When my Nana asked me to help her with family tree research in like 1996, I was totally not interested. I listened to what she had uncovered and found it interesting. I did not want to look stuff up, UNTIL she called me with a mystery she couldn’t solve. Then I was hooked. I had to solve the mystery. I started researching and finding things out. My inner nerd still does a happy dance when I can solve a mystery. (Makes me feel like Velma…the smart one from Scooby Doo).
I really love finding out about my ancestors stories, where they lived, what they did for a living, what they believed & stood for and any personal anecdotes about their lives. I love finding out how my family fits into American history. I love it when I find the answers and solve the puzzle. But many times, I end up with more questions than answers, and that just drives me on to solve the mystery.
One of my favorite mysteries is George W. Nicholson, 1845-1923. He’s my great great great grandfather and a Civil War Veteran. Can you imagine what kind of stories he could tell you living from pre-Civil War to the beginning of the Roaring 20’s? I’d love to be able to talk to him about his experiences or read letters or journals he wrote. Those kinds of things to a genealogist are priceless and precious.
Since I don’t have a detailed journal of Grandpa George’s every move, I had to hunt up any records I could find. Let me tell you, this man has been quite the challenge! He’s still one of those mysteries that I NEED TO solve. I just recently found out that he died in the Soldier’s Home in Grand Rapids, Michigan on 22 May 1923. He was just 2 months shy of 78 years old. He lived in the Soldier’s home from at least 1910, as he’s listed as a resident on both the 1910 & 1920 Federal Censuses.
I kept searching and found that Grandpa George was born 4 July 1845 on the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts to John S. and Paulina F. (Fuller) Nicholson. The family is listed on the 1850 Federal Census as living in Nantucket. George is most likely named for his Uncle George, John’s brother. All I know about his childhood is that his father, John, went to California during the gold rush when he was a small boy. John is listed on the California State Census for 1852, but his family isn’t. Since John sometimes worked as a carpenter and sometimes as a mariner (a person involved in seafaring work), I wonder if he went to California for a specific job or if he went to California to strike it rich. I wonder how the family felt about John’s trip to California. (See….more questions than answers). No matter why he went, John was back in Massachusetts by 1855, per the Massachusetts State Census.
The Veteran’s Schedule of 1890 tells me that Grandpa George enlisted in the Union Army at the age of 17. He first enlisted with the 20th Massachusetts Infantry Company I on 13 August 1862. He served with Company I until March of 1863. He was then registered with 2nd Massachusetts Cavalry, Company K. He served with Company K from 4 January 1863 through 30 June 1865 when he mustered out. The record shows that he was wounded. From what I can discern, it looks as though he was wounded and sent home in March of 1863, and then when he recovered he enlisted again with the 2nd MA Cavalry.
Knowing what regiments he was in means that I can look up the regiment and find out which battles he fought in. Personally I think this is super cool.
20th Inf, Co I: http://www.civilwarintheeast.com/USA/MA/MA20.php
2nd Cav, Co K: http://www.civilwarintheeast.com/USA/MA/MA2cav.php
The next time he is listed on a document is his marriage record 29 October 1884. What was he up to between 1865 and 1884? I’m very curious why he left Nantucket and what made him decide to go to Michigan. And when???? I wonder how he met his wife Katie (Anna Katherina Schneider). I also wonder about Katie. I know from their marriage record that Katie was a German immigrant who came from the city of Wesel. Katie was born in 1864 and died in Owosso sometime between 1892-1895. That’s all I know about her. George married his 2nd wife, Laura Gue, on 14 July 1895. Laura was a widow. At the time of their marriage, George’s three children were 10, 7 and 3. His eldest, John Henry, is my great great grandfather.
I want to find the census records from 1860, 1870, 1880 and 1900 because I think that would help me answer some of my questions about how and when Grandpa George went to Michigan. But as of now I’ve not had any success finding him on any censuses except the aforementioned 1910 and 1920 censuses.
Are you interested in family tree research? I have some good links for finding information, some of which are free. I am willing to share tips and such if people are interested. Truthfully, I can talk for days about family tree research, but if no one’s interested, I won’t. (Then again this is MY blog…so I might anyway….MUAH-HAHA-HA).
That’s all for now. Have a Trrrific Tuesday!