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Mysteries and Family History: Generation 3, Nana

Hey! Velma here.  If you read last week’s post, you’ll know I’m currently focused on the mystery of my Mitochondrial line. My mom, her mom, and her mom, and her mom, and her mom, and so on and so forth. I was able to map out 11 generations with names and dates, and I want to now fill in as much as I can about each of the women in my line. Today’s all about Nana.

Janice was born in her parents’ home on North Paddock Street in Pontiac, Michigan in the summer of 1936. And she left us at her home on Mary Sue in March of 2016. But there’s so much more to her as a person than where and when she entered and exited.

Think of all the historical events Janice lived through! She was born during the great depression of the 1930’s. Pearl Harbor happened when she was 5 ½ years old. World War II ended when she was 9. She was 75 years old when the towers fell on September 11th. She also lived through the Cold War, Korea, Vietnam, and the more recent Middle Eastern conflicts. Nana had just celebrated her 33rd birthday 4 days before man walked on the moon.

For the sake of curiosity, I tried to determine what I could from records about my Nana. In 1940, Janice was nearly 4 years old, and was living at 172 Pike Street with her family. Her father, like so many during this Great Depression, had been unemployed for 4 weeks at the time that the census was taken.40's

52Because Nana is a recent ancestor, the 1940 census, phone book records placing her residence in Clarkston, and her 1952 high school photo were the only other public records I could find. The 1950 census will not be public until 2022, so this is as far as she can be publicly documented. I could not find her birth record, marriage record, or her death record.

Around the time of her yearbook photo, Janice and her friend Pat started chatting with two young men on a party line. After a time, they arranged to meet them for a date. Pat was set up with a boy named Harvey Nicholson, and Janice with one of his friends. When they finally met up, they ended up switching and Janice and Harvey dated for nearly two years before breaking up for a short time.

Once getting back together, they wasted no time and got married on the 10th of April 1954. They had a small ceremony in the home of a Reverend in Pontiac, Michigan. Once married, Harv and Jan moved into an apartment, then a bought a small house on Drayton Road in Clarkston. In 1961, they moved into their long-term home on Mary Sue Street in Clarkston. Nana told me she moved around a lot as a child, and therefore loathed the idea of ever moving again. She simply could not understand why I kept changing apartments all the time.  I think of her shaking her head at me every time I move.

When Janice was in school, girls were not encouraged to go to college. She was told that girls got married and had children. I remember having conversations about this as I was applying to colleges and thinking how different her teen years were from mine.  As with these times, she quit school at 17, got married, and had 3 baby girls 3 years in a row.  And 5 years later, a son. I am proud to say that as a grandmother of two, she went back and earned her high school diploma in 1977.  Knowing her as I do, I think she would have done well in college.

Nana told me that when she was in high school, she got hired as a roller-skating waitress at a drive-in diner, but that her dad refused to let her work there. She ended up babysitting instead. She also worked at Kresge’s soda fountain as a teen. She was a housewife and a stay at home mom most of her adult life, but she wasn’t the type to just cook and clean, although she did those things.  Nana was an experienced seamstress who made her kids clothes.  She also designed and built her own deck. She could look at any craft type item and say, I can make that.  And she would! During the Cabbage Patch Kids craze she made upwards of $1000 profit on all the tiny doll clothes she sewed. She also worked for a time at the deli counter at Meijer. I don’t think there was anything, Nana couldn’t do once she decided she would.

My Nana is the reason that this mystery solving researcher started working on her family tree. She did all the legwork within the family collect information. She needed me to do online research for her, because she did not like computers or the trust the internet. But Nana did appreciate the information I could find. We’d celebrate our breakthroughs, like finding Thomas Clark’s application for citizenship, the first Clark ancestor to come to America. Things like that. I still get the unction to call her when I solve a mystery, knowing she’d be just as excited as me.

I also miss playing Scrabble with her, even though she usually beat me by a wide margin. She was not the grandma who let kids win. She felt the fun was the playing, not the winning. Seriously. I played Scrabble against her from age 9 and did not win a game until the summer after I turned 19. I only beat her by 2 points, but I was so pumped. I jumped up, ran into the living room, and high fived Papa. Nana shook her head at me and said, “Missy, if this is how you’re going to behave when you win, I won’t play with you anymore.” I can hear her saying it and the look on her face, and it makes me smile. She had amazing skill playing games, and much luck with the lottery, BINGO, and playing the slots. Nana was good with numbers and could always do all the math lightning fast without a calculator.

I miss listening to oldies and dancing with her. She was so fun! At every wedding reception, she would put her fuzzy “bobbie” socks on over her nylons and head to the dance floor. The Twist. The Alligator. The Macarena. Polkas! All the dances.

