Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - A Pair of Husbands

Dec. 10, 1900
84 yrs 6 mos
14 ds


Oct. 24, 1861
32 yrs 5 ds

These identical gravestones in the front of Rowley Cemetery, Locke Township, Ingham County, Michigan, are the first and second husbands of Margaret Rosa Price Spencer.  Margaret first married William S. Price about 1852, perhaps in Locke Township.  After Price died in 1861, Margaret married William Spencer on 18 April 1864 in Locke.  Spencer is the younger brother of my ancestor, Wright Spencer.  William and Margaret eventually retired to Perry Village a few miles north.

copy of William Spencer and Margaret Rosa Price's marriage record

Price and Spencer monument


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Surname Saturday - Ackley

This past Tombstone Tuesday, I introduced ancestors in my Ackley line.

Daniel Ackley was born in 1799 in Delaware County, New York.  His likely parents were Jacob Ackley and Phoebe Jenkins.  Daniel married his wife Rachel Phelps about 1819, probably in Ohio where Rachel's family were located.  In 1820, the were enumerated in Phelps Twp, Madison, Ohio.  They went back to Wayne County, New York by 1830, and eventually settled in Shiawassee Town, Shiawassee, Michigan by 1840.

Daniel and Rachel had the following children:

Hiram,  m Mary Wallace
Francis,  m Amanda Vaughn
Nancy,  m William Frederick
James,  m Jane Jackson
Hannah,  m Orra Cook
Sarah Jane,  m David See, Andrew Snyder

After his wife Rachel died in 1844, Daniel married Nancy Martha Secord. Their children were:


Other Ackley and Phelps families lived in the Laingsburg, Shiawassee County area.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Michigan Resources - Online Hidden Gems

I have been researching in the state of Michigan for many years.  Much of my ancestry can be traced to several counties in lower Michigan: Ingham, Eaton, Shiawassee, Livingston, Kent, Mecosta, and Saginaw.  Below are several small or local resources I have found helpful, either online or in person.


Ingham County Genealogical Society offers publications for sale, including cemetery transcriptions and newspaper reels on CD; Ingham County Democrat obituary index online

MIGenWeb Ingham County the "official" GenWeb site offering many record transcriptions, including early marriages


Grand Ledge Area Historical Society has a HUGE vital statistics online card file and many old photos


Shiawassee County Surname File includes cemetery records

Shiawassee County Obituary Index  Argus-Press obituary index with ordering instructions, dates to 1862


Livingston County, MI many online early vital records, cemetery, and biographical transcription databases


Western Michigan Genealogical Society a fantastic treasure trove of data, including the city of Grand Rapids; includes online record ordering


Mecosta County Genealogical Society online obituary index; index to society holdings by record type


Saginaw Obituary Database has ordering instructions for copies

Saginaw Public Library has links to online databases of local records, including cemeteries and city directories

Don't forget!

One of the latest online resources for the state of Michigan is SeekingMichigan. Use the "Seek" feature to search for viewable death certificates from 1897-1920.  Other records include photos and Civil War records.  This is a joint project of the Library of Michigan and the Archives of Michigan.

royalty free clip art maps provided by Free US and World Maps

Please share if you have other helpful sites!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Ackley

JUN 25, 1862
63 yrs 2 mos and
7 ds.

wife of

Daniel M. and Rachel (Phelps) Ackley are my 4th great-grandparents.  They were both born in New York, possibly Wayne County, although I do not have definitive locations.  It is also possible their families migrated together to Ohio and they married there.  Daniel and Rachel's first two children were born in Ohio, and they returned to Wayne County, New York.  Four more children were born in New York between 1828 and 1834.  By 1840, they resided in Shiawassee Town, Shiawassee County, Michigan, located northeast of Lansing, neighbors to several other Ackley family members.  Rachel's parents, James Phelps and Elizabeth Fuller, also made the same trail from New York to Ohio to Michigan.

Rachel died in 1844.  Unfortunately, her stone is broken in half and the exact date is not visible.

They are buried in Fremont Cemetery, Shiawassee County, Michigan.  The stones are very simple traditional rectangles, each approximately three feet tall.  

Incidentally, there is a very modern connection this family.  I follow on Twitter a lovely tombstone blog called "Gravestoned", written by Amy in Ohio.  Amazingly, she happened to photograph the stone of Rachel Phelps Ackley's sister, Sally Phelps Kilgore.  Read Amy's post here.  I still smile to myself every time I work on this family.  Who knows where you might get your next clue!

old section of Fremont Cemetery, Shiawassee County, Michigan

Sunday, January 22, 2012

No Hemp, But How About Oatmeal with Syrup?

As I was reviewing data for my Spencer family, I found that Ancestry.com now has available several Agricultural censuses from the 1800's.  We all know the standard Population Schedules that were performed every ten years listing household members.  Agricultural, Industrial, and other specific censuses were also taken to gauge the economic state of the country.

Most of my ancestors were farmers.  These agricultural census returns give a very detailed glimpse into life on an 1800's farm.  Below I have transcribed the agricultural return for my ancestors and their relations who lived in Town of Sheldon and Town of Bennington, Wyoming County, New York, in 1850.  I find it fascinating to see what they owned, grew, and sold from their farm.  Noting the amount of maple sugar, I can surmise they had a lot of maple trees!  This area also was later home to several cheese factories.

Using the dollar calculator on www.measuringworth.com, I found Wright Spencer's farm to be "worth" upward of $100,000, though the definition of worth varies.  Wright's $10 of 1850's farm machinery is worth about $400 today.  Machinery then was likely all manually run.  His $125 in livestock was small compared to many of his neighbors and worth about $3,500 today.  Interesting to ponder.

