Saturday, October 20, 2012

"who carries green lemons in macomb county, michigan?"

The title above was a search term that found my blog instead of green lemons.  Ironically, I research both Greens AND Lemmons.  And Lemons.  There are no such things as coincidences. 

Talking again about that Sutphin family I blogged about the other day.  That family intermarried quite heavily with the Lemmon family I started researching because of their being near my Lemons.
I suppose it's no great leap understanding that because of the lack of easy travel, groups of people moved together en mass, with some in the family arriving in a new place first and then writing (actual snail mail!) family members back "home" in the East and convincing them to move out "West" to Michigan. 

The more I research the more I appreciate what a huge part family ties played in the daily lives of our ancestors.  It's endlessly fascinating to me to be this long-distance witness to the marriages and births of all these people who lived so long ago.  As far as I know, I have no blood ties to these Lemmons and Sutphins, yet their lives can occupy me for entire days as I trace their lines. 

I started last week indexing death certificates for Family Search.  It's relatively easy to do and interesting work.  I keep hoping I'll stumble accidentally over members of my own family, or families I'm researching just for the fun of it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


It's amazing how often coincidences appear in genealogy research.  I've been researching a family named Sutphin for a few days now.  One of the Lemmons (the ones in the same area as mine but unrelated to me) married into the family, or so I thought.  It's actually much more involved than that.  The families have intermarried quite a bit, and came to Macomb County, Michigan from the same town in Wayne County, New York.  It's pretty fascinating.

While researching these families I discovered that many of them had twins.  In fact, one poor family had THREE SETS OF TWINS and two single births.  That is amazing.   It's hard to imagine the poor mother taking care of all those multiples.  Remember, this was before formula, before day care, before many of the things we have these days that make our lives so easier and more manageable.  I can't imagine going through that. 

I got a package of pictures from my sister-in-law which included a letter from my Grandma Barnard to my mom.  The letter, written in 1995, tells some things about my grandmother's family.  Apparently my grandmother's mother was a twin.  Her twin died at birth. 

Isn't it odd that this all comes to my attention at once? 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Tricks of My Trade

I had a Lemmon family that was driving me crazy.  So far as I know they're not related to me, but parts of them were in Macomb County, Michigan the same time as my Lemons, and there was even an Isaac Lemmon with a son named John B.  I've written about this family before, so I won't bore anyone myself with the details other than to say that it was driving me crazy not being able to find them in the 1870 Census in Wayne County, New York.  I knew they were there.  They were in the same place in the 1860 and 1880 censuses, so they had to be there.

I remember trying to find my John Lemon's house in one of the census records because I couldn't find him.  I did all kinds of crazy things because the house was in Pontiac, Michigan and Pontiac was a crazy-big city even back in the olden days, with pages and pages of census records and the city divided up into about 10 different parts.  So I tried to figure out which ward or district the house would be in and that didn't work so well.  What Did work was finding one of his neighbors in a census I could find John Lemon in and then searching for that person in the census I couldn't find John in.  It took looking at 5 different families before I found one who hadn't moved.  When I found the family, I looked for John's house address and found someone else living in his house as "owner".

So I tried that with this Lemmon family and sure enough, I found them right where they were supposed to be, but with wildly misspelled names, which I corrected in case someone else might want to find them some day.

All day yesterday I was bemoaning the fact that parts of this Lemmon family died in New York state, a very hard state to research online.  Michigan, my beloved Mitten, has many many wonderful resources online for genealogists such as the Library of Michigan's huge success at putting online all death certificates of Michigan residents from 1898 to 1920, and the Dibean marriage records.  This couple, Jack and Mariann Dibean,  have made it their task to put all marriage records of all Michigan counties relevant to genealogists online.  It is a huge undertaking and so greatly appreciated.  Chances are that if I have a couple who married in Michigan, if I don't find their record on Family Search, I'll find it in the Dibean index. 

New York doesn't have these things that I've been able to find, but I did stumble upon a site for everything Wayne County, New York, and it had cemetery readings which listed almost all the people from the Lemmon family I've been trying to find.  Yay! 

Yesterday was a very good day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

A Ruby Victory

My father's mother's people are made up of Herrs and Merediths and Rubys.  Clara Herr, the daughter of Rebecca Meredith and Charles Herr, Rebecca Meredith being the daughter of Cyrus Meredith and Rose Emeline Ruby.  It's the Ruby's I've been working on today.

One of Rose's brothers was Aldophus.  His first wife was named Victoria, and I've known that for a while, but could never find her last name.  Family Search gave me the names of his other two wives, but I could find nothing on the elusive Victoria except that she and Aldophus had 4 children, one a set of twins, and all but one of their children died, including both twins.  William Edward Ruby was the only surviving child of theirs, and he lived to be in his 80's.  But what was his mother's maiden name?  I'd only ever found her listed with Adolphus in one census record, the 1880 one.  I'm not sure why I did it, but I clicked on "See others on the page" on the index record and there living next to them was a family named Bedford;  William and his wife Victoria.  Huh? 

