Going through the three pages of names, I decided to research each family in the order they appear on the list, and try to determine just how they are related to each other and to me. This required searching a number of different genealogical sites and sources, as many of the families were unfamiliar to me.

11. Mr. & Mrs. Carlton O. Grant

The 11th family found on the Grant / Lilley Family Reunion guest list is that of “Mr. & Mrs. C. O. Grant” of Houlton, Aroostook County. Carlton O. Grant is the son of Joseph and Margarett (Grant) Grant. Joseph and Margaret were first cousins, their mothers Phoebe White and Margaret White were sisters.

Carlton Otis Grant was born on the 21 November 1858 in New Limerick, Aroostook County to Joseph and Margarett (Grant) Grant. He was the eldest of their three children. Carlton was only 5 years old when his father, Joseph died of Typhoid Fever 06 Jun 1864 in Alexandria, Virginia. Joseph had volunteered to serve as a private in Company E of the 31st Regiment of the Maine Infantry during the Civil War.

The 1870 US Federal Census shows that Margarett Grant, widow, and her son Carlton, 11 years old, were living in New Limerick, Aroostook County. She is listed as the Domestic servant for Mr. & Mrs. Moses Drew and their sons Moses, Jr and Augustus. Her other two children, Winfield S. and Ella May both passed away in 1865 and were buried with their father in East Hodgdon Cemetery.

The 1880 US Federal Census has the 21 year-old Carlton living alone on a farm in New Limerick, Aroostook. On the farm next door is listed his mother, Margaret, step-father Augustus Drew and their three children: Harry, Madeline and Lenora. Carlton’s mother married Augustus Drew, son of Moses Drew on 06 Jan 1874.

In 1884, Carlton married Mary Eliza Cole, daughter of Oliver Cole and Hulda Eliza Bower. They were the parents of six children: Percy Otis, Perl I., Effie L., Harry F., Oliver Cole and Carlton Augustus. The 1900 US Federal Census indicates that the Grant family has relocated to Houlton, with Carlton working as a Dry Goods Salesman. Four of their children are listed: Perl, Effie, Harry and Oliver. Percy Otis passed away on 30 Apr 1893 from Meningitis. He was 8 years and 4 months old.

Tragedy again struck Carlton’s life when his beloved wife Mary Eliza passed away on the 23rd September 1909 in Houlton. She died of Pernicious Anemia and Chronic Nephritis, Her death left Carlton with 5 children at home, the youngest being Carlton Jr, aged 6.

The 1910 US Census shows that Carlton and his family have relocated to Houlton and Carlton is now employed as a Real Estate Agent in town. Acting as homemaker was Pearl, Carlton’s 24 year-old daughter. Also living with the family as a Boarder was Norris C. Estabrooke, who would marry Pearl in 1911. Later that year, Carlton married Annie C. Chase (nee Sheppard) on the 11th of October 1910. She was the widow of Benjamin F. Chase. Benjamin died on the 10th of May in 1905 and Annie moved to Houlton, Aroostook County, Maine in 1907. On the 1910 US Census she is listed as working as a Dressmaker.

By 1920, Carlton and Annie had settled in their home on Franklin Avenue in Houlton. With the death of Harry F. in 1919, the remaining 4 Grant children had married and started their own families. Pearl and Effie both married in 1911, Oliver married in late 1920. Carlton, having returned from serving in the US Army during WWI, was living in his own home. He would marry in 1922. This left Carlton and Annie living alone.

Carlton and Annie would attend the Grant & Lilley Family Reunion on the 26th of August 1922 without any of the children.

12. Mrs. Angie Soule

The next family on the Guest List is “Mrs. Angie Soule,” of Smyrna. Angerona ‘Angie’ F. (Grant) Soule is listed on Ancestry.com as the mother-in-law of my 1st cousin 3x removed (Ray O. Lilley). She can also be listed as a distance cousin as she is the daughter of William Burt and Mary Ann (Lilley) Grant, who are both related to me separately.

Angerona F. Grant was born on October 26, 1851 in Linneus, Aroostook County, Maine the 3rd child and second daughter of William Burt and Mary Ann (Lilley) Grant. Angie, as the family called her, was born on the family farm, as were her siblings.

Angie’s mother, Mary Ann had passed away in 1869 and her father had married Esther Travis, the daughter of Ebeneezer and Elizabeth Travis. In 1870, Angie, now 18 years old, is living in Lincoln, Penobscot County, working as a School Teacher. It was while she was living in Penobscot County that she met her husband, Benjamin Franklin ” Frank” Soule. Frank and Angie were married in Lincoln, Penobscot County on 25 Sep 1874.

By the time of the 1880 US Federal Census, Frank and Angie and their family had made their final move. They relocated to Oakfield, Aroostook County, where the family purchased their farm. According to the census listing, Frank was working the farm with his brother John, who lived there with his wife and young son. There was also a farm worker living with the family. By this time, Angie and Frank were the parents of three children.

The 1900 US Census shows that the Soule family has grown to include 8 children, of which 7 were living at home. Their eldest living child, Jessie A., was living in Portland with her aunt and uncle and working as a Milliner. Unfortunately by 1900, the 2 eldest daughters of Frank and Angie (S. Ethelyn and Mary) and eldest son (Frank) had passed away.

The family was still on the farm in 1910, but consists on only Angie, Frank, sons Clinton and Fritz and granddaughters Aleda Lilley and Evelyn Lilley. Aleda and Evelyn were the daughters of Jessie A. and Ray O. Lilley. Jessie having passed away in 1905.

Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Soule passed away on 30 May 1916, leaving his grieving widow Angle on the farm with her youngest son Albert and her two granddaughters, Aleda and Evelyn.

It was with her son Albert that Angie (Grant) Soule attended the Grant & Lilley Family Reunion on 26 Aug 1922.

