Roadtrips


My trip to Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana with members of Western Michigan Genealogical Society has totally snuck up on me. So, I’m taking time out for the next two evenings to prep. For me, that means making a long list of titles and call numbers to have for that first day—generally focusing on two or three branches of the family.

Last trip was spent mostly on the Massy family and while I still want to assemble a list of materials related to them, I am very interested in spending time on some of my other lines. For example, after that interesting session at FGS2011 on Wisconsin research, I’d like to take some time on my Cunningham and Byrne family (my Great Grandpa Robert Shea’s maternal grandparents)—with the eventual plan to add a roadtrip there. And I’ve also been trying to spend a bit of time on the Grove family of Will Co, Illinois, Ohio and Pennsylvania—the line of my 3rd great grandmother who married Smith Lapham’s grandson, Eugene Smith Baker. Then there’s the Morningstars, Helsels, Trotters, Rogers… Did I mention I wanted to limit it to a two or three branches?

So, evidently I’m going in a little unfocused. But I will have options and I will be prepared to start in a section as soon as we arrive, versus spending the first hour working on the catalog. That said, I may totally change my mind on the bus ride to Fort Wayne and go off in a totally different direction—I am one of those contrary women.

Regardless, more than anything, I’m looking forward to relatively uninterrupted time to work on genealogy.

I’ll let you know what I find!

Jess

Once year I go on a trip with my parents and grandmother and occasionally I highjack our vacation briefly for a bit of family history related fun. One example would be the nifty picture up top (in the blog banner) of Mom and Gran wandering around Maple Grove Cemetery, in Glen Arbor, MI when I wanted to photograph the headstones of Gran’s Shea relatives there. But this year I didn’t drag them to a cemetery, library, or museum… No, this year I politely asked if on a cold, rainy day we might spend some time wandering through an antiques store. So, we decided to wander through the 4 floors of Wilson Antiques in Traverse City, Michigan.

Going through such a large store with such a wide variety of eras and styles represented seemed to be a fun diversion for everyone as they wandered through rooms saying, “I remember someone having that,” or ”That looks so familiar” or “That’s an antique? I used to have that.” And it got people talking and thinking about childhoods, grandparents, and more. It’s funny… I’m not sure they all get how much fun I had just walking through with them—sometimes sticking close to my Mother and Gran, other times wandering through with my Dad—but always enjoying listening to them comment on what they were seeing.

It was a fabulous morning, both perusing the store and enjoying the stories and exclamations, but the bonus moment for me actually came the next day when my father had me pull up a picture that he’d remembered of his recently deceased brother in a stroller very similar to one we’d seen at Wilson’s. Dad doesn’t often get involved in my genealogy research but sometimes he surprises me with pictures or stories. It was the cap to a fantastic trip. Thank you guys!

Happy Hunting,

Jess

I took a very short road trip today with a run out to the Archives of Michigan to do a little research using their Naturalization records. For those of you not familiar with these, the State Archives has made this very easy for many researchers with great online finding aids for many of the counties in Michigan, with one notable exception—and of course the one I have the most relatives in—Wayne County (which is not to say they’re not trying). So, I went with a few names with exact index information that I just wanted to print or copy and a few names that I knew I’d have to work for—if I was lucky enough to find anything.

Interestingly enough, it became a bit of a lesson in being prepared and flexible. When I arrived I was behind another researcher who was fairly certain that the rules about not taking in coats, pens, etc. didn’t apply to him, which was a tad uncomfortable to watch the attendant have to deal with—though she was great. But it made me think about some of the other places I’ve researched lately and some of the encounters I’ve witnessed… and the librarian in me couldn’t help but take over for this post.

I’m sure I’m preaching to the converted (mostly) but as a researcher, a librarian and someone who has more than once worked in situations such as these:

  • It works a lot better for all involved if you know what you’re looking for—go in with a few solid goals or record groups to work with.
  • Know the rules of the place you’re visiting (and follow them)—including be aware of what they allow you to bring in.
  • Be patient—even the best staffed institutions can be overwhelmed with researchers and most places, due to the economy, are not staffed or equipped optimally for demand.

Many places have clearly laid out rules and a lot of collection information on their websites. Most have email and you can request rules and inquire about records ahead of time if you can’t find them online. And, of course, telephones work too.

