31 August 2022

Last Day Local (kind of): Polar Bear Soldiers of World War I

You may be wondering why I would blog about an infantry regiment that served in Russia for a Last Day Local post. It's easy. The group now known as the Polar Bears had its beginnings at Camp Custer, now Fort Custer, near Battle Creek, Michigan.

The Polar Bear Patch, shown above, worn by the returning soldiers from the 339th, but also the first battalion of the 310th Engineers, plus the 337th Ambulance and 337th Field Hospital Companies

On July 11-17, 1918, the 85th "Custer" division left Camp Custer, near Battle Creek, Michigan. 30,0000 soldiers made up the Custer division. The 85th Division consisted of the 337th, 338th, 339th, and 340th regiments. The 339th was made up of soldiers from Detroit and Southeast Michigan, mainly.

One platoon of Co. H. 339th Infantry North Russian Expeditionary Force, North Russia. Courtesy of the Sandusky District Library

July 23, 1918, saw General Pershing detaching 4750 men from the 85th Division to form the American North Russia Expeditionary Force (ANREF). This regiment became known as the Polar Bears. The troops had no idea what they were being sent to do. The men decided on the name "Polar Bears" during withdrawal from Russia. The men served in frigid temperatures of 40-50 degrees below zero.

The troops traveled to England, through the Arctic Ocean to Archangel Russia, arriving on September 5, 1918. "Once the men arrived in Archangel it was discovered that many were deathly sick with the Spanish Influenza virus, so another 500 officers and men from the other three Infantry Regiments that had gone on to France were transferred to North Russia as replacements, arriving in Archangel on Sept. 30, 1918." (email from Mike Grobbel)

They continued fighting the Bolsheviks until April, 1919. The Polar Bears arrived home to Detroit on July 3, 1919, seven months after World War I ended. During these seven months, 94 ANREF troops were killed in action. "The soldiers were allowed to go home, if local, or stay in a local hotel; they had to be back at the Michigan Central railroad station by 8:00 AM on the 4th so they could travel to Belle Isle for the "Welcome Home" festivities. They departed on the morning of the 5th for Camp Custer and discharge from the Army." (email from Mike Grobbel)

Source:  Ludington Daily News, 21 October 1919, page 6; column 3, Google News.

The Polar Bears suffered 553 casualties in Russia. 81 deaths were from disease, mostly from the Spanish Flu.

Brief Timeline of the ANREF's Service

July 11-17, 1918   Leave Camp Custer

July 23, 1918        American North Russia Expeditionary Force (ANREF) is formed.

Aug 25, 1918        Depart for England

Sept 5, 1918         Arrive Archangel, Russia

Nov 11, 1918        Armistice Signed

April 1-5, 1919     Final Battle 

June 2, 1919        Head for home with stops in Brest, France and New Jersey or New York

July 3, 1919        Arrive in Detroit

Much has been written about the 339th Regiments time fighting the Bolsheviks. Family history researchers of this regiment will find wonderful primary sources available in Michigan. Books, scrapbooks, diaries, manuscripts, digital images, maps, publications, and more may be found.

Michigan Polar Bear Expedition Resources

A few Michigan resources to look for Polar Bear information can be found at:

1. Bentley Historical Library, 1150 Beal Avenue, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109 A search using the words Polar Bears returned 177 results. Since the Bentley Library is a historical library none of the returns were about the animal polar bear.

a.     A Few of the Collections at the Bentley

                           i.     Polar Bear Association PhotographCollection: photographs commemorating the Memorial Service at the Polar Bear Memorial, White Chapel Park Cemetery, Troy, Michigan

                          ii.     Polar Bear Project Collection,1918-2019: Documents and correspondence, military discharge papers, and newspaper clippings. Most of the correspondence is between the library and family members who felt their soldier was left out of the collection.

                         iii.     Polar Bear Expedition Web Archives: Over 60 individual collections of Primary source material. These archives are available online.

                        iv.     Polar Bear Roster: a roster of the soldiers attached to the Polar Bear Expedition.

                        vi.    Polar Bear Digital Collections: over 2000 digital items.