13. Mr. Albert Soule

The thirteenth family listed on the handwritten guest list is “Mr. Albert Soule”. As listed in the above profile, Albert was the 10th child and youngest son of Benjamin Franklin “Frank” Soule and Angerona F. “Angie” Grant. At the time of the reunion, Albert was assisting his mother with the running of the family farm. He would go on the marry Josie Mae Kelley, daughter of Elijah A. and Lucy M. (White) Kelley. Josie is related to the Lilley family through her mother Lucy, but does not appear to have attended the 1922 Reunion.

By 1917, Albert is living in Musselshell, Montana and working as a farmer, as seen on this US World War I Draft Registration card. Albert would go on to serve in the U.S. Army as a Private from 12 Dec 1917 until 09 Jun 1919. He served overseas from 25 Sep 1918 until 28 May 1919.

Upon his discharge in June 1919, Albert returned to Oakfield, Maine and helped his mother run the family farm.

Albert attended the Grant & Lilley Family Reunion with his motehr on 26 Aug 1922.

14. Mrs. Alice Grant

The next family on the Grant / Lilley Reunion Guest list is “Mrs. Alice Grant”. Mrs. Grant was a challenge to find, as there were a number of “Mrs. Grants” living in the area at the time of the reunion. By looking at the families named below Mrs. Grant, and checking for an “Alice Grant” in the 1920 and 1930 US Census, I was able to determine that this Mrs. Grant is Alice Maud McGinley Grant, daughter of William McGinley and Margaret Graham and the widow of George Washington Grant.

Alice Maud McGinley was born 1st of December 1864 in Houlton, Aroostook County, the 3rd child and 2nd daughter of William McGinley and Margaret Graham. Alice remained with her family in Houlton until her marriage. On 30th of January 1882, Alice married George Washington Grant, son of William Burt Grand and Mary Ann Lilley. Alice and George would go on to have a total of 21 children born, 15 of whom survived infancy. Alice and George raised their children on their farm in Oakfield, Aroostook County and it was here that she would remain after George’s death in 1918. He would leave behind Alice and 15 children to continue running the farm.

On the 1920 US Census, Alice is listed as living in Smyrna Mills, with 5 of her children, Frank and his wife, Andrew, John, Bubbie and Doris. I wonder if 4 younger children (Andrew, John, Bubbie & Doris) attended the reunion with their mother and married brother. The attendee list doesn’t have “& family” or “& children” listed with Alice, so it’s not at all clear if they attended or not. Based on a brief review of the names listed, 6 of the Grant’s 21 children did attend the reunion in 1922. They were: Frank G., Harold E., Charles C., George H., Alice G. and Arthur W.

15. Mr. Frank Grant & son Herman

The 15th family listed on the guest list is “Mr. Frank Grant & son Herman.” According to Ancestry.com, Frank is the Uncle of the wife (Phyllis Grant) of my 2nd cousin 2x removed (Mark E. McDonald. This translates to mean that Phyllis was the daughter of Frank’s brother Harold and Mark was the Great-grandson of George Washington Gardner, my 3rd Great-Grandfather.

Frank Grover Grant was born on 8th of August 1884, the eldest son and 2nd child of George Washington Grant and Alice Maud McGinley Grant. Frank remained on the Grant family farm his entire life, taking over the running of the farm at the death of his father. Frank married Eldora I. McPhee, the daughter of James and Malvina Baglow McPhee on 16th of July 1919. Frank was 34 years old and living with his mother, Alice; brothers, Andrew, John and Bubbie; and sister Doris. Eldora was 17 years old.

Frank and Eldora’s son Herman Frank Grant was born on 26 April 1920. Tragically, his mother passed away shortly after his birth, leaving her husband with their newborn son. Herman accompanied his father to the Grant & Lilley Family Reunion in 1922. He was 2 years old at the time.

As I continue my search through the names on the Grant / Lilley Family Reunion guest list, I’m finding that I am related to some of the attendees in more ways than one. But that’s a blog for another day…..



I have always found it exciting to see the physical places where my ancestors have lived. My Mother’s family was from New England – almost exclusively from Maine, with a scattering of ancestors from the other states, i.e. Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and since it was so close, New Brunswick, Canada. If you follow the lines back, you will end up in Great Britain.

Dad’s family origins depends upon the branch – his mom came from Guernsey, his dad from Michigan. Tracing the two lines back, they both started out in England, but there’s branches found in France, the Netherlands and other European countries.

I have visited a number of places where my Grandparents have lived. I was only able to meet my maternal Grandfather, as my other Grandparents either died before I was born, (paternal grandmother and paternal grandfather) or I was too young to remember them (maternal grandmother) before she died.

I’ve been able to visit the house where my father grew up – 808 Center Street, Lansing, Michigan.

I’ve been able to visit the house where my Mother grew up – Merrill, Maine

But I haven’t always been able to visit the places where my Great-grandparents came from.


It’s exciting to find my 2x Great-grandparents and their children (including my Great-Grandmother) listed in the 1880 U. S. Federal Census. It’s another thing to see what looks like your 2x Great-Grandfather on a Plat map for the town he lived in and then using that map to find the actual land on Google Maps.

And that’s exactly what I’ve been able to do with four of my ancestor’s land/homes.

There’s as story behind each of these searches and finds. To best tell the stories, I will publish each one separately.

John and Martha Gardner

John Henry and Martha ( Colby) Gardner

John Henry Gardner was the second son of George Washington Gardner and Tabitha Roberts. He was born in Brooks, Waldo, Maine on 15 Mar 1842. He served in the Union Army during the Civil War, Co. E 4th Maine Volunteer Infantry. He enlisted from his home town of Brooks, Maine on 11 Oct 1862 and was mustered out on 17 Aug 1883 in Bangor, Maine. After the war, rather than returning to his parents , who had relocated during the war to Aroostook County, he chose to live in Waltham, Hancock County, Maine, where he worked as a Mill laborer. It was here that he was married on 04 Mar 1869 to Miss Martha Pearson Colby, daughter of Eli and Lorinda (Giles) Colby. It was here that their four daughters ( Alice Mae, Carrie E. Susan E. and Bertha L.) were born. They remained in Waltham until at least 1900, when they are found in Merrill Plantation, Aroostook County, living next to his parents and elder brother Enoch’s family.

