February 2014


Roseanne Lee Trotter JohnsonSaturday, March 1st, will mark the 102 anniversary of the birth of my Great Aunt Roseanna Lee Trotter Johnson. She was born in 1912 in Bradley County, Arkansas and married Leroy Johnson in 1932. This photo was one shared with my father prior to a recent Trotter family reunion.

Happy hunting,

Jess

P.S. Sharp-eyed Bradley County researchers, check out the picture in the upper left-hand corner. I swear I’ve seen that posted somewhere. It’s not something I’ve found in my collection.

Since I’ve already spent a great deal of time on my Grandmother’s parents (Robert and Cora (Packer) Shea) I’d like to explore some of their close family as the year progresses starting with Gran’s Aunt Retta Shea Brooks.

Loretta SheaLoretta M. Shea was my Great Grandfather’s oldest sibling. She was born 10 months after him on October 13, 1889 in New York State, possibly while the family was visiting her father, Cornelius Shea’s family. She grew up with her siblings in Empire Township, Leelanau County, Michigan. In the 1910 Census she was still living at home but was working as a teacher in the public schools. The family then appears in the 1911 directory for Traverse City where Retta worked as a clerk at Steinberg Brothers, dry goods store.

Four years later she married William Ralph Brooks in Frankfort, Benzie County, Michigan. Ralph was the son of Cook and Martha (Snell) Brooks of Benzie and then Grand Traverse County, Michigan where Cook labored in and later owned his own farm. Interestingly the couple started their family immediately with the birth of Donna Marian Brooks, in Woodson Virginia. I have no idea why they were there but multiple sources say Marian was born in Virginia. By June of 1917, when Ralph filled out his World War I Draft Card, they were settled in Traverse City, Grand Traverse County, Michigan, where Ralph worked as a carpenter.

By the 1920 Census they had moved to Kent County and settled near Loretta’s family in Grand Rapids, Michigan where Ralph worked as a carpenter for one of the many furniture factories and their next two children Ralph Jr. and Jack were born. By the 1930 Census the couple owned their own home and had added Lucille, Wayne, Doris and Mary Kathleen. By 1936 the family had moved out to a rural part of Grattan Township, Kent County and added their last children Glenn in 1931 and Clare Ellen in September of 1936 (who sadly died a scant 18 weeks later). In the city directories I’ve looked at so far, it appears that the couple moved back into Grand Rapids and throughout the 1940s and as late as 1960 they were listed as living at 43 Stewart Street SW.

Ralph Sr. died 30 April 1963 and was laid to rest at Resurrection Cemetery, Wyoming Township, Kent County, Michigan. Aunt Retta died in April 1975 and was laid to rest beside him.

Any Brooks researchers out there? I’d love to know why both Aunt Retta and her daughter were born out of state.

Happy hunting!

Jess

Note:  The photo is cropped from this larger family portrait.

Trotters, c1980

The 93rd anniversary of Grandpa Levie’s birth is coming up this week. I love his smile in this picture—enough to post it despite my expression. Yes, I’m the put-upon looking child on the left followed by Grandma Trotter, my older cousin, Grandpa, and my brother. This was taken in late 1979 or early 1980 at my parents’ home in Lansing, Michigan.

I have found the magic formula to get some of you to talk to me… post a picture and misidentify the people!

So this is actually my Great Grandfather Harrison and his half-sister Cora,  in the foreground—not my Great Grandmother Rhoda as I posted at the beginning of the month.

Harrison Trotter and Cora (Trotter) Steppes

This, however, is my Great Grandmother. She is the older woman in the cat glasses pictured with a few of her children,  including my Grandfather Levie immediately behind her.

Rhoda (Rogers) Trotter & Children

Keep correcting me. Really!

Happy hunting!

Jess

The Johnson’s—I never thought I’d make so much progress but time, careful research, and connecting with fellow researchers and distant cousins have given me great insights into  this family of English immigrants.

