31 January 2020

Last Day Local: Harmonia-A Spiritualist Utopia

Harmonia, a now defunct village, was on the land where Fort Custer Training Center in Augusta, Michigan is. Harmonia's name emphasized the harmonious relationship between the physical and spiritual worlds. Harmonia was established, in 1850, by Quaker pioneers who believed in Spiritualism. 

Spiritualists believed one could communicate with spirits. They believed in health reform, education reform, women's rights, abolition of slavery, and the temperance movement. Sojourner Truth is the most well-known resident of Harmonia.

Sojourner Truth statue in Battle Creek, MI. Photograph taken by Brenda Leyndyke

Sojourner Truth can be found in the 1860 U.S. Federal Census in Harmonia with her daughter, Elizabeth Banks and grandsons, James Caldwell and Sammy Banks.[i] Harmonia was in Bedford Township, Calhoun County, Michigan. 

Sojourner Truth is best known for being an African American abolitionist and women’s rights activist. Her well known speech, “Ain’t I a Women?” was delivered at the Ohio Women’s Rights Convention, in 1851. Sojourner Truth lived in Harmonia and Battle Creek Michigan. She is buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Battle Creek, MI.

Land that would become Harmonia was purchased in June of 1835 by George Casey of Cayuga county, New York and William Carr of Wastenau(sic) Michigan.[ii] Neither man, Casey nor Carr, settled on this land. Carr sold his land to Casey, and in November 1842 Henry Hopkins and Charles Nichols paid $850 for 390 acres to George Casey's heirs.[iii] 

In 1850, Reynolds and his wife, Dorcas, Cornell paid $924 for 230 acres of land that became Harmonia. Other early landowners included Hiram and Abbie Cornell, E.T. Cornell, Rufus and Lucy Houghton, and Louis Houghton.

Hiram Cornell was Reynolds oldest son. Hiram and Reynolds established Bedford Harmonial Seminary or Bedford Harmonial Institute. It was established in 1852 and disbanded in 1860.

Other early residents of Harmonia included:
1.     Thomas E. Currier
2.     Nathaniel P. Tallmadge, a New York senator
3.     George H. Haskell, of Rockford, IL
4.     J.H. Roffee
5.     H. Sampson
6.     L.B. Beecher
7.     Melvin Terry
8.     Edmund Cox
9.     Mark H. Austin
10. James Watts
11. Johnny Lawler
12. Simon Lawler
13. Alice Clevenger
14. Frank Parmalee
15. Marion Mead
16. Mable Mead, Guy Mead
17. Fred Barr
18. Schuyler, Sojourner Truth’s grandson
19. George Swift
20. J.H. Bunnell
21. Chambers
22. Sophia Truth, Sojourner Truth’s daughter, who married Thomas Schulyer.

Harmonia was a community of like-minded people until 4 August 1862, when a tornado destroyed much of the village. J. H. Roffee was interviewed for the 22 July 1917 edition of the Battle Creek Enquirer and told of the tornado that destroyed his farm and killed his son.[iv] Roffee was 92 at the time and believed to be the oldest surviving person who had lived in Harmonia at the time.

The tornado, financial troubles, and the outbreak of WWI ended the village. In 1917, Camp Custer began building a training camp on the former Harmonia site.  What was once a utopian village became a place to train soldiers for war.

[i] Year: 1860; Census Place: Bedford, Calhoun, Michigan ; Roll: M653_539; Page: 308; Family History Library Film: 803539

[ii] Tract Book, Original Purchasers, U.S. Land Office, Kalamazoo, MI, 8th day of October 1847. p 305, 310 Office of County Clerk, Marshall, MI

[iii] Heritage Battle Creek 4(Spring 1993) “Harmonia: Memories of the Lost Village” by Frances Thornton p 16-23

[iv] Battle Creek (MI) Enquirer, “Settled in Harmonia 64 years ago; was there when cyclone struck”, 22 July 1917. p7

26 January 2020

Finding and Using Lutheran Church Records for my Fredrich Surname

I have been spending a lot of time lately looking at Lutheran Church records. I have used them in Michigan and online for Germany. Lutheran records are pretty good for baptism, confirmation, marriage, and death.