Point to ponder while you wander…I want to take a minute to say that when you start researching into your family tree, remember that people are complex. They make good and bad decisions just like you do. They have hurts and broken places. They have loved and lost. They rejoiced and grieved. You may not be able to discern this from records, but it is the truth. You also need to consider that they are influenced by the time in which they lived and the prevailing thoughts of the day. Those we love are not perfect. No one is. Remember that.

As fun as our Nana was, she was also stubborn. Fiercely so. We did not always agree, and she could be completely unreasonable and cantankerous. But I always knew she loved and wanted the best for me, even when we did not agree what “best” meant. She would not quit smoking no matter what you told her about how bad it was for her. She just kept smoking those damn unfiltered cigarettes that wreaked havoc on her lungs, and eventually took her from us in 2016.

And yet, the things that stick with me the most, the things I chose to remember are the ones that make me smile, and sometimes cry.  Bike rides. Her walking me around her yard for a tour of all her plants that were in bloom in the spring, and at different times of the summer. Sitting out on the deck she built visiting, dancing, or playing games. The week she spent expertly painting every square inch of my kitchen cabinets and walls before I moved into my first house. And laughing. So much laughter.

Point to ponder while you wander bonus conversation….party lines.

party lineParty Line sounds a bit saucy, but back in the 1950’s phone lines were commonplace.  To the left is an advertisement about them from around that time, explaining how they were less expensive and enabled more people to have a telephone.  With everyone having cell phones now, it seems crazy to think that people had to share a line with 2-4 of their neighbors. I imagine it wasn’t easy to keep things secret if you had a neighborhood gossip with whom you shared a party line.  But without those party lines my mom wouldn’t have been born, and neither would I.

😊XOXO Velma





Mysteries and Family History: Mitochondrial Line

Hey Family Historians! Velma here. During the excessive amount of quality time with myself, I have been watching a whole lot of Finding Your Roots on PBS. I love learning new tips and tricks on researching!

One of the most interesting things I’ve learned is about DNA mapping of Mitochondrial DNA. Mitochondria are considered the powerhouse of the cell, and are passed from mother to child through the egg cell. I know…I know…sciency! From that sciency randomness they now understand that I’ve inherited my Mitochondrial DNA from Mom, who inherited it from Nana, who inherited it from Grandma who inherited it from her mother, and so on and so forth.

What I find most fascinating this is that they can use this DNA to map and trace maternal lines back hundreds even even thousands of years back to the area that your people originate! This blew my mind and got me thinking about my maternal chain.

That my friends lead me to…Mom’s Month Mystery!

I started a few days ago mapping out names and dates. Focusing solely on just mom’s mom to her mom and so on. I wasn’t starting from scratch on this hunt, as I had some information back to my great great great great grandmother, Lydia Allard Densmore, “Liddie”. General information of course, as this particular branch hasn’t been focused on quite yet. I was hoping to get a few more generations past Liddie.

For privacy sake, I don’t ever include living persons information online, so I’m skipping over Generations 1 and 2, Me and Mom, and starting with Nana. Here’s the name and date map:

Generation 3 is Janice Ileane Clark. Nana was born in the summer of 1936 at her parents’ home in Pontiac, Michigan. We lost her on March 2016 in her own home in Clarkston, Michigan.

Generation 4 is Lydia Ellen Marie Campbell. Grandma Ellen was born September 24th 1913 in Detroit, Michigan. We lost her on August 28th, 1996 in Bloomfield, Michigan.

Generation 5 is Margery Jean Brander. She was born November 17th 1893 in Detroit, Michigan, and died June 16th 1955 in Pontiac, Michigan.

Generation 6 is Jane Lydia Densmore. Jennie was born on January 18th 1861 in Wayne Michigan. She died January 22th 1930 Detroit, Michigan.

Generation 7 is Lydia Allard. Liddie was born August 15th 1819 in Bartlett, New Hampshire. She died May 10th 1904 Detroit, Michigan.

Generation 8 is Mary Elizabeth Fall. Betsey was born in 1793 in Bartlett, New Hampshire. She died January 1st 1861 in Davenport, Iowa.

Generation 9 is Judith Stanton. She was born in 1759 in Lebanon, Maine, and died May 1st 1841 in Eaton Center, New Hampshire.

Generation 10 is Elizabeth Worcester. Betsey was born Aug 7th 1737 in Berwick, Maine.

Generation 11 is Judith Hall. She was born about 1720 in Maine or Massachusetts.

My point to ponder about all those names and dates while you wander is that….My maternal line has all been born in America since before the United States was born. Eleven generations of women experiencing 255 years of this nation’s history! I certainly wasn’t expecting that! And it’s definitely something I want to explore!

Stay tuned for how my maternal line interacted with US History over the next few months!

