Showing posts with label Little Traverse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Little Traverse. Show all posts

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tuesday's Tip: Obits vs Death Certs (Dig Deeper!)

Sometimes a death record is more informative than an obituary...and then there are other times when the opposite is true. Here's a case where digging deeper to get the obit was a phenomenal help and broke down a long-standing brick wall.

I've been looking for Benjamin McClure's ancestors. He's my hubby's great-great-grandfather and for years I've actively sought his parents' names.

The very nice folks in Friends of Falls Cemetery in Wabash, Indiana, have photographed his grave for Find a Grave and "calculated" relationships with other relatives buried there (correctly). They (and I) had no way of knowing that Benjamin didn't die in Wabash--he died in Conway, Michigan.

Finally, I got a clue and checked Family Search's Michigan Deaths/Burial Index, finding this:

Just to be sure, I ordered the microfilm and checked it and this is a mostly accurate transcription, from a ledger book that summarizes all deaths in Michigan, by county, during that year. I just didn't believe everything it says. The birth year is right, but the death date is one day off. And it's VERY unlikely that Benjamin and his parents were from New York, and the name "Enos" appears nowhere else in the family. What I really needed was to see his obit.

The kind librarian in Petoskey, Michigan (near Little Traverse) sent me Benjamin's obit from the Petoskey Record of February 26, 1896. It told me that Benjamin, the father-in-law of locally-known Reverend John J. Cook and father of Mrs. John J. Cook, had died at Conway after a short illness. His body was brought back to Wabash, Indiana, where he had resided for nearly 52 years, but no mention was made of McClure's birthplace or other survivors.

Posting a query on a Wabash genealogy message board, I got a note from a historian who told me that Benjamin's obit had appeared in two local Wabash papers, and he gave me the dates, suggesting I send for these. I tried a few different ways to get the obits from libraries, but no luck.

Then I joined the Indiana genealogy Facebook group and, from one of their posts, got the idea to contact the Indiana State Library.

Bingo! They quickly sent me the obit (excerpted at left) for Benjamin -- which includes his likeness. It includes a very complete family history. Benjamin, as I strongly suspected, wasn't born in NY, he was born in Ohio. His parents were John McClure and Ann McFall McClure. What a gold mine!

Thank you, wonderful librarians of Indiana State Library! Now I have literally dozens of leads to follow, including exact counties where the McClures lived and the dates. Digging deeper made the difference.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Those Places Thursday: NOT Ireland--Check the original!

Where oh where did my husband's branch of the McClure family come from before they turned up in America?

I've been trying to track down the parents and living descendants of his g-g-grandpa Benjamin McClure, who died in Emmet County, Michigan in 1896 and was buried with many other members of his family in Wabash, Indiana.

One of Benjamin's children was John N. McClure, who married Rebecca Jane Coble and were the parents of Fanny (Fannie) Fay McClure. Thanks to, I found Fanny's birth record in a ledger book. Her b-day is October 4, 1882.

More important, I thought I had an interesting clue to the McClures' origins: The transcription of this birth record shows that John and Rebecca were both from Ireland.

Of course I didn't take their word for it. I clicked through and looked at the original document. An excerpt is below. Do you think they're from Ireland? Take a close look.

No. He's from Fayette County, Indiana, and she's from what looks like Greenbrier, Indiana.

So Indiana is my place of the day (sorry, Ireland, but you may get your turn in a later post).

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Surname Saturday: McClure in Little Traverse, MI

Emmet Cty, MI death register from 1896

Second page of Emmet Cty, MI death register
Today I've returned to the puzzle of tracing my hubby's great-great-grandfather (Benjamin McClure), trying to learn who his parents were and where they came from.

Both Benjamin and his wife, Sarah McClure, are buried in Wabash Falls Memorial Gardens in Wabash, IN. But that's nowhere near where he, at least, died!

Acting on info received from a knowledgeable Wabash genealogist/historian, I learned that Benjamin actually died in 1896 in Little Traverse, MI, as shown on the second entry of the two pages above (downloaded from Family Search).

This is almost certainly the correct Benjamin, because his grandson, Brice Larimer McClure, was born in Little Traverse, MI, in Dec, 1878. I'd wondered why Brice's son, William Madison McClure and the son's wife, Margaret Jane Larimer, were in Little Traverse at all. Now it seems that family brought them there, although they quickly moved away.

However, the genealogist mentioned that Benjamin's parents were John & Ann McClure, according to the Wabash obit. Above, however, the death register says that his parents were Enos  & Elizabeth McClure. Somebody has the wrong info.

To find out, I've written to librarians in Wabash and Petoskey, MI, asking for Benjamin McClure's obits. Those should help me determine who's who in Benjamin's family line. I see more research in my future!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday Time Travel: 1878, when Brice L. McClure Was Born

This is another in my ongoing series of Time Travel posts, looking at what was happening at important points in my ancestors' lives.

Today's ancestor is Brice Larimer McClure, my husband's maternal grandfather, born on December 25, 1878, in Little Traverse, Michigan. Little Traverse is part of Petoskey nowadays, located in Emmet County, not too far (as the crow flies) from famous Mackinac Island. The county was named after Robert Emmet, an Irish nationalist born in Dublin.

And thanks to Mary Elizabeth's "ME and My Ancestors," which mentioned that Google Timelines had been featured on Genealogy Gems, I now know about the wonderful tool Google News Timeline to look up events of the era, as well.

So what was life like for newborn Brice, his 1-yr-old sister Lola, and his parents, William Madison McClure and Margaret Jane Larimer McClure? I have a few clues.
  • Railroad fever and lumber demand fueled growth. A lot of railroads were active in Michigan at this time, as the US economy expanded. The first-ever Statistical Abstract of the US shows that the US treasury held a record $215 million in 1878! (The public debt was just over $2 billion, a direct result of the Civil War.) Petoskey was about to be incorporated, in fact, and lumber was a major industry, here and throughout Michigan. Water access increased the value of this area for industry. Rapid economic development meant work for Brice's father. Did he get his start on the railroad here? By the 1880 Census, Brice's father was listed as "worker on railway" and his home was in Millersburg, Elkhart County, Indiana.
  • Cool summers, clean air = resort community. The area in and around Petoskey, a scenic stop on the railroads from Grand Rapids and beyond, grew into a haven for city-dwellers seeking to escape the heat in summer resort communities. Yellow fever was a problem in Southern states, and crowded cities were already viewed as unhealthy for those with fragile constitutions or chronic conditions. Of course, Brice was born on Christmas, when the weather was REALLY cool, and the family lived no more than 18 months beyond his birth in this resort community, so he never experienced the "resort" atmosphere. But he did live nearly 92 years...perhaps his healthy beginnings helped?!
  • What about culture and education? Brice and family were probably busy trying to survive, so I doubt they were buying books or attending concerts at this point (LOL). Just a few years before Brice was born, however, a landmark court case in Kalamazoo affirmed the concept of tax support for public high schools in Michigan towns. Out in the wider world, Mark Twain's Adventures of Tom Sawyer had been published in 1876, and Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore debuted, bringing "I'm Called Little Buttercup" and other classics to lips across Europe and into America. Brice's descendants became Mark Twain fans, he might have been pleased to know.