Sixty-Eight Years Ago Today

Source: “50th Anniversary Sampler of Robert and Jeanne (Holst) Robbins”, created 1990 by Miriam (Robbins) Midkiff. Photographed and privately held by Miriam (Robbins) Midkiff, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Spokane, Washington. 2008.

I created this cross-stitch sampler 18 years ago in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the marriage of my paternal grandparents. My parents attended the celebration, which was held at my grandparents’ church in Polkton Twp., Ottawa Co., Michigan, just outside the town of Coopersville where my grandparents and their children lived for many years. I had taught myself cross-stitch three years earlier, after admiring the work my husband’s sister-in-law did. This particular sampler was difficult to do as some of it required working with gold metallic thread, which broke easily and was flat versus the round cotton threads used in conjunction with it. Clicking on the image above will bring you to my Picasa photo album, where you can zoom in to view the glints the gold threads make.

My grandfather passed away 28 December 2003, after being married 63 years to his “Jeannie with the light brown hair.” My grandmother now lives with my uncle and his wife in Michigan due to her advancing age and Alzheimer’s. When one of my aunts cleaned out my grandparents’ retirement home in Texas a couple of years ago, she came across the sampler and returned it to me. I haven’t done cross-stitch in years, but seeing it again has inspired me. Perhaps someday I’ll create some sort of heritage or family tree piece.

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Friday Findings: Many Marriages, A Hay Press, 1891 Canadians, and the FBI

I thought I would summarize my findings for the past week. There were some amazing discoveries online from a variety of websites and databases.

Many Marriages
Last week’s Wordless Wednesday featured the marriage certificate of my husband’s maternal grandparents. This week, I found three marriage certificates for his grandmother’s twin brother, Lee Joseph “Mick”MARTIN, at the Washington State Digital Archives website. The fact that he had been married three times wasn’t news to me, and I had the women’s names, but these records gave me marriage dates and locations, full names of the women, and a previous marriage for his third wife. Also, an older MARTIN brother, Steven Charles, was a witness at two of the weddings, as well as “Mrs. Steve MARTIN.” Steve himself was married three times (one marriage was to a sister of Mick’s second wife), and I had hoped to find his marriage records in the WSDA as well, but no luck (not all the counties have had all available marriage records uploaded to the database yet). I’ve looked in other online marriage indexes for other Western states for Steve, without success so far. But I was very happy to find this information on Mick!


click on any thumbnail to enlarge image and view citation

A Hay Press

Remember Alice Teddy, the rollerskating bear? The same gentleman, Michael Kirchmeier, who sent me her amazing photograph has been sending me tidbits, now and again, from newspapers from Cottonwood Co., Minnesota about my ROBBINS ancestors and CRAPSEY relatives. A while ago, he had sent me the news articles of how my 3rd-great-grandfather, Charles H. ROBBINS, had his hand crushed in a hay press in February 1880. This week, he sent me an article describing the proprietor’s hay press establishment, and Charles is listed as an overseer. Mr. Kirchmeier speculates that my ancestor was given the job as overseer because of his injury in that hay press, which is probably true. The article was written in January 1881, and ran several times in subsequent issues. (It reminds me of the articles that Lidian features on her blog!) It also establishes that my ROBBINS family did not return to Michigan until after February 1881.

I’m also happy to report that Michael Kirchmeier, who started out working as a historian by avocation, has recently become the director of the Jackson County Historical Society in Lakefield, Minnesota. Congratulations!


click on any thumbnail to enlarge image and view citation

1891 Canadians
As you may have heard, Ancestry released the 1891 Canadian Census this week, available to its Canadian or World Deluxe members. I’ve been attempting for some time to find information that will give me parents’ names for my brickwall ancestors, Mary (TERRY or LAMOREAUX) and Richard WILKINSON, who lived in Whitchurch Twp, York County, Ontario in 1871 and 1881. Early last year, I found Mary’s death record, but I have been unsuccessful in finding Richard’s so far. The Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid has not been helpful, either.

I did find Mary living with her widowed daughter and married grandson and his household in Markham Twp., York County, as well as finding all three of the other known children of Mary and Richard still living in Canada (son John, my ancestor, was in Michigan). These records established certain facts for me, including narrowing Richard’s and son-in-law John GILLIAN’s death dates to the 1881 – 1891 range, stating Mary’s parents were born in Nova Scotia, and providing two more names of children of son William.



click on any thumbnail to enlarge image and view citation

The FBI (and My Great-Great-Grandfather!)
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the FBI, Footnote this week released the FBI Case Files collection from the subscription area to the public area; translation: free access! Descriptions of the records of these files can be found here. I had been reading some other genea-blogs and noticed a reference to the Old German Files, 1915-20. Wait a minute! I had a German immigrant ancestor who lived in Michigan during those years. Could he have had an FBI file?

