Friday Findings: McCLELLAN Pension Record, E-mails, Atlas Project, BORCHERS

I ordered the Civil War Pension Record for my 4th-great-grandfather, Levi E. McCLELLAN (McLELLAN, McLALLIN, etc.). That along with subscriptions for Internet Genealogy (renewal) and Discovering Family History (new) were some of my Christmas gifts this year.

On Saturday, I e-mailed the VALK and LEWIS cousins that had left comments in my website’s guestbook a couple of weeks ago. I also went through my Juno email inbox (nearly 900 messages), deleted all the junk and forwarded the good e-mails to my Gmail inbox. I used to use Juno for many years, and keep this freebie account open for those times when a distant relative or other researcher comes across a query I left on a message board with the old address. One of the messages was the following:

I have been searching for over 5 yrs. for a missing link, my Gr. Grandfather Lewis Harding. I knew his name, his wife’s name, when he was born, where he is buried and I knew that he came to Michigan when he was 2 yrs. old. I spent some time on looking at the Atlas Project, did a search and found him in the biography of George M. Campbell. Thank you so much for your Atlas Project. I not only found Lewis Harding’s parents, but also his sisters and brother. I have an old album that belonged to my grandparents, M.C. and Matilda Harding that has pictures of several of the people named in the Atlas Project. I knew they were relatives, but I didn’t know their connection and thanks to you now I do. I am thrilled to get this information that I have been seeking for so long.

Thank you again.

As you can imagine, this made my day! I haven’t worked on the Atlas Project in a couple of years so it’s nice to know that the information I put on it has helped someone. Here’s another person I need to contact to see if she would be willing to add her photographs to the website for the benefit of others.

I heard back from my LEWIS cousin we are collaborating. I have the information she needs on the earlier, older generations and she has information I’ve been wanting on the more recent ones–info I couldn’t access because of restrictions to current vital records. I also sent her quite a few ancestral and gravestone photos. I’m very excited to find how easy it is to find things and send them to others using my new filing system for documents, photos, and research notes.

Speaking of which, I spent a lot of time this week organizing digital files, answering a backlog of emails, and even got some scanning done. My dad loaned me the funeral book of my paternal grandmother’s adoptive father, Alfred Henry HOLST. There are lots of gems inside: obituaries, signatures of nearly everyone in town (including other relatives), and pages where relatives are specifically listed. One of the list of relatives had some unfamiliar names on it. I remembered that I had discovered that Alfred’s father, John, had a sister that had also immigrated from Germany; this was from John’s FBI Case File, which I found at Footnote. His sister was listed as Mrs. Anna M. BORCHERS, so using Ancestry and FamilySearch Record Search, I was able to piece together her family and identify the individuals by the same surname listed in the funeral book: Anna’s sons and Alfred’s cousins. Doing research on this family uncovered that Anna and her husband Claus immigrated from Germany in 1874, so when John and his wife and infant son Alfred immigrated in 1882, it was obvious that they were joining his sister and brother-in-law. I love how putting pieces of the puzzle (facts) together gives a larger, deeper look into the family history!

Lastly, I happened to go to the Zeeland (Netherlands) Provincial Archives website and saw that they had added birth records, which they were lacking before. I’ve been able to add quite a few details and family members to my TON and VanKLINKEN lines.

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On Vacation

Tomorrow I’ll be headed out with the Midkiff Clan for the wilds of Northeast Washington for a week of fun, sun, practical jokes, and late-night sessions of Balderdash! Having no wireless Internet service available, I’ll be catching up on a lot of reading and possibly doing some offline blogging on my laptop to post later when we return to civilization.

