Family Almanac


I now feel like I have just enough of a backlog of digital images to participate in the meme “Tombstone Tuesday”… so, the next up is in honor of my Great Great Grandmother who was laid to rest 84 years ago yesterday.

This is the headstone for my Great Great Grandmother Lena Grove (Baker) Johnson. She was the 5th child and youngest daughter of Eugene and Amelia (Grove) Baker born 16 Apr 1884. At the age of 18 she married William Amos Johnson, the youngest son of William Suffling and Mary (Gordon) Johnson. The family spent a number of years in Traverse City, Michigan where William worked as a plumber but in 1923 they moved back to Rockford, Michigan. She died five years later on 03 Sep 1928 after a six month illness leaving one grown son, Robert Eugene, and a 10 year old daughter, Betty Lou.

Lena is buried with her husband in the Rockford Cemetery, in Rockford, Michigan. When you take the main entrance to the cemetery if you follow the center path and take the next left the Johnson plot will be on the left hand side of the path. Interestingly on my last trip the stones were essentially in the right location but up out of the ground beside their normal spots. Given the tremendous shifting over the years I’m not terribly surprised.

Happy hunting,

Jess

This week marks both the anniversary of my birth and, unfortunately, the anniversary of my Grandpa Bill’s death. Luckily, we overlapped briefly. And since I am likely to scrounge up baby pictures of others around their birthdays I thought fair’s fair. So, here we are.

I am thrilled to say someone in my family had enough money to make the pages of several county histories—including pictures—giving me a bunch of good (if occasionally confusing) leads to track the family back and I am extremely thankful considering we’re talking about a man with the highly original name of William Johnson. He was my 3rd Great Grandfather and today is his 182 birthday.

William Johnson is a great example of the inconsistencies in family stories as their shared over the years. From Chapman’s History of Kent County (1881) I learned that he was born May 8, 1930 in Norfolk, England and he came to America with his brother Matthew when he was eighteen(p. 685). From A. W. Bowen’s 1900 City of Grand Rapids and Kent County I learned he was sixteen when he crossed the Atlantic alone and settled in the Empire State until he came to Kent County in 1854 (p. 793-794). And according to Grand Rapids and Kent County, Michigan (1918) William lived in Orleans County, New York until 1852 when he came to Solon Township (p. 261). All a little contradictory… but certainly worth looking into.

Here’s what I think I know… William was born on May 8, 1830 in Horsey-Next-the-Sea, Norfolk, England to Richard and Sarah (Suffling) Johnson. He did cross from England and neither he nor his brother Matthew was listed in their father’s household as of the 1851 Census for Horsey, Norfolk, England. I haven’t been able to isolate either on a passenger list but by 1855 the family was reunited and enumerated in the stats census for Orleans County, New York, though the household had added their cousin Elizabeth (Gibbs), who married Matthew in 1854. In October of 1855 William married Mary Gordon of Kent County, Michigan and the pair started their family on a farm in Solon Township. In the 18 years they lived there they had 10 children (5 died young) the youngest surviving child was my 2nd Great Grandfather William Amos Johnson.

William was a successful farmer and served his community as one of the organizers of Solon Township and Township Treasurer. The family removed to 160 acres in Section 30 of Cannon Township in 1873 and there William continued to be involved with his community serving again as Township Treasurer and giving generously to support and advance the congregation of West Cannon Baptist Church. William died December 24, 1908 and was laid to rest at Cannon Cemetery.

Everything in the histories gave me new source material to look into and a rough time frame to work with—and I needed it. As it happens not only is William Johnson one of the most common names in my family but there was a second highly successful William Johnson family in the Rockford area during the same period as my own.

So, don’t forget to check out local histories. You never know what you might find. Seriously, check out the picture of William and Mary from a 1907 county atlas  (p. 129). It was a fabulous surprise when I found it.

Happy hunting,

Jess

Today is my Uncle Christopher’s Birthday… and I miss him! He was always great with his nieces and nephews.

So, in the process of trying to track down a set of pictures this past Sunday I went through a lot of papers. Blessedly, I got rid of a lot in the process but then again I don’t really feel like I made a dent. However, I did come across material I hope to share on the blog as time permits and first up is this timely find.

I have no idea about the whereabouts of the original of this picture. This is a scan of a scan—almost certainly printed on my old inkjet printer and thus losing even more definition. But regardless, this is my Great Grandfather Harrison Trotter who was born in Johnsville, Bradley County, Arkansas, 122 years ago today. To the best of my knowledge he was the youngest child of Sam and Josie (Johnson) Trotter but was raised largely in the household of his Uncle and Aunt, Levi and Janie (Johnson) Hampton. He had at least 5 full siblings: Henry, Susan, Pearlie, Matt, and Belle plus 3 more half siblings: Sarah and Richard (Mother, Maggie Goodlock) and Cora (Mother, Etta Stanfield). He married Rhoda Rogers in 1911 and they had 15 children included my Grandpa (Levie) Trotter. He was a farmer and lived out his life in Bradley County. He died April 9, 1975 at Pine Lodge Nursing Home, in Warren, Arkansas.

