The History of Genesee County, MI
Chapter XXI
Res Literaria

Online Edition by Holice, Deb & Clayton

 

CHAPTER XXI.

Res Literaria.

In reviewing things literary in the history of a county one is held within bounds, as the scope is necessarily limited. Genesee County, however, has contributed to the world of letters numerous creditable offerings which will live to perpetuate the names of those who wrote them.

It is to be regretted that a complete bibliography of Genesee County authors with titles of their productions are not available. To the one who prepared such a list the public will owe a debt of gratitude. Among those who have earned a place in such a list, are M. E. Elmore, Dr. Luther Lee, W. R. Bates, Rev. C. A Lippincott, D. D., Mrs. Ida McGlone Gibson, Mrs. Arabella Rankin, Fenton R. McCreeery and Arthur C. Pound.

In volume 14 of the "Michigan Historical Collections" may be found an epic of the Saginaw country, by judge Albert Miller, one of the very earliest of the pioneers, a native of Vermont, who visited Grand Blanc when there was no white men in the surrounding counties. This contribution, "The rivers of the Saginaw Valley Sixty years Ago." Is of value historically. Starting from the Kawkawlin, "a noted stream for fish and game," the writer passes "over all the ground, that near the valley streams is found." Including the streams of Genesee.

Among the earlier residents of this locality who were gifted with a literary taste and ability, was Mrs. M. Louise Thayer, the wife of Artemus Thayer, a well-known resident of early Flint. Mrs. Thayer was the eldest daughter of Many Miles, who came to the settlement of Flint river in `837. She was a woman of refinement, exceptionally fond of society, and the enthusiastic patron of every organization that found a place in the early life of the town; a lady, in the old-school sense of the word, who gave fresh impetus to the associations of a struggling village and growing city. Mrs. Thayer was one of the early promoters of the ladies' library and an efficient officer of that organization. She was the author of many short poems of much merit and charm. A volume of her literary productions was published a number of years ago, but is not unobtainable.

In 1869 Mr. and Mrs. Thayer celebrated their silver wedding, the first silver wedding ever celebrated in Flint, on which occasion a poem of welcome, composed by the hostess, was read. We select the opening and closing verses:

Kind Friendship seems to wreath gay crowns tonight,
And garland every brow with rosy light;
Faces all beaming with glad smiles we see
In harmony with bright festivity,
Which is the off-spring of this day and hour--
To us a precious anniversary,
O'er which soft, silvery clouds on honor soar,

* * * * * * * * * * * *

O'er thirty years of retrospect we stray
Through scenes that seem but as of yesterday;
Yet all this lapse of time but makes more dear
These reminiscences from year to year,
And often, mayhap when the day is dying,
Will come from out the pine a requiem
For early loves, for childhood's pleasure sighing,
For life Responses to that earliest hymn.
Voices from native hill answering came,
Awakening echoes in our lake-bound home,
Sweet murmurings of the past will ever linger
In fond day-dreams,
When time's all potent finger
Points to our rest; upon the soul's release
May we embrace you all in that bright Home of Peace.

Flint, Feb. 7, 1860
Silver Wedding.

Francis H. Rankin, Sr., of Flint, the publisher and owner of the Genesee Whig and the Wolverine Citizen for many years, was a man of broad intellect and ability. Previous to his coming to American in 1848, he was connect with The Citizen or The Dublin Monthly Magazine, a literary periodical of Dublin, Ireland, and was also the author of a number of poems which appeared in Blackwood's Magazine. After his arrival in this country a number of his poems appeared in Godey's Lady's Book, published in Philadelphia. Mr. Rankin contributed much the literary life of the community and it is a regrettable fact that this productions were not issued in book form and preserved to posterity. Mr. Rankin's sonnet, "The Aeolian Harp," appeared in the Dublin Citizen in 1841.

THE AEOLIAN HARP.

