I have had a couple of great genealogy experiences over the past couple of weeks so I’d like to offer a quick recap and a plug for a couple of great programs.

To begin with I attended the Abrams Genealogy Seminar on July 14th featuring D. Joshua Taylor. This program is presented by the Abrams Foundation, the Archives of Michigan, and the Michigan Genealogical Council and I always come away with great suggestions research ideas—and never enough time to implement them all.  Taylor’s sessions were fabulous. He crammed in a lot of information, and is an all-around great presenter. He focused on the 1780-1830 gap, and Online New England resources. His suggestions have already been useful in helping me close in on some of my mother’s more elusive New England ancestors. But that Parmenter-Fox connection may plague me forever!

My other sessions were a look at 1812 veterans’ records with Connie Reik and German research with Richard Doherty. The 1812 session offered strategies for finding information that I haven’t tried applying yet but I am fairly certain that Mother Gilbert’s father served for New York and now I have a few more sources to look at for more information on his experiences. And the German research program was informative as well. One of the things I learned here is that I simply don’t have enough information to trace people to Germany yet—though I’m getting there.

All around it was a great day with sessions for all skill levels and time to catch up with fellow researchers. I’m looking forward to the next Archives/MGC event, a family history workshop on November 1oth.

I also finally had the chance to attend a Genealogy Lock-in at the Grand Rapids Public Main Library hosted by their Local History Department and volunteers from the West Michigan Genealogical Society. It was a lot of fun both for socializing and talking out research strategies, as well as simply having research time in a positive environment.

I would dearly love to host something like this in my own library but I don’t really feel like we have the collection or staff to support it. Though, I did mention to one of the society members that I’d be there in a heartbeat if the State Archives ever considered the idea. Are you following along dear friends at the Archives?

If you have Kent County research in particular—you have to check out the collections at GRPL and I’d strongly encourage you to join WMGS. They’re one of those fabulous overachieving societies—always in the know about what’s going on across the state (and the country) and forever building fabulous resources for researches. Check out their current databases!

Looking for more information about events around you? Check out the Michigan Genealogical Council’s Community Calendar (for people closer to me) or connect with your local genealogical societies or those around where you research!

Happy hunting!

Jess

I was able to take a day last week to do a daytrip to Kent County, Michigan to visit another one of my favorite collections—Grand Rapids Public Library’s History and Special Collections Department at the Main Library. It’s been years since I’ve been there to research and took me a little while to get oriented but I was able to answer some of the questions I’d hoped to. For example—and this is for Denise and Gran… Aunt Pearl (Packer) McComb was buried at Rest Lawn Memorial Park according to her Grand Rapids Press obituary—which for some reason I’d missed looking up before. I was also able to work with the Grand Rapids Directories and a few other resources.

I spent the afternoon at the Kent County Probate Court to look at family probate records. As I had used this courthouse before I had gotten a fair explanation of how things worked form their website. And I was pretty well prepared when I arrived. I didn’t know what they might have so I used their indexes to look up a few family names and picked one to work on for the afternoon.

I spent the remainder of my time looking at the very detailed and long probate packet for my 3rd Great-Grandfather George E. Porter, who died without a will. What followed was a very detailed process in which George’s heirs nominated my 2nd Great-Grandfather Charles E. Porter to act as agent in settling his father’s estate. There were pages of material—I couldn’t afford to print it all at $2 per page. But Idid get a great sampling with lists of surviving heirs, property information and value, and lists of debts—from a line by line of the costs of treatment for George’s illness to the burial. I worked with bits of probate packets before but this was my first experience seeing a large detailed packet without someone choosing bits to show me. It was fascinating!

Happy hunting,

Jess

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