XO Velma

Mysteries and Family History: Densmores End Up In Detroit

Hi, Mystery and History Lovers, it’s Velma!  Your favorite family tree researcher. My last post was about Jennie and John Brander.  Today I’m going to talk about Jennie’s Dad’s family…the Densmores, Dinsmores or possibly the Dinsmoors.  They are a mystery I am trying to solve.

Per usual, I’m going to use the spelling as written on the documents I found.  It changes…of course

Benjamin and Elizabeth

The furthest back I’ve been able to locate is Benjamin and Elizabeth Dinsmore.  Benjamin was born in 1780 in New Hampshire, and Elizabeth was born in 1781 in New Hampshire per the 1850 New York Census.  They were born during the American Revolutionary War before the USA was the USA.

They were living with their son, Moses Dinsmore and his wife, Lydia Allard Dinsmore, in 1850, per the 1850 Federal Census.  The family was residing in Bangor, Franklin County, New York.  (As was Lydia’s parents and siblings) Moses was born in 1814 in New Hampshire, and Lydia was also born in New Hampshire in 1823.  They had been living in New York for at least 6 years at this point because their eldest Laura Ann was born in New York in 1844.  Also living in the household was Caroline, born 1846, Phoebe E, born 1848, and Mary Elizabeth who was a month old.  Moses is listed as a farmer, and both Laura and Caroline attended school that year.

I’m sure Ben and Liz had more kids, because that was how it worked back in the day.  But I cannot find any proof of their other children.  I also cannot find death records for either Elizabeth or Benjamin.  Logic says they died in New York, but they could have also died on the way to Michigan with Moses or in Michigan.  I am still looking into this, but have no evidence of their death.  Maybe there is no death record because they are still alive at 235 and 236!  I would love for this to be true and I would definitely want to spend time with them and hear their tale.  But alas, I’m sure I just haven’t found the right location for their info.

Moses and Lydia

Moses Dinsmore married Lydia Allard, daughter of Henry Allard and Mary Elizabeth Fall, on 2 July 1843 in Bolton, Brome, English Canada (Ontario).  Moses died 16 February 1866 in Detroit, Michigan. I have also found records that list Moses’s birth state as Vermont on the death records of some of his daughters. Lydia was born 15 August 1819 in Bartlett, New Hampshire and died 10 May 1904 in Detroit, Michigan.

I know that Moses left New York for Michigan with his family between 1850 and 1853, because his son Moses Densmore was born 26 May 1853 in Detroit, Michigan, and daughter  Jane Lydia “Jennie” Densmore was born 18 January 1861 also in Detroit, Michigan.

The 1880 Census shows Moses (the son) and Jennie living with Liddie. Moses is a plasterer and Jennie works in a seed store.  Liddie is listed as keeping house at 371 Crawford St, Detroit. Please see below map for the location.  It’s now near the Fisher Fwy (I-75).


Here is the information I found on the children of Moses and Lydia:

Laura Ann Densmore was born 24 March 1844 in Bangor, New York, and died 6 May 1934 in Detroit.  Laura married William Crawford.

Caroline Densmore was born in 1846 in Bangor, New York.  Caroline married John McDoinell.

Phoebe E. Densmore was born on 10 June 1848 in Bangor, New York.  She died 12 January 1916.  She lived at 764 Williams in Detroit, Michigan in 1916.

Mary Elizabeth Densmore was born in May 1850 in Bangor, New York.  She married Oliver M. Dicks on 11 February 1871 in Detroit.  Their children: Emma was born in 1874.  Emma married John Busha on 16 April 1898 in Detroit. Samuel, was born 24 February 1876, but isn’t listed on the 1880 Census. Herbert A, was born in 1876.  He married Ida M. Seidel on 14 September 1905 in Detroit. Lottie May, was born 24 October 1878, and died 8 May 1880. Edward, born 10 Jan 1881 in Michigan.  Edward married Clara Minnie Spurr in Fort Wayne, Indiana on 23 September 1940.  Alexander, was born 25 April 1883 in Greenfield, Michigan, and died 2 December 1884.  Alfred G, was born in 31 August 1884 in Greenfield, Michigan.  He married Elizabeth Ridge on 10 October 1906 in Detroit. Moses,  was born 2 December 1887 in Greenfield, Michigan, and died 24 July 1888.  William J, was born in 1887.(Note:  Dicks is also spelled Dix in a few documents, but it’s mostly spelled Dicks).

Moses Densmore was born 26 May 1853 in Detroit, Michigan and died 5 February 1910. According to the 1880 Census, he was a plasterer.  Moses married Maggie Duncan on 30 June 1880 in Detroit, Michigan.  She was born either in Couttern, Connecticut or in Canada on 19 June 1960.  Maggie died 23 April 1936 in Detroit.  She and Moses are both buried in Woodmere Cemetery.  They had a daughter, May or Mary, born 1882.  May married Charles Feole, son of August Teole and Caroline Cole on 28 June 1900.  They also had a son, Charles H., born in 22 April 1884 and died 11 August 1947 in Detroit.  Their daughter, Phoebe, born in 1885.