BINGO! This was not only my best Find of the week, but one of my Best. Finds. Ever. My poor great-great-grandfather, John D. HOLST, had had to fill out an “Application for Exception from Classification of Enemy Alien.” This could only have been slightly less humiliating than filling out his registration as an Enemy Alien in 1917. A man who had been a hard-working farmer and involved member of his communities for 35 years was suddenly looked upon with fear and contempt. His request to finalize his naturalization process had been postponed. Fortunately, he had residents of his community who agreed to vouch for his character, including the village doctor. I realize that John’s experience was no different–and perhaps less intimidating–than those of thousands of Germans, and later Italians and Japanese–during our country’s involvement in the World Wars, and those of certain political affiliations during the Cold War. These continue today in the American communities of Middle Eastern immigrants.

The bonus side of my ancestor’s experience was that it created paperwork that has given me information on him and his wife that I had been unable to find thus far: a photograph; his signature (multiple times); his middle name; his complete date of birth; his wife’s middle name; her specific birthplace in Sweden; the fact that he had a sister; his sister’s married name and address. This is only the tip of the iceberg; there is much more information in these seven pages of documents, but most of it I have discovered elsewhere. My one regret is that in the area where he was to fill out information on his parents, he simply lists “Deceased.”

If you have an ancestor–especially an immigrant one–who came from a WWI-era enemy country, you need to check out this database!




click on any thumbnail to enlarge image and view citation

Friday Findings: Many Marriages, A Hay Press, 1891 Canadians, and the FBI

I thought I would summarize my findings for the past week. There were some amazing discoveries online from a variety of websites and databases.

Many Marriages
Last week’s Wordless Wednesday featured the marriage certificate of my husband’s maternal grandparents. This week, I found three marriage certificates for his grandmother’s twin brother, Lee Joseph “Mick”MARTIN, at the Washington State Digital Archives website. The fact that he had been married three times wasn’t news to me, and I had the women’s names, but these records gave me marriage dates and locations, full names of the women, and a previous marriage for his third wife. Also, an older MARTIN brother, Steven Charles, was a witness at two of the weddings, as well as “Mrs. Steve MARTIN.” Steve himself was married three times (one marriage was to a sister of Mick’s second wife), and I had hoped to find his marriage records in the WSDA as well, but no luck (not all the counties have had all available marriage records uploaded to the database yet). I’ve looked in other online marriage indexes for other Western states for Steve, without success so far. But I was very happy to find this information on Mick!


click on any thumbnail to enlarge image and view citation

A Hay Press

Remember Alice Teddy, the rollerskating bear? The same gentleman, Michael Kirchmeier, who sent me her amazing photograph has been sending me tidbits, now and again, from newspapers from Cottonwood Co., Minnesota about my ROBBINS ancestors and CRAPSEY relatives. A while ago, he had sent me the news articles of how my 3rd-great-grandfather, Charles H. ROBBINS, had his hand crushed in a hay press in February 1880. This week, he sent me an article describing the proprietor’s hay press establishment, and Charles is listed as an overseer. Mr. Kirchmeier speculates that my ancestor was given the job as overseer because of his injury in that hay press, which is probably true. The article was written in January 1881, and ran several times in subsequent issues. (It reminds me of the articles that Lidian features on her blog!) It also establishes that my ROBBINS family did not return to Michigan until after February 1881.

I’m also happy to report that Michael Kirchmeier, who started out working as a historian by avocation, has recently become the director of the Jackson County Historical Society in Lakefield, Minnesota. Congratulations!


click on any thumbnail to enlarge image and view citation

1891 Canadians
As you may have heard, Ancestry released the 1891 Canadian Census this week, available to its Canadian or World Deluxe members. I’ve been attempting for some time to find information that will give me parents’ names for my brickwall ancestors, Mary (TERRY or LAMOREAUX) and Richard WILKINSON, who lived in Whitchurch Twp, York County, Ontario in 1871 and 1881. Early last year, I found Mary’s death record, but I have been unsuccessful in finding Richard’s so far. The Ontario Cemetery Finding Aid has not been helpful, either.

I did find Mary living with her widowed daughter and married grandson and his household in Markham Twp., York County, as well as finding all three of the other known children of Mary and Richard still living in Canada (son John, my ancestor, was in Michigan). These records established certain facts for me, including narrowing Richard’s and son-in-law John GILLIAN’s death dates to the 1881 – 1891 range, stating Mary’s parents were born in Nova Scotia, and providing two more names of children of son William.



click on any thumbnail to enlarge image and view citation

The FBI (and My Great-Great-Grandfather!)
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the FBI, Footnote this week released the FBI Case Files collection from the subscription area to the public area; translation: free access! Descriptions of the records of these files can be found here. I had been reading some other genea-blogs and noticed a reference to the Old German Files, 1915-20. Wait a minute! I had a German immigrant ancestor who lived in Michigan during those years. Could he have had an FBI file?

