03 July 2014

Genealogy Road Trip to Ypsilanti, Michigan

Summer is a great time to go genealogy road tripping. I made a list of places I would like to go this summer:

  • Ypsilanti, Michigan
  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Chelsea, Michigan
  • Kokomo and Peru, Indiana
The first three will be day trips, all within 90 miles of Battle Creek.  The last one may require an overnight stay, but could be done in a day if I am really organized, well rested and fed!  

Last week, Kirk and I, went on our first road trip to Ypsilanti, Michigan.  Ypsilanti moved to the head of the list when I was contacted by another Glover researcher, Peter.  Peter and I share the same third great grandparents, Samuel Stillman Glover and Vinera Eglantine Powers.  Peter had contacted me through my blog and we had emailed back and forth a few times.  He told me about the archives housed at the Ypsilanti Historical Society Museum, the Fletcher White Archives.  He sent me some of the records he had found there.  I was amazed and knew I had to plan my own trip.

I am a planner, whether it is for genealogy or any trip.  I like to know where I am going and what I am going to do when I get there.  I started by running a place report in my Roots Magic software program for any facts with Ypsilanti in them. Next, I ran a place report for Washtenaw county, the county Ypsilanti is in.

I used these reports to check for cemeteries I needed to go to.  I had two:  Union-Udell Cemetery and Highland Cemetery.  I had a list of gravestones to photograph.

Next, I checked out the Ypsilanti Historical Society website.   I used the Archives Database page and read about searching for information in the archives. An excel file can be accessed from this page.  Once it loads, and it is worth waiting for it to load, you can use ctrl+f, on your keyboard, to bring a search box up in the right corner.  I started by searching for surnames.  I found photographs, family files, and books.  I made note of the location of the file to take with me to the archives. I was curious what other types of information the archives had and I scrolled through the excel file page by page, it didn't take that long and I found a couple of other resources to check. 

I read the information about visiting the archives, checked the location of the archives and cemeteries and was ready to go.

Kirk and I visited Union Udell Cemetery first.  I knew before we went that there wasn't an office onsite but decided to go anyway.  It isn't that large of a cemetery that walking it would take too long.  We were lucky and found the gravestones we were looking for fairly easy.

Next, we drove to Highland Cemetery, arriving right at noon.  The office is closed noon to one.  Highland Cemetery is a very beautiful cemetery, but huge.  We had an hour to wait and decided to blindly search for Glover headstones.  We did find them and I wrote about that here.

It was now time to visit the Fletcher White Archives, which is in the basement of the Ypsilanti Historical Society Museum, 220 North Huron Street.  Parking is available at the museum.  You park on the right side of the museum and follow the sidewalk around to the left of the entrance to access the archives.

I cannot say enough good things about the archives.  We were met by a staff member and she asked if we had ever been there before.  I said no.  She told us about the archives, how to sign in, about the use of gloves, and handed us a user policy card with procedures and copy prices.

I had the list of resources I wanted to check and the staff member went to find them.  While she was doing that a volunteer used the computer and looked up my surnames in the Genealogical Society of Washtenaw County newletter index.  I started chatting with her and found out she is the President of GSWC, Marcia.  

I have a lot of ancestors who settled in the Ypsilanti area and knew I would use every bit of the three hours that the archives were open.  Peter had visited before me and had the archives scan a bunch of documents and because of this I was able to save some time and the staff member told me I could get the same scans.  I had brought a USB flash drive with me and she was able to put the files on that.  

I was in awe of all the information that was available at the archives.  It was a little overwhelming, but the staff was very helpful and answered all my questions, even finding records I wasn't sure I needed.

I found the following on my ancestors at the archives:
  • photographs
  • newspaper articles
  • Bible records
  • handwritten genealogy records
  • church records
  • obituaries
  • copy of will
  • letters
  • and more.
It will take me awhile to process everything I found at the archives and I will be blogging about it in the future.  I was so impressed that I joined the Ypsilanti Historical Society and made a donation to the archives.

The other thing I did while I was there was to join the Genealogical Society of Washtenaw County.  I have been thinking about doing that for awhile now and when I found out I can access past newsletters from home, I did it.

Overall, it was a great road trip to take.  I left the archives feeling good about what I found.  I wanted to make one last stop before we headed for home.  I wanted to see the Glover House!  I had written a blog post about it, but seeing it in person was impressive.  It is so much bigger than what I thought from reading about it online.

Ypsilanti is going to be a hard road trip to top, but I have three more I want to go on and after I have processed this trip. I will be ready.  If you have any ties to Ypsilanti, Michigan you will want to go to the Fletcher White Archives of the Ypsilanti Historical Society.

Do you have any genealogy road trips planned for the summer?  If so, where?  


  1. Brenda: I enjoyed reading your blog and am happy you were served well at the Ypsilanti Historical Society Archives. We have such a great volunteer staff and I know they will appreciate your comments. Al Rudisill, YHS President.

  2. Thank you Al, it was a wonderful place to visit and I couldn't wait to share it with my readers.