Western Michigan Genealogical Society

We received notice that the MCIR Board’s final recommendation adopted June 25th has been acknowledged by Governor Granholm’s office. That June 25th document appears to have been posted yesterday or over the weekend.  

A press release dated July 19th was posted on the Governor’s website. Some have commented this is good news. Not to rain on anyone’s parade, I need to point out what this means – or what it doesn’t mean – and why we must remain diligent!

The troubling reality is the Governor’s news release doesn’t indicate at all what the Governor’s office might do (if anything) about the recommendation. We’ll have to continue to wait and see. The other problem is not what the report says, but what it doesn’t address.

We are cognizant of the activities already underway to move the Library of Michigan’s core collections from the second floor of the Michigan Library and Historical Center building upstairs to the fourth & fifth floors of the west wing. Apparently the time table is August through Labor Day weekend as the following notice about clearing the space on the upper floors is currently on the Library of Michigan’s website (bold text is mine): continue reading…

Thanks to Dan V. from Grand Rapids for passing on this item. He writes:

Today, while biking out to Spring Lake on Leonard Road I stopped at the newer Ottawa County Eastmanville Park at the site of the old Poor Farm and talked with the Parks Supervisor, Anne Engvall.  Anne told me about the historic cemetery on the property and a Dedication that is planned for July 10, 10am.  I had not read about this in the WMGS newsletter so I got some more information.

There is a cemetery with 4 markers, and about 60 bodies based on testing of the soil (some test that compares density).  The Friends of the Ottawa County Parks Cemetery Committee has researched the Poor Farm records in an effort to obtain the names of most/all of the interred in the cemetery.  The area has been cleaned up and a fence erected with a plaque installed on a large stone with names of the individuals presumed to be buried at the site. continue reading…

Yes, we’re officially in the Summer mode in Michigan.  How sweet it is. There’s plenty of family history going on as long as you remember to make your own family memories during the best (in my opinion) months that Michigan has to offer. Feel free to take advantage of these June notices.

Stop at the Grand Rapids Public Library this Saturday for an hour or two, or all day. It’s free, including the parking and the air conditioning.  Find Unique Local Resources, meet Local Authors, learn New Research Techniques, discover Methods for Preservation, tour the Local History Department, have Documents Translated, attend Terrific Classes, and Ask Experts – Get Answers. Get more details at http://www.wmgs.org/2010_local_family_history_resource_fair.htm.

As a reminder, Footnote has decided to do something special for each society for the month of June. For every WMGS member that signs up for a Footnote annual membership at the discounted price of $39.95, Footnote will donate 20% of each sale back to WMGS.  This donation is recognized for WMGS and the discount will apply when you use this link: http://www.wmgs.org/footnote_deal.htm

Hurry, this donation promotion will end June 30, 2010. Thank you for your support.

Are you related to the ANDREWS or the KELLY families? Enjoy.


Shortly after the U.S. entry into World War I, the Daughters of the American Revolution in Michigan established a Homes Ties and War Records Committee. The purpose of this group was to preserve materials documenting the contributions that men from this state made overseas in defense of liberty. The chairwoman of the Committee, Mrs. Mable Colgrove Stebbins, suggested that her own D.A.R. chapter honor the soldiers from Barry County by preparing a permanent record of their personal and military histories. These data were kept in files and supplemented until around 1921, when the collections assembled by all counties were bound and distributed. One set of records was sent to Lansing for safekeeping, and the other kept at the local level. The volumes in this collection are the comprehensive series that was deposited with the state.

The WWI Veterans Census records are recorded on printed forms and contain the following information: name of veteran; serial number; address; place and date of birth; nationality; color; occupation before and after the war; marriage date; wife’s name; birth place and date; names of children and their birth date; rank, company, and regiment; transfers and promotions; battles engaged in; discharge date and reason; and additional information.
More information and samples can be found at:  http://data.wmgs.org/WWOneVeteransCensus/.

Use the index to find your relative. If you live near the Grand Rapids Public Library or plan a visit, you can obtain a copy directly yourself. Or for a $5.00 fee, you can order from the online database and receive the a copy of both sides of a record.

Our personal calendars tend to fill up in June with graduation open houses, weddings and vacations. We also have an active Society calendar as summer gets kicked off. Here’s a quick list of WMGS events for your reference.

