This is just a quick thank you to the Grands in my life! I love you all, think of you often, and I am so happy to be able to talk to one of you still.

Older Black Couple sitting on a couch with 3 grandchildren--toddler, grade school age, and baby around 1979-1980.
Me, Grandma Elnora, my cousin, Grandpa Levie, and my brother.
Older olive-complected woman and two darker skinned children, all dressed for summer.
Grandma Ethel, Me, and my brother.
Older Caucasian man sitting watching darker skinned toddler playing on the ground and baby lying down on front. All in front of a Christmas tree.
Grandpa Bill, me, and my Brother
Older gentleman seated in a dark paneled room and in front of a window.
Grandpa Bailey, who Mom sat me down next to when I started working on our genealogy for a Girl Scout Badge.

Happy Grandparents Day!

Jess

Hey! This is happening!

Clipped image from Event Page including Photo of Bernice Alexander Bennet, with date and cost information.

I feel pretty strongly about supporting this group and program. Ms. Bernice Alexander Bennett will be the featured speaker at the Michigan Genealogical Council’s Virtual Fall Family History Seminar on Saturday, September 18th. Ms. Bennett is a MAAGI Instructor, Blog Talk Radio Host, Author of Tracing Their Steps: A Memoir–the winner of the 2021 New Generation Indie Book Award and the Phillis Wheatley Award. A recent project has also including helping African American descendants identify their Homesteading Ancestors–which resulted in this nifty page documenting my 3rd Great Grandfather Samuel Lindsay.

Sessions for the day include:

USCT Civil War Widows Pension Records Tell the Story will discuss the anatomy of a Civil War Widows Pension file and several examples to illustrate the value of using these records. 

Black Homesteaders at the Crossroad of Freedom will answer these questions: Who were the homesteaders? What is the Homestead Act of 1862? What are the eligibility requirements? What is the application process? and What can you find in the land entry papers? 

What can you find with your Library of Michigan Card? (Presented by Tim Gleisener) Learn about resources available to Library of Michigan cardholders for family history research including the Grand Rapids Press historical archives, the Michigan Chronicle, Detroit Free Press, Detroit News, Toronto Globe and Mail, and Michigan Sanborn maps.

Writing and Telling Your Story. Do you have a story to tell and don’t know how to write or tell it? This session will explore how you can turn your genealogical research into a compelling and engaging family story. 

Follow the Witnesses will show how following witnesses on documents can reveal the community history.

Researching Your Family’s History at the Archives of Michigan. (Presented by Kris Rzepczynski) An introduction to the Archives of Michigan, this program will explore the genealogical collections available there.

Register for the event here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2021-virtual-fall-family-history-seminar-with-bernice-alexander-bennett-tickets-165251498681

Join us!

Jess

As always, I’ve fallen behind here but also have a ton of blog post ideas running around in my head. This one took a while to mull.

Many of you know I attended the Midwest African American Genealogical Institute this year and even though virtual, it was a wonderful experience. I started off right at the beginning in Track 1A Fundamental Methods and Strategies (the equivalent of an intermediate course) run by Dr. Shelley Murphy. Speaking as someone who has been at this since high school and presenting for 8 years, I still got a lot out of MAAAGI and would highly suggest the institute to everyone. I used the time and classwork to step back and really look at how I approach my research and organization.

The courses at MAAGI are such that people may choose to repeat tracks, but also could jump around based on their education needs. But I felt like it was worth knowing how they present the fundamentals before jumping out into the other courses. I think it was a great place for me to start. And again, even virtual, the week afforded me time to learn and reflect on my research surrounded by people who also love genealogy and the challenge of African American research—a major plus of genealogy institutes in general.

My heartfelt thanks to Dr. Murphy, Judy Russell, Nicka Sewell-Smith, Toni Carrier, and Ric Murphy and all my classmates. I hope to catch up with you all at Allen County Public Library for an in person track soon.

A mortgage I finally spent time transcribing and studying from Aug 1870. This section reads: State of Arkansas, County of Bradley
Be it known that I Sandy York of the State and county aforesaid being indebted to E. B. Turner in the sum of sixty-two dollars fifty cents being
one half the value of one certain roan mare colt an in consideration of the sum of one dollar to me in hand paid the receipt where of is hereby acknowledged have bargained and sold and by these presents do grant bargain…

Happy hunting!

Jess

I’ve never been great about sharing my events… I’m working on it… along with blogging more, researching more, and scanning more. Somehow that pesky (but really fun) fulltime job tends to get in my way. That said, I’m stepping out from my (mostly) behind the scenes duties on Saturday to lead off a virtual series featuring three fabulous Michigan presenters: Matt Pacer (3/13), Katherine Willson (3/20), and Ginger Ogilvie (3/27). Click on the image below for the pdf flyer. The four programs will be Saturday mornings in March, 11 am EST. It’s free but you do have to register for the individual programs to receive the program links. Check it out! Registration is open now: https://bit.ly/2OyhWEZ

Happy hunting,

Jess

A very overdue update! I’m hoping 2021 is looking up for everyone!

