Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 10

It was a spectacular day. The weather was gorgeous and the genealogy fabulous.

I drove to Hastings, MI and its library where I found lists of Richardsons and Coats (Davenport side) in the Fuller Cemetery books. No plot map but I figured I'd wing it. (Note to self - next time stop at the county clerk's and figure out where the relatives are buried rather than combing each row on foot!). With the help of the Blackberry internet access and the GPS I located the Fuller Cemetery - back roads R Us. The Coats' were in the next to last section I chose but I was thrilled to find gg grandparents, assorted cousins, uncles, aunts and more.

I then made my way to Coats Grove. I am not sure I was ever there as a child but then 4 houses and a crossroads may not have stuck in my memory. This small burg was named for George Washington Coats, an early settler having arrived from Springwater, NY in the 1850's. He married Abby Jane Richardson (see photos).

He built a lovely yellow brick home which is still standing. Now I had no idea what this house looked like but on the barn is a large sign that says GW Coats and a Michigan "100 years farm owned by the same family sign" was out in front. I swung into the driveway and a man was working out front. I asked to take some photos and came to find out he is Ron Coats - son of Max, grandson of George Edwin, gg of GW Coats - we are 3rd cousins! He remembered my father and visiting the Maples. He then called a relative who had been working on genealogy for Coats' and Chase's. She came over, we adjourned to the local (Woodland) pizza parlor and investigated her two 5" binders of material. Way to much information to take in - Becky has done a fabulous job. Upshot is that she will scan/copy the material and send it to me - Whooppee! Just a note - Ron has an old aluminum record that must be played with a wooden needle. The recording is of Eugene Davenport giving a speech. Ron will try to have it copied and send that along as well.

I then went east one mile and north one mile to Davenport Road and the Maples. It looks lovely as always and a nice reminder of our childhood. Across the road is gg George Martin Davenport's home (see left). In need of some paint but basically looks very good. The big barn (which is what I really remember about that farm) still stands.
I then made my way to the Woodland Cemetery. More graves than I remembered (not too surprising) but found dad's grave, the rest of the Tukeys, the Davenports and a slew of Chases. Ann had planted geraniums on front of each of the Tukey graves and their lovely red flowers made a nice contrast with the gray stones. A very sentimental moment for me especially because dad, Uncle Loren and Grandpa T all had flags in memory of their military service and to honor the 4th of July.
Finally, Fiona (after much arguing with me) directed me safely back to E Lansing and another wonderful supper with Ann and Michael. Off to Ohio in the morning!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 9

My head is full. I spent the day with Ann and Michael Harrison (Ann is my father's younger sister) and she downloaded a wealth of information faster than I could write or photograph. We found photos in an old album including the house in Millburn, IL that belonged to William Bradford Dodge (1783-1869). He retired as an educator in New York having established and run a school for blacks in the 1820s and became a lay minister in IL. (William was James Bradford Tukey's grandfather). We then found a wonderful letter from JBT talking about his growing up in New Jersey and Illinois before settling in Berwyn. Included in the aforementioned album are photos of the family home in Ridgefield Park, NJ plus photos of the Mehrhof home. A wealth of finds remains to be quantified and digitized.

Then it was on to the Schweigert and Meyers families - grandma Ruth's kin. We found lots of photos of GG George S (grandpa sweet pickle to Brad), GG Amanda S., Meyers parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, etc., etc. All from the Detroit area. Although the last name Schweigert appears to be German, the family came from Jutland - Denmark with many Scandanavian customs. Much more to research but we have a beginning. Below are photos of William and Augusta Meyers, grandma Ruth's grandparents. Also Amanda Louisa Ida Meyers Schweigert - grandma's mother.

A final treat was Michael's fascinating story of his life and family. What an amazing tale of immigrants coming with no English language, 34 cents to their name, several children, and a church sponsor to help them establish a farm. Guts and ingenuity helped them found a successful gravel business instead. Michael's grandfather on the other side was a Rabbi, his father a successful lawyer in Chicago. All of these traits came together in the wonderful Harvard educated physicist we know as Uncle Michael. Of course behind all this data collection and story telling is Aunt Ann - a most cheerful, brilliant lady of whom I still need to ask more questions about her academic accomplishments. There just isn't enough time!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 8

It is hard to believe I have been on the road a week. Time is already passing quickly.

