TOWNSHIP OF SHELBY – A resident of Shelby Township has written several historical fiction books based on research he has done on his own family.
Broas Mann, of Shelby Township, keeps the trilogy he wrote up close, as it is a story based on his own great-grandfather, Levi Broas, and his trip to Michigan.
Mann has lived in Shelby Township for 30 years. He was born and raised in Detroit and received mechanical engineering degrees from the Illinois Institute of Technology and Northwestern University. He was an instructor at the Lawrence Institute of Technology, after which he had a 50-year career as a research engineer and consultant at Chrysler Corp.
“After spending three years in the US Navy, I worked for Chrysler Corp. as an automotive engineer. They overpaid me for such a fun job that I would have done it for free. I retired in 2001 after 50 years, ”said Mann.
Mann and his wife, Marion, have four children, eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, and his primary interest is in their families. He also enjoys writing and exploring genealogy. Many years of research and several visits to the town of Belding, Michigan, much of the history of the Broas family has been documented. It was this background that motivated his desire to write “The Journal of Levi Broas,” a fictional account of the family’s trip from New York to Michigan.
Mann said the book details his great-grandfather’s travels and the experiences he faced.
“’The Diary of Levi Broas’ is a largely fictional three-volume account of my great-grandfather’s journey from New York State to Michigan. He describes his family’s attempts to build a town west of Grand Rapids despite an Indian attack, the deadly fever virus and harassment from a bitter family seeking revenge for an imaginary wrong, ”said Mann.
At the start of their journey, they encounter a family fleeing the tyranny and famine of 19th century Ireland. Levi Broas and the daughter of this other family, Ruth Ann, feel an instant strong attraction, and less than a year later, they marry.
Despite battling the fever virus, a family of thieving vagabonds, and the irrational hatred of two brothers seeking to destroy them, Broas’ colony thrives and eventually becomes the center of a global manufacturing enterprise – the Belding Silk Mills. .
Mann recently published a fourth book in the Broas series on Ruth Ann.
“In the fourth book, ‘The Diary of Ruth Ann Broas’, Levi’s young wife gives her perspective on their life together and their struggles to survive in this difficult environment,” he said.
He said each book took about two years from start to publication. Ruth Ann’s book was just published in October.
He said what inspired him to write the books was the extensive research he did into his family’s background.
“For many years, I had done a lot of genealogical research, and after I retired I tried to write a factual history of my family based on the information I gathered. But I soon found out that I didn’t have enough data to do anywhere near a full book. So I decided to make up stories and sprinkle them among the facts. It was then that I discovered that I really enjoyed writing historical fiction, ”he said.
Mann’s wife died in 2014, about a year after the publication of Levi’s first volume.
Mann said there are currently no book dedications as art shows and festivals have been canceled due to COVID-19.
“But for several years before the pandemic, I participated in many such events. Not only did I sell several books, but I really enjoyed the atmosphere and met many different people, both vendors and customers. I hope to resume the signing sessions as soon as possible, ”he said.
Mann’s daughter Cathy Morris helped Mann with his books by reading them, pointing out spelling and grammar mistakes, and making some character suggestions before publication.
She said she enjoyed the books because she loved reading her family history and the couple’s experience.
“I enjoyed Broas’ books because of the information I learned about early / historical trips to and in Michigan, and the early years of living in western and central Michigan. I felt the storyline – a young couple meet, find love and struggle to survive in the Michigan wilderness – is presented in a unique way, ”Morris said.
She said she liked the main characters of Levi and Ruth as their relationship continues to develop over the books. Information about the author and his books is available at amazon.com.