29 October 2023

That's Aunt Jeannie to Me-Norma Jean Kaskinen

Norma Jean Fredricks 1934-2023

Otto August Fredricks and Daisy Ellen (Graf) Fredricks had eleven children together. The last two were twins. Norman Eugene and Norma Jean. Norma Jean went by Jeannie, and she was Aunt Jeannie to me. She was my mother's youngest sister.

The Wedding Party of Leslie Kaskinen and Norma Jean Fredricks


Jeannie and Les Kaskinen

Norma Jean Fredricks Kaskinen died on 3 March 2023 at the age of eighty-eight. Coincidently, her death date was her marriage date. She married Leslie J. Kaskinen on 3 March 1956.

Her obituary follows:

Norma Jean Kaskinen, 88, of Bellaire, passed away peacefully on March 3, 2023, at home. She was born on December 18, 1934, the daughter of Otto and Daisy (Graf) Fredricks.

Norma was a loving wife and mother. She was known for her baking skills and enjoyed sharing her delicious pastries with family and friends. In her early years, she enjoyed being on the golf course, bowling, and traveling to new places. Norma was also a member of the Bellaire Lioness Club.

Norma is survived in death by two children, Rhonda (Lloyd) Williams of TX, Brent Kaskinen of Bellaire; two grandchildren, Justin (Sandy) Williams and Alex Williams; great grandson, Lonnie Williams; sister, Audrey Glover, and numerous nieces and nephews. 

She is preceded in death by her parents, loving husband Leslie, son, Mark Kaskinen, six brothers, and four sisters.

A funeral service will take place on Tuesday, March 14, at 11 a.m. at the Hope Lutheran Church in Bellaire with Pastor Wade Seaver officiating. Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. until the time of service on Tuesday, as well as Monday, March 13, from 5-7 p.m. at the Bellaire Chapel of Mortensen Funeral Homes. Interment will take place in the spring at Maple Grove Cemetery in Kaleva.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Hope Lutheran Church, PO BOX 160, Bellaire, MI, 49615.

Arrangements are in the care of the Bellaire Chapel of Mortensen Funeral Homes.  Please sign her online guestbook www.mortensenfuneralhomes.com

25 October 2023

Using the 1940 Census to Find Emergency Relief Workers

Did you know that the 1940 United States Census can tell you if a person was employed in emergency work, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), Works Progress Administration (WPA), or the National Youth Administration (NYA)?

The 1940 census was the first census taken as the United States was coming out of the depression era. Many people were still suffering from the stock market crash of 1929. The agricultural industry was suffering from a drought. Unemployment was high, families were hurting.

Emergency relief agencies were created by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to help the unemployed as part of the New Deal. Roosevelt wanted to "put people to work."  Three agencies were formed.


Harold Fredricks working at the Brethren, Michigan CCC camp. Photo in the collection of Brenda Leyndyke.

Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) was the first agency formed. Young, single men, ages 18 to 23, submitted applications through their local welfare offices. Veterans were encouraged to apply through the Veteran's Administration regional office. Any veteran could apply regardless of age or marital status. Selected men had to be in good physical condition and records are available to attest to this at the National Archives in St. Louis.  Men worked forty hour weeks, five days a week. The men received $30, assistant leaders $36, and leaders $45 per month. A portion of their pay was sent home. The work the men performed varied depending on location. Some of the projects the men were involved in were reforestation, soil conservation, fish and wildlife aid, construction of recreational areas, emergency rescue, erecting telephone lines, constructing dams, and providing assistance to those affected by floods, blizzards, hurricanes, and forest fires.   

The CCC newspapers are available online. A list can be found at the Ancestor Hunt blog. The National Archives has a guide for "Records of the Civilian Conservation Corps" that includes the record group numbers needed for research. 

A United States map with CCC camp numbers per state is available. It gives information on the number of men enrolled and where the camp is located. For example, Michigan had 11,800 men at 59 camps. 14 camps were on National Forests, 42 on State Forests, and 3 on State Parks.


