My passion is connecting genealogy with local history, learning more about our ancestors' homes, jobs, activities, and family life. I have a Masters in Library and Information Science and a Graduate Certificate in Archival Administration.
Another Randy Seaver/Genea-musings exercise! “Thinking about your direct ancestors back through 2nd great-grandparents – in other words, ancestors #2 to #31 on your pedigree chart – how many children did they have? How many lived long enough to marry? How many died before age 10?” So here’s mine:
#2-3: R. Wells and M. Wilson – 3 sons, 1 daughter (3 married), 0 died before age 10
#4-5: Edward Lee Wells (1905-1955) and Velma Irene Belknap (1913-1999) – 4 sons, 4 daughters (7 married), 0 died before age 10
#6-7: Charles Thompson Wilson (1907-1989) and Helen Dorothy Oakes (1912-1988) – 1 son, 2 daughters (3 married), 0 died before age 10
#8-9: Robert Luke Wells (1881-1919) and Nannie Jane Clark (1880-1969) – 4 sons, 1 daughter (5 married), 0 died before age 10
#10-11: Earl E. Belknap (1895-1960) and Florence E. Bost (1896-1961) – 9 daughters, 1 son (9 married), 0 died before age 10
#12-13: John A. Wilson (1874-1930) and Mary A. Thompson (1872-1940) – 7 sons, 3 daughters (7 married), 1 died before age 10
#14-15: William Oakes (1888-1928) and Mae D. Moore (1892-1971) – 1 daughter (1 married), 0 died before age 10
#16-17: James H. Wells (1840-1904) and Mary Ann Clark (1839-1894) – 5 daughters, 4 sons (8 married?), 0 died before age 10
#18-19: Willis Clark (1834-?) and Sarah E. Wells (1838-1923) – 4 sons, 3 daughters
#20-21: Arthur F. Belknap (1869-1955) and Martha Gisel (1869-1925) – 1 daughter, 4 sons (5 married), 0 died before age 10
#22-23: William S. Bost (1859-1932) and Mary E. McCracken (1862-1911) – 4 daughters, 3 sons (5 married), 2 died before age 10
#24-25: John Alford Wilson/Rustad (1833-1889) and Mary Ann Gibson (1837-1923) – 5 daughters, 3 sons (4 married?), 3 died before age 10
#26-27: Archibald Thompson (1838-1931) and Elizabeth Dunning (1837-1912) – 9 sons, 2 daughters (6 married?), 3 died before age 10
#28-29: Henry Ochs/Oakes (1846-1922) and Minnie Schroder (1857-1936) – 2 sons, 2 daughters (4 married), 0 died before age 10
#30-31: Fred L. Moore (1863-1924) and Mina Adell Bolt (1865-1942) – 3 daughters, 2 sons (3 married), 2 died before age 10
The following exercise was borrowed from a post from last year on Randy Seaver’s blog. Working on this exercise, I actually learned a few things about the 1940 census! I learned the circled x’s next to names mean that person is the one that answered the census-taker’s questions. Also, I noticed a column I had never paid attention to before – Number of hours worked during week of March 24-30, 1940.
1) Determine where your ancestral families were on 1 April 1940 – 80 years ago when the U.S. census was taken. 2) List them, their family members, their birth years, and their residence location (as close as possible). Do you have a photograph of their residence from about that time, and does the residence still exist?
* On April 2, 1940,my father, Robert Wells (born 1939) resided at 17117 O’Connor Street in Allen Park, Michigan with his father, Edward Wells (born 1905), his mother Velma (nee Belknap, born 1913), and his three older sisters, Patricia (born 1934), Ruthann (born 1936), and Donna (born 1938). Edward was a stock chaser at an axle company. His salary was $1600 annually. He had worked 50 weeks in 1939 and 40 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940. Velma answered the census questions. They owned the home, and it was valued at $1200. Here is a photo of that house today:
* On April 8, 1940, my grandparents, Charles Wilson (born 1907) and Helen (nee Oakes, born 1912) resided at 2431 Bennett Street in Dearborn, Michigan, with their daughter Sally Ann (born 1934) and son Charles (born 1935). My mother, Mary, had not been born yet. In the census, Charles was listed as a truck driver at a creamery company, and his income was $2000 annually. He had worked 50 weeks in 1939 and 48 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940. Helen was the one who answered the census questions. They owned their home, and it was valued at $4600. Here is the house in the 1950s:
* On April 13, 1940, my great-grandmother, Mae Oakes Smiechowski Johnson (nee Moore, born 1892) and her 3rd husband Alfred Johnson (born 1892) resided at 14810 Parkgrove, Detroit, Michigan, with Mae’s nephew, Harry Moore (born 1914). Mae was my grandmother Helen’s mother. Alfred and Mae owned the house (valued at $6000) and rented the upper flat out for $35 a month. Alfred was listed as an inspector of automobile parts, and his income was $2100 annually. He had worked 48 weeks in 1939 and 40 hours during the week of March 24-30, 1940. Alfred was the one who answered the census questions. Here is the house in 2007. It has since been torn down.
