August 2014

Packer & Jones GirlsI’ve been hanging out over in this side of the family with my research for the last few weeks.

This is my 2nd Great Aunt Grace Packer and, I believe, her two oldest nieces Alexia and Edith Jones. There’s only a five or six year  gap in age between Grace and Lexie. This was probably taken around 1914 just before or after her next niece, Doris Jones,was born. The Jones girls were the daughters of Pearl (Packer) and Raymond Jones.

Everyone looks thrilled in this shot!

Happy hunting,



Shrine Chapel of Our Lady of the Lake at Orchard LakeIt’s been a bit over a week since I finished my stay at St. Mary’s Preparatory at Orchard Lake, Michigan. And while I discovered that I don’t really miss dormitory life (to the left of the Shrine  Chapel in the picture), I also learned a bit more about what kind of genealogist I want to be. It’s one thing to be collecting names and dates (and that’s fine in as far as it goes), but I want to make an informed and documented argument about the relationships I find and I want solid research to pass on to whoever might take up this hunt after me. So a week spent in the Determining Kinship track under Thomas W. Jones was enlightening and very challenging—but exactly what I needed.

I’m pretty sure I’ve gushed about Jones before (both here and here) but may I add that he is a total gentleman and great instructor even when his students are totally wandering off in the wrong direction—which we did a few times. The presentations were great. The in-class assignments were very helpful.  And each day I came out with a better understanding of the Genealogical Proof Standard and its importance.  We worked mainly out of his Mastering Genealogical Proof, but this is a case where it made much more sense to me when we could ask questions of the author.

And I had a great time with my co-students both in and out of my cohort—which included researchers from all over the country. It was fun to trade research stories, infamous ancestors, and great resources. GRIP’s format was perfect for me with time for study and socializing, including informative optional evening programs, and in this case a hilarious group viewing of WDYTYA.

It’s an experience I would encourage people to try.



P.S. Beware of Maia’s Books! Martha is a fabulous and attentive bookseller. You may leave GRIP with considerably more than you planned on (plus a wishlist).

Johnson Twins, c. 1957My uncle and aunt are celebrating a big birthday this year! Happy day and many more birthdays to you both!

They’re the bookends in this photo with their father and their older sister in the middle.




Dad & MomGotta love these kids! Celebrating 39 years married this week… and still friends!

Happy anniversary to my parents!



Needless to say I’ve gotten behind in my blogging—my move, projects, work and such have derailed me a bit. I had fully intended to mark the 176th anniversary of the birth (and 95th anniversary of the death) of my 4th great grandmother, Mary Byrne Cunningham a couple of weeks ago. Better late than never…

Mary was born 21 July 1838 in North Burgess Township, Lanark County, Ontario, Canada to Owen and Ellen (Dowdall) Byrne. She married James Cunningham (formerly of County Armagh, Ireland) on 07 Jan 1863 in Perth, Lanark County, Ontario, Canada. The couple started their family immediately welcoming my 3rd great grandmother Ellen Cunningham in late October 1863. They relocated to homestead in Platte Township in Benzie County, Michigan in 1865—leaving Ellen with her Byrne grandparents. The rest of Mary’s children: Michael, John, George, James, Mary, Sarah, and Anna Clara, were born there. By 1884 Ellen had joined the family in Michigan and then married Cornelius Shea a year later in neighboring Manistee County.

Ellen Cunningham Baptism, 1863

As early as 1895 the Cunningham family had moved on to Antigo, Langlade County, Wisconsin—again with the exception of Ellen. The remaining children largely settled in Wisconsin. Mary was widowed in 25 January 1906. She then settled in with her youngest daughter, Annie (Cunningham) Nixon in Antigo, Wisconsin. Mary died 25 July 1919 in Langlade County, Wisconsin.

Happy hunting,


He has a birthday this month and even as a kid he had the moves! It’s kind of a version of the Running Man.

Happy hunting!




Still… chugging (or maybe puttering) along at my 52 Ancestors… I haven’t totally given up. We’ll see how far I get by the end of the year.

Mom, Carol and I in Detroit, 1985It seems like many people (especially as viewing the world through children’s eyes or memories) have a family member around that they are sure their related too—they’re at all the family gatherings, everyone knows them, etc.—but you don’t quite know how they’re related. Now, yes, not all of them really are related but mostly in my family they have been.

For my Trotter side of the family that was Cousin Carol pictured to the left with my mother and I. This is a detail from a larger group shot I’ve shared before here. She was a regular face at my grandparents’ house. I remember her at Thanksgiving (our big annual Detroit gathering) and at all the in-between visits. But for the life of me I didn’t know how she fit into the family—especially after I started researching them. I didn’t even know her last name. Come to find out she’d been in my database all along but she (like many people in my family) didn’t use the name given in “official” sources within the family.

Cousin Carol was in fact my Grandfather Levi’s older first cousin through Great Grandfather Harrison’s sister, Pearl Trotter. Pearl married George Washington Webb on Christmas of 1905 and had a passel of children in Bradley County, Arkansas. Carol, born Calidona Webb, was the sixth child and second daughter, born in 1913. She married Robert Nickolson in 1935 (recorded as Nixon—though he clearly signed Nickolson) in Bradley County, Arkansas. After that it’s a bit of a blank for me.  She may have had a child named Charles? As I mentioned, she was family. I saw her often in Detroit. But I never really knew how she fit.

Nickolson-Webb Mg 1935Aunties, if you’re reading this I have more questions!

Happy hunting,