2. Sandusky District Library, 55 Sanilac Road, Sandusky, Michigan 48471. This small-town library in the thumb of Michigan has excellent genealogy related sources and they are online for you to explore. The search results doesn't allow me to save the url. To find the two collections below. Go to the library main web page, click on Genealogy, using the left sidebar go to Documents and scroll down for the Schroeder Scrapbook. For the Erickson memorabilia do the same, but click on Pictures on the left side bar.

a.     Collections at the library:

                        i.     Polar Bear Regiment, William Schroeder, WWI Scrapbook: a 51-page scrapbook filled with digital images including soldier photographs and letters written by William.

                       ii.     Polar Bear Regiment, 339th Infantry, WWI: Mauritz E. Erickson’s memorabilia including discharge papers, reunion program, journal cover, and pictures. The pictures show the conditions which the Polar Bears were living in at the time.

3. Detroit’s Own Polar Bear Memorial Association is “dedicated to the memory of the 339th Infantry Regiment, the 1st Battalion of the 310th Engineers, the 337th Ambulance Company, and the 337 Field Hospital of the U.S. Army’s 85th Division.” (From the “Introduction - "Detroit's Own" Polar Bear Memorial Association - Grobbel”) This website is the work of Mike Grobbel, and it is one of the best websites for Polar Bear research that I have seen.

a.     Website Highlights:

                    i.     Ceremonies and events of the association

                   ii.     HonorRoll: lists the casualties and cause of death of the soldiers

                  iii.     Military Decorations

                  iv.     Engagements: a list of battles fought qirh mpa

                  v.     Polar Bear Stories: soldier stories told by the soldier themself or a family member, many include photographs.

                 vi.    Articleand Reference Information: filled with links to information about the Polar Bear Expedition

               vii.    PhotoAlbum: 241 photographs from the collection of Casimer “Cash” Nowak, Co. B. 310th Engineers. Courtesy of his son, Roy Nowak.

             viii.    More links: many, many links to explore

               ix.    Books: books relevant to the Polar Bear Expedition.

4. Michigan Heroes Museum, 1250 Weiss Street, Frankenmuth, Michigan 48734. This museum displays Michigan soldiers. Some Polar Bear Exhibition artifacts can be found here.

Fold 3 ($): Fold 3 has records of the Polar Bears. Search by soldier's name, battle name, place, etc. Michigan residents can get online access to Fold 3 with a Library of Michigan card

AAncestry.com: U.S., Army Transport Service Arriving and Departing Passenger Lists, 1910-1939.

Books about the Polar Bear Expedition

There are many books available to learn more about the Polar Bear Expedition and I urge you to go to the Detroit's own Polar Bear Memorial Association website

One book that is fully downloadable and available free from Guttenberg.org is The History of the American Expedition Fighting theBolsheviki, Campaigning in North Russia, 1918-1919.

Polar Bear Memorial

Photo Courtesy of Bolandera, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

White Chapel Cemetery in Troy, Michigan is the site of the Polar Bear Memorial. It is the resting place of 56 soldiers who were brought home from Russia by a group of Polar Bear members. It was created in 1930. 

I have highlighted just a few of the hundreds of resources available for those researching their Polar Bear Expedition ancestors. You will notice a definite Michigan slant because most of the soldiers were from Michigan. Do you have a Polar Bear ancestor? Check out the above resources to find him. Feel free to leave your ancestors information in the comments.




29 August 2022

S.S. Glover Jr. Civil War Pension File-Lumley Affidavit

 Glover, Samuel Stillman; Pension File No. 28715, Civil War Pension File, (Washington, D.C.: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration) John W. Lumley Affidavit

State of Michigan
County of Manistee

Bear Lake Mich May 21st 1904
John W Lumley Being duely sworn 
sayes that he is the supervisor of
the Township of Pleasonton in the
County of Manistee and State of Mich
and I am the Custodian of the records
of the Supervisors Office in the Town
of Pleasonton and have been for the
last Six years and there has not
been any Property assessed to SS
Glover or Adda L Glover in that 
time                                          Seal
Signed Sealed and             John W Lumley
delivered in Presence of    Supervisor of Pleasonton TP
Lee Anderson
C D Shirtliff

Bear Lake May 21st 1904
Subscribed and sworn to before the
undersigned a Notary Public in and
for Manistee County Mich this 21st day
of May AD 1904              CD Shirtliff
Commission Expires March 25th 1906    Notary Public

The above transcribed affidavit of John W. Lumley was found in the Civil War Pension Records of S.S. Glover, Jr. This affidavit is one of thirteen in the file. 