Don't forget to look for agricultural census records for your family.  Who knows what new clues you might uncover!

I shared this information with my mom and she said she will always think of the Spencer's when she eats her maple oatmeal :)

Source:  www.ancestry.com  U.S. Census Non-Population Schedules, New York, 1850-1880 [database online]. Provo, UT, USA:  Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.  (page 487 or page 5 online)
Original Source: Nonpopulation Census Schedules for New York, 1850-1880. Microfilm. New York State Library, Documents and Digital Collections, Albany.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Surname Saturday - Maxson

This past Tombstone Tuesday, I blogged about my ancestors, Elias and Joannah (Smith) Maxson.

Elias C. Maxson (sometimes spelled Maxon) is a descendant of an old Rhode Island family.  I confess to not doing research beyond Elias's parents, Elias Maxson and Hannah Coons or Kunz.

Elias and Joannah were likely living in Town of Bennington, Wyoming County, New York when they married.  New York vital records, especially in the 1800's, are notoriously difficult to locate.  Using research of their children and census records, I learned they married about 1843 and were the parents of seven known daughters:

Susannah,   m Porter Roswell Root
Hannah Joanna,  m Frank Philo Williams
Mary Jane,  m John Henry Moyer
Laura Ann,  m Milan E. Frederick
Emeline A.,  m James Moyer, George Haskill
Alice A.,  m Francis Nathaniel Williams

The marriages were to local men in either Locke Township, Ingham County or neighboring Conway Township, Livingston County, Michigan.

The Maxson's were one of the earliest families, settling in Locke Township before 1860. Elias's sister Nancy married Garrett Tuttle and also lived in Locke Township.

Goals: learn Joannah Smith's parentage and see photos of this couple.

If you are related or have any clues, please contact me!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Maxson's

Our Father
Elias C. Maxson
Oct 28, 1885
65 ys 8 ms 15 ds

Our Mother
Wife of
E. C. Maxson
Jul 25, 1885
59 ys 11 ms 21 ds

Elias and Joannah (Smith) Maxson, my great-great-great grandparents, married in Town of Bennington, Wyoming County, New York.  They moved first to Washtenaw County, Michigan before settling in Locke Township, Ingham County, Michigan.  They lived about one mile from the Wright Spencer family.  Elias and Joannah are buried in Rowley Cemetery, Locke Township.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Surname Saturday - Spencer

My Spencer line reaches back to Shaftsbury, Bennington, Vermont to about 1800.

My oldest known ancestor is Asa Spencer, born about 1783, likely in Rhode Island.  He was in Shaftsbury by 1808 when his oldest son Waterman was born.  The family removed to Town of Sheldon, Genesee (later Wyoming) County, New York about 1822.  Asa is buried in Varysburg Cemetery, Varysburg, Wyoming, New York.

His children were:

Waterman,   m Russel Thomas
Wright,   m Sally Joslin
William,   m Margaret Rosa
Catherine,   m (probably) Stephen Thayer
Sarah Ann,   m Abram Long
Melissa,   m Amariah Lincoln
Marcia,   m Benjamin Jones
Charles,   m Sophronia Nicholas

Asa was married to Sarah Calkins of Arlington, Bennington, Vermont.

While there are several other Spencer families in Bennington County, I have not yet been able to connect Asa to any family.  Asa likely has a brother Waterman who spent time in Ontario, Canada before moving to Town of Sheldon as well.

If you have connections or hints, please contact me.

Asa Spencer circa 1855
courtesy D. Carlson

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Unexpected Day of Genealogy

Yesterday was my usual day off and it became filled with genealogy in unexpected ways.

I have been photographing the area farm and small town cemeteries near me.  One of my genealogy resolutions was to digitize the photos and donate them to the local library.  I edit the photos and sort them alphabetically, so it makes sending them to a CD very easy.  I made 3 copies of each of the 4 cemeteries, so there are plenty of backups!  All of the 2,500+ photos have been uploaded to FindAGrave and have already helped a couple researchers.  I dropped off the CD's to the curator of the library's local history collection.  She was happy to receive them and said she often receives requests for cemetery information.  That felt good!

I also spent some time with my 93-year-old very with-it grandmother.  Over the years, she has given me great information about her family of West Prussian and German immigrants who moved to Lansing, Michigan.

Finally, I ended my day with a visit to Fountaindale Library for it's genealogy program on cemeteries and funeral customs.  It was very informative and entertaining.  It was nice to chat with people who do not roll their eyes (family, I am looking at you!) when I launch into a history/cemetery/genealogy commentary.

No traditional research, but all in all, it was a great genealogical day!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Spencer

My grandfather Dallas Spencer as a teenager in Lansing, Ingham, Michigan circa 1928
Check out those socks!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Wright Spencer

Wife of
Died Mar. 9, 1895
75 Ys 5 Ms and 24 Ds
1811 - 1899

Wright and Sally (Joslin) Spencer are my great-great-great grandparents.  They were married in Town of Sheldon, Genesee (later Wyoming) County, New York.  Their eight children were born in New York before the family moved west to Locke Township, Ingham County, Michigan.  They both died on the family farm and are buried in Rowley Cemetery in Locke Township.

I consider them my "keystone ancestors", the ones I have always been drawn to.  It is also interesting to note that I knew the name "Wright Spencer" but until I saw the stone, I had no idea his wife was "Sally".  It was genealogical fate.