My grandfather would have been 91 this week.

Happy Hunting,


Rhoda (Rogers) Trotter & ChildrenThis is my Great Grandmother Rhoda (Rogers) Trotter who would have turned 118 today (or tomorrow—there appears to be some disagreement between the documents and between family members) along with three of her children. Love the glasses! In back is my Grandpa Levie, in the middle is Aunt Lee Ellen (Trotter) Hampton, and on the end is Uncle Graham. Rhoda was the daughter of Pete and Mattie (Martin) Rogers. She married Harrison Trotter in 1911 and was the mother of 14 children. What few pictures I have seen and the stories I have heard make me wish I had met my Grandma (and Papa Monk).She died in 1981.

The digital files are from my father’s collection but the originals were turned in during a call for photos before our last Trotter-Rogers Reunion.

Siblings: James Tyler, Ernest, and LevieTrotter and Irene Trotter Newton

Here’s a picture of my Grandpa Trotter (center) and three of his (14!) siblings: Uncle JT (James Tyler), Uncle Ernest, and Aunt Irene (who married John W. Newton).

Dad thinks this was taken sometime around 1971. It’s set in the living room of my grandparent’s home in Detroit and pulled from my Dad’s digital archive.

Happy Hunting,


Beyond the fact that there are so many Trotter, Hampton, and Newton families, each with such huge farm households, there is also the issues of lines marrying together in multiple ways and illegitimate children taking the last names of their mother. The family of our Uncle John Newton is a fabulous example of this. And in talking with his relatives—which turned out to be on both sides of my father’s family—it really brought home how careful I had to be in my research.

What I knew going in about John W. Newton (who lived from Feb 1880 to Oct 1968) was that he had married at least twice—first to my 2nd Great Aunt Susan Trotter (in Mar 1902) and once to my Great Aunt Irene Trotter (in Jun 1939)—who I am told moved in to help with the children when his wife was ill. Census and Marriage Records actually show that Amanda Hampton was in between Susie and Aunt Irene (in Dec 1917). Also, John had at least 21 children with his three wives: 11 with Susan, 3 with Mandy, and another 7 with Aunt Irene.

Then when I went down to Bradley County, for my Great Aunt Ometha’s funeral in 1999, the family took me to Palestine A.M.E. Cemetery (which is probably 99% family) and started telling me stories as we walked through. My aunts told me about Miss Becky Newton, who never married but had at least five children connecting different lines in my family in surprising ways. For example, John W. Newton, was her son by Mose Wheeler, my Grandma Elnora’s Grandfather. So, as I walked through with Burlon Newton (Aunt Irene’s eldest son) and my Grandmother it occurred to them that they were first cousins though they didn’t seem to think of it that way at first as Grandma is also his aunt by marriage. Uncle John turned out to be my Great Uncle and 2nd Great Uncle by marriage as well as my 2nd Great Uncle through the Wheelers.

That connections forced me to rethink just how tightly woven this community was (and in many ways still is). And it took me—the product of a 2 child nuclear family not brought up in the community with my extended family—a while to get my head around all the ties this created and how it might (and come to find out does) play out in other lines. For example, the world gets a little smaller when you realize that Mandy Hampton’s mother was Jeanie Avery Hampton and her aunt was Mose Wheeler’s last wife, Josie Avery Wheeler—making him both uncle and grandfather to Mandy’s children. Or, to follow the Wheeler’s another step, one of Josie and Mose’s daughters married a Trotter cousin making their children both first and second cousins of mine (twice removed).

It can get a little dizzying if you spend too much time on it… but it’s also a fascinating puzzle.

Happy Hunting!


Mine is not, in contemporary times, what I think of as a military family but I have cousins, uncles, and both grandfathers that served in the U. S. Army. And as I follow my lines back I have found whole generations shaped by the family’s military personnel and the trials and opportunities that came with that vocation.  So I couldn’t let Veteran’s and Remembrance Day pass without expressing my respect and appreciation for the dedication and hard work of our military servicemen and their families. Thank you, all!