None of this is new… but it doesn’t hurt to throw this out into the aether as a friendly reminder.

As it happened, there was a pretty large group already working on readers and printers so, I wasn’t as successful as I’d hoped to be. But it was easy enough to make arrangements to leave my list and have the copies mailed to me. Plus, I did hit on one of my Wayne County folk—needless to say it wasn’t H. R. Massy—but it appears my 5th Great Uncle, Captain Rowland Hill Alison, did start his naturalization paperwork in Wayne County.

Happy (and respectful) hunting!

Jess

So, day three was a little more relaxed. If one compared my post and the conference schedule you might notice that somewhere along the way yesterday I missed a session. Well, today it was two. I was admittedly suffering a little from overload but I also spent a few hours helping to man the booth for the Michigan Genealogical Council. It gave me a chance to interact with people in the Exhibit Hall and, in my spare time, work on organizing my thoughts about all the interesting information I had been given this week.

Session-wise, I attended Tony Burroughs’ presentation on documents available from before the Chicago Fire—adding Chicago to my Roadtrip Wish List. I went to a super helpful and practical presentation by Thomas McEntee, of Geneabloggers, about creating a blog (I’m still a newbie). I caught one more excellent presentation by Thomas Jones on the Genealogical Proof Standard, and I finally made it to one of Tim Pinnick’s presentations—the one on African American Migration. They were all helpful, interesting, and… about the last bits of information I could handle for the week.

My Springfield experience has been great and I know I’d love to come back again with a more careful plan to research the Massy, Allison, Stinnett and Martin contingent of my family—including wandering around Lincoln, Latham, and Decatur. Besides, I fell in love with Andiamo, GianFranco’s Italian Restaurant & Deli, and Prairie Archives—all within a block of the Old Capitol—and I’d love come back and visit all three.

Anyway, thanks to all who have made this such a great first time experience for me at FGS including all the instructors and everyone I met—but especially to the kind ladies who let me drag them down to Illinois a day early and the rest of the wonderful and welcoming Michigan contingent!

Signing off from Springfield,

Jess

We had an uneventful trip to Springfield, IL but before I start talking about FGS2011 I spent my first full day in Illinois on a side research trip to Logan County (about a half hour north of Springfield)

In all my prep and planning I missed the resource most dear to my heart, at least until the night before my side roadtrip. Then it finally dawned on me that the Lincoln Public Library opened two hours ahead of the Logan County Genealogical and Historical Society Research Center. So, I could look at their local history collection and newspapers if I revised my plans and got up and out of the hotel in the morning. So with a new plan… I still got out of town later than I planned but I was on the road to Lincoln at a reasonable time.

The trip itself was relatively uneventful though I miss having a handy sidekick and map reader. I took a few wrong turns in Lincoln and drove around the block a few times but I made it to their lovely 1902 Carnegie Library with more than enough time to look through microfilm newspapers. The staff was very helpful. They set me up at a reader/printer with my first reel loaded and I was off. My find of the day was H. R. Allison’s obituary. It was a lovely moment only slightly marred by the number of times it took to get it printed legibly. I did spend additional time looking for his wife’s obituary as well—but to be honest too much time looking at microfilm makes me ill.

Next stop was walking around the block to the LCGHS Research Center where a genial volunteer loaded me up with resources. Oddly enough, they had shelves of binders with obituaries but neither Harry nor Nancy was among them—I am so glad I finally remembered to try the library. But, if you have Logan County family, they have a Centenarian who is indexing the local sections of Lincoln newspapers. Not all of them are indexed yet, but there are 80 binders plus if you have time to work through them. I found a couple of interesting tidbits that way. For example, I don’t think I knew that Harry had been a village trustee on the People’s Ticket in 1899. There’s enough there that I may make a return trip to the Center again someday or at least contact one of the society researchers for assistance.

The last leg of my trip was to take a long drive down country roads to what felt like the middle of nowhere to a well-kept cemetery set way off the main road. Like my time in Lincoln this took a little circling but this time it was on foot. I had a rough layout of the cemetery from LCGHS and a location for Harry and Nancy (Thank you, Logan County GenWeb!) but I didn’t really understand the map until after I found them. I ended up getting in my exercise walking through the majority of the cemetery before I found the headstone on the back in the lot of his stepdaughter’s family. When I found him it felt like I was coming face to face with someone I’d been chasing for 16  years… I’ve finally caught him but I still have so many questions.

