Since I’ll be riding through roads that the Shea’s traveled and it’s just about 80 years to the day since his death, this week’s Tombstone Tuesday features Rufus Shea, my 3rd Great Uncle and the next older sibling of Cornelius Shea.

When Gran and Aunt June got me started looking for their family they tried to come up with the names of their great uncles—thinking that a few had visited the Shea’s when their father was still alive. One of the names they came up with was Rufus and it was just unique enough to help me find the Sheas in New York.

To the best of my knowledge Rufus was the 8th child and 5th son of Patrick and Theresa (Macumber) Shea. He was born in 1861 in St. Lawrence County, New York. Like his older brothers he worked for some time as a miner there. Later he moved west to the Leelanau Peninsula of Michigan (same as his brothers John, Daniel, Gus, and Cornelius) where he ultimately became a farmer and married Hattie King the daughter of N. C. and Sarah King. They had one son,  Leroy King Shea.

Rufus, Hattie, and Leroy are buried together in Maplegrove Cemetery, Glen Arbor, Leelanau County, MI.

Happy hunting!

Jess

We believe this is Earl Shea with my great grandfather (and Earl’s older brother) Robert Shea. According to the 1900 and 1910 Census listings Earl was born sometime around 1893. In his mother’s obituary he was listed as living in Middleton, Ohio. Grandma thought that he might have married a woman named Gussie, and they might have had a daughter. That’s about the extent of what I think I know about him.  I haven’t found him in later Census and I’m very curious about where he went. Ah well… for now he remains one of my elusive relatives.

But the brothers look pretty dapper here!

Happy hunting,

Jess

These are two of my 2nd Great Aunts—both younger sisters of my Great Grandparents. Grace Packer the younger sister of Cora (Packer) Shea and Donna Shea, the younger sister of Robert Shea. This picture was probably taken between 1922 and 1925—after or around Cora and Robert’s marriage but before either of the sisters married in 1925.

Happy hunting,

Jess

I managed to slip away for a couple of days of fun and research in and around Kent County, MI. On the first day of my trip my mother and I spent a good portion of the day with my Grandmother and Great Aunt. Hanging out with this feisty pair and sharing my progress is truly rewarding. They are so appreciative of the research I’ve done and their very interested in how I’ve organized it.

We spent a couple of hours going through their old family pictures and telling stories—many that I have heard before and love to hear them repeat—and often with an added tidbit, or a possible puzzle piece, that I might be able to use on another day.  And as I talked about some of the characters I had found in my research it is definite that my grandmother in particular has an affinity for the black sheep of the families.

We, of course, talked about good old Henry R. Massy, but we also talked about. Cornelius Shea who may or may not have been dismissed from working for a Catholic church in Grand Rapids over a problem with disappearing wine. And this was the same man who laughed too hard to help his pregnant daughter-in-law out of a well. Poor Grandma Cora! Aunt June still fumes a little telling that story.

But more than anything for me these visits are a time of gathering memories from and of these lovely women who are so neat! Families are so interesting to observe. I see these two ladies and their mannerisms echoed in my mom and aunt (who I watched at breakfast the next morning), or even between myself and my cousin. And it’s those echoes that keep me interested in what’s passed down from generation to generation.

Talk to your elders, talk to your contemporaries and pass it down!

Happy hunting,

Jess

I am very lucky to be a descendant of American veterans who survived their various enlistments. Both my Grandfathers served during the Korean War, my uncle Mike served during the Cold war, my 3rd Great Grandfather Henry R. Massy served briefly in the Civil War as did two of his brothers, and my 7th Great Grandfather served in the Revolutionary War. And that’s leaving out the many uncles and cousins who also served or for that matter are serving now. That said I am so thankful for those who gave their life for our country and our freedom.

Happy Memorial Day!

Jess

 

 

And for your viewing pleasure on this Wordless Wednesday… This is my Great Grandfather Robert Shea, my 2nd Great Aunt Grace Packer, and my Great Grandmother Cora (Packer) Shea. It was probably taken in the early 1920s before Grace married Harold Elliott in 1925.

Happy Hunting,

Jess

I’ve had lots of long conversations with my Gran and Great Aunt about our families but I have this growing list of questions inspired by research done for these posts and new finds. As an example, I spent hours this week flipping through census pages for Grand Rapids, MI trying to track them down in 1940. I had started with my latest directory locations for the family—which placed them living with my 2nd Great Aunt Pearl in 1937. When I couldn’t find any relatives there I called Gran and she told me they lived on Quimby.  I used Morse and Weintraub’s One Step Enumeration District finder from (http://stevemorse.org) which narrowed the list down to 3 EDs. Then Gran called back and said… maybe it was Union St. Either way she wasn’t sure of the number. So, I entered Union in the finder and it narrowed it down to 30 districts. Needless to say, I found them at 306 Union Street… eventually.

In 1940 Great Grandma Cora was the head of household including my Gran and her siblings and Cora’s youngest sibling Grace (Packer) Elliott and her family—including her husband, Harold, and six of their children. Cora was working at a paper box factory and Harold at an auto plant. I was so thrilled that I posted to Twitter as soon as I found Gran, and almost immediately got a phone call from my mother and Gran because Gran wanted to know what I’d found. It all just leads to more interesting questions: about Cora’s job (which I can’t quite decipher), the moving, all the family they lived with at different times, and really just how Cora managed as a widow with 3 young children.

I think it’s past time for a lunch date with Mom, Gran, and my Aunts!

Happy hunting!

Jess

Today is the 12oth Anniversary of the birth of my Great Grandmother Cora Packer Shea.

Happy Hunting,

Jess

This is an example of why everyone should live life to the fullest and not take anything for granted. On occasion the world can be very strange and unfair.

March 9th marks the 50th Anniversary of a family tragedy. It is the day my Great-great-uncle Richard Shea died crossing Division in Wyoming, Michigan just two months shy of his 60th Birthday. Richard was the youngest of my Great Grandfathers brothers and a World War II veteran.

But to add to the chord to this untimely death, three years later his widow, Beatrice Clark Shea, was also killed in a car crash—likely while sitting at home and watching TV during the Christmas holidays—when a teenage driver sped directly into her home, never trying to stop.

This article was a strange, sad find.

Happy hunting,

Jess

There’s a great deal of raw artistic talent among the Shea descendants and I often wonder how much of that is a trait passed on or whether it is other influences on the line. This is a drawing said to be by Ellen Cunningham Shea of her son, my great grandfather, Robert James Shea.

The original drawing is on something like cardborad but not canvas. It resides in the collection of my Great Aunt.

Happy Hunting,

Jess

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