Malcolm Daniel Lane, 1898-1941
When I typed up an entry from my grandfather Maurice Reed's journal, a letter he wrote in 1941, I was hoping to hear from some of his descendants or other family. The other day I got this email:
I found your website via your entry “Death on Crystal Lake” – it was a fascinating find!
The Malcolm D. Lane in your letter was Malcolm Daniel Lane, born on June 3, 1898 in Sundance, Wyoming to James Monroe Lane and Carrie King. James Lane was a twin, and he and his twin brother Milton had moved to Wyoming from Illinois to join their oldest brother Samuel in the late 1890’s. James and his family moved back to Illinois in early 1900. Malcolm graduated from the University of Chicago in 1924, putting himself through school by working as stenographer for the YMCA Hotel in Chicago. He married Helga Nielsen, an immigrant from Denmark in late 1930.
Malcolm is a twice removed cousin of mine – my great-great grandfather was Malcolm Daniel Lane’s grandfather, whom he was named after (Malcolm Douglas Lane). Many of the Lane men died in their 40’s and early 50’s from a heart attack. Malcolm’s father James died from a heart attack at age 46.
I don’t currently have any information on what happened to Helga or his children after his death – I am going to do some digging and if I find anyone I will pass along your website.
It was truly a treasure!
So now all we need to do is track down Malcolm's children, Daniel and Alice, and find out what happened to them....
Although I didn't know it at the time, when I got hooked on genealogy and began the life-long journey of researching my ancestors, I was presented with a huge brick wall. Over the 40 years since then, I have been chipping away at that brick wall, and have had some success in discovering more pieces of the puzzle. However, the discovery I made this week made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, and the theme from "Twilight Zone" playing in my head.
To set the scene: my great-grandmother, Rhoda Ruth Prosser, was born in Hillsdale, Michigan in 1860. Her younger brother Charles was born about 1863 or 1864, and shortly afterward their father died in the Civil War. Their mother, Rhoda Prosser, married another Civil War veteran, Henry R. Jones. On the 1870 census of Hillsdale they are all listed with the surname "Jones", and on the 1880 census Charles is enumerated under his middle name, Douglas:
1880 U.S. census, Hillsdale county, Michigan, population schedule, Hillsdale, enumeration district (ED) 086, p.143 (stamped), dwelling 102, family 105, Henry R. Jones; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 6 Jan 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T9, roll 580.
Note the fact that "Douglas" Prosser is a printer. So was his brother-in-law, Ruth Prosser's first husband, Crawford Strunk. In fact, when Charles Douglas Prosser married Amanda Quay in Gaylord, Michigan in December 1884, Crawford Strunk was one of the witnesses.
Michigan Secretary of State, Marriage Registers, p.76, line 56, Prosser-Qua; digital image, "Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925," FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org: accessed 6 Jan 2013)
I knew, from a luggage tag in the stack of papers I inherited, that Charles and Amanda had a daughter named Lottie. In 1900 Lottie was living with her grandmother Mary Qua in Forester, Sanilac County, Michigan, and Charles and Amanda are nowhere to be found. In 1909 Amanda married again, to James White - but what happened to Charles?
It was about 4 years ago that I decided to make another attempt to find out what happened to Charles. I did a search in the 1900 census Ancestry for Charles Prosser, born about 1864 in Michigan. And there he was - living in Chicago, Illinois, with a wife Anna and four sons: Lewis, Ray, Bert, and Earl. What convinced me was his occupation: printer.
1900 U.S. census, Cook county, Illinois, population schedule, Chicago, enumeration district (ED) 274,, sheet 5B, dwelling 57, family 110, Charles Prosser; digital image; Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 6 Jan 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 255.
Charles Prosser died in February 1910, and his obituary names his survivors as Anna Prosser and sons Raymond, Albert and Earl Prosser. On the 1910 census his widow Anna is listed with three of their four sons: Raymond, Charles A., and Earl. Over the years I have traced Raymond and Earl, who both married and moved to California. I'm Facebook friends with one of Raymond's grandsons. Since Lewis was not named in Charles' obituary, and does not appear on the 1910 census, I am assuming he died young.
