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.

Friday Findings: VALK, LEWIS, McCLELLAN, Markham Twp Ancestry

I haven’t done a Friday Findings post in a while, and as I’m slowly returning to posting more of my regular “columns”, I thought I’d start here. Friday Findings is a feature I started last summer to record my weekly research finds and cousin connections. I hope to do a better job of keeping up with this. This post covers the past two weeks.

LEWIS and VALK
Last week, I had two cousins leave comments on the guestbook at my family history website, also named AnceStories. I’m delighted to hear from them, and need to take the time to compose thoughtful, comprehensive e-mails as responses.

McCLELLAN
I have spent a lot of my online research time during the past two weeks trying to find as much as possible about one of my brick wall ancestors, Levi E. McCLELLAN (or McLELLAN). The Michigan vital records at FamilySearch Record Search helped me to determine that he was indeed married twice, and not just once. Confusion came about because both wives had similar names. His first wife, my ancestor Clarissa Mary (or Mary Clarissa) CLEVELAND, was born c. 1832 in New York state. She last appears on the 1870 Federal Census with him and the children, William, Cornelia (my 3rd-great-grandmother), and Edwin in New Haven Village, Macomb Co., Michigan. In 1880, Levi is living with wife Mary C. FORD, along with a 10-year-old son Ira, and two step-children in Detroit. Finding son Ira’s marriage record, also at FamilySearch Record Search proved that he was Clarissa’s son and not Mary’s. Mary appears in the 1890 Veteran’s Census as a widow of two veterans, Levi being one of them. So Levi died sometime between 1880 (when he appears in both the Federal Census in Detroit and the 1880 Detroit City Directory) and 1890. The 1850 Federal Census gives me a possible mother, brother, and niece for Levi. I’ve decided to spend my Christmas money on obtaining Levi’s Civil War Veteran’s pension record from the National Archives to see what genealogical gems I can glean from it.

Markham Twp., York Co., Ontario Ancestry
Janet Iles was kind enough to let me consult her regarding what Markham Township records are available so that I can try to knock down some other brick wall lines, my WILKINSON and either TERRY or LAMONEAUX lines. I’m hoping to find the marriage record of Richard WILKINSON and his wife Mary, who seems to have two surnames (TERRY and LAMONEAUX).

Friday Findings: GenLine, CRAPSEY Burials, Cousins, and SNOOK Graves

Due to the Blogger debacle this week, I was not able to post my Friday Findings in a timely manner. Here’s a rundown of my research results for the week of July 26 – August 1, 2008:

More on Many Marriages
While entering the marriage records of my husband’s granduncle, Lee Joseph “Mick” MARTIN, I realized that the witnesses for his third marriage, to Martha Isabell (JONES) DVORAK, were his daughter from his first marriage and her husband. Hmm… It made me wonder if his first wife had died by then (I’m not sure how their marriage ended; by divorce or by her death?). I couldn’t find any death information for her, but I did find Isabell, as she was called, on the SSDI.

Swedish Parish Records
Also following up on last week’s findings, I went to my local Family History Center to use their free subscription to GenLine, the Swedish parish records database, to find and verify my great-great-grandmother’s birth (Ida Charlotte (GUSTAVSON) HOLST). I had never used it before, so it took some time. Fortunately, it has a nice tutorial, available both in English and Swedish. It is necessary to know the name of the parish to do a search. The records appear in digital image format, not unlike looking at a roll of microfilm. They are not indexed by name in any way, so it takes some searching. All I had for Ida’s birthplace was Hamnada, Sweden. I had no idea where this location was, and used both Wikipedia and the FamilySearch Library Catalog to find it, without any success. I had a feeling I was spelling it incorrectly. I then did a Google search and found a mention in someone’s online family tree of a “HamnadaSmåland, Krnberg“. I went back to Wikipedia to look at the political structure of Sweden. Småland is one of 25 provinces (landskapen) of Sweden and has no political structure as of 1634. It is a cultural, geographical and historical subdivision. Kronoberg is a county (län), a political subdivision, that lies in what is a part of Småland. I still could not find Hamnada or a a similiar name in any of the lists of municipalities (similar to American townships), villages, or cities of Sweden.