June 12 – Here’s a reminder that in June, because the annual Arts Festival held in downtown Grand Rapids this weekend, we change our June meeting to the second Saturday. So make sure you have Saturday, June 12th marked on your calendar as WMGS meeting day. The program will be “Immigration: The Journey to America”, as presented by Shirley Gage Hodges. The lecture will cover some ways that we can trace our ancestors and learn more about their cultures. We will touch on why they came to America, the trip, their entry into this country and settlement in America.

June 26 – A Local and Family History Research Fair is planned for Saturday, June 26th from 10:30 am to 4:30 pm. Held in coordination with the Grand Rapids Public Library series of events titled GR Reads 2010, the WMGS event will focus on unique family and local history authors and resources. Full details are available HERE. See http://www.grpl.org/grreads/ for information on the library summer reading events.

The June WMGS Family History Writers Workshop meeting is scheduled for Tuesday the 15th. Be sure to check the WMGS calendar for scheduled events.

I hope you have a wonderful and genealogically productive Summer 2010!

The next MCIR Board meeting is scheduled for May 19, 2010, from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m at the Archives Reading Room, 2nd floor, Michigan Library and Historical Center in Lansing. This is the board that the Governor of Michigan appointed to provide recommendations for the future of the Library of Michigan and the collections now under the umbrella of the Department of Education. These meetings are open to the public. If you are interested in the outcome of the Executive Order affecting the Library of Michigan and its genealogy collections, I encourage you to attend.

Besides the presence of Frank Boles representing the Michigan Genealogical Council, 100% of the public in attendance at the last meeting on May 4th were from the Western Michigan Genealogical Society. But, there were only two of us making up that constituency. One of the reasons for the low attendance is because there were problems on the Michigan.gov website preventing the listing of the meeting until the day before.

Another possible reason is that interest has waned. From many discussions I’ve had with various people, I am confident that is not the case. continue reading…

Randy Riley receives 2010 Filby Award

Randy Riley receives 2010 Filby Award. Photo by Tom Koselka.

Congratulations to Randy Riley, Special Collections Manager at the Library of Michigan on his receiving the Filby Award for Genealogical Librarianship at the National Genealogical Society Conference in Salt Lake City last Friday.

Here is the list of previous winners of the Filby Award:

  • 2009: No nominees met the qualifications for the Filby Award in 2009.
  • 2008: David Dearborn of New England Historic Genealogical Society, Boston, Massachusetts.
  • 2007: Curt Bryan Witcher of Allen County Library, Ft. Wayne, Indiana
  • 2006: Eric Grundset of DAR Library, Washington DC
  • 2005: Ron D. Bryant of the Kentucky Historical Society and the Kentucky State Parks Department
  • 2004: James Jeffrey of the Denver Public Library, Denver, Colorado
  • 2003: Carole C. Callard (1941–2005) of the Library of Michigan, Lansing, Michigan
  • 2002: Jim Hansen of the Wisconsin Historical Society Library, Madison, Wisconsin
  • 2001: Martha Henderson of the Mid-Continent Public Library, Independence, Missouri
  • 2000: Pamela Hall Cooper of Indian River County Public Library, Vero Beach, Florida
  • 1999: Lloyd DeWitt Bockstruck of the Dallas Public Library, Dallas, Texas

So a quick look at that list quickly reveals that the Library of Michigan is the ONLY facility to have won the award twice – 2003 awarded to Carole Callard and 2010 awarded to Randy Riley. That speaks VOLUMES to the prestige with which the Library of Michigan’s Genealogical collection is held in the genealogy community.

Congratulations Randy
and the
Library of Michigan!!!!

I’m a slow learner sometimes. It just became clear to me that most of the 1928 and 1929 death records for the city of Grand Rapids, Michigan are available online – and have been for a fairly long time!

In March 2009, SeekingMichigan.org introduced the Death Records database of almost a million images of the actual records for years 1897 to 1920. The site is very popular with family history nuts like me and ever since Kris Rzepczynski from the Library of Michigan came and spoke about the project at one of our WMGS monthly meetings last spring, I’ve been a devoted Seeker at the website. continue reading…

Researchers like to have the details right. One such researcher asked this question recently.

“Does anyone know when the 1840 census for New York would have been counted?  I have checked WMGS forms for the Federal census and do not see a date anywhere.  I checked all of the pages available to me on Ancestry.  The Citation for ancestry does not give a date.  Is there anywhere else I can look?  I think I have the right family but need this information to be absolutely sure.”

Great question. Seems that each Federal census had unique goals and corresponding questions. While investigating the answer the following was found. continue reading…