Earlier this year I was doing an assignment for my ProGen study group, and needed to write a proof argument. I figured that given the evidence I'd collected, writing an argument to prove that Charles Prosser in 1900 Chicago, Illinois was the same man as my great-grandmother Ruth Prosser's brother, on the 1880 census of Hillsdale, Michigan would be a good exercise. One of the elements of the Genealogical Proof Standard is "resolution of conflicting evidence". In order to do a good job on my proof argument, I needed to find other Charles Prossers who were born around the same time, and prove that they weren't my relatives.
I found two Charles Prossers on the 1900 census of Michigan. One was living in Onondaga, Ingham County (near Lansing), was born in Canada in Oct. 1863, and worked as a blacksmith. This Charles Prosser (who I later discovered was actually named Solomon Charles Prosser) had a son named Earl.
1900 U.S. census, Ingham county, Michigan, population schedule, Onondaga, enumeration district (ED) 55, sheet 10B, dwelling 273, family 273, Charles Prosser; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 6 Jan 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 716.
The other Charles Prosser living in Michigan in 1900 was a Canadian, born in July 1865, and emigrated to Michigan in 1891. He had a son named Earl.
At this point, I started getting intrigued - what were the chances that three different men named Charles Prosser would each have a son named Earl? I began researching these two men in Michigan, who came from Canada, enough to discover that they were related - they had a common ancestor. This is something I need to explore further.
Earlier this week, I decided to make another attempt at finding Charles Douglas Prosser's son, Charles Albert Prosser, who was born in Illinois in January 1898. It wasn't long before I found his World War 1 Draft Registration card. He was living in Detroit, Michigan, and preparing to start work ("today") at the Fischer Body company in Detroit.
"World War 1 Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database and images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 4 Jan 2013), Charles Albert Prosser.
Further research found this Charles Prosser on the 1940 census, living with his wife and children:
1940 U.S. census, Wayne County, Michigan, population schedule, Detroit, enumeration district (ED) 84-1287, sheet 11A, p.17088 (stamped), household 2900, Charles B. Prosser; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 5 Jan 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 1878.
THEY HAVE A SON NAMED EARL!!!!!
In genealogy, there is no such thing as coincidence. I am convinced now that there is some common thread tying all these families together. It may take me another 40 years, but I am determined to find it - and in finding it, I hope to solve the original puzzle, which is the unknown Civil War soldier who was the father of Rhoda Ruth and Charles Douglas.
In reading my grandfather's journal, I found a copy of this letter that he had written in the summer of 1941:
Mrs. H. C. Johnsson, [sister of]
c/o Mrs. M.D. Lane
4333 N. Monitor Avenue,
My dear Mrs. Johnson,
We were very glad to have your letter and to hear from it, and from the one to Snells, something of what you have been doing and thinking since you left. We were especially pleased with the suggestion in one of the letters that Mrs. Lane may come back. You were such splendid neighbors, just about the finest we had ever known anywhere. We had enjoyed our informal and friendly contacts so much, that we accepted you, not as intruders into our paradise here, but as one of the very nicest things about it, and the thought that you might not return has been deeply disappointing.
Lois has missed Alice even more, the first playmate she has ever had summers. John used to spend his whole time up at Snells', never coming home for meals or anything until we went for him, but after Danny came he hardly went near the farm and it was such a comfort to have him around where we could call him. Since you left, Lois has found little to do but play with Snells' kittens, and John once more is gone all day. I went for him last night at 7:30, the first we had seen him since breakfast. They gave him his lunch, but he was hungry, tired, and as usual, smelling like a cow stable. We have very practical reasons, you see, for wanting Mrs. Lane to return. We need and want her here, and will do all we can, if she comes, to help her win her way again to peace and happiness.