Last but most important to my life (as in I wouldn’t be here without her) is Jane Lydia “Jennie” Densmore was born 18 January 1861 also in Detroit, Michigan. Click on the Jennie and John link above to read about my 4x great-grandmother and her family.

I’ve also found information that there might possibly be 4 additional children, Twins Amanda and Maranda, James M, and John.  It’s possible they were born between Moses and Jennie.

I have hit a wall geneology fans. No further information on Benjamin or maiden name for Elizabeth. Guess…I’ll have to work on a new branch for a while.

Later mystery lovers… xo Velma

PS: One last thing of note…I did notice that the Michigan records are all Densmore. Not Dinsmore, like the New York and New Hampshire records. Not sure why that is. But I wonder. It’s like Nickerson becoming Nicholson on Nantucket I guess…new place…new name.😉


History and Family Mystery: Jennie and John

Howdy folks!  Velma here.  I know.  I know.  I haven’t been around in a while. But I’m back today to talk about  Jennie and John Brander.  Jennie was a Detroit girl, and John was born to Scotish parents in Liverpool.  And for a Michigan girl who loves Brits…this is simply fantastic!


Margery, Jennie, and Em Brander

Jennie was born Lydia Jane Densmore on 18 January 1861 in Detroit, Michigan, to Moses and Lydia Densmore.

Okay…I need to pause just a minute to say that as a Jane Austen fan…how awesome is her name?!  Lydia Jane!  YES!

Anywho…the lovely Jennie was born two months before Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated, and three months before the Civil War broke out.  Her father, Moses Densmore (or possibly Dinsmore/Dinsmoor as you know people in the old times weren’t sticklers for consistent spelling), was born in New Hampshire in 1814.  He married Lydia “Liddie”  Allard on 2 July 1843 in Bolton, Ontario, Canada. Lydia Allard was born 15 August 1820 in New Hampshire to Henry Allard and Mary Elizabeth Fall Allard. I can confirm that they had 6 children:  Laura Ann, Caroline, Phoebe, Moses, and our dear Lydia Jane.  But I have seen a fellow researcher post and additional  4 children:  John, twins Amanda and Maranda, and James M.

John was born John Charles Brander on 31 August 1848 in


John Charles Brander, Detroit, Michigan

Liverpool, Lancashire, England to Colin George Brander and Agnes Fraser Brander.  Queen Victoria had been reigning in England for 29 years when John Charles was born, and continued to do so until 1901.  His father Colin was born 1 June 1813 in Auldearn, Nairnshire, Scotland to James Brander and Christian Munro Brander.  His mother, Agnes Fraser, was born 27 June 1816 to William Fraser and Jean Mitchel Fraser.  She was christened on 5 July 1816 in St. Andrews/St. Leonards in Fife, Scotland.  Colin and Agnes were married 12 February 1836 in St Cuthberts Church in North Leith (Edinburgh), Scotland.  They had 5 children James, Jane, Christeina, Agnes, and John.  Sadly Agnes died when John was only 1 year old in September 1849.

John Charles left England on the William  Penn.  He arrived in New York, New York on 24 November 1868.  He was 20 years old.  He then made his way to Detroit, Michigan.  His father, Colin, wasn’t on the same ship as John, so I’m not sure if he came first or later.  But I found them them both listed in the Charles F. Clark & Co’s annual directory of the City of Detroit for 1871-1872.  They are listed as owners of C.G. Brander & Son.  They were liquor dealers.  They lived and worked out of 20 Grand River Blvd.  In the Hubbell & Weeks Annual Directory of the City of Detroit for 1872, and J.W. Weeks & Co’s Detroit Directory for 1873-74 and 1874-75, they are listed as having a saloon at 20 Grand River, and still living there too.  But on the Detroit City Directory for 1885, Colin is listed as a capitalist living at 295 Harrison Avenue.

Family tales say that John Charles was an artist and was one of the artists who painted the interior murals and decor in the Fox Theatre in Detroit.  I have yet to figure out how to verify this, but that’s what the family says.

Jennie had a job working in a seed store per the 1880 Census.  Sadly for me, I don’t know much more about her than that.  I do have pictures though.  And you know I love those!!


Jennie and John in the late 1920’s in Detroit

I wish I knew how they met or what drew Jennie and John together…but alas the documents I have leave all the fun and juicy bits out.  But I do know that they were married in Detroit, Michigan on 28 December 1882.  They went on to have 7 children; Lydia May, Anna Victoria, Agnes Etta, Emma Florence, Margery Jean (my great-great grandmother), William Charles, and Carolina.