Lest you think I’ve disappeared…. Nope! While the pandemic is still seriously unsettling my work flow, I’m still here and slowly but surely making progress on scanning (and posting) pictures. I’m trying something new so please feel free to let me know if this works as a way of presenting a collection for both enjoyment and comment. The first batch have been posted here: Zelma Porter Morris Hanson Reeves Photos. I tried to put them in at least rough chronological order. I think people will be able to comment individually on photos. If you think the id’s are wrong or have any more information about the pictures you’d like to share (place, age, stories, etc.) please feel free to comment or email me.

Enjoy!

Jess

Charles Erwin “Win” Porter on right.

I’ve actually done a fair amount of (virtual) presenting lately which has been different but fun. I haven’t quite gotten my mojo back from the ongoing “fun” of 2020–and don’t see that happening anytime soon. But I’m finding my way and enjoying my research and reading again! That said my Aunt Joan gave me a new project which some of you should get a kick out of. Porter and Holden descendents (plus any Morris, Conant, Eldred cousins out there)–heads up! I’m sorting and scanning Aunt Zelma Porter’s (Morris Hanson Reeves) pictures and I’m hoping to stick them somewhere for family to access.

Happy hunting,

Jess

Photo: Charles Erwin Porter and Lulu Holden Porter, Wedding Portrait, 1904.
This is the wedding photo of (2nd Great) Grandpa and Grandma Charles Erwin and Lulu (Holden) Porter, taken in 1904.

Needless to say, the pandemic has totally thrown my year, but I’ve been sitting on a version of this post for a while. I’m not sure I’ll be able to get back into a more normal run of posts anytime soon, but I will endeavor to at least post more.

Some of you know I was working on a presentation on occupational records and resources for a Virtual Genealogical Association webinar last week. It was another presentation that was truly meant to get researchers out and about looking for information in libraries, archives, and museums. Then… pandemic. But, in the retooling of the presentation, I found so many interesting and cool online resources that I really thought they were going to have to cut me off for going too long. Suffice to say, there is much that can be done online—but you should also be making the list of places to visit when it is safe for you to do so too.

I’ve talked about examples of occupational records/resources on the blog before: Henry R. Massy’s  Police Force Application, Grandpa Bailey’s work photo from Kirkhoff Manufacturing, labor union publications. But being in lockdown gave me time to explore other resources. For example, did you know that Ancestry has record sets like U.S., Baseball Questionnaires, 1945-2005—a collection of self-completed surveys including the likes of Roger Marais, Ken Griffey, Jr  (and Sr.), or former Detroit Tiger Brad Ausmus. Or maybe you need a record set more down to earth? They also have a collection called Wisconsin, Employment Records, 1903-1988—including the four occupations for which one needed a license: education, barbering, watchmaking, and boxing.

Family Search has a variety of collections like the Certificates of admission to the Guild of barbers, surgeons and chandlers, Shewsbury, 1745-1792 (UK), the Business license records (Pike County, Ohio), 1816-1854, 1877, or the Peddlers and Show Licenses, 1852-1866 (Decatur County, Georgia).

Clippings from WorldCat.org entry for the Arkansas Borad of Barber Examiners files of inactive barbers, series III, 1937-1994 from the Arkansas State Archives and a photo of the catalog entry for Fred Elliott, barber.

Searches in WorldCat or ArchiveGrid can net more collections—such as the Arkansas State Board of Barber Examiners files of inactive barbers, series III, 1937-1994 at the Arkansas State Archives including a picture of my Great Uncle Fred Elliott. But so can a search on Google. That’s how I found a number of industry journals with mentions of family members. Like the notice of the fire at my 4th Great Uncle H. R. Rothwell’s barrel, cask and box factory in Chicago, Illinois in on June 9th 1908 in The National Cooper’s Journal  and The Barrel and Box.

Clippings from Barrel and Box, July 1908

“But I only have Farmers!” I hear you. I know. I have my fair share, but check out the community your family is from to see if any of the farm books or store ledgers for the area survived. I can’t promise they’re out there, but it’s worth a look—especially if you’ve hit a brick wall.

Or maybe your find is waiting for a building renovation and will find its way to Facebook, like this. It a grocer’s card that a pizza joint in my mom’s hometown found while renovating. I totally wanted it to be our George, but then it settled in that there were three George Porter’s in town at that time (and we’re only related to two of them)—needless to say that’s the one we have no claim to. But, wow!  What a neat job-related find sitting out there on social media for someone.

