Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Seeking Joseph - What I currently know

Joseph Roberts

Joseph Roberts was born to Russell W Roberts and his wife Maheltable Fuller on July 9, 1846 in Nelson township, Halton county, Ontario, Canada.  He married Cecelia Gillem about 1868, but I do not know where (I am assuming Canada, so that is where I will start my hunt).

Joseph and Cecelia were the parents of seven children:  William H Roberts, Robert James Robert, Charles Fredrick Roberts, George H Roberts, Elizabeth L. Roberts, Sarah L. Roberts and Alfred "Alf" C Roberts (my great grandfather).

Joseph, Cecelia and I believe their first six children immigrated from Canada to Harbor Beach about 1878 and their youngest child, Alfred was born in Harbor Beach.  I've been told that Joseph worked for the Coast Guard (though I have nothing to verify this information currently).  And Joseph loved to play the fiddle, and because he was left handed he learned to play a right handed one upside down.

Joseph passed away April 28, 1911 in Harbor Beach, Huron county, Michigan, USA due to pneumonia caused by a case of the measles, and his wife Cecelia had predeceased him by about seven months, having died September 22, 1910 from myocardial degeneration.  Both are buried at the Rock Falls Cemetery just outside of Harbor Beach.

Courtesy of Find-A-Grave website
Photo uploaded by Scott Buschlen 2004

Now that I know what I know ... I can start to fill in the blanks of those items I don't know. 

1) I'd like to find a record of Joseph and Cecelia's marriage in Canada.  I will check Ancestry.com to start with, and then move to the Canadian Archives.
2) I need to find some pictures of Joseph and Ceclia.  I will check with my mother and see if she has any she can scan and send to me, and then maybe get the email addresses of any family members that might be able to help me as well.
3) I need to find pictures of any of their children.  I know I have at least one picture of Alfred (my great grandfather), but I'm sure someone should have more somewhere.   I will see if anyone else on Ancestry.com has uploaded a tree with Joseph and Cecelia as common ancestors.
4) And I need to inventory the media that I do have already, so that I don't duplicate work I've done over the last couple years.  And I need to document my research and source going forward, since I am not real sure what I have already found.  I believe I recently found both Joseph and Cecelia's death certificates on the Seeking Michigan website, and I believe I have at least the 1900 and 1910 Federal Census.

As you can see, I've got some work to do ... so best get to it.

Thanks for stopping by. :o) Until next time.

Love & Aloha,
Cuzn Amy

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Seeking Joseph

While looking over a calendar of family events for the month of April to come up with some ideas for a couple new blog posts, I realized that next month would be the 100th anniversary of the passing of my 2nd great grandfather Joseph Roberts.   And I thought wouldn't it be nice to write up his family history as a post, sort of an In Memorium. 

So I opened up my Family Tree Maker program to see what information and media I had that I could use, including a Family Group Sheet with his wife Ceclia (Gillem) Roberts and seven children, and as a child in the family of Russell and Maheltable (Fuller) Roberts (of which he is the only known child currently).  Quickly I came to the sad realization that this branch of mine has been slightly neglected and looks a lot like swiss cheese.  I have a lot of "about" dates, and "unknown" names and places that need some additional research completed before I'm ready to post any sort of formal history.

So instead, I've decided to post a series of blog entries over the next 30 days about my attempts to fill in the gaps.  I hope you will join me on my journey as I attempt to "Seek Joseph".

Love and Aloha,
Cuzn Amy

Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Triangle Factory Fire -- 100 Years Later

On the afternoon of Saturday, March 25, 1911 a fire broke out at the Triangle Waist Factory.  One hundred and forty-six employees lost their lives that day, and seventy-one were injured in one of the deadliest industrial disasters in New York, and the fourth deadliest in the history of the United States since the start of the Industrial Revolution. 