Travel out of Chicago was uneventful and I got to the Michigan border by noon even with the time change. I made my way to Jamestown Township - south of Grand Rapids. I managed to find the cemetery and after some wondering, lo and behold there was Eliza Jane Densmore Richardson. And a host of other Richardsons. Eliza is my GGG grandmother - on the Tukey-Davenport-Coats side. What a thrill to actually locate the right grave in the right cemetery. There are several other siblings and spouses buried at the sight and I was able to verify dates. However, Eliza's husband Charles Richardson was not buried there.
I then made my way to the Jamestown municipal building where the clerk gave me a box of information on the four local cemeteries. No luck finding Charles in any of them. However, Charles died in Boston township (Saranac, MI) so... since it was on the way to E. Lansing, Fiona and trekked down the road 30 miles and out into more picturesque towns and cornfields. This time I went right to the town clerk's office since I knew nothing about the local cemeteries. Wonder of wonders, the office is open from 1-5 on Mondays and I got there at 4:15. The lovely lady gave me diagrams of the local cemeteries. Each plot has the handwritten name of the plot purchaser. Only one Richardson but not one I recognized. However, there were bunches of Densmores!! We have never known who Eliza's parents were but I may have found some siblings or cousins. Need to do more research - a project for later in July.
Finally at 5pm I called Aunt Ann and let her know I was not lost but just leaving the latest home of dead relatives. I arrived at Ann and Michaels at 6. Wonderful to see them and to catch up on all the latest news. I am now ensconced with my electronics and paper spread around me. I really take up a lot of room when I move in. Tomorrow - more graveyards! Manna to a genealogist.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 7

It was an at home day. Laundry was a top priority. Pam and Jay's children - Baker and wife Dana and Alex and boyfriend Adam came for brunch. Great conversations and great young people. Both live in the Chicago area and enjoy their interesting jobs.

The rest of the day was quiet. Lois and I spent a long time on Google maps looking for all the family homes in Geneva, NY - now I should be set. Meanwhile, I have eaten too well and must exercise like crazy at every rest stop tomorrow. Off the Jamestown in the morning and gravesites for the Richardsons and Densmores.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 6

A nice morning with Lois - she set a lovely table and artistically arranges all the components of your meal on a plate for every meal. I can't believe the attention to detail.

About 10am we headed for Berwyn, a western suburb of Chicago. It is here that James Bradford Tukey (the other G grandparents on my dad's side) and Hugh and Elizabeth Atkinson (G grandparents on my mom's side) live in the first quarter of the 20th century. With a detailed street map book from cousin Jay, Lois and I began to track down addresses. James and Armenia lived on Harold Ave. in 1900 and were at 3122 Harold Ave. in 1920. By 1930, it was 3122 Clinton Ave. Meanwhile, Hugh and Elizabeth lived at 3305 Harold Ave in 1910, 3329 Irving Ave. in 1920 and 3329 Kenilworth Ave in 1930. Since the house numbers remained the same, I figured that between 1920 and 1930 Berwyn and Cicero officially became separate towns and renamed the streets.

Against all odds, we arrived at the Clinton address and the house was still standing. It is three stories although the top floor is probably just an attic. The back looks like an addition was put on sometime in the last several decades. The porch is different than the original. Lois remembers her family living on the top floor with her grandparents on the main floor while grandpa Tukey got his PhD at the University of Chicago. And yes - Emerson Elementary School is still across the street. Lois had the back bedroom while Dad and Loren were in the front south and grandma and grandpa in the front north. That all changed when dad got chicken pox. He had to sleep in the bedroom alone, got special toys, and they even put a swing in the doorway for him. Lois and Loren were told not play with Ron, the toys or the swing or they too would get chicken pox. So of course they did - and they did. When James and Armenia first moved to the Clinton street home, it was a house in the middle of a field. No other houses around and James could wait til he heard the training whistle blowing before running the three blocks to the station. Today it nestled amongst other houses which have a more traditional look (suburbia 1910-1930) rather than an 1870s farmhouse.

We have always had a funny family story that if my grandmother Maggie (mom's mom) had looked out her window in 1930 she would have seen her future son-in-law walking to kindergarten. Hate to tell you mom, but that story is pure fiction. Your grandparents lived three blocks south of the RR station while the Tukeys lived 3 blocks north - and dad only had to walk across the street to school. However, we found the Atkinson house - also 3 stories and also in good shape. It has a nice big backyard, lots of flowers and looks well lived.

