Madelon Stockwell Turner was born in Albion on August 9, 1845. Her parents were Charles F. Stockwell and Louisa Peabody Stockwell. Her grandparents, Tenney and Eleanor Thompson Peabody, were one of the first white families to settle in the city now called Albion. It was known as “The Forks” when they arrived in 1833. Madelon’s father was the first principal of the Wesleyan Seminary in Albion, but he was dissatisfied with his position. In 1850, he died on his way to join the California gold rush. In 1852, her mother married Dr. W. H. Johnson.
Madelon’s childhood diary has been edited and annotated by Leslie Dick andpublished, A Michigan Childhood: the Journals of Madelon Louisa Stockwell,1856-1860.
Madelon attended Albion College and graduated in 1862. During the 1860s the family moved to Kalamazoo. Madelon yearned for more education. In 1870, she became the first woman admitted to the University of Michigan. She graduated with her B.A. in 1872.
A year later, Madelon married a University of Michigan classmate, Charles King Turner. In 1879, they traveled out west in a futile effort to improve Charles’ health. After her husband’s death in 1880, Madelon returned to live in Kalamazoo. During the last two decades of her life, Madelon withdrew more and more from society. She used only two rooms of her eighteen-room house. She died there in 1924.
(Albion College Archives)
After her death, the search for her will was of great interest to Albion College. In 1909, Madelon had told then President Dickie that she would be leaving a bequest to the institution. After several days of searching and then several months when her heirs contested the will, Albion College received over $330,000 from this childless widow. This sum was used to build the Charles F. and Louisa Peabody MemorialLibrary. As directed by the will, the Library houses a number of Madelon Stockwell Turner’s personal effects.
Sources: Dick, Leslie, A Michigan Childhood: the Journals of Madelon Louisa Stockwell, 1856-1860;Fennimore, Keith, The Albion College Sesquicentennial History: 1835-1885
From: Albion AAUW. Some Notable Women of the Albion Area. Albion, Michigan: American Association of University Women. 1998.