Um… so, well this:


She says, trying to act cool while in her head she’s doing a Snoopy dance. It’s a great library and staff and I’m honored to speak there.

“Scandalous Ancestors” provides ideas for tracing and teasing out the stories of our black sheep ancestors including a case study featuring an unreliable ancestor with a research story that began in 1860s Detroit and ends in Logan County, Illinois.

“Tracking my Trotters”: Sorting out my father’s family has been a joy… and maddening, but it’s also offered great lessons in research and made our history as a country more real—from the Second Great Migration, to the Jim Crow South to Slavery.

Join us at The Genealogy Center at Allen County Public Library’s Main Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Happy hunting,


Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, Springfield, Illinois, 2011I’m getting a little antsy about traveling… which is kind of annoying because my road trips tend to fall in the spring and autumn. And, other than a few day trips that I’m trying to figure out how to fit in, I’m fairly tied to the area for the foreseeable future. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get out and explore. A few events on my radar here in the Great Lakes region include:

I was seriously eyeing everything in that two week span in July until life intervened—luckily “stuck” in the area means the Abrams Foundation Seminar is a definite. Hope to see people there!

Happy hunting!


Working out of order… June included a day trip to ACPL’s Genealogy Center with the Lansing Area African American Genealogical Society. It was a different perspective. I was attending more as a consultant to help the group if they needed than to focus on my own research, so I spent a bit more time keeping an eye out for my fellow researchers then I tend to. Even still it was my first experience of trying to do that trip and get anything done in what amounted to an afternoon. It will never be my first choice! But if you have to, plan ahead.

Clip from LAAGS Homework SheetI gave the group homework when they decided to make this their summer trip—links to The Genealogy Center’s website and catalog, instructions to use PERSI, and the basics I pass on in any of my talks that include planning for roadtrips.

That last on has bitten me more times than I care to admit (example)… but I am infinitely better than I was.

I went in to the day with the idea that I would track down a number of articles on the Hampton’s and their Allied families that traveled together from North Carolina to Arkansas in the early 1800s. I am more and more convinced that the answer to some of my slave brick walls will be found in researching these slave-owning families. Nothing definite as yet but I have a lot of leads to rundown that might help me connect to a few DNA matches.

Happy hunting,


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.



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!


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.