Just for fun I plugged "Victoria Bedford" into Family search and found she had married an Aldolphus Rube in 1879.  Yup.  I'd found her maiden name AND her birth family.  I was also able to find that she died in 1889 in Detroit, but her name is listed only as "Ruly" in the Family Search record, with her parents being William and Victoria Bedford.  I can't find a grave for her, and it's too early a death for her to have a death certificate online from the Library of Michigan, but I'm confident I've found her.

It's been a productive genealogical day.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Confusing Genders

Since I'm stuck on my mother's people, I started researching Lemons again.  Lemons are much easier than Oglesbys or Deweeses or Stevenses.  Lemons are distinctive and their names, while misspelled with regularity, it's still easy to see that they're them.  I started a new tree on called Guy Lemon.  I found this Lemon family in Sanilac county and since my great-grandfather, Isaac B Lemon, moved his family up there and that's where my grandfather Russell Tiffen was born, I was interested in seeing where that other Lemon family line went.   It went in surprising directions.

I started with Guy H Lemon, but the story really started with his father, Edward N Lemon.  Edward was born in 1839 in Michigan.  I'm unsure exactly where in Michigan he came from, but it's enough of a start for what I wanted to accomplish.  The good news for me is that Edward also died in Michigan between 1899 and 1920.  This means I have access online to his death certificate.  Oh, I love the Library of  Michigan!  All those death certificates online are a huge help.  While I know they're not primary evidence of birth, they at least give me clues about which direction to go to find more people.  And one of the biggest helps on them is the information of where a person is buried.  Ancestry is a pay site. is free, and many people post information on the memorials they create for deceased family that is not found on Ancestry.  But I digress.

Edward and his wife, Jennie Husted, had at least 3 children; Charles Vernon born in 1867, Guy Hugh born in 1871, and Jennie born 1880.  I started with Guy because I found his marriage record on and then found the rest of his family later on Ancestry.   Guy was rather difficult to track, but Charles had a wealth of information available online, starting with his 1900 census record that lists his wife as Frank M Lemon.  I was sure that was a transcription error, but when I looked at the original image, there she was.  Next I went to Family Search to find any marriage record.  Yes, there was one.  Frank M Reynolds and Charles V Lemon married 12 Jun 1888 in Shiawassee County.  There was an image for that information as well and she is listed as Frank.  Her parents were listed as William Reynolds and Mary Burr.  That was partly incorrect, but I didn't know that then.  It led to a day of searching online census records and other people's family trees before discovering that William Reynolds was really Myron H Reynolds of Shiawassee, Michigan.
And Myron married 3 times, causing even more confusion while trying to trace his family.  But, sure enough, there in 1870 in Shiawasse was Myron, Mary, and their first child, Francis W Reynolds.  They were living with Myron's father, Seneca Reynolds.  (That was pretty cool as Lucius Annaeus Seneca is my all time favorite philosopher.)  There were quite a few trees with this Reynolds family on Ancestry, and all of them had Frank listed as male. 

After 1900, Charles Lemon is found with Lennie/Linnie as his wife.  I went back to Family Search and found another marriage record for Charles in 1905.  Then I found "Frankie Lemon" in the death certificates on the Library of Michigan's site.  I was very lucky there because she died so early, though I always feel badly for thinking that way.  My luck is someone's hugh misfortune.   Then I found Frankie's headstone on Find A Grave;  Sister--Frankie Lemon.  Mystery solved.

As an added bonus in all this not-really-my-family research, I found that Frankie and  Charles Lemon had a daughter, Mearle.  Mearle married a...Ruby.  It's funny how I keep finding Lemons marrying Rubys.  But that's a story for another day.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Those Annoying Barnards et al

My mother's side of the family is really frustrating me.  My father's side and Bruce's side (even his mother's birth family side!) were so much easier to research online and document.  Thanks to the Library of Michigan's online death certificates from 1898 to 1920, I've been able to make great strides towards tracing whole families.  But my mother's people?  IMPOSSIBLE

Is it the fact that they lived in the south?  Is it because the Civil War affected so many areas?  What is the ding-dang deal??  Barnard, Oglesby, Lavinder, Penrod, Bowling, Stevens, the list of surnames that have me stumped just goes on and on and on.  I find them in some census records, but not in others.  In some cases they just simply disappear after a decade.  All of them---gone.  Like they were abducted by aliens or something. 

Today I got so frustrated that I was sitting in the basement screaming at dead ancestors.  Not one of my better moments.  And I'm good at genealogy, I really am!  Or at least I'm good at finding my father's people, and Bruce's people.  Maybe that's the problem?  Maybe I only think I'm good because they were all so easy to find?  That's a bummer. 

Anyway, I'll keep working on them.  I have no choice.  I'm addicted to tracking down dead people.