Shelby Township author writes historical fiction series

By: Kara Szymanski | Shelby - Utica News | Published November 19, 2020

 Shelby Township author Broas Mann displays some of the books he has written.

Shelby Township author Broas Mann displays some of the books he has written.

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SHELBY TOWNSHIP — A Shelby Township resident has written several books of historical fiction based on research that he did into his own family.

Broas Mann, of Shelby Township, holds the trilogy he wrote close, as it is a story based on his own great-grandfather, Levi Broas, and his journey to Michigan.

Mann has lived in Shelby Township for 30 years. He was born and raised in Detroit and obtained mechanical engineering degrees from the Illinois Institute of Technology and Northwestern University. He was an instructor at Lawrence Institute of Technology, after which he enjoyed a 50-year career as a research engineer and consultant with Chrysler Corp.

“After a three-year stint in the U.S. Navy, I worked for Chrysler Corp. as an automotive engineer. They overpaid me for a job that was so much fun, 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 centers on their family. He also enjoys writing and exploring genealogy. From many years of research and several visits to the town of Belding, Michigan, much of the Broas family history was documented. It is this background that prompted his desire to write “The Journal of Levi Broas,” a fictional account of the family’s journey from New York to Michigan.

Mann said the book details the travels of his great-grandfather and the experiences he faced.

“‘The Journal of Levi Broas’ is a mostly fictional three-volume account of my great-grandfather’s journey from New York state to Michigan. It describes his family’s attempts to build a town west of Grand Rapids despite an Indian attack, the deadly ague virus and harassment by a bitter family seeking revenge for an imagined wrong,” said Mann.

Early in their journey, they meet a family fleeing the tyranny and famine of 19th century Ireland. Levi Broas and this other family’s daughter, Ruth Ann, feel a strong, instant attraction, and within a year, they are married.

Despite battling the ague virus, a thieving family of vagabonds and the irrational hatred of two brothers out to destroy them, the Broas settlement thrives and eventually becomes the center of a worldwide  manufacturing business — the Belding Silk Mills.”

Mann recently released a fourth book in the Broas series about Ruth Ann.

“In the fourth book, ‘The Journal of Ruth Ann Broas,’ Levi’s young wife gives her view of their life together and of their struggles to survive in that harsh environment,” he said.

He said each book took about two years from start to publication. The Ruth Ann book was just published in October.

He said that what inspired him to write the books was the in-depth research he had done on his family’s background.

“Over many years, I had done a lot of genealogical research, and after retirement, I tried to write a factual history of my family based on the information I had gathered. But I soon discovered that I did not have enough data to make anywhere near a full-length book. So I decided to make up stories and sprinkle them among the facts. That’s when I discovered that I really enjoy writing historical fiction,” he said.

Mann’s wife died in 2014, about a year after he had published the first Levi volume.

Mann said there are currently no book signings going on, since art shows and festivals have been canceled due to COVID-19.

“But for several years before the pandemic, I took part in many such events. I not only sold several books but thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and meeting many different kinds of people, both vendors and customers. I hope to get back to book signings as soon as possible,” he said.

Cathy Morris, Mann’s daughter, helped Mann with his books by reading them, pointing out spelling and grammatical errors, and making some suggestions about characters before publication.

She said she enjoyed the books because she loved reading about her family history and the experience the couple went through.

“I enjoyed the Broas books because of the information I learned about early/historical travel to and within Michigan, and early life in west/central Michigan. I felt the storyline — young couple meet, find love and struggle to survive in the wilderness of Michigan — was presented in a unique way,” said Morris.

She said she loved the main characters of Levi and Ruth, as their relationship continues to grow throughout the books. Information on the author and his books can be found at amazon.com.

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