Hush! Hush! Can that be sound, which thus I hear,
So tremulously sweet, so softly low;
Which falls so faintly, gently, that the ear
Is left to doubt its being; 'tis so near
In its relationship to silence? List!
Do ye not hear it struggling to exist?
'Tis conqueror. And now in wild career
It rushed like a tempest fiend along;
Now shivering with rage--still musical--
Now shouting like a reveling bacchanal:
Now mimicking the syren's softest song:
Nor rising o'er the wind's loud voice--anon,
Hanging on his last kiss to die when he is gone.

Hark! How the chord of merry joy now rings!
Hear how it thrills in gladness! There--'tis gone;
And now a sweet, sad, melancholy tone
Swells slowly on the air, and with it brings
Remembrances of long-lost previous things;
Telling of withered hopes; affection crush'd;
Of chill, chill hearts that once with warm love gush'd;
Of sun-bright visions that have made them wings
And flown away withal, to come no more;
Of the young, gentle spirit's early blight,
Ere the first blossom of its life was o'er
Too fragile to withstand the world's hard smite,
'Tis gone! Sinking to silence, like the wall
Of music's dying spirit, on some far-off gale.

William J. Walker, son of the Rev. Warum Walker, a Baptist Clergyman, and nephew of Levi Walker, one of the early residents of Flint, was the author of a book of manuscript poems which as been preserved in the old Walker library, as possessing much merit. Mr. Walker studied for the law, but died within a short time after his admission to the bar. Included in the book of verse is the following:

EVENING PRAYER.

The last faint twilight fades;
The gloomy pall
Of evening's gathering shades
Is flung o'er all,
Now while, as parting day
In darkness dies away,
We life our hands to pray,
Lord, hear our call.

We ask no gold nor fame,
Nor length of years,
O, save from sin and shame
And calm our fears.
All lowly as we kneel,
Thy pard'ning love reveal,
Our wounded spirits heal;
And wipe our tears.

As sinks the sun to rest
In Western seas,
And dies on ocean's breast
The evening breeze,
Oh, thus let all our woes
In death serene repose;
Such be our last repose
When Heaven decrees.

Soon shall the morn resume
Its glorious sway,
And soon shall gild the tomb
A brighter day;
When earth from pole to pole
Shall burn and, like a scroll,
The heavens together roll
And pass away.

Mr. Alvah Brainerd, of Grand Blanc, published, in 1865, a small booklet concerning the pioneer life of that locality, which is of much interest historically. The little book is now out of print, but the few copies which have been preserved are of value as a record of early days in Genesee County.

Mrs. Royal W. Jenny, the wife of the one-time editor of the old Genesee Democrat, was the author of a book of verse which was published in the eighties. Her granddaughter, Miss Florence Jenny, ha inherited much of the literary ability of her grandparents, and is now entering her fifth year as teacher of German in Vassar College. Miss Jenny obtained her degree from a German university, and a few years ago collaborated with professor Mosher, of Oberlin College, in editing a German text-book which at present is being used in several of the large colleges of the country. Her sister, who was Miss Ethel jenny, is now Mrs. Selden Osgood martin, whose husband is director of the bureau of research of Harvard University. Mrs. martin, who is a graduate of the law department of the University of Michigan, and the winner of a scholarship at Radcliffe College, is the author of a series of articles on "Railroad Research in Massachusetts," which appeared a few years ago in one of the leading eastern publications, and is also a contributor to a number of literary magazines. Mrs. Martin makes her home at Garden City, Long Island.

William Stevenson, a resident of Flint for many years, was the writer of over four hundred hymns, which have been published in various collections. He was also the author of "Sights and Scenes in Europe, or Pencilings by the Way." which was published in 1882, being the outgrowth of a series of letters written to the Wolverine Citizen in 1881, while the writer was touring England and the Continent. Mr. Stevenson's "Hymn to the Sea," composed during a Sunday morning service on shipboards, brings to mind, in the opening chapter of this entertaining volume, his talent as a song writer;

Eternal Father, Sovereign Lord,
Whose glory fills the skies,
To thee, from all that dwell below,
Let highest praises rise.