My grandfathers: Sgt. William Eugene Johnson and Sgt. Levie Trotter.


Though this photo predates me this is still how I remember my
Grandfather, Levie Trotter. I have lots of memories of him, but it was trips to Detroit in the summer when the family cooked out, made barbeque ribs, and all of his children and grandchildren showed up for a family meal… it’s just a standout collage of memories with Grandpa at the grill.

This is a shot found among my grandparents photo collection. This is my great grandmother, Rhoda Rogers Trotter, and three  children. There have been great family debates on the identity of the children but I am assured there was only one Rhoda. It was probably taken in Bradley County, Arkansas. I don’t have a lot of information about the Rogers family. I know Rhoda (also called Rhodie) was the daughter of Pete and Mattie (Martin) Rogers. I believe she was born in 1894 and she died in 1981. She married my great grandfather, Harrison Trotter, in 1911 and they had 15 children.

Happy Hunting,


This is just a quick post between packing and prep before I head out for FGS2011.

Tomorrow is Labor Day and that along with a lot of discussion on the GeneaBloggers sites (including GeneaBloggers Radio Episode 33) inspired me to look back through my family research at the jobs various family members have held. And while there have been many unique ones (such as saxophone maker, reflexologist, and tailor) I decided to focus on how my family has played their own role in the building of Michigan.

My maternal 5th great grandfather, Smith Lapham, was a pioneer, moving into the state after working on the Erie Canal, and eventuallyheading up the Grand and Rogue River until he settled in Kent County, there becoming a farmer and entrepreneur in a little town originally known as Laphamville, as well as serving as a State Senator in 1858.

My maternal great grandfather, Cornelius Shea, I believe moved in the 1880s from Upstate New York to Michigan with a few of his brothers to work in and around the lumber camps in Leelanau County, Michigan, then later moved down to Grand Rapids to work in the Furniture industry.

And finally, my paternal grandfather, Levie Trotter, was part of the Motor City, moving his young family from Arkansas to Detroit in 1951, and working for Chrysler Corporation for 32 years.

This is a small sampling of the generations of hard workers that I can claim as family—each very different but each part of an important time in Michigan’s economic development. And likely you’ll hear more details about all of them in blogs to come.

Happy Labor Day!


Harrison and Rhoda (Rogers) TrotterThis last week was meant to be spent on my Massy/Alison family in prep for an upcoming road trip (I’ll get to next post) but instead I received an email from a fellow researcher about our shared Trotter/Hampton families from Bradley Co., Arkansas. It gave me a great excuse to make sure I was caught up that portion of my research. It also gave me the impetus I needed to go page-by-page through Afro-Americans of Bradley County, Arkansas compiled by MacArthur and Princella Davis.

This book is an amazing collection of photographs covering what looks like just about every African-American family from the southern Arkansas county my paternal ancestors have called home since before the Civil War. It includes more than 350 pages of identified photographs with sometimes minimal and sometimes extensive family information. The photo quality is all over the place–I’d guess based on what they received in their call for photos. The one of my grandfather, Levie Trotter, is bad because it was taken from his funeral program (black and white photo on brown paper) but the one of my great-grandparents, Harrison and Rhoda (Rogers) Trotter, with my uncle Christopher is great. Regardless, the fact that there are so many photographs and that they are identified, outweighs everything. The book is an absolute treasure! It has been particularly helpful in filling in gaps caused by the missing 1890 Census especially when used in conjunction with’s database Arkansas County Marriages, 1837-1957. Researchers may be thrown by the format of the index (first name), but again the detail and range of information in the book makes up for that.

I’ve now been through it once and it’s cleared up a number of confusing lines. And I believe that, as my research continues, I’ll continue to get more out of it. Anyone with African-American family or ancestors from Bradley County should grab this book. It’s been an amazing resource by itself and a great source of information when I go through it with my relatives.




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 356 other followers