Horse Drawn Fire Truck En Route To Fire
Newspaper headlines across the nation on Sunday, March 26, 1911 carried the horrific story of the fire to the World.  Survivors recounted the horrors they endured, and passers-by told stories of the pain, helplessness and terror they witnessed that day.  A list of names of the Italian women who were identified appeared on the front page of the Italian-language New York City daily Il Progresso Italo-Americano.

The Chicago Sunday Tribune headlines read "New York Fire Kills 148", "Rescuers Are Helpless While Scores Plunge Down Ten Stories", and "Few Are Saved In Nets".

The San Francisco Chronicle ran the following headlines: "148 Meet Death In A New York Factory Fire", "Girls in Panic Leap to Death or Perish in the Flame of Fire Trap", and "Sickening Scenes Witnessed By Big Crowd In Streets".

The Library of Congress website Chronicling America provides several other newspaper articles that were printed over the next year as the investigation and eventual manslaughter trial against the co-owners Isaac Harris and Max Blank concluded with them being found not guilty.

The Triangle Waist Company had approximately 500 employees on their books at the time of the fire.  Most of the workers were young female immigrants, some as young as 14.  Of the 146 victims, 129 were women and 17 were men between the ages of 15 and 43.  Employees in the clothing industry would work approximately 9 hours during a weekday, and 7 hours on Saturdays and were usually paid "per piece".  Needless to say, working conditions were harsh and unsafe at best.  As a result of the public outcry and wave of sympathy for working women the Factory Investigating Commission was established, which went on to draft new legislation which mandated improved working and safety conditions for factory workers.

Of the 146 victims, several victims remained unidentified at the time of their burial.  There were buried together in a quiet ceremony which observed Jewish, Catholic and Protestant rites, since the faith of the deceased was unknown at that time.  In the weeks that followed several of these victims were identified as families came to realize their loved ones were not among the injured.  Until February 2011, six of the these victims were unidentified. 

Cornell University has long been considered the definitive research repository for the Triangle Factory Fire.  The university hosts a website entitled "Remembering the Triangle Factory Fire".  The Kheel Center at Cornell University is one of a number of repositories and agencies that worked with Mr. Michael Hirsch, and experienced genealogist, and exchange information and contacts with him. As a result of his tireless research, Hirsch has recently rediscovered the names of the six unidentified victims.

On March 22, 2011, Thomas R Lansner, an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs, published "The Triangle Fire 100th Anniversary: Heroic Moments, Everyday Courage" in The Morningside Post at Columbia University about the heroic acts and everyday courage exhibited by his Great Aunt Fannie Lansner who died in the Triagle Factory Fire. 

Churches, schools and firehouses across the nation are joining together with Remember The Triangle Fire Coalition on Friday, March 25, 2011 at 4:45pm EST to commemorate this event by ringing bells ... at the exact moment when the first alarm went out.

Though I personally have no family members that were involved in this tragic event in New York, I was touched by the story a year ago when I watched a documentary online one day.  Of my four grandparents, only my Grandpa Fred Arntz would have been living when the fire broke out.  He would have been 3 years old, and I can only speculate that the story found its way to the newspapers of Harbor Beach sometime soon after and was watched by the community members if not my great grandparents with some interest over the next year. 

Remember ... don't pass up opportunities to interview your older family relatives about major events that happened during their lifetimes.  After all, the best story is "the rest of the story" according to Paul Harvey ... which could surprise you by becoming a part of your story.

Love and Aloha,
Cuzn Amy

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hometown USA

Hometown USA

(Reprinted from The House of Seven Giggles blog - dated May 14, 2010)

So what do you blog about when you can blog about anything … ???  That question has been racking my brain everyday this week.  I’ve even researched the internet for some daily blog theme ideas, and wrote them down on a post-it (which has been filed away safely somewhere in the bottom of my purse) but so far I haven’t found the right blog theme, let alone enough time to be consistent with writing.