It was indeed welcome news, Mrs. Johnson, to hear about the doctor's report. I did everything in my power for him, everything I could think of, and fought with utter determination to save him somehow. There was no doctor for miles, even if we had been on shore, and whatever was to be done for him, I alone had to do, there and then. I tried so hard, and it means a great deal to know that it was not due to some stupid failure of mine the outcome happened as it did.
There isn't much to tell about the trip down the lake and the time when we were fishing. A running outboard makes enough noise to prevent casual conversation. As he ran up to our dock and cut his motor he greeted me with a pleasant "Good morning," and commented that the lake was so calm it would be nice for trolling. He helped load my things in the boat, and seemed pleased at my comment on its roominess and safe, high seaboard. I mentioned that such a boat would be safe even in Traverse Bay and he asked about the trolling there, but seemed to feel that Crystal Lake was a better guess if any fish at all could be taken here. He asked where to head and seemed a little disappointed that we had to go so far before starting to fish. This end of the lake, being nowhere more than 35 feet deep, is not the best place, as the trout seek the deeper water, about 165 feet, west of Glen Rhoda.
As soon as we reached that point we started trolling and he slowed down the motor. It was too powerful and wouldn't go slowly enough, so he let the stern anchor out and had me put out the bow anchor. These held the boat back to a satisfactory pace, but every few minutes the motor would stop and it finally refused to start. He sat down to rest after a bit, and laughingly told me he had had an old Neptune motor before which made a lot of trouble. He got enough of it and bought a good one, paying a good price. "And now," he laughed, "look at it. It's no better than the other one. Well, maybe a little. I knew that one wouldn't go, and this one does sometimes. I just traded a certainty for an uncertainty."
A breeze had come which was taking us away from the north shore and I had taken in the line and started rowing. He began cranking again, and I urged him to take it easy, that the motor would start all right after it cooled off, that we weren't in a hurry to get anywhere. He sat down then, and relaxed a bit. He told me about the trip he had taken with the family the day before, and commented on the beauty of the shoreline he was facing, compared it with that at Glen Lake, giving the edge to Crystal. He said, "We should have brought Danny along. The motor seems to run all right for him."
I liked him better all the time, and thought of asking his first name, but put it off, as of course, we expected to be out several hours. We were getting acquainted, however, and I was quite willing to make a friend of the man, drew him out and kept him talking. I asked if he had taken the trip down Platte River. He had not, asked if he could do it in that boat, about the fishing there, the scenery along the river and the distance down.
He got up to try the motor again, and I asked to do it this time, so he took my seat and began to row. I gave it a half-dozen fruitless twists, and was discouraged, suggested that I had started mine sometimes by setting it up ashore, with the propeller out of water which allows one to spin it more easily and faster. He was willing to try it, and headed for shore. It was stony and shallow where we first approached, and we drew out again, heading for a sandy spot further down. I asked him to take the oars again, as he seemed to be doing more than his share of the work. He gave them up, but instead of resting, went to work on the motor again. To our surprise, it coughed and ran about a dozen explosions. We both exclaimed with pleasure and encouragement, and he cranked rapidly a dozen times or more, but nothing further happened. He sat down with a rueful smile, and a moment later, I noticed a strange, drowsy expression in his eyes. Then, without a word or sign of any distress, he fell back in the seat, instantly and completely unconscious.
He was so close, right within reach, that I caught him before he could touch the water. Although startled, I was not seriously alarmed, believing only that he had fainted. "Probably came without eating breakfast" was the first thought that occurred. I supported his head, shaded his eyes and splashed water on his forehead, temples and throat, finally slapped him a couple of times. He was breathing in a labored manner, and this presently stopped.
"Here," I said aloud, "This won't do," and began to realize then that something might be seriously wrong. I drew him down on the boat floor and began to give artificial breathing, and he took in a big breath. But no others followed at once so I went on working, thinking furiously, "What can it be? What should I do?" Cars were passing on the highway ashore but it was a long way out of hailing and I dared not stop to gain attention and row within speaking distance. I realized there was no possible help for him except what I could give him right there, and worked with all my strength. Twice more during the first minute or two he drew in a breath, and then there were no more, but I kept on and on. The little hairs on his arms prickled into gooseflesh, and I covered him with his jacket. His color deepened and darkened, and at last, needing encouragement, I felt for his pulse. Then I rowed ashore.