Before diving into Lutheran research one needs to know a little about the history of the Lutheran church. It is more than just Martin Luther nailing his thesis on a church door in Wittenberg. Although that is the beginning of Lutheranism, much has changed since 1517, especially in the United States.

In the United States there are a few Lutheran church affiliations.

  • The largest, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) was formed when the Lutheran Church in America, the Association of Evangelical Lutheran Churches and the American Lutheran Church merged. 
  • The Missouri Synod was founded by German immigrants and is the second largest.
  • The Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod is somewhat smaller.
An excellent family tree like resource for Lutheranism can be found online.

Knowing the synod one belonged to is helpful when locating records. If the church merged they may or may not have kept the all the records. This will help you to locate where the records may be archived. 

The ELCA has an archive, many of these records can be found on Ancestry, or from www.elca.org/archives. The Missouri Synod information can be found at the Concordia Historical Institute.  

Interior of Trinity Lutheran Church, Onekama, Michigan, before renovation, 
where many Fredrick family events were held.

If possible start local and arrange a visit to view Lutheran church records. It is best to call ahead and let the church know you are coming and what records you are seeking. I have found most churches are willing to help as long as you avoid Advent and Lent seasons.

Onsite visits will provide you with the information that we as genealogists are looking for. I have found the German origin of my family on a confirmation record, the parents names on a marriage record, and sometimes a birth date on a baptismal record. It is worth the effort to find these records.

Lately, I have been using the Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials 1567-1945 at Ancestry.com.  https://www.ancestry.com/search/collections/61250/

Johann August Fredrick, age 80, on his family farm in 1920.

The first record I looked for was the baptism of my maternal great grandfather, Johann August Fredrick, which was Fredrich, in Germany. The actual image was available for viewing and this is what I found:

  • Name: Johann August Fredrich
    • Event Type: Taufe (Baptism)
    • Birth Date: 14 Jan 1845
    • Baptism Date: 26 Jan 1845
    • Baptism Place: Nakel, Deutschland (Germany)
    • Father: Christoph Fredrich
    • Mother: Susanna Fredrich
    Bingo! I had his birth date and his parent's names. 

    Susanna Konig, mother of Johann August Fredrick, date unknown.

    Next, I looked for a marriage record for Christoph Fredrich and Susanna. Again, I found the image. I was able to get Susanna's maiden name Konig, her father's name, Friedrich, and Christoph's father's name, Christian. I was thrilled. Further research revealed Susanna's mother's name as Catharina Burger.

    I still have more research on the Fredrich/Konig family to do and I will be using church records to do it. The Fredrich family has been my toughest family to research. When I started researching the family all I had was Johann August's name and that he was from Posen, Prussia.

    Digging into church records has allowed me to further my research two more generations. Don't rule out digging for those church records to futher your ancestral lines. 

    Online Websites for Lutheran Research

    Association of Religious Data Archives-https://thearda.com/

    Concordia Historical Institute-https://concordiahistoricalinstitute.org/

    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America-https://www.elca.org/archives

    Family Search Wiki-Lutheran Church in the United States-https://www.familysearch.org/wiki/en/Lutheran_Church_in_the_United_States

    Wisconsin Lutheran Synod-https://welsrc.net/

    22 January 2020

    Book Review: Finding Early Connecticut Vital Records: The Barbour Index and Beyond

    Finding Early Connecticut Vital Records: The Barbour Index and Beyond by Linda MacLachlan is one of the newer additions to my genealogy library. This 2019 release is a welcome addition to my library as I begin in-depth research of my Connecticut ancestors.

    The book begins with a six-page table of contents. Three maps follow for the western and eastern half of Connecticut and the Connecticut River Valley, including county lines. These maps help to orientate oneself to the state.

