Western Michigan Genealogical Society

Finally – I’m working on my centennial certificate application. What I’ve found is quite surprising! One of my relatives died during childbirth of the oldest child! Then I found another child born with two different names on the same date! I have documentation! Apparently somebody entered invalid information in my genealogy program! Who?!? ME?!? Couldn’t be! continue reading…

I had never thought about attending a National Genealogy Conference until recently, but now I am looking forward to attending the 2017 Family History Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina. I am especially excited about the 2018 Family History Conference which will be held in Grand Rapids.

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I’ve heard it said that only about 10 to 20 percent of the genealogical information out there is available online. Yet, that is often the first or maybe the only place that people, myself included, look. I prefer to do my research late at night when there are no distractions. Unfortunately, libraries and other places where records are kept prefer to do business during the day.
Even though the possibilities are limited, I have made several interesting discoveries during my late-night searches. continue reading…

Because I am going to be 80 years old, have never attended a National Genealogy Society convention, and want to see what it’s all about.  Because of my age, it is doubtful I will be around at the next one (if we agree or are asked to hold another one).  So if I don’t take this opportunity now, I may never get another chance!
Lucy Read

When I think about attending a national conference the obvious benefits are the classes featuring speakers who are experts in their genealogy niche. I often forget about the benefits of relaxing and talking with other genealogists during breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes we talk about where we’re from and where our ancestors came from. Other times we talk about our current research research frustrations. The great thing about these meals is that we are talking with people who are interested in our passion. You’d be surprised by the number of times I have encountered someone who had helpful hints for the areas I was working in. Then, there are the serendipitous encounters like the one I had the morning after Roots Tech had finished. continue reading…

Christmas 1954


Recipe Box of LettersFor Christmas this year (2016), my sister sent me an old recipe box stuffed with letters to my father in the 1940’s and 1950’s. One of the first ones I pulled out, on December 25, described my grandmother’s Christmas in 1954. She lived in Niagara Falls Ontario, the community where she, and later my father, grew up. Most of the people she mentions are her siblings and their offspring. The depiction of her holiday celebration is fascinating and intimate.

There are several people mentioned by first name. I’ve included an addendum that explains who they all are at the end of this article.  – Sue R. continue reading…

Early Memories…


There are times that I just happen across things in my house that have been there for years… originating from a grandparent, distant cousin, or was acquired, stored and forgotten. Sound familiar? This is one of those stories.

My grandfather Kenneth Bennett passed away twenty years ago. Since I was the “family historian” items often just ended up at my house. I have a six-foot “highboy” dresser with drawers full of ephemera and photo albums. I don’t remember opening this particular manila envelope before. In it are several old newspapers, pages folded. They’re faded and brittle. The earliest is from 1918 with a headline proclaiming FIGHTING STOPS; PEACE REIGNS; FOE SIGNS DRASTIC TRUCE TERMS marking the end of the fighting in the Great War.  There were another dozen or so newspapers up through the 1960s. My grandfather, born in 1904, was apparently saving news clips of important events during his life from the time he was about 14 years old.

I recognized that some were articles mentioning him… mostly having to do with his term as president of the Michigan Rural Letter Carriers association in the 1950s. Some included photos of him at association gatherings. That made sense.  In the 1960s… there was the John F. Kennedy’s assassination headline; and the space program and moon landings were well represented.

One headline in the Grand Rapids Press from 4 April 1956 caught my attention because it was very personal to me in my childhood! TORNADO KILLS 18, HURTS 200 IN SMASH AT KENT, OTTAWA. continue reading…

NGS 2018 Family History Conference
Paths to Your Past
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Happy New Year

Even though it is a brand new 2017, we here at the Western Michigan Genealogical Society look ahead with anticipation to the NGS 2018 Family History conference coming to Grand Rapids! NGS has opened the the call for proposals.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS–11:59 p.m. EDT on 1 April 2017

From the NGS website

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Recently, I heard about the Family tree Webinars hosted by Legacy Family Tree. I decided to check out the offerings and signed up for one called “No No Nannette, What negative evidence is and isn’t” by Judy G. Russell. I was pleasantly surprised by the caliber of class this was. If you are seeking more certification level of learning these are a wonderful and FREE resource.
Michelle Timmer


Coming full circle

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Sue and daughtersI was cleaning out stuff in the attic. I had a thousand black and white negatives with contact prints from fifty years ago. I kept the ones I wanted, about twenty, and the rest I threw away into a box. Since it was the season, I wrapped the box up in Christmas paper and gave it to my three daughters. As they opened it and understood what it was, I said “Look what I saved you from doing. Now when I’m dead and gone you won’t have to sort through old pictures, just throw these away.”

Much to my surprise, they were delighted to go through and pour over the contents. The stories about my daughters’ early years in Africa with my husband and I came to life and they shared them with their children. The grandchildren then selected the pictures they felt were most meaningful. Later my grandchildren salvaged a window frame from our hundred year old farmhouse. They went through the pictures, chose the ones they liked, and put them in the frame.

Coming full circle, they showed me their appreciation of our family story. I was moved and delighted that the pictures meant something to them.
– Sue Swanlund