One of the requirements of the Board for the Certification of Genealogists for the kinship determination project (part of the portfolio that is submitted for certification) is that "Biographical information places all couples in the project in their respective historical, community, religious, and economic contexts." That's a tall order, and to better prepare myself to write about my ancestors' lives, I'm doing some background reading.
Like thousands of other emigrants, my ancestors came to Michigan by way of Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania. In fact, in the family lore about my great-great grandmother Mary Ann Hickox Chase's life was the fact that she and her husband Marshall Chase came to Michigan on "corduroy" roads, made of logs felled and laid down ahead of the wagons. I need to determine not only when they arrived in the state, but also why they chose to leave their homes and push west. I'm already learning a lot I didn't know about my favorite state:
- Michigan was at one time part of Upper Canada, until 1796 when the Treaty of Paris was signed and the US flag was raised in Detroit.
- The ongoing battle between Ohio and Michigan for the so-called "Toledo Strip" did not end with Michigan's admission as a state in 1837. In fact, as recently as 1966, the possibility of getting the land back was still under discussion!
- Michigan was a very strong anti-slavery state, with many stations of the Underground Railroad. Slave owners who entered the state in search of their runaway property could expect to be set upon and run out of town.
- Michigan is the only state ever to have a king: James Jesse Strang was the self-proclaimed king of a Mormon settlement on the Beaver Islands until he was killed in 1856.
- The Republican Party began in Jackson, Michigan, with a meeting of 1500 men - in an oak grove, because there was no building large enough to accommodate them all.
- In 1860, 25% of the population of Michigan had been born in New York.
- Over half of the men of military age in Michigan fought in the Civil War.
This book, along with other publications such as county histories, will give me some good background for writing up my ancestors' biographies!