My grandfather Edward Lee Wells (1905-1955) worked in various capacities for Timken-Detroit Axle Company from the 1920s until his death on June 19, 1955. The company started on Clark and Fort Streets in Detroit in 1909.
Edward, his mother Nannie, and his siblings Willis, Mary, William, and Jesse came to Detroit from Virginia in about 1923. He married my grandmother Velma Belknap on November 23, 1932. On the marriage license, his occupation was factory work.
In 1933, Edward and Velma were living in Lincoln Park, Michigan and he was a truck operator at Timken-Detroit Axle Company. In the 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Edward, Velma and their four children were living in Allen Park and his job was as a stock chaser at the axle company. His income was $1600 and he had worked 50 weeks out of the year. In 1947, now with seven children, the family was living in Melvindale and Edward was a press operator at Timken Axle. In 1953, with eight children, Edward was listed in the city directory as a mechanic at Timken. In 1954, the last directory before his death, Edward was a service representative for Timken.
In the 1950s, my grandfather had to travel a lot to Chicago and back for his job.There is a family story that my grandmother once visited him there and that is where my youngest uncle was conceived (he was born March 31, 1953). Edward died ten days shy of his 50th birthday of a heart attack.
Mildred Wade was the wife of my 1st cousin 4x removed, William I. Bolt. She was born July 22, 1856 in Hillsdale, Michigan. Both her parents died by 1870 and she went to live with her grandmother in Geneva, Ohio. In 1877, she married William I. Bolt in Jackson, Michigan. William was my great-great-great grandfather William D. Bolt’s nephew and the son of Isaiah Bolt. William was a plumber and Mildred was a teacher of elocution in Detroit. They lived at 1191 Jefferson Ave. In 1888, she founded the Detroit School of Expression and became its principal.
In what must’ve been the annual back-to-school issue on Wednesday, August 29, 1906, the Detroit Free Press devoted a large section to “Schools and Colleges of the Northwest.” The paragraph describing Mildred’s school is as follows:
Mrs. Mildred A. Bolt, principal of the Detroit School of Expression, is not only a teacher of the highest ability, but she possesses those invaluable qualities of earnestness and enthusiasm which seem to be transmitted to her pupils, inspiring them to greater diligence and higher aims.
Mrs. Bolt studied elocution with Prof. Moses True Brown, of Boston; attended lectures under Prof. S. H. Clarke, at Chicago University and graduated from the Detroit Training School, where she studied under Mrs. Edna Chaffee Noble.
Under her immediate direction is a staff of highly efficient teachers, who assist her in conducting the classes in elocution, English literature, Delsarte, philosophy, Shakespearian study, voice training, dramatic reading, criticism, physical culture, deportment and general literature.
Five new teachers will be added to the faculty this year, making it possible to give an increased amount of personal attention to each student. The Detroit School of Expression is located in one of Detroit’s finest residence sections, 1191-1195 Jefferson avenue, and was established by Mrs. Bolt in 1888.
William died at the age of 50 in 1907. Mildred’s home continued to be at 1191 Jefferson until at least 1920. Mildred was well-known in Detroit society and was involved in the Detroit Shakespeare Club. She died of uterine cancer on July 24, 1922 at 3578 Joseph Campau, which was the home of Dr. and Mrs. Siefert. Louise Siefert was the Secretary-Treasurer of the school. I’m glad Mildred had a friend to go to at the end.
Mildred and William were buried in Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery.
One ancestor that I have that was enumerated on a non-population census (in this case, the 1890 Union veterans census) was my great-great-great grandfather Adam Bost. In 1890 he was living in Marion Township, Henry County, Ohio. Below is his snippet from the schedule. He was drafted to Company B, Ohio 38th Infantry Regiment on October 9, 1862 and mustered out on July 27, 1863 at Winchester, Tenn.
The 1880 U.S. Federal Census had an additional schedule called the “1880 Schedule of Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes.” This enumerated individuals that had deafness, blindness, or other disabilities, as well as “paupers.”
The individual I’d like to talk about this week is one I haven’t been able to find in this schedule, even though she was deaf. In fact, I haven’t been able to find her at all in 1880. Her maiden name was Delia Mary Grodi, and she was born to Nelson and Margaret (Bushroe) Grodi on August 17, 1875 in Erie, Monroe County, Michigan. She would have been 5 years old in 1880, and while her family was enumerated in Erie, she was not living with them. She may have been at a school for the deaf.
By 1886 though, Delia was a definitely a student at the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint, Michigan. This school enrolled students aged 9 to 20, so she wasn’t there in 1880 (I checked). She was also listed as a student between 1891 and 1894 in the other reports I could find. I’m assuming she was also a student in the years between 1886 and 1891.
The Michigan School for the Deaf was established in 1848 as the Michigan Asylum for Educating the Deaf and Dumb and the Blind. In 1879, the Legislature separated the school for the blind from the school for the deaf. In December 1885, there was a diptheria epidemic at the school, and five students died.
Delia married Lyman Salisbury on May 18, 1895 in Lucas County, Ohio. In the 1900 census, she, Lyman, and their daughter Ida were living in Toledo. In the “Can speak English” column of this census, she is listed as “no.” Lyman and Delia had a son, also named Lyman, in 1901, but he died in September 1902.
In 1910, the family, now with son Ernest (my husband’s great-grandfather), lived in Erie, Michigan. Delia was listed as “deaf and dumb.” Her husband Lyman died on December 20, 1918 in Erie of Bronchopneumonia and Asthma. In 1920, Delia and her other children were living with Ida and her husband Jacob Conrad in Bedford, Monroe, Michigan.