Moving north to Oak Park we also looked in on the homes were Hugh's sister Nina and her husband James Taylor lived on Euclid Ave ( 329 S and 405 N). Being in Oak Park these houses were larger. The 405 house must have a least 6 bedrooms on 1/4 acre, huge trees, a screened porch, etc.

The remainder of the day was spent with odds and ends of chores and chatter.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 5

It is late so this will be short. I had a quiet morning, leaving Barbara's about 1pm. 2 hours later I was in Chicago and 2 hours after that I finally arrived at Pam, Jay and Lois' - in Chicago. Although I had overall directions from Pam and Fiona was programmed, I still made a delightful loop through S Chicago - costing me 80 cents in tolls along the way, found the Dixie highway which had little traffic at 4pm, and finally got to the Dan Ryan Expressway which was crowded but moving. Fiona hiccuped and I got off at the wrong ramp and headed for Chinatown. Knowing this was wrong, even if Chinese food was on the dinner menu, I made a few turns, went east and south and ended up on North Shore drive. The lake was lovely. I gave a friendly wave to the Natural History museum where we spent many happy hours as children. Fiona hiccuped again and I headed off at Randolph and a maze of underground streets - where I lost satellite coverage and had to guess my way back to the surface. Amazingly, we made Lois' by 5pm - intact.

Lois and I spent the evening looking at old records and pictures. Refreshing my memories and hers on childhood happenings, train rides to grandparents' homes, and attempting to sort out obscure people in photos. Tomorrow - off to Berwyn and Oak Park.

Day 4

Sorry this is late - no internet for 36 hours!!

Another great day for research. Another challenging day with electronics.

The boxes in the "20s" of the Davenport archives are filled with family photos and adventures. Sure enough, GG Davenport did publish a book on his trip in the west. It includes valuable information on how many burros to take when camping and traversing the Rockies (2 for 4 people unless you are taking folding tables, then you need 3 burros). Burrows are all basically stubborn but can be handled if you have confidence. They will test neophytes by lying down and moaning. Do not take this as a near death experience (for the burro) but only a bid to stay in the barn and not join your adventure. The book was too long to copy but our terrific archivist Brian arranged for the university library's scanning division to scan the book and make it available on the library website. Should be completed in a few weeks. By the way, GG Davenport spend his 75th birthday at the bottom of the Grand Canyon - we should all do so well.

Lots of photos of grandmother Margaret Davenport as a young girl. We also found a period photo of the "farm house" on the U of I campus - the Mumford house that we had photographed the day before. Margaret was born in the parlor. We also have great interior shots of the 807 S. Wright Street home the Davenports built in 1905.

(One research note - we found studio photos of 10-12 faculty families in E. Davenport's files. We wondered if their families knew those photos exist or if they had copies. Too bade they are not cross referenced. It makes me think that in my research, I should peruse the files of more prominent people to find potential tidbits on our family.)

We left Urbana about noon and Fiona directed me to I-74 and Lafayette. At Danville, Fiona got a wild hair and sent me off through the cornfields, 2-lane roads, ad gravel washboards of rural Indiana. I waved to any number of farmers on tractors. It was wonderfully reminiscent of my childhood particularly the undulating waves of tree-covered hills broken by cultivated fields. Sure enough, I emerged on highway 26, a familiar route. I found Rooker road which is no longer called that and the entrance to our Windwood property. The once soybean fields are now home to 6,000 square foot luxury homes. The old farm houses that used to line the gravel road from our property to the highway are mostly gone and replaced with more modern structures.

From there I turned left on Klondike Road and, much to Fiona's disgust, drove past the turn to Barbara Greene's and made my way to Klondike School. The elementary buildings are still there although altered with a new front entry and a new middle school. The old junior/senior high is long gone. A look across the highway reveals that Burghorn's farm is also long gone replaced with a Manard's (like Lowe's) store. Retracing my steps, I also found 1821 Summit Drive, our first home in W. Lafayette. The house looks very small and the trees very large. The neighborhood is cooler and dimmer, not the open, sun-drenched lawns we used to gambol across. Finally, I made my way to Barbara's. She is 89 this year but sharp as a tack. We had a lovely natter and dinner at the independent living restaurant. Tomorrow we are off to an art exhibit and then I head to Chicago.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Day 3

