Filling in the Holes in My Robbins Family Tree

I mentioned in my last two blogs that I took my laptop with me on my camping trip, and used some of my downtime to input information from my hard files into my database, citing my sources along the way. It was good use of my time, because I didn’t have Internet access to distract me from jumping back and forth between inputting data and looking up more records online (I tend to multitask all too often and am quickly distracted). Instead, I added many items to my To-do Lists, which are easily created for each individual in my RootsMagic software. Many of these were reminders to check online vital records indexes, especially for the states of Texas and Florida. A little lightbulb went off in my head when I realized that I had been mistakenly thinking of my Robbins family as Michiganders, instead of as Texans and Floridians. Yes, many of them were born and raised in Michigan, but my paternal grandfather’s sisters and one of his brothers moved to Texas as adults, and his other brother moved to Florida. Also, my uncle’s (dad’s brother) first wife and their children moved to Florida after their divorce. So I had many names of aunts, uncles, and cousins to look up in databases at Ancestry.com.

Last night and today I have been visiting these databases, aided by Joe Beine’s excellent Death Indexes Online and Online Genealogy Records and Resources for quick entrance to the desired online indexes. I’m also using Ancestry’s US Public Records Index and US Phone and Address Directories, 1993 – 2002 to find recent addresses for my relatives. I’ve added quite a bit to my Robbins family tree using the above resources (citing them as I go!), along with photo captions and obituaries found in the scanned pages of my Grandaunt Joyce’s scrapbook, which I recently received, and which has been the fount of recent posts on my Great-grandfather Robbins’ service in the American North Russian Expeditionary Forces.

I used to be frustrated because I have been brickwalled on my Robbins ancestry at my 4th-great-grandfather, Joseph Josiah Robbins (1820 – 1905), while on many of my other lines, I’ve been able to zip right back into colonial America or cross the pond to Northern Europe. It has seemed strange that my maiden surname’s line suddenly deadends after just a few generations back. But I realized that I really do have a wealth of information on my Robbins family, and in order to break down my brick wall, I need to invest in the time it will take to print up, download, scan, input and cite all the many documents and resources I do have. I’ve been fairly neglectful in attending to the details of this family, either assuming that I already know everything there is to discover, or being frustrated at the dearth of accessible records for those things I lack information on. Two of the strategies that professional researchers insist work well for breaking down our brick walls include going over and analyzing all the information one already has to discover new clues and determine what information is missing; and researching the collateral lines thoroughly. I’m hoping that my methodical steps will unearth some leads to tearing down my brick wall.

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Filling in the Holes in My Robbins Family Tree

I mentioned in my last two blogs that I took my laptop with me on my camping trip, and used some of my downtime to input information from my hard files into my database, citing my sources along the way. It was good use of my time, because I didn’t have Internet access to distract me from jumping back and forth between inputting data and looking up more records online (I tend to multitask all too often and am quickly distracted). Instead, I added many items to my To-do Lists, which are easily created for each individual in my RootsMagic software. Many of these were reminders to check online vital records indexes, especially for the states of Texas and Florida. A little lightbulb went off in my head when I realized that I had been mistakenly thinking of my Robbins family as Michiganders, instead of as Texans and Floridians. Yes, many of them were born and raised in Michigan, but my paternal grandfather’s sisters and one of his brothers moved to Texas as adults, and his other brother moved to Florida. Also, my uncle’s (dad’s brother) first wife and their children moved to Florida after their divorce. So I had many names of aunts, uncles, and cousins to look up in databases at Ancestry.com.

Last night and today I have been visiting these databases, aided by Joe Beine’s excellent Death Indexes Online and Online Genealogy Records and Resources for quick entrance to the desired online indexes. I’m also using Ancestry’s US Public Records Index and US Phone and Address Directories, 1993 – 2002 to find recent addresses for my relatives. I’ve added quite a bit to my Robbins family tree using the above resources (citing them as I go!), along with photo captions and obituaries found in the scanned pages of my Grandaunt Joyce’s scrapbook, which I recently received, and which has been the fount of recent posts on my Great-grandfather Robbins’ service in the American North Russian Expeditionary Forces.

