Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, November 22, 2020, pg. 7
The 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic and the story of one woman’s account of dealing with it in the town of Munising, Michigan is the topic of the soft-cover novel "A Far Different Path," by Michael Stone, published in 2018. This paperback is 278 pages long, and is available locally at Stirling Books and Brew bookstore, as well as from the www.afardifferentpath.com website. Contact them for further information.
The book received a Silver Medal Award in 2019, and was featured on Michigan National Public Radio several months ago on its "Stateside" program. The link to the audio interview with the author Michael Stone can be accessed at: www.afardifferentpath.com. The interview begins at 31.25 minutes into the program.
This novel is based upon the life and letters written by Lucile Ball (1896-1979) (no, not the actress) who was born and raised in the Albion area. She was a 1914 graduate of Albion High School, and continued her education at Albion College where she graduated in 1918 with a teaching certificate.
The back cover states, "Leaving home for the first time, 22-year old Lucile Ball accepts a teaching position in Michigan’s rugged Upper Peninsula, awaiting her fiancé’s return from the Great War. Initially thrilled by the newfound independence, her world unravels when letters sent to her beloved Howard begin coming back unopened, the word WOUNDED stamped across his name, just as the deadly influenza epidemic that’s rounding the globe strikes. Unlike any virus ever seen, this so-called "Spanish Lady" brings healthy adults to the brink of death in mere hours and when no one else steps forward, Lucile volunteers to care for its victims. This detailed and shocking account of the 1918 influenza epidemic, which killed over 50 million people worldwide, will linger long after Lucile’s own story ends."
Lucile’s Albion heritage goes back to the beginnings of Albion history, with the Farley family. Written in "first person" tense, the novel explains: "Our family farm sat on 240 acres just outside of Albion, Michigan, and was passed down to my father through the Farleys, on his mother’s side. David Farley, my great-grandfather, was a pioneer in the area and I knew from the earliest of ages that this place was as much a part of who I am as my blue eyes and brown hair." There are several other references to Albion in the novel readers will enjoy.
Genealogically, David (1805-1888) and Rosina (1817-1894) (Blackmar) Farley’s daughter Cornelia (1839-1902) married Horace Ball (1829-1892). The Ball’s daughter Rose Ball (1870-1936) served as the head librarian at Albion College from 1905 to 1936. Their son, farmer Elmer Ball (1866-1938) married Grace Braden (1870-1960) who was an elementary school teacher in the Albion Public Schools. Grace’s picture appears twice on page 19 of my book "A History of the Albion Public Schools" with a group of other faculty members in the 1890s, and below that with her students at West Ward School where she taught. Lucile (1896-1979) was the daughter of Elmer and Grace, and the book’s author, Michael Stone, is a grandson of Lucile.
With the COVID-19 epidemic occurring here in 2020, a novel about the 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic would make great reading, especially because of the Albion connections in this book. I encourage our readers to obtain a copy of it for your library, and to give copies as gifts this Christmas season. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photo of the cover of the book. Special thanks to author Michael Stone for supplying information for this week’s article. Happy Thanksgiving everyone, and stay safe and healthy.
"A Far Different Path," by Michael Stone, published in 2018
All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic