WMU News

Women's history comes alive 'On the Trail of Mrs. Redding'

March 20, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- As part of Women's History Month, Western Michigan University presents the story of one interesting woman in Michigan history, when Mary Frances Fenton describes her four-year journey "On the Trail of Mrs. Redding."

Sponsored by University Archives and Regional History Collections, Fenton's lecture is Tuesday, March 25, beginning at 7 p.m. in the archives library, Room 111 of East Hall.

Fenton's presentation centers on Ina Redding (1866-1946), who was a 20th century homesteader and resident of Beaver Island, Charlevoix County, Mich. Although Redding had a road named in her honor in the mid-1980s, few present day Beaver Islanders knew much about her before Fenton started researching her story.

We now know that Redding was one of about 6 percent of single or widowed women who applied for a homestead in their own name under the U.S. Homestead Act of 1860, and she did it at age 52! We also know she was an accomplished seamstress and tailor having worked in the garment industry in Chicago many years before making Beaver Island her home. These and other interesting aspects of Redding's life will be presented along with slides of Beaver Island.

The presentation is based on Fenton's recent article, which appeared in the Journal of Beaver Island History, "On the Trail of Mrs. Redding." The article emerged after four years of taking oral histories and doing genealogical research.

Call Mary Frances Fenton at (269) 343-4505 or Sharon Carlson at (269) 387-8490 for additional information.

Media contact: Thom Myers, 269 387-8400, thomas.myers@wmich.edu

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