26 March 2016
Once a researcher has found the low hanging fruit records, it is time to search beyond the online databases and conduct on the ground research for unique record groups. When I did this I found that my third great grandfather, Daniel Fenn, was an overseer of the poor.
Daniel Fenn was one of the earliest settlers in Washtenaw County, Michigan Territory. Daniel and his family arrived, from Vermont, to Dexter Township, Washtenaw, Michigan Territory in the spring of 1833. He helped found what was then the Vermont Settlement in the Territory.
The Vermont Settlement in Sylvan Township held its first organizational meeting in April, 1834. Daniel Poor was appointed overseer of the poor at this meeting. The organization of the settlement drew on the government organization from New England. In New England, towns would appoint overseers of the poor. The job of the overseer of the poor was to see that those who could not care for themselves were looked after. Payment to the overseer of the poor was made from town funds.
Where do you look for town records in Michigan? Early town records in Michigan can be found in a few different places. I found town records at Ypsilanti Historical Society, Bentley Library at the University of Michigan, and Genealogical Society of Washtenaw County. The Archives of Michigan have some as well.
Historical and Genealogical societies, as well as archives, in the locality one is researching are great resources that every family researcher should use. I enjoy going to local repositories because you never know what you may find. Local resources are filled with information that only the locals know about. Step away from your computer and get out and visit your local repositories. Many of the repositories have an online catalog where you can search for town records. Some repositories will pull the records and make copies for those who live out of the area, for a fee.
If you want to add unique details to your ancestors family history, check town records for mention of your ancestor.