
Reynolds, John, My Own Times, Embracing also the History of my Life in Biographies & Memoirs in Illinois History;
McLauglin, Andrew C., Lewis Cass in Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History

Stevens Mason, governor of Michigan, Michigan Territory, Biography, Toledo War, Michigan State Constitution, History of Michigan, free biography ebooks

Mason, Stevens T. (1811-1843)

One Woman’s Work for Farm Women; the Story of Mary A. Mayo’s Part in Rural Social Movements

Boston: Whitcomb & Barrows 1908
Buell, JennieGo to Book

Mary Mayo was from near Battle Creek, and was an organizer in the National Grange movement for farmers.

See also: Paine, Arthur Elijah, The Granger Movement in Illinois in Illinois Economic History

Mayo, Mary Anne Bryant (1845-1903)

Alfred Street

Detroit: Conjure House 1946
McLauchlin, Russell Go to Book

“Nostalgic reflections on a quiet neighborhood in Detroit at turn of the century.”

McLauchlin, Russell Jaehne(1894-1975)

Pioneer Recollections; Semi-Historic Side Lights on the Early Days of Lansing

Lansing: Smith 1911.
Mevis, Daniel S.Go to Book

The author’s recollections of his youth in Lansing as it was becoming the state capital. The volume is made up entirely of lively and unusual anecdotes. The book contains a photo of Chief Okemos at the age of 119(!).

History of Lansing MI, memoir, Chief Okemos, Okemos Indians, frontier life, ebooks

Mevis, Daniel Stafford (1837-?)

The Bark Covered House or, Back in the Woods Again…

Chicago: Donnelley & Sons 1937
Nowlin, WilliamGo to Book

(title continued) “… being a graphic and thrilling description of real pioneer life in the wilderness of Michigan. (illustrated)”

This memoir was originally written in 1876, and vividly describes the struggle of Nowlin’s parents to carve a living out of the wilderness in Michigan after their arrival in 1834 in the place that would later be within the city limits of Dearborn. The narrative begins with the family’s trip from New York on the Erie canal and then a harrowing cruise on a steamboat from Buffalo to Detroit. Historian Milo Quaife supplemented the narrative with footnotes providing additional background information of interest.

frontier life, memoir, history of Michigan, Dearborn MI, pioneers, books online

Nowlin, William (1821-1884)

The Iron Hunter

NY: Macmillan 1919
Osborn, Chase S.Go to Book

Autobiographical account by a Michigan governor.

Osborn, Chase Salmon (1860-1949)

C. W. Post; The Hour and the Man. A Biography with Genealogical Supplement

Washington: Judd & Detweiler 1963
Major, Nettie Leitch Go to Book

The man who founded Post cereals after visiting John Harvey Kellogg’s Battle Creek Sanitarium for treatment for stomach problems. His first cereal was “Grape-nuts” and his second was “Post Toasties”; similar to the nearby Kellogg’s company’s “Corn Flakes”. When Post died in 1914 he left his 27-year-old daughter, Marjorie Merriweather Post, the company and one of the largest fortunes of the early 20th century.

Post, Charles William (1854-1914)

Albertus C. Van Raalte, and His Dutch Settlements in the United States

Grand Rapids: Eerdmans 1947
Hyma, AlbertGo to Book

Van Raalte, Albertus Christiaan (1811-1876)

The Salvager; The Life of Captain Tom Reid on the Great Lakes

Minneapolis: Ross and Haines 1958
Doner, Mary FrancesGo to Book

Reid, James Thomas (1870-1958)

Journal of Major Robert Rogers

Worcester: The Society 1918
Rogers, Robert. Clements, William L., ed.Go to Book

Robert Rogers was a frontiersman in New Hampshire at the beginning of the French and Indian War, when he began recruiting volunteers to serve as soldiers in new military companies that were soon being called “Rogers’ Rangers”, as he commanded them. Rogers and his rangers went on to fame in a number of actions against the French, and also led an attack against Pontiac at Detroit in 1763 to relieve the siege of Detroit.

In 1766 Rogers was given command of Fort Michilimackinac, at the northern tip of the lower peninsula of Michigan. In that position Rogers tried to put into play his own plan for establishing improved relations with the Indians in the region, but he had strong opposition from other British commanders. In 1767 Rogers was arrested and charged with treason. Although eventually acquitted, that essentially ended his military career. This journal covers the period of his command at Fort Michilimackinac.