    I especially appreciate the introduction pages of the book where MacLachlan describes how to use the book. The author further explains what the Barbour Index is, its completeness, its accuracy, and where to find the index. Anyone with Connecticut ancestry will want to familiarize oneself with this index, its uses, and limitations. This book is meant to be a "complete bibliography of sources for pre-1850 Connecticut vital statistics." (MacLachlan p. 322) This book does a great job of evaluating Barbour as a source. Do not skip these pages, they lay the foundation for the rest of the book. 

    The bulk of the book, almost 300 pages, is a finding aid for 149 early Connecticut Towns. Using Kent, Litchfield, Connecticut as an example each town follows a pattern of information.

    • Barbour's own report of his sources for each town is cited and is the beginning of the section.
    • Vital records section includes the actual date range of the records abstracted by Barbour. If your date range isn't included, you will want to look beyond Barbour's transcriptions for the information.
    • Church records provides the records listed in the Family History Library catalog, including date ranges.
    • Cemetery transcription section includes all the cemeteries for the town based on Charles R. Hale's transcriptions. If other print sources are available, they are listed as well. No listing for modern online transcriptions is included and that is fine with me. The Hale Collection is a credible source and one I prefer to use for its accuracy.
    • Other noteworthy sources sections have Barbour's personal compilations of town records found at other repositories. This varies by town. For example, Kent's sources include three additional sources: Kent, Connecticut-Names of Early Residents; Francis Atwater's History of Kent, Connecticut...; and Mable Seymour and Elizabeth Forgeus: Lawyer of Kent: Barzillai Slosson and his account books, 1794-1812. Information on where to find these sources is provided.
    You won't find your ancestor's surname in this book, but you will be given the tools necessary to find your ancestor's information. You will want to pay special attention to the Barbour's own report of his sources at the beginning of each town entry. Barbour himself admits there may be errors and omissions in his transcriptions. Understanding the source, in this case, Barbour's Collection, will allow you to feel confident in your research. 

    MacLachlan has provided Connecticut researchers with a resource that is easy to use. The information contained within the book will further your Connecticut research understanding and I for one can't wait to use the information she provided.

    16 January 2020

    More Tips and Tricks for Using Michiganology

    If you have Michigan ancestors you may have heard that SeekingMichigan.org migrated to Michiganology.org. The transfer is not complete and SeekingMichigan still has a few items on the site, but not for long. My previous post, Tips and Tricks for Using Michiganology, explains the back story to the change and provides three tips to using the Archives of Michigan website.

    Michiganology will be the go to site for Archives of Michigan digital material. The Archives of Michigan houses the records from state and local government and in this digital age many of those records will be transferred to the Archives digitally. Michiganology has the capacity to house these records. Also, the Archives developed a new partnership with the Michigan History Museum and I believe many historical artifacts will be showcased on Michiganology.

    Other benefits of the bigger and better website is the ability to grow and handle search parameters that Seeking Michigan couldn't. Stories about Archives' discoveries and research tips, an Archives store, bug list, study of Michigan with documents and artifacts, and the ability to study and know Michigan now and in the future are all going to be included.

    I have found the best way to use Michiganology is to just dig in and see what is there. Check out the tabs across the top of the home page:

    • About-just as it says, this tab tells you about the website.
    • Research-four sections
      • Family History-vital records and naturalization can be found here.
      • Music-a place to preserve music of Michigan. A video on the River Street Anthology is available for viewing.
      • Military-The Civil War records, documents, and pictures are available in a few areas pertaining to the civil war.
      • State Government-three government departments: Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Attorney General, and Corporation Division. Check out the survey maps in the Department of Natural Resources area. 
      • Browse all collections-you can browse or search collections here. 
        • Death records
        • Main Street-a postcard collection
        • Rural Property Inventory-these cards are from a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project. The cards are from Hillsdale, Isabella, Jackson, Grand Traverse, and Oakland counties at this time. It is from Record Group 72-76 circa 1935-1938.
        • Links to state government agencies and some of their records
    • Learn-includes these areas
      • Subjects
        • Statehood Era-21 various stories about the times from 1787-1840. 
        • Biographies-coming soon, will tell stories of Michigan residents.
        • Teaching Materials-coming soon-it will be intended for use by educators. 
        • Subject Archives-a place for the above three with a drop down menu searchable by grade level.
      • Research Questions
        • Currently, a place for early Michigan History stories. Stories about Tribal Nations are included and related stories at the bottom. I think this will be one of the sections that continues to grow.
      • Stories
        • Discoveries in the Archives-find out about Houdini's last act.
        • States of Incarceration Exhibit-read about when the Detroit Red Wings played the Marquette Prison Pirates.
        • Michigania-learn about Michigan history related stories, such as German POW's in Michigan, including a list of all POW camps in Michigan during WWII.
        • Story Archive is found under the Michigania section. It takes you to a page with a drop down menu to choose from eight areas. Lots of stories can be found here. Check out "Tips from a Michiganologist" for photograph preservation tips.
    This is just the beginning of what Michiganology will offer. Take a minute and browse all the collections at the website. Updates are added as they become available. One thing genealogists need to remember is that the website is created for the work of the archives and this includes much more than vital records.

    07 January 2020

    Tips and Tricks for Using Michiganology

    If you have Michigan research to do, you may have heard about the new database website of the Archives of Michigan, Michiganology. It is found at michiganology.org. The .org is important. The .com website is an online store and you will find puzzles here, but no genealogically related records.

    Michiganology's mission, as stated on its website, is to foster curiosity, enjoyment, and inspiration rooted in Michigan stories.  Michiganology replaces Seeking Michigan as the place to go for your Michigan research needs. Seeking Michigan had about 1 million records available and Michiganology has more than 10 million and it has room to grow.

    Before I dig into what Michiganology has to offer I would like to tell you a little of its back story. The overhaul of Seeking Michigan began a few years ago. The staff of the Archives of Michigan worked hard to develop a website that would grow with their digitization efforts. The staff wanted one place to house all the current and future information, developing a brand so to speak. Seeking Michigan parameters would not allow them to do this, so a new website was planned. Michigan government doesn't have a designated department to help state entities develop such a website. The Archives of Michigan contracted with a company to help them through this process. I am President of the Michigan Genealogical Council, which has over 75 member societies, and Archivist Kris Rzepczynski and Digital Engagement Archivist Jill Arnold kept the MGC societies up to date on the progress of the new website. MGC members were encouraged to volunteer for the beta testing and many did. Jill Arnold worked tirelessly, and continues to work, to make Michiganology the best it can be.

    Future projects in the works include the Michigan Naturalization Project. It is an indexing project of Family Search. If you would like to see these records at Michiganology go grab a batch and index! Seven million records will be added to the Michiganology database upon completion of the naturalization indexing.

    Family Search is onsite at the Archives of Michigan digitizing the Probate Records held by the Archives. This is another huge project, but when it is digitized, indexed and uploaded to Michiganology you will be thankful Michigan built a website big enough to house these important genealogical treasures.

    Now, the fun part. What is Michiganology?

    Michiganology is the online database portal of the Archives of Michigan. The records previously housed at Seeking Michigan are being transferred to Michiganology. This includes:

    • Death certificate images. If a death record is older than 75 years the image of the certificate can be found.
    • Records of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War, 1861-1865. The 46 volume series is digitized and available for viewing.
    • Civil War Photographs- over 1500 photographs pertaining to Michigan civil war are searchable. Try searching for your Michigan Civil War soldier or unit to see what you can find.
    • Civil War Battle Flags-the flags of the various Michigan civil war units are searchable as well. A search for "Mechanics and Engineers" returns four copyrighted images. 
    • Main Street-collection of photographs and postcards from across Michigan.
    Tip 1: Use the advanced search item for Death Records, Main Street Collection, and Map Collection. It can be found on the top right of the web page or after clicking the "Search" tab in the top toolbar. The red box below shows the advanced search feature. Other options include basic and custom. Trust me-advanced search is the way to go.