In the meantime, here’s some suggestions for those of you who can’t bear to be without their AnceStories fix (ahem!):

  • Go back and read my old posts. I’ve been genea-blogging since January 16, 2006, albeit at another URL; all the old posts were moved to this blog last winter. See “Blog Archive” in the right-hand menu.
  • Read my journal prompts at AnceStories2: Stories of Me for My Descendants. Start your own blog or journal, if you haven’t done so already, and record your stories.
  • Read my other blogs, The Atlas Project or &Etc. There’s not a lot on them right now, but they’ll give you some other perspectives of my life. For a look at where we’re vacationing right now, see the slideshow of last year’s vacation on &Etc.
  • I do have quite a lot of my ancestors’ biographies on my website. For the pure genealogists out there, no, they don’t have citations. They were written for family members from family stories I heard, backed up by documents I found in my early research years. But I’ve been told they’re interesting…! I also have handy forms here.
  • Visit the websites I’ve created for others: Midkiff: A Family, Town, and Way of Life and The Vorpahls’ Website.
  • Visit some of my favorite websites: Find A Grave, Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, or Footnote.
  • Visit my social networking pages listed on the right: Fuel My Blog, Technorati, StumbleUpon, MyBlogLog, and BlogCatalog. You’ll probably see other blogs that capture your interest linked to mine. And please don’t forget to visit “My Favorite Genealogy Blog Links” in the right-hand column, especially if you’re new to reading genealogy blogs. There are some terrific bloggers with great material that I hope you’ll discover.

There, I’ve listed seven things to do for the seven days that I’ll be gone. I can’t wait to get back and read all the new posts from my favorite bloggers when I return!

On Vacation

Tomorrow I’ll be headed out with the Midkiff Clan for the wilds of Northeast Washington for a week of fun, sun, practical jokes, and late-night sessions of Balderdash! Having no wireless Internet service available, I’ll be catching up on a lot of reading and possibly doing some offline blogging on my laptop to post later when we return to civilization.

In the meantime, here’s some suggestions for those of you who can’t bear to be without their AnceStories fix (ahem!):

  • Go back and read my old posts. I’ve been genea-blogging since January 16, 2006, albeit at another URL; all the old posts were moved to this blog last winter. See “Blog Archive” in the right-hand menu.
  • Read my journal prompts at AnceStories2: Stories of Me for My Descendants. Start your own blog or journal, if you haven’t done so already, and record your stories.
  • Read my other blogs, The Atlas Project or &Etc. There’s not a lot on them right now, but they’ll give you some other perspectives of my life. For a look at where we’re vacationing right now, see the slideshow of last year’s vacation on &Etc.
  • I do have quite a lot of my ancestors’ biographies on my website. For the pure genealogists out there, no, they don’t have citations. They were written for family members from family stories I heard, backed up by documents I found in my early research years. But I’ve been told they’re interesting…! I also have handy forms here.
  • Visit the websites I’ve created for others: Midkiff: A Family, Town, and Way of Life and The Vorpahls’ Website.
  • Visit some of my favorite websites: Find A Grave, Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, or Footnote.
  • Visit my social networking pages listed on the right: Fuel My Blog, Technorati, StumbleUpon, MyBlogLog, and BlogCatalog. You’ll probably see other blogs that capture your interest linked to mine. And please don’t forget to visit “My Favorite Genealogy Blog Links” in the right-hand column, especially if you’re new to reading genealogy blogs. There are some terrific bloggers with great material that I hope you’ll discover.

There, I’ve listed seven things to do for the seven days that I’ll be gone. I can’t wait to get back and read all the new posts from my favorite bloggers when I return!

Finding Out More on My ROBBINS Family – Part I

As a family historian, you get so that you think you know a lot about your family. I have the disadvantage of having always lived far away from my extended family, and so sometimes there are gaps in my knowledge that don’t get noticed until I start really analyzing my records. And then there are just the serendipitous surprises that make genealogy oh-so-fun!

It started off yesterday afternoon while examining the information I have on my paternal grandfather, Robert Lewis ROBBINS. I’m re-organizing and cleaning up my file folders, making sure I have copies of all the records I need, especially printouts of things I’ve found on the Internet. I’ve got my U.S. Research Checklist I created to help me remember to find certain “must have” records for each of my direct ancestors. There were some documents I figured I’d better scan and keep both on my hard drive and in my Picasa Web Albums. Copies of the documents are going into the file folders, while originals and photographs, as well as expensive copies I’ve paid for, are being placed in acid-free sleeves, ready to go later into a newly-rented safety-deposit box at my financial institution. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time to keep these heirlooms safe. And then there’s the (dreaded) source citations I need to do properly in my RootsMagic software!