Robert Rogers, Rogers’ Rangers, Pontiac’s Rebellion, Fort Michilimackinac, journal, memoir, history of Michigan, free ebooks

Rogers, Robert (1731-1795)

Between the Iron and the Pine. A Biography of a Pioneer Family and a Pioneer Town

Ann Arbor: Reimann 1951
Reimann, Lewis C. Go to Book

Lewis Reimann was the son of German immigrants who ran a boarding-house for miners and loggers in the Iron River district of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This book consists of the author’s recollections with anecdotes and historical commentary about the region. Reimann conveys a sense of the occupational lifestyles and multiple ethnicities of Iron River’s inhabitants and deals in some detail with its folklore, material culture, foodways, and memorable local characters. He devotes a special chapter to Carrie Jacobs Bond, the genteel doctor’s wife who left the area after her husband died and became a noted composer of songs.
– Library of Congress American Memory website

Lewis Reimann, memoir, history of Upper Peninsula, ethnic history, Carrie Jacobs Bond, cultural history, books online

Reimann, Lewis Charles (1890-1961)

Walter Reuther; The Autocrat of the Bargaining Table

NY: Devin-Adair 1958
Dayton, Eldorous L.Go to Book

Powerful Detroit labor leader who became head of the United Auto Workers.

Reuther, Walter Philip (1907-1970)

The View from the Dugout: The Journals of Red Rolfe

Ann Arbor: University of Michigan 2006
Anderson, William M.Go to Book

Rolfe managed the Detroit Tigers for four seasons – 1949 through 1952, and was named manager of the year in 1950. A Dartmouth graduate and studious person, he took detailed notes of every game and each morning typed up the notes into a record of the game. The editor drew upon those notes for this book, which covers those four seasons.

Rolfe, Robert Abial “Red” (1908-1969)

Wah Sash Kah Moqua, or, Thirty-three years among the Indians

Boston: White: 1897
Sagatoo, MaryGo to Book

The author was born and raised in Boston, where she met and married a man who was half-Chippewa. He died soon after they returned to his home near Bay City, Michigan, but she stayed on and married another Chippewa from his tribe two years later.

Mary Sagatoo, Bay City MI, History of Michigan, Chippewa tribe, Indian life, memoir, free ebooks

Sagatoo, Mary (Henderson) (1837-1914)

Personal Memoirs of a Residence of Thirty Years with the Indian Tribes on the American Frontiers …

Philadelphia, Lippincott. 1851
Schoolcraft, Henry R.Go to Book

(title continued) “… with brief notices of passing events, facts, and opinions, A.D. 1812 to A.D. 1842”

“This is the autobiographical account of an explorer, government administrator, and scholar whose researches into the language and customs of the Chippewa and other Native American peoples of the Great Lakes region are considered milestones in nineteenth-century ethnography”. – American Memory Project.

Henry Rowe Schoolcraft (1793-1864) left the family glass-making business in New York at the age of 25 to explore the western frontier. In 1818 he and a companion traveled into frontier Missouri, where he employed his interest in geology and mineralogy to write A View of the Lead Mines of Missouri. The expedition and publication brought him to the attention of Secretary of War John C. Calhoun, who recommended him to Michigan Territorial Governor Lewis Cass, who in turn invited Schoolcraft along on the 1820 Cass Expedition. That expedition traveled nearly 2,000 miles along Lake Huron and Lake Superior, down the Mississippi River, and back to Detroit. Schoolcraft chronicled the expedition in a book, which can be found on the Michigan-Explorers & Travelers page of this website.

Schoolcraft was a prolific writer on a number of subjects, and also participated in more expeditions. In 1822 he was appointed the first U.S. Indian Agent, in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. He married the daughter of an Ojibwa chief there, who helped teach him the Ojibwa language and assisted him in his ethnological studies of Native Americans. The couple moved to Mackinac Island in 1833 and remained there until 1840. Among his numerous accomplishments, he named many of Michigan’s counties. He created Indian-sounding county names by combining syllables from Native American languages.
– Wikipedia was used as a source for this note.

