Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Mocavo and other musings

I discovered a new genealogy site today called Mocavo. I'm super excited! There are all kinds of records on there - the old standard birth, marriage and death, as well as stuff like yearbooks, atlases, city directories, old photographs...the list goes on and on. I signed up for a free account there. There's a "gold" account that costs nine dollars per month and gives the user some extra perks, but I'm going to stick with the free one for now to see how I like the site.

I'm probably going to use my blog more and more to write down my genealogy discoveries. Having a place where my stories are written down keeps me from forgetting details, and I hope that putting my discoveries on a public blog will prove helpful to others who might be looking for information on the same people. Blogging about what I find also encourages me to continue with my genealogy work, rather than leaving it to collect dust for weeks or months on end.

I've been feeling an extra pull towards genealogy research these days. I keep thinking to myself, "You're pretty good at this...and you're already a librarian, maybe you could turn this into a career?" It's definitely something to think about.

Friday, March 7, 2014

They Were Neighbors in 1920

It pays to look very closely at your ancestors' neighbors when looking at census records. As I combed through my Ancestry Shoebox (aka records I've saved for later use) I decided to look at the 1920 census record I'd saved for my great-great-grandmother Ida. She was married to John Wellman at the time and living in Flint, Michigan with him and their daughter, Goldie. As I've posted previously, Ida had five other kids from her first marriage to my great-great-grandfather Charles. And when I reinspected the census record, I realized that one of Ida's grown-up kids was living on the same street with her own husband and kids! My great-grandparents Viola and Thayer Graham were living right next door on Rosetta Avenue.

I don't know how I didn't realize this sooner. I guess because I tend to do research in spurts - I'll work on stuff for days or weeks at a time and then leave it for several more weeks without doing anything. Things get forgotten, lost in the shuffle, overlooked. I know for a fact that I've looked at that exact same census record in the past when researching Thayer, but at that time, I wasn't looking for anything about Ida and didn't know anything about John Wellman yet, so never put two and two together.

Rosetta Avenue in Flint doesn't seem to exist anymore. I'd love to figure out where it was and take a look at the neighborhood on Google Street View. The 1917 Flint City Directory lists Ida and John as living on "ss Rosetta Ave 1 e of Industrial Ave". Industrial Avenue is still there according to Google Maps, but none of the cross streets are called Rosetta. I'll have to do some more digging and see if I can pin down the location.

I love researching this stuff! Happy Friday, all!

Monday, March 3, 2014

The many names of Ida, part 2

I left off talking about my great-great-grandmother Ida's many marriages, starting with Charles Tyrell and John Wellman. Census records from 1920 and 1930 showed Ida and John living in Flint, Michigan and then Oakland, California with a daughter, Goldie. The five children Ida had with Charles Tyrell (my great-grandmother among them) weren't with them in California. By then they would have all been adults and presumably starting their own lives and families. It all seemed straightforward and simple: Ida married Charles quite young, had five kids, was most likely widowed, started anew with John Wellman and eventually had a child with him. There was still the question of why her marriage certificate listed her as "Ida Hilton" when she married John in 1906, but otherwise the story seemed typical for the times. However, when I started looking things up on, I hit on something that made me stop and go "Wait, what?"

That something was yet another marriage record with Ida's name in it. The marriage record I found was for a 1923 marriage between an Ida Rich Wellman and a Howard J. Potter. How could Ida be getting married to Howard Potter in 1923 in Michigan if she was married to John Wellman and living in Michigan and California between 1920 and 1930?

I know it might not be the "right" Ida Rich Wellman. But her parents are listed in the marriage record, and their names are the same as "my" Ida's parents - James and Eliza. Ida's listed age is consistent with what I know her approximate birth year to be. One thing that caught my eye, though - Ida is listed as being married only once before. I wonder what's up with that - if it's the same person, it should have listed her as being married twice before (Charles, John).

So what could have happened? So far the only explanation I can come up with is that she split up with John sometime after 1920, married Howard Potter, and by 1930 had already divorced Howard and went back to John.

I'm still working on finding death records for Ida and John. I'm hoping Ida didn't squeeze in any more marriages (and name changes) before she died, or I may be searching for that death record for years!

Monday, February 24, 2014

The many names of Ida

I can go for a few months between spurts of genealogy research. I find something cool, subsequently hit a wall after trying to dig even deeper, and finally leave things for awhile. Often I'll come back to my research and focus on a new person, to see where that path leads me. Last weekend I chose my great-great-grandmother, Ida Rich, as my starting point. I knew only a few things about her. She married my great-great-grandfather, Charles Tyrell, when she was very young, if the 1900 Census birthdate and date of marriage she reported is to be believed. According to that census info they were married in 1889, and Ida was born in 1876, so she would have been thirteen when they married! Yikes. They had five kids together, including Viola Ida (my great-grandmother).

