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.
August 21, 2011
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:
- I’m doing a massive clean-up to see what I have and hopefully I will avoid totally repeating steps
- 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,