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

This is a somewhat arbitrary fact pulled from my database program, given I’m still missing a bunch of birth dates. But with the dates that I do know, there are just short of 200 people born in September. And more importantly, there are nine people who have birthdays today—and three of those are very important people in my life: my Grandpa Bill would have turned 84, and my Great Aunts, June and Donna are both celebrating birthdays today.

    

For some reason I couldn’t find a nice 1960s shot of Aunt June.

The honorable mentions of the day are all more distant relatives:

  • Elizabeth Botruff (the sister-in-law of my 4th Great Aunt Livina Botruff)
  • Fannie Eldred (the 2nd wife of my 3rd Great Uncle Floyd Clifton Porter, Charles’s brother)
  • Peter Lorne Chesney (the grandnephew of my 3rd Great Aunt Sarah Maria (Packer) Chesney)
  • Peter Dowdall (the  first cousin once removed of my 2nd Great Grandmother Ellen (Cunningham) Shea)
  • George Delbert Covell (my 2nd Cousin, four times removed)
  • Robert John Rennick (an honorary nephew of my Great Grandmother Flora Packer)

Happy Birthday to you all!

Jess

This is the only picture I’ve been able to find of my Great Great Grandfather William Amos Johnson. He is the young gentleman in the center of this Johnson Family picture.

This is a photo that was printed in Cannon Township 1837-1983, a publication of the Cannon Township Historical Society (Kent County, Michigan).  The others in the portrait are: his brothers Herbert and Freeman both standing, and then, seated in front: his sister Sarah (Johnson) Cramer, his father William Suffling Johnson, himself, his mother Mary (Gordon) and his sister Edith (Johnson) Miller. The picture was taken around 1890.

Happy hunting,

Jess

I now feel like I have just enough of a backlog of digital images to participate in the meme “Tombstone Tuesday”… so, the next up is in honor of my Great Great Grandmother who was laid to rest 84 years ago yesterday.

This is the headstone for my Great Great Grandmother Lena Grove (Baker) Johnson. She was the 5th child and youngest daughter of Eugene and Amelia (Grove) Baker born 16 Apr 1884. At the age of 18 she married William Amos Johnson, the youngest son of William Suffling and Mary (Gordon) Johnson. The family spent a number of years in Traverse City, Michigan where William worked as a plumber but in 1923 they moved back to Rockford, Michigan. She died five years later on 03 Sep 1928 after a six month illness leaving one grown son, Robert Eugene, and a 10 year old daughter, Betty Lou.

Lena is buried with her husband in the Rockford Cemetery, in Rockford, Michigan. When you take the main entrance to the cemetery if you follow the center path and take the next left the Johnson plot will be on the left hand side of the path. Interestingly on my last trip the stones were essentially in the right location but up out of the ground beside their normal spots. Given the tremendous shifting over the years I’m not terribly surprised.

Happy hunting,

Jess

I would guess that his lovely sombrero was picked up in Mexico? (Gran can correct me if I’m wrong.) My Great Aunt has lived in Arizona for decades and at one time or another a large portion of us have been down to visit and gotten a grand tour complete with trips into Nogales, Sonora, Mexico.

Anyway… Looking good, Grandpa Bill!

Happy hunting!

Jess

PS. Can you tell what O. J. Simpson’s selling there?

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