Besides my grandfather’s birth and death certificates that I need to order, I realized I didn’t have any land records for him. I knew he bought land in Coopersville, Ottawa County, Michigan at 185 River Road, on which he built his house and business–this was after he had served in World War II. I also knew he purchased property on Crockery Lake in the northern part of the county sometime after 1953, and there built a cement-brick cottage on the foundation of an old barn for family summer vacations. And I knew he bought a house in Coopersville sometime around 1972 at 131 Madison Street for his widowed mother to live in and for Grandma and him to stay at when they weren’t snow birding in Texas. I thought he might also have owned land in several Texas counties, although it was more likely he rented lots for the various RVs and mobile homes he and Grandma had in their retirement.

The only evidence I had of his property records were oral history from my dad and one of my aunts, and a copy of the advertisement flyer the real estate auctioneers printed shortly before Grandma sold the house on Madison Street in 2005. I did a Google search on Crockery Lake to see if I could stumble upon some land records or assessment records though the county clerk’s office. What I found instead was more than I could have imagined! The Chester Township History & Genealogy website has a wealth of information about its communities, including old photographs, biographies, history, and maps (including some of Crockery Lake). What surprised me was that on its Genealogies page the surnames Robbins and Lewis were listed. There isn’t a search engine on the site, so I did my little trick of using Google to search a website: search term, followed by a space, then the word site followed immediately by a colon and the URL (no spaces between site and the end of the URL).


(Notice that I didn’t include the index.html from the URL, because I wanted Google to search the entire site, not just the index–or home–page).

Wow! Was I ever in for a treat! The first link I clicked went to the page about the American Legion Auxiliary founded in 1946 in Conklin. As I scrolled down the page, I noticed that Marie Robbins, Josephine Robbins, and Joyce Robbins were charter members of the Reinhart W. Roman Post 537. Why, those were the names of my great-grandmother, my granduncle’s wife, and my grandaunt! Could it be…? A little further down the page, it said that Marie Robbins was the first President of the Auxiliary. Really? And yet, I wasn’t done! Just a little further, and I found Great-grandma’s smiling face staring back at me from the Internet. Holy cow! Gosh, I knew Great-grandma had been in the Auxiliary, because her grave had an Auxiliary marker at it. But I had never before heard she had been the movement behind getting an Auxiliary started in her community! And isn’t that grand: a photo of her I didn’t have before!

Well, then I went to the American Legion page, and there was information that my great-grandfather, William Bryan Robbins, Sr., and his son–my granduncle, Bill Jr.–were charter members of the Legion post. Very cool! Again, new information!

But, wait! There’s more! In 1948, the Conklin school district published its one yearbook ever in its short-lived history. I browsed through the photos and text, not finding anything on my family, but being interested in the small-town history and nostalgic drawings. A quick check with my RootsMagic program confirmed that all my relatives were either too old, too young, or living in another community at that time to have attended school there that year. As I neared the end of the yearbook (third-to-last page), I noticed in the advertisement section there was a notice of compliments to the graduating class from Marie’s Gift Shop…yes, that Marie! I had already written about Great-grandma’s little shop in her AnceStory on my website, but it had always been a kind of vague story from the past. It suddenly became very real to me. This wasn’t easy to find, either. I had to go to the Schools page, then click on the Conklin district page, and finally the yearbook page. It would have been easily overlooked, but somehow, I found it.

My Robbins family were latecomers to this area. They had arrived from McKean County, Pennsylvania at Hesperia, Michigan on the Newaygo-Oceana County border in the late 1860s, migrated south to Muskegon County in the 1910s, and settled in Conklin sometime in the 1930s. Yet, it is evident they were heavily involved in their community. Great-grandpa died in 1972 and Great-grandma moved to my grandparents’ home in Coopersville. I do have some very faint memories of visiting my great-grandparents in Conklin in 1970, when I was three! I distinctly remember the inside of the little white house and eating a meal there. I also remember going to see Great-grandma there two years later when Great-grandpa died. She was sitting out in the yard with the grandaunts and uncles, and I ran to give her a big hug (prompted by my grandfather).