* On April 19, 1940, my great-great grandmother, Mina Moore Thompson (nee Bolt, born 1865) and her 2nd husband Bert Thompson (born 1879) resided at 23439 Michigan Avenue in Dearborn, Michigan. Mina, Mae’s mother, was the one that answered the census questions. Bert was a carpenter in building construction and worked 26 weeks in 1939. During the week of March 24-30, 1940, he worked 24 hours. His annual income was $800. They rented the house for $10/month. The house would have been located on the south side of Michigan Ave. near the corner of Outer Drive. It was torn down before 1956, when an office building was built there.
* On April 16, 1940, my great-grandmother, Nannie Wells (nee Clark, born 1880) resided at 1087 Victoria Avenue in Lincoln Park, Michigan with her son Jesse. She rented the house for $30/month. Also living with her were two lodgers from Indiana named Fred and Boaz Duncan. Nannie was the mother of my grandfather Edward Wells. The house no longer stands but was located near Fort Street and Outer Drive.
* On April 3, 1940, my great-grandparents, Earl Belknap (born 1895) and Florence (nee Bost, born 1896) resided at 1611 Electric Avenue in Lincoln Park, Michigan with their children Helen (born 1921), Arthur (born 1923), Betty (born 1927), Joyce (born 1931), Nancy (born 1934), Nadine (born 1936) and Shirley (born 1939). Earl and Florence were the parents of my grandmother Velma. I don’t have a picture, but it was located near Fort Street and Southfield Road. They rented for $20/month. Earl was a carpenter, earning $750 in income annually. He had worked 36 weeks in 1939.
* On April 19, 1940, my great-great grandfather, Arthur Belknap (born 1869) was the father of Earl Belknap and resided at 35120 University in Nankin Township, Michigan (now in Westland, Michigan). He was living with his daughter Belva (born 1899) and her husband Alva Merillat and their children Bernetta (born 1928) and Ralph (born 1939). They rented the house for $20 a month. Here is a photo of the house from 2007:
My great-great grandfather Henry Oakes (aka Henry Oax, Heinrich Ochs, or Henry Ochs) was born December 24, 1846 in Hesse-Cassel (Germany). He, his father John, mother Anna, and brother Conrad arrived in New York on April 22, 1852. Anna died by 1856, and John remarried to Wilhelmine Mager. In 1860, the family was living in Greenfield, Wayne County, Michigan.
Henry enlisted in Company F of the 24th Michigan in August 1864 in Detroit. He was not quite 18 years old. He missed Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, and Cold Harbor, but joined in time for the siege of Petersburg. He joined the regiment at Weldon Railroad, Virginia on September 7, 1864. The regiment participated in the fighting at Hatcher’s Run in February 1865.
On February 11, 1865, the 24th was ordered to Baltimore and then to Springfield, Illinois for rest and recruiting at Camp Butler. While there, they were the military escort at Abraham Lincoln’s funeral on May 4, 1865. According to Henry Oakes, “J.D. Sheldon[?] was promoted to Lieut. shortly after we went to Lincoln’s funeral at Springfield, O. or Springfield, Ill. We stayed then till we came home to Detroit to be discharged.” On June 19, 1865, they left Camp Butler by train for Detroit. On June 28 at 5 PM, they had their last dress parade and the regiment was mustered out on June 30th. About the time immediately after that, Henry said, “When discharged from 24th I guess I was at my parents. I don’t know where else I could have been. They now live some 2 ½ mi. W. of Dearborn – John Oakes.”