Henry R. Schoolcraft, autobiography, Chippewa tribe, Ojibwa tribe, Indian ethnography, explorer, Michigan Territory, Old Northwest, history of Michigan, Sault Ste. Marie MI, Mackinac Island MI, free ebooks

Schoolcraft, Henry Rowe (1793-1864)

Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History

Lucinda Hinsdale Stone; Her Life Story and Reminiscences

Detroit: Blinn 1902
Perry, Belle McArthurGo to Book

This is a collection of reminiscences of and about Lucinda Hinsdale Stone (1814-1900), one of Michigan’s foremost spokespersons for coeducation and equal educational rights for women during the late nineteenth century. Born in Hinesburg, Vermont, she received a classical education as the first female graduate of Hinesburg Academy. After teaching at Burlington Seminary and, later, as a private tutor on a Mississippi plantation, she married James Andrus Blinn Stone, a Baptist minister. In 1843, Lucinda Stone took over a fledgling branch of the University of Michigan in Kalamazoo. There she began to teach women through a separate female department until she resigned in 1863 in a controversy over exposing students to literature considered inappropriate for ladies. She continued to teach most of her students out of her own home and eventually escorted women on guided study tours of Europe. As part of her efforts to educate women, she helped found the Ladies Library Association of Kalamazoo. In 1873, influenced by various New England women’s clubs, she organized the first full-fledged women’s club in Michigan. There are few details here about her later life, but there are abundant testimonials about her importance as a public speaker, journalist, and charter member of the Michigan Woman’s Press Association. The book also includes abundant excerpts from Stone’s writings about eminent people she encountered abroad and at home.
– Library of Congress American Memory website

For works about leading American women of the 19th century, see:
– Adams, Elmer Cleveland and Foster, Warren Dunham, Heroines of modern progress in Century Past Collective Biography A – F
;
Parkman, Mary Rosetta, Heroines of service in Century Past Collective Biography G – P;
Worthington & Co. , Our Famous Women in Century Past Collective Biography Q – Z

reminiscences, memoir, Lucinda Hinsdale Stone, co-education for women, history of education, history of Michigan, Michigan Women’s Press Association, Ladies Library Association of Kalamazoo, books online

Stone, Lucinda Hinsdale (1814-1900)

Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History

Some Notes of Her Personal Recollections

NY: Grafton Press 1910
Tripler, Eunice H.Go to Book

This book was written by Eunice H. Tripler’s (1822-1910) son-in-law, Louis A. Arthur, from his notes of conversations with her. The story begins with her father as a young soldier being taken prisoner when Fort Detroit was surrendered to the British in the War of 1812. Eunice was born in Washington DC, while her officer father was stationed at the War Department. During the chapters covering Washington, as throughout the entire book, there are many remarks and anecdotes about prominent people, and also numerous random observations of the details of ordinary life in an upper-class household. In 1836 the family returned to Detroit, and in 1841 she married an army doctor, Charles S. Tripler. They lived in Detroit for many years, with Eunice remaining there when the doctor was deployed during the Mexican War and the Civil War.

Chapter headings are:

-In Explanation
-Some Family History
-Washington in Early Days
-Detroit in Early Days
-Early Married Life
-Dr. Charles Stuart Tripler
-During the Mexican War
-The California Service
-Newport, Kentucky
-During the Civil War
-Dr. Tripler’s Death
-A Few General Remarks

Eunice Tripler, biography, memoir, History of Detroit, personal narrative, ebooks

Tripler, Eunice H. (1822-1910)

Biographies & Memoirs in Michigan History

Petticoat Surgeon

Chicago: Peoples Book Club 1947
Van Hoosen, BerthaGo to Book

Autobiography. The author graduated from the University of Michigan Medical school in 1892 and spent her medical career in Chicago. She gradually became an outspoken feminist who opposed the medical establishment’s discriminatory treatment of women, becoming in 1915 the first president of the American Medical Women’s Association.

Van Hoosen, Bertha (1863-1952)

Mary Austin Wallace: Her Diary, 1862: A Michigan Soldier’s Wife Runs Their Farm

Lansing: Michigan Civil War Centennial Commission 1963
McCune, Julia, ed.Go to Book

This 20-page booklet consists of daily extracts from 24-year-old Mary Wallace’s diary after her husband enlisted. Interesting for the wide diversity of problems and tasks she mentions.

