I had the chance to head back to Rockford, MI on Saturday to meet up with some of the ladies I used to volunteer with at the Rockford Historical Museum as well as do a little research. I’ve mentioned it before but I have got to repeat… It is absolutely amazing what you can find in small local museum collections.

One of my goals on Saturday was to look at some of the society related holdings—like the membership ledger of Rockford’s Odd Fellows or the Rockford Garden Club—and a few of the old farm and mill ledgers. Both types of ledgers offer a snapshot of something important to the men and women involved.

With societies and fraternal  orders it shows you something they believed in the importance of—for humanitarian or social status reasons—enough to pay dues. And each comes with its own elements of bureaucracy, for example, in the case of the I. O. O. F. ledger, entries gave the occupation, age, and dates of advancements within the society for its members along with the credits and debits associated with tracking dues. The page below is for my 5th Great Uncle Embree Lapham.

The farm and mill ledgers give an interesting—if hard to read—look at the day-to-day commitments of this hardworking lot. The shot below is a random page that just happened to include a payment to Dr. Charles Holden (my 4th Great Grandfather) for medical attendance. As you flip through the pages there are a number of people mentioned but in 1867 alone there are a number of mentions of Dr Holden as well as his sons Horatio and Chapin (my 3rd Great Grandfather ).

What else might you find in those out-of-the-way and under promoted museums? Pictures, surname files, genealogies, cemetery records, artifacts, bibles, etc. Sometimes families want to pare down their collections, share their history, or promote their towns. All of that fabulous treasure has the potential to end up in community collections. So, it is totally worth checking them out, asking questions, and (dare I add) helping out at your local museum.

Happy hunting,

Jess

My second day away was split between the Local History Collection at the Krause Memorial Branch of the Kent District Library and the Rockford Historical Museum. Both are places I used to all but live, but it’s been years since I’ve spent much time at either.

At the library I worked exclusively with Microfilm of the Rockford Register which, though a substantial amount is indexed through the Western Michigan Genealogical Newspaper Society’s Index, is housed solely at the Rockford Library. It’s been forever since I’ve been able to even visit the branch so I was thrilled to see the improvements that have been made. My old shared office is now a wireless lounge on one side and the local history collection and microfilm reader/printer on the other. And even though this is a long narrow room in the middle of one wing of the building, it was more comfortable than it’s ever been—at least for me. The other occupants of the lounge might not have approved of the sound of the microfilm reader.

It was a very successful trip though, further cementing a series of family connections through obits. I had been on the fence about Sarah Deer Helsel being related to Hannah Deer Reinshagen. But I was able to find their obituaries–right in a row (they died 24 hours apart). Hannah’s plainly names her sister, Sarah Helsel and mentioned her death the day before. With the remainder of my time I worked through a few different family names in the index and filled in gaps.

I only had a brief time at the Museum—I really want to go back soon—and so I spent it entirely looking for updates in the Surname Files. As I’ve mentioned before, Rockford is a community that has been home for my family for almost 170 years. And while not all my family has made it into the files—most have. The Laphams, Gilberts, Porters, and Holden’s have a tremendous amount of coverage in the archives but the Helsels, Morningstars, Groves, and Baileys have interesting files as well. And it’s totally worth going back and checking for updates. In this case, someone had reproduces the vital record pages from Dr. Charles Holden’s Family Bible. Someone had tucked a tintype of Seth Porter’s daughters Melissa Emeline and Minnie Isabel in the Porter file. And in the Bailey file I found a handwritten letter from Lizzie Bailey to her younger sister, Bertha Groner.

The Rockford Historical Museum is a goldmine of information. It’s also in the process of raising money to fund a renovation and move into the old city courthouse. If you have any family in the area consider looking into ways to help support the new museum!

Progress made!

Happy hunting, all!

Jess

I’m finding that one of my major uses of ACPL collection is tracking down published articles on my allied lines using the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) in HeritageQuest.

I have taken huge steps forward in my research starting with clues found in articles I never would have tracked down if not for working with the database. And it’s not because I have famous family the someone has written about—though I’ve been occasionally lucky to find articles featuring relatives—but PERSI has been great for tracking down transcribed records and articles relating to places important to my ancestors. My most notable find were records leading to my Irish Cop in Detroit.

But this trip, I was focusing on family names—doing general searchers on a number of surnames. I located articles on the Lapham family included a multi-issues article on the descendants on John Lapham, my Smith’s 4th great grandfather. I located a number of articles on Rev. George Burroughs who may be an ancestor through our Holden line. Then in I tried a couple of different searches looking for clues to verify some researchers’ claims that his 2nd great granddaughter, Elizabeth Parmenter, by way of his daughter, Hannah Burroughs Fox married into the Holden family.

I didn’t find anything relevant on the Parmenter line—though in hindsight I didn’t try a variety of spellings. I found citations for a number of interesting articles on the Lawrence family—not all of which I had time to track down—as well as a few on the Whitney/Shattuck line that connect to all of the allied Holden families from Martha’s Vineyard.  But what I thought would be the most useful search, turned out to be impossible.