Henry reenlisted in the 18th U.S. Infantry (3rd Battalion) on December 4, 1865. During January to March, 1866, the 3rd Battalion was going through organization and instruction at Jefferson Barracks, Missouri. They left there on April 20, 1866 and reached Sedgwick, Colorado on May 31, 1866. According to Henry, “We got to Salt Lake City [Fort Douglas] about 1 of July 1866. Fired a salute there on the 4th. Drew pay and clothing and then a pile of them deserted and I was put on detached duty. My gun was taken from me and I was put on a horse and a revolver given to me and a detachment of 4 of us with a non-commissioned officer put out to apprehend deserters for $30 a head. I can’t think who the officer was in charge of that detachment nor who the men were nor what companies they were from. I have no idea how long I was on that duty. Couldn’t tell whether 3 or 5 months of the time but I know we brought in a deserter every once in a while.” In December 1866, the 18th was reorganized: the 1st Battalion stayed the 18th Infantry, the 2nd Battalion became the 27th Infantry, and the 3rd Battalion became the 36th Infantry. Henry’s enlistment ended on December 4, 1868.
Here’s what happened to Henry after that according to his deposition from his Civil War Pension File: “When I was discharged from the regular army I went as brakeman on the U.P.R.R. [Union Pacific Railroad] – ran from Laramie to Rollin Springs. Brake man a little less than a year – got my left hand [?] [?] and was in a hospital with that in Laramie City. I can’t tell how long. Went braking again on same route. I can’t say how long then the whole crew was “pulled off.” I laid round Laramie I don’t know how long and I kind of think I came from there to Detroit. No I worked quite awhile at the European Hotel at Laramie City as 2nd(?) cook. Then I had charge of the dining room there quite a spell. Then to Detroit. Was brought to Detroit and put in House of Correction for 5 years for horse stealing. Had started herding cattle and was roped in. Was taking 3 horses from Laramie to Ft. Bridger for a man whose name I can’t recollect and was arrested with the horses in my possession. The man who sent me with the horses kept a [?] house at Laramie and he skipped out.”
So Henry was sent to the Detroit House of Corrections for 5 years for horse stealing in Wyoming Territory. He was received at the jail March 28, 1871 and was let out August 30, 1875.
Milo Alfonzo Thompson is a step-relative. He was the father of Bert L. Thompson who married my great-great grandmother Mina Bolt Moore in 1924. Mina died in 1942 and Bert died in 1966. He lived with my mother’s family when she was a kid, so our family has all his papers and pictures, since he had no children or immediate family.
Bert’s dad, Milo, was born in Tioga, Pennsylvania on July 10, 1836 to Bethlehem Thompson and Louisa Chilson. He had four sisters, two of whom (Bethia and Ann) died in 1841 and were buried in Addison, Steuben County, New York. Sometime between 1852 and 1860, Bethlehem brought his family to Michigan. Milo married Ruth E. Noble on January 2, 1860 in Oakland County, Michigan and they lived in Oxford, Michigan. Their first son John Wesley Thompson was born on September 9, 1860.
At the start of the Civil War, Milo joined the 1st Michigan Cavalry, Company G. The unit was organized in Detroit from August 21 to September 6 and mustered in on September 13, 1861. The 1st became part of the Michigan Cavalry Brigade along with the 5th, 6th, and 7th MI Cavalry Regiments. Company G was composed of men from Wayne and Oakland Counties. A roster can be found here. The 1st participated in battles from Winchester, Virginia on Mar. 23, 1862 to Appomattox, Virginia on April 9, 1865. In the 1890 Veterans Schedule, a remark on Milo’s entry says “reenlisted,” but I’m not sure of dates. Milo and Ruth’s second son, George Bethlehem Thompson, was born in Oxford, Michigan on November 12, 1863. I don’t know if he was home in February 1863 on leave or if he was finished with his service and hadn’t reenlisted yet.
After the war, Milo and Ruth had four more children: Violet, Gracie, Albert, and Bert. Violet died September 6, 1870 of brain fever – she was only 1. Gracie and Albert died within a month of each other in early 1879 of diphtheria – Gracie was 6 and Albert was 4. John Wesley died on December 31, 1880 at the age of 20 of tuberculosis. He had married Katherine Weber on February 26, 1880 and she had given birth to their son on December 27, 1880. Bert was born November 3, 1879, and so grew up only knowing his older brother George.
In 1882, the family moved to Luzerne, Oscoda County, Michigan. Milo’s son George married Katie VanAntwerp on September 22, 1887 in Elmer Township. They eventually had 7 children. George died in 1944. Milo’s mother, Louisa, died at Milo’s home on December 21, 1889.
