A generation ago we’d pack up the family in search of a baseball diamond. That was a suitable activity for a family party or reunion. And there’s nothing wrong with it. Grandpa Porter played, the Johnsons, Bailey’s and Trotters all played—I even periodically hear that there’s been angling for a game the last few summers. But it continues to impress me the amount of times my cousins and I end up involved in Frisbee games.

These are the latest inductees into our most recent family sport. On the opposite side of the yard were (over the course of the game) two more kids, five adults (when I came out from behind the camera) from the next two older generations. Plus five additional adults on the sidelines to yell when there was too much rough-housing, to cry, “Fore” much too late for it to be useful, and generally offer bad advice. At least four Frisbees were being used and ended up in the neighbor’s yard more times than I can count. And at least two of those landed on top of the awning or the garage. It was fabulous chaos in my parents back yard!

What’s your family sport?

Happy hunting,

Jess

Sometimes it’s not about the beach… but the family outings are key.

Johnsons & Trotters at Potter Park Zoo, 1981

My Uncle Mike and my Aunt Sandy on the left, my mother holding my brother, and Mike and Sandy’s middle child (and closest to me in age), Eric, on the right—all riding the train at Potter Park Zoo in 1981. This was a memorable outing that included members of both sides of my family converging on Potter Park Zoo in Lansing, MI.

Happy hunting!

Jess

I just love this picture! My grandfather’s older sister and younger brother.

Happy hunting,

Jess

Great Aunt & Uncle!

Uncle & Mom, c. 1952

Someone in this picture is celebrating a birthday this week!

This is my Great Uncle and my Mother taken outside of my Great Grandparent’s home on Maple Street in Rockford, Michigan.

Happy hunting,

Jess

I was going through pictures again and these two struck me as an interesting pair. The first is my mother and the second is me. I had more hair and teeth… and yes, I am rocking Oscar the Grouch on my dress. But, yeah, we’re related.

Happy Hunting,

Jess

     OscarMe

Cousins, at the Johnson Christmas Party, c. late 1980s

Here’s one that comes up in conversation more often than it should. But this year was significant because it was the first and last time I was the tallest of this shady lot of cousins. You can’t even really tell in this picture but it was a really big deal at the time. Needless to say every last one of them shot past me not too long after that. The photo was taken at the apartment of my Grandma Ethel and eventual Step-Grandfather Don in Grand Rapids, MI.

Happy holidays and happy hunting!

Jess

As we head into the holidays I have a collection of Christmas related pics for Wordless Wednesday.

This is a favorite of mine. This was taken in December of ‘77 or ’78. I’m the baby being held my Grandpa Bill. The others are my mom, my aunt, and my older cousin. We’re at my grandparents’ home on Main St. in Rockford, MI for the holidays doing dishes and just being together.

What you can’t see and I only vaguely remember is the risqué wallpaper print.

Happy hunting,

Jess

This is the final resting site of my Great Grandmother, Crystal May Porter and my Step-Great-Grandfather Harold Bailey at Blythefield Memory Gardens in Kent County, MI. Grandma Crystal died 44 years ago today, at the age of 55. She was the third child of Charles and Lula (Holden) Porter. She married my Great Grandfather Robert Eugene Johnson on April 13, 1927 and they had four children including my Grandfather, William Eugene Johnson. Crystal and Robert divorced and in 1934 Grandma Crystal married Grandpa Bailey with whom she had one more son.

Happy hunting!

Jess

At the beginning of the month I took a peaceful road trip up to Leelanau and Grand Traverse Counties with my parents and my maternal grandmother and whenever we make the trip—usually to sight see and taste wine —I try to hijack a little bit of the trip for genealogical research.

In the past I’ve always been focused on the Shea’s who were involved in the lumber industry in the 1880s and 1890s in Leelanau. But this year I decided to step back and do a basic search in my database for other family members with ties to either of the two counties—because I know I get very focused sometimes and don’t recognize other connections to an area when it isn’t obvious. The search reminded me that my 2nd Great Grandfather also had ties to the area. I always think of the Johnson family as a solidly Kent County bunch, but at the time of the 1920 Census William Amos Johnson’s family lived in Traverse City where he worked as a plumber.

So, as part of our trip I stole an hour at Traverse Area District Library to look in their city directories in hopes of narrowing down the period in which the Johnson’s lived there, identifying where they lived, and also where he worked.

TADL has a nice collection of local Polk’s directories and William was listed in the 1919-1920 and the 1921-1922 books—first as a tinner and then as a plumber working for Arms & Cole Plumbers, Steam Fitters and Sheet Iron Workers on Cass St. The family lived at 859 Webster. The next day we drove through the neighborhood past the house and then on past his workplace. It was cool to add that snippet of their life to my collection of stories.

As an added bonus we also took a scenic drive from Glen Arbor to Muskegon before coming home which took us past roads traveled by the Shea’s and their allied families—Including Stormer Road  (named for a family two of the Shea brothers married into) and the village of Empire where my great grandfather was born.

Someday I’ll make it up solely for research, but my family has been great about letting me steal a little time out of their vacation for research.

Happy hunting,

Jess


One of this intrepid trio turns 35 today! Happy birthday to my slightly younger, but now hulking, younger cousin!

These are the three oldest Grandchildren of William and Ethel Johnson. I’m the middle child of the bunch by about 5 months. This was taken at my grandparents’ home on Main St in Rockford, Michigan (which backed up to the Rogue River) around about 1979 or 1980.

Happy hunting,

Jess

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