Spanish-American woman spinning woolen thread at WPA (Works Progress Administration/Work Projects Administration) project. Costilla, New Mexico. Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photograph Division, Washington, DC.

Works Progress Administration (WPA)
 allowed men and women to sign up for the program. Only one person per household could work at any given time. Workers had to apply and be certified. They had to be at least 18 years of age. Work hours were 130 hours a month and no one could work more than 8 hours a day. Microfilmed records are available at the National Archives in St. Louis, but aren't as rich as the CCC ones. Projects varied but included things like building ski lodges, airports, schools, hospitals, public buildings, golf courses, zoos, campgrounds, the Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas. Some sewed clothing, made mattresses, grew medicinal herbs for pharmaceuticals, taught classes to children and adults, provided school lunches to malnourished children, delivered books by "packhorse libraries" to people in remote locations, and established electricity in rural locations.
 

Genealogists are familiar with the Historical Records Survey conducted by WPA workers. You may even have used materials from this work. WPA workers visited courthouses, archives, city and town halls, libraries, historical societies, and more to inventory and transcribe the records found. 

The records I have seen and used include cemetery transcriptions, census indexes, county courthouse inventories, and church record inventories. Other records inventoried by the WPA workers include naturalization records indexes, newspaper indexes, manuscript collections found, and historical narratives of minorities in a project called American Folklore Project. Records were published and can be found in many larger libraries. Your local library may have the resources for your area.

There are excellent articles for you to read to learn more about the WPA and its projects. One is on the Historical Records Survey Others can be found at Cyndi's List on her WPA page.

From National Youth Administration (NYA) to Washington navy yard. Beginning as a helper at $4.56 a day in the Washington navy yard, Miss Juanita E. Gray graduate trainee of the National Youth Adminstration War Production and Training Center now earns $45 a week. More than 300 NYA trained African American women are now working in the Washington navy yard and scores are being added monthly. Courtesy of Library of Congress Print and Photographs Division, Washington, DC.

National Youth Association was created for the youth of America. It was operated under the management of the Works Progress Administration. High school and college age students were part time employees. Employment opportunites included working in cancer research; flood control studies; agricultural experimentation; refurbishing furniture; health care; construction of recreational facilities; automotive repair; building maintenance; landscaping of public grounds; library services; forestry and soil work; and national defense and industry training (e.g., aviation mechanics)4

Now that you know what the emergency relief programs did, you can check the 1940 United States Census to see if any relatives worked for one. Two questions relating to employment status were asked on this census about emergency work. They were both to be asked of those fourteen and older:

  1. Was this person AT WORK for pay or profit in private or nonemergency Gov't. work during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No).
  2. If not, was he at work on, or assigned to, public EMERGENCY WORK (WPA, NYA, CCC, etc.) during week of March 24-30? (Yes or No). (1940 Census Questions)
The New Deal programs were a great asset to the citizens of the United States. It helped many people survive the depression area. Check the 1940 Census for your family members and see the question about Emergency Work was yes.











24 October 2023

Are Genealogy Seminars Falling by the Wayside?



The Michigan Genealogical Council (MGC) is holding its Fall Family History Seminar on November 4, 2023. We have an excellent speaker, Michael Strauss, and the seminar is being offered in person and virtually.

Unfortunately, our attendance is down dramatically from previous years. It has led the MGC board to question what can be done in the future to make holding a seminar successful. No one wants to go to all the work and have a seminar lose money whether it is at the national, state, or local level. 

A recent planning session was held, and we discussed what could be the reason for this decline. More discussions need to be held, but I thought I would ask my readers what their thoughts are on this issue.

Is it the cost of attendance? We have an early bird price of $50. 

Is the genealogy seminar attendees market tapped out? 

Is our audience aging out? Do we need to entice a younger audience? How does one do that?

What could be offered to make you want to attend a conference or seminar? 

Why don't you attend a conference or seminar?

Is there too much competition from other webinars and seminars? The pandemic led to genealogical organizations pivoting to virtual and there is a plethora of options that are now available to genealogists. How do we get a piece of that pie?

