Madelon Stockwell Turner, c.1850
Albion College Benefactor
Died June 1924
Albion College Graduate
Class of 1862
While Madelon Stockwell Turner’s birth date is not known, it is believed she was about 75 when she died in June 1924. The daughter of Charles F. Stockwell and Louisa PeabodyStockwell. She married an attorney named Charles K. Turner and went to live in Kalamazoo. Mrs. Turner’s father, Tenney Peabody, was one of the owners of the Albion Company, the firm that laid out the village plat of Albion in June, 1836, and which gave the land on which much of Albion college is situated.
These facts show Mrs. Turner’s close relationship with the college and the city. Hergrandfather as the first white settler of the village and her father as the first principal of the earliest predecessor of Albion College gave her a relationship to the institution which seems unique in its closeness.
Madelon Stockwell Turner graduated from the institution in June 1862. She also attended the University of Michigan from which she received an A.B. degree in 1872. The first woman graduate of the University ofMichigan. Albion College awarded her an A.M. degree in 1890. An honorary A.M. degree was awarded her by theuniversity in 1912.
Mrs. Turners death occurred June 1924, during the brief period when Dr. Frederick Samuel Goodrich was acting president ofAlbion College. Knowing that Mrs. Turner had intended to leave property to the college, Dr. Goodrich sent Attorney Adrian Cooper of Albion to Kalamazoo to look after the college’s interests in the Turner will.
At first no will could be found, but before many weeks had passed, Mr. Cooper was able to report to the college that a will, written in Madelon Stockwell Turner’s own handwriting and dated June 24, 1909, 15 years before her death, had been found. The will was written during the administration of President Dickie.
Nearly half-a-dozen relatives, most of them cousins of Mrs. Turner, contested the will which left the bulk of her estate to Albion College and the University of Michigan. It fact, Albion was toreceive more that $300,000 and the University, $10,000. Records filed with the will in Kalamazoo County ProbateCourt show the appraised value of the estate was $338,570.93 in 1924.
Source: Gildart, Robert. Albion College, 1835-1960, A History. Chicago: Donnelley Lakeside Press, 1961.
Madelon Louisa Stockwell, 1845
NOTE: A transcript of Madelon’s journals was published by local historian Leslie Dick. See text from the journalsin source listed below.
Madelon Louisa Stockwell was born at Albion, August 9, 1845, before the State of Michigan was ten years old. When she was ten yearsold, young Maddie began writing journals. Entries from the years 1856 through 1860 exist in three small, fragile notebooks.
Madelon Stockwell was a member of Albion’s first pioneering family. In the Spring of1833, Madelon’s mother, LouisaPeabody, walked beside the ox-cart that carried her family and its possessionsfrom western New York, across Ontario, Canada, to settle at The Forks, Calhoun Country, Michigan Territory. Her grandparents, Tenney and Eleanor Peabody, built the first log house on the forks of the Kalamazoo River. They helped form the Albion Company which platted the village, setting aside land for several civic projects, including a general store, a park, a cemetery, several churches, and a seminary which later becameAlbion College. Eleanor Peabody was given the honor of naming the new village and,when others claimed her first choice of “Peabodyville” lacked euphony, Mrs. Peabody selected the name “Albion.”
When the new seminary was ready for students, Louisa Peabody attended. There she met and, in 1844, married Charles Franklin Stockwell, who had arrived the previous year to take his position as the first principal of the fledgling Wesleyan Seminary. Madelon was born the following year. Her birthplace was probably her grandfather’s farm located near the present College Court on Michigan Avenue. The rolling wheat fields of the Peabody farm extended north and east over an extensive burr oak plain, the boundaries now obscured by modern homes and industries.
The first entry in Madelon’s diary is March 28, 1856. She began as if she were taking up where shehad left off the day before. Madelon continued to keep her journals, with some minor breaks, usually in the summer months, until December, 1860. She made one final entry in January, 1863, with a promise to resume writing.
It does not appear that Madelon attended public schools, but took special classes. When she was twelve, she entered a regular course at the Wesleyan Seminary and Female Collegiate Institute, just a short walk from her home.
As Madelon prepared to become an accomplished lady, she dreamed of becoming an educated woman. But she lived in a time when the dreams of many would be deferred. She could not know that the growing threadthat would disrupt and shatter the country in war, delaying the progress of her goals for many years.
Later she married Kalamazoo attorney and lived there until her death. After a short delay, in 1924 her will was found, in which she granted $325,000 to Albion College. A cause of great celebration at that time.This money was used to build the Charlesand Louisa Stockwell Memorial Library.
Source: Dick, Leslie. A Michigan Childhood: The Journals of Madelon Louisa Stockwell 1856-1860. Albion, MI: Albion College Library and Albion Public Library. 1988.