I used to be frustrated because I have been brickwalled on my Robbins ancestry at my 4th-great-grandfather, Joseph Josiah Robbins (1820 – 1905), while on many of my other lines, I’ve been able to zip right back into colonial America or cross the pond to Northern Europe. It has seemed strange that my maiden surname’s line suddenly deadends after just a few generations back. But I realized that I really do have a wealth of information on my Robbins family, and in order to break down my brick wall, I need to invest in the time it will take to print up, download, scan, input and cite all the many documents and resources I do have. I’ve been fairly neglectful in attending to the details of this family, either assuming that I already know everything there is to discover, or being frustrated at the dearth of accessible records for those things I lack information on. Two of the strategies that professional researchers insist work well for breaking down our brick walls include going over and analyzing all the information one already has to discover new clues and determine what information is missing; and researching the collateral lines thoroughly. I’m hoping that my methodical steps will unearth some leads to tearing down my brick wall.

More Genealogy on Spokane’s South Hill

The route across town, down the North Hill, across the Spokane River, then up the steep South Hill and onto the edges of the Palouse (puh-LOOSE) Prairie, is becoming more and more familiar to me–all six miles of stop-and-go 20- and 30-mph traffic–as I take my son to meet his online math course teacher several times a week. Neither of us are morning people, so we chug down our caffeinated cold drinks to prepare our brains for work. My work is likely much more fun than his, given that he’s doing school work during summer vacation, and I am indulging myself in my passion of genealogy.

Two-and-a-half weeks ago, I stopped by the Southside Family History Center to check out their facility and see what kinds of materials they have on permanent loan from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. I reported at the end of that week that I hadn’t seen a microfilm printer/scanner hooked up to a computer station; when I showed up the next Tuesday, I realized that in my busyness to look through the materials and chat with the volunteers I somehow had missed the equipment set up off in a corner of the room! Going through my list of interesting possibilities in microfilmed Ontario records where my ancestors had once lived, I decided to check out “Index to Whitchurch Township residents as shown in directories and census, 1837-1891” from York County, where my WILKINSON family appears in the 1871 and 1881 Canadian Censuses. The microfiche contained a combination of extracted township directories and census indexes. I kept an eye out for any references to the LAMOREAUX and TERRY families, looking for a possible connection to Mary (LAMOREAUX or TERRY) WILKINSON, my 4th-great-grandmother, as well as for collateral lines marrying into this family.

None of my WILKINSONs showed up in Whitchurch Township until 1871; my Richard (4th-great-grandfather), married to Mary above, appears in both the 1871 and 1881 census indexes (not new information for me). However, Moses TERRY showed up in the 1837 and 1846-7 directories, Jacob and the Widow TERRY showed up in the 1850-1 directory, and various other TERRYs appeared in the 1861, 1871, and 1891 censuses. No LAMOREAUXs appeared at all. The collateral line searches didn’t turn up much of anything, except for information of which I was already aware. I scanned and saved the pertinent images to my flash drive, and vowed to return the next day to look at more Ontario records.

My research attempts on Wednesday were dampened by the fact that the printer/scanner was down. It was just as well, because my search in early Ontario birth records (“Births, stillbirths, and delayed registrations with indexes 1869 – 1910”) yielded nothing new. Using my RootsMagic program on my laptop, I did a Find search looking for births for each year for each Ontario county. Most of the names that turned up in my database search were very distant relatives to my ancestors, and none were found in the records I looked viewed.

The following week, I again brought my laptop with me and instead of visiting the Family History Center, stayed in the classroom with my son and spent three hours citing sources in my RootsMagic program of recent records I found; specifically, city/county directory listings for my various Grand Rapids and Kent County, Michigan families, and military records for my paternal grandfather, Robert Lewis ROBBINS. This takes such an incredible amount of time to do correctly, even with RootsMagic’s Source Wizard! The benefits, besides knowing I’m doing the right thing by correctly citing my sources, are that it does slow me down and I automatically start analyzing and synthesizing my data. I notice gaps in my information, or start wondering about certain things and come up with lists of records I could next research to find more resources. Say, this isn’t so bad after all!

More Genealogy on Spokane’s South Hill

The route across town, down the North Hill, across the Spokane River, then up the steep South Hill and onto the edges of the Palouse (puh-LOOSE) Prairie, is becoming more and more familiar to me–all six miles of stop-and-go 20- and 30-mph traffic–as I take my son to meet his online math course teacher several times a week. Neither of us are morning people, so we chug down our caffeinated cold drinks to prepare our brains for work. My work is likely much more fun than his, given that he’s doing school work during summer vacation, and I am indulging myself in my passion of genealogy.

Two-and-a-half weeks ago, I stopped by the Southside Family History Center to check out their facility and see what kinds of materials they have on permanent loan from the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. I reported at the end of that week that I hadn’t seen a microfilm printer/scanner hooked up to a computer station; when I showed up the next Tuesday, I realized that in my busyness to look through the materials and chat with the volunteers I somehow had missed the equipment set up off in a corner of the room! Going through my list of interesting possibilities in microfilmed Ontario records where my ancestors had once lived, I decided to check out “Index to Whitchurch Township residents as shown in directories and census, 1837-1891” from York County, where my WILKINSON family appears in the 1871 and 1881 Canadian Censuses. The microfiche contained a combination of extracted township directories and census indexes. I kept an eye out for any references to the LAMOREAUX and TERRY families, looking for a possible connection to Mary (LAMOREAUX or TERRY) WILKINSON, my 4th-great-grandmother, as well as for collateral lines marrying into this family.

None of my WILKINSONs showed up in Whitchurch Township until 1871; my Richard (4th-great-grandfather), married to Mary above, appears in both the 1871 and 1881 census indexes (not new information for me). However, Moses TERRY showed up in the 1837 and 1846-7 directories, Jacob and the Widow TERRY showed up in the 1850-1 directory, and various other TERRYs appeared in the 1861, 1871, and 1891 censuses. No LAMOREAUXs appeared at all. The collateral line searches didn’t turn up much of anything, except for information of which I was already aware. I scanned and saved the pertinent images to my flash drive, and vowed to return the next day to look at more Ontario records.

My research attempts on Wednesday were dampened by the fact that the printer/scanner was down. It was just as well, because my search in early Ontario birth records (“Births, stillbirths, and delayed registrations with indexes 1869 – 1910”) yielded nothing new. Using my RootsMagic program on my laptop, I did a Find search looking for births for each year for each Ontario county. Most of the names that turned up in my database search were very distant relatives to my ancestors, and none were found in the records I looked viewed.

The following week, I again brought my laptop with me and instead of visiting the Family History Center, stayed in the classroom with my son and spent three hours citing sources in my RootsMagic program of recent records I found; specifically, city/county directory listings for my various Grand Rapids and Kent County, Michigan families, and military records for my paternal grandfather, Robert Lewis ROBBINS. This takes such an incredible amount of time to do correctly, even with RootsMagic’s Source Wizard! The benefits, besides knowing I’m doing the right thing by correctly citing my sources, are that it does slow me down and I automatically start analyzing and synthesizing my data. I notice gaps in my information, or start wondering about certain things and come up with lists of records I could next research to find more resources. Say, this isn’t so bad after all!

Finding Out More on My ROBBINS Family – Part 2

A week ago, I blogged here about how I started out looking for possible online records for property owned by my paternal grandparents, particularly that owned by my grandfather, Robert Lewis Robbins, as I wasn’t sure if or when my grandmother’s name would be on any deeds. My purpose was to find some evidence for the oral history that my father and aunt have shared with me about family property. As I mentioned in Part 1, my online search led me to online records about my grandfather’s parents and siblings; in turn, sharing those web pages with extended family has produced more oral history about those years, which is very exciting (I’m having a hard time keeping up with recording all of this!). But I also wanted to share in this post about some of the actual evidence of property ownership I did find online.

First of all, I went to FamilySearch to see if land records were available through the Family History Library for the locations and time periods I wanted. In the FHL online catalog, I did a place search for Ottawa (county) and Michigan, the county in which I know for sure that my grandfather owned at least three pieces of property. The catalog was not real helpful. I know that my grandfather bought his probable first piece of property after World War II, at 185 River Street in Coopersville (which reminds me…I need to figure out where he and Grandma lived between their marriage on 12 Oct 1940 and his enlistment in the service on 13 Oct 1942…a rental? with family? own home?). The deed records for Ottawa County end in 1939, and the mortgage records end in 1940; both are only indexed until 1901. This information will be helpful when I search for my grandparents’ parents’ land records, but not for my purpose at hand. There is a land atlas book for 1987 – 1989, which I can only view on site if I go to Salt Lake City. Again, it may be interesting, but won’t provide exactly what I’m looking for, since I already know where the land my grandparents owned during that time was located.

My next try was to go to the Ottawa County Clerk’s Office online. I simply Googled it as such: “ottawa county clerk” michigan. I used Michigan as part of the search term, because I figured there might be another county by that name in another state. When I found the site, I looked for the county assessor’s department. I didn’t find one, but I did find the Register [sic] of Deeds. Note to Ottawa County webmaster: a register is an item in which documents are recorded; a registrar is an official in charge of making sure documents are registered! From here, I could do a Property Search for Public Users, which was free limited access to the records. I could search by Owner Last Name, Parcel Number, Property Address Number, or Range of Property Address Numbers, as well as limit my search by Active or Inactive Parcels, or both. When I searched by Owner Last Name (Robbins) and both kinds of parcels, I found the information for the house my grandfather had purchased for his widowed mother to live in sometime around 1972 (131 Madison, Coopersville). The details stated that the property had been purchased before 1975. I also discovered that my grandparents had bought additional lots around the original property. For a very reasonable cost ($1.50 each), I can order deed searches for each parcel. I also was able to find rather current (from 1999 to the present) information on the 185 River Street property in Coopersville, as well as the surrounding three lots Grandpa bought later. I believe my grandfather sold these parcels on River Street when he retired to my uncle, along with the body shop business; my uncle sold everything in the 1980s, so the current owner’s name is a stranger to me. I’ve put all these items on my “Records To Purchase” list, and printed up all the information I could off the website. The only thing I need to do is figure out how to find the parcel or address information for the lake cottage on Crockery Lake which Grandpa once owned in order to order those records as well.

My next searches were in various Texas counties where my grandparents “snowbirded” and later retired (along with several of my grandfather’s siblings). I didn’t know the county names for some of them: Glen Rose, Corpus Christi, Rockport, Fulton, San Antonio. So I used the county finder (U.S. Town/County Database) at RootsWeb, and came up with Somervell, Nueces, Aransas, Aransas (again), and Bexar counties, respectively. The Somervell County Clerk’s Office has no records online; in fact, their website was pretty bare bones. Nueces County had tons of information, but I had to go through a free, but slightly time-consuming, registration process. It was worth it, because although I didn’t find anything from 1982 through the present on my grandfather or his brothers, I did find a piece of property one of his sisters had co-owned with what looks like friends. The Bexar County Clerk’s site brought me property information for my granduncle and his son, and the Aransas County Clerk’s site gave me my grandmother’s current property information.

One thing that I learned about looking at county clerk websites: each is as different from each other as can be, even within a state. Some county clerk’s offices don’t even have a website, or one that is well done (as modeled in the Somervell County, Texas example, above). Some have greatly detailed information, while others have the basics. Some offer all details for free, while others ask for payment for all or part of the information. Here in Spokane County, I can view online current (three years old or less) photographs of the property, and in Clark County, Washington, I was able to find very old photographs (c. 80 years old) and a footprint of the home of my parents-in-law, with information about additions to the main structure. On some websites, you need to find the assessor’s or appraisal information, while on others, you must look for deeds, taxes, or just plain property records.

Most of the records you’ll find at online county clerk websites are fairly current information, usually no more than five years old, with most being closer to three. It’s not often helpful to find ancestors’ records; however, it can be a way to find out who the current owner of an ancestral home is, or see a current photograph. It can also lead you to being able to purchase older records, as I discovered with my grandfather’s properties.

Finding Out More on My ROBBINS Family – Part 2

A week ago, I blogged here about how I started out looking for possible online records for property owned by my paternal grandparents, particularly that owned by my grandfather, Robert Lewis Robbins, as I wasn’t sure if or when my grandmother’s name would be on any deeds. My purpose was to find some evidence for the oral history that my father and aunt have shared with me about family property. As I mentioned in Part 1, my online search led me to online records about my grandfather’s parents and siblings; in turn, sharing those web pages with extended family has produced more oral history about those years, which is very exciting (I’m having a hard time keeping up with recording all of this!). But I also wanted to share in this post about some of the actual evidence of property ownership I did find online.

