Michigan — May 18, 2014 at 11:52 am

Michigander publishes book on the state’s history


Pioneers, Reformers, & Millionaires is a historical narrative that reads like a novel.

Elizabeth A. Homer is a public historian with a passion for political and women’s history — and a curator with more than 20 years of experience at the Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame and the Turner-Dodge House.

This spring, she published a book, Pioneers, Reformers, & Millionaires, an epic story of two generations of western New Yorkers who settled in Michigan’s Grand River Valley in 1834. Prominent figures in the book include Marian and James Turner and James Munroe Turner, who played pivotal roles in the history of our state and the country.

Homer felt it was important to tell these stories.

It seems odd to me that we have no universally shared story about our state capitol and its founding. That is one thing that drove me while working on this book.

It was very important to me to include women’s history. It was more than once that I stopped to contemplate what the course of events today would be if both women and men knew anything about women’s participation in history. It was thrilling to me to write about women in the context of the events that took place.

Homer hopes her book will provide a better basis for understanding important events in Michigan’s history, including the founding of the Republican Party, the repeated financial crises that occurred, Michigan’s role in the Civil War, women’s suffrage, the development of the state’s free public education system and more, including details of the early Progressives.

In writing this book, Homer wanted to keep the stories of these figures alive. At the launch party for her book, she quoted the words of one attendee of the Pioneer Society meeting of 1885.

The time will come when our names will be lost and our places know us no more. Yet we shall survive in the memories of our friends as long as the remembrance will serve any good purpose, and then our work and thought and influence will mingle with the great ocean of human achievement, and the sum total of that will be something more, and something different from what it would have been without us.

Pioneers, Reformers, & Millionaires is available in the Lansing area at Absolute Gallery in Old Town, Gibson’s Bookstore, the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame and Everybody Reads Books, and in East Lansing at Mackerel Sky, Curious Book Shop and Archives Book Shop, and online. You can also buy the e-book at Amazon.com.