John W. Lumley was the Supervisor of Pleasanton Township, Manistee County, Michigan.  Lumley states that no property was assessed to S.S. Glover or Adda L. Glover in the last six years.

Affidavits provide interesting information of the soldier and the time after the civil war when he was applying for his pension.


25 August 2022

Those Thursday Places: Leaving our Battle Creek Home after Thirty One Years

There are a lot of memories when you live in one house for thirty-one years. My husband and I have been sharing our favorite memories of living at 309 N. Moorland Drive in Battle Creek, Michigan since we decided to downsize and move to Kalamazoo, Michigan. 

It started a little over a year ago in Spring of 2021. Kirk and I decided it was time to think about moving to a more manageable place as we age. We both saw our parents having to move in their late 80's because of health problems and we didn't want our kids to have to deal with that. Plus, I'm a little bit of a control freak and wanted to make the decision myself, with Kirk's input, of course. 

We decided we would get our Battle Creek house ready for sale, have a couple of garage sales, and look at apartments in Kalamazoo. We did not want the stress of trying to sell a house and buy a condominium at the same time with the way the real estate market was, and still is. I never realized how tight the rental market was.

First, I made a list of apartment possibilities in the Kalamazoo and Portage Michigan area. We took a day and did some drive by's to make sure they were in areas that we would want to live in. I made pro and con lists on the way. Moving Tip: Look at the cars in the parking lot. They tell a lot about the renters and the management. The next step was to set up some appointments to see what was available. We wanted a three-bedroom apartment, but those are hard to find.

Kirk outside our new home.

Every place we looked didn't have any availability. It was discouraging. Finally, we visited SaddleCreek at the Preserve, in Texas Township. It is on the west side of Kalamazoo. Rinda, the leasing agent, was wonderful. She didn't have any available apartments but took the time to show us an apartment and talk to us about when an apartment might become available. This was late April and she thought late August or September. When someone moves out of Saddle Creek, the entire apartment is upgraded. Although, it was a two-bedroom, Kirk and I really liked the development, the location, Rinda, and the apartments. This was the only place we put money down to reserve a spot. I am so thankful we did.

Was it hard to say goodbye to our home, our neighbors, and our friends? It was, but this move has been one of the best things we ever did. It was a hectic summer and Kirk's mom died about a week before the sale on our house closed and our move. The move was tiring. I'm not able to lift as much weight as when we moved 31 years ago! 

I have never once thought we made a mistake. The hardest part for me was getting rid of all the things I saved for my kids. Can you believe they didn't want their baby clothes, scrapbooks, toys from the 80's, or their Boy and Girl Scout books, uniforms, or badges? All those things and more I had saved. I took a lot of pictures and found good homes for most of it. I saved one tub of things per child and put the tubs in a closet.

We have many good memories of our time in Battle Creek. Here are a few:

  • Kirsten and Travis starting Kindergarten and going through 12th grade in the Battle Creek Lakeview school district.
  • Kirsten's success with music and theater in Battle Creek.
  • Travis's success with DECA (Distributed Education Clubs of America).
  • Soccer, baseball, softball, track, and golf matches. Many soccer games and track meets in the rain. 
  • Kirk and I coaching youth soccer.
  • Kirk's success as an elementary school counselor and being awarded Elementary Counselor of the Year twice.
  • My volunteer successes at fundraising for PTA and Lakeview's Show Choir Spartanaires.
  • Making the house a home.
  • Doing too many house projects ourselves.
  • All the celebrations-our special tree trimming parties.
  • Numerous birthday celebrations.
  • Getting to know Kirsten's and Travis's friends who would visit.
  • Many Mario Kart competitions. "Who hit me? I'm in last place!"
  • Engagement parties for Kirsten and Chase, Travis and Alayna.
  • Dog sitting my grand pups, Ella, Study, and Caesar.
  • Enjoying the gardens and gazebo in Spring, Summer, and Fall.
  • Summer fun including bike rides, trips to the school playground, playing in the pool, looking at stars, playing volleyball, and more.
  • Kirsten running into the basketball hoop with the car and Travis never letting her forget it.
  • Travis getting caught with liquor in the trunk. It was confiscated and returned on his 21st birthday.
  • and so much more.

It was a wonderful place to raise children. We could have grown older in our house, but it was time to put Battle Creek behind us and move on. We will now begin to make new memories in our new home.

