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,


Day two started wet! I had grand plans to go for a walk and have breakfast at Andiamo in Springfield (which I very much enjoyed for lunch the day before) but it was pouring and somehow it wasn’t worth the effort. But the day, while often gray, was was still a productive one and it was dry every other time I wandered out of the Convention Center and hotels.

I attended a BCG Seminar, a very informative session by David McDonald for beginners to Wisconsin Research, a class on African American Digital Research presented by Tony Burroughs, and another great beginner’s guide to records in Ohio presented by Diane VanSkiver Gagel.

I came out of the day with another set of research destinations added to my list and the start of two more research plans and trip folders—so far still in my head. I’ve been given a number of great tools and ideas to jumpstart my research in both Wisconsin and Ohio as well as a few solid locations I want to check out like the Wisconsin Historical Society Library and Archives and the Ohio Genealogical Society’s new Research Center in Bellville, OH.

If anything my only complaint about the conference setting is that there isn’t enough time to sit back and digest—because I want to go to every session, or stay up talking to folks, or totally crash because of information overload.

Happy Hunting from Springfield!


This was my first full day at FGS2011 and I had a blast from plenary to most of the way through the Society Showcase—I did sneak out before 8 pm. My session choices for the day were:

  • The Jones Jinx: Tracing Common Surnames presented by Thomas Jones
  • Searching Your African American Roots on presented by Lisa Arnold
  • ICAPGen Application Forms Presented by Kelly Summers
  • Getting Beyond the Bare Bones presented by Thomas Jones

I enjoyed and got a great deal out of all of them, but I think my pick of the day would have to be “The Jones Jinx.” So, a very big thank you Kris R. who told me that Tom was great when I told him I’d been going between that and another presentation! The case study layout of the presentation—a walk through on finding the parents of his relative, C. R. Jones—was one that particularly clicked for me. I came out with a list of things I wanted to work on with various ancestors (common surnames or otherwise)—including looking at the set date of birth that H. R. Allison/Massy uses all over the place that doesn’t quite match up with other information I found. Or starting over completely on my Johnson women in Arkansas—a current brick wall line. If you get a chance to see a lecture by Tom…Go!

The Ancestry class wasn’t really new material for me but it was still interesting to hear and it reminded me that with all sites: you’ve got to keep checking back to see what’s going on. I’ve been so focused on what’s worked for me (ex.’s Arkansas Marriage Records) that I sometimes forget to check out the updates elsewhere that may move me along in my research.

The ICAPGen session was interesting, not because I’ve decided to get certified but, because it helped me to think about the range of resources and geographic areas I have worked with over the years—as well as the range of courses I’ve taken.

And finally, I attended Tom Jones second presentation because I loved the first one. And I wasn’t the only one, because that room was absolutely packed! This was, again, very practical advice but it was laid out with examples that I found personally useful as well as interesting to hear about.

So, I’m deeming it a successful day. I’ve met and chatted with tons of interesting people and already learned a lot… And there’s still two days to go.

Happy Hunting from Springfield!


I’m attending my first FGS Conference this year in Springfield, IL. I chickened out on the one in Arkansas a couple of years ago when it would have given me the impetus I needed to get down to Bradley County and do research—and I regret it. So this year, when I’ll be 45 minutes tops from Logan County, IL—the later stomping grounds of my most untrustworthy and probably most fascinating ancestor—I couldn’t pass it up. So, now I’m making lists—stuff to pack, finding directions, and trying to decide the best way to sneak off and experience a little bit of Harry R. Alison’s Logan County.

But you need to know a little about Harry … back when he was Henry.

He was an Irish cop in DetroitThat’s the only lead my grandmother, Ethel, and her sister, June, could give me in my quest to find their great-grandfather. Their grandmother, Flora Jane (Massey) Packer, shared very little about her parents—and possibly knew very little. They said an aunt and uncle had raised Flora when her mother died and passed on little information—about her father in particular. She knew he was an Irish policeman in Detroit for a time but beyond that her questions weren’t answered. Aunt June suspected that there was more to the story and I had been trying to figure out what that was for 10 years.

To begin with, Flora’s death certificate lists her as the daughter of  Henry Massey and Augusta Cory… and for the longest time searching for the pair through census indexes the closest I could find was John O. Massey, a policeman in Detroit. Eventually—as online indexes improved—I  found Augusta and Flora living in Detroit with Augusta’s parents John B. and Nancy Cory in 1870… but no Henry.

However from there I was able to gather a great deal of information. I started looking at Detroit Directories and found Henry and John O. Massy listed as policeman and as I worked backwards I could place them in the same residence. I also found a transcription of Henry and Augusta’s marriage license from 14 Aug 1866 and while I have been unable to locate an existent copy of Flora’s birth certificate, she lists her birth date as 14 Jan 1867. Given the state of healthcare at the time, I would argue that Augusta was about 4 months pregnant at the time of their wedding.

Patrolman H. R. MasseyIn addition I pulled up HeritageQuest and searched Persi for anything on the Police in Wayne County, Michigan. I was thrilled to find a Detroit Society for Genealogical Research Magazine transcription from the Applications to Detroit Police Department, 1865-1871. I found John O. Massy’s application. It included when he applied and how he was honorably discharged much like every other applicant. And then there was Henry’s. It was unlike any other… his had notes:

  • Patrolman Henry R. Massey was arraigned before the Board on the twelfth day of December A. D. 1866, charged with “sleeping while on duty and with remaining in Skating Rink for two or three hours. He was found guilty of violating the Rules and was fined five day’s loss of pay. [no endquote in original]
  • Patrolman H. R. Massey was charged with leaving his beat on the night of October 28th 1868 and going into a building corner of Hastings and Atwater Sts and while there with going to sleep. The charge was investigated by the Board Oct 28th 1868. He was found “Guilty” and fined five dollars.
  • Patrolman H. R. Massey was arraigned before the Board on the 31st day of March 1869 charged with leaving his beat and going into Burn’s bakery corner of Woodward Ave. and Grand River St. and upon another charge of visiting a house of prostitution on Franklin St. He admitted both of the charges as specified and gave as a reason of going to the house of prostitution that he was looking for a prisoner. Upon the latter charge the judgment of the Board was that he be dismissed from the Police Force. J. S. Booth, Secretary.

Dismissed in 1869 and gone in 1870.

The original book of applications is housed at The Burton Historical Collection at the Main Library of Detroit Public Library.

More later,