By SHEILA SCHIMPF
Capital News Service
LANSING – The quirky thing about local history is its ability to take an unexpected turn as soon as you get yourself deep in the diaries, scrapbooks and newspapers of those who lived before. Elizabeth Homer, for example, started out to write a history of 19th century Lansing but sometime during the seven years she was immersed in it, she realized she was working on a national story with Shakespearean elements. Her new book, “Pioneers, Reformers, & Millionaires,” is filled with abolitionists, railroad titans, a housing bubble, women’s Christian Temperance Unionists, suffragettes, graft, corruption and corporate greed. And Cornelius Vanderbilt.
Homer, 71, of Lansing, considers herself a public historian. By training she is an educator and worked in Lansing as a curator for 20 years, at the Michigan Women’s Historical Center and Hall of Fame and then at the Turner-Dodge House.