I went back to GenLine, and looking up Kronoberg County records, I noticed that Hamneda was one of the parishes. Bingo! They had birth and christening records up through 1861 (I don’t recall the beginning year), so I went to take a look. In 1861 alone, there were NINE Ida Charlottas (no Charlottes) born in Hamneda parish! Only one had a surname close to GUSTAVSON, and that was a Ida Charlotta GUSTAFSON born, it appears on 29 December 1861 and baptized 31 December 1861. I say “appears”, because I am not certain of what the dates stand for. There are three numbers and a month before each record. The first number is the record number, as they are all in sequence from 1 until the last record. Then comes the month abbreviation, which is very similar to our English month abbreviations. Then two numbers follow. The first number is always lower than the second number, and none of the numbers go beyond 31, so my assumption is that the first one is the birth date and the second one is the christening date. The words “Births and Baptisms” appear at the the top of each of these pages (in Swedish, of course), adding credence to my theory. I used FamilySearch’s online Swedish Genealogical Word List to figure out the words.

My Ida Charlotte GUSTAVSON was born 28 October 1861, but I need to find my source of information for that. Her 1900 U. S. Federal Census enumeration does have October 1861 as a birth date. I ran out of time to double check 1860 records, and there are none available at GenLine for 1862. I will need to search other nearby parish records, too, I think. I also did not have time to figure out how to save or print the image with the birth date of the Ida Charlotta GUSTAFSON I found. This was an interesting first foray into Swedish records, and I felt I learned quite a bit.

CRAPSEY Burials
I’ve been trying to find a death date for my 4th-great-grandmother, Lura Ann (JACKSON) PECK CRAPSEY. I know she was deceased by 1900, when my step-ancestor, the Rev. John CRAPSEY, Jr. was listed as a widower in the Federal Census for that year. She was alive as late as 1891, when her husband filed an application for a pension based on his deceased son’s military service. They were living St. Paul, Ramsey Co., Minnesota. Attempts to have a volunteer at RAOGK look up her death records did not work out. I then came across John’s obituary stating he was buried in Forest Lawn Cemetery. There is a Forest Lawn Memorial Parks and Mortuaries in Ramsey County, and I contacted them to see if I could find burial information (and thus a death date) for the Crapseys. I received an immediate response that there was no record of either one in their records. I need to follow up with wording from John’s obituary to make sure that the Forest Lawn Cemetery he was buried in is the same as what Park and Mortuaries company now manages, when their records begin, and if they have record of John and Lura’s children being buried there (it’s possible, if their children are buried there, that John and Lura are buried without markers).

Cousins
A distant LEWIS cousin of mine, Bob Stefanich, contacted me to tell me about another cousin of ours (related more closely to me than Bob is) and that the LEWIS family reunion is occurring today in Fruitport, Muskegon Co., Michigan (wish I could be there)! I’ve contacted Jim with the hope that I can get more information on the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of my 2nd-great-grandparents, George Emmett LEWIS and Mary WILKINSON.

Also, a McARTHUR cousin contacted me. She lives in Michigan and is able to visit the ancestral cemeteries. She promised to take some tombstone photos of some of our mutual ancestors…so exciting!

SNOOK Graves
Speaking of ancestral graves, I heard from a Find A Grave photo volunteer–Catherine Bryon–who photographed the graves of my husband’s 3rd-great-grandfather, Reuben Wohlford SNOOK, and his second wife, Elizabeth NEARHOOD, at the Forsyth Cemetery in Rosebud Co., Montana. Click on the links to view the photographs. Thanks, Catherine!

Picnic Time!

Bill West at West in New England has asked the genea-bloggers to participate in a Genea-Bloggers Picnic.  Here are some questions he asked:

*What food does your family serve at picnics?
Our annual must-attend picnic is my parents’ Fourth of July picnic at their beautiful log home on the mountainside north of Colville, Washington.  Traditionally, we grill hamburgers and hot dogs and have all the condiments: ketchup, mustard, mayo, pickles and/or relish, onion, lettuce, and tomatoes.  There’s usually potato salad, potato chips, and there MUST be baked beans.  That’s because Dad, like myself, is a traditionalist.  He swears that at every Robbins Reunion that he attended as a kid there was nothing served but beans and dessert.  Apparently there were dozens of bean dishes.  He tells me this every year, and every year I remember that he inherited the Robbins’ gene for storytelling, which although it always starts out with the truth, tends to grow and take on a life of its own!  Mm-hmm.

When my niece’s family comes, they almost always brings a cold three-bean salad that I love.

There are often veggie and fruit trays, soft drinks, and several desserts.  Janet (Mom’s friend) always brings a peanut-butter pie.  When work kept her away this Fourth, her husband Pete did the honors.

*Are there traditional foods or family recipes?

