New book chronicles Farrant family pioneers

From staff reports

The early pioneers of the Leelanau peninsula came from many places and backgrounds. The Farrant family were French Canadians who arrived by 1867, parents and four of their grown sons. Their story began with several of the early log cabins in Kasson township along the Baatz Road.  

Over time, the Farrants were homesteaders, farmers, sailors, hotel managers—including of the iconic Sleeping Bear Inn—bookkeepers, dock foremen, lumber company foremen, schoolteachers, square dance callers, and early automobile salesmen.  Members of the family were active in local governance as Constable, Justice of the Peace, Township Treasurer, and County Road Commissioner.  In the diversity of their enterprises and the great changes they experienced over these decades, they were like many others of their time and place.  They and their neighbors are now called settlers, but there was nothing settled about them.   

The new release The Farrants of Glen Haven and Empire: A Story Restored chronicles the family over four generations. 

William and Ezilda Farrant raised six remarkable children, including Miner, the author’s great-grandfather, whose life chapters and many occupations spans much of the story.  They also had five daughters, four of whom were local teachers, and included Eva Farrant Day, the wife of D. H. Day, and Ida Farrant, a columnist for the Leelanau Enterprise.  A number of Ida Farrant’s columns, recollections of pioneer days, are included.  Brought to life by the memories of Frances Farrant, Miner’s daughter, the book is richly researched with both familial details and historical context. 

The book represents the collaboration and combined interests of author Mae Keller, with Kay Bond and Andrew White.  Mae and Kay are Farrant descendants.  Kay has a longstanding interesting in genealogy and also researched pioneer era property transactions for a fascinating look at the past.  Andy is a historian of the Leelanau area with a special interest in Glen Arbor Township, and a portion of his original research into early Glen Haven is summarized in the book.  Mae authored the story, and also did additional contextual research and curated photographs—the book has a number of evocative images of people and places.  

The book captures the hardships, opportunities, and rapid rate of technological and environmental change faced by pioneers as the timber industry came to an end. ­ This is a book both for those with a casual interest in the beautiful Leelanau Peninsula, and for those involved in discovering the richly nuanced history of the area.

The Farrants of Glen Haven and Empire: A Story Restored is published through Mission Point Press of Traverse City, soft-cover, color.  It is available locally for the retail price of $22.95 and at upcoming book events, including a presentation at the Glen Lake Library in Empire on Tuesday, December 7, at 7 p.m.