HURLBUT, FRANCES [BRINDEL] (1842?–1892). Orphaned by age
nine, Frances Hurlbut, ne ´e Brindel, left Pennsylvania for Newport (now
Marine City), Michigan, to live with her aunt, Emily Ward. Hurlbut’s only
publication, Grandmother’s Stories (1889), recounts Aunt Emily’s tales of
their pioneer family. Two themes dominate: the danger of the untamed
Great Lakes,* which destroy ships, lighthouses,* and life; and the virgin
region’s lure of prosperity, despite danger.
Hurlbut was intimately connected with the Great Lakes, swimming and
sailing them from her youth. Her grandfather, Eber Ward, was a sailor and
a lighthouse keeper; her uncles, Sam and Eber Brock Ward, were, by 1854,
the Lakes’ largest shipbuilders. Hurlbut attended Newport Academy, which
her aunt established and her uncles financed, graduated from Michigan State
Normal School (now Eastern Michigan University), married L. A. Hurlbut,
had one child (Florence), and died in Crescent City, a now-deserted lumber
town on North Manitou Island.