First of all, I went to FamilySearch to see if land records were available through the Family History Library for the locations and time periods I wanted. In the FHL online catalog, I did a place search for Ottawa (county) and Michigan, the county in which I know for sure that my grandfather owned at least three pieces of property. The catalog was not real helpful. I know that my grandfather bought his probable first piece of property after World War II, at 185 River Street in Coopersville (which reminds me…I need to figure out where he and Grandma lived between their marriage on 12 Oct 1940 and his enlistment in the service on 13 Oct 1942…a rental? with family? own home?). The deed records for Ottawa County end in 1939, and the mortgage records end in 1940; both are only indexed until 1901. This information will be helpful when I search for my grandparents’ parents’ land records, but not for my purpose at hand. There is a land atlas book for 1987 – 1989, which I can only view on site if I go to Salt Lake City. Again, it may be interesting, but won’t provide exactly what I’m looking for, since I already know where the land my grandparents owned during that time was located.

My next try was to go to the Ottawa County Clerk’s Office online. I simply Googled it as such: “ottawa county clerk” michigan. I used Michigan as part of the search term, because I figured there might be another county by that name in another state. When I found the site, I looked for the county assessor’s department. I didn’t find one, but I did find the Register [sic] of Deeds. Note to Ottawa County webmaster: a register is an item in which documents are recorded; a registrar is an official in charge of making sure documents are registered! From here, I could do a Property Search for Public Users, which was free limited access to the records. I could search by Owner Last Name, Parcel Number, Property Address Number, or Range of Property Address Numbers, as well as limit my search by Active or Inactive Parcels, or both. When I searched by Owner Last Name (Robbins) and both kinds of parcels, I found the information for the house my grandfather had purchased for his widowed mother to live in sometime around 1972 (131 Madison, Coopersville). The details stated that the property had been purchased before 1975. I also discovered that my grandparents had bought additional lots around the original property. For a very reasonable cost ($1.50 each), I can order deed searches for each parcel. I also was able to find rather current (from 1999 to the present) information on the 185 River Street property in Coopersville, as well as the surrounding three lots Grandpa bought later. I believe my grandfather sold these parcels on River Street when he retired to my uncle, along with the body shop business; my uncle sold everything in the 1980s, so the current owner’s name is a stranger to me. I’ve put all these items on my “Records To Purchase” list, and printed up all the information I could off the website. The only thing I need to do is figure out how to find the parcel or address information for the lake cottage on Crockery Lake which Grandpa once owned in order to order those records as well.

My next searches were in various Texas counties where my grandparents “snowbirded” and later retired (along with several of my grandfather’s siblings). I didn’t know the county names for some of them: Glen Rose, Corpus Christi, Rockport, Fulton, San Antonio. So I used the county finder (U.S. Town/County Database) at RootsWeb, and came up with Somervell, Nueces, Aransas, Aransas (again), and Bexar counties, respectively. The Somervell County Clerk’s Office has no records online; in fact, their website was pretty bare bones. Nueces County had tons of information, but I had to go through a free, but slightly time-consuming, registration process. It was worth it, because although I didn’t find anything from 1982 through the present on my grandfather or his brothers, I did find a piece of property one of his sisters had co-owned with what looks like friends. The Bexar County Clerk’s site brought me property information for my granduncle and his son, and the Aransas County Clerk’s site gave me my grandmother’s current property information.

One thing that I learned about looking at county clerk websites: each is as different from each other as can be, even within a state. Some county clerk’s offices don’t even have a website, or one that is well done (as modeled in the Somervell County, Texas example, above). Some have greatly detailed information, while others have the basics. Some offer all details for free, while others ask for payment for all or part of the information. Here in Spokane County, I can view online current (three years old or less) photographs of the property, and in Clark County, Washington, I was able to find very old photographs (c. 80 years old) and a footprint of the home of my parents-in-law, with information about additions to the main structure. On some websites, you need to find the assessor’s or appraisal information, while on others, you must look for deeds, taxes, or just plain property records.

Most of the records you’ll find at online county clerk websites are fairly current information, usually no more than five years old, with most being closer to three. It’s not often helpful to find ancestors’ records; however, it can be a way to find out who the current owner of an ancestral home is, or see a current photograph. It can also lead you to being able to purchase older records, as I discovered with my grandfather’s properties.

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!)