What questions am I not asking?

I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue. I don't think MGC is the only one dealing with this issue. If I am wrong, let me know. Please leave a comment. I will share responses in a future post as well as what MGC discusses.




20 October 2023

An American Privateer in the Family

 
Brigadier General John Glover
 In the public domain, found at wikipedia commons

The American Revolution Institute defines privateers as privately owned armed merchant ships that were authorized by the Continental Congress with a “letter of marque” to attack enemy ships. 

The most famous American Revolution privateer is John Paul Jones. My connection to privateers is Brigadier General John Glover (1732-1797). John Glover was the son of Jonathan Jr. (1702-1737) and Tabitha Bacon. 

John Glover settled in Marblehead, Massachusetts and went on to be a well-known privateer having developed a relationship with George Washington.

He is most famous for his regiment rowing Washington across the Delaware, the Battle of Long Island, and for leading one of the first integrated regiments in the American Revolution. His regiment participated in many American Revolutionary War events.

Model of the USS Hannah at United States Navy Museum
Source: Sturmvogel 66, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

During the siege of Boston, George Washington chartered Glover's boat Hannah to raid British supply boats. The Hannah has been called the first vessel of the Continental Navy.

Glover's regiment became the 14th Continental Regiment. It was comprised of about five hundred men from the Marblehead area. The men were Native Americans, Jewish, African Americans, and Spanish sailors, fishermen, and mariners. 

Source: Emanuel Leutze, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Glover's most remembered heroism is when his regiment was the one to take Washington's army across the Delaware River in a surprise attack at the Battle of Trenton.

Originally, Glover turned down the promotion to Brigadier General but after George Washington's personal request accepted it. A letter from Washington to Glover dated 26 April 1777 is transcribed at Founders Online. Much can be found online about Glover and his regiment. See a partial list of resources below.

Glover was known as a sailor, soldier, merchant, radical Whig, ship owner, militia colonel, overlooked hero, most elegantly dressed officer, and patriot. I am proud to have Brigadier General John Glover as a member of my family history.

Resources:

  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/14th_Continental_Regiment
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Hannah
  3. https://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/03-09-02-0257
  4. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEWpzUykMrY&t=2s
  5. https://www.history.com/news/american-privateers-revolutionary-war-private-navy
  6. https://www.nps.gov/articles/000/john-glover-sailor-soldier-patriot.htm
  7. https://allthingsliberty.com/2013/07/overlooked-hero-general-john-glover/#:~:text=Glover's%20regiment%20joined%20the%20colonial,with%20proper%20muskets%20and%20bayonets.
  8. https://allthingsliberty.com/2019/09/massachusetts-privateers-during-the-siege-of-boston/
  9. https://www.battlefields.org/learn/articles/john-glover-and-marblehead-men-massachusetts
  10. https://www.sagu.edu/thoughthub/forgotten-revolutionary-war-hero-john-glover/










18 October 2023

Book Review: The Cut by John Wemlinger

The Cut by John Wemlinger

John Wemlinger's Michigan Notable Book selection "The Cut" is one I found interesting especially because it takes place in northwestern Michigan. It is in Manistee County, Michigan, where my Fredricks and Graf families settled.

The Cut tells the story of two warring factions, the lumber industry, and the homesteaders. Two children, one from each faction, meet and fall in love. Alvin, a farmer, and Lydia, the daughter of an influential businessman, meet in 1870. The Cut tells their love story woven between the historical events of the time. 

The businessmen want to build a dam powered sawmill. The sawmill affects the landowners’ farms and floods them affecting their ability to make a living. Lawsuits are filed and the reader gets a glimpse of what the farmers were dealing with at the time. A lot of the book tells the contentiousness of the time.


The Lumbering Boom 1870-1890 exhibit at the Michigan History Museum in LansingMichigan (United States). Permission and Photography by Michael Barera, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Manistee, Michigan was the center of the lumber industry in the area during this period. The story is fiction with nonfiction history told. It is a great Michigan history read. The characters are believable, and the story captures the reader's interest. History is a bonus.