Their love story may be a mystery but I do know that Jennie died 22 January 1930 and John followed within a few days.  They were buried together in Woodmere Cemetery after 47 years of marriage.  This brings tears to my eyes as my Nana, Janice, Jennie’s great-granddaughter, died 11 March 2016, and her husband of 61 years, Harvey, followed 19 days later.


Janice and Harvey in 2011

I guess after so many years of two being one…to live without the other was just too much.

This is one of my favorite pictures of my grandparents.  It shows their silly side.  I miss them.  Every day.

Join us next time when I try to hash out the mystery of the Allards…or maybe the Densmores.  We’ll have to see.  XO Velma


Mysteries and Family History: Civil War Soldiers

Hey all!  Velma here. I know, I know. I’ve been seriously lacking in the family history posting. But I’m hoping to make it up to everyone over the next weeks and months.

Today is all for the Civil War Buffs out there. Today I’m posting a selection of my family’s representation in the War of Northern Aggression (that’s Confederate Tennessean for Civil War).  Members of my ancestral line fought at some of the most famous and infamous battles in the war.  I think it’s awesome that a few of them were in the vicinity of Appomattox when General Lee surrendered.  That’s some serious history right there.  I also found it interesting that Rebel Private Smith was fighting at Chickamauga, where the Yankee Captain Drake was taken prisoner.

If you’re looking to solve the mystery of your family’s Civil War Soldiers, I recommend starting at the NPS Soldiers and Sailors Database. Remember that there may be more than one soldier with your ancestor’s name, so there are other ways to find out exactly which Regiment and Company they were in.  Try searching on Family Search.  It’s free.  I found my information in Tennessee Soldier and Widow Pension Records, US Civil War and Later Pension Index, 1861-1917, 1894 Michigan Census, and 1890 Union Veterans Schedule, among other sources.  If you have an Ancestry.com account you can find the records there too, and are able to attach them to your family tree.


1. William Henry Grizzard (1826-1911) (Great Great Great Grandfather)

William Henry Grizzard, son of Thomas Ambrose Grizzard and Nancy Lewis, fought with the 11th Battalion, Tennessee Calvary (Gordon’s) as a Private in Company D.  The 11th Cavalry Battalion [also called 10th Battalion] was organized in January 1862, with six companies. The men were recruited in Giles, Davidson, DeKalb, and Smith counties.  By April 1862, when it was assigned to General N.R. Beall’s Brigade in the Army of the Mississippi, it contained 32 officers and 357 men. Later, when the battalion merged into the 6th Tennessee Cavalry Regiment, William was a Sergeant in Company D, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel W.W. Gordon and William S. Hawkins.  I’m still rooting out what battles they were involved in.

 2. Josiah Richard “Dick” Smith (1837-1930) (Great Great Great Grandfather)

Josiah, son of Joseph “Josiah” Smith and Michel “Mickey” Shepherd, was born in Tennessee in April 1837.  He enlisted as a Private in the 5th Regiment, Tennessee Calvary (McKenzie’s), Company F.

5th Regiment, Tennessee Cavalry (McKenzie’s), was organized in December, 1862, using the 13th Tennessee Cavalry Battalion as its nucleus. The men were from the counties of Polk, Hamilton, Meigs, McMinn, Bradley, Cocke, Hawkins, and Blount. It served in Scott’s, Humes’, H.B. Davidson’s, and H.M. Ashby’s Brigade. After skirmishing in Kentucky the unit fought at Chickamauga, McMinnville, Shelbyville, and Philadelphia. Later it was involved in various conflicts in Kentucky, Alabama, and Georgia, and then took part in the campaign of the Carolinas. The regiment surrendered with the Army of Tennessee. Its commanders were Colonels George W. McKenzie and John B. McLin, Lieutenant Colonel John G.M. Montgomery, and Major John L. Backwell.


1.  Nathaniel Leonard Corbin 1828-1888 (Great Great Great Great Grandfather)

Nathaniel, son of Nathaniel Corbin and Nancy Ormrick, enlisted as a Private in Company K of the 9th Regiment, New York Heavy Artillery on 16 August 1862 in Ira, New York.  He was promoted to full Corporal on 26 April 1864 in Washington, D.C.

The 9th Regiment was organized at Auburn, New York as the 138th Regiment New York Infantry and mustered in September 8, 1862. The Regiment left New York for Washington, D. C. on 12 September 1862, where they remained on garrison duty until May 1864.  During that time they build and garrisoned Fort Mansfield, Fort Bayard, Fort Gaines and Fort Foote.  They were relieved on 18 May 1864 and ordered to join the Army of the Potomac in the Field.  Company K was involved in The Rapidian Campaign, The Siege of Petersburg, Sheridan’s Shenandoah Campaign,  Appomattox Campaign 28 March-9 April, including being present at Appomattox Court House on April 9th for the surrender of General Lee and his army.