And it was here in Waltham, Hancock, Maine that I was able to locate the John H. Gardner family on a Maine County Plat map.

In the 1880 U.S. Federal Census, John H. Gardner, his wife and 3 of his daughters are living in Waltham, Hancock, Maine. In the Census, Alfred M. Hastintgs and family, and Manter A. Roberts and family live nearby. John is working as a Mill Laborer.

I was able to find the 1881 plat map of Waltham, Hancock County, Maine in the U. S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps 1860-1918 on Ancestry.com.

When I zoomed in on the center of town, I found who I was looking for.

There was J. Gardner. Across the street was A. Hastings. Directly south of the Gardner home was listed “Mill Privileges”, after which I saw M. A. Roberts, just like the 1880 Census said I would.

There was a small paragraph which described the village of Waltham next to the map.

Unfortunately, it looks like the water power in Waltham was not “properly utilized”, as there is no thriving village to be seen on the Google Map image I took. Most of the houses shown on the 1881 map appear to have been torn down, and I was unable to locate a mill in the area.

According to the 1881 map, the town population was 296. As of the 2010 census, the population is 353.

This is one of the locations I have yet to visit in person. I will drive down ME-179, cross the bridge over Webb Brook, and see for myself, where my 2x Great-grandparents once lived, even if the house no longer exists.

Oh goody, another reason to take a trip to Maine!!


I am web manager, what we call “host” of several web pages, which are part of GenealogyTrails.com. I am State Host for the State of Michigan page (http://genealogytrails.com/mich/) and county hosts of 5 Michigan counties:

Ingham County – http://genealogytrails.com/mich/ingham/
Isabella County – http://genealogytrails.com/mich/isabella/
Livingston County – http://genealogytrails.com/mich/livingston/
Oakland County – http://genealogytrails.com/mich/oakland/
Shiawassee County – http://genealogytrails.com/mich/shiawassee/

and one county in Idaho
Canyon County – http://genealogytrails.com/ida/canyon/

As County host, I mantain the web pages, add content, answer questions and so on. As State Host, I do the same for the main State webpage, as well as add content and monitor the unhosted counties in the state.

Calhoun County, Michigan is located in the lower western portion of Michigan’s lower peninsula. The county seat is Marshall, but the most well known city in the county is Battle Creek, aka “Cereal City.” Known for being the home of several large cereal manufacturers, such as General Foods, Kelloggs, etc.

I recently received a request through the Genealogy Trails: Michigan web page, asking if I could help a Battle Creek resident in finding information about a dance hall that had been on her property during the 1930s and ’40s. I took the request as a chance to find interesting information to post on the Calhoun County web page, as well as help a fellow genealogist out. The following is the document I created with the information I found about the Riverside Pavilion, 201 Raymond Rd, Battle Creek, Michigan.

12 Feb 2020

Riverside Pavilion
201 Raymond Rd, Battle Creek


Received Email request from Michele DeVore requesting if I could help her find information about a dance hall that was supposedly present on 201 S. Raymend Rd., Battle Creek in the 1930s and 1940s.

  1. My initial search was in the History of Calhoun County, (bibiology)
  2. Also checked Portrait & Biographical Album for Calhoun County (bib.)
  3. Next searched for articles in local Battle Creek and Calhoun County newspapers.
  4. Once obtained names of managers, searched for information in Ancestry.com
  • Did initial search in Newspapers.com, NewspaperArchive.com and CMU Newspaper Portal, to see what initial hits/news articles I could find.
    • CMU Newspaper portal shows that all Newspaper archive links for Battle Creek, Calhoun County are pay.
    • NewspaperArchives.com has no specific newspapers for Calhoun County or Battle Creek.
    • Newspaper.com has access to Battle Creek Enquirer from 1918-2020 and Battle Creek Moon-Journal for 1921, 1931, 1936, 1940
  • Using search topics such as “Riverside Dance Hall, Riverside dance, 201 Raymond Rd, Dance Halls, and limiting the dates between 1930 and 1940, found several articles
    • DANCE OPERATOR ROBBED OF $30 PUBLISHED IN BATTLE CREEK ENQUIRER (Battle Creek, Michigan) 2 Jan 1938, pg 2
        Sheriff’s officers today were searching for for two men who held up the proprietor of the Riverside dance pavilion on Raymond road at the end of Cliff street, about 2:30 a.m. Saturday and escaped with $30.
        Merlin J. Young, 140 East avenue north, who runs the dance hall, told Deputy Sheriff Edward Harlow that one of the men stuck a gun in his side and took the money, most of which was in silver, just as he was closing the pavilion  after a New Year’s eve celebration. The other man, according to Young, kept the motor running in a waiting car and both made their escape.
        Young did not get a description of the car, but said the man who held the gun was about 40 years old, five feet, 11 inches tall and weighed about 180 pounds. He was wearing a black overcoat and a dark cap. Young could give no description of the man who waited in the car.
        Young saved several hundred dollars in receipts because he took his wife’s advice and placed the money in a cardboard carton before the hall was closed. The carton was in the car when the bandit approached him.
  • SOCIETY NEWS, PUBLISHED IN Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 18 Sep 1942, pg 6
    • A farewell dinner for Rexford Young, who reported at Fort Custer Tuesday for duty in the army was given recently at the Riverside dance hall. There were 19 guests for the dinner, at which he received gifts from his family. The occasion also celebrated the birthday anniversary of Mr. Young’s mother. Out-of-town guests were Mrs. Joseph A. Madenford and son of Walkerson, Ind. Pvt Edward Young of Camp Perry, O., and Mr. and Mrs. Kroom Sand and daughter, Joyce of Clear lake.