But since today is Friday, and I want to continue my Family Tree Friday theme … I decided to write about my “hometown”.  In family history … knowing “who you are” is just as important as knowing “where you come from”.  And I am lucky to have one of the best hometowns in the world. :o)

Welcome to

Harbor Beach, Michigan

Population +/- 1,700

Harbor Beach is located on the western shore of Lake Huron in Huron County, Michigan, at the intersections of Michigan Highway 25 (between Forestville and Port Hope) and Michigan Highway 142 (West to Bad Axe).   The city limits are approximately 2 square miles, surrounded by either farm land or lake water.

It is the home of the world’s largest man-made fresh water harbor, and boasts the longest fishing pier that is handicap accessible.  The best known landmark is the Harbor Beach Lighthouse, which is on the north breakwater wall.  It was first lit in 1885, and by 1968 it was changed to an automated system.  Today it is run remotely by the US Coast Guard from Saginaw, Michigan.

Terry Pepper has an excellent website “Seeing the Light – Lighthouses of the Western Great Lakes” about various lighthouses in the Great Lakes region.  You can find more information on the history of Harbor Beach Lighthouse at http://www.terrypepper.com/Lights/huron/harbrbeach/harborbeach.htm

The center of town is the corners of State Street and  Huron Avenue, and the Harbor Beach Community House is located on the northeast corner.  This building currently houses the local movie theater, gymnasium and public library, and the common rooms are used for local organizations and club meetings -- like the Harbor Beach Lions Club (of which my Grandpa Fred Arntz was an active member most of his life).  You can find more history on the Harbor Beach Community House at http://harborbeachchamber.com/community_house.

The earliest settlers to this area arrived in 1837, where they established a sawmill for processing lumber.  The settlement was named Barnettsville in 1855, and later became the Village of Sand Beach.  In 1899, the village changed its name to Harbor Beach, because the previous name gave the impression that the area was nothing but sand.  In 1910, Harbor Beach was officially incorporated into a city.

The earliest Huron County residents in my family tree were either in the fishermen, lumbermen or farmers (dairy or sugar beets).  The largest private employer was probably the Huron Milling Company, which several of my extended family worked for.  The Huron Milling Company created the local hospital in 1920 on the corner of Broad and First Street for their employees. (See http://hbch.org/about_us-c.html for more history on the hospital) By 1963 the hospital opened its doors to all local residents, and so this is hospital where I was born in 1968.

All the branches of my family, on both my maternal and paternal sides, come from either the Harbor Beach area or from the areas immediately surrounding Harbor Beach in Huron County and Sanilac County.  The Wood family originally settled north of Harbor Beach in a small fishing community called Grindstone City.  The city is basically now a ghost town, but there are some restaurants and a local marina that is still very active in the summer months.  The Volz family is from a small farming community to the south called Minden City (in Sanilac County), where they have owned the same farm for over 150 years.

My great grandfather Alf Roberts (who lived on Redman) made duck decoys for local hunters.  My Grandpa Emerson Wood (who lived in a redbrick house at Broad and First) worked his way up from sweeping floors to manager at the local department store, called Mehlenthalers.  My Grandpa Fred Arntz (who lived on Bartlett Street ) worked as a cooper making barrels at the Huron Milling Company (which later became the Hercules Powder Plant which made Lawry’s Seasoning Salt).  My Grandma Elsie (Roberts) (Arntz) Soule played piano for wealthy guests staying at the Resort along the lakeshore.  And my Dad (as did my Aunt Sandi Hunt) worked at the Community Theater in high school, and he taught swimming lessons in the summer at the local recreation center. 

I was born to the wandering branch of my family.  My parents and I moved away from Harbor Beach by the time I was 2 years old, and other than occasional visits when I was younger with my Grandparents (Emerson & Ruth) Wood and a family reunion or two through the 1980s … I haven’t been back.  But I still have very fond memories of my visits, and my family there.  I remember one summer visit in particular walking down to pier and the Community House with my cousin Flipper.  There was a drinking water fountain in the shape of a Lions head on the corner.  I wonder if it is still there?