There was no telephone at Hurdman's. One of the men working there went to Glen Rhoda to call a doctor and the coroner. I sat down, weak and shaky and waited. Perhaps I should have gone with him and done the telephoning myself, after which it would have been possible to let you know sooner, but the men at Hurdman's were total strangers and it seemed better to stay.
They came in about an hour, followed by a man with the hearse, by the undertaker and the sheriff. They took him out of the boat, covered him on the cot, and carried him to the hearse. Then the coroner took me home.
Mrs. Reed said, "We must go at once to Mrs. Lane. That's what I'd want Mr. Lane to do had it been you." The rest you know, and though it has not been easy to relive that day in memory, if it has done anything to assuage the sorrow of Mrs. Lane, I am well repaid.
Our association in this tragic misfortune has brought us closer to her. We hope that time will heal her wounds of spirit and that our future acquaintance may be marked, not by sad memories, but by many occasions of pleasure and happiness. To you all, we send every assurance of our deepest and kindest regard.
Maurice L. Reed
1940 U.S. census, Cook County, Illinois, population schedule, Chicago, enumeration district (ED) 103-2612, sheet 14A, page 37814 (stamped), dwelling 287, Malcolm D. Lane; digital image, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 20 Nov 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 1004.
So who was this man, first name unknown, who had died while out fishing on Crystal Lake? I went online to Ancestry and did some research, and concluded that he was Malcolm D. Lane, a newspaper accountant, who lived in Chicago with his wife Hilda and their two children Daniel and Alice. Their address on the 1940 census was the same one that my grandfather wrote to, and I also noted that Hilda's parents lived with them. I hope they were a comfort to her after she became a widow.
I don't know whether Mrs. Lane ever came back to Crystal Lake. Somehow I doubt it - the United States was heading into World War 2, and gasoline rationing was becoming more strict, ruling out pleasure trips. The Ancestry Family Trees that I've seen online don't seem to have Malcolm Lane's date or place of death. Perhaps this letter, written over 70 years ago, will fill in the blanks for his descendants.
Eula Mae (Smith) Breland (1914-2003)
For as long as I've known her, my mother-in-law, Eula Mae (Smith) Breland was always proud of being Cherokee and Choctaw Indian. Often she would mention that her father, George Allen Smith, had a roll number. Through the years, as I became a little more familiar with Native American genealogy, I understood that to mean a number on the Dawes Rolls; registers that were compiled by the federal government between 1898 and 1914. I had done a little research at the National Archives in Seattle, not really expecting to find anything - because how do you find the name Smith, and tell it's the right one?
Eula's father, George Allen Smith (1878-1951)
Eula's mother, Fannie Josephine (Buckley) Smith (1871-1952)
As a professional genealogist, one of the most important things I can do for myself, education-wise, is to watch webinars. I watch two or three webinars a week, and always learn something new. My most recent webinar, however, led to an amazing and exciting discovery! I had registered for "Doing the Dawes", which was presented by Kathy Huber, a librarian with the Tulsa City-County Library and Genealogy Center, through the Friends of the National Archives, Southeast Region. During the webinar, Kathy started showing some easy steps to look up an ancestor on the Dawes Rolls images on Fold3, a subscription website. Since I have a subscription, I decided to follow her directions as she was talking.
The home page of Fold3
I clicked on "Browse Records" to bring up the main category list (at left). I went to the Non-military records, and clicked on "Native American Collection" to bring up that list of publications.
Then I typed in "Taylor Smith" in the search box. Taylor Smith was my mother-in-law's grandfather. His son George Allen Smith, Eula Mae's father, was born in Baxterville, Mississippi.
Searching for the name "Smith", in any collection, is bound to get you thousands of hits, and this was no exception - over 9,000 results! But my eye was caught immediately by the first two listed, because they were in Mississippi.