Also see: Taylor, Jefferys, The Farm: or a New and Entertaining Account of Rural Scenes and Pursuits in Section 630 Agriculture in Agriculture, Fruit, Forestry, Gardening & Domestic Animals

Wallace, Mary Austin (1841-1921)

The Autobiography of David Ward

NY. 1912
Ward, DavidGo to Book

A literate life story apparently written for Ward’s children. Ward arrived in Michigan as a teenager in 1836 with his family. For nearly 10 years he taught school and worked at other odd jobs while pursuing a medical degree. Instead of becoming a doctor he emerged as a very successful lumberman. He describes his career in detail and doesn’t hold back in expressing his views of certain relatives and business acquaintances.

memoir, lumber industry, lumbermen, history of Michigan, ebooks

Ward, David (1822-1900)

A Child of the Sea; and Life among the Mormons

Brooklyn: Jewett 1905
Williams, Elizabeth WhitneyGo to Book

“This is the vivid memoir of a mid-nineteenth-century girlhood spent mostly on the islands of Lake Michigan and the onshore communities of Manistique, Charlevoix, Traverse City, and Little Traverse (now Harbor Springs), written by a woman who grew up to be a lighthouse keeper on Beaver Island and in Little Traverse. Williams was brought up Catholic by a French-speaking mother and an English-speaking father who was a ship’s carpenter for entrepreneurs engaged in the mercantile trade to and from these rapidly developing settlements. Williams depicts cordial, even intimate, relationships between her family and the Indians who lived nearby, and describes the courtship and arranged marriage of an Ottawa chief’s daughter who lived with her family for an extended period. The major portion of the book, however, is devoted to her eye-witness recollections of James Jesse Strang’s short-lived dissident Mormon monarchy on Beaver Island, amplified by stories she heard from disillusioned followers. Strang was expelled from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints after disputing Brigham Young’s right to succeed Joseph Smith. Eventually he and his own loyal followers settled on Beaver Island and attracted a stream of new converts; at their demographic peak, the “Strangites” numbered 5,000 strong. Strang saw himself as a prophet and believed the rules he tried to establish were in accord with divine revelations. Williams describes the mounting tensions between Strang’s followers and the “gentile” residents who fled the island as Strang’s influence grew; incidents connected with Strang’s assassination by two former followers; and the ensuing exodus of most Strangites from Beaver Island. She later moved back there with her family, as did many of the earlier inhabitants.”
– Description from the U.S. Library of Congress American Memory website.

James Jesse Strang, Mormon history, Beaver Island MI, Traverse Bay MI, history of Michigan, history of religion, ebooks

Williams, Elizabeth Whitney (1844-1938)

“Personal Reminiscences”

Historical Collections Vol 8, 1886, 233-59; Vol 9, 1886, 166-72; Vol 10, 1888, 137-42; Vol 10, 1888, 142-47

Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society
Williams, Ephraim S.Go to Part 1|Go to Part 2|Go to Part 3|Go to Part 4

Ephraim Williams (born 1802) of Flint, MI relates the family’s history in Michigan, beginning with the arrival of his father, Major Oliver Williams, in Detroit in 1808, where he established a mercantile business. Major Williams brought his family, including young Ephraim, from Massachusetts in 1815. In 1819 he bought land near Saginaw and they became pioneer farmers in that area. In addition to farming, the father and sons began trading with the Indians, and over the years established trading posts. These memoirs include many details about their contacts with the Indians as well as anecdotes about travel, hunting, recreation etc. in Michigan in the early years.

History of Saginaw MI, history of Michigan, frontier history, memoir, daily life, ebooks

Williams, Ephraim S. (1802-1890)

Soapy: A Biography of G. Mennen Williams

Ann Arbor: University of Michigan 2006
Noer, Thomas J.Go to Book

Williams was a lawyer and political reformer in the Democratic party in the 1930s, served four years in the Navy in World War II, and was elected Governor in 1948; where he served six two-year terms. He later served on the Michigan Supreme Court for 17 years.

Williams, Gerhard Mennen “Soapy”(1911-1988)

“Hurry Up” Yost in Story and Song

Ann Arbor: Edwards 1947
Lawton, J. FredGo to Book

“Fond reminiscences of the almost legendary football coach at Ann Arbor.” Yost was the football coach at U of M from 1901-1923 and 1925-1926. While he was coach, Michigan won six national championships, ten Big Ten titles, and amassed a record of 165-29-10.

