parmelee, indian cemetery
Parmelee Gravestone, Indian Cemetery in Old Mission | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Stephen Lewis
Stephen Lewis

Old Mission Peninsula author Stephen Lewis has penned a sequel to his 2005 book “Murder on Old Mission,” a historical fiction novel which crafts a story around the well-known Peninsula family, the Parmelees.

The sequel, “Murder Undone,” takes up the story after Parmelee is convicted and ends with his release from prison in 1915.

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A book launch event for “Murder Undone” will be held at Peninsula Grill, 14091 Center Road on the Old Mission Peninsula, on Sunday, Jan. 29, from 3 to 5 p.m. Light refreshments will be served, and books will be available for purchase and signing.

About “Murder on Old Mission” and “Murder Undone”

murder on old mission, stephen lewis, old mission authors
Murder on Old Mission by Stephen Lewis | Mission Point Press

“Murder on Old Mission”

In 1895, Woodruff Parmelee, the son of a prominent Old Mission Peninsula fruit farmer, was convicted of murdering Julia Curtis, his pregnant mistress. His son supported his alibi that he was clearing a new road toward West Bay while Julia’s body was found in the hemlock swamp across from East Bay.

Yet Parmelee was still convicted and sentenced to life in prison at Jackson State Penitentiary. Parmelee was in his 40s, twice Julia’s age, already twice married and recently divorced from his second wife. His checkered history no doubt influenced the jury that convicted him.

“Murder Undone”

Murder Undone, stephen lewis, old mission authors
Murder Undone by Stephen Lewis | Mission Point Press

In this follow-up, Lewis reveals a startling fact. In spite of the sensational nature of the crime, Parmelee was released from prison in 1915 after the direct intervention of then Governor Woodbridge Ferris (after whom the state university is named). Although no new evidence had emerged to determine exactly how Julia died, this sequel provides a fictional answer to the puzzling intervention of the governor 20 years after Parmelee’s conviction.

“Murder Undone” tells this story largely from the perspective of the same son who testified at the trial. Lewis also writes a dramatic parallel plot line of the copper mining strike culminating in the Italian Hall Tragedy in 1913, when 70 people, mostly children, were trampled to death in the panic caused by a false cry of fire at a Christmas party for the striking miners. The governor was involved in both the strike and Parmelee’s pardon, his oversight tying the two plot actions together.

Both “Murder on Old Mission” and “Murder Undone” are published by Mission Point Press. “Murder on Old Mission” has recently been re-issued by the publisher. To buy the books, click through these links:

Aaron Stander, bestselling author of the Ray Elkins Thriller series, has this to say about the sequel: “In Murder Undone, master craftsman and storyteller Stephen Lewis guides the reader through a richly woven tapestry of time, place, and character. This historical narrative set in the early years of the 20th century transports the reader from northwest lower Michigan through the halls of power in Lansing, the prison yard in Jackson, LaSalle Street law offices, lumber camps, and Michigan’s copper country – then torn by labor unrest. It is a superb sequel to Lewis’s earlier novel, Murder on Old Mission.”

About Stephen Lewis

Lewis (who is my brother-in-law) lives on the Old Mission Peninsula not far from a local, private cemetery where the Parmelees, except for Woodruff, are buried. He is married to award-winning short story writer Carolyn Johnson Lewis (my sister), whose father, local historian Walter Johnson (my dad), first introduced him to the Parmelee/Curtis case.

For more about Stephen Lewis and his work, visit his website or email [email protected].

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

To keep the Gazette going, click here to make a donation. Thank you so much for your support. -jb

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