    • DOZEN DRINKING TEEN-AGERS SPOTTED IN CARS NEAR DANCE, PUBLISHED IN Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 16 Jun 1942, pg 11
      • Sheriff’s officers, setting out to stop drinking by teen-agers in parked cars near dance halls in the Battle Creek area, found “alarming conditions” outside the Riverside dance hall on the South Raymond road Saturday night.
        “We found more than a dozen teen-agers actually drinking in the parked cars in the dance hall area and found intoxicants in at least a dozen other cars,” Undersheriff Ray Purcell said. “We found one girl only 13 years old in a car where there was liquor but did not see her actually drinking.”
        Sheriff’s officers from the local and Marshall offices joined forces in the first checkup.
        “We confiscated a quantity of both whisky and beer,” Mr. Bursell said. 
        “We confiscated a quantity of both whisky and beer,” Mr. Pursell said.  “Most of the liquor was taken from teen- agers who were seen while drinking the rest was from cars.”
        Sheriff’s officers said that they have received numerous complaints concerning drinking at various dance halls in the area on Saturday nights. They plan to visit other dance halls on future Saturday nights and to confiscate intoxicants found in the possession of minors.
        The officers said that they walked among the parked cars to observe the occupants. They said comparatively few adults attended the dance and none was seen drinking in cars.
        Mr. Purcell said that he was checking with Prosecutor Donald Gordon with reference to prosecuting any adults who may be caught drinking in cars.
        “We also are endeavoring to trace the source of intoxicants found on the minors and will prosecute those who furnished teen-agers with whisky, wine or beer,” he said.
        The Sheriff’s office is also planning to contact parents of minors found drinking and to seek their cooperation in halting the practice.
        “We believe that a few week’s checking, confiscation of the intoxicants and notification to parents will do much to eliminate such drinking, Mr. Purcell said.
    • EMMETT ACTS TO REMEDY HAZARDS, PUBLISHED IN Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 19 Feb 1946, pg 5
      • Fire Prevention Orders Issued Following Inspections
        Orders calling for the remedying of numerous fire hazards in public buildings in Emmett township were issued yesterday at the conclusion of a two-week inspection of schools, churches, taverns and dance halls in the township made by Fire Chief LaVerne Stearman and Detective Glenroy Walker of the state fire marshal’s office.
        Chief Stearman reported these hazards ordered remedied within 30 days of the inspection:
        Install added exits:  Spaulding and Newman
        Fire-proof doors and frames leading to boiler rooms located beneath open wooden stairs: Brownlee Park and Wattles
        Install exterior metal fire escapes: Raymond and Brownlee Park.
        Install exterior door exists with panic hardware (opening on pressure): fire doors on three wooden buildings of Wattles Park school
        Cleanup fire hazards in basement: Cresco school
        Fire drills in all schools at least once each month.
        Install swing-out exit doors with panic hardware: Olive street Friends church
        Widen exit: Belden tavern
        Make exit doors swing out: Angell’s Tavern
        Install new first floor exits: Riverside Dance Hall
        Install wide double exit doors at the rear of the hall: Beadle Lake dance hall (This work has already been undertaken following a tavern inspection. They hall no longer has a tavern license.)

        Chief Stearman said the inspections are made under the 1943 revision of the Michigan public assembly law. He reported that the school fire hazards were especially grave, with some repair of at least a minor nature ordered on each of the nine school buildings in the township. He said many rooms in Spaulding and Newman school did not have separate exits from each room, and the Wattles Park school’s three wooden buildings need five extra doors ad exits. School boards have the orders and indicate they will comply at once.
        The township board now is studying a fire prevention ordinance drawn up and submitted by Chief Stedman, based on an ordinance in effect in Battle Creek township and on recommendations from the National Fire Underwriters association. A similar ordinance is being drafted for the city of Battle Creek.
        The Emmett ordinance, which would be effective when passed by the township board, provides for a bureau of fire prevention, with authority vested in the fire chief to inspect all places of public assembly in the township twice yearly, and hazardous places four times yearly; to order removal of hazards at other than private dwellings, and to inspect for storage of explosives and incendiaries, maintenance of exits and escapes, and to investigate causes of fires.
        Mr. Stearman said the township needs a second fire truck with at least a 500-gallon booster pump and tank. He points out that the new million-dollar warehouse being constructed by the Kellogg Co., is in the township, and that property valuations have risen to a point where added protection is necessary.
        Members of the board who have the proposed fire ordinance under study are Roy Brigham, supervisor; Elmer Robinson, treasurer, Percy Fruin, clerk, and Marvin Hyack and Harry Hopenbecker, justices of the peace.
        A provision of the new proposed regulatory ordinance would provide that all circuses and carnivals showing in the township must comply with fire regulations as to exits and electoral equipment and must have flame-proof tents.