Dad does have a special recipe for the beans.  He starts out with canned baked beans, but adds all kinds of yummy stuff: mustard, molasses, etc.  Can’t be beat!  I usually make a Jello Wave Your Flag cake.

*Is there one particular relative’s specialty you wish you could taste again or one perfect picnic day you wish you could go back and relive?
One of my favorite times was a Spring Break when I was a high school junior, I think.  The weather was beautiful, we had a picnic with a bonfire and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows for s’mores.  Then we came in and watched “The Music Man” on TV.

Here’s some more ideas I came up with, and added to my AnceStories2 blog:

*You could expand to write about family reunions, past and present, and what kinds of foods were/are brought to them.  As a child, I only remember attending one reunion, the Lewis family reunion in 1979 in Michigan.  I have no idea what we ate, but I do remember that one of the great-granduncles had an ice cream cart!

At the Midkiff Family Reunions that I coordinated in 1990 and in 1999 in the Spokane Valley, we split up the list of names and had one group bring main dishes, one bring salads and side dishes, and the third, desserts.  Everyone had to bring their own meat to grill.  The reunion committee supplied buns, condiments, beverages, and paper/plastic goods.  It worked out well.

*You could add what dish everyone loved to eat, and which one people were sneaking off to scrap into the garbage so they wouldn’t hurt the cook’s feelings!
Everyone loves my Wave Your Flag cake.  Janet has an interesting story about her peanut butter pie.  Seems her Aunt Ruth is a horrible cook, yet Janet’s husband Pete is always polite and will eat whatever Ruth sets before him.  One time, Ruth mentioned she had made a peanut butter pie.  Janet quickly declined, but Pete of course took a serving.  He started nudging Janet, “You’ve got to try this!”  Janet couldn’t believe it!  Aunt Ruth had finally made something edible, and not only that, delicious!  And Janet blesses us by bringing one to the Fourth of July picnic/BBQ every year!

*Is there a picnic basket, old ice chest, a BBQ grill or camp stove, a special dish (physical, not recipe) or picnic cloth that’s been handed down in the family and used for decades at picnics, potlucks, or reunions?
We have a picnic basket that used to belong to Norm’s great-grandparents.  I use it as a decorative piece in my dining room, but very occasionally we’ll use it.  Norm’s dad loves garage sales, and he’s found us a few old metal green Thermoses.  He’ll fill one with coffee for us before we leave their place for our long ride home.

*Is there a favorite campground, park, home, or meeting place where picnics or reunions regularly occurred?
There’s a great little campground north of Colville at Mill Creek.  We camped there for a few days in our camper when my parents first bought their home and we were waiting for the family to move out.  Then we decided to take a trip back to Michigan, but that’s another story!  This campground has a swinging bridge that my dad and brother used to play on when my brother (now 34) was five years old.  Adriaen would trip across the bridge, and my dad would pretend to be the troll from Billy Goats Gruff.  My brother was gut-giggling so hard, he nearly fell off the bridge!  Near the falls there’s a great rock with drill holes in it from when the mill used to be there, gosh, 150 years ago?  That rock is a good place to sit while fishing.

*What about unwelcome guests like ants, mosquitoes, and yellow jackets? Raccoons, anyone?
My son, Matthew, is a yellow jacket and mosquito magnet.  I tell him it’s because he’s so sweet!  I can’t tell you how many picnics and play days we had at lakes and streams where he’d get bit/stung.  Fortunately, he’s not allergic.

*What favorite picnic or reunion photos do you have, especially ancestral?
I’ve got one of my mother’s ancestors, the Valks at a picnic, and another of a Lewis family reunion taken around 1924.

Source: The Valk Family. Photograph. Taken c. 1915  – 1918, probably in Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan.  Original photograph believed to be in the possession of John Hanson, Little Silver, New Jersey. 2000.

Source: The Lewis Family Reunion.  Photograph.  Taken c. 1924, probably in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon Co., Michigan.  Original in the possession of Jeanne Holst Robbins, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. 2008.  Reprint held by Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington.  2008.

*Beverages served, games and activities played, stories told…all contain memories that future generations will someday treasure, if they’re left for posterity!
I especially like Bocci, which I learned to play in my students’ PE classes, but I need to buy a set for the next picnic!

Picnic Time!