Even though I was physically far away while growing up, the Spirit of Harbor Beach was always near.  Whether it was my folks talking about “Al’s Friday Fish Fry”, or copies of the local Harbor Beach Times with the lighthouse logo showing up in our mailbox in Hawaii and California.  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if my folks still have a subscription that they get in Arizona now.

I’m not really sure what my younger siblings or my own children will consider their “hometown” as the years pass.  Perhaps it will be Kansas City or maybe even Lebanon, Missouri for some, or Cottonwood Heights or Murray, Utah for others.  But I hope they know that no matter where they call home, they have roots planted very deep in the Thumb of Michigan, along the shores of the Great Lake the Indians called Karegnondi.

Love & Aloha,


Here is a list of some useful websites for doing genealogy research in the Huron County, Michigan area.

The local daily newspaper is the Huron Daily Tribune (http://www.michigansthumb.com/)

The weekly newspaper is the Huron County Press (aka the Harbor Beach Times) (http://huroncountypress.mihomepaper.com/).

The MichiganGenWeb page for Huron County can be found at: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mihuron/

The Deckerville Public Library, has a website of Huron County genealogical links at:

Several of my family members are buried at the Rock Falls Cemetery (including my Grandpa Fred Arntz, and his parents).  The cemetery is located about 1½ miles south of Harbor Beach on M-25.  The following website is an index of headstones originally compiled in 1994 by Robert B. LaBelle, and then updated in 2000 and again 2005 from obituaries.   http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~mihuron/research/Rock_Falls_Cemetery.htm

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Online Canadian Research Resources

Happy Saint Patrick's Day !! 

I was hoping to do a post today about my own Irish roots, but alas I have not been able to find time to devote to anything (yet).  Perhaps later this month I'll be able to get one put together.

And I'd like to wish my Aunt Diane a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY today. :o)

In the meantime, I thought some of these Canadian resource websites might be helpful to any of my readers who are trying to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.  Please be sure to comment on this blog if you found any of these website useful to you or if you have additional Canadian resources that you think I should include in a future blog.

Thanks for stopping by.

Happy Hunting.
~Cuzn Amy


Libary and Archives Canada

Moving Here, Staying Here – The Canadian Immigrant Experience http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/immigrants/index-e.html
From Colony to Country – A Reader’s Guide to Canadian Military History http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/military/index-e.html
In 1803, the British Parliament enacted legislation to regulate vessels carrying emigrants to North America. The master of the vessel was required to prepare a list of passengers. Unfortunately, few such lists have survived and therefore, there are no comprehensive nominal lists of immigrants arriving in Canada before 1865.

Some lists have been identified and indexed by name in this database. It also includes other types of records such as declarations of aliens and names of some Irish orphans.

The Shamrock and The Maple Leaf – Irish-Canadian Documentary Heritage http://www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/ireland/index-e.html
The Shamrock and the Maple Leaf is a resource unparalleled in print or on the Web. The exhibition embodies a dynamic, ongoing collaboration between Library and Archives Canada and the National Archives of Ireland -- two institutions that are dedicated to sharing our unique documentary heritage with the world.

Here you will discover photographs, letters, books, music and other evidence of Ireland's vital influence on Canadian history and culture.

AMICUS is a free catalogue listing the holdings of libraries across Canada. As a national catalogue, AMICUS not only shows the published materials held at Library and Archives Canada (LAC) but also those located in over 1300 libraries across Canada.  Search over 30 million records.

Dictionary of Canadian Biography Online http://www.biographi.ca/index-e.html
A major research and publishing project launched by the University of Toronto and the Université Laval in 1959, database of persons who played an important role in the formation of what is now Canada from 1000 to 1930.
The Portrait Gallery of Canada is a program of Library and Archives Canada which has gathered the largest group of national portraits in the country: more than 20,000 paintings, drawings and prints, 4 million photographs, several thousand caricatures, and ten thousand medals and philatelic items

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Unique News Clippings - Part 1

In addition to news clippings related to the life events of family and close friends, my great grandmother also kept articles of local, national and world events that she found of interest.  I will post those here as well, in hopes that these articles will be helpful to others conducting research on their own branches, or during this time period (1930s and 1940s).