Words can't describe my excitement when I opened the first record and read the location at the top - Baxterville, Mississippi!
This was only 1 record in this collection of Dawes Enrollment Cards. I had seen that there was another collection of Dawes Enrollment Packets, so I decided to explore that.
The first page (of 27 pages!!) in this packet verified that I was indeed looking at the records for my husband's great-grandfather. Four members of the Smith family applied for registration in 1901 - Taylor Smith, his brother Seth W. Smith, and his sons George A. Smith and Lewis C. Smith. The names listed in this registration packet were all familiar ones - Frederick Rester, Nancy Smith, Louisa Breland. And it appears that there is still more paperwork (these affidavits that are listed) that are not online, but are probably kept at the National Archives. I was jubilant!! My mother-in-law was right - her father DID have a roll number!
As I listened to the rest of the webinar, I set up a DropBox for extended family members around the country, and sent them invitations. Taylor Smith had 27 pages in his packet, including a priceless hand-drawn family tree, that took his ancestry back two generations, to names I had no prior evidence for. George, Lewis, and Seth Smith had 8 to 10 pages each, so I created a DropBox for each of them. For the next hour or so, I was busy online, finding confirmation of these names on census records, which I also saved to DropBox.
As a professional genealogist, I am really excited to find confirmation of what Eula Mae had said for years. At the same time, the information contained in these papers for Taylor Smith seems to disprove a belief held near and dear by family, and by Eula Mae herself - that she was full-blooded Cherokee and Choctaw Indian. Taylor Smith, in his affidavit, stated that he was only 1/8 Choctaw, through his grandmother Julia Bond. One of Eula's great grandson did a DNA test, and was puzzled and dismayed when the results showed "0% Native American ancestry for 5 generations."
The answer to this puzzle may be resolved by obtaining more records. DNA testing of Eula's four remaining children (now in their 60's and 70's) may give us some answers, along with death certificates. All of which serves to confirm what I've found throughout my 35+ years of research - there is always something more to discover!
Mom and Stacy, 2006
I joined Facebook almost 6 years ago, on November 20, 2006, mostly to keep up with my children, Stacy, Steven and Jason. I started out with just a few posts, every now and then; my first status report on November 22, 2006 was "is recovering from a skull fracture, and no, they're not kidding." Since then my crowd of friends on Facebook has grown exponentially, and I've been thinking about all the reasons why I'm on Facebook several times a day. I think it boils down to three important components: communication, information, and relationships. Communication has been uppermost in my mind over the last several months - my beloved nephew Jason (who came to live with us in September 2006; he calls me "Aunt Mom") is in the Marines, stationed at Camp Pendleton in California. Since June his battalion has been in one of the most dangerous areas of Afghanistan. My fears for him were much assuaged by the regular updates he posted on Facebook, along with the private messages we sent back and forth. Yesterday, when I was trying to figure out how to let my Aunt Ethel know that Jason was back in the states, safe and sound, I sent a message through Facebook to her grandson Aaron (my cousin), asking him to call and let her know. He replied within 10 minutes.