Bill West at West in New England has asked the genea-bloggers to participate in a Genea-Bloggers Picnic. Here are some questions he asked:

*What food does your family serve at picnics?
Our annual must-attend picnic is my parents’ Fourth of July picnic at their beautiful log home on the mountainside north of Colville, Washington. Traditionally, we grill hamburgers and hot dogs and have all the condiments: ketchup, mustard, mayo, pickles and/or relish, onion, lettuce, and tomatoes. There’s usually potato salad, potato chips, and there MUST be baked beans. That’s because Dad, like myself, is a traditionalist. He swears that at every Robbins Reunion that he attended as a kid there was nothing served but beans and dessert. Apparently there were dozens of bean dishes. He tells me this every year, and every year I remember that he inherited the Robbins’ gene for storytelling, which although it always starts out with the truth, tends to grow and take on a life of its own! Mm-hmm.

When my niece’s family comes, they almost always brings a cold three-bean salad that I love.

There are often veggie and fruit trays, soft drinks, and several desserts. Janet (Mom’s friend) always brings a peanut-butter pie. When work kept her away this Fourth, her husband Pete did the honors.

*Are there traditional foods or family recipes?
Dad does have a special recipe for the beans. He starts out with canned baked beans, but adds all kinds of yummy stuff: mustard, molasses, etc. Can’t be beat! I usually make a Jello Wave Your Flag cake.

*Is there one particular relative’s specialty you wish you could taste again or one perfect picnic day you wish you could go back and relive?
One of my favorite times was a Spring Break when I was a high school junior, I think. The weather was beautiful, we had a picnic with a bonfire and roasted hot dogs and marshmallows for s’mores. Then we came in and watched “The Music Man” on TV.

Here’s some more ideas I came up with, and added to my AnceStories2 blog:

*You could expand to write about family reunions, past and present, and what kinds of foods were/are brought to them. As a child, I only remember attending one reunion, the Lewis family reunion in 1979 in Michigan. I have no idea what we ate, but I do remember that one of the great-granduncles had an ice cream cart!

At the Midkiff Family Reunions that I coordinated in 1990 and in 1999 in the Spokane Valley, we split up the list of names and had one group bring main dishes, one bring salads and side dishes, and the third, desserts. Everyone had to bring their own meat to grill. The reunion committee supplied buns, condiments, beverages, and paper/plastic goods. It worked out well.

*You could add what dish everyone loved to eat, and which one people were sneaking off to scrap into the garbage so they wouldn’t hurt the cook’s feelings!
Everyone loves my Wave Your Flag cake. Janet has an interesting story about her peanut butter pie. Seems her Aunt Ruth is a horrible cook, yet Janet’s husband Pete is always polite and will eat whatever Ruth sets before him. One time, Ruth mentioned she had made a peanut butter pie. Janet quickly declined, but Pete of course took a serving. He started nudging Janet, “You’ve got to try this!” Janet couldn’t believe it! Aunt Ruth had finally made something edible, and not only that, delicious! And Janet blesses us by bringing one to the Fourth of July picnic/BBQ every year!

*Is there a picnic basket, old ice chest, a BBQ grill or camp stove, a special dish (physical, not recipe) or picnic cloth that’s been handed down in the family and used for decades at picnics, potlucks, or reunions?
We have a picnic basket that used to belong to Norm’s great-grandparents. I use it as a decorative piece in my dining room, but very occasionally we’ll use it. Norm’s dad loves garage sales, and he’s found us a few old metal green Thermoses. He’ll fill one with coffee for us before we leave their place for our long ride home.

*Is there a favorite campground, park, home, or meeting place where picnics or reunions regularly occurred?
There’s a great little campground north of Colville at Mill Creek. We camped there for a few days in our camper when my parents first bought their home and we were waiting for the family to move out. Then we decided to take a trip back to Michigan, but that’s another story! This campground has a swinging bridge that my dad and brother used to play on when my brother (now 34) was five years old. Adriaen would trip across the bridge, and my dad would pretend to be the troll from Billy Goats Gruff. My brother was gut-giggling so hard, he nearly fell off the bridge! Near the falls there’s a great rock with drill holes in it from when the mill used to be there, gosh, 150 years ago? That rock is a good place to sit while fishing.

*What about unwelcome guests like ants, mosquitoes, and yellow jackets? Raccoons, anyone?
My son, Matthew, is a yellow jacket and mosquito magnet. I tell him it’s because he’s so sweet! I can’t tell you how many picnics and play days we had at lakes and streams where he’d get bit/stung. Fortunately, he’s not allergic.