What is the Cut? It is a man-made channel that links Lake Michigan to the village of Onekama and Portage Lake. The channel is the cut.

My great grandfather, Johann August Fredricks, worked at a sawmill in Manistee saving his money to buy a farm. Having spent a lot of time in the area visiting family and doing family history research led me to visualize what the time was like. Wemlinger's detailed descriptions take the reader back in time.

Does Alvin and Lydia's love life overcome all the obstacles in their way? You will have to read the book to find out.  


15 October 2023

When Your Kids Won't Take Their Stuff: Make a Book

Three years ago, my husband and I decided to downsize from our Battle Creek home of forty years and move  twenty-five miles away to Kalamazoo, Michigan. Our plan was to sell the house and rent an apartment for a year and look for a condo to buy. We thought we could get to know the Kalamazoo area before we bought. Interest rates doubled and housing prices skyrocketed, and we decided we would stay where we are for the time being. 

The downsizing led to going through a lot of papers, photographs, ephemera, and art projects from our children's life. I had saved most of the children's artwork. Kirsten and Travis had great art teachers who did wonderful projects. 

 

Kirsten's Art Box
Travis's Art Box
 

I saved the art projects in boxes made for artwork. I saved by age or grade level. I had quite a few projects saved, and I wasn't going to move them. Kirsten and Travis didn't want them, and I couldn't throw them out. I took photographs of every project I had saved. I even had a few saved in my Halloween, Easter, and Christmas decoration tubs. 

Kirsten, 2nd Grade, 1991-1992

Travis, 1st grade, 1993-1994

Then, I could throw them away. Each photograph I took was a trip down memory lane. There were Mother's Day cards, May Day baskets I remember answering the door and finding them, silhouettes, handprints, and more. I kept the Mother’s Day cards, silhouettes, and handprint art. Eventually, I wanted to make photo books to give to Kirsten and Travis. 


Three years later, I made those books. I didn't tell Kirsten and Travis that I was making them and once created I had the books sent to them.


I used Shutterfly to help make the books. I chose a bright color scheme and laid the photos out by grade. I had projects I made with the children before preschool, preschool through elementary (6th grade). Kirsten took art in junior high and high school, so her book included that. It was interesting when comparing projects for the kids, that Kirsten had more projects. I have a feeling many of Travis's sixth grade projects got lost on the way home from school. 






I like Shutterfly because of the variety of book templates you can choose. Each book comes with its own template where you can customize the pages. Text, stickers, frames, and other embellishments can be added.

I was happy with what I created. I think Travis and Kirsten enjoyed receiving the surprise book in the mail. 

If you have art projects, class assignments, or other ephemera type items that your adult children don't want, photograph them, and make a book.




13 October 2023

UPDATE: Pantlind Hotel, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Previously, I had written about the Pantlind Hotel's history. Sometime later I received an email from Tamara and she added a lot more to the history. This is from Tamara's email.

"I am assisting Sweet House Foundation Historian Carol Dodge to write a book about Martin Sweet and the home he had built at the address now known as 254 Fulton Street East.

In 1861 Martin bought the first real bank in Grand Rapids from Daniel Ball, who set his bank up in 1858. It was located on the corner of Canal Street (now known as Monroe Avenue) and Pearl Street. Martin named the bank the M. L. Sweet & Company Exchange Bank. It merged with First National Bank and then became Old National Bank in 1864. (After Martin’s death, Old National Bank merged with Kent State Bank and became Old Kent Bank. Old Kent Bank was acquired by Fifth Third Bancorp in 1994.) The building in which Sweet’s Bank, First National Bank, and Old National Bank operated was surrounded by Sweet’s Hotel when Martin completed building that elegant edifice in 1869. To finance other ventures, Martin placed a mortgage on the hotel with Old National Bank and the bank acquired it in 1898. J. Boy Pantlind bought the hotel in1902. Pantlind rebuilt the hotel part and opened it as The Pantlind in 1916. In 1981 the hotel was sold to the Amway Corporation. A 29-story addition was added and the building opened as the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in 1982. The old bank part remains is now known as the Imperial Ballroom. The Old National Bank sign hangs in there today.

