Roadtrips


I did make it out to Howell this past week—despite cough and winter weather advisories—to check out the Howell Carnegie District Library and more specifically visit its Archives. I had a great time going through boxes of materials on the Michigan State Sanatorium which gave me even more insight into that institution. And some wonderfully illustrative material which I think will bring it to life better for my relatives.

I also noted earlier that my 4th Great Grandfather was listed in one of the online indexes for the Archives. He was listed because they have indexed all Livingston County Civil War Veterans and Henry R. Massy was a replacement soldier for a Hartland, Michigan draftee. So I didn’t really find new information there but it gave me the chance to better study the information offered in the regimental histories created by the state of Michigan.

The volunteers were fabulously helpful gentleman with interesting stories about the more recent history of the hospital (before it was demolished) and about fellow researchers. And the collection looks like it could be a gold mine for researchers with Livingston County roots. Also, the building itself is lovely, with an ornate Carnegie façade, and an unobtrusive modern addition off the back including space for the fiction and non-fiction collections on one floor and an enviable children’s and teen area on the lower floor.

It was definitely a worthwhile road trip!

Happy Hunting,

Jess

8 Miles to Coons Clothing Store, HowellSo, assuming I can breathe comfortably without coughing fits, I will be heading over to the Howell Carnegie District Library this week for a little more research on the Michigan State Sanatorium for Tuberculosis. As noted in previous posts, both of my Grandmother’s parents did a stint there, and though their patient dates don’t actually match up—the family story is that they met there.

I’ve been doing a bit of research up front to try and figure out what I’d like to look at. I’ve spent a little time making a list of items that show up on MeLCat, the Michigan eLibrary shared catalog that can be used for interlibrary loan or to just figure out who has what in state. It includes some archival collections including the Michigan State Sanatorium Hillcrest Center collection, 1907-1990 and the Michigan State Sanatorium photograph collection 1917-1957—both of which cover the period when my great-grandparents were patients.

In addition to the material listed on MeL, the Howell Carnegie District Library has a nice newly updated website that includes a set of searchable collection indexes on their archives page. Somewhat idly, I decided to look at the scrapbook indexes and happened to zero in on a relative’s name—it wasn’t either of the grandparents I was hoping to research there. Instead, there is a listing for my 3rd Great Grandfather, Henry R. Massey, who was a replacement soldier for a Hartland resident… You never know where you’ll find things.

So I have a plan… now I just need to get rid of the cold.

Happy hunting,

Jess

Photo: 8 Miles to Coons in Howell, MI: I can’t identify the women but the men are both Sheas. The younger one on the left is probably Dick Shea and the gentleman on the right is my Great-grandfather Robert Shea. I have numerous shots around this sign so my guess based on people subbing in and out of them is that my grandmother actually took the picture. It is from the collection of my Great Aunt.

Organized bus trip rule #1: At least 30 minutes before the bus leaves you will find the most fabulous source that you do not have time to get through or photocopy or the person in front of you at the copier will be copying the whole book, or… You get the picture. It’s Murphy’s Law applied to genealogy.

This rule was explained to me by my fellow WMGS members on my first trip to Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne a few years ago and, in general, it rings true. But I somehow always think that if I plan well enough I won’t get caught. And come Thursday morning, I genuinely thought I had a good enough plan that I wouldn’t have a problem getting finished before the bus left. So, imagine my horror at 2 pm when I realized that the 2 volume source I really wanted to go through would not be doable in the allotted time—I did the math. I had possible family on all but maybe 10 pages in each. I could, of course, copy the entire book but the last vestiges of my time working for a copyright librarian reared its head. So, now I have another set of books on my purchase wish list and at the top of my “To Do List” for the next trip. The impatient part of me wants to order them now in the hopes that they’ll clear up every bit of confusion I have about the Dice/Theis and Koppenhöfer families (not likely…but still).

But it was a relatively successful couple of days. I have a better idea about this particular set of clustered families that moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio and then a smaller batch moved on to Will County, IL. I’m not sure I’ll ever find out why my 3rd Great Grandfather was down in Will County to meet his wife (as opposed to Rockford with the rest of his family) but I feel like I’ve taken a few strong steps to understanding this branch. And the Johnson’s should note that they’re even more German than they originally thought—as the Dice, Koppenhaver, Besore, and (I’m guessing) the Grove families are probably all Palatine Immigrants.

Happy hunting,

Jess

My trip to Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana with members of Western Michigan Genealogical Society has totally snuck up on me. So, I’m taking time out for the next two evenings to prep. For me, that means making a long list of titles and call numbers to have for that first day—generally focusing on two or three branches of the family.

Last trip was spent mostly on the Massy family and while I still want to assemble a list of materials related to them, I am very interested in spending time on some of my other lines. For example, after that interesting session at FGS2011 on Wisconsin research, I’d like to take some time on my Cunningham and Byrne family (my Great Grandpa Robert Shea’s maternal grandparents)—with the eventual plan to add a roadtrip there. And I’ve also been trying to spend a bit of time on the Grove family of Will Co, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania—the line of my 3rd great grandmother who married Smith Lapham’s grandson, Eugene Smith Baker. Then there’s the Morningstars, Helsels, Trotters, Rogers… Did I mention I wanted to limit it to a two or three branches?