Yost, Fielding Harris (1871-1946)


Collective Biographies

American Life Histories: Manuscripts from the Federal Writers’ Project, 1936 to 1940

Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress
Go to Collection

This collection of life histories consists of approximately 2,900 documents, compiled and transcribed by more than 300 writers from 24 states, working on the Folklore Project of the Federal Writers’ Project, a New Deal jobs program that was part of the U.S. Works Progress (later Work Projects) Administration (WPA) from 1936 to 1940. Typically 2,000-15,000 words in length, the documents vary in form from narratives to dialogues to reports to case histories. They chronicle vivid life stories of Americans who lived at the turn of the century and include tales of meeting Billy the Kid, surviving the 1871 Chicago fire, pioneer journeys out West, grueling factory work, and the immigrant experience.
– From the Collection’s Website.

Folklore, biography, life story, life history, oral history, personal narrative, memoirs, ebooks

American Biographical History of Eminent and Self-made Men: Michigan Volume

Cincinnati: Western Biographical 1878
Barnard, F. A.Go to Vol 1|Go to Vol 2|Go to Vol 3|Go to Vol 4

These contain quite detailed biographies – often more than 500 words – of prominent people living in Michigan at the time of publication in the late 1870s. There are full indexes in the back of each volume.
Vol 1 – First Congressional District
Vol 2 – Second Congressional District
Vol 3 – Fourth Congressional District
Vol 4 – Seventh & Ninth Congressional Districts

See the list of resources on this website for: Genealogy & Local History Research

biography, life story, Michigan history, free books online

Cyclopedia of Michigan: Historical and Biographical …

NY: Western Publishing 1900
Go to Book

(title continued) “… comprising a synopsis of General History of the State, and Biographical Sketches of Men who have, in their various spheres, contributed toward its development. Illustrated with steel-plate portraits.”

A 22-page history of Michigan is followed by a chapter entitled “Material Development” providing information about economic activity at the end of the 19th century, and containing many demographic and economic tables and statistics. The biographies begin on page 69, in alphabetical order.

See also related works on this site: histories of Michigan on Michigan General History

biography, life story, history of Michigan, economic statistics, biography ebooks online

“Detroit Rulers: French Commandants in the [Michigan] region from 1701 to 1760”

Historical Collections Vol 34, 1905, 303-340

Lansing: Michigan Pioneer and Historical Society
Burton, Clarence M.Go to Article

This paper contains brief biographical sketches of each of the 19 French commandants at Detroit. The first was Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, who founded a colony at Detroit in 1701. The last was Sieur de Bellestre, who, shortly after the defeat of the French at Quebec in September 1759, was replaced by the first British commander at Detroit, Sir Jeffrey Amherst.

See also related works on this site: histories of Michigan on Michigan General History

Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, history of Michigan, Sieur de Bellestre, French commanders, Fort Detroit, eighteenth century, free ebooks, biography

In Memoriam, Founders and Makers of Michigan : a Memorial History of the State’s Honored Men and Women

Detroit: Clarke 193?
Memorial Society of MichiganGo to Book

No Table of Contents; see the index at the back of the volume.

Men of Michigan: A Collection of the Portraits of Men Prominent in Business and Professional Life in Michigan

Detroit: Michigan Art Co. 1904
Michigan Art CompanyGo to Book

The volume consists entirely of photo portraits, usually with no biographical details beyond, name, city and professional title. About 1,500 men are included. There is a 2-part index; the first arranged by name, and the second by town.

Collection of Local Histories and Atlases

Michigan County Histories and Atlases
Go to Site

The Michigan County Histories and Atlases Digitization Project is comprised of nearly 500 titles published before 1925. You can search, or browse by title, author or subject. The collection contains:

-County and town histories.
-Biographies. Many of the county histories contain large biographical sections, and there are also individual biographical volumes.
-Business directories.
-Multi-volume photo collection sets entitled “Art Work” for the Lake Superior region, St. Clair and Washtenaw counties, published in the 1890s.
-Atlases or plat books for many counties, often with directories. There are 131 atlases, nearly all post-1870.

local history, county history, town history, history of Michigan, biography, business directories, photo collections, plat books, atlases, ebook

But Men are More Interesting than Rivers

Lansing: Michigan State Library 1968
Michigan State LibraryGo to Book

Annotated bibliography of 110 Michigan biographies.


We also have hundreds of biographies of Americans and famous people worldwide on our Century Past Free Online Library. Visit the Biography Index.


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