Thy hand the moving waters spread,
The winds obey thy will;
And ocean's troubled, heaving breast,
Thy might arm can still.

To Thee we trust our feeble breath;
Our ways are in Thy hand;
Thy watchful care will safely keep
Secure on sea, as land.

Eternal Father, Sovereign Lord,
Accept the praise we bring;
And when we stand on crystal sea,
A nobler song we'll sing.

Mr. Stevenson was for many years a valued member of the Flint board of Education, and the Stevenson School, which occupies a site on a large tract of land formerly owned by him in the northern part of Flint, is named in his honor. Dr. Thomas R. Buckham, a well-known physician of Flint from 1868 to 1891, was the author of the legal aspects of insanity, published in 1883, and bearing the title, "Insanity Considered in its Medico-Legal Relations." The work is of great erudition and shows its author, to have been of high intellectuality and of unusual sociological prescience. It has been used as authority in deciding important cases in the supreme courts of several states. This volume and others of like character maybe regarded as potent causes for the present rarity of the plea of insanity as a defense in legal cases and the discriminating suspicion which attaches to such a defense.

Egbert L. Bangs, of Flint, was the author of a number of poems, which are soon to be collected and published in book form, by his son, Dwight L. Bangs. Mr. Bangs for many years occupied a prominent place in affairs literary in Flint, and the Bangs Shakespeare Club, a society of many years standing, was named in his honor.

Sidney Austin Witherbee, a son of Austin Witherbee, who was a prominent resident of Flint in the fifties and sixties, and grandson of Col. E. H. Thomson, is the author of several books of poems which were published a few years ago. At the close of the Spanish-American War he also issued a volume of "National Songs," under the nom de plume of "Netsua Yendis."

Miss Effie Douglas Putnam, of Flint, published in 1888 a volume of poems under the title of "Margaret and the Singer's Story," and also issued in 1903 "Cirillo," the story of a musician, published by the Life Publishing Company of New York. Miss Putnam was the leading member of the Rhea Dramatic Club, which was organized in Flint in 1884, which for a number of years was an active theatrical society. She was also a talented musician and a proficient performer on the harp. The following poem, "My Harp," is included in her book of verse:

On polished floor it stands, a harp of gold,
Of dainty carving, and of graceful mould,
Strung with its chords of silver, red and blue,
Tuned to high key, melodious and true.

I speak of it, as a faithful friend,
Which hath no interest, nor selfish end,
It answereth, Ah me, the lovely tone!
It is the sweetest voice that I have known.

I pass my hands along the silent strings,
And soft the sad, the melancholy things
Wake with a touch; with very life they sign,
Like forest leaflets when the wind is high.

The venerable Rev. Seth Reed, whose long life of ninety-three years has been spent principally in the Methodist ministry of the state of Michigan, and much of it in the vicinity of Genesee county, has written an autobiographic account of his activities as a circuit rider, preacher and missionary among the pioneers of the state and also among the Indians. This work is replete with interesting incidents of early times and is in itself a history of the religious side of pioneer life. Mr. Reed is still a resident of Flint and has recently celebrated the seventy-third anniversary of his entry into the ministry. He was elected in 1916 as president emeritus of the Genesee County Historical Society.

The Rev. W. Dudley Powers, D. D., a Virginia gentleman who was for some years the rector of St. Paul's church in Flint, and a talented, brilliant speaker, was the author of a volume of poems entitled "My sons in the evening." From which "Taps" is selected as an example of his poetical gifts.

TAPS.

Go to sleep! Go to sleep! Go to sleep!
It is night, the soldier's day is done.
It is night, the soldier's day is done.