*What favorite picnic or reunion photos do you have, especially ancestral?
I’ve got one of my mother’s ancestors, the Valks at a picnic, and another of a Lewis family reunion taken around 1924.


Source: The Valk Family. Photograph. Taken c. 1915 – 1918, probably in Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan. Original photograph believed to be in the possession of John Hanson, Little Silver, New Jersey. 2000.

Source: The Lewis Family Reunion. Photograph. Taken c. 1924, probably in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon Co., Michigan. Original in the possession of Jeanne Holst Robbins, Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. 2008. Reprint held by Miriam Robbins Midkiff, Spokane, Washington. 2008.

*Beverages served, games and activities played, stories told…all contain memories that future generations will someday treasure, if they’re left for posterity!
I especially like Bocci, which I learned to play in my students’ PE classes, but I need to buy a set for the next picnic!

Elenor "Nellie" L. (VREELAND) LEWIS (1835 – 1912)

Source: Lewis, Elenor “Nellie” Vreeland. Photograph. Date unknown. Original photograph in the possession of Jeanne Holst Robbins, Fulton, Texas. 2008.

This photograph, within its oval oak frame and thick convex glass, adorned the walls of my paternal grandparents’ living room in Coopersville, Ottawa Co., Michigan for many years, along with its mate, the photo of Nellie’s husband, John Wallace LEWIS. Nellie was of the eighth generation of VREELANDs who had made North America their home. Her 5th-great-grandparents, Michiel Janszen VREELAND (1610 – c. 1663) and Sofitje HARTMANS (1611 – 1697) were immigrant ancestors from the Netherlands to the New Netherlands (present-day New York State and New Jersey). Perhaps you have a family line in which many of the men (or women) are given a certain first name, often to honor the patriarch of the family or an immigrant ancestor. In my SWEERS family line (unrelated to the people in this particular post), that name is Daniel; and in my VREELAND family line, it is Hartman. Nellie’s 4th-great-grandfather, her 2nd-great-grandfather, her grandfather, a brother, and a son were all named Hartman, in honor of Sofitje HARTMANS VREELAND. (Hartman would also have been Sofitje’s father’s name; the patronym Hartmans literally means “Hartman’s daughter.”) The VREELAND family had lived all those generations in New Jersey until sometime between 1840 and 1843, when Nellie’s parents, John P. VREELAND and Mary KANOUSE settled in York Twp., Washtenaw Co., Michigan.

Besides brother Hartman, who was about a year younger than Nellie, there were older siblings John H., Elizabeth, and Sarah, and younger siblings George W., Mary Esther, and Martha A. VREELAND. On 20 April 1867, Nellie married John Wallace LEWIS, a New York native who had come to Washtenaw County perhaps to start a new life, having been widowed, leaving his two young children in the care of his parents back in Oswego Co., New York.

John and Nellie had seven children, although our family history only lists five: George Emmett (my great-grandfather); John Wallace, Jr.; Esther Mary “Ette”; Hartman (named for Nellie’s brother); and Ida May LEWIS. It was when the 1880 U.S. Federal Census Index was released on CD by FamilySearch that I discovered two more children that remain elusive in our family history: Ethel and Willie. Ethel was born c. 1875 and Willie c. 1879, both in Michigan. Willie’s age was listed as one year old, while Ida, known to have been born 11 February 1879, was shown as two years old–curious! I cannot find these two children in any birth, death, or burial records, and they don’t appear again on federal census records (I have yet to search the 1884 and 1894 state censuses). In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Nellie states that had given birth to five children, five of whom were living. So who were Ethel and Willie? If they were adopted children (perhaps a niece, nephew, or cousins), I’ve still been unable to find their births listed under John and Nellie’s siblings’ names.

The Lewis family lived in the Clinton and Washtenaw County area for quite a few years, and it appears to have been a back-and-forth migration. George (1868), Esther (1874) and Hartman (1876) were born in Clinton County, while John, Jr. (1870) was born in Washtenaw County, where his parents had married (1867). The family was in Washtenaw County in 1870 (federal census), but in Clinton County in 1874 (state census). Sometime between 1876 and 1879, the family relocated west to Muskegon County, where they farmed in Whitehall Township until the late 1880s, then moved to Blue Lake Township. There they stayed until at least 1900.

John died 9 February 1908 in Whitehall Village, followed four months later by son John, Jr. Nellie probably went to live with married daughter Ida in Pontiac, Oakland Co., Michigan. She does not have a death record in Muskegon County, but is buried there in Oakhurst Cemetery, Whitehall Twp. with her husband and numerous descendants. Her gravestone reads “1835 – 1912.” My goal is to get her death record and obituary.