The Chester Township History website won the State History Award in 2005 from the Historical Society of Michigan for an outstanding website design, and it’s easy to see why! The design has a standard I’d love to meet with my Atlas Project. Needless to say, my printer was very busy last night! I wrote the webmaster, asking for any more information she might have on the Robbins and Lewis families. I also fired off several e-mails to extended family members, excited to share my find with them.

What exciting, new discoveries about your family are awaiting you on the Internet or at your favorite archives?

(Coming up next: More finds on the Robbins family in online property records!)

Finding Out More on My ROBBINS Family – Part I

As a family historian, you get so that you think you know a lot about your family. I have the disadvantage of having always lived far away from my extended family, and so sometimes there are gaps in my knowledge that don’t get noticed until I start really analyzing my records. And then there are just the serendipitous surprises that make genealogy oh-so-fun!

It started off yesterday afternoon while examining the information I have on my paternal grandfather, Robert Lewis ROBBINS. I’m re-organizing and cleaning up my file folders, making sure I have copies of all the records I need, especially printouts of things I’ve found on the Internet. I’ve got my U.S. Research Checklist I created to help me remember to find certain “must have” records for each of my direct ancestors. There were some documents I figured I’d better scan and keep both on my hard drive and in my Picasa Web Albums. Copies of the documents are going into the file folders, while originals and photographs, as well as expensive copies I’ve paid for, are being placed in acid-free sleeves, ready to go later into a newly-rented safety-deposit box at my financial institution. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time to keep these heirlooms safe. And then there’s the (dreaded) source citations I need to do properly in my RootsMagic software!

Besides my grandfather’s birth and death certificates that I need to order, I realized I didn’t have any land records for him. I knew he bought land in Coopersville, Ottawa County, Michigan at 185 River Road, on which he built his house and business–this was after he had served in World War II. I also knew he purchased property on Crockery Lake in the northern part of the county sometime after 1953, and there built a cement-brick cottage on the foundation of an old barn for family summer vacations. And I knew he bought a house in Coopersville sometime around 1972 at 131 Madison Street for his widowed mother to live in and for Grandma and him to stay at when they weren’t snow birding in Texas. I thought he might also have owned land in several Texas counties, although it was more likely he rented lots for the various RVs and mobile homes he and Grandma had in their retirement.

The only evidence I had of his property records were oral history from my dad and one of my aunts, and a copy of the advertisement flyer the real estate auctioneers printed shortly before Grandma sold the house on Madison Street in 2005. I did a Google search on Crockery Lake to see if I could stumble upon some land records or assessment records though the county clerk’s office. What I found instead was more than I could have imagined! The Chester Township History & Genealogy website has a wealth of information about its communities, including old photographs, biographies, history, and maps (including some of Crockery Lake). What surprised me was that on its Genealogies page the surnames Robbins and Lewis were listed. There isn’t a search engine on the site, so I did my little trick of using Google to search a website: search term, followed by a space, then the word site followed immediately by a colon and the URL (no spaces between site and the end of the URL).


(Notice that I didn’t include the index.html from the URL, because I wanted Google to search the entire site, not just the index–or home–page).

Wow! Was I ever in for a treat! The first link I clicked went to the page about the American Legion Auxiliary founded in 1946 in Conklin. As I scrolled down the page, I noticed that Marie Robbins, Josephine Robbins, and Joyce Robbins were charter members of the Reinhart W. Roman Post 537. Why, those were the names of my great-grandmother, my granduncle’s wife, and my grandaunt! Could it be…? A little further down the page, it said that Marie Robbins was the first President of the Auxiliary. Really? And yet, I wasn’t done! Just a little further, and I found Great-grandma’s smiling face staring back at me from the Internet. Holy cow! Gosh, I knew Great-grandma had been in the Auxiliary, because her grave had an Auxiliary marker at it. But I had never before heard she had been the movement behind getting an Auxiliary started in her community! And isn’t that grand: a photo of her I didn’t have before!

Well, then I went to the American Legion page, and there was information that my great-grandfather, William Bryan Robbins, Sr., and his son–my granduncle, Bill Jr.–were charter members of the Legion post. Very cool! Again, new information!

