September 11, 2011
So, day three was a little more relaxed. If one compared my post and the conference schedule you might notice that somewhere along the way yesterday I missed a session. Well, today it was two. I was admittedly suffering a little from overload but I also spent a few hours helping to man the booth for the Michigan Genealogical Council. It gave me a chance to interact with people in the Exhibit Hall and, in my spare time, work on organizing my thoughts about all the interesting information I had been given this week.
Session-wise, I attended Tony Burroughs’ presentation on documents available from before the Chicago Fire—adding Chicago to my Roadtrip Wish List. I went to a super helpful and practical presentation by Thomas McEntee, of Geneabloggers, about creating a blog (I’m still a newbie). I caught one more excellent presentation by Thomas Jones on the Genealogical Proof Standard, and I finally made it to one of Tim Pinnick’s presentations—the one on African American Migration. They were all helpful, interesting, and… about the last bits of information I could handle for the week.
My Springfield experience has been great and I know I’d love to come back again with a more careful plan to research the Massy, Allison, Stinnett and Martin contingent of my family—including wandering around Lincoln, Latham, and Decatur. Besides, I fell in love with Andiamo, GianFranco’s Italian Restaurant & Deli, and Prairie Archives—all within a block of the Old Capitol—and I’d love come back and visit all three.
Anyway, thanks to all who have made this such a great first time experience for me at FGS including all the instructors and everyone I met—but especially to the kind ladies who let me drag them down to Illinois a day early and the rest of the wonderful and welcoming Michigan contingent!
Signing off from Springfield,
September 8, 2011
We had an uneventful trip to Springfield, IL but before I start talking about FGS2011 I spent my first full day in Illinois on a side research trip to Logan County (about a half hour north of Springfield)
In all my prep and planning I missed the resource most dear to my heart, at least until the night before my side roadtrip. Then it finally dawned on me that the Lincoln Public Library opened two hours ahead of the Logan County Genealogical and Historical Society Research Center. So, I could look at their local history collection and newspapers if I revised my plans and got up and out of the hotel in the morning. So with a new plan… I still got out of town later than I planned but I was on the road to Lincoln at a reasonable time.
The trip itself was relatively uneventful though I miss having a handy sidekick and map reader. I took a few wrong turns in Lincoln and drove around the block a few times but I made it to their lovely 1902 Carnegie Library with more than enough time to look through microfilm newspapers. The staff was very helpful. They set me up at a reader/printer with my first reel loaded and I was off. My find of the day was H. R. Allison’s obituary. It was a lovely moment only slightly marred by the number of times it took to get it printed legibly. I did spend additional time looking for his wife’s obituary as well—but to be honest too much time looking at microfilm makes me ill.
Next stop was walking around the block to the LCGHS Research Center where a genial volunteer loaded me up with resources. Oddly enough, they had shelves of binders with obituaries but neither Harry nor Nancy was among them—I am so glad I finally remembered to try the library. But, if you have Logan County family, they have a Centenarian who is indexing the local sections of Lincoln newspapers. Not all of them are indexed yet, but there are 80 binders plus if you have time to work through them. I found a couple of interesting tidbits that way. For example, I don’t think I knew that Harry had been a village trustee on the People’s Ticket in 1899. There’s enough there that I may make a return trip to the Center again someday or at least contact one of the society researchers for assistance.
The last leg of my trip was to take a long drive down country roads to what felt like the middle of nowhere to a well-kept cemetery set way off the main road. Like my time in Lincoln this took a little circling but this time it was on foot. I had a rough layout of the cemetery from LCGHS and a location for Harry and Nancy (Thank you, Logan County GenWeb!) but I didn’t really understand the map until after I found them. I ended up getting in my exercise walking through the majority of the cemetery before I found the headstone on the back in the lot of his stepdaughter’s family. When I found him it felt like I was coming face to face with someone I’d been chasing for 16 years… I’ve finally caught him but I still have so many questions.
But that’s for another time.
September 2, 2011
So Henry R. Massy dropped off the radar in 1869-70, as far as I could tell. But I was slowly able to expand what I knew about him before then–including finding out he was a replacement soldier in the Civil War. My only thought to move forward was to try following that lead. I found Henry Massy who served for the Michigan Infantry Civil War in a pension index now living at the time in Latham, Logan Co, Illinois and requested his pension record.
I was blown away when the packet arrived. True to form everything was complicated for Henry. There was an extensive back and forth in the file because he was forced to prove his identity. He had changed his name to Harry or Henry (he used both) R. Allison and remarried a widow named Nancy Stinnett in 1876. In the pension he describes his police service, but claims he was never previously married and had no heirs. His pension request was approved with a special note about the way he signed his middle initial “R.” And that’s exactly what helped me to solidify the connections. He signed his oath to the police force, and he signed his enlistment and pension paperwork with the same funny “R.”
As an additional note, I was playing around on Ancestry on a day after they started picking up more scanned newspapers and looked for obituaries in the Logan Co. area for H. R. or Nancy and I came across a number of articles. One featured a Harry Allison and friend who went into Decatur and were charged with drunkenness, fined and asked to leave town. I don’t know if it’s really him. There was one other Harry in the county. But given other things I’ve seen… It’s certainly possible.
Decatur Herald, 3 January 1908
So, now I hope to find some time to slip away from FGS and swing back up to the Logan County Genealogical & Historical Society’s research room to see if I can round out any more of Henry’s story, as well as over to Lake Bank Cemetery to photograph Harry and Nancy’s headstones.