Note to any Trotters and Allied family out there: If any of you have seen the original of this picture could you let me know? I think it may be cropped from a larger shot. And, while I’m throwing questions out there, does anyone know why he was called “Papa Monk”?

Happy hunting,

Jess

102 years ago today the Census takers were passing through Palestine Township, Bradley County, Arkansas. This is the entry for the family of Moses Wheeler, my 2nd Great Grandfather. His wife Josie Avery was his 2nd wife.

Moses was a farmer all of his life. He was born in 1862, the son of Isaac and Sicie Wheeler. In the 1870 Census he was listed with his parents and four siblings. In 1880 he is still at home with his parents but in 1882 he married Candes Thompson. By 1900 he is on his second marriage and the first six of at least 12 children were born. With Candes he had at least four children: Sallie, Louis, Joseph, and Amzi. The eldest child, Sallie, is my great grandmother who became the third wife of Philip Henry York in 1913. Candes died sometime between 1892 and 1894. Moses married Josie in December of 1894. They had at least six children including: Isaiah, Moses, Lizzie, William, Mary, and Simon. He also had two children out of wedlock: Wilson “Buddy” Wheeler and my uncle, John W. Newton (with Miss Becky Newton).

Moses and Josie both died in February of 1948. Josie had “worked herself ill” caring for Moses (who possibly had Alzheimer’s or some kind of dementia) and he died 4 days later. They had a double funeral service and were buried at Palestine Cemetery. It’s something that my Grandmother remembered clearly. She wasn’t able to attend the service because she’d just had her first child.

I was also able to locate the couple in the 1940 Census living with a son–I’m guessing Isaiah? It looks like “Iz” to me.

Happy Hunting,

Jess

Today is the 165th Anniversary of my 3rd Great Grandparents wedding. On 25 April 1847 Joseph Packer married Harriet Vaughan at St. Margaret’s Church in Rainham, Kent, England witnessed by Joseph’s brother, Charles and sister, Mercy. The couple lived to celebrate 59 years of marriage. They were the parents of at least seven children: William James, Thomas William Horton, Joseph Malcolm Ross, Sara Maria, Charles, Cornelius, and Albert A. The family lived in Kent; Ontario, Canada; and finally in the United States.  The couple completed their lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Happy Hunting,

Jess

Another miss in my sequin haze… Saturday marked the 185 Anniversary of my 3rd Great Grandfather Joseph Packer’s birth. I introduced a bit of his story on the occasion of his wife, Harriett Vaughan’s birthday back in January. To give you a little more on Joseph, he was born on April 7, 1827 in Rainham, Kent, England. He was the son of Thomas Swissenton Packer and Hannah Ross. He and Harriett married 1847. In the 1851 Census he was listed as a brickmaker in the Village of Gillingham at Kent. The family lived at Malcomb Place in Sittingbourne during the 1861 Census. By 1871 they were settled in Ontario, Canada. Around 1891 the family came to Michigan. Joseph died February 19, 1911 in Grand Rapids, Michigan in the United States.

Happy hunting!

Jess

P.s. Denise, If you see this before I get my act together! I fully intend on writing back. But until then: Yes, I’m still happily tracking our Packers and Masseys!

My only excuse is that sequins are taking a toll on my blog. But I’ve largely finished my sewing project and I’m only a day late in celebrating the 208th birthday of my 5th Great Grandfather.

Smith Lapham was born in Rhode Island, April 8, 1804 the son of Job and Ada (Smith) Lapham. As I’ve mentioned before, Squire Lapham was one of the settlers of Rockford (originally called Laphamville) in Kent County, Michigan, in 1845. He built a mill on the Rogue River in 1844 and ran it for 20 years, served as Village Council President, Township Supervisor, Postmaster, and Justice of the Peace. His son Embree, noted that he met with the gathering “Under the Oaks” at which the Michigan Republican Party was formed in 1854, and he went on to serve Kent County as a State Representative (1855-56) and State Senator (1857-58). Smith lived to celebrate 58 years of marriage to Katherine Gilbert and the couple raised 9 children. He was an entrepreneur, a leader, and a poet.

This image is scanned from From Sawmill to City: The Long Years Passing – a Story of Rockford, Michigan by Homer L. Burch. I am not sure of the location of the original. It may be at the Rockford Branch. I am more aware of a copy on display at Rockford Historical Museum.

Happy belated birthday, Grandfather!

And happy hunting to you all!

Jess

Today is the 12oth Anniversary of the birth of my Great Grandmother Cora Packer Shea.

Happy Hunting,

Jess

« Previous PageNext Page »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 355 other followers