24 August 2022

Getting a Haircut: Wordless Wednesday

Picture scanned from a black photo book that was once Daisy Fredricks.

I can't just put a picture up and not explain it, so it should be not so Wordless Wednesday! The picture was taken on the Fredricks Family Farm, Coates Highway, Brethren, Michigan. The date is unknown.

The people in the picture are: unknown, Otto August Fredricks, his grandson first name unknown, last name Bruce.


22 August 2022

Using the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center in your Genealogy Research

Home page of the Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center

The Norman B. Leventhal Map and Education Center at the Boston Public Library has a digital map library that researchers need to use when conducting family history. There are over 10,000 digital images of historic maps available to you from the comfort of your home. The access is free, and no registration is required.

Lëa-Kim Châteauneuf, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

If you are in the Boston area you can visit the Boston Public Library and use the Leventhal resources on the first floor of the McKim building. Onsite researchers have access to over 200,000 maps and 5,000 atlases.

Gray, Ormando Willis. "Map of the county of Carleton, Canada West." Map. Prescott, C.W: D.P. Putnam, 1863. Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center, https://collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:4m90fh53p (accessed August 12, 2022).

The scope of the Leventhal map collection is international in area. Using the search term Canada West brings up almost one hundred examples. Maps using the search terms Prussia, Scotland, and Switzerland are available. There are a lot more country maps than these three. My ancestors traveled via the Rhine River to get to the ship that would bring them to America. A map of the Rhine River is available.

Town, city, and county maps in the United States are readily found on the website. Some of them even include landowners. A search for Shoreham, Vermont led me to an 1859 map with landowners, schools, ferries, and more shown. My Shoreham Vermont ancestors were in Michigan by then, but collateral line relatives were listed.

Cropped Version 
International Correspondence Schools, Fisk, E. F., and International Textbook Company. "Map ninth division railway mail service." Map. Scranton, Pennsylvania: International Correspondence Schools, 1908. Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center, https://collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:0z709338r (accessed August 12, 2022).

The search terms are unlimited. I found searching a wider area was a good place to start and then narrowing it down from there helps. Did you have an ancestor who worked for the railroad? Try searching <state> railroad. My mother talks about taking the train from Kaleva, Michigan to Traverse City, Michigan to go to the doctor as a young woman. A Michigan railroad map shows the route she would have taken.

Howell, C. W. "Map of the battle field of Spottsylvania C.H." Map. Washington, D.C.?: s.n., [1865?]. Norman B. Leventhal Map & Education Center, https://collections.leventhalmap.org/search/commonwealth:kk91fs28h (accessed August 12, 2022).

Are you interested in battle maps where your ancestors served? Search for military maps. There is a vast selection of military maps. Many from the American Revolutionary War time. I have a relative, Harlan Poor, who died at the Battle of Spotsylvania. I found a map of the battle of Spotsylvania.

I have shown you just a few of the maps I found related to my family history. The maps are easy to use, fully downloadable with zoom and rotation features. Underneath each map is a full explanation of the map, including usage rights.

Maps are important to genealogists. If you aren't using maps in your research, I encourage you to. Maps provide clues to where your ancestors might have lived. Maps give you the names of places where your ancestors lived at the time they lived there.  

The Leventhal Map Collection is one of the best I have seen. It encompasses Boston, New England and beyond from the 15th Century to the present. I know I will be returning to this collection as I research, I hope you do too. 

15 August 2022

Raymond Graf WWII Draft Registration

Source: Ancestry.com. U.S., World War II Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947 [database on-line]. Lehi, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2011. Raymond Graf accessed 7 August 2022.

World War I draft registration cards can be bountiful in information for how little they are.  They provide clues to a family researcher that will help one find more information. 

The card above is for the husband of my maternal aunt, Leona Inez Fredricks.  Leona was the daughter of Otto August Fredricks and Daisy Ellen Graf. You may notice that Virginia Marie Graf (nee Miller) is listed as Raymond's wife. Leona was Raymond's second wife.

Raymond Paul Graf, son of Henry Jerome Graf and Effie Bell White Graf, filled out his draft card on 16 October 1940 at the age of 25.

As far as I know, the information provided on Raymond's card is accurate.