Drake Brothers (Great Great Great Great Uncles)

Bronson, my great, great, great, great grandfather may have died in 1862, but the Drake family was well represented in the Union Army by 4 of his brothers.  In 1859, Byron joined the 2nd U.S. Artillery as an Army Regular.  In 1862, George, Lewis and Milton (aka Milan/Milon) enlisted the 22nd Regiment, Michigan Infantry.  Sadly, the Drake family lost both George and Milton in 1864.

1.  Byron Drake, son of Lewis Franklin Drake and Mary Broadwell, was born 27 February 1838.  He enlisted as a private in the 2nd U.S. Artillery (Regular Army), Battery G, on 5 October 1859.  He served five years, fought at the Battle of Bull Run, Siege of Yorktown, Battle of Fredricksburg, Battle of Gettysburg, and mustered out on 5 October 1864.  After his time in the Army, Byron returned to Michigan and became a carpenter.

2.  George B. Drake, son of Lewis Franklin Drake and Mary Broadwell, was born 21 June 1841.  He enlisted in the 22nd Regiment, Michigan Infantry, Company B as a private.  He gave his life on 20 August 1864 during the Siege of Atlanta, Georgia.

3.  Lewis B. Drake, son of Lewis Franklin Drake and Mary Broadwell, was born 18 May 1830.  He enlisted in the 22nd Regiment, Michigan Infantry, as a Sergeant and mustered out as a Captain.  He served in both Company D and Company G.  He was taken prisoner at the Battle of Chickamauga in September 1863.  He returned to Michigan after the war.

4. Milton M. Drake, also Milan M. or Milon M. Drake, son of Lewis Franklin Drake and Mary Broadwell, was born 9 May 1832.  He enlisted in the 22nd Regiment, Michigan Infantry, Company B as a private.  He gave his life on 22 April 1864 near Chattanooga, Tennessee.  At the time of his death, he was a Corporal.

The 22nd Regiment, Michigan Infantry was organized at Pontiac, Michigan, and mustered in August 29, 1862. The Regiment left Michigan for Kentucky on 4 September 1862.  They were involved in the Battle of Chickamauga, Siege of Chattanooga, and the Siege of Atlanta, Georgia.  The Regiment was attached to the Engineer Brigade in November 1863 and were engaged in building a road from Chattanooga to Brown’s Ferry and laying a pontoon bridge for the crossing of Sherman’s army.

5. George W. Nicholson 1845-1923 (Great Great Great Grandfather)

George, son of John S. Nicholson and Paulina F. Fuller, enlisted in the 2nd Regiment, Massachusetts Cavalry as a private in Company K on 12 August 1862 in Nantucket, Massachusetts. After the War, in the 1880’s, he settled in Owosso, Michigan.

Company K was organized at Camp Meigs, Readville, Massachusetts.  They left for Baltimore, along with Companies, A, B, C and D, and then moved to Fortress Monroe, 12-18 February 1863.  They were then moved to Gloucester Point, Virginia on 19 February.  There they were attached to Calvary Command, 4th Army Corps, Department of Virginia.  There they were engaged in picket, outpost, and scouting duty until July of 1863.  It was there that George was shot in the right leg.  He was mustered out on 4 March 1863 in Farnsworth, Virginia.

George enlisted in the Union Army the second time on 4 January 1864.  But this time he was a private in Company I of the 20th Regiment, Massachusetts Infantry.  The 20th Massachusetts Infantry was organized at Readville 29 August to 4 September 1861. When George arrived they were attached to the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps, Army of the Potomac, until March, 1864. They were then attached to the 1st Brigade, 2nd Division, 2nd Army Corps, until the end of his duty.  He was involved in the Campaign from the Rapidan to the James, Siege of Petersburg.  He was also among those present at Appomattox Court when General Lee surrendered.  He mustered out in June of 1865.  In 1881, George moved to Owosso, Michigan.

Hope you enjoyed this!



Mysteries and Family History: Immigration of the Polaseks

Baltimore, Passenger ListsJozef PolasekI recognize that this is very hard to read.  But it is the actual ship manifest from 1902 in which Frank Polasek and his family entered the United States.  It’s rare that I can actually find the ship manifest, so these are a great treasure.  You can get a lot of information from these manifests, although sometimes the information is unreadable or not complete.  This one is complete and readable.  Woohoo!

What this tells me is the last city they lived in before coming to the United States was Dúbrava in the Austria Hungarian Empire.  Dúbrava is now within the borders of Croatia.  It also tells me they sailed from Bremen, Germany (as many Eastern European immigrants did) and entered Baltimore, Maryland in July of 1902.  It also gives ages, tells us they came from Croatia (even though they were actually were Czech).  It tells us that they had $300 with them and they are going to Cleveland, Ohio.