Go to sleep! Go to sleep! Go to sleep!
O'er the hills and through the glen
Where the winding river glides,
Where the song bird frightened hides,
To the mountain's laureled sides,
Drifts the bugle's night "Amen."

Go to sleep! Go to sleep! Go to sleep!
Fame and love and honor hover--
Lover's love about a lover--
Round thy forms, ye soldiers brave,
Rest ye, Rest ye in thy grave.
Go to sleep! Go to sleep! Go to sleep!

Among the writers who have attained distinction in the literary world is Arthur J. Eddy, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Jerome Eddy. Who was born in Flint in 1859. Mr. Eddy studied law at Harvard Law School and was admitted to the bar of Genesee county by Judge Newton. For a number of years he was owner and publisher of the Genesee Democrat, the Sunday Democrat and the Daily News. He went to Chicago to practice law in 1889 and formed a partnership with Edwin Walker, of that city, the firm of Walker & Eddy being counsel for the World's Columbian Exposition and for a number of railroads and other large corporations. Since the organization of his own law firm in 1900 Mr. eddy's professional work has been confined exclusively to certain phases of corporation work and he is the specially retained counsel for many of the largest corporation in the country.

Among his literary productions are "Two Thousand Miles in an Automobile," which was issued in 1902. This volume is descriptive of the first long journey taking an automobile in America and is the pioneer book on automobiling in this country. "Tales of a Small Town," are impressions of Flint, and many of the characters are easily recognized by people of their day and generation. "Ganton & Co.," a novel of the Chicago business world, was subsequently dramatized under the title of "The Great John Ganton,' and produced with George Fawcett in the leading role. Mr. Eddy's work on "The Law of Combinations," published in 1900, has remained the standard legal work on combinations, and "The New competition," a law work dealing with competitive conditions along radical and revolutionary lines, has already passed through four editions. Mr. Eddy's appreciation of art and literature has placed him in a conspicuous position in the art world, and for some years he has been a discriminating patron of the Chicago Art Institute and connected with its various committees. Among his books on art are "Delight, the soul of Art," a compilation of five lectures delivered at the Chicago Art Institute and elsewhere; "Cubists and Post-Impressionists," a large and fully illustrated work dealing with the modern movement in art, and the "Recollections and Impressions of James McNeill Whistler," Whistler painted a full-length portrait of Mr. Eddy in 1894, at which time a friendship began which lasted until the artist's death in 1903. Mr. Eddy's collection of modern pictures is the only one of its kind in America and one of the largest and most complete collections in the world.

Mr. Eddy was chairman of the committee which entertained Prince henry at the time of his visit to Chicago, and was afterwards decorated by the German Emperor, being made a Knight of the Red Eagle.

Mrs. Eddy, who was Miss Lucy Crapo Orrell, the granddaughter of Govern henry h. Crapo, is the author of some very charming verse, the following lines being written for :A California Flower Calendar:"

Night sleeps, day dawns, through the shadowy fir,
O'er the manzanita, wild wins whir,
Wake the purpling valleys, violet breezes stir.

Daffodils and jonquils, rain drops fall,
Winter storms are brewing, song birds call;
Blooms the Rose of Sharon, loveliest of all.

Blow wistaria blossoms, blow acacia tree,
Orange boughs and almond, purple fleur-de-lis,
Cherokee anemone, winds of Arcady.

Sunbells, could-bells, wild flowers fair;
Songs of mountain waters, ringing in the air;
Mariposa lilies, poppies everywhere.

Gold of Ophir roses, touch and go.
Fleeting as the sunset's afterglow,
When we try to woo them, away they blow.

Gleams the amaryllis, shine the lilies white,
Float on dusky waters lotus blossoms bright,
On the distant mesa looms a yucca light.

Through the Jacaranda sapphire blossoms swing,
Like a flock of blue-birds fluttering on the wing,
Joy is in the tree-tops, sweetly carolling.