Richard & Sarah Johnson

Richard Johnson is my 4th Great Grandfather. He was born 1 September in 1805 in Horsey, Norfolk, England, the son of Richard and Elizabeth (Richmond) Johnson, and baptized in 8 September. He married my 4th Great Grandmother Sarah Suffling (or Surfling) on 23 August 1827 in Lessingham, Norfolk. They had the first of four children in May of 1830—my 3rd Great Grandfather William Suffling Johnson. Then followed Matthew Suffling in 1833, Mary Elizabeth in 1836, and John Suffling in 1838.

At the time of the 1841 Census the couple was settled in Horsey Next the Sea (northwest of Yarmouth) where Richard was listed as a labourer. At the time of William White’s Hstory, Gazetteer, and Directory of Norfolk in 1845 Richard was listed as a local fish dealer. By 1848 William and Matthew had booked passage to the United States. And in 1851 the remaining Johnsons were one of several families in Johnson’s Corner, Horsey, Norfolk. There Richard was listed as a fisherman and his nephew, Richard, and his family were enumerated in the household.

The family left England in late 1851 and by the time of the 1855 New York State Census they had settled into farming in Carlton, Orleans County, New York where Robert and Sarah lived out the reminder of their lives. That year William and Matthew moved to Michigan, William settling first in Solon, Kent County and Matthew moving to Barry County. John followed them later settling in Barry County near Matthew. Mary married Robert Woolsten and remained near her parents in Orleans County, New York. Richard died 24 Jan 1874 and was laid to rest in Otter Creek Cemetery, Gaines Twp, New York.

Much of this information was found with the aid of my distant cousins Dawn and Marcia—one a descendant of Richard’s son Matthew and the other from his daughter Mary Elizabeth.

Happy hunting!

Jess

 Someone will be celebrating a birthday this weekend. Have a great one, Gran!

Grandma EthelHappy hunting,

Jess

 

As I’ve mentioned in passing before, Levi Hampton is not (to my knowledge) a direct line ancestor but he has been at the center of my research on the Trotter and Johnson families.

Levi Hampton was born into slavery around 1835 in Alabama according to most Census records. His direct descendants pass down a story that he was used as a “Stud” by slave owners and possibly belonged to a plantation owner named Graham but I haven’t been able to verify that. By the time of the 1870 Census he was married to a woman named Sally and had 5 children in their household: Homer, Edward, John, Willie, and Lottie. According to the paperwork associated with his Homestead Application he settles a plot of land in or around January of 1873 and formally applied for the land in September 1884 under the Homestead Act of 1862.

Sally died sometime between the birth of daughter Anna (born in 1876 according to the 1880 Census) and his second marriage to the woman I believe to be my 2nd Great Aunt (and sister to Josephine), Jane Johnson, on 05 Nov 1877. The 1880 Census also enumerated a widowed daughter Mary Hampton. But my guess is that she is actually a daughter-in-law by way of Levi’s son Homer.

Levi Hampton PatentIn September of 1890 Levi testified in the process to prove his claim to the Palestine homestead and the land patent was signed in July of 1891. His testimony also stated that he regularly voted, and a 1905 Poll Tax list for Palestine Township show him as paid in full and qualified to vote.

I have been unable to find Levi’s family in the 1900 and 1920 Census, but the 1910 Census, shows a daughter probably with Jane, Lou Hampton, as well as his nephew (and my Great Grandfather) Harrison Trotter.

I also have a transcription of Levi’s will written in 1916 which names five living children: Ed, John, Willie, Lottie Sims and Orrie Nelson (I’m pretty sure this is Annie Hampton who married John Nelson). He also willed to Harrison Trotter “the small old field southwest of my house on the west 80 acres”—the site of the Trotter Homestead I featured last post.

I know there’s more to know about the Hampton/Johnson/Trotter ties but for now I feel I’ve hit a brick wall—at least until I can get out on the road and locate more Arkansas records.

Happy hunting!

Jess

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