It also tells us that Frank had lived in St. Paul, Minnesota from 1892-1902.  (I found records of him coming into New York, New York on 12 February  1892). Usually one or two of the family members would come here and once they were settled, send for the family.  In this case, Frank went back to get his family.

Here are the names and ages listed for the family:

Franz (Frank) Polasek, age 45, is listed as a farmer.

Kata (Katherine) Polasek age 39

Mathias Polasek age 14

Elisabeth Polasek age 13

Jozef (Joseph) Polasek age 9

Franz (Frank) Polasek age 4

Jan (John) Polasek age 3

Benedikt (Benedict) Polasek age 2

Mary, Patrick and George were all born in the United States.

Since Mary was born in Cleveland in 1903 we know that the family did travel to Cleveland.  And Since Patrick was born in Owosso in 1904, we know that the family didn’t stay long in Cleveland, Ohio.  I could not find the family on the 1910 Federal Census, but I did find Frank, Katherine, John, Benedict, Patrick and George on the 1920 Census in Owosso, Michigan.  In 1920, Mathias was living in Chicago, Illinois, and Joseph, Frank Jr, and Mary were all living in Pontiac, Michigan.

Until next time… Much love, Velma

Mysteries and Family History-President Theodore Roosevelt & Eleanor Roosevelt

One of the women I’ve looked up to and admired is Eleanor Roosevelt.  Imagine my surprise when I discovered that I share a set of ancestors with her!  To say I was pumped is an understatement!!  It made me pull my shoulders back sit up straight and say “If she can be a world changer, so can I!”  After all we do share some DNA!  Right?  Right!  And since President Theodore Roosevelt was Eleanor’s uncle, so we also share DNA with a president.  (Sweeeeet!)

The ancestors we share are Abraham Issacse VerPlanck and Maria De La Vigne (also records of her as Marie Vigne).  They are Teddy and Eleanor’s ancestors through their daughter Catalyn/Catalina.

Catalyn VerPlanck-> Maria Schuyler -> Lydia VanDyck ->Cornelius Van Schaick Jr -> Maria Van Schaick -> Cornelius Van Schaack Roosevelt -> Theodore Roosevelt Sr (Father of President Theodore Roosevelt) -> Elliott Roosevelt -> Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

They are also ancestors of Eleanor’s Mother, Anna Hall, through their son Guleyn.

Guleyn VerPlanck -> Samuel VerPlanck -> Guleyn VerPlanck -> Ann VerPlanck -> Gabriel Verplanck Ludlow -> Edward Hunter Ludlow -> Mary Livingston Ludlow -> Anna Rebecca Ludlow -> Anna Eleanor Roosevelt.

They are my ancestors through their daughter Ariaantje and her husband Melgert.

Ariaantje VerPlanck (1646-1692)-> Wynant Melgertse Van Der Poel (1681-1750) -> Anthony Vanderpool (1717-1775) -> Anthony Vanderpool (1749-1840)-> Richard “Dirk” Vanderpool (1784-1850) -> William C. Vanderpool (1803-1898) -> William B. Vanderpool (1826-1885) -> Almeda Vanderpool (1848-1882) -> John Henry Hoover (1869-1946) ->Eliza Ellen Hoover (1890-1978) -> Kenneth Clayton Clark (1911-1991)

A little bit about Abraham and Maria

Abraham Issacse VerPlanck was born in what is now Reusel-de Mierden, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands in 1606.  Interestingly enough, this was the same year that, the famous Dutch painter, Rembrandt van Rijn was born.  It is also about half way through the Eighty Years War (when the Dutch were seeking independence from Spain).  About a year after his arrival in Nieuw Nederland, Abraham married Maria De La Vigne in 1634 in Nieuw Amsterdam (Now known as New York, New York).  Maria De La Vigne was born in Nieuw Nederland in 1613.  Her parents, Adrienne Cuvellier and Guleyn De La Vigne, were both from Valenciennes, France.

A little bit about Ariaantje and Melgert

Ariaantje was born in 1646 in Albany, Nieuw Nederland. That’s right! Our people were here when New York was still under Dutch control and was called Nieuw Nederland.  Ariaantje married Melgert Wynantse Van Der Poel in Albany on 4 December 1668.  Melgert was born 2 December 1646 in Beverwyck, Nieuw Nederland and died 19 September 1710 in Albany, New York.  Melgert owned a sawmill, bought and sold real estate, and also participated in the fur trade. In 1686, he was appointed assistant alderman by the governor under the new city charter. He later served as a firemaster and juror. In 1699, he signed a loyalty oath to the king of England. This was required of everyone living in Nieuw Nederland when the English took control.  He was also fined by the city of Albany for having Native Americans in his house.

Hope you enjoyed this little history and mystery lesson.

Love Velma

PS  The “se” on the end of the middle name means “son of” the “je” means “daughter of.”

PSS Ariaantje is the Dutch version of Adrienne.

