Western Michigan Genealogical Society
DASH-West lot #9. Photo credit - Sue Irvine

DASH-West Area #9. Photo by Sue Irvine

Time for my second adventure!  No snow.  No rain.  This time from the west side of Grand Rapids.  This time a 10 minute ride and then a 5 minute walk.  Free ride, $2 parking; vs. free parking and a about $3 ride. (See SilverLine) 

dash-West is FREE! It runs 6:30am-10pm.  Parking at the dash-West Parking Lot#9 costs $2 (all day).  Entrance to this parking lot is on Seward Street between Fulton Street and Lake Michigan Drive. Seward Street is west of Grand Valley State University’s downtown campus.  It’s near the railroad tracks.  (Well, yes, across the tracks.)  The lot is very “long” with two card access entrances and one with a big $2 sign.  You get a parking “ticket” when you press the button at the entrance.  

dash-West comes every 15-20 minutes. The shuttle picks up at three places along this long parking lot.  I hopped into a clean looking bus with a friendly driver who said “Hello”.  Again a smile!  (You know I like smiles.)  I decided to ride around the entire route just for fun.  My trip took me past the Grand Rapids Public Museum, the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel’s entrance, the Grand Rapids Art Museum, Library street (a block from the Grand Rapids Public Library),  over to the Downtown City Market, and back to Lot #9. Yup – within 20 minutes I was right back where I started at lot #9.  Check it out RidetheRapid blog and learn about dash-South, dash-Hill and dash-North while you’re there.

For the conference, get off the bus at the Amway Grand Plaza stop. Walk into the hotel, up the stairs admiring the beautiful building. Continue thru the Center Concourse where the Society Night booths will be placed  and to the Promenade which is the skywalk to the DeVos Place Convention Center.  The alternate route would be outside walking east to Monroe and then North on Monroe a couple blocks.  

Leaving lot#9 was no problem.  As in most lots I inserted my ticket and the obnoxious voice asked for money.  “You owe two dollars”.  Such an enthusiastic voice!  I stuck in a $5 bill and received back three shiny dollar coins.  Don’t you just love those coins?

Sue Irvine

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a western Michigan gem. The 158-acre campus, 1000 E. Beltline Ave. NE, has attracted more than 10 million visitors since opening in 1995.

Outdoor amenities include nature trails, a boardwalk, a Japanese garden and a replica of a 1930s farmhouse. Meijer Gardens is home to a permanent sculpture collection and is among the 100 most visited art museums in the U.S. The barrier-free facility also offers a café and a gift shop. There are almost 200 staff members, 850 volunteers and 27,000 member households.

The National Genealogy Society’s annual conference in Grand Rapids May 2-5, 2018 is providing a pre-conference tour of Meijer Gardens, five miles from DeVos Place, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday, May 1 for $45. Lunch is available on your own at the café. Sign up by April 20.

Japanese Garden Bridge

Japanese Garden Bridge – Photo by Pete McDaniel Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park

continue reading…

Special Announcement!
I am really looking forward to both Spring and the NGS Family History Conference. I hope you are too. Actually, everyone that I have talked to is done with winter and looking forward to warmer weather and different activities.

Speaking of different activities. This conference is different- at least for us. This is the first national conference that we are the hosts for AND this is the first national genealogical conference in the great state of Michigan! We are pleased to be a part of this. Hope you don’t miss out on being in on some of the firsts with us!

National Genealogical Society’s 40th Family History Conference is in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2-5 May 2018!

So…. have you registered yet?

Early Bird discount is available until March 20th.
You can register for the conference, tours and special meal events until April 20th.
After that you can register for the conference in person at the DeVos Convention Center. That registration starts at noon on Tuesday, May 1st. continue reading…

Society Night, Wednesday, 2 May 2018, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. 

Center Concourse, Second Floor, Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

(Updated March 23, 2018)

Society Night is a great way to meet and visit with representatives of state, local, ethnic, and historical societies from across Michigan and other states who will not have booths in the Exhibit Hall. Societies will be able to answer your questions about records and resources in their area, tell you about the benefits of membership in the society, and some will have publications available for purchase.

Center Concourse – Amway Grand Plaza Hotel

Society Night is Wednesday evening, 2 May 2018, between 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. in the Center Concourse on the second floor, between DeVos Place and the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. You can stop by on your way back to your hotel or come by after an early dinner.

A final list of participants for Society Night will be posted a few weeks before the conference. As of today’s update (March 23) the current list includes 2 authors and 31 organizations:

Calhoun County Genealogical Society
Cornish American Heritage Society
DAR of Michigan
Detroit Society for Genealogical Research
Flint Genealogical Society
Fred Hart Williams Genealogical Society
Grand Rapids Public Library
Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council
Hilary Harper, author
Huron County Genealogical Society
Huron Shores Genealogical Society continue reading…

I spent Saturday at the Grand Rapids Public Library’s main branch. A group of wonderful volunteers and staff have created a fantastic series of workshops and talks designed to help a group of eager, new researchers learn more about their African American ancestry. Saturday’s focus was learning how to find information in three databases: Heritage Quest, Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.

Polk City Directories

All of the new researchers were able to come up with a name, residence and birth year for at least one ancestor who was alive in 1940. That’s usually enough information to leap right into the 1940 or 1930 census. From there the volunteers started explaining what information could be found in the census, point out new information and start looking for new records. It’s simple, quick, effective and keeps our new researchers’ enthusiasm high because now they can learn about the research process while they are looking at records about their family. However, in some cases that method ends in failure. That’s when it’s time to return to the basics. Not only do you need to start with what you know, but you may have to close the gap between 1940 and 2018 AND you may have to walk away from the computer.

We had two researchers facing this problem. One researcher hit a brick wall before she found any records. The other hit a brick wall after we quickly found full birth and death dates for his grandmother and great-grandmother. Both of our new researchers had something in common—they knew their ancestor died in Grand Rapids. continue reading…

What a fun day on the Silver Line in Winter!
My day was warm (overcast and higher than freezing). I was ready for an adventure. This is new for me and I needed to know.

The RAPID - Silver Line station. Photo credit - Sue Irvine

The RAPID – Silver Line station. Photo by Sue Irvine

I drove to 60th Street and Division Avenue, an easy exit at 68th Street then north Division a mile to 60th Street. A large sign on the NE corner said “the Rapid Parking”. Parking is Free. A bus was just leaving. I took pictures, but no sun today. Walked to the “big city looking” platform bus stop and read the signs. “Bus every 20 minutes or less; 5 a.m. until midnight; adult $1.75 or $0.85 for seniors” (65+). Prepay with cash or card. I opted for the $3.25 day pass. For the conference I’d a pick the week pass. I inserted my card and I was done. Just like at McDonald’s. Current price list will be found here: ridetherapid.org/tickets-fares

The Rapid. Across from Devos Place Convention Center, Monroe Ave. Photo by Sue Irvine

Then I waited; and soon came the next bus. Which door?
People entered both doors and sat down. As the bus started to move, an attendant walked thru the bus checking entry passes. He smiled and said thank-you. Whow! I was impressed. At each stop (54th Street, 44th Street, 36th Street, etc.) people got on or left. He’d check the new-bees and say thank-you. I liked this! From Wealthy Street we were in the free zone. He just stood and smiled. Now I really like this. The Silver Line makes a loop through downtown past the hospitals, Grand Rapids Main Library, Community College and on to DeVos Place where the NGS Family History conference will be held. continue reading…

Photo of Tony Burroughs, FUGA

Presenter: Tony Burroughs, FUGA

This Saturday, February 3, the Black Family History Series at the Grand Rapids Public Library kicks off at the WMGS monthly meeting at 1:30 p.m. in the Ryerson Auditorium. We announced a speaker change last Friday. This is a reminder… You’ll not want to miss Tony Burroughs.  As our featured speaker at the GotAncestors Annual Seminar in 2011, Tony received outstanding reviews from attendees.