Name    Raymond Paul Graf

Gender Male

Race      White

Age        25

Relationship to Draftee Self (Head)

Birth Date          1 Jan 1915

Birth Place          Washington, Iowa

Residence Place   Washington, Washington, Iowa, USA

Registration Date            16 Oct 1940

Registration Place           Iowa, USA

Employer           Self

Height   5’ 11”

Weight 150

Complexion       Ruddy

Hair Color           Black

Eye Color            Brown

Next of Kin         Virginia Marie Graf

11 August 2022

Those Places Thursday: Fontainebleau, WWII Infantry Officers Candidate School, France

Source: Military Records, citing World War II Army Service from   9 July 1943 to 6 July 1945; Private Papers; privately held by Brenda Leyndyke, [address for private use], Kalamazoo, Michigan 49009, 2022. Bruce Glover Military Papers stored in Records Jacket.

Wait, my dad was trained at Fontainebleau? In France? My dad, like many others, never talked about his time in World War II. It wasn't until I typed my dad's autobiography that I learned he spent time at Fontainebleau, France. Even in his autobiography he doesn't say much about it. I would have loved to have learned more about his time there. I don't think my dad was as impressed as I am about his living there for eight weeks. I have only seen pictures of Fontainebleau and I am in awe of the history of the place. 

WWII Six Week Wonders

Here is what he says about it:

 "While in the hospital I heard through the army newspaper we received of an infantry officers training school in France and signed up for it and was accepted. I have no recollection now of whether it was an excuse to delay my return to the front lines or not, but logically I imagine it had something to do with my decision. At any rate, the training was held in Fontainebleau, France which at one time was Napoleon’s Castle. The horse troughs were still out in front of the buildings, and we were housed in various rooms of the castle. They talk about 90-day wonders which are men who became officers with 90 days of training. We were six-week wonders as the war was raging furiously on the fronts as the Germans were finally being pushed back into Germany and were being attacked in the East by the Allied forces and the West by the Russians. The training was a snap for me because I was an Infantryman. I felt sorry for some Air Corps enlisted men that were also in training but had difficulty in their training as it was like learning a foreign language to them.

       As the men graduated after six weeks, they were immediately assigned to a front-line company and rushed to their posts. Some of them joined their company one night and the next day was either dead or back in the hospital as a casualty of War. As best as I remember I graduated on May 5, as a Second Lieutenant of Infantry, and May 6 the War ended in Europe. AS I LOOK BACK ON THESE EVENTS, I’M CONVINCED THAT SOMEONE UP ABOVE WAS LOOKING AFTER ME AND YOU’LL NEVER CONVINCE ME OTHERWISE."

History of Fontainebleau


Jacky Delville, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Napoleon remembers Fontainebleau as “…the true residence of Kings, the house of the centuries. It was not a rigorously architectural palace, but it was certainly a place of residence well thought out and perfectly suitable. It was certainly the most comfortable and happily situated palace in Europe."  It was home to Louis VII, Henry II and his wife, Catherine de ‘Medici, Kings Louis XII through Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette, and Napoleon. Eventually, during World War II it was occupied by Germany until the Allied troops pushed Germany out of the Paris area. It became a training center and now is an UNESCO World Heritage Site.


Fontainebleau is approximately sixty-nine kilometers (forty-three miles) southeast of Paris. 


What a piece of history Fontainebleau was and still is. I wish my dad had been a photographer and we had pictures of his time there. It is a wonderful piece of my dad's military history.

09 August 2022

My Favorite Gravestone-Mercy Prence Freeman

My husband and I took a long trip to New England a few years ago and we spent quite a bit of time in cemeteries. There is nothing like the grave marker carvings that we found in New England. Cove Burying Ground in Eastham, Massachusetts had some of the best carvings that we saw.  

Cove Burying Ground is one of the oldest cemeteries on Cape Cod. It is the burying place of three Pilgrims: Constance Hopkins Snow, Joseph Rogers and Giles Hopkins.

Freeman Family Plot

I have a number of ancestors buried in the Cove Burying Ground cemetery. The John Freeman family is one. Major John Freeman and Mercy Prence Freeman and their son, Edmond Freeman are buried in the plot. The two smaller gravestones in the middle of the plot are foot stones. Mercy Prence is my eighth great grandmother on my father's side of the family.

Marcy Pence Freeman

Inscription inside of Heart

SEPT Ye 28th

Marcy's head stone has a winged head with an hourglass over it, meaning time flies. It is the oldest winged head carving on Cape Cod. I find the intricacy of the carving fascinating, especially since Marcy was buried in 1711. The carver is unknown.