        

But that’s for another time.

Happy hunting!

Jess

Charles F. Clark's annual city directory, 1968-1969

Charles F. Clark's annual city directory of the inhabitants, business firms, incorporated companies, etc., of the city of Detroit, for 1868-9, p. 256.

So while my mother and grandmother explored the sights in Fort Wayne, I settled in at The Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library for two days of research. One of my major goals was to verify death dates and locations for my 4th great grandparents Lt. Hugh Massy and his wife Jane Alison Massy. I have a date for Hugh from Burke’s Irish Family Records but I haven’t been able to locate a place of death or burial. As for Jane I have her showing up in Detroit directories up through 1869, nothing in the 1870 Census, likely death record in Middlesex Co, Ontario in 1870, and written testimony from her son, Henry R. (my single most untrustworthy ancestor to date) who said she went back to Canada to visit a daughter and died there sometime around 1863. I spent hours going through cemetery transcriptions—especially around Strathroy and Wisbeach (Lambton Co), where other family members are buried, but still no luck. I did however take the opportunity to go through just about all the materials published by the Lambton Co., Ontario Genealogical Society and a good chunk of Middlesex Co., as well.

I was also able to track some of the families that married into Lt. Massy’s extensive family who were landowners in Co. Limerick, Ireland. A number of Burke’s volumes include information about the Massy’s—two of which I was able to work with at the Library of Michigan in Lansing. But entries in those books referred to other editions that I was able to work with at ACPL. Going through those volumes kept me busy for the afternoon. I photocopied a lot of pages and have a huge number of leads to work with on the matrilineal lines (including a sketchy but intriguing connection to Sir Edmund Spenser, author of The Faerie Queen) through the Travers family.

I also got to tell Gran that while a portion of her family has been present in Ireland for 300 years she’s still in that category of Brit transplant to Ireland.  She was not amused. She still has high hopes that the Shea’s will prove to be the stereotypical Celts—Irish Catholic to the core and anti-British. She might win out there but one never knows with her family.

My most recent trip was my first solo trip to Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana. I’ve been many times but always with a bus trip of friends from Western Michigan Genealogical Society. But this time I wanted to do an overnight trip down and my mother and grandmother opted to ride along. My days were spent in the library researching Gran’s not so Irish line (more later) but I worried about my traveling companions’ enjoyment of the trip.

But I need not have worried. Mom is an ace at research herself as well as taking things a day at a time. I’m still working on the latter. She and Gran found a couple of great places to spend their time while I researched. So if you’ve got travelling companions who won’t be heading into the Genealogy Center with you or if you need some time away from the stacks here are a couple of neat sites in Fort Wayne to check out.

A waterfall at the Fort Wayne Botanical Conservatory

  1. Fort Wayne Botanical Conservatory: I did not go to this but my mother’s photos were lovely. We’re quite spoiled living so close the Fredrick Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids but Mom describes this as a beautiful conservatory that was literally across the street from our hotel and she and Gran could have stayed for hours.
  2. DeBrand Fine Chocolates: DeBrand Headquarters & Kitchens at 10105 Auburn Park Drive offers a tour Tuesdays and Thursdays year-round. Both and Mom and Gran enjoyed this outing and I can certainly vouch for how delicious the chocolate was since both purchased boxes of chocolates to bring home and try.
  3. And we all enjoyed a lovely meal at J. K. O’Donnell’s Irish Ale House. They have a nice variety on the menu—both foods and drinks.

Other highlights included the ACPL Friends of the Library bookstore Twice Sold Tales where both browsed. I’ve learned to ignore it because the first two trips I came out with a heavier backpack than I should have.

Some other possibilities that were on my and Mom’s radar for other trips include: visiting Satek Winery (north of Ft. Wayne), Mad Anthony Brewery Tour  (a 5 minute  drive or 20 minute walk from the Library), and catching a show at the Embassy Theater (on the opposite side of the Grand Wayne Center from the Library).

It’s interesting and not always easy to balance travelling with people who aren’t planning on hanging out at the library but it can be very fun as well. For more information on things to do in Fort Wayne, Indiana check out VisitFortWayne.

Cheers,

Jess

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