So, evidently I’m going in a little unfocused. But I will have options and I will be prepared to start in a section as soon as we arrive, versus spending the first hour working on the catalog. That said, I may totally change my mind on the bus ride to Fort Wayne and go off in a totally different direction—I am one of those contrary women.

Regardless, more than anything, I’m looking forward to relatively uninterrupted time to work on genealogy.

I’ll let you know what I find!

Jess

Once year I go on a trip with my parents and grandmother and occasionally I highjack our vacation briefly for a bit of family history related fun. One example would be the nifty picture up top (in the blog banner) of Mom and Gran wandering around Maple Grove Cemetery, in Glen Arbor, MI when I wanted to photograph the headstones of Gran’s Shea relatives there. But this year I didn’t drag them to a cemetery, library, or museum… No, this year I politely asked if on a cold, rainy day we might spend some time wandering through an antiques store. So, we decided to wander through the 4 floors of Wilson Antiques in Traverse City, Michigan.

Going through such a large store with such a wide variety of eras and styles represented seemed to be a fun diversion for everyone as they wandered through rooms saying, “I remember someone having that,” or ”That looks so familiar” or “That’s an antique? I used to have that.” And it got people talking and thinking about childhoods, grandparents, and more. It’s funny… I’m not sure they all get how much fun I had just walking through with them—sometimes sticking close to my Mother and Gran, other times wandering through with my Dad—but always enjoying listening to them comment on what they were seeing.

It was a fabulous morning, both perusing the store and enjoying the stories and exclamations, but the bonus moment for me actually came the next day when my father had me pull up a picture that he’d remembered of his recently deceased brother in a stroller very similar to one we’d seen at Wilson’s. Dad doesn’t often get involved in my genealogy research but sometimes he surprises me with pictures or stories. It was the cap to a fantastic trip. Thank you guys!

Happy Hunting,

Jess

I took a very short road trip today with a run out to the Archives of Michigan to do a little research using their Naturalization records. For those of you not familiar with these, the State Archives has made this very easy for many researchers with great online finding aids for many of the counties in Michigan, with one notable exception—and of course the one I have the most relatives in—Wayne County (which is not to say they’re not trying). So, I went with a few names with exact index information that I just wanted to print or copy and a few names that I knew I’d have to work for—if I was lucky enough to find anything.

Interestingly enough, it became a bit of a lesson in being prepared and flexible. When I arrived I was behind another researcher who was fairly certain that the rules about not taking in coats, pens, etc. didn’t apply to him, which was a tad uncomfortable to watch the attendant have to deal with—though she was great. But it made me think about some of the other places I’ve researched lately and some of the encounters I’ve witnessed… and the librarian in me couldn’t help but take over for this post.

I’m sure I’m preaching to the converted (mostly) but as a researcher, a librarian and someone who has more than once worked in situations such as these:

  • It works a lot better for all involved if you know what you’re looking for—go in with a few solid goals or record groups to work with.
  • Know the rules of the place you’re visiting (and follow them)—including be aware of what they allow you to bring in.
  • Be patient—even the best staffed institutions can be overwhelmed with researchers and most places, due to the economy, are not staffed or equipped optimally for demand.

Many places have clearly laid out rules and a lot of collection information on their websites. Most have email and you can request rules and inquire about records ahead of time if you can’t find them online. And, of course, telephones work too.

None of this is new… but it doesn’t hurt to throw this out into the aether as a friendly reminder.

As it happened, there was a pretty large group already working on readers and printers so, I wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped to be. But it was easy enough to make arrangements to leave my list and have the copies mailed to me. Plus, I did hit on one of my Wayne County folk—needless to say it wasn’t H. R. Massy—but it appears my 5th Great Uncle, Captain Rowland Hill Alison, did start his naturalization paperwork in Wayne County.

Happy (and respectful) hunting!

Jess

So, day three was a little more relaxed. If one compared my post and the conference schedule you might notice that somewhere along the way yesterday I missed a session. Well, today it was two. I was admittedly suffering a little from overload but I also spent a few hours helping to man the booth for the Michigan Genealogical Council. It gave me a chance to interact with people in the Exhibit Hall and, in my spare time, work on organizing my thoughts about all the interesting information I had been given this week.

Session-wise, I attended Tony Burroughs’ presentation on documents available from before the Chicago Fire—adding Chicago to my Roadtrip Wish List. I went to a super helpful and practical presentation by Thomas McEntee, of Geneabloggers, about creating a blog (I’m still a newbie). I caught one more excellent presentation by Thomas Jones on the Genealogical Proof Standard, and I finally made it to one of Tim Pinnick’s presentations—the one on African American Migration. They were all helpful, interesting, and… about the last bits of information I could handle for the week.

My Springfield experience has been great and I know I’d love to come back again with a more careful plan to research the Massy, Allison, Stinnett and Martin contingent of my family—including wandering around Lincoln, Latham, and Decatur. Besides, I fell in love with Andiamo, GianFranco’s Italian Restaurant & Deli, and Prairie Archives—all within a block of the Old Capitol—and I’d love come back and visit all three.

Anyway, thanks to all who have made this such a great first time experience for me at FGS including all the instructors and everyone I met—but especially to the kind ladies who let me drag them down to Illinois a day early and the rest of the wonderful and welcoming Michigan contingent!

Signing off from Springfield,

Jess

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