Perspective…. One of this lot turned 40 last week. Time sure flies! My three oldest cousins, my brother and I at a Lake Michigan beach (maybe Hoffmaster?) in 1984. I have no idea why we’re pointing.
July 9, 2014
June 25, 2014
Today marks the 30th anniversary of my Great Grandfather Robert Eugene Johnson’s death. I don’t remember him at all, though I had to have been seven when he died. I get them impression that there is still a lot of anger and hurt surrounding his and my great-grandmother’s seven year marriage but I also know that if not for that union, I would not be here.
One note on the picture: I have no idea who the woman with him is. She’s possibly a second wife before my Step-Great-Grandmother Rita?
May 19, 2014
Here’s one of those family finds that brings a painful truth of history to life… Not everyone made it across the pond.
Rosetta Suffling was the younger sister of my 4th Great Grandmother and the second known child of William and Elizabeth (Pegg) Suffling. She was born 8 Apr 1805 in Lessingham, Norfolk, England. She married Samuel Gibbs at St. Mary the Virgin Church, Hemsby Parish, Norfolk, England on 25 December 1829. The couple appears to have settled in Hemsby where Samuel worked as farm labor. They had nine children: Samuel Jr, William Suffling, Isaac, Elizabeth, Edmund, Mary Ann, Alfred, James, and Matthew.
On 1 May 1849 the family started their journey to the United States boarding the Bark Gov. Hinckley or George Hinckley under the command of Captain William Loring at London. Unfortunately around the middle of May (165 years ago this month) there was an outbreak of cholera aboard ship and by the time the ship arrived in New York on the 12 Jun 1849 10 individuals had died including Rosetta and daughter Mary Ann (both died 21 May), and her sons Edmund and Matthew (both died 23 May).
Samuel Gibbs and their remaining children made it to New York and Samuel married Lovina Huff to help raise them. Samuel and Lovina ended up in Barry County, Michigan in the vicinity of their Johnson cousins, my 3rd Great Uncles Matthew (who married his cousin, Elizabeth Gibbs) and John.
For more information on the 19th century sailing lines between America and the world see: Cutler Carl C. Queens of the Western Ocean: The Story of America’s Mail and Passenger Sailing Lines. Annapolis: United States Naval Institute, 1961.
April 30, 2014
April 23, 2014
20 years! Happy Anniversary!
April 22, 2014
I’ve mentioned bits and pieces of William Amos Johnson’s life as it pertained to his parents and his wife Lena but never totally focused on him. And it’s seems a natural progression to move from Eugene Baker to his son-in-law (and my 2nd Great Grandfather)—especially since today is the 112th anniversary of William and Lena’s wedding.
William Amos Johnson was born 15 December 1877 the youngest child of William Suffling and Mary E. (Gordon) Johnson. William grew up in Cannon Township where the family had settled in 1873. By 1900 the Johnsons owned a successful farm noted for its large orchards and William remained at home to help with its management. He married Lena Baker 22 April 1902 at the home of her parents and the couple removed to a home on Moffitt Hill. Their first child Robert Eugene was born in March of 1905.
At the time of the 1910 Census the couple and Robert were enumerated with Eugene Baker’s household in Cannon Township where William was listed as attending college—something I’d like to know more about. In 1918 the only other child, Betty Lou Johnson was born.
As early as 1918 through 1922 the family lived in Traverse City, Michigan where William worked first as a pipefitter for Traverse City Gas Co, a tinner (would those be the same?) and then as a plumber for Arms & Cole. Around 1923 the family returned to Rockford, Michigan where William continued to work as a plumber. In September of 1928 Lena Johnson died after a six month illness. Betty Lou was sent to live with her Aunt Clara Harnack in Ypsilanti, Michigan for the school years and would come home for the summers. But three years later she died after a long illness at the age of 12.
In 1930 William was still living and working as a plumber in Rockford. I have yet to find him in the 1940 Census but at the time of the 1942 draft he reported his residence as Rockford, Michigan.
William died in August 1958 well remembered by his grandchildren and my Grandmother who remembers him going to play euchre with the boys back when the Corner Bar was Stag.
April 9, 2014
March 12, 2014
March 8, 2014
From my paternal Johnsons to my maternal Johnson line…
I’ve spent quite a bit of time on my Michigan Johnsons in the past so now I’m working my way back out of the country. Sarah Suffling was the wife of #5 Richard Johnson and the mother of my 3rd Great Grandfather, William Suffling Johnson. She was the eldest daughter and the second of at least seven children born to William and Elizabeth (Pegg) Suffling. She was born in March of 1801 and christened on March 22nd in Lessingham, Norfolk, England. I have no concrete information about her life up until her marriage but from October of 1827 she built a life with Richard Johnson first in Horsey-Next-the-Sea and then in America.
Sarah was the mother of at least four children starting with my William in 1830. As I mentioned in the post on Richard, he supported the family as a husbandman, laborer and fisherman. William and his next brother, Matthew, immigrated to the United States around 1848 and the rest of the family, as well as a number of Sarah’s siblings, made the journey across the Atlantic. By the time of the 1855 New York Census Richard and Sarah had settled in Carlton, in Orleans County where the family farmed.
After Richard died in 1874 Sarah could be found visiting the households of her children. During the 1880 Federal Census she was living in Kent County, Michigan as part of William’s household. She died in May of 1889—making this year the 125th Anniversary of her death—in Gaines Township, Orleans County. She is buried beside her husband in Otter Creek Cemetery.
This photo was passed to me by a generous cousin and fellow Johnson researcher.
March 5, 2014
Man you looked like a kid! My cousin who is celebrating a birthday this week and his eldest child. They’re lounging on top of his much younger stepbrother. (Sorry, Jack!)