PSSS Want to know about Beverwyck and early Nieuw Nederland?  Check this out: http://www.nysm.nysed.gov/albany/beverwyck.html

PSSSS We are also related to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt through Maria De La Vigne.  Before she married Abraham, she was married to Jan Roos.  They had a son Gerrit Janse Roos.  Through him Maria is the ancestor of FDR.  Meaning we share ancestors with 2 presidents and a first lady.  Sweeeeeet!


Mysteries and Family History_William H Grizzard and Mary Louisa Hawkes

My great-grandmother is Rebecca Nina Grizzard Nicholson.  She was born in Clarksville, Tennessee in 1910 to William Jackson “Bud” Grizzard and Fredonia “Dona” Smith.  Both of Rebecca’s grandfathers (William Henry Grizzard and Josiah Richard Smith) fought for the Confederacy, being Tennesseans and all.  This is interesting since her husband’s grandfather, George W. Nicholson (See:  https://jillbeingstill.com/2013/04/16/nicholson_historymystery/ for further information) fought for the Union Army.

Anyway I said all that to say that today’s Mystery and History was that when I found the marriage record for Bud’s parents, William Henry Grizzard and Mary Louisa, his mother’s name was Mary Louisa Grizzard.  I nearly fainted!  I was like OH NO!  Please don’t be marrying your cousin or sister William Henry!  That’s so not ok!

So I set out to prove that my Grizzards weren’t related.  But alas, they were!!!!  Mrs. Mary Louisa Grizzard was the widow of  Lewis H. Grizzard, William Henry’s brother.  Ahhh.  Wait.  What?   Here’s the rest of the story….

William and Lewis are two of the 5 children of Thomas Ambrose Grizzard (1803-1854) and Nancy Lewis Grizzard (1802-1860).  William is the oldest, born 12 March 1826 in North Carolina before the Grizzards set out for Tennessee.  Lewis was born in 1832 in Tennessee.  Their other siblings are Sarah (1836-1863), Ambrose J (1839-1860) and Major Tiller (1842-1934).   The Grizzards started out in Virginia (after emigrating from France) and went to North Carolina, then Tennessee.


William Henry Grizzard married Susanna Kennedy on the 4th of July 1847 in Tennessee.  They are next found in Saline, Arkansas on the 1850 Federal Census, where William is working as a brick mason.  They have 2 children at this time Ambrose Davie, age 2, and Lewis Edward, 4 months.  Their home is worth $100.  Sadly Ambrose died a year later, at the age of 3.  They also had a son William Johnson (1853-1856).

Per the 1860 Federal Census, William is now a 34 year old farmer whose land is worth $250.  Susanna is now 28, and Lewis is now 10 and their daughter Dora Ann is 3 years old.  Several months later, on September 24, 1860, Susanna dies.

Sometime between 24 September 1860 and 2 December 1861 William returns to Tennessee.  I know this because he enlisted as a private in the Confederate army on 2 December 1861.  Per his Civil War Soldier Profile, he was assigned to Company D in the Tennessee 11th Cavalry Battalion on 24 December 1861.


Lewis H. Grizzard was living in Davidson County, Tennessee in 1850 with his parents, and working as a laborer.  Around 1856 Lewis married Mary Louisa Hawkes, daughter of John Randolph Hawkes and Ann Eliza Foster.  In 1860, Lewis and Lou (as she’s called) are living on his parents farm.  He’s 26 and working as a carpenter and she’s 20.  They have one daughter, Anna who’s a year old.  Then in August 1860 John Franklin “Frank” Grizzard is born.

When Lou is pregnant for their 3rd child, Louella “Eller” Grizzard, Lewis dies in 1862.  I’m not sure how or the exact date, but he dies.  Eller was born in 1863.

William and Louisa 

William returns from fighting in the Civil War in 1864 and marries his brother’s widow.  I’m not sure if this was joining forces to raise their combined 5 children, if they genuinely fell in love or both.  But I can tell you on 22 November 1864 Mary Louisa Hawkes Grizzard and William Henry Grizzard got married.

That next year, my gg grandfather, William Jackson “Bud” Grizzard was born.  Followed by Henry Thorton, Amanda Jane, Mattie Louise, Carrie, George Coffey and Cora Lee.

That’s all for now.  Til Next Time….Velma

Major Tiller GrizzardPS   This is a photo of Major Tiller.  (BIG thank you to Scott Grizzard for loading this on Ancestry).  Major Tiller (Tyler) did fight in the Civil War. But Major is his actual first name, not a title.  Which is random and cool.  He actually fought at the battle of Shiloh and was later captured by the Union army and helt at Ft. Delaware until the end of the War (per his obituary). Almost makes me want to buy a Confederate flag, but I’m also a Nicholson, and we don’t do that. 🙂

Mysteries and Family History: George W. Nicholson

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!

Love Velma