-- And Their Mother is Only 35

Mrs. O.D. Dalton, of Valdosta, GA, age 35, is the mother of these ten beautiful children, the oldest 15 years and the youngest 14 months.  Only one pair of twins is included.  Mrs. Dalton is believed to be the youngest mother of ten.

West Wind Brings 'Flood' of Dust to Huron Motorists
(Special to The Times Herald)

Bad Axe, Feb. 6 (1937) - If you are tired of reading about flood conditions in the South -- try a little of this. Motorists on highways in Huron county and parts of Tuscola and Sanilac counties, complained today that they were forced to drive through dust storms so thick in places that it was difficult to see.  The dust was being driven by so strong a west wind that it was difficult to hold the cars steady on the highways.  The dust coming for the most part from winter plowed fields and also from dirt roads blanketed the thin coating of snow that spotted the landscape.  The dust seeped into closed cars, motorists complained and made breathing unpleasant and the dust also irritated their eyes.  The dust storm started about 9 a.m. and eased off about 5 p.m. today.  There has been very little moisture in Huron county this winter.

Love and Aloha,
Cuzn Amy

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

And The Survey Says ....

I just found links on two of my favorite family history blogs (Renee's Genealogy Blog and Geneabloggers) about this new survey by Myles Proudfoot.

Myles Proudfoot attended the recent RootsTech 2011 conference and left wanting to find out more about the next generation of genealogists.  He has a 15 year background in market and consumer research with a large consumer goods company, as well as a long term interest in family history.

His survey attempts to measure the habits of beginner, amateur and professional genealogists, including their methodologies, the resources they use and much more.  This is also a good way to accurately measure the current way we do our thing, as well as let our cumulative voices be heard by family history vendors, service providers, conference planners and organization boards what we hope to see in the genealogy field in the future.

The survey takes approximately 10-15 minutes to complete.  I just took it and am passing along the link in case you'd like to join as well ...

Access to the survey: http://tinyurl.com/69kntun
Love and Aloha,
Cuzn Amy

Monday, March 14, 2011

Ruth on Fire Escape

Last week, while trying to see if my new blog would show up in a Google search using the keywords "Volz+family+history" I came across my Cuzn Todd Volz's photo gallery website (http://gallery2.stir.org/main.php).  Todd has scanned approximately 100 photos into an album entitled Volz Family Historical Photos.  What a fun time I had viewing them.  Several of the pictures I remember viewing previously with my Grandpa Emerson and Grandma Ruth when I was younger, and others I had never seen before ... but recognized the names in the titles as being relatives in my Volz family tree.  There were so many family group pictures, and I wondered if Todd has "the rest of the story" that goes along with the photos somewhere online?

Two pictures caught my attention right away ... one is entitled "Red Brick house lawn party" ... which just happens to be the picture that I am currently using as the background to my CozyCuzn blog.  I had several Volz family pictures emailed to me many years ago (I'm thinking about the time we were having one of our Wood-Volz Family Reunions), which I "saved" to my computer without any notations as to where I had gotten them.  So I was glad to at least have a "title" for the picture on my blog instead of "untitled-14.jpg".

And the other one is this one ... "Ruth on Fire Escape"


I don't believe I've ever seen this picture before. This is my Grandma Ruth (Volz) Wood. I don't know the story behind the picture. Does anyone recognize the building in the background? Is this Harbor Beach or Minden City? How old do you think Grandma Ruth is? I'm thinking late teens, maybe early 20s which would make the photo from mid 1930s.  And talk about genetics ... I can't get over how much Grandma Ruth, my sister Matti and my daughter Adelina look alike.  WOW! 

Thanks for stopping by ...

Love and Aloha,
Cuzn Amy

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