Perhaps you would like to add to your history. We hope to have Carol’s book published by March of 2023.

Martin Sweet had many businesses and held many positions including miller, first Republican Mayor of Grand Rapids, banker, hotel owner, railroad investor, huge contributor to First (Park) Congregational Church, lumber baron, furniture manufacturer, cattle breeder, farmer, owned the first grain elevator in Grand Rapids, and invested in plank roads, plaster, carriage and harness hardware, iron, and more.

We are disappointed that no mention of Martin Sweet or his bank or hotel appears in the history of the Pantlind or the Amway Grand Plaza and we hope to gain some support for remedying this with the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel.

Martin was the richest man in Grand Rapids for many years and the 5th richest in Michigan. Unfortunately, he eventually over-invested and that did not work out well in the end. The only thing he had not mortgaged was his home and furnishings so at least he had a place to live. The city gave him the menial job as gatekeeper of the city market which involved cleaning, taking care of the trash, and burning the garbage at this open-air market. He worked faithfully morning until night until the last few months of his life, and he had an indomitable spirit until his demise. He died in his home on his his 86th birthday in 1905.

Perhaps it is because of his lack of success at his end that memory of him is obscured. We hope the book by Carol Dodge, The Mayor, the Musician, and the Mansion, will educate Grand Rapidians and promote understanding and appreciation for this wonderful man’s amazing contributions to this city.

Martin’s home is now known as the Sweet House and the Sweet House Foundation is responsible for keeping the legacy alive."

Carol Dodge's book, "The Mayor, the Maestro, and the Mansion" was published May 13, 2023. An interesting article and interview of Carol Dodge where she talks about the book and Grand Rapids history can be found here.

Thank you to Tamara for sharing the wonderful history of the Pantlind Hotel and Martin Sweet's connection to it.

11 October 2023

In the News: Jack Tyson and Rosilene Richardson Wed at Clubhouse

 

A February 19, 1943 Battle Creek Enquirer article told the story of the marriage of Jack Tyson and Roselene Richardson. The marriage took place at the American Legion Clubhouse. Jack Tyson was in training at Fort Custer, which was near Battle Creek, in Augusta, Michigan.

Miss Roselene Myrn Richardson, daughter of Mrs. Edith Richardson of 224 South Kendall, was married to Pvt. Jack Tyson of Fort Custer, son of Mr. and Mrs. Victor Tyson of 1833 W. Goguac, at 7:30 o'clock on February 9 at the American Legion clubhouse.  The Rev. Charles Oughton read the service. The attendants were the bride's sister and brother-in-law, Mr. and Mrs. Keith Bigmall, and Miss Ruth Oughton. A dinner followed the wedding. The serving table was centered with a three-tiered wedding cake with a miniature bride and bridegroom. About 50 guests were present. Private Tyson is in the parachute troops. He is a graduate of Lakeview high school. Mrs. Tyson is employed by Wilcox Rich. She will continue making her home with her mother.

Jack Tyson is my first cousin once removed on my father's Glover side of the family.


09 October 2023

WWII Draft Record of John Leonard Fredricks




John Leonard Fredricks, the son of Otto August and Daisy Ellen (Graf) Fredricks, was 18 years old when he registered for the U.S. WWII Draft Cards Young Men, 1940-1947. He was living at home at the time of his registration.

Photograph provided by family member

John Fredricks served as a member of Heavy Mortar Company, 9th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Infantry Division. John served as a Sergeant in the Korean War from 1949 to 1952, where he earned the Silver Star for gallantry in action.

I enjoy the information on draft registration cards, but enjoy the stories about his service more. He recieved the Silver Star for carrying a fellow soldier out of harm. Thank you for serving, Uncle John.