Myrtles wreathed in rose mists, crown the wandering breeze,
Bend the laden fruit-boughs, drone the honey-bees,
In the phlox, hollyhocks, oleander trees.

Fragrant are the vineyards, blue graves twine,
Flash the tiny sickles, stripping every vine,
From a thousand presses flows the ruby wine.

Fades the flaming sunset, night-birds wing,
Through the sage and chaparral arroyo breezes sing;
Silvery twinkling trail-bells far off ring.

Twinkle starry petals in the autumn gleams,
Glimmering on green stalks, fringed moonbeams,
Twilight shadows deepen, the year dreams.

Time and petals drifting softly through the bowers,
Float the flaming dials, yule-tide hours;
Eucharistic lilies, scarlet Christmas flowers.

Miss Elizabeth Steele Hicock, of Flint, well known in literary life of the community, is the author of delightful stories for children which have appeared in St. Nicholas, Harper's Young People and other publications. Miss Hicock has also written a number of poems, some of her more recent ones appearing in The Outlook She was also some years ago a contributor to The Illustrator, an Eastern publication, and the New York Independent.

Dr. C. B. Burr, an eminent alienist of national reputation and for over twenty years the distinguished lead of oak grove hospital, is the author of a volume published in 1906, entitled " A Primer of Psychology and Mental disease." This work was designed as a text book for medical students and for attendants and nurses in training school. It is also a valuable ready reference book for the general practitioner, is considered authoritative and has passed through several editions. After the third edition the title was changed to "The Handbook of Psychology and Mental Disease."

Dr. Francis Devereaux Clarke, for nearly a quarter of a century the able superintendent of the Michigan school for the deaf, at Flint, with his broad knowledge of the brain development of the deaf, was able to give tot he great work of special education a volume known as "Michigan Methods." This work treats of the presentation of the very beginnings of language, numbers geography, and other matters of vital importance in the treating of the deaf. This valuable work is now being used in the schools for the deaf throughout the country, and also in many similar institutions in Europe. For his educational service he was given the doctor's degree in Human Letters by Gallaudet College, in 1908. Doctor Clarke was a man of varied attainments. Besides being an able educator, a civil engineer and a naturalist, he was a writer of ability and, aside from his treatise on primary grade work, was the co-editor of the American Annals of the Deaf, the largest publication devoted to the interests of the deaf in this country, edited at Washington, D. C., and was also the author of a number of short stores for children. His death occurred at Flint, September 7, 1913.

John W. Fitzgibbon, reporter, war correspondent and prominent political writer of Michigan, although born in New Jersey, came with his parents to Genesee County at such an early age that he may be almost considered as one of the natives of this locality, his father settling on a farm near Flint when he was an infant. Mr. Fitzgibbon obtained his early education in Flint, Col. William B. McCreery giving him employment which enabled him to finish his course at the Flint high school. When about twenty years of age he went to Detroit, where he attracted the attention of the late James E. Scripps, owner and publisher of the Detroit Evening News, who became his life-long friend. For thirty years Mr. Fitzgibbon has been connected with the Detroit News. He represented the News in Cuba prior to and during the period of the Spanish-American War and in the Philippines during the insurrection. He has been correspondent for the News during several congressional sessions at Washington, D. C., and he has attended the legislative sessions at Lansing continuously for twenty years except while in Cuba, Philippines, or at Washington. With the death of Joseph Greusel, Mr. Fitzgibbon became the dean of the legislative correspondents at Lansing.

Mrs. Wadsworth Warren, of Detroit, formerly Miss Adelaide Birdsall, of Flint, and granddaughter of James Birdsall, of the old Birdsall family of Fenton, has published several volumes of stores for juveniles, which have been justly popular. She is one of the active members of the Michigan Author's Association and has also been engaged for the past two or three years in playwriting.

Charles Clark, of Detroit, formerly of Fenton, was the author of a book of Travel, entitled, "Japan, a child of the World's Old Age," which was issued in 1910, following a year's sojourn in the Orient.

