Family Almanac


I’m behind but I’m making a comeback (I think)!

1893CityDirectoryWoodstockONT

1893 Woodstock, Ontario, Canada City Directory

So, my first thought on the prompt regarding long lines was a bit of research I was working on this summer regarding occupations. Researching an ancestor’s occupation may tell you more about your family and the choices they made. For example, I knew that Cornelius Packer and several of his siblings  came to Michigan to work in the furniture industry in the 1890s, but a more careful examination of the occupations in the family shows an interesting evolution. They came from Canada where I knew many of them did factory work of some kind—but by tracking down multiple city directories (they don’t always identify employers) and newspaper articles I was able to tie the family—including brothers Albert, Charles, and William and their father Joseph Packer to the James Hay Co. in Woodstock, Ontario—a  furniture company. So, two generations worked in some aspect of the furniture industry as it swept west.

Tracking the family back further it’s clear that Joseph Packer did at least a stint as a Brickmaker—but that actually seems to be the general profession of his Vaughan in-laws. His brother-in-law Cornelius Vaughan, who immigrated with them to Canada, found work as a brickmaker in Ontario bringing skills already honed in Kent, which, after the Napoleonic wars, briefly became a major supplier of bricks for London development. The decline of the industry coincided with the families’ immigration.

Milton1858p217

1858 Melville’s Directory of Kent, England (Milton) p. 217

Another tidbit to add to consideration about the family. Joseph Packer is one of the only members of his family to go into brickmaking. The rest worked in basket making. In fact, several researchers have noted the basket making Packers of Kent possibly tracing back to a basket maker on the Isle of Thanet born in the mid-1600s. It’s something I plan to spend more time researching. But Cornelius Packer’s grandfather Thomas and Great Uncle John, as well as a 2nd and a 3rd great uncle (John and Edward respectively), are all identified in records as basket makers.

Happy hunting,

Jess

It’s one thing to know the bare facts of a story but a totally different thing when you find a more personal or intimate view of a person. This was a heartbreaking find tucked among my Great Aunt June’s belongings.

The following is an entry from my 2nd Great Aunt Ethel Augusta Packer’s diary. She was born 12 November 1887 in Oxford, Ontario to Cornelius and Flora (Massy) Packer. The family came to Michigan and settled in a house on 163 Shirley St, in Grand Rapids around 1891. At the time of the entry she was twelve years old and stricken with tuberculosis. She died the following September just short of her thirteenth birthday. My grandmother was named after her.

January 18, 1900 Entry from Ethel Packer's Diary.

It reads:

Freddie Ellingham is sick and so am I and he sent me two oranges. I am setting up and I have been in bed six  weeks. Papa is sitting by the bed reading my story book and mama making me a tidy. I have taken my medicine good all day to day. I had me bed drown up by the window to see the children snow ball.

For more information on the TB epidemic in the late 19th and early 20th Century check out this post.

Happy hunting,

Jess

JuneRuss1975There’s nothing quite so moving as the slow salute of an honor guard to a fallen comrade or that final verse of Taps… November has been a month of ups and downs culminating in my Uncle Russ‘s funeral this morning. He was a gifted mechanic, veteran, father, uncle, friend and, from my perspective, utterly devoted to my Aunt June. So, perhaps it’s no surprise…

We’ll miss them both.

 

Happy hunting,

Jess

June06When I talk about Henry Massy, it always starts with a request made by my Grandmother and Great Aunt to find his story. And all along the way they were fabulous cheerleaders, attentive in hearing what I uncovered and appreciative of the time and efforts and I was honored to be able to give them back some of the story lost to them. My Great Aunt died this past weekend. She was one of the nicest people you could meet, stubbornly independent, and a beautiful soul.

Jess

Grandma EthelI hope you’re celebrating with fun in the sun! Have a wonderful birthday and many more to come.

Love you!

Jess

This is one of my favorite shots.
You’ll be missed “Grandma” Lorraine! (1932-2014)

Happy hunting,

Jess

image

Someone hit double digits this week!

Checking out frogs with his Bailey cousins many years ago.

Trotter-Bailey-Frog

Happy hunting,

Jess

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