I’m falling behind in the challenge but I will make it through. However,  I won’t likely gain ground this week… and I say this in the hopes of proving it wrong.

MasseyDPD-14aSunday marked the 181st anniversary of the birth of my 3rd Great Grand Uncle, John Orpin Massy. I’m quick to tell people that in the years bashing at the brickwall of my Massy family, John was the closest person I could find matching the rumors my Great Aunt and Grandmother offered me to begin my search. They said their Great Grandfather was a Irish policeman in Detroit named Henry. Instead, in the 1870 Census the only relevant household I could  I could find was John and his wife and he was an Irish cop in Detroit.

Years later, in the process of just trying to find out what it meant to be a policeman during this time period, I found a transcription of the Detroit Metropolitan Police Force’s applications with entries for John and his brother (and my 3rd Great Grandfather) Henry. If Henry was the black sheep of the family then John comes off as one of the good sons.

John was born on 6 April 1833 and baptized at Rathronan, Co. Limerick, Ireland in 1834. He was the fourth child and first son of Lieutenant Hugh Massy, then late of the 33rd (First Yorkshire West Riding) Regiment, and his wife Jane Alison Massy. The family appears to have followed Jane’s parents to North America in the 1850s though I have been unable to figure out if they went to Canada or instead settled directly in the United States.

The earliest appearance in the U. S. that I’ve found for John is his enlistment in company G of the Fifth Infantry, of the Union Army in 1861 where he served as a Sergeant briefly during the Civil War. After the war John was naturalized in August 1865 and he was working as a druggist at the time he applied to join the Detroit Police Force in September of 1865 where he served honorably. The Detroit city directories show John O. living in the same residence as his brother, Henry Massy in 1867 and with his mother in 1868 and 1869–though he probably lived with her pre-1867.

On 30 January 1868 he married Julia Saventia Madison at St. Peter’s Church in Detroit witnessed by Julia’s sister and brother-in-law Mariah and Augustus Reohm. In the 1870 Census the couple was enumerated as part of the Roehm household along with George Roehm (Augustus’s partner in A. F. & C. G. Roehm Butcher shop) and Julia’s brother, blacksmith Winfield Madison.

John O. Massy died 26 May 1872 after a short illness. His probate record includes several notes about his illness lifted from the local paper which included note of his membership in the Zion Lodge of Masons.

Happy hunting,

Jess

 

Last month I attended the Michigan Genealogical Council’s annual Abram’s Genealogy Seminar and Jan Alpert, in the intro for her presentation “How My Michigan Ancestors Have Made Me a Better Genealogist,” hit solidly on one of my largest problems in researching… Coming home and not effectively working through the information I find. So many of us are always on the go and only able to catch time for the trip itself and we forget about the important follow-up–cleaning up those notes, making photocopies understandable when you come back to them, and generally pulling the new information into your research.

So, as I mentioned before, I had been effectively away from my research for almost two full years and the interruption came after a really frenzied period of trying to collect data from my local Family History Center, the Library of Michigan and Allen County Public Library. Evidently in my rushing around and as life took a turn away from genealogy the most I had done was folder the found materials. 

Imagine my surprise two years later when I start going through folders and realize… foolishly… that I had a military service record for my 4th great grandfather Lieutenant Hugh Massy who served in the 90th Light Infantry and 33rd Regiments of the British Army (from Record of officers services, 1770-1919).  It included date and place of birth, marriage information, and birth information for 5 of their children. Not one bit of it had made it into my database. I remember being thrilled at finding the record but I’m not sure if even then I had time to really look at all the fabulous detail in it. So on the one hand it was like Christmas in July but on the other hand I was mortified. Hence my post to twitter. 

So, two important things are changing in my research:

  1. I’m doing a massive clean-up to see what I have and hopefully I will avoid totally repeating steps
  2. I am scheduling time to sort out my finds as soon as I get home–while I still know what I have and why it’s relevant.

Both very basic, but both easy to forget in any projects you have to work on part-time.

Learn from my mistakes,

Jess

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