Here's where Ancestry helped me out. To the side of the 1900 census record, there was a list of others that Ancestry suggested I might be interested in. One of them was a 1911 Canadian census record for someone named "Ida Wellman." Why was it suggesting this other Ida to me, I wondered. I clicked it, and was immediately surprised and shocked to find that my great-great-grandmother seemed to have taken her children and started a new life in Windsor, Ontario with a new husband! What had happened in those eleven years between censuses? Had Charles Tyrell died? Left her? Had she left him? So many unanswered questions...and it got even more complicated when I found their marriage record. Ida's new husband was named John Wellman and they were married in 1906. But...her name on the marriage certificate was Ida HILTON, not Ida Rich, not Ida Tyrell. Where did she get the surname Hilton? Was she married to someone named Hilton between her marriages to Charles Tyrell and John Wellman?  Did she change her last name to disassociate herself from Charles Tyrell or make it difficult for him to find her? I still haven't been able to determine Charles's death date, which would allow me a more educated guess on why his marriage to Ida ended.

There's even more information I found about other possible marriages Ida may have had, but it's all making my head spin a bit as I try to keep names and dates straight. I'll save it for my next post.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Summer needed, ASAP

I'm pretty much done with winter. Too bad it's probably sticking around til the end of March. I went to Miami and Key West last month, and I ever since I got back I've been longing for green trees and clear blue water. So I changed my wallpaper to this:

It's Miners' Castle at the Picture Rocks National Lakeshore. So pretty! I found this image on a site called Superb Wallpapers; check it out if you need a little bit of summer in your life, too.

Friday, January 10, 2014

The Snowstorms of 2014

Happy New Year! It's been interesting in Michigan, weather-wise. We've had two big snowstorms already, just days apart. The first one hit us New Year's Day and dumped about eight inches of snow. The next one arrived four days later and added another foot on top of that. Right after the snow ended, the temperatures crashed, down to the lowest I've ever seen. Fifteen below zero, with wind chills of forty below. 

We were lucky at our house - no power outages, no frozen pipes, and no car trouble. I'm very grateful!

While we were holed up in the house staying warm, I took a few pictures of the storms' aftermath. The first one I took after the smaller storm. Patriot stood on the deck, taking it all in.

This next one is after the big storm. I took this through the front window of our house. 

Here's the deck again, with one buried chair. Sorry about the lack of variety in my pictures. I really didn't want to trek around outside in the bitter cold!

We still have a long way to go before winter's over. If the back-to-back storms are any indication, I'd say we're in for a crazy season.

Monday, December 30, 2013

100th post

This marks the one-hundredth post on this blog! I have to admit, I'm surprised I'm still at this. I figured I'd lose interest and give up a long time ago, but here I am still plugging away.

Since this is a milestone post and we're wrapping up 2013, I think it's appropriate to reflect on this past year of blogging. Thoughts presented randomly and in no particular order:

My most popular posts continued to be the one about the Taylor Conservatory and the one about my genealogy road trip. Some of the photos from my genealogy post were lifted from the blog and added to's photo database by other users, without my knowledge. One night a couple of months ago, I was logged into Ancestry doing some research - imagine my surprise when my very own photos popped up, with only a few properly credited as belonging to me. Because of that incident, I decided to disable right-clicking on my blog pictures, making it more difficult to lift them off here. Not a perfect solution, but I hope in the future if anyone else wants my photos for genealogical purposes, they can ask me for an original.

I didn't meet all the goals I set for this blog at the beginning of the year, but that's okay with me. I set a reading goal for myself to read 100 books this year and I only made it to 73, because I decided not to count picture books. I should have counted them and I'd be well over the goal! I also didn't end up posting about cooking; every time I thought about it, it just didn't seem like it would fit here.

I did meet my goal of taking (and writing about) more day trips, especially during summer, so I'm happy about that. The trip Jason and I took to Cherry Creek Winery was my favorite. I also met my goal of writing ten book reviews for this blog. I didn't think I was going to make it, but I had a sudden surge of productivity this month and got it done just in time.

What will 2014 hold for the blog? A lot of the same as 2013, probably. I feel like I've settled into a blogging style that suits me. Books, day trips, weather stuff, and my dog will most likely keep appearing here. I also want to say THANK YOU to those who are still reading my blog! I know who most of you are, and I truly appreciate you taking the time to check in.