LAND OF MY PEOPLE – PART 3

Henry Cranston and Sarah Jane Baggerly were the parents of six children. Their youngest son, Fred Franklin Bliven, was my Great-Grandfather. He was born on the Bliven family farm (see LAND OF MY PEOPLE – PART 2) on 08 Sep 1874. He was raised on this farm, working for his father until his father’s death in 1892.

On 01 January 1896, Fred married Maude Houghtaling, eldest daughter of Lafayette and Diantha (Fisher) Houghtaling, a farmer from Cohoctah, Livingston County, Michigan. Maude had been born in Brighton, Livingston County and her family had lived in Brighton before settling in Cohoctah Township.

Published in Livingston County Daily Press and Argus – 08 Jan 1896, page 1

Sometime between their marriage and the 1900 U.S. Federal Census, the newly created Bliven family left Livingston County and located in neighboring Shaiwassee County.

The 1900 U.S. Census lists that Fred and Maude are living in Burns, Shiawassee Co. Michigan with two of their three children; Martin and Mildred. (Their youngest daughter Florence was born in 1901.) The census indicates that Fred’s occupation is a farmer and that he owns his farm. On 29 Sept 1909, it is listed in the newspaper that “Fred Bliven and family have moved away from here” [Shiawassee County].

This move is reflected in the 1910 U.S. Census which now lists Fred, Maude and the three children back in Cohoctah Township and are renting the farm that they are living on. Fred did eventually buy the farm and the family remained here until 1917, when they sold the farm to Chris. O. Ludke and wife for $1,200.

It was this farm in Cohoctah Township that I have been able to locate on the 1915 U.S. Indexed County Land Ownership Maps. In section 32 of Cohoctah Township, Fred is listed as occupying 60 acres. Although I have located this land on Google Maps, I have yet to personally travel to the area and photograph the actual land. That is planned for later this month (pandemic willing).


But, I have a question? Having been a farmer all of his life, why did Fred, at the age of 43, sell the farm? Where did the family move to?

There are a number of documents that allow me to trace where Fred, Maude and the family went upon selling the farm in Cohoctah. The U.S. World War I Draft Registration Card for Fred, dated 02 Sep 1918, has him living at 815 North Cedar Street. He is listed with a present occupation of City of Lansing Policeman.

U.S. World War I Draft Registration Card, 1917-1918

The 1920 U.S. Census has Fred and Maude still living at 815 North Cedar Street, but now his occupation is listed as a Motorman on a Street Car. All three of the children have grown, married and moved into their own places.

When I first learned that Fred and Maude lived on Cedar Street, I wondered how close they might be to where my Great-grandparents, Charles and Christina Elizabeth lived. I knew that Cedar Street was very near Center Street, as my father attended Cedar Street Elementary School as a boy.

So I looked up 815 North Cedar Street on Google Maps, and found the following:

Apparently, I had driven past this home numerous times and not realized that it was also a former residence of my family. Below is what came up when I asked Google Maps to give directions from 815 N. Cedar Street to 808 Center Street.

My grandmother Margaret (aka Peggy) married Fed and Maude’s son Martin on 26 Jun 1920. This photo was taken after the wedding, in the front yard of 808 Center Street.

So, I’m glad that the Bliven family left the farm and moved to Lansing, as this led to my grandparents meeting, my father being born and, therefore, ME!

Lansing was not the last location that either Fred or Maude lived, but that’s a story for another time.

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