Source: Tombstone of Elenor L. “Nellie” (Vreeland) Lewis, Oakhurst Cemetery, Whitehall Twp., Michigan. Photograph taken at the request of Miriam Robbins Midkiff by Toni Falcon, volunteer for Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. 2005.

Elenor "Nellie" L. (VREELAND) LEWIS (1835 – 1912)

Source: Lewis, Elenor “Nellie” Vreeland. Photograph. Date unknown. Original photograph in the possession of Jeanne Holst Robbins, Fulton, Texas. 2008.

This photograph, within its oval oak frame and thick convex glass, adorned the walls of my paternal grandparents’ living room in Coopersville, Ottawa Co., Michigan for many years, along with its mate, the photo of Nellie’s husband, John Wallace LEWIS. Nellie was of the eighth generation of VREELANDs who had made North America their home. Her 5th-great-grandparents, Michiel Janszen VREELAND (1610 – c. 1663) and Sofitje HARTMANS (1611 – 1697) were immigrant ancestors from the Netherlands to the New Netherlands (present-day New York State and New Jersey). Perhaps you have a family line in which many of the men (or women) are given a certain first name, often to honor the patriarch of the family or an immigrant ancestor. In my SWEERS family line (unrelated to the people in this particular post), that name is Daniel; and in my VREELAND family line, it is Hartman. Nellie’s 4th-great-grandfather, her 2nd-great-grandfather, her grandfather, a brother, and a son were all named Hartman, in honor of Sofitje HARTMANS VREELAND. (Hartman would also have been Sofitje’s father’s name; the patronym Hartmans literally means “Hartman’s daughter.”) The VREELAND family had lived all those generations in New Jersey until sometime between 1840 and 1843, when Nellie’s parents, John P. VREELAND and Mary KANOUSE settled in York Twp., Washtenaw Co., Michigan.

Besides brother Hartman, who was about a year younger than Nellie, there were older siblings John H., Elizabeth, and Sarah, and younger siblings George W., Mary Esther, and Martha A. VREELAND. On 20 April 1867, Nellie married John Wallace LEWIS, a New York native who had come to Washtenaw County perhaps to start a new life, having been widowed, leaving his two young children in the care of his parents back in Oswego Co., New York.

John and Nellie had seven children, although our family history only lists five: George Emmett (my great-grandfather); John Wallace, Jr.; Esther Mary “Ette”; Hartman (named for Nellie’s brother); and Ida May LEWIS. It was when the 1880 U.S. Federal Census Index was released on CD by FamilySearch that I discovered two more children that remain elusive in our family history: Ethel and Willie. Ethel was born c. 1875 and Willie c. 1879, both in Michigan. Willie’s age was listed as one year old, while Ida, known to have been born 11 February 1879, was shown as two years old–curious! I cannot find these two children in any birth, death, or burial records, and they don’t appear again on federal census records (I have yet to search the 1884 and 1894 state censuses). In the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, Nellie states that had given birth to five children, five of whom were living. So who were Ethel and Willie? If they were adopted children (perhaps a niece, nephew, or cousins), I’ve still been unable to find their births listed under John and Nellie’s siblings’ names.

The Lewis family lived in the Clinton and Washtenaw County area for quite a few years, and it appears to have been a back-and-forth migration. George (1868), Esther (1874) and Hartman (1876) were born in Clinton County, while John, Jr. (1870) was born in Washtenaw County, where his parents had married (1867). The family was in Washtenaw County in 1870 (federal census), but in Clinton County in 1874 (state census). Sometime between 1876 and 1879, the family relocated west to Muskegon County, where they farmed in Whitehall Township until the late 1880s, then moved to Blue Lake Township. There they stayed until at least 1900.

John died 9 February 1908 in Whitehall Village, followed four months later by son John, Jr. Nellie probably went to live with married daughter Ida in Pontiac, Oakland Co., Michigan. She does not have a death record in Muskegon County, but is buried there in Oakhurst Cemetery, Whitehall Twp. with her husband and numerous descendants. Her gravestone reads “1835 – 1912.” My goal is to get her death record and obituary.

Source: Tombstone of Elenor L. “Nellie” (Vreeland) Lewis, Oakhurst Cemetery, Whitehall Twp., Michigan. Photograph taken at the request of Miriam Robbins Midkiff by Toni Falcon, volunteer for Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness. 2005.