Mrs. Frank L. Dodge

The following is the text of a manuscript of May, 1947, signed by Ella Lee Rich.  Upon request, the Secretary can provide a copy of the manuscript.

Mrs. Frank L. Dodge


Mrs. Abbie Turner Dodge was born in Lansing during the dark days of the first year of the Civil war, when Austin Blair, whose statue adorns our Capitol lawn, was Governor of Michigan and Abraham Lincoln was President of the United States.  Michigan was only 25 years old when Mrs. Dodge was born and the Capitol had been located in Lansing but 15 years.

These were pioneer times.  No railroads entered Lansing.  No telegraph.  Messengers on horseback carried important news to Jackson 40 miles away.  From there it was telegraphed to Detroit and the East. Stage lines and private conveyances afforded the only means of transportation - even for the Civil War troops.  Lansing was about the size of Holt today.

Hon. James M. Turner, Sr. [sic.], father of Mrs. Dodge, like many other residents of Lansing, was a native of New York State.  As a young merchant in Mason he was prosperous, but when the Capitol was located in Lansing a century ago he came here and at once took an active part in the industrial life of the village.  He married Marion Monroe of Eagle - a town which then out-stripped Lansing in size.  To them were born 10 children.

James Turner, Sr. [sic.] built the old plank road to Howell and later helped finance railroads into Lansing.  He filled various political offices and led in the social and church life of the new Capital.

On his large estate which extended from what is now Grand River Ave. along Turner Street, out along the present M-16 to the Brisbin Property, he built the first frame house in North Lansing.  Windows and siding and framework for this house were made in Mason and transported thirteen miles by ox team.  And it was in this house built nearly a century ago that Abbie Turner was born 85 years ago - the youngest of 10 children - and here she was married - and here she spent her long life - and in this house her life ended.

It is unusual in the middle-west to live one's entire life in one house.  In the South and in New England families often retain their ancestral home through several generations.  Pioneer hardships had vanished before Abbie grew up.  Her brothers and sisters were distinguished for their culture, their civic influence, and their contributions to the development of the community.

Abbie Turner studied music in Boston and later in the Alword school in Berlin.  Her trips abroad were frequent.  Before and after her marriage many brilliant social functions were held in her home which are happily remembered by many Lansing people.

November 20, 1888, she was united in marriage to Frank L. Dodge, a prominent attorney and law partner of Hon. C. P. Black, United States District Attorney, who was her brother-in-law.  Five children were born to this union.

Mrs. Dodge joined Lansing Chapter, D.A.R. late in life, though her ancestry would have enabled her to belong to numerous patriotic societies.  She was hostess at two large musicals to raise money for its scholarship fund.

Our last regular meeting with her was just two years ago today - May, 1945.  Her beautiful home on Dodge River Drive is still a showplace of Lansing, surrounded by fine grounds and stately trees - and superbly located on the banks of the Grand River.  Many dignitaries have been entertained there - celebrated lawyers - members of the Supreme Court and William Jennings Bryan as candidate for President.

And it was amid those familiar scenes that the long life of Abbie Turner Dodge ended the last day of February of this year.