In 1930, Delia and her children Howard and Hazel were living in Bedford, Michigan and she was employed as an inspector at an awning factory. In 1940, Delia and Hazel were living in Bedford and Delia was an inspector in the textile industry. Delia’s son Howard died in 1944. Delia herself died July 23, 1955.
(52 Ancestors #32 – One of 32 3rd Great Grandparents)
Andrew Lowell Moore is one of my great-great-great grandfathers. He was born February 13, 1830 to John and Clarissa (Sparks) Moore in Mt. Washington, Massachusetts, which is located in the southwest corner of the state. In the 1850 U.S. Census, the family was living in Batavia, Genesee, New York (about 40 miles east of Buffalo). John was aged 59 and a farmer with $4000 in real estate. His wife Clarissa was 55. There oldest child was also named Clarissa and was 22. Andrew was 20, while George was 17. The youngest daughter was named Sabra Ann and was 12. All were born in Massachusetts, except John who was born in New York. John and Clarissa also had 6 older children, already out of the house, named Abigail, Betsey, Benjamin, Michael, Louisa, and John.
Andrew married Mary J. Lyman in Stafford, Genesee, New York on September 6, 1855. In 1860, Andrew, Mary, and their 11-month-old son Lee were living in Pembroke, Genesee County. Andrew was a farmer.
By 1870, the family had moved to Little Rock, Kendall, Illinois. Andrew was now a druggist with a personal estate of $1500. Lee was 10 years old. They had a son Fred (my great-great grandfather) who was 7 and had been born in Michigan. They also had a daughter Cora Libbie who was 7 months old.
In 1880, Andrew, Mary, and their youngest daughter Mary Frances, 2 years old, were boarders at widow Eliza Haines home in Plymouth, Michigan. Andrew was a general store keeper. Lee was back in Plano, Kendall, Illinois as a store clerk, while Fred was living in Stafford back in New York with his maternal grandmother Sarah. Cora had died in August 1870. I wonder why the family was spread across the country? It is interesting to note that Fred married my great-great grandmother in Plymouth, Michigan in 1885, so somehow he ended up there.
In 1900, Andrew, Mary and Mary “Mae” Frances were living in Sandwich, De Kalb, Illinois along with a boarder named Francis Newton. Andrew was a druggist and Francis was a drug salesman. Mae and Francis eventually married.
Andrew’s wife, Mary, died on March 31, 1904 and was buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Sandwich. In 1910, Andrew was living with his daughter Mae and her husband Francis who now was a proprietor of a drug store. He died at the age of 88 on October 3, 1918 and was buried next to his wife.
One ancestor that I’ve never had any problem researching is my great-grandfather Earl Ervan Belknap.
I’ve noticed a couple characteristics “easy-to-research” ancestors have in common including:
They are male. Therefore, their surnames don’t usually change over time.
They have lived within your memory or the memory of a person you know. This is how you find out quirks that the documents don’t reveal. Like my father remembering that Earl always ate his dessert before dinner. It’s also a way to find photographs of the ancestor.
They lived at a time and place where city directories are available. This helps figure out where they were living when, especially for un-indexed documents.
A challenging ancestor to research has been Fred L. Moore, my great-great grandfather. The challenge came from a combination of misinformation and my own assumptions.
I first discovered his name from my great-grandmother Mae’s birth certificate. Then I found him in her marriage records. From there, I discovered his 1885 marriage certificate and the 1900 census in Plymouth, Michigan. After that came the confusion!
In the 1910 U.S. Federal Census, as mentioned in the previous post, Fred’s wife Mina was boarding with her daughter Mae at a place in Detroit. She was listed as married. In the 1910 Detroit City Directory, Mina was listed as a widow. This made me think that Fred had died in 1909ish. In 1918, she was listed as Bert Thompson’s wife on his WWI Draft Registration. However, I have Mina and Bert’s marriage certificate and it lists their marriage date as November 24, 1924 in Toledo, Ohio. Hmm. 6 years after she is first mentioned as Bert’s wife and in Ohio?
So I went another direction. I researched Mae’s brother, Glenn Bolt Moore. He was also called Fred and worked on the railroad like his father. He lived in New Buffalo, Michigan. Poking around on SeekingMichigan.org, I found Fred Moore’s death certificate with Glenn B. Moore listed as the informant. Fred didn’t die in 1909. In fact, he didn’t die until November 4, 1924. Which explains why his estranged wife didn’t remarry until late November 1924. They were, for lack of a better term, waiting for him to die.
Now that I knew Fred was living in Berrien County, I could narrow my searching. I found a few interesting newspaper articles detailing what he was up to in the 1910s and 1920s.
According to the March 22, 1923 issue of the Benton Harbor News-Palladium, Fred was a resident of the Berrien County Poor Home (also called the Berrien County Infirmary). According to Deanna West, “Through the years the farm became a colony within itself with orchards, vegetable gardens, corn and grain fields, barns, cows, chickens and pigs. Everyone who was physically capable did chores that they could manage. One couple that managed the farm in 1924 and several years after, were Mr. & Mrs. Edward Israel, who became very well known in the area.” On his death certificate, it notes that Fred died at the Berrien County Infirmary at the age of 61 of “chronic paresis” which is defined as “a condition typified by a weakness of voluntary movement” including limbs, eyes, stomach, or vocal cords. To add to the confusion, it says he is widowed, even though Mina didn’t die until 1942.
So I guess the moral of the story is don’t assume someone is dead just because a city directory says his wife is a widow!
“20 Years Ago.” The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan). 12 Nov 1940, Tue. Page 2.
Death Certificate for Fred Moore, Berrien County. http://seekingmichigan.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/ref/collection/
“For Sale – Grapes.” The News-Palladium (Benton Harbor, Michigan). 10 Sep 1919, Wed. Page 3.