Frank L. Dodge

The following has been reformatted from pages 450-452 of "Historic Michigan, Vol. III, Ingham County", edited by Dr. Frank N Turner, published by National Historical Association, Inc. in 1924. {Dr. Turner was a well-known authority on Ingham County history, and was a nephew of James Turner, Frank L. Dodge's father-in-law.]

Frank L. Dodge

In every community there rise above the ordinary line of citizenship certain outstanding characters who, by virtue of their peculiar ability and power of leadership, are instinctively referred to as first citizens. In the discussion that usually precedes the formulation of public works or policies, their counsel and advice are first sought. Community leadership, too, is not always contingent upon wealth, but more often upon ability to formulate and to co-ordinate thought and action, the while possessing the courage of conviction. Even in a democracy where there is every opportunity for self-expression, mass thinking is largely conditioned upon and directed by individual leadership. And so there has for many years been in Lansing and vicinity an outstanding character, a pillar of strength, a tower of community leadership in the person of Hon. Frank L. Dodge, distinguished in the law, in official public service and in commonwealth development. The outstanding features of Mr. Dodge's brilliant career are not only of rare interest but also a source of great pride to Lansingtonians.

Mr. Dodge is a native of Ohio, born at Oberlin, in 1853, and is a son of Hervey and Angeline (Stevens) Dodge, both of sturdy New England ancestry. The Stevens family comes of Revolutionary stock and its representatives were conspicuous in public life in New England and in the Buckeye state. Hervey Dodge, a cabinetmaker, was engaged in the furniture business in Utica, New York, and later in Ohio. Nathan Dane, the well-known lawyer, was an uncle to Mr. Dodge's father and the makers of the Dodge shoes were relatives of Frank L. Dodge. The subject of this sketch is one of six children, five boys and one girl. His early education was gained in Ohio and for a few years he was engaged in railroad work in Cleveland, then became associated with his brother, Mr. W H. Dodge, in the hotel business.

His law studies began with the late Hon. Isaac M. Crane, one of the leading lawyers of Michigan, and upon admission to the bar, in Eaton County, Mr. Dodge entered into partnership with Mr. Crane. In 1879 Mr. Dodge came to Lansing from Eaton Rapids, and here he has since maintained his home, active in law and public service. For years he and Hon. C. P. Black, former United States district attorney, were law partners. [Note: C. P. Black married Eva Turner, daughter of James Turner and sister of Abby Turner, who married Frank L. Dodge.] In 1885 Judge Henry B. Brown, of the United States supreme court, appointed Mr. Dodge United States commissioner, and in this office he served capably for ten years. As an attorney he has been connected with celebrated cases, among them the conspiracy suits growing out of the great labor strike at Saginaw.

As a Democrat he was elected to the state legislature in 1882 and was returned by a largely increased majority in 1884. He was a member of the judiciary, state-affairs and other important committees. Within the period of his service as a member of the legislature, Mr. Dodge introduced forty-one bills and resolutions, each carefully drawn and studied by himself, and during the entire session of the lawmaking body he was absent only a day and a half. Among the more important measures introduced by Mr. Dodge, and in due course brought to enactment, were that giving Lansing two terms of the circuit court and that providing state appropriation for the Lansing fire and police departments. He introduced the measure providing fire escapes for hotels, theaters and other public buildings. His able championship insured the passage of thirty other important measures. In 1890 he was a candidate for state senator, on the Democratic ticket, carrying his ward, city and county against a heavy Republican majority. He was a member of the building committee that erected the court house at Mason, and for his efforts the citizens of Mason, as an expression of appreciation, gave him a banquet and presented him with a gold-headed cane.

November 20, 1888, Mr. Dodge was united in marriage to Miss Abby Turner, daughter of Hon. James Turner, of an old and prominent family. [...] Five children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Dodge. Sophie Dane, a graduate of Lansing high school and Michigan Agricultural College, is the wife of C. C. Armstrong, of Cleveland, and they have two children, Marian Josephine and Franklin Wyllis. Frank L., Jr., for several years has been attached to the federal department of justice; Wyllis Osborn was graduated in Lansing high school and attended the University of Michigan until he enlisted in the World war, and he is now engaged in the real estate business in Lansing; Josephine Nicholson, a graduate of Hathaway Brown school, in Cleveland, is the wife of Andrus D. McLean, Jr., of Mansfield, Ohio, and is the mother of two children, Patricia Ann and Roderick Alexander. The fifth is Marion T. Dodge, a graduate from Lansing high school, then attended the Mary Lyon school at Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, and is now attending the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Frank L. Dodge was the promoter, incorporator and secretary of the St. Johns & St. Louis Railway Company and worked assiduously at the project until it was materialized, a public service of great value to Lansing. He has been three times the Democratic candidate for congress, and each time ran far ahead of the ticket. Mr. Dodge has farming and other interests. At one time he owned 100 head of fine horses. His beautiful home, at 106 North street, on Dodge River Drive, is a show place of Lansing, surrounded by fine grounds and trees and superbly located on the bank of the Grand river. Many dignitaries have been entertained there - celebrated lawyers, members of the supreme court, William Jennings Bryan and others. The Frank Dodge subdivision is being built up with many modern homes by Mr. Dodge and his son Wyllis O. Dodge.

For twelve years, Mr. Dodge was a member of the city council and four times its president. He was an alderman of his ward twelve years and was president of the commission that revised the city charter. For several years he was on the school board. He was a member and president of the police and fire boards a number of years. Mr. Dodge is an active member of the Ingham County Bar Association and the American Bar Association, and has been and is now chairman of the executive committee of the Michigan State Bar Association. He has been and is still the secretary of the State Supervisors' Association and has charge, locally, of legislative matters. He was appointed by Governor Ferris, under special act of the legislature, in 1914, chairman of the mediation and conciliation board, of which United States Senator James Couzens was an associate member. The members of the Dodge family are attendants at Plymouth Congregational church.