A terrific day!! Pam and I managed to find the gym in the bottom of the Illini Union building - no towels but lots of sweat. We have hoofed our way - the long/wrong way every time we wanted to find a new building on campus (we have a map but are both spacially challenged). We managed to find Davenport hall - now home to geography, not agriculture. We found Mumford Hall, the new Ag. building (1925) and found GG Davenport's giant portrait in the Dean's office as looking much better than everyone else's. :-)

We had a grand time in the Archives of the university library. Brian, the librarian, was wonderful. Pulled boxes of materials. We read through endless speeches and monographs. Found photos, an old receipt (recipe) book of Ester Sutton Davenport from, 1830 (Eugene Davenport's mother), some interesting tidbits of information AND a letter from 1858 from Abraham Lincoln talking about his initial debate with Stephen Douglas. The letter was written to J. O. Cunningham, Esq who then gave it to GG Davenport. We let the archivist know that there was a genuine A. Lincoln signature in box #1. Too bad we can't take it to the Antiques Roadshow.

Tomorrow - on to boxes 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25 - hope to be on the road to Lafayette, IN by 1pm!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Day 2

Only eight hours of driving today - Independence, MO to Urbana, IL. Today was a later start but I am getting the hang of being on the road. The humidity is obvious. The expanses of blue skies have given way to permanent blue haze. The flora and fauna are those of my childhood. Endless soaring hawks - more numerous here because of the abundance of small animals and thus the smaller territory per hawk. Tall cottonwoods and oaks as I approach the Mississippi.
Clumps of orange day lilies, finally the queen anne's lace appeared outside of Columbia, MO.

Fiona - the GPS lady has me headed for St. Louis. I wanted to avoid major highways so frustrated her completely by turning north and heading for Hannibal, MO. I got glimpses of the old road - narrow and twisting, following the gullies and contours of the land. Gladish HS (Pullman, WA) appeared in Hannibal. Three stories of brick, tall windows and, I am sure, wooden floors. Had a great walk by the Mississippi inspecting river boats and flowers. On the Illinois side were more limestone cliffs, CORN, and soy beans. Not much traffic. Not much construction - amazing. Much bigger farms on this side of the river. Missouri had many little farms all with a traditional white 2-story house, pillars and covered veranda.

My cousin Pam has just arrived from Chicago - looks great - very thin. Tomorrow she and I head for the U of I library archives to explore boxes of paper and photos from GG Davenport (former head of the Dept. of Agriculture and university VP). Here was here from 1900 - 1922 before returning home to Michigan. The family exploring begins!

Monday, June 21, 2010

It is hard to believe it is still day 1 - but yes, I left the house at 6am and yes, I got to Kansas City by 5:30 pm even with the time change. Weather was great - just hot (95).

As I left Colorado Springs, I could see Pikes Peak in the rear view mirror and thought about what a joyous event that must have been to pioneers. In the middle of Kansas, every direction looks the same. Flat horizon, no trees, and endless blue sky. It is gorgeous but must have gotten monotonous and disorienting.

This reflection also caused me to realize that my relatives did not make this journey until the mid 20th century. For the most part, families connected to the Tukeys and Williams' were early settlers to the new world. Most everyone was here before 1850. They wanted land (a typical English-Irish-Scotch definition of wealth) but the frontier to them was western New York, Ohio, Michigan, western North Carolina and Kentucky. Boston felt crowded by 1735 - amazing - so we find the younger Sweetsers and Cushings moving to Portland, ME. We find Coats' burned out during the Revolutionary War in Connecticut and taking advantage of military land grants in upstate New York. Kennedys were on the move from Maryland and Pennsylvania by 1760 and first in line to go to Kentucky with Daniel Boone. Why everyone was contented with their homes by 1850s and disinclined to move farther west is hard to know. Obviously many other families' ancestors made the journey I did today but in reverse. Food for thought, more research to do.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 1

It is officially June 21, 2010, a date I have been looking forward to for more than a year. I am taking a five month sabbatical - what a fabulous concept for renewal and excitement. Genealogy is a passion so I am finally indulging myself. I leave in a few hours to search for eastern relatives - some breathing, some not. My goal is to leave by 6am (it is now 12:15 am so I better hurry up and finish) and make Kansas City tomorrow night.

This blog is my effort to chronicle my adventure. I just hope I have figured out how to set it up correctly. The terror factor is right up the along with all the other electronic devices I have acquired to "ease" my journey and research.

I look forward to lots of family information, breathtaking scenary, lots of laughs, unexpected experiences and a new perspective on my future. I hope you will join me for the next 150 days!