When Stacy was in Spain for 3 months in 2008, we communicated not just by email and instant messaging, but also through Facebook; where she was able to post pictures of some of the places and events (bullfights!) she was experiencing. Now that she's at the University of Oregon in Eugene, and we get to see her only 3 or 4 times a year, it's been nice to chat using Facebook's messaging system. Being a librarian by profession, I love reading and information. I used to get my information solely from print sources: books, magazines and newspapers. Since the advent of the digital age, I find that more and more, I'm getting information online. I read newspapers on my laptop, and I've been reading books, more often than not, on my iPod touch Kindle. But one of the most important sources of information for me has been Facebook. Now that I've connected with genealogists all across the country (and internationally, in England, Scotland and Australia), when they post links to interesting articles or books, I follow up, and my education and experience are enhanced. A good example is a link someone posted to a recent article in the Smithsonian Magazine: The Dark Side of Thomas Jefferson
. Many of my 306 (and growing) friends post links to blogs they write - such as Judy G. Russell's Lives as Property
, part of her Legal Genealogist blog, which in turn points to an important collection of online NC deeds from the 1800's. Thomas MacEntee (the King of Social Media for genealogists, as far as I'm concerned!) posts links to new blogs he discovers and keeps us updated on breaking news. Since I'm a member of several groups and organizations (or have "liked" their Facebook pages), I get regular updates from groups like the Western Michigan Genealogical Society, the historic Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina, Elizabeth Shown Mills' Evidence Explained; Facebook is where I find out about the new QuickLessons, such as QuickLesson 12: Chasing an Online Record into its Rabbit Hole. But for me, most of all, Facebook is about relationships. I'm an introvert anyway, and genealogical research tends to be a solitary endeavor. Because of Facebook, I have ongoing relationships with many people, from many different aspects of my life. Who would have thought, when I graduated from Florida State University in Tallahassee and moved to Seattle, that I would be able to keep in touch, on a daily or weekly basis, with the close friends I'd found there? I have friends from as far back as junior high school, who live across the country, most of whom I haven't seen in years. There are friends from my present church and my former church; friends from the church I worked at, and I'm even friends with several of my children's friends. (They keep me young!) I have a growing number of friends I've met (and some I haven't yet) at genealogy institutes and conferences. I consider that I have relationships with all these people - they're teaching me, and (hopefully) I'm teaching them by what I post. So even with all its problems, I hope Facebook is here to stay. I would be hard pressed to keep abreast of current events in the world of genealogy, and in the lives of my children and friends, without it.
One of the very real benefits of belonging to the Association of Professional Genealogists is the behind-the-scenes tours I've had of our region's important records collections. One such repository that I've used several times is the Washington State Archives in Olympia. Our Puget Sound chapter met yesterday for an exceptionally interesting meeting, highlighted by a presentation by our state archivist, Jerry Handfeld, and followed by a tour of the building. Like most archives and libraries, it's bigger than it looks from the outside! From the street, it's a one-story building, but underneath are two climate-controlled floors filled with boxes, books, and rolls of microfilm.
Our tour began and ended in the research room, where the staff had put out examples of various records for us to see. One of those was a cattle branding register book, from 1890's Lewis County. I thought this was a fascinating example of records that aren't online - because this is a record I never would have thought to look for!
State of Washington
County of Chehalis
I, D.R. Porter, hereby certify that I have adopted for a mark or brand to be used in marking my cattle situated in Chhalis County, Wash., to letter "P" about four inches in heighth and two inches in width with a bar across the upper part. The following is a correct description and representation of said mark or brand. To wit:
and it is designed to use the same on the left hip of the animal branded. Witness my hand this 2nd day of November 1894.
Recd for record Nov. 22 AD 1894 at 2 o'clock PM at the request of D.R. Porter.
Geo. W. Buyington, Auditor
By F.A. Farr, Deposit
Citation: Chehalis County, Washington, Log and Stock Brands Register, 1886-1909, entry for 22 November 1894, D.R. Porter; Washington State Archives, Olympia.
This past week I had the occasion to go up to the Puget Sound Regional Archives in Bellevue, to look for divorce records. The archivist trundled out 4 huge bound books on a book cart, for me to look through. They were the indexes for the civil court cases in King County, Washington, from 1890 to 1900, and 1900 to 1906; two books indexed by the plaintiff's name (the person bringing the lawsuit), and two by the defendant's name.
These cases cover the whole range of civil (not criminal) legislation - everything from divorce (which is what I was looking for) to adoption, naturalizations, medical malpractice, personal injury, and just suing the next-door neighbor because he was noisy after 11pm. These are just the indexes; the actual cases (denoted by the case numbers) are on microfilm, also at the Puget Sound Regional Archives.
And none of these are online.
