Blog Posts

My Genealogy Do-Over

When I began compiling my family tree several years ago I operated on the philosophy of name collecting without giving the underlying structure much actual substance. I focused on the skeleton while avoiding the meat. As a result my tree

Ice Harvesting – Our Ancestor’s Refrigerator

Before the days of modern refrigeration, it was essential especially during the grueling summer months, to purchase ice blocks to keep perishables cool.  Ice companies organized with harvesting rights from local lakes and rivers delivering blocks of ice to local

How to Request Michigan Adoption Records

Adoption records in the State of Michigan are sealed and generally inaccessible to the public.  However, there are methods, allowed by Michigan Law, that an adoptee and/or direct descendant of an adoptee can request nonidentifying or identifying information pertaining to

Early Grand Rapids Photographers

From the early period in Grand Rapids history there have been able photographers making a living at their art.  The annual City Directories listed these, some with ads.  What follows is a complete list of every listed photographer from 1859-1925.

Don’t Be a Michi-Gander

The occasion arises from time to time when I am asked what to call Michigan natives, those individuals who call Michigan home.  In my book there is but one correct term…and you can guess from the title of this article

James Jesse Strang – Michigan’s Mormon King

Most Michiganians are unaware that Michigan had its own Mormon American King who was able to wrestle control of a band of islands from gentile fishermen, the primary being Beaver Island where the Mormon headquarters was firmly ensconced. James Jesse

The Spendthrift Clause

I just finished a lengthy assignment to locate an ancestor that moved around so frequently that he was difficult to trace. The paper trail was scarce because he didn’t stay in any one place too long to establish one. Still,

How to Honor Your Ancestors this Memorial Day

I remember a time when life was much simpler than now.  Spending time with my grandparents during the summer months we’d take time to visit friends and relatives on a lazy Sunday afternoon and sometimes, especially on Memorial Day, we’d

Think You Know Your Ethnicity? Think Again.

Think you know your ethnicity?  Think again. If you would like to learn your precise ancestral origins rather than being lumped into a broad category like “Western European” or “Native American”… this article is for you! There are lesser known

The Malevolent Murder of Mary McKendrick

It was a cold winter morning, the 17th of January, 1894. John Quartel, an employee of Crowley & Morris, a local Grandville Avenue grocer, was busy making his rounds delivering groceries with his young partner, Jacob Boyton. He pulled up

Finding Your Ancestor’s Naturalization Record

When searching for your ancestor’s immigration record the key year to remember is 1906. Prior to 1906 the information contained on a naturalization document was limited to the country of origin and perhaps the date of arrival.  Not much else.

Don’t Neglect the Living

I call it “forward-thinking genealogy”, my term for bringing a known line forward in search of living descendants.  Now why would you do this? I’ve been very fortunate in past client genealogies when searching for living descendants.  My reason for

How to Find Hidden Headstones

I love cemeteries. I’ll occasionally drive to a cemetery, park my car and walk along the paved or dirt roads. There is something very peaceful about the setting. Perhaps its my way of escaping the busyness of life… or perhaps

Slavery in Michigan

Slavery in Michigan

What if I were to tell you that Michigan once had slaves? Would you be surprised and appalled? Before Michigan became a State it traded hands between French and English rule. Both the French and English owned slaves that were

20th Century History of Berrien County Michigan

2016 Guide to Berrien County

Berrien County is located on the far southwestern side of the State.  It is bordered on the west by Lake Michigan and the south by Indiana.  Established in 1829 from yet unorganized territory, Berrien County derives its name from Attorney

Lillie Orcutt BENTON

This large photo card was found in Kent County, Michigan.  It features a young woman garbed in white (wedding).  The photographer’s mark is “J R Osborn in Coldwater, Michigan”.  On the reverse is written in pencil “Lillie Bentin (or Benton)”.

Captain Smith Cannon HERBERT

This photo card was found in Ionia County, Michigan.  The card features on its face the photographer mark “Wybrant” in Louisville, Kentucky.  On the card’s reverse is “Wybrant, 418 West Market St., Louisville, Kentucky”.  Written in pencil is “Lucy P.

Jacob and Anna Freeman DEISCH

This photo card was found in Ionia County, Michigan.  The photo was taken in the Keller photo studio in Nappanee, Elkhart, Indiana.  Card reverse has written in pen, “Anna and Jacob Deisch”, “Merle Deisch”, and “Baby Blanche Deisch”. The Michigan

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