The May, 4, 1894 issue of the Crawford County Avalanche (Grayling, MI) had a disturbing story about Milo: “Milo A. Thompson, of Luzerne, was assaulted by Eli Hagar, of that place, in a brutal manner, one day last week. Mr. Thompson is an old veteran and known by many of our readers.” He wasn’t even 58 yet, but I guess that counted as “old” in the 19th century. Milo’s wife Ruth died of unknown causes on November 27, 1896. Her obituary said she had only been sick for four days. According to the June 10, 1897 issue of the Avalanche, “Some vandal stole the flowers off the grave of the wife of Comrade Milo A. Thompson, of Luzerne. She was buried in the cemetery at Lewiston.”
In the 1900 census, Milo and Bert were living with George and his family in Elmer Township. Milo died on August 4, 1908. His obituary was in the Avalanche on August 13, 1908.
Died – At Ely, Emmet Co., Mich., August 4, 1908., Milo A. THOMPSON, aged 72 years. The deceased was born in Westfield, Tiogo county, Penn., July 10, 1836. When but a young man he came to Oakland Co. On Jan., 2, 1860 he was married to Miss Ruth E. NOBLE. To them were born 6 children, two of whom are now living, Geo. B. and Burt L. THOMPSON, both of this place. In answer to this country’s call he enlisted as a soldier in Co. G. First Michigan Cavalry and did valiant service. He was discharged at the close of the war and returned to his home at Oxford, Mich. In the spring of ’82 he came north and settled at Luzerne, Mich., where he has since resided. His wife died Nov., 27, 1896 whose memory he has always cherished. His last days since her death have been spent among his children. Mr. THOMPSON had always enjoyed fairly good health until 3 years ago when he began to fail. He received a slight stroke of paralysis the last of March which was followed by a more severe one in April. After leaving the hospital and for the last seven weeks, he has been at Ely, Emmet Co., where at his Nephew’s on Tuesday, Aug., 4th., at 2 p.m. he breathed his last. He leaves two sons, one sister, nine grand children, two great grand children and a host of friends, acquaintances and old comrades. Rev. C. E. ROBINSON of Lansing, preached the sermon at Lewiston. He was a member of Marvin Post No. 240, G. A. R. of this place. The body was brought to Lewiston where the funeral services were held on the 6th., inst. The casket was borne to the grave by his comrades of the war.
For this week, I actually found the surname Poorman in my tree! Below is the only information I have found on Mr. Poorman (first name possibly Henry). He married Mary Greenawalt, the sister of my 4th great-grandmother (Sarah Greenawalt Shatzer/Shartzer).
The theme for Week 45 is “Rich Man.” Amy’s suggestion of “Any Moneypennys or Banks in the family tree?” made me look for that surname in my tree. Surprisingly, I found some Moneypennys. My 2nd cousin 2x removed Viola Dilsaver married Charles Moneypenny in 1931 in Ohio. Viola was the daughter of Laura Belle Culver (1880-1940) and James Dilsaver. Laura was the daughter of Sarah Ellen Bost (1860-1939), my 3rd great-aunt, and Alfred Culver. Sarah Ellen was the sister of my great-great grandfather William S. Bost (1859-1932).
Anyway, back to the Moneypennys. They lived in Summit County, Ohio, and divorced in August 1944. Viola and Charles had 2 sons, David and Jack. Viola married Henry Wilson on October 25, 1947. On their marriage license, they were both listed as rubberworkers. Viola died in 1992 at the age of 78. Her son David had died in 1964 in a plane crash at the age of 31. Charles Moneypenny died in 1998.
This week’s theme is adventure, so I thought I’d discuss my grandfather leaving Ontario and coming to Michigan in 1928. Charles Thompson Wilson arrived in Detroit, Michigan on April 11, 1928. On the border crossing document, the name of the ship is “C.N. 115” which stands for Canadian National #115. So instead of arriving on a ship, he arrived on a train from Windsor, Ontario through a railway tunnel under the Detroit River. The Michigan Central Railway Tunnel was completed in 1910. Before that rail cars were transported across the river by ferry. The Ambassador Bridge for car traffic was completed in 1929.
Just one week later, on April 18, 1928, he swore his declaration of intention to become a U.S. citizen. He was living in Grosse Pointe at 152 Kerby. I’m not sure who he was living with; he had put John Purdy at 333 Mona Ave. in Detroit as his contact on his border passage document.
Finding the context in a person’s life is one of my favorite things about genealogy. I love finding more than just names and dates. Occupations, addresses, family tragedies, world events, awards, military service – they all shape a person’s life.
My favorite places to learn about context are newspapers and city directories (for home addresses and work places). Censuses have some information that could be useful for context, like occupation or whether the person was blind or deaf. Divorce filings often have a lot of juicy details.
Here are some of my previous blog posts, for which I used a lot of newspapers and city directories: