Dodge Family Anti-Slavery Connection

The Turner-Dodge House is conducting on-going research into the past to learn about the two generations of owner families for which the house is named who contributed so much to the establishment of the City of Lansing and to the State. In February 2004 a document from the period when Frank L. Dodge was in the legislature surfaced some impressive family connections that we were not aware of and further illuminates his character.

According to this newly discovered biography printed around 1884, Frank Dodge's great, great uncle on his father's side of the family was Nathan Dane, an attorney and framer of The Northwest Territory Ordinance, leading to the establishment of Michigan. As the newly found document puts it, "the immortal Webster gave great praise for the master foresight he (Dane) displayed in incorporating into its measures a clause prohibiting slavery. Thaddeus Stevens, the eminent Pennsylvania Legislator, and also distinguished as an opponent of slavery, was of this same line."

Frank L. Dodge was well known and highly admired for this same sort of foresight and progressive thought. These characteristics clearly come from a family heritage which supported reforms for both African Americans and for women. His mother, Angeline, was a daughter of Bradstreet Stevens who helped establish Oberlin College in 1834, providing a liberal education for both sexes and all colors, and in which students might assist to defray their expenses. Angeline attended Oberlin, becoming among the first American women to be college educated.

In 1868, at the age of 14, Frank Dodge left Oberlin to engage "in railroading and traveling" and in 1871 went to Eaton Rapids to work in the hotel business with his father for two years. In 1876 he took up the study of law and according to the biographical document, mastered the three year course in two years. He became active in the Democratic Party and in 1882 he was elected the State Representative from a normally Republican District which included Ingham County. The biography went on to say, "Though he is the youngest member of the House, from the eulogistic tone of the press, Republican as well as Democratic; from the number as well as the wide import of the bills he introduced, and the skillful and clever manner in which he acted the pilot, and the admirable and diplomatic style of his argument in his replies to their opponents, carrying at once emphasis and confidence and a deep conviction of the merits of the (41) measures. Though youngest member, he is acknowledged an adroit leader of the minority."

The 1898 etching, copyrighted etching by L. Clacken, in the Music Room of the Turner-Dodge house depicts a plantation family with slaves and may have been hung there to show their sympathy and connection to the anti-slavery movement.

Article apparently from a book published by Chapman Brothers of Chicago. The Portrait and Biographical Album of Ingham and Livingston Counties Michigan contains identical 'artwork' - artwork around letters etc. the Ingham County book was published in 1891.

Find the story of James Little, a Freed Slave who came to the Lansing area in 1847.