06 October 2023

Fort Custer Friday: Manuscript Collection


I wrote, previously, on my volunteer work at Fort Custer in Augusta, Michigan. The manuscript collection is one that family history researchers may be interested in seeing. The collection has been processed and is viewable to anyone by making an appointment.

Manuscripts collections at Fort Custer Historical Society Library are papers donated by veterans or their family members. This may include complete military records, photographs, scrapbooks, journals, etc. This collection is unpublished. 

Here is the list of names in the collection:

Alger, Russell

Arnold, Ray

Atkins, Thomas E.

Babinski, Walter

Bazel, Frank J.

Bee, Andrew

Bemrose, Clinton Earl

Benjamin, Clarence E.

Boettcher, H.

Bogen, Frank A.

Bonarek, Wazek

Bosanoz, Stephen

Campbell, Edgar H.

Carter, Chelius “Cheely” H.

Compton, Oliver Wesley

Corlett, Ransom and Wilcox, Nettie

Cox, Albert D.

Custer Family

Davidson, John and Hibbie

DePosso, Dan

Dickman, Joseph Theodore, General

Dodrill, Ira and Charlotte

Dunigan, Patrick Father

Dunkelberger, Joel

Dunkelberger, Paul V.

Finch, John Arthur

Gac, Matthew

Godfray, Russell A.

Goodwin, Hubert H, Jr.

Hanna, Duane

Harris, Doris Fisher

Henrichs, Carl J.

Hollenbeck, S W. Lt. Colonel

Hyde, Leo

Joachim, Robert

Johnson, Robert J.

Keuvelaar, John

Koppe, Robert

Kriner, Donald A.

Larney, Clayton

Lithander, Lee

Lofts, Gordon Harley

Mandell, H

McGoorty, John P.

McKeague, Eugene

McParland, Ford D.

Miller, Austin C.

Morris, Donald

Passarella, Daniel

Paulson, Robert

Payne, Leo

Perkins, John

Pequet, Patrick C.

Phelps, Gerald

Pieper, Julius H.O. “Henry” and Ludwig J.W. “Louie”

Pitman, Levi

Race, John

Richards, John Smith

Santillo, John

Schmoke, Gerald O. Jerry

Smith, Carl Jr.

Smith, Mervin E.

Spackman, James (Colonel-Retired)

Stevens, Jim

Stevenson, Louis L.

Stoughton, Paul B. Jr.

Stroebel, William H

Strosin, Herman

Swift, Harold I. and Swift, Ivan Whitney

Thiessen, Chester G.

Thralls, Louis W.

Turnball, Robert A.J.

Vickless, Pete

Villegas, Ysmael Smiley

West, John S.

Wilson, Guy M.

Wiltse, Orville

Witte, Walter J.

Woodiwiss, Kenneth O.

Wright, Elias

Currently, the library is only available by appointment. If you are interested in visiting the library, please contact the Fort Custer Historical Society via their website. If one of the above is your ancestor, leave a comment and I can let you know what is included in their manuscript papers.

I plan to use my blog to let others know what is available at the library. Check back on the first Friday of every month for more information. I will be sharing manuscript information, unique resources, vertical file topics, postcards, photographs, and more.

05 October 2023

Gorsin, Bromberg, Posen, Prussia-My Fredrich's Ancestral Home

Gorzeń canal area of Poland
By Jarosław Szczepaniak, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=56619491

Previously, I wrote about finding the birthplace of my maternal great grandfather, Johann August Fredrick (h). It is exciting to make the leap across the pond with one's ancestors.

My leap took me to Gorsin, Bromberg, Posen, Prussia. The 1905 population of Gorsin was 493. The 1920 United States Census record states that J. August Fredrick immigrated in 1872. It is hard to say what the population was at the time of August's emigration, but I am guessing it was still a village.