But, wait! There’s more! In 1948, the Conklin school district published its one yearbook ever in its short-lived history. I browsed through the photos and text, not finding anything on my family, but being interested in the small-town history and nostalgic drawings. A quick check with my RootsMagic program confirmed that all my relatives were either too old, too young, or living in another community at that time to have attended school there that year. As I neared the end of the yearbook (third-to-last page), I noticed in the advertisement section there was a notice of compliments to the graduating class from Marie’s Gift Shop…yes, that Marie! I had already written about Great-grandma’s little shop in her AnceStory on my website, but it had always been a kind of vague story from the past. It suddenly became very real to me. This wasn’t easy to find, either. I had to go to the Schools page, then click on the Conklin district page, and finally the yearbook page. It would have been easily overlooked, but somehow, I found it.

My Robbins family were latecomers to this area. They had arrived from McKean County, Pennsylvania at Hesperia, Michigan on the Newaygo-Oceana County border in the late 1860s, migrated south to Muskegon County in the 1910s, and settled in Conklin sometime in the 1930s. Yet, it is evident they were heavily involved in their community. Great-grandpa died in 1972 and Great-grandma moved to my grandparents’ home in Coopersville. I do have some very faint memories of visiting my great-grandparents in Conklin in 1970, when I was three! I distinctly remember the inside of the little white house and eating a meal there. I also remember going to see Great-grandma there two years later when Great-grandpa died. She was sitting out in the yard with the grandaunts and uncles, and I ran to give her a big hug (prompted by my grandfather).

The Chester Township History website won the State History Award in 2005 from the Historical Society of Michigan for an outstanding website design, and it’s easy to see why! The design has a standard I’d love to meet with my Atlas Project. Needless to say, my printer was very busy last night! I wrote the webmaster, asking for any more information she might have on the Robbins and Lewis families. I also fired off several e-mails to extended family members, excited to share my find with them.

What exciting, new discoveries about your family are awaiting you on the Internet or at your favorite archives?

(Coming up next: More finds on the Robbins family in online property records!)

New Genealogy Blogs

Dick Hillenbrand, over at Upstate New York Genealogy, has created a new blog called Genealogy Miscellanea. A description can be found at the beginning of his first post, “CHASE family founders of NECCO Candy Company“:

This Blog site was created for the express purpose of posting miscellaneous items of possible interest to others that does not otherwise fit within the realm of our original Blog for “Upstate New York Genealogy” which can be found by visiting our website at http://www.unyg.com.

And ever the blogger addict, yours truly has created a companion blog to my website by the same name, The Atlas Project, currently hosted on my AnceStories website. The Atlas Project is my personal project dedicated to the history and genealogy of the citizens of Atlas Township, Genesee County, Michigan, located southwest of Flint. Four of my ancestral lines immigrated to the area from the Town of Clarence, Erie County, New York, and in my genealogical research, I discovered that many other residents also did. Their families had intermarried in New York, and their descendants continued to do so in Michigan. As a way to untangle my Atlas – Clarence roots, I developed this project as a connecting point for other Atlas researchers.

New Genealogy Blogs

Dick Hillenbrand, over at Upstate New York Genealogy, has created a new blog called Genealogy Miscellanea. A description can be found at the beginning of his first post, “CHASE family founders of NECCO Candy Company“:

This Blog site was created for the express purpose of posting miscellaneous items of possible interest to others that does not otherwise fit within the realm of our original Blog for “Upstate New York Genealogy” which can be found by visiting our website at http://www.unyg.com.

And ever the blogger addict, yours truly has created a companion blog to my website by the same name, The Atlas Project, currently hosted on my AnceStories website. The Atlas Project is my personal project dedicated to the history and genealogy of the citizens of Atlas Township, Genesee County, Michigan, located southwest of Flint. Four of my ancestral lines immigrated to the area from the Town of Clarence, Erie County, New York, and in my genealogical research, I discovered that many other residents also did. Their families had intermarried in New York, and their descendants continued to do so in Michigan. As a way to untangle my Atlas – Clarence roots, I developed this project as a connecting point for other Atlas researchers.