    • NEWMAN SCHOOL’S YOUTH CLUB WILL MARK BIRTHDAY, PUBLISHED IN Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 22 May 1950, pg 7
      • The first “birthday” of the Youth club of Newman school district will be celebrated by its 75 members with a party Thursday following the regular meeting and anniversary dance Friday at the Riverside dance hall.
        The Newman Men’s club sponsors the organization, composed of boys and girls from 10 to 18 years of age and advisers are W. P. King, Roy Braddock, Mrs. Winston Allen and Mrs. Henry Allen. Newly-elected officers are Patricia Ellis, president; Marjorie Eldred, vice president; Jacqueline Willy, secretary, and Joanne King, treasurer. Former officers were Fred Case, Vonda Faurot, bob King, Sally McNamara, Joanne Poole, Barbara Taft and Robert Trubey.
        Among the activities of the group are dancing and movies, held alternatively on Friday and Saturday nights. Profits from admissions are used to purchase recreation equipment.
  • Changing the search phrases to several other combinations, finally settling on “Riverside Pavilion” which was a phrase that kept appearing in the articles found during earlier searches.
  • Based on the results of this extensive search, I was able to develop a timeline for the Riverside Pavailion.
    • Opening Dance, New Years Eve, December 31, 1930
    • 1931 – Manager: “Happy” Edens
    • 1932 – Manager: “Happy” Edens
      • Dances held every Wednesday & Saturday nights for months of Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug.
      • No Dances in Sept, Oct, Nov, Dec.
    • 1933 – Manager:
      • Hall for rent for private parties for Jan-May
      • June 12, Newly finished Dance Hall opens, but again only for rent
      • Oct – Nov. Dances start again, after “Doc” Youngs and Robert Mayer lease the hall
    • 1934 – Manager: Merlin “Doc” Youngs
      • Jan – Mar held dances and other gathering
      • Apr – Aug: Closed
      • Sep 10th reopens, ads say “Under New Management”, appears that Robert Mayer has left.
      • Oct – Nov: dances every week, different days of the week, usually Weds, Thurs, Sat. Closes again in December
    • 1935 – Manager: “Doc” Youngs
      • Jan – Aug: private rentals only
      • Sep 28th reopens
      • Dances throughout Oct and Nov. Closed in December.
    • 1936 – Manager: “Doc” Youngs
      • Jan & Feb. Closed
      • Mar – now managed by Youngs, Miller and Little
      • Apr – Aug – rentals for private parties only.
      • Sep – rooms associated with pavilion for rent by Mrs. L. Mason
      • Sept 19th last Dance held.  Managers, Young and Miller rent new location.
      • Oct, Nov, Dec – closed.
    • 1937 – Manager:
      • Equipment being sold by Mrs. L. Mason, pavilion being rented out for private parties only
      • Jun – Dance hall used by “My Dance Club” burns down.  President of club, “Doc” Youngs, rents Riverside Pavilion in October to use as clubhouse for club.
      • Oct – Dec: weekly dances and card parties by My Dance Club.  Pavilion is still available for private rental.
Add for “My Dance Hall” – the new location for the My Dance Club group.
    • 1938
      • Manager: Merrill “Doc” Youngs
      • Manager robbed on New Years Eve.
      • Pavilion available for private rentals from Jan through August.
      • Sep 21st – resume having weekly dances.
      • Oct – Wednesdays and Saturdays.
      • Nov & Dec – Dances every Saturday night
    • 1939
      •  Manager:
      • Mar – Ad appears for available room to rent above dance hall
      • Apr-Jun – available for private rental only
      • Jul – mixed dances
      • Aug – Balloon dance
      • Oct – Benefits and dances
      • Nov  & Dec – weekly dances
    • 1940
      •  Manager: “Doc” Youngs
      • Apr – ‘My Dance Club’ starts having weekly Card parties.
      • May – Nov – ‘My Dance Club’ uses pavilion as their club house. During this time, other Rallies, Benefits and Dances are held.
    • 1941
      •  Manager: “Doc” Youngs
      • Jan-May – ‘My Dance Club’ continues using pavilion for their weekly card parties.
      • Feb – Raymond Mason starts to rent the pavilion for wedding receptions.
      • Jun – start having dancing every Friday
      • July – dances are changed to every Saturday
      • Aug – dances are now Fridays and Saturdays, continues through December.
    • 1942
      •  Manager: “Doc” Youngs
      • Jan-Jun – dances every Saturday
      • Jul-Oct – private rentals only
      • Nov-Dec – Dances every Saturday
    • 1943
      •  Manager: “Doc” Youngs
      • Jan-Dec – dances every Saturday
    • 1944
      • Manager: “Doc” Youngs
      • Jan-Oct – dances every Saturday
      • Nov  1st – closed for remodeling, reopened on Dec 28th for New Years Eve dances.
    • 1945
      • Manager: Raymond Mason
      • Under new management, reopens New Years Eve. 
      • Jan-Mar – dances every Sunday night
      • Apr-Dec – dances every Saturday night
    • 1946
      • Manager: Raymond Mason
      • Jan-Dec – dances every Saturday night
      • Jul, Aug & Sep – also have ‘Community Auctions’ every Friday night. Public is invited to bring items to be auctioned off.
    • 1947
      • Manager: Raymond Mason
      • Jan-Dec – Dances every Saturday night
    • 1948
      • Manager: Raymond Mason
      • Jan-Aug – Dances every Saturday night.
      • Pavilion closes on Aug 13th and reopens on Oct 2nd. Dances every Saturday night in Oct and Nov.
      • Holds Christmas dance on Dec 18th.  Closed through holidays.
    • 1949
      • Manager: Raymond Mason
      • Jan-May – Dances every Saturday
      • Closes May 27th for season. Pavilion available for rental during Jun, Jul and Aug.
      • Fall Opening on Sep 10th
      • Sep-Dec – Dances every Saturday night
    • 1950
      • Manager: Raymond Mason
      • Jan-Mar – Dances every Saturday night
      • Closes end of March, remains closed until Oct 28th, when it reopens under new management: Dewey Tooze, Sr.
      • Nov-Dec – Dances every Saturday night
    • 1951    
      • Manager: Dewey Tooze, Sr.