07 August 2022

Sunday's Obituary: Robert 'Bobby' Louis Fredricks

Siblings: Back Row L-R: Julie Kolk, Robert L. Fredricks
Front Row L-R: Steven, Lori, JoEllen Fredricks

It is hard enough when a family member dies, but when it is one in your own generation, it is harder. Over the past few years, I have lost a number of first cousins. 

One first cousin, Robert "Hook" "Bobby" Fredricks, son of Otto Robert Fredricks and Faye Nelson Fredricks died on May 7, 2019 at the age of 73. 

As you can read, Bobby made the most of the time between the dash.

You can find his obituary and a video remembrance at Terwilliger Funeral Home's  website.  


Robert Louis Fredricks

April 22, 1946-May 7, 2019

Robert “Hook” Louis Fredricks, 73, of Manistee, passed away peacefully Tuesday, May 7, 2019, with his family by his side, at The Villas in Traverse City, after a 10-year battle with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL).  He was born April 22, 1946, in Manistee, the son of Otto Robert Fredricks and Faye (Nelson) Fredricks.

Bob attended Brethren High School and graduated in 1964 as Class President.  After graduation, he served in the United States Army.  He completed a tour of duty of Vietnam and was awarded the Silver Star, the military’s third highest decoration for valor in combat. 

Following his honorable discharge, Bob transitioned to civilian life and returned to Manistee County where he found work at Drop Forge in Manistee.  During his tenure, an incident involving a hydraulic press removed four of his fingers on his left hand, giving him the nickname “Hook.”  Forging ahead, Bob recovered and took on a Supervisor position at Mak-Kraft, in Kaleva, remaining there until the plant closed in the late 1970s.

Bob was an entrepreneur.  In Kaleva, he ventured into the petroleum business, operating a Phillips 66 full-service gas station that later evolved into a gas station and restaurant. For over 25 years, Bob owned and operated Third Coast Screen Print Company on River Street in Manistee.  This longtime Manistee business catered to fulfilling local screen printing apparel needs; it also served as a collectibles store, specializing in baseball cards.  A sports aficionado, Bob took joy in keeping area kids (And adults!) busy and entertained, cultivating many lasting relationships centered around buying, selling, and even bartering for rare and desirable baseball, football, and basketball cards.  While his own card collection was something to behold, what brought him the greatest joy was watching his regulars complete their full sets or secure their favorite player’s card. 

Bob was passionate about drag racing, a pass-time he participated in as a driver and spectator.  He raced a variety of cars at local dragstrips in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.  In 1967, while serving in the Army, Bob set an AHRA (American Hot Rod Association) National Record for D/SA at Drag City Dragway, in Springfield, Illinois, during the Midwestern Divisional Championships.  In the early 1980s, Bob drove a front engine dragster at local dragstrips.  Of all the cars he ever sat behind the wheel of, his favorite remained his 1967 Chevrolet Camaro, appropriately named, “Wild Child.”    In recent years, Bob occasionally drove or had other local racers drive his latest project.  At the twilight of his career, he showcased a Chevrolet Malibu wagon that he occasionally transported on a vintage-style GMC “ramp truck.”  A fixture at his home track, Northern Michigan Dragway in Kaleva, the unique car was campaigned to pay tribute to those who had passed that influenced and helped Bob during his early years of racing.

While drag racing fulfilled Bob’s need for speed, it didn’t quite quench his thirst for competition, which is where the sport of softball came in to play.  As with drag racing, he wore many hats, taking on various roles as player, manager, and sponsor well into his mid-50s.  He enjoyed many successes over his decades-long career:  In 1979, he helped Blarney Castle of Bear Lake clinch the 1979 ASA Men’s State Championship as well as Co-ed State Championship.  1986 saw the Vegas Ranch Team winning USSSA State and National Championships.  Over the years, his business’ teams—Third Coast and Farm Club Teams—would win many local league championships and softball tournaments throughout the state of Michigan.

Aside from competing in softball, Bob was recognized by the Michigan High School Athletic Association for over 28 years of service umpiring boy’s and girl’s baseball and softball, as well as officiating basketball throughout Northern Michigan.