I had hoped that the Fox line would be well-documented enough that I would be able to track down more solid sources for the suggested connection. Hannah Burroughs had married Jabez Fox the son of an early Harvard Grad and the 2nd minister at Woburn, Massachusetts. And the family is intertwined in the histories of Cambridge, Groton, and Woburn in Massachusetts. So I first went to PERSI and typed in Fox in a Surname Search. I got the very annoying response, “No results were found that matched your request.” I couldn’t believe that no one had ever written about the family. So I tried again, same answer. And on a hunch I tried a couple of other 3-letter surnames, all with the same answer.

It would seem that you cannot do a PERSI surname search on 3-letter names—at least through HeritageQuest. I played with it for a while before approaching one of the ACPL librarians who came up with the same results. Now, on the plus side, she did come to me later to let me know that you can search PERSI through Ancestry fairly successfully. I was able to work with that for the remainder of my trip. But I have the ulterior motive of being a co-database trainer at my home library—and all library editions of Ancestry are not equal. PERSI isn’t available at all in my library’s version.

All that said HeritageQuest is a resource I use a great deal. What I couldn’t find in PERSI was almost made up for with what I found in the Books section of the website including genealogies on the Fox, Lawrence and Whitney families that give me a little more faith in the Burroughs claims. But the issue with 3-letter surnames seems to be a glaring error.

Happy hunting,

Jess

This was a fun find… I knew I had it somewhere but as it’s from my original research—which was not well planned or organized—I just found it again. These are the four eldest children of Charles and Lula (Holden) Porter from Left to Right: My Grandma Crystal, Zelma, Alton, and Reva. Based on ages I’d guess this was taken sometime between 1914 and the birth of their next son, Darcy in 1917. The original resided in my Great Aunt and Uncle’s photo collection.

Happy hunting,

Jess

Today marks the 160th anniversary of the birth of my 4th Great Aunt Xantippe Roseanna Holden. She was born 13 January 1852 in Kent County, Michigan to Charles Morrill and Sarah Ann (Skiff) Holden (introduced in this post last year). She married Edwin Percival Nelson, on 26 Dec 1869 in Kent County. After the birth of their first child the young family headed north to make a life near Harbor Spring, Michigan. The story of their first few years there are laid out in a book entitled Home is Where the Heart Is by her niece, Lorna Holden DeBoer.

Ed and Tippie had seven children: Gilbert Arthur, Jay Hartwell, Cassisus, Clara, Rowena, Rose, and Berniece. I took a bit of time this weekend to follow out the children. I had more success with the men, of course. Gilbert and Cassius settled in Chicago—Bert working as an engineer and Cassius as a street car conductor. Jay settled his family in Detroit where he also did a stint as a conductor but ultimately worked as a pipefitter. As for their sisters… Bernice married Guy DeArment and they settled in Detroit where he worked as a machinist in an auto factory and I believe both Roe and Rose married and settled in Chicago—but I haven’t had much success tracking them yet.

Today also marks the 190 Anniversary of the birth of my 4th Great Grandmother, Mary Helsel Morningstar Whitebread who I discussed in this post last year.

Happy Hunting!

Jess

Dr. Charles Morrill and Sarah (Skiff) HoldenToday’s the 191st anniversary of Dr. Holden’s birth and seemed a fitting time to introduce my Holden family.

The first of my Holdens to settle in Kent Co., Michigan were my 4th Great Grandfather Dr. Charles Morrill Holden and his family. Dr. Holden, his wife Sarah Ann (Skiff), and eleven of their children settled in Courtland Township where, Dr. Holden practiced medicine and farmed. When I was started researching this line I was interested in Dr. Holden’s role as one of the pioneer doctors in Kent County but, to be honest, I was more fascinated by the names of his children.

Charles and Sarah are common enough names and maybe their children’s names are a strange reaction to that. I knew going in that my 3rd Great Grandfather’s name was Chapin—which didn’t seem common for the time but was at least a name I was familiar—but then I was introduced to the rest of his siblings.

  1. Cassius—Died young.
  2. Catherine—Unknown.
  3. Americus G.—He died after being sent home from Union Army due to illness.
  4. Horatio Seward—Became a doctor in Pierson and Grand Rapids, Michigan.
  5. Chapin B.—Married my 3rd Great Grandmother Lois Blakeslee.
  6. Rosalia D. —Died young.
  7. Xantippe—Married Edd P. Nelson.
  8. Cassini J.—Married Flora Lewis.
  9. Ida—Married William Pitts.
  10. Nellie—Unknown.
  11. Saracence—Married Frank D. Saunders.
  12. Kendric Charles—Married my 4th Great Aunt Minnie Isabel Porter (George’s sister).

I don’t know the what the middle initials stand for where I have them listed—though I could swear that I saw Balean as Chapin’s middle name somewhere, sometime before I learned to accurately cite my sources. My favorites have always been Xantippe (pronounced with a Z) and Saracence (totally guessing here: Sarah-sense). I know the latter is mostly noted as Sara in articles and family notes. I love names!

A copy of this photo is held by the Rockford Area Historical Society Museum, Rockford, MI.

Happy hunting,

Jessica

These are my 2nd Great-grandparents Lula V. (Holden) and Charles Erwin “Wynn” Porter. Charles was the second son of George E. Porter (from last week’s Wordless Wednesday Post). He was a farmer and is noted in the Rockford Register for making key plays for the Rogue Rex baseball team. Lula was the daughter of Chapin and Lois Holden and was a favorite of my grandma—both of them being noted gossips!

Happy Hunting,

Jess

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