Uncovering Your African American Genealogist Treasure Trove Hiding in the Attic


African Americans often think they don’t have any genealogical or family history information to begin their research. This lecture is designed to dispel that myth by presenting an array of strategies, methods and techniques to research forward. At the completion of this lecture the participant will have developed an appreciation of his/her historical past and the vast array of ancestral, artifacts, heirlooms, family memorabilia and other treasures.

   Tony Burroughs is founder and CEO of the Center for Black Genealogy. He is an internationally known genealogist who taught genealogy at Chicago State University for fifteen years. Burroughs researched Olympic Gold Medal sprint champion Michael Johnson’s family history and consulted on the Smokey Robinson genealogy, the Oprah Winfrey genealogy, Reverend Al Sharpton-Strom Thurmond genealogy, African American Lives2, Who Do You Think You Are, The Real Family of Jesus and consulted with Chicago Public Schools, New York Public Schools, Chicago City Colleges and Ancestry.com.

More on the library’s series during February can be found at:

Or : http://wmgs.org/meetings_events.htm

Journal page

Through day-to-day accounts in Loren M. Page’s journal, kept from 1847 to 1852, get a peek at life at the “north-end” of early Grand Rapids, now the Creston neighborhood. Accounts in the diary provide a detailed and personal look at upper and lower class life in the young city, and will be supplemented by photographs and maps. Recently donated to the library archives, the journal recounts Page’s travels from Grand Rapids to Ontario and Sacramento, as well as the long-time investment of the Page family in the Creston neighborhood for the last 70 years.

Presenter: Michael Page
Sponsor: Grand Rapids Public Library

Saturday, January 20, 2018

9:30 am – 4:00 pm | Main Library | 111 Library St NE

A day-long event made up of six programs exploring various aspects of Grand Rapids history. Presented by area historians and members of historical and cultural organizations, topics are varied and reflect the unique heritage of West Michigan. http://www.grpl.org/historydetectives/

Collections of the Voigt family

Peer into the incredible closet of a prominent Grand Rapids entrepreneurial family, the Voigts. The collection of over 600 items of personal dress dates from the 1890s through the 1970s and includes pieces rarely appearing in museum collections, particularly the active wear and clothing worn privately in the home. The garments will be used to explore the fashion, culture and society of Grand Rapids from the Victorian Era to the middle of the twentieth century and help weave together the personal stories of the Voigt family, Carl and Elizabeth, their six children, and extended family.

Presenter: Andrea Melvin
Sponsor: Grand Rapids Public Museum

Saturday, January 20, 2018

9:30 am – 4:00 pm | Main Library | 111 Library St NE

A day-long event made up of six programs exploring various aspects of Grand Rapids history. Presented by area historians and members of historical and cultural organizations, topics are varied and reflect the unique heritage of West Michigan. http://www.grpl.org/historydetectives/

African Americans in Early Grand Rapids

From 1850 to 1920 African Americans in Grand Rapids were a steady one percent of the city’s rapidly growing population. Ruth Van Stee will present on the vibrant community’s broader population before providing snapshots of business, cultural, and political leaders. She will also discuss how she explored some of her examples: a wealthy business man; a women’s club leader active in the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union movement; and a citizen serving with the YMCA overseas during WWI, and others.

Presenter: Ruth Van Stee
Sponsor: Grand Rapids Historical Society & Kutsche Office of Local History at Grand Valley State University

Saturday, January 20, 2018

9:30 am – 4:00 pm | Main Library | 111 Library St NE

A day-long event made up of six programs exploring various aspects of Grand Rapids history. Presented by area historians and members of historical and cultural organizations, topics are varied and reflect the unique heritage of West Michigan. http://www.grpl.org/historydetectives/