      • Jan-Feb – Dances every Saturday night
      • Mar – available for private rental only. Remains available for private rental the remainder of the year
    • 1952
      • Manager: Dewey Tooze, Sr.
      • No longer operating as a weekly dance hall. Available for rental for private parties only.
  • After 1952, the only mentions of either Riverside Pavilion or 201 Raymond Rd. were about the former managers, Merlin “Doc” Youngs and Raymond J. Mason.
  • A few interesting ‘tidbits’ about the managers of the Riverside pavilion.
  • Everd I. “Happy” Edens (09 Dec 1895 – 01 Oct 1974)
    • Although “Happy” Edens appears to have been involved in the initial opening and first couple of years of running the Riverside Pavilion, his obituary does not mention his involvement at all.
    • OBITUARY: Everd I. Edens
      Everd Irving “Happy” Edens, 78, of 1163 E. Michigan Ave., was pronounced dead on arrival at Leila Hospital today, where he was taken after being stricken at home. He had been ill three years and seriously ill three weeks.
      Born in Roundhead, Ohio, he had resided in this area for more than 60 years. He was employed as the manager of the Wash King Laundramat on E. Michigan Laundry for the past 13 years. Earlier he had been employed by the Michigan Carton Co. for 44 years, retiring in 1960. Before that he had been employed by Post Division, General Foods Corp., the Merrills and Edens Meat Market and the Red Star Yeast Co. He was a member of the Michigan Carton 25-Year Club and the Ben Hur Association.
      Survivors include his widow, the former Marie B. Merrils; a daughter, Mrs. June E. Beninghaus of the E. Michigan address; one grandson; one great-granddaughter, and a brother, Vern Edens of Lima, Ohio.
      Services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at the Royal Funeral Home.
      (published in Battle Creek Enquirer, (Battle Creek, Michigan) 01 Oct 1974)
  • Merlin Julius “Doc” Youngs (25 Sep 1890 – 15 Mar 1975)
    • Unlike the first and last managers of the Riverside Pavilion, Merlin “Doc” Youngs didn’t run the pavilion as a ‘side job’. His main employment his entire adult life was the Dance Hall Business/Resort Owner/Operator.   
    • In 1955, an article about Merlin J. “Doc” Youngs was published in the Battle Creek Enquirer. Although it was about his Resort at Clear Lake, it does mention his management of Riverside Pavilion.
      Merlin Julius Young was once a Red Man – a member of the Improved Order of Red Men. It was this fraternal affiliation hat led him into the dance hall business and finally took him to his present location at resort proprietor of Clear Lake near Downing. As chairman of the lodge’s entertainment committee he ran the dancing parties in the old Annex building in S.W. Capital ave. just off Michigan Ave. Resort and dance halls once flourished at most of the nearby watering places, but in the changing world, Mr. Young at Clear Lake and Ray McCarthy at Beadle Lake remain as the only survivors in the area. Their businesses today are very much alike – a sizable dance hall with band music on Saturday nights, refreshments and rowboats for rent.
      In this modern era, both of these men have become experienced operators, but in the long range background of the resort business they are comparative newcomers. While Mr. Young was working in Grand Rapids and Muskegon as a furniture manufacturer and tool and die maker, the memorable amusement parks, bathhouses, midway, boat liveries, dance halls and skating rinks were flourishing at Goguac Lake. And there were thriving boat liveries, dance halls and diving rooms at St. Marys’ Waubascom, Mill and other lakes in the area.
      Mr. Young was born at Edmore on Sept 25, 1890, the son of Tracy and Cora Drake Young. He is the only survivor among three children. A sister, Effie died in the influenza epidemic in 1918 and a brother, Byron, died in Grand Rapids in 1924. The father, a sewing machine salesman in Edmore, was fatally injured when thrown by a horse when Merlin was 8 years old.
      “We arrived in Grand Rapids on a Thursday and the following Monday I went to work in a furniture factory,” Mr. Young said. After two years he joined the Oliver Machinery Co., makers of woodworking machinery and during the five years there learned the machinest trade. Then he joined Continental Motors at Muskegon, but after six montha the nerves in his eyes gave out and he was totally blind for six months. Under protracted treatment, his eyesight was restored.
      His first job on the comeback trail was as foreman for the Fibre Grand Co. of Grand Rapids, producers of paper fibre for furniture and after this he worked for the Thwaite Fibre Co. This firm moved to Albion in 1922 and the Youngs were residents there for the next three years.
      On moving to Battle Creek in 1925, Mr. Young’s first job was as painter and maintenance man, handing the extensive properties, of Dr. A. E. MacGregor. It was during this time that he became active in the Red Men lodge and was appointed chairman of the dancing parties. The lodge did not engage in a program expansive enough to suit Mr. Young, so he resided as chairman and took over the Riverside Pavilion in 1932. He featured there the bands of Ward Reese, Marion Mott and Steve Roxbury’s ‘Roxy’s Hot Shots.”
      Next, he rented the place in the Beadle lake road known variously as the Cow Barn, Cocoanut Grove, Mom & Pop’s Place, and the M-T dance hall near the former Electric Lake. This was going good as a Saturday night spot, despite the depression, when it burned to the ground in June, 1935. Then Mr. Young went back to the Riverside Pavilion.
      He spent one summer season running the Fine Lake dance hall, but in September 1943, took over the St. Mary’s Lake dance hall, which he operated for five years. In 1948 he moved to the Pine Creek dance hall where he made many new friends among the dancing set during the 25 months he was there. The Ma and Pa Kelly band played for the dances there and Les and Irene Turner as well.