    The screenshot above is from Michiganology.org using the Advanced search function. The left side of the search area has a drop down menu that allows one to narrow their search to death records, Main Streets or Map Collection. I performed a basic surname search of "Glover" and got over 400 items.

    Tip 2: Use the "Table" option under the Display menu. The red box above shows where it is located. The table views gives you more information. Table view shows "title/family name" and "description/given name" and "place".  Other options "list" and "grid" will give you just the surname. Again, trust me and use the table display option.

    Tip 3: Entering the date can be tricky. For best results, use a date range. If you are looking for a death record that occurred on January 2 1942. Enter a range starting with 01/01/1942 and ending with 01/03/1942.  I have had success using this method. The 1942 death records are some of the newest on the website and I even searched using 01/01/1942 to 12/31/1942 and used the county only search box. In my case, I used "Manistee" as the county. 

    As with any new endeavor, especially a website of this magnitude, there will be glitches. I have found the staff of the archives very receptive to my questions. They are not going to change the name of the website so let that one go! The screenshots above were taken on 7 January 2020 and as more records are added may change. 

    Michiganology is a great resource for Michigan researchers and is only going to grow and get better. I am looking forward to all that Michiganology has to offer. I hope you will too.

    03 January 2020

    Using the Sears Catalog for Genealogy

    Sears, Roebuck and Co. Catalog 1921 

    I never would have thought to use the Sears Catalog for genealogy, but I heard Jen Baldwin talk about doing research and she covered a part on the Masons Fraternal Organization. She mentioned she had looked up Mason jewelry in the Sears Catalog and I thought that was a wonderful idea.

    My grandfather, Harry Glover, petitioned University Lodge No. 482, listing his occupation as engineer.  He was made a master mason on June 6, 1921. I don't know if he ever had Mason jewelry, but I thought it would be cool to see what it would have looked like when he was a Mason. University Lodge No. 482 held their meetings at the Detroit Masonic Temple. It is a beautiful building still standing in Detroit, MI.

    I used the Sears Catalog at Ancestry.com. I found Mason jewelry. I have used a lot of different resources in my genealogy research but this is the first time I used a department store catalog.

    01 January 2020

    New Year, New Genealogy Goals

    Free usage from Pixabay, no attribution needed.

    Another year and decade came to an end last night. I am looking forward to doing more research in 2020 and I thought the best way to get started was to set a few goals. I got away from goal setting the past few years. I am going to keep my goals simple and try to get back into researching and blogging.

    My 2020 Genealogy Goals:
    • Blogging: To write one blog post per week. The last two years I have not blogged as much as I would have liked to-I only had about 30 blog posts during that time, far less than what I would like to do.
    • Research: To process the research I have in my To Do folder. I have a number of death certificates, land records, and other resources to add to my Roots Magic database. I got out of the habit of recording them as I find them and now I have a number of records to add. IF I get my records recorded then I would like to focus on getting back to researching one family at a time.
    • DNA: Finish the self study of the Genetic Genealogy in Practice book by Blaine Bettinger and Debbie Parker Wayne. I started it earlier this year and have about three chapters to finish. Upon completion of the book, I plan to develop a better understanding of my DNA results. 
    • Professional Development: To get back in the habit of watching webinars. I enjoy learning new things and watching webinars is a way to do this. One of the ways to do this is to set aside Wednesday's as a genealogy day. I use to do this and it helped keep me organized. I would spend the day researching and reading, before watching a webinar in the afternoon or evening. 
    This is what I would like to accomplish in the upcoming year. I will do what I can, but having written goals will focus me on what I need to do. What goals have you set for yourself in 2020?