Happy hunting!

Jess

I had the chance to read a digital ARC of the following title from NetGalley so thanks to them and Abrams Press.

You should know how the use of DNA tests could affect you, even if you never take one.

 

Cover of "The Lost Family" by Libby Copeland.If you’ve taken, want to take, or even never want to take a DNA test, The Lost Family by Libby Copeland is for you. I came into this with a background in genealogy and genetic testing and I very much appreciate the way Copeland lays out the more challenging aspects of the genetic genealogy boom–results that contradict the stories you’ve been told all your life, the fact that you testing could totally affect the lives of genetic relatives that never intended to test, the use of testing for health research or law enforcement purposes. These are all very big topics that people generally don’t consider when they get a kit for Christmas or arbitrarily decide that it would be cool to see they pie chart (or some other “ethnic” breakdown depending on the company). Whether you’re Interested in family history or not this is a compelling and important read.

 

Happy hunting and reading,

Jess

One of the cool things I’ve found in my research is that people lived in areas I had never considered possible. One branch of my family generally thinks of itself as poor farmers and while we have many of those, we also come from a line of landed or aristocracy adjacent Brits. This includes younger sons who chose or were slotted for military service like Hugh Massy, or military families who through their standing and acquaintances were able to get children on the track for foreign service like Charles Alison. And if you do have people in those middle to high echelons of British Society, then you have to consider the previous global reach of the British Empire and consider all the possibilities. For example, Charles, noted above, was probably born in the West Indies, married a  resident of Constantinople at the British Embassy in Paris, and died in Tehran, Persia. And even having researched Charles, I still was surprised to find my 2nd Cousin, 4 times removed, Maud Mary (Rothwell) Mardon traveling the world.

Maud was born 12 Apr 1881 in Brantford, Ontario the daughter of Burrows Rothwell and Mary Merryweather. However, while Mary, older brother Percy, and her next two siblings (were born in Canada, Burrows had actually emigrated to Michigan as early as 1856. He married Mary in 1867 in Oakland, Michigan and their first four children (Horatio, Fanny, Arthur, and Charles) were born in Eastern Michigan. But by the time of the 1900 Census he was firmly established as a major player in Detroit and Western Ontario real estate. All of this left Maud well placed in Detroit Society during her formative years including participating in multiple charity theatrical events on the Lyceum and Detroit Opera House stages as a teenager.

In 1901 Maud was invited to stay with her aunt and uncle Julia Hill (Rothwell) and James Digges La Touche—a noted Irish civil servant in British India. Maud first joined the family in Dublin then traveled with them to India when La Touche took up his appointment of Lieutenant-Governor of the North-Western Provinces and Chief Commissioner of Oudh. Two years into her stay with the family her engagement to Evelyn John Mardon, also of the British civil service, was announced in the Detroit Free Press on 27 September 1903.

Detroit Free Press Wedding Announcement for Mr . and Mrs. Evelyn John Mardon.

Wedding Announcement for Mr . and Mrs. Evelyn John Mardon. Detroit Free Press, 06 December 1903, p. 28

The couple married 5 October 1903 at Naini Tal, Bengal, India, with the La Touche family standing in for her parents. John and Maude’s first children, John Kenric La Touche and Eveline Mary, were born in Bengal in 1905 and 1908. By 1911 the family had been recalled to England and the remaining children, Victor Rothwell, Julia Alison, Maude Elizabeth, Geoffrey Burrows, and Cedric Hall, were born in Devon. The family appears to have retired to Halsway Manor in Somerset in 1938 where members of the family lived until Mardon’s death in 1958.

 

It appears that Mardon is best known for his work in India and traveling the world as a big game hunter. Ah… colonizers and big game hunting. Really not my thing, but fascinating research, nonetheless.  The family remained an international one—you can find them on passenger lists in and out of the Americas including Brazil, Canada, and the United States. It appears that Victor even took up farming in the Kenya Colony until the Kenya Colony and Protectorate came to an end and Kenya became independent in 1963. This might explain the fact that Maud died 13 February 1950 at the War Memorial Hospital in Nakura, Kenya. Her headstone is noted in the Nakuru North Cemetery at East African Cemeteries and Memorials.

Will entry for Maud Mardon, England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995, Ancestry.com.

England & Wales, National Probate Calendar (Index of Wills and Administrations), 1858-1995, Ancestry.com

I’d never imagined I’d find all these relatives so far away.

Happy hunting,

Jess

Edit: As of March 12th this event has been cancelled.

This one snuck up on me. Join us on Saturday, 14 March 2020 at the Downtown Lansing Library. On Saturdays street parking is free and there is a lot behind the library with entrances on Washington and Kalamazoo that’s also free. Join us!

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