Researching Prussia ancestry can be complicated, and it is important to know where one's ancestors lived or where they went to church to further one's research. I was fortunate to find both in one record, a church record. ("Germany, Lutheran Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1567-1945," database, Ancestry (ancestry.com : accessed 11 March 2018), entry for Johann August Fredrich; Mikrofilm Sammlung. Familysearch.org; Lutherische Kirchenbücher, 1567-1945)  

Gorsin was a dorf (village) in the Regierungsbezirk (district) of Bromberg, province of Posen, and kingdom or state of Prussia (Preussen). It is important to study the history of the area, especially Prussian history as its boundaries changed throughout the years. Look at maps from the time. Two map resources I have found helpful are James Beidler's The Family Tree Historical Atlas of Germany and Wendy K. Uncapher and Linda M. Herrick's German Map and Facts for Genealogy. 

The Bromberg district, not to be confused with the city of Bromberg, was in existence from 1772-1807 and 1815-1920. Bromberg district became part of the German Empire in 1871. Under the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles the area was given to Poland, in 1919. Final agreement and transfers were concluded in 1920. Many Germans emigrated at this time. This is a brief history of the area at the time my ancestor lived. There is much more history of the area.

My ancestor J. August Fredrick lived in this area from 1845 until his emigration in the 1870's. I am sure the turmoil of the time and possible military conscription due to the Austro-Prussian and Franco Prussian war years helped him decide to go to the United States. All but one of August's siblings emigrated to the United States.

After ceding the area to Poland the village of Gorsin became Gorzeń, Poland. Today, Gorzeń is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Nakło nad Notecią, within Nakło CountyKuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, in north-central Poland.



01 October 2023

Do You Have a Michigan Pioneer in Your Family? Check MGC's Online Database

Many of my readers are aware of my connection with the Michigan Genealogical Council (MGC). I am a Past President and currently serving as a Director on the MGC board. I try to promote MGC and genealogical societies whenever I can. One program I am happy to support is the MGC Pioneer Certificate Program.

I had written a blog post in 2016 about the MGC Pioneer Certificate program that MGC had at the time. I wrote a 2019 updated post telling about the revised Pioneer Certificate program. The Pioneer Certificate program has been successful and MGC is sharing the application information collected from this program online


There are two ways to qualify for a certificate and pin. One is the Pre-Statehood Certificate for ancestors who were in the state of Michigan before January 26, 1837. The other certificate is for First Families. If your ancestor lived in Michigan between January 26, 1837 and December 31, 1880, you could apply for a First Families certificate.

The MGC Pioneer Certificate program has an index and database where researchers can see the applications of those granted Pioneer status. If you have ancestors who were in Michigan prior to 1880, check this database to see if someone has applied for a certificate.

Once you search for a name and find an ancestor, look to the far right for a column titled, "Certificate Number". Click on the box with the certificate number to see a list of all the names associated with that certificate application, but don't stop there.

The next column to the right is the "View Documents PDF." This is where you will find scans of all the documents submitted with the application. There are birth, marriage, and death certificates, Bible records, family histories, biographies, land records, and more. The only items you won't find are those of anyone still living. Those documents are included in the application, but not scanned into the database.

What can you do if you don't find an ancestor? Submit your own application. The MGC website's Pioneer Certificate section has all the information you need to apply for your own ancestor's certificate and pin. 

MGC Pioneer Certificate Brochure

Screenshot taken from Mimgc.org Pioneer Certificates section.

Each of the categories above has a + sign to the left when you visit the website. Click on the + sign to get more information on the topic. There is a brochure, sample application, a Pioneer Certificate application, and more. Looking at "Pioneer resources on the web" provides useful resources for Michigan research.

I have applying for certificates on my to-do list. I am the descendant of six ancestors that would qualify in one of the two options. They are Samuel S. Glover, Daniel Fenn, Lucy Hyde, Samuel B. Poor, J. August Fredrick, and William G. Dyer. I just need to decide which one to use and get to work collecting the proof.

I'll apply if you will. Don't procrastinate like I have. Please leave a comment if you find your ancestor in the database or if you plan to apply. Your ancestors name will be forever known as a Michigan pioneer by the Michigan Genealogical Council if you apply through the Pioneer Certificate program.