I finally managed to scrounge time and get down to the Allen County Public Library for a couple of days of research last week and I again loaded up my intrepid traveling companions—my mother and my Gran—and headed off for a couple of days in Fort Wayne, IN. This time the non-genie portion of our party had mixed results with their plans but I think we all came out successful.

This time we opted to try a B&B for the novelty value. We stayed at the LaSalle Bed & Breakfast on West Washington (all of a block and a half from the library). It is a lovely historic building now divided into rooms and suites, and run by Rose-Aimée and Clark Butler and their family. We stayed in the beautiful Africa Suite, slept very comfortably, and enjoyed a lovely, filling breakfast with Rose-Aimée. I’d highly recommend it and encourage people to look into their sister site the Sion Bass House Spa.

As for other interesting finds for Non-Genies or when you need down time from the library, this turned into a bit of a foodie trip for Mom and Gran. We had breakfast the first day at Cindy’s Diner on South Harrison Street a 15-seat 50’s diner with fabulous food and a fun family dynamic. They couldn’t pass up a return to trip to DeBrand Fine Chocolates so we had an assortment of fine chocolates. But they also bought a lovely assortment of goods from Pembroke Bakery & Café located on Main St. inside the Auer Center for Arts and Culture. Their baked goods are delicious and all vegan and they have a gluten free selection as well. I will personally vouch for their plain bagels and chocolate chip cookies. And as a group we had dinner at Mad Anthony Brewing Company.  We had a lovely meal and split a flight of beer—my favorite was easily their Amber Lager.

Unfortunately, the Peony Tea House and, more importantly to Mom and Gran, Pfeiffer House & Wayne Street Soda Shop, have both closed though they still show up in the Visitor’s Bureau’s Restaurant listings. It sound like it was a bit disappointing but again I think the trip was still successful for all.

For more information on things to do in Fort Wayne, Indiana check out VisitFortWayne.



I’ve managed to sneak over to the Library of Michigan a few times in the last couple weeks with the hopes of checking my oldest research and sources. I actually did a bit of a double take when I realized how long I’ve been working on some of my families and how haphazardly I cited when I started. Please believe I have improved dramatically!

That said, I forget sometimes—as it’s in my own backyard—just how fabulous the Genealogy Collection is at LOM. The microform, book, and newspaper collections kept me going for years before I ever travelled to another institution. This past week I worked with a 2 volume, fabulously footnoted, genealogy of the Holden family and a couple of county histories from New York. Next week will probably be a couple of different New York Counties and looking for Kent County obituaries. And I know that there are hundreds of relatives still tucked away in the collection for me to find.

All politics aside—and there has been a lot surrounding the Library in the last 3 or 4 years as the State tried to decide what it would fund—it’s still a notable collection for researchers in general, and Michigan families in particular. If you haven’t already, check it out.

Happy Hunting,


I did make it out to Howell this past week—despite cough and winter weather advisories—to check out the Howell Carnegie District Library and more specifically visit its Archives. I had a great time going through boxes of materials on the Michigan State Sanatorium which gave me even more insight into that institution. And some wonderfully illustrative material which I think will bring it to life better for my relatives.

I also noted earlier that my 4th Great Grandfather was listed in one of the online indexes for the Archives. He was listed because they have indexed all Livingston County Civil War Veterans and Henry R. Massy was a replacement soldier for a Hartland, Michigan draftee. So I didn’t really find new information there but it gave me the chance to better study the information offered in the regimental histories created by the state of Michigan.

The volunteers were fabulously helpful gentleman with interesting stories about the more recent history of the hospital (before it was demolished) and about fellow researchers. And the collection looks like it could be a gold mine for researchers with Livingston County roots. Also, the building itself is lovely, with an ornate Carnegie façade, and an unobtrusive modern addition off the back including space for the fiction and non-fiction collections on one floor and an enviable children’s and teen area on the lower floor.

It was definitely a worthwhile road trip!

Happy Hunting,


8 Miles to Coons Clothing Store, HowellSo, assuming I can breathe comfortably without coughing fits, I will be heading over to the Howell Carnegie District Library this week for a little more research on the Michigan State Sanatorium for Tuberculosis. As noted in previous posts, both of my Grandmother’s parents did a stint there, and though their patient dates don’t actually match up—the family story is that they met there.

I’ve been doing a bit of research up front to try and figure out what I’d like to look at. I’ve spent a little time making a list of items that show up on MeLCat, the Michigan eLibrary shared catalog that can be used for interlibrary loan or to just figure out who has what in state. It includes some archival collections including the Michigan State Sanatorium Hillcrest Center collection, 1907-1990 and the Michigan State Sanatorium photograph collection 1917-1957—both of which cover the period when my great-grandparents were patients.

In addition to the material listed on MeL, the Howell Carnegie District Library has a nice newly updated website that includes a set of searchable collection indexes on their archives page. Somewhat idly, I decided to look at the scrapbook indexes and happened to zero in on a relative’s name—it wasn’t either of the grandparents I was hoping to research there. Instead, there is a listing for my 3rd Great Grandfather, Henry R. Massey, who was a replacement soldier for a Hartland resident… You never know where you’ll find things.

So I have a plan… now I just need to get rid of the cold.

Happy hunting,


Photo: 8 Miles to Coons in Howell, MI: I can’t identify the women but the men are both Sheas. The younger one on the left is probably Dick Shea and the gentleman on the right is my Great-grandfather Robert Shea. I have numerous shots around this sign so my guess based on people subbing in and out of them is that my grandmother actually took the picture. It is from the collection of my Great Aunt.

Organized bus trip rule #1: At least 30 minutes before the bus leaves you will find the most fabulous source that you do not have time to get through or photocopy or the person in front of you at the copier will be copying the whole book, or… You get the picture. It’s Murphy’s Law applied to genealogy.

This rule was explained to me by my fellow WMGS members on my first trip to Allen County Public Library’s Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne a few years ago and, in general, it rings true. But I somehow always think that if I plan well enough I won’t get caught. And come Thursday morning, I genuinely thought I had a good enough plan that I wouldn’t have a problem getting finished before the bus left. So, imagine my horror at 2 pm when I realized that the 2 volume source I really wanted to go through would not be doable in the allotted time—I did the math. I had possible family on all but maybe 10 pages in each. I could, of course, copy the entire book but the last vestiges of my time working for a copyright librarian reared its head. So, now I have another set of books on my purchase wish list and at the top of my “To Do List” for the next trip. The impatient part of me wants to order them now in the hopes that they’ll clear up every bit of confusion I have about the Dice/Theis and Koppenhöfer families (not likely…but still).

But it was a relatively successful couple of days. I have a better idea about this particular set of clustered families that moved from Pennsylvania to Ohio and then a smaller batch moved on to Will County, IL. I’m not sure I’ll ever find out why my 3rd Great Grandfather was down in Will County to meet his wife (as opposed to Rockford with the rest of his family) but I feel like I’ve taken a few strong steps to understanding this branch. And the Johnson’s should note that they’re even more German than they originally thought—as the Dice, Koppenhaver, Besore, and (I’m guessing) the Grove families are probably all Palatine Immigrants.

Happy hunting,


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!


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,


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