In the last several days I have been intrigued by several blog posts by professional genealogists that discuss just how little of their ancestry they've discovered! The Legal Genealogist (Judy G. Russell) posted "More Lost Than Found" this morning, and her percentage was 12.3%: only 126 ancestors out of 1022, covering just 10 generations, a little over 300 years. Yesterday Crista Cowan posted "Family History All Done? What's Your Number?" She fared better, being able to account for 365 out of 1022 ancestors. And Lorine McGinnis Schultze on her Olive Tree Genealogy wrote, "What's Your Number? Don't be too shocked if it's under 30%!"
So, I decided to run my own numbers, for comparison. I brought up my Legacy Family Tree database, created a fan chart, and started counting. Out of 1022 ancestors, reaching back to the early 1700's, I've traced 113. That's 11 percent!
Here's the chart:
There are some reasons for the low numbers:
One quarter of my ancestry is German. My grandfather Arnold Aaron Anthony Stoelt was born of German immigrants. While I do have a photocopy of the family Bible naming his parents and grandparents, I have done very little German research.
While I have found 15 out of my 16 great-great grandparents, that missing person is my Civil War ancestor, my great-grandmother Rhoda Ruth Prosser's father, who reportedly died in the Civil War. Almost 40 years of research has failed to come up with a first name or family of origin for him.
In totaling up my numbers, I'm not counting women for whom I only have a first name. I'm also not counting names for which I don't have any evidence. My great great great grandmother Abigail Stanley was reportedly born in August 1790 to Joseph and Phylen Stanley - I haven't found any proof, and I'm beginning to think this handwritten family tree, handed down from my grandmother, was incorrect.
And, to be honest, I know that some of my lines have good documentation going back to the 10th generation, and I just haven't taken the time and careful effort to enter them into my database. My 3rd great grandfather Benjamin Curtis, who died in Michigan in 1888, has a well documented ancestry going back to 1700's New England. Another 3rd great-grandmother, Betsy Webb (granddaughter of my Revolutionary War patriot Jonathan Webb) goes back to William Bradford. Levi Lane (1784-1856) fought in the War of 1812 (mental note - I need to get his pension file), and I'd like to trace his Vermont ancestors.
And, since this is my own ancestry we're talking about here, I'm also not counting the ancestors of my dearly beloved grandmother Ervilla Varran Stoelt, who was my mother's stepmother. She had a stepfather, Elmer Van Wagoner (and yes, I traced his ancestry), and he had a stepmother, Frances Nora Tanner (you have to ask?). Her life story is important to me, because I own the beautiful crazy quilt she sewed in 1890.
So, next time you're thinking that your ancestry is finished and there's nothing left to search, think again!
When I decided in January that I was ready to take the plunge and send in my preliminary application for certification as a genealogist, I had no idea of the benefits I would receive from making a concentrated effort to improve my skills in research and reporting. One of the very real benefits I've gained is just the necessity (and luxury) of getting back to researching my own family again. When I became a professional genealogist and started doing research for others, it was absolutely necessary for me to learn how to cite my sources correctly and write a proof summary. When I was laid off from my part-time job (almost 2 years ago!) paid research was vital to this household, and I did very little research on my own family.
In deciding on my research subjects for my case study and kinship determination project, it made sense for me to choose my own family, since I've been doing research on them for over 30 years. And over the years, I've collected some unique original records - such as the original patient files for my great-grandfather Henry Hickox Chase, who died in the Traverse City State Hospital in 1940. (I asked for and received those records in 1985, before today's privacy laws kicked in!)
In looking at my own Legacy database, I'm more than a little horrified at the insufficient (or non-existent) source citations. Source citations like "1880 census of Manistee, Michigan", instead of "1900 U.S. census, Manistee County, Michigan, population schedule, Manistee, enumeration district (ED) 38, sheet 1A, p.218 (stamped), dwelling 2, Stacy Thompson; digital images, Ancestry (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 12 Aug 2012); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 728." I'm way behind in correcting these, since I have over 2300 source citations for more than 3500 individuals! But the best benefit in turning my attention back to my own family has been the additional investigation I've needed to do to fill in the holes in my research. Two recent examples come to mind:
Elkhart Daily Review, 7 August 1883, p.3, col. 3-4; digital image, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com: accessed 12 Aug 2012)
In looking for something to prove my theory about my great-great-great grandmother Margaret Goodenow's maiden name, I found this newspaper article in GenealogyBank. My case study is going to be about the value of using newspapers to connect and prove relationships.
