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


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

We’re back to Pioneer Cemetery in Rockford, Michigan for this week’s tombstone. This is the stone for Rebecca (Huntingdon) Porter, my 4th Great Grandmother and the first wife of Seth Porter. I believe she was born in Vermont in 1837. She married Seth in 160 years ago this month—Oct 4, 1852. She was the mother of seven children—Melissa Emeline, George Erwin  (my 3rd Great Grandfather), Rheumina, Minnie Isabel, Harry Clifford, Almeda Laverne, and Flora Ethel. She died at the age of 52 in February of 1890.

Happy hunting,

Jess

From my postcard collection… I haven’t seen this shot very often. Most street scenes I’ve found of Rockford, Michigan are taken from Main and Courtland looking south on Main—so you see the Corner Bar or Hessler Opera House. In this case the shot is taken just west of Courtland looking east through the intersection with Main. You can still see Hessler’s and a beer ad on the side of the Corner, but you also get to see Bett’s House. It’s postmarked June 3, 1907.

I hope to visit soon!

Happy hunting!

Jess

‘Tis the season for football… the Detroit Lions and my Michigan State Spartans are each 5-1 and all of this keeps bringing to mind this shot of my Grandfather, William Eugene Johnson, as a Senior on the 1945 Rockford High School football team which also included my Great Uncle, Louis, and at least a couple of their cousins (Ken Morris and Roger Baker). This shot came to my attention when used in a July 1999 Chalk Talk column by Coach Terry Konkle’s in The Rockford Independent.

Earlier this week I had a lovely conversation with a retired co-worker who has taken on a newspaper indexing project and she expressed how much she has enjoyed reading the detailed and fascinating articles that went into old weekly newspapers—from local gossip, to thoughtful discussions of current events, to poetry. I have had similar experiences over the years pouring over the oldest editions of The Rockford Register, held at the Krause Memorial Library in Rockford, Michigan. And while many of my family members have had important moments covered in The Register, none made such amazing use or were followed so closely as the Lapham family, credited as pioneers of Rockford (once Laphamville).

My co-worker, I think, was surprised by the poetry which is so very different from our modern sense of newspapers but the Lapham’s took time out for poetry and prose. Their contributions included a very long poem from the occasion of my 5th Great Grandparent’s (Smith and Katherine Lapham’s) Golden Wedding Anniversary by Smith, a tear-jerker on the death of one of their grandchildren at the age of 12 by her father (their youngest son, Judge Embree B. Lapham), or this short poem on the occasion of Embree’s 83rd Birthday:

Our Birthdays—My Eighty-third

Our birthdays come and quickly go
Exactly on the date.
We’re on year older—this we know
‘Tis ordered so by fate.

Time lingers not for youth or age
Nor does it favor me.
I turn and scan another page
To find I’m eighty-three.

Life’s river flows with restless face
On toward the unknown sea
Where all must end their earthly race
And make Heaven their plea.

If we can show our record clear
Or nearly free from flaws
There’s nothing then we need to fear.
For Christ will plead our cause.

He’ll say to us you’re welcome here,
You’ve done your very best
So banish every doubt and fear—
You’ve gained eternal rest.

Printed in the Rockford Register 23 March 1933. Judge Embree B. Lapham ran a confectionary, managed hotels, was co-creator and served as editor of The Belding Banner, among other endeavors. He also served as Mayor of Belding and served for more than 25 years consecutively as Justice of the Peace for Rockford, Kalkaska, and Belding—with two of those positions held simultaneously. He was born in 1850 and lived to the ripe old age of 94.

The photograph was printed in the Belding Banner on the occasion of his death in 1944.

 I’ve always liked this shot because, from what most of my family has told me, my great-grandfather was estranged from his family for a good chunk of their lives after he and my great-grandmother divorced. But he was able to build a relationship with my grandfather later in their lives. This is a shot of Robert Eugene Johnson and my grandfather William Eugene Johnson taken at my grandparents’ home on Main St in Rockford, Michigan sometime prior to Grandpa’s death in 1980. The photo is one from my parents’ collection.

Happy hunting,

Jess

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