Mrs. Lizzie Beach Stevens, of Linden, was the author of a volume descriptive of the Columbian Fair, being a very interesting account of the exposition, and was also the author of a book of poems.

The Rev. Dr. Hunting, D. D., pastor of the Presbyterian Church, in Flint, was the author of a book of poems of merit. His son, Gardner Hunting, has taken up literary work as a profession and is a regular contributor to a number of leading magazines. He has also published several works of fiction, including "A Hand in the Game," a novel published a few years ago.

Luther L. Wright, formerly superintendent of public instruction for Michgian and now superintendent of the Michigan School for the Deaf, and one of the most progressive educators of the country, is the author of a treatise on "The Teaching of Mental Arithmetic," prepared with a view to the obviation of text books in the study of mathematics. Mr. Wright is also a regular contributor to a number of magazines on subjects of an educational nature.

Harry A. Franck, of Flint, a graduate of the high school, class of 1899, and later professor of Spanish and Greek in Columbia University, made his initial bow to the literary work in a volume of travel entitled, "A Vagabond Journey Around the World," which was published by the Century company in 1910. A year or so later he produced "Zone Policemen," followed by "Four Months Afoot in Spain." Mr. Franck is at present preparing for publication a work on the Mexican situation as viewed from the standpoint of the Mexican peon, his recent writings having attracted most favorable attention from leading critics.

Mrs. Rupert Hughes, formerly of Flint, the daughter of Mrs. Harry Mould, nee Mina Stevens, and better known to the theatrical and operatic world as Marina Manola, is the author of many short stores which appear from time to time in smart cosmopolitan publications. The amount paid for her scenario of "Gloria's romance," recently written for film production, in which Miss Billie Burke has been featured, was twelve thousand five hundred dollars, said to be one of the largest sums ever paid for a moving picture scenario. Mrs. Hughes is the wife of Rupert Hughes, the well-known playwright, composer and sculptor, whose home is at Bedford Hills, Westchester County, New York.

Mrs. Jacquette Hunter Eaton, wife of Marquis Eaton, one of the most prominent attorneys of Chicago, and a niece of Mrs. Flint P. Smith, of Flint, with whom she made her home for some years, is the writer of many delightful short stories which have appeared in recent years in several of the leading magazines.

W. Harold Kingsley, of Flint, a young newspaper man, formerly with the Ithaca (N. Y.) Journal, and now with the Grand Rapids (Mich.) Press, who, while a student in the literary department of the University of Michigan, was one of the leading contributors to the Michigan Daily, is the author of a number of poems which show much talent and which have been copied in the press of other states. The Boston Transcript recently published his Thanksgiving poem of 1915:

Out of a wild dissension, sheer in a new-known zest,
The Spirit of Liberty rose and rode on a Dream-god's chariot--west;
Rose to a new endeavor, stood on Atlantic's banks
Facing the sun, with a task begun.
Offering God her thanks.

Bearing a noble trumpet, crowned in a new ideal,
The son of Liberty rose and stood at Civilization's wheel;
Conquered a foe of his dreaming, hoping, struggling ranks,
Facing the sky with a brow reared high,
Offering God his thanks.

Out of a sterner grapple, our of an inborn strife,
The Union of Liberty rose and stood in a newer breath of life;
Beating the sword to a plowshare, furrowed the yielding banks,
Facing the dawn with a mightier brawn,
Offering God her thanks.

Hoping and pitying, praying, bathing love in a tear,
The Nation of Liberty stands alone, free from a phantom fear;
Drawn in a new formed legion, all Humanity's ranks,
Facing the sun with a work well done,
Offering God her thanks.

 

History of Genesee County, Michigan, Her People, Industries and Institutions
by Edwin O. Wood, LL.D, President Michigan Historical Commission, 1916

Transcribed by Holice B. Young

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