Family Almanac


In my pleasure reading I’ve recently picked up a number of books** that explore the idea that one decision or act can change the course of a life or lives and as a genealogist it sparks my imagination… what choices and decisions lead to my existence? I’ll never know most of them but every time I can find a little more information it’s a little victory.

Martha Ward Garbutt had some hand in raising my 2nd Great Grandmother Flora Jane Massy. I would dearly love to know how Flora ended up in Canada. As I’ve mentioned before, the gap in my research on her life spans from the 1870 Census when she lived in Detroit, Michigan with her mother, Augusta (Cory) Massy, and 1881 when she was enumerated as the youngest Garbutt child. Whatever the story, the Garbutt family made a home for Flora. And it’s through this connection that she met and married into the Packer family—Martha’s 5th child, Mary, married Cornelius’s older brother, Thomas, in 1875. And there’s more than enough photographic evidence that the families all remained in touch long after my 2nd Great Grandparents came to Grand Rapids in 1891.

Martha Ward Garbutt, c. late 1912So, on this 195th anniversary of the birth of Martha (Ward) Garbutt, I’d like to say thank you for whatever role she had in my existence. Martha was born in England to John and Jane (Spenceley) Ward in 1818 and married William Garbutt on 30 Nov 1839. They started their family in Pickering, in North Yorkshire (per the 1851 England Census) but the family immigrated to Woodstock, Ontario, Canada prior to 1855 when Mary was born. They were the parents of eight children. Martha outlived her husband by about 18 years and lived out her last years with Mary and Thomas Packer. She died at home, just over a month shy of her 95th birthday, on 12 Mar 1913.

This photo-postcard was sent to my 2nd Great Grandparents at Christmas in 1911 or 1912. One of my cousins shared it with me and it was one of those great finds that makes the rest of the pieces fall into place. It’s inscribed to “Curly and Flo” (Cornelius and Flora Packer) from Mary with the note, “don’t you think Grandma looks real nice for one nearly 94 years.”

Happy hunting,

Jess

** Ex. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson, Strange Attractors by Charles Soule

Shea menYesterday marked the 80th Anniversary of the death of my Great Grandfather Robert James Shea. I’ve talked about him a great deal on the blog so follow the links for more information.  He died of complications from tuberculosis at Kalamazoo State Hospital on 23 Apr 1933.

Robert is the dark haired bloke seated up front, a believe that is his father, Cornelius,beside him on the bench. I think the others are Earl (at the head of the wagon) and George sitting up on the back.

For more on Robert Shea check out these posts: 24 Sep 201122 Oct 2011

Happy hunting,

Jess

Ethel & Donald Keen, Valentine's Day 2001So my Gran has managed to cram a whole lot of life events into one week and today’s is the anniversary of her making a slightly more honest man of my Step-Grandfather, Donald Keen. They tied the knot on Valentine’s Day at The Hitching Post, in Las Vegas, NV in 2001 after about 17 years together.

Happy hunting,

Jess

This young lady’s celebrating her birthday this week!

Grandma EthelHappy Birthday, Grandma!

Happy hunting,

Jess

 

This young couple celebrated their nuptials 62 years ago today.

This photo was taken the following year.

Grandparents,1952Happy hunting,

Jess

Elnora (York) Trotter, c. mid-1940s

We’ll miss you, Grandma!

Elnora (York) Trotter, 1926-2013

Mother, Grandmother, Great-Grandmother

Enjoy the time you have and ask questions while you can!

Jess

Today is the 35th anniversary of the Blizzard of 1978 which evidently I got to see. It dumped 19.3 inches of snow on Lansing, Michigan in two days after the region had already been hit by snow earlier in the week. The end result looked like this on our block.

Happy hunting,

Jess

    

Last week was the anniversary of my 2nd Great Aunt Ethel Augusta Packer who died just short of her 23th birthday in September of 1900. She carried the name of her Grandmother Augusta (Cory) Massy and in turn is the person my Grandmother was named after. This picture might be her. Of the Packer kids she was the second child with Pearl coming next. Evelyn, the eldest died at 9 months. My Great Grand other Cora wasn’t born until 1892—the year they moved to the United States and this was taken in Woodstock, Ontario. So, I suspect that this is either Ethel or Pearl. Though, to confuse matters Photographers of Ontario notes that Alfred Spinks, the photographer, bought his brother out of the Woodstock Studio in 1894 after the family moved to the US. I may never know which Packer girl this is.

Happy hunting,

Jess

This is another find from the Rockford Area Historical Museum.

Today marks 170 years since my 4th Great Grandparents Dr. Charles Morrill Holden and Sarah Ann Skiff married in Reading Center, Yates County, New York. This is an invitation to their 40th anniversary party but they celebrated 56 years of marriage before Charles died in 1898.

Happy hunting,

Jess

This is a somewhat arbitrary fact pulled from my database program, given I’m still missing a bunch of birth dates. But with the dates that I do know, there are just short of 200 people born in September. And more importantly, there are nine people who have birthdays today—and three of those are very important people in my life: my Grandpa Bill would have turned 84, and my Great Aunts, June and Donna are both celebrating birthdays today.

    

For some reason I couldn’t find a nice 1960s shot of Aunt June.

The honorable mentions of the day are all more distant relatives:

  • Elizabeth Botruff (the sister-in-law of my 4th Great Aunt Livina Botruff)
  • Fannie Eldred (the 2nd wife of my 3rd Great Uncle Floyd Clifton Porter, Charles’s brother)
  • Peter Lorne Chesney (the grandnephew of my 3rd Great Aunt Sarah Maria (Packer) Chesney)
  • Peter Dowdall (the  first cousin once removed of my 2nd Great Grandmother Ellen (Cunningham) Shea)
  • George Delbert Covell (my 2nd Cousin, four times removed)
  • Robert John Rennick (an honorary nephew of my Great Grandmother Flora Packer)

Happy Birthday to you all!

Jess

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