BINGO! This was not only my best Find of the week, but one of my Best. Finds. Ever. My poor great-great-grandfather, John D. HOLST, had had to fill out an “Application for Exception from Classification of Enemy Alien.” This could only have been slightly less humiliating than filling out his registration as an Enemy Alien in 1917. A man who had been a hard-working farmer and involved member of his communities for 35 years was suddenly looked upon with fear and contempt. His request to finalize his naturalization process had been postponed. Fortunately, he had residents of his community who agreed to vouch for his character, including the village doctor. I realize that John’s experience was no different–and perhaps less intimidating–than those of thousands of Germans, and later Italians and Japanese–during our country’s involvement in the World Wars, and those of certain political affiliations during the Cold War. These continue today in the American communities of Middle Eastern immigrants.

The bonus side of my ancestor’s experience was that it created paperwork that has given me information on him and his wife that I had been unable to find thus far: a photograph; his signature (multiple times); his middle name; his complete date of birth; his wife’s middle name; her specific birthplace in Sweden; the fact that he had a sister; his sister’s married name and address. This is only the tip of the iceberg; there is much more information in these seven pages of documents, but most of it I have discovered elsewhere. My one regret is that in the area where he was to fill out information on his parents, he simply lists “Deceased.”

If you have an ancestor–especially an immigrant one–who came from a WWI-era enemy country, you need to check out this database!




click on any thumbnail to enlarge image and view citation

My Parents’ Wedding Photo

Source: Robbins-Valk Wedding, Bride and Groom and Their Parents. Photograph. 25 Jun 1965. Original photograph in the possession of Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

Growing up–like most little girls, I suppose–I loved to look at my parents’ photo album of their wedding. The big 8″ x 10″ black and white glossies made them look like the movie stars I was sure they were. In addition, there were photos of members of the wedding party–my beloved aunts and uncles whom I rarely saw–and individual shots of my parents with each set of their parents, my grandparents who were like celebrities when they visited us in Alaska from their homes in Michigan.

But I never saw the photograph above until eight years ago, when I visited Michigan last and spent some time with my Grandmother DeVries, who had arranged for my husband, my children, and myself to take a memorable vacation that October. She handed me a miniature photo album filled with forty-four 3″ x 4″ shots, including the one above, which I had never seen before. It quickly became my favorite, showing my parents, my paternal grandparents, and both sets of my maternal grandparents (my mother’s parents having divorced and remarried to other spouses).

From left to right are my paternal grandparents, Robert Lewis ROBBINS (1920 – 2003) and Jeanne Marie HOLST (living; birth name, Jane Marie YORK); my parents, Bryan Henry ROBBINS and Faith Lillian VALK; my maternal grandmother and step-grandfather, Ruth Lillian HOEKSTRA (1919 – 2001) and Adrian DeVRIES (1916 – 2007); my maternal step-grandmother and grandfather, Elaine Estelle SEIF (living) and William VALK (1912 – 1989).

This photograph was taken the evening of 25 June 1965 by Werkema Studio of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the chapel of my parents’ alma mater, Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music (now a part of Cornerstone University), Crescent Street at Bostwick Avenue.

My Parents’ Wedding Photo

Source: Robbins-Valk Wedding, Bride and Groom and Their Parents. Photograph. 25 Jun 1965. Original photograph in the possession of Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

Growing up–like most little girls, I suppose–I loved to look at my parents’ photo album of their wedding. The big 8″ x 10″ black and white glossies made them look like the movie stars I was sure they were. In addition, there were photos of members of the wedding party–my beloved aunts and uncles whom I rarely saw–and individual shots of my parents with each set of their parents, my grandparents who were like celebrities when they visited us in Alaska from their homes in Michigan.

But I never saw the photograph above until eight years ago, when I visited Michigan last and spent some time with my Grandmother DeVries, who had arranged for my husband, my children, and myself to take a memorable vacation that October. She handed me a miniature photo album filled with forty-four 3″ x 4″ shots, including the one above, which I had never seen before. It quickly became my favorite, showing my parents, my paternal grandparents, and both sets of my maternal grandparents (my mother’s parents having divorced and remarried to other spouses).

From left to right are my paternal grandparents, Robert Lewis ROBBINS (1920 – 2003) and Jeanne Marie HOLST (living; birth name, Jane Marie YORK); my parents, Bryan Henry ROBBINS and Faith Lillian VALK; my maternal grandmother and step-grandfather, Ruth Lillian HOEKSTRA (1919 – 2001) and Adrian DeVRIES (1916 – 2007); my maternal step-grandmother and grandfather, Elaine Estelle SEIF (living) and William VALK (1912 – 1989).

This photograph was taken the evening of 25 June 1965 by Werkema Studio of Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the chapel of my parents’ alma mater, Grand Rapids School of the Bible and Music (now a part of Cornerstone University), Crescent Street at Bostwick Avenue.

Wordless Wednesday: Happy 43rd Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Source: Robbins-Valk Wedding, Bride and Groom and Their Parents. Photograph. 25 Jun 1965. Original photograph in the possession of Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

Wordless Wednesday: Happy 43rd Anniversary, Mom and Dad!

Source: Robbins-Valk Wedding, Bride and Groom and Their Parents. Photograph. 25 Jun 1965. Original photograph in the possession of Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.