And in asking a Salt Lake City researcher to look for my great-great-great grandfather John Hickox's will, I was amply rewarded!
Medina, Ohio, "Old wills (includes administrators settlements, guardians bonds and inventories) 1820-1836," p.45, John Hickox will, 26 July 1832; FHL microfilm 423,849.
Here is the first page of the will John Hickox wrote in 1832, just after he married Abigail Stanley Scott in Medina County, Ohio. In it he mentions her daughter Louisa Scott, and his daughter Eliza Hickox - thus validating family trees first set down by my grandmother Ruby Reed in the 1940's.
This is only one of the original sources I will cite in my 3-generation Kinship Determination Project.
These are only two of the great finds I've made during the past year. With 5 months to go until my deadline, who knows what I will find next!!
On June 14, 2012 I graduated from Highline Community College with a Paralegal Plus certificate. This makes the 5th degree or certificate I've earned since I last walked to Pomp and Circumstance at my high school graduation 39 years ago!
As I sat and listened to the speakers, I began thinking about those other degrees and certificates, and wondering how easy (or difficult) it will be for my descendants to find those records. Since I was enumerated in the 1970 census in Merritt Island, Brevard County, Florida, they will probably figure out that I graduated from high school there about 1973. And, since my children know that I obtained my Bachelor's and Master's degrees from Florida State University, that information may be handed down orally. But if my descendants look in the 1978 or 1979 FSU records, they won't find me - I actually obtained both degrees only 4 years after graduating from high school, having obtained a year's college credit by taking the CLEP test before I finished high school.
And they probably won't realize that I attended two different community colleges here in Washington - Bellevue Community College (now Bellevue College) in 2003, and Highline Community College in 2011 and 2012.
In thinking about my history of lifelong learning, I started remembering several of my ancestors who attended college in Michigan, and where the records of their education might be.
My paternal grandmother Ruby Marie Chase graduated from Bear Lake (MI) High School in 1912, with a graduating class of 10 students. (My graduating class in 1973 was over 600!) Ruby and her sister Myrl both attended Michigan State Normal College, where Ruby graduated in 1916. This college was originally founded in 1849 as Michigan State Normal School, and became Michigan State Normal College in 1899, was renamed to Michigan State College, and then to Eastern Michigan University in 1959.
After graduating, Ruby Chase became a teacher, like most of her classmates, and taught school in Illinois before marrying my grandfather Maurice L. Reed in 1918.
My grandfather Maurice Leonard Reed went to school at Benzonia Academy in Benzie County, Michigan, which is where he met my grandmother Ruby. He graduated in 1912 and when World War 1 began enlisted in the US Army. Although he did not pursue a career in teaching, education was important to him. He worked for decades as a truant officer for the Lansing Public Schools, and after he was retired taught himself Spanish, just because he loved the language.
My maternal grandmother Ervilla Varran (who was actually my mother's stepmother, but she was my Grandma Stoelt, and that's all that mattered) also went to college to become a teacher, and worked as a teacher for the Detroit Public Schools until she retired in the 1960's. In writing this blog, I realize that I don't know where she went to college, when she graduated, or when she retired. Finding that information will help complete my picture of her as a person.
And going back further, Maurice Reed's father Percy Adelbert Reed finished high school in the little town of Fennville, Michigan, and then got his Teacher's Certificate in Allegan. He taught school in several small towns in southwestern Michigan before giving up teaching to become a store clerk, eventually owning a shoe store in Beulah.
And in our family, the tradition of higher education continues. My daughter Stacy graduated from Western Washington University with a degree in Spanish in June 2010, and she is currently a Graduate Teaching Fellow in the Romance Languages department of the University of Oregon in Eugene. She loves language, learning and teaching.
Like all genealogists must be in order to be successful, I am a life-long learner. And I have my ancestors to thank for their example!