Bob’s faith in God carried him through the dark times in his life.  A lifelong Lutheran, he was a member of Norwalk Lutheran Church.  Bob also had a fondness for farming and bailing hay.  He was an animal lover who raised cows, horses, and chickens, and he had a soft spot for the many golden retrievers that kept him company over the years.

Bob is survived by: his children, Robert “Beaner” (Kelli DeRoche) Fredricks of Humble, Texas, Michelle “Missy” (Kevin) Miller of Onekama, and Daisy (Darien Ripple) Fredricks of Rockford; his grandchildren, Madison Miller, Hogan Miller, Augustus L. Ripple, Leif Ripple, Alyssa Neil, and Charlotte Neil; his brother, Steve (Shirley) Fredricks of Manistee; his sisters, Julie Maddox of Manistee, Lori (Kevin) Kimble of Holland, and JoEllen (Robert) Alexander of Leavenworth, Indiana; his stepmother, Margaret Hilliard Fredricks; numerous aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, and nephews; and many drag racing buddies, softball teammates, and loyal friends who served as an extended family to Bob throughout the years.

Bob was preceded in death by: his brother Michael “Mike” Fredricks in 1963; his mother, Faye Fredricks in 1982; his father, Otto Fredricks in 1997; his brother-in-law, Dave Maddox in 2011; and several aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Funeral services will be conducted at 1:00 PM, Monday, May 13, 2019, at the Terwilliger Funeral Home, in Kaleva, with Pastor Michael Belinsky Sr. officiating.  Military honors will be conducted under the auspices of the United States Army and the Bear Creek VFW Post #6333.  Interment will follow in the Brethren Cemetery.  Visitation will be held Sunday, May 12, 2019, from 4-6 PM at the funeral home.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Bear Creek VFW Post #6333 in Kaleva. 

05 August 2022

Follow Friday: Michigan Germanic Genealogical Society

Graphics courtesy of Ken Howe, please don't use without permission.

First, I need to disclose that I am a charter member and current Secretary of the Michigan Germanic Genealogical Society (MIGGS). I feel strongly enough about this organization that I want to spotlight it.

Michigan is filled with those who descend from German immigrants, I am one. Have you ever been to Frankenmuth Michigan, a German town that adheres to its German heritage today? Visitors to Michigan will see German influence throughout the state.

History of MIGGS

It was in the Spring of 2018 when a group of people met to discuss forming a new German Genealogy Group. Would it be a Special Interest Group or a Genealogical Society? It was decided to become a society and it would be called Michigan Germanic Genealogical Society (MIGGS)

The society was in its infancy when COVID hit. MIGGS wasn't unique to the challenges a pandemic caused genealogical societies, but it had barely gotten going and bam, we are shut down and needing to pivot to online meetings.

The society suffered from this, and it was in the Spring of 2022 that the President, Ed Redmer, sent an email for help. He was looking for volunteers to help breathe new life into the society. He got help in the form of six people who were interested in keeping MIGGS going. 

Throughout the Spring and Summer meetings were held. A lot has been done in this brief period. A Board of Directors was formed with new officers. MIGGS is looking for a Vice President who would oversee program planning. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please let MIGGS President, Paul Roltsch, know at info@miggs.org. All meetings are virtual, and you don't have to be in Michigan to volunteer.

Currently, MIGGS is updating bylaws, creating policy and procedures, recruiting members, and filing for 501c3 status. MIGGS has created a brochure, updated the website, created a Facebook page, and more.

What is MIGGS?

So, what is MIGGS? MIGGS is a genealogical society that explores Michigan's Germanic family history heritage. Four free and open to the public meetings will be held with hopes of expanding it to six in the future. Events for September and November have been planned and can be seen at https://miggs.org/

While on the website look at other areas of the website. Learn about the board members, membership, resources and more. Check back often as more is added.

Benefits of Membership in MIGGS

There are great benefits to membership, and we would love to have you join us. A membership form is available at https://miggs.org/join-us/ The benefits include: 

Four informative meetings with Germanic genealogical interest


Quarterly newsletter with information and updates

Notices by postcard or e‐mail of program meetings


Free 30-minute consultation with a skilled German researcher


Information on workshops and seminars of Germanic interest

Speakers and presentations virtually presented with Zoom

Networking opportunity with others who are doing similar research

Notifications of events that explore the rich Germanic heritage in Michigan

MIGGS will continue to grow and provide Germanic family history resources and help. I hope you will join us.