American Literature of the Sea and Great Lakes

HURLBUT, FRANCES [BRINDEL] (1842?-1892). Orphaned by age nine, Frances Hurlbut, nee 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.

Donald P. Curtis