Mr. and Mrs. Young bought the Clear lake resort in 1952. The dance hall had been started by Frank and Fern Herrington, but they had sold out in 1930 and moved to Battle Creek. Mrs. Harrington became the ticket-seller for Mr. Young at the Riverside Pavilion. Later she became a school teacher and met an accidental death when struck by a switch engine while she was in Kalamazoo to attend a teachers’ meeting.
(Published in Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 17 Jul 1955)

  • Obituary: Merlin Julius “Doc” Youngs
    HASTINGS – Merlin J. “Doc” Young, 84, of 2999 W. State Road, former owner of several dance halls, died Wednesday in Barry County Medical Care Facility where he had been a patient six weeks. He had been ill more than two years.
    He was born in Edmore and moved to Battle Creek in 1927 from Albion.
    In Battle Creek, he became manager of Riverside Pavilion in the early 1930s. He later was associated with dance halls and resorts at Beadle Lake, Fine Lake, St. Mary’s Lake and Pine Creek before purchasing Clear Lake Danceland near Dowling in 1952. The resort was closed and Young retired in the 1960s.
    His wife, the former Charlottie A Lafler, died in 1971.
    He is survived by sons, Rexford C. Young of Battle Creek and Merlin N. of Allegan; daughters, Mrs. Ethan (Doris) Hammond and Mrs. Merland (Genevieve) Miller, both of Battle Creek, and Mrs. Kroom (Beulah) Sand of Hastings; 13 grandchildren; 22 great-grandchildren, and three great-great-grandchildren.
    Services will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday at Royal Funeral Home, Battle Creek.
    (Published in Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 13 Mar 1975)
  • Raymond R. Mason (29 Jan 1910 – 15 Nov 1992)
    • Taking over the Riverside Pavilion from “Doc” Youngs, Raymond Mason ran the pavilion from 1945-1950. He was the youngest of the managers and the only manager that lived at the 201 Raymond Rd. address.
    • OBITUARY: Raymond R. Mason
    Raymond ‘Dad’ Mason, who excelled as a powerboat racer at the age of 70 and was inducted into the American Powerboat Association Hall of Champions, died Sunday, Nov. 15, 1992, while deer hunting near Lincoln.  He was 82 and resided in Battle Creek.
    Mr. Mason was born Jan. 29, 1910, in Bear Creak to William Henry and Lulu (Tuttle) Mason. He worked in the maintenance department of University of Michigan from 1929 to 1939 and at Eaton Corp. from 1940 to 1945.
    In 1945, he started Ray Mason’s Battery Service, which he owned and operated until 1969, when he sold it to his son, Lyle R. Mason. He contined to work part time for many years.
    He was a Golden Gloves boxer in 1936 and helped found the Food City Boat Club in 1955. He won Class D. national championships in outboard hydroplanes at age 69 and 70.  Mr. Mason was a member of National Rifle Association and enjoyed hunting, fishing and powerboat racing.
    He married the former Helen B. Heshelman on July 10, 1931, in Washington, Ind. She survives. Also surviving are son, Lyle R. Mason of Battle Creek; daughters, Linda L. Garrett of Houghton Lake and Lydia K. Baines of Battle Creek; eight grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.
    Visitation: After 6 p.m. today at the Richard A Henry Funeral Home
    Services: 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the funeral home with the Rev. David L. Morton officiation.
    Burial: Floral Lawn Memorial Gardens
    (published in Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 17 Nov 1992
  • Dewey Tooze, Sr. (27 Sep 1899 – 08 Oct 1974)
    • Last manager of the Riverside Pavilion.  As with the first manager, there is no mention of his time with the pavilion in his obituary.
    • OBITUARY: Dewey Tooze, Sr.
      Dewey D. Tooze, 75, of 21190 North Ave., died Tuesday at his residence.
      Born in Milo, he came to Battle Creek as a young man. He retired in 1968 from Grand Trunk Western Railroad Co. after 48 years as a roadline stockkeeper. He was a member of the Battle Creek Elks Lodge 131.
      Survivors include a son, Dewey D. Tooze, Jr. of 220 Meadow Drive; a daughter, Mrs. Charles (Della) Nobles of the North Avenue address; eight grandchildren; 10 great-grandchildren and brothers, Porter Tooze of Augusta and Russell of Fresno, Calif.
      Services will be held at 1 p.m. Friday at Richard A. Henry Funeral Home.
      (published in Battle Creek Enquirer (Battle Creek, Michigan) 09 Oct 1974)

I have become so interested in the Dance Pavilions found in other Michigan cities that I plan on researching them for my web pages as well.

This wasn’t one of my Childhood Family Stories

Back when I first started researching my family genealogy, I created a list of the “family stories” I could remember my Mom telling me when I was young. There were items on the list that included :

  • Great Aunt/Uncle that died as a child and buried in the Mediterranean Sea, along with a red ball.
  • Xth Great-grandmother (unknown which one) was supposedly captured by Indians and raised as an Indian princess.
  • Grandma Liz [Christina Elizabeth (Nicolle) Vincent] wanted to live to be 100
  • Cecilia (Still) Vincent’s first husband died on the Titanic – his name was unknown.
  • There was an Irishman who was a horse thief, came across on the Mayflower (or Mayflower II) as a stowaway, changing his name when he arrived in the new world (dropping the Fitz- from FitzGerald)

In my 25+ years of research, some of the stories have been easily proven true. For example, my Great Aunt Florence Vincent, second child of Charles and Christina Elizabeth (Nicolle) Vincent [my Dad’s aunt] died of a fever on board the R.M.S. Crocodile, while her father and his family was traveling from Gibraltar to East India. She was buried at sea in the Mediterranean and her death reported when the ship arrived at port.

Frederick and Cecilia (Still) Ware on their wedding day

Another story I was able prove, was learning the name of Cecilia (Still) Vincent’s first husband – Frederick Ware, who did indeed die while traveling back from England to New York, when the Titanic sank. His body was never found, but evidence of his passage is found on the ship’s manifest.

Grandma Liz probably did want to live to be 100, but actually died at 94, not 97 as my Mom used to say. She lied about her age on every record I have for her, except one – her birth record! She was born in 1855, not 1852-3, as stated on her marriage record, death certificate, headstone, Census forms, etc.

Christina Elizabeth Nicholls (Nicolle)’s Birth Record

Other stories will most likely never be proven, such as the Great-grandmother who was captured and raised by Indians. I do know that no Native American DNA appears in either my AncestryDNA sample or my 23andMe sample, but the story was she was captured, not born, so there wouldn’t be DNA present.

But the one story I have worked on the longest is the Irish stowaway – did he arrive on the Mayflower / Mayflower II?
Maybe, maybe not. One thing is very certain, I have Mayflower ancestors on my Mom’s family tree – in fact, at last count, I have FOUR of them: Elder William Brewster and his wife, Mary Wentworth Brewster and John Alden and his wife, Priscilla Mullins Alden. I am a descendant of the Brewsters via my maternal grandmother (and namesake) Nancy Ella (Gerald) Gardner and a descendant of John and Priscilla Alden via my maternal grandfather, LeRoy George Gardner.

Nancy Ella and LeRoy George Gardner on their wedding anniversary

I’ve known about the first Mayflower Ancestors since August, 2018, when I learned that my newly discovered 4th Great-Grandmother, Lydia (Burrill) Gardner was a descendant of John and Priscilla. The brick wall separating my family tree from the Burrill family took me many, many, many years to break through. I was overjoyed when I learned the connection via Lydia to the Mayflower.

My discovery of my connection with William and Mary Brewster is much more recent – March 28th of this year, when I learned due to a potential ancestor on the new
ThruLines feature on Ancestry.com – of my 5th Great-Grandfather Joseph Greenleaf and his wife Dorcas (Gray) Greenleaf. Subsequent research on that line gave me the connection between my Grandma Nancy and the Mayflower.

Since none of these four Mayflower ancestors are of Irish descent, I can’t say that this answers the question about my Irish horse thief. I’m still trying to find the elusive connection between my Gerald Great-grandparents: Rose Ellen (Gerald) Gerald and her husband Orrin Fitz Gerald. I have a new hypothesis that asks if Rose’s Great-Grandfather George (1748-1825) and Orrin’s Great Grandfather David (1740-1820) were brothers, who separately came over the the USA from England in the 1770s and fought in the Revolutionary War? Could one of them be my Irish horse thief, since they both emigrated from the Emerald Isle?

Only Time (and a lot more research) Will Tell.


As I sit here this Memorial Day weekend, I keep thinking back to how I used to spend the weekend with my family: Bar-B-Ques in the back yard, getting our pool ready for the summer season, just enjoying being outside with my family and of course, the annual trip to Lansing to ‘decorate’ the graves of my ancestors.

My dad and by older brother Chuck, moving the just-removed pool cover from the pool yard.
My dad and I eating watermelon

It wasn’t until I was older that I realized that the true reason for Memorial Day was not to celebrate a day off and the start of summer, but a day to thank those service men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice while on active military duty.

My parents met during World War II – Mom was a WAVE, stationed in Washington D.C, at Naval Headquarters and Dad was drafted into the ARMY and spent his basic training outside of Washington D.C. and ended up being deployed to Saipan, where he managed the supply warehouse. But the story of how they met is for another day, this is to remember my Dad’s 1st cousin – John Vincent Wilkinson, son of Ernest Wilkinson and Kathleen Vincent.

John V. Wilkinson was the oldest son of my Great-Aunt Kathleen (“Kitty”) and her husband Ernest Wilkinson, Sr. Both he and his younger brother, Ernest, Jr. served in the Army. John enlisted on 10 Dec 1944. At his death, he was a 2nd Lieutenant, stationed in Korea with the occupying force. The following newspaper article briefly describes how Lieut. Wilkinson died. It was published in the Lansing State Journal on 18 Dec 1945, pg. 4.

Information regarding the circumstances attending the death of Second Lieut. John V. Wilkinson, 31, husband of Mrs. Margaret King Wilkinson, who died in Korea, November 30, was received here Monday.
Lieut. Robert Fiebig, son of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Fiebig, also stationed in Korea, has written his parents that Lieutenant Wilkinson was killed in an accidental explosion which also killed several other officers, a number of enlisted men and several Koreans. Fiebig wrote that Lieutenant Wilkinson was buried on Korea December 2 following military funeral services.
Lieutenant Wilkinson’s widow and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Ernest Wilkinson, Sr, were informed by the war department late last week that he had been killed in an explosion. They first received word of his death December 10 in a war department telegram but no details were given as to the cause of death.
Besides the widow and parents, Lieutenant Wilkinson is survived by three children, two brothers, Ernest, Jr., recently discharged from service and Stanley, and a grandmother, Mrs. Elizabeth Vincent, all of Lansing.

In January, 1949, Second Lieut. John V. Wilkinson’s body returned to the city where he was born, Lansing, where he was buried with full military honors, in Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens. Eventually, his parents, his wife and both his brothers and their wives were buried in the same cemetery.

I will still think of my parents and my Aunts and Uncles, who served in WWII, along with all my ancestors who have served in various wars and conflicts, but my main thoughts this holiday weekend will be with my Cousin John, the one who made the ultimate sacrifice, and who we honor on Memorial Day.


The Headstone I remember most

Van Fleet Headstone, Mt. Hope Cemetery, November 2018

There is a headstone that I use as my guide when I head into Mt. Hope Cemetery to visit my parents. It is the “VAN FLEET Headstone.” It is very unique, as it is a stump, with an open Bible on top. The only printing on it is the Family Name of Van Fleet; no other names, no dates. There are two smaller headstones nearby, but they too have limited information on them: Mother 1858-1904 and Father 1860-1926.

This grouping of headstones is in the same section as my family, probably about 50 feet to the west and because I have always walked past them on my way to my family, I have always been a bit curious as to who Van Fleet was and why such an interesting headstone.

So, using my genealogy resources, I started to research Van Fleet in Lansing. Since I had no proper names, I first searched in Ancestry.com under just the last name with the dates on the Father Headstone (1860-1926). What came up was a Find-A-Grave listing for Isaac R. Van Fleet. He was born in Ontario, Canada on 14 Mar 1860 and died in Lansing, Michigan on 28 Jun 1926. The accompanying photographs were the familiar headstones: a stump with an open Bible and a plain headstone with the words FATHER and 1860-1926.

I had the name behind the headstones, but this was not enough to satisfy my curiosity. So I did a little more digging and came up with the Obituary for Isaac R. Van Fleet, published in the Lansing State Journal 29 Jun 1926, on page 9.
Isaac R. Van Fleet, 66, for 14 years a cigar manufacturer and a resident of Lansing for 37 years died at the home, 515 Cherry street Monday night, following a year’s illness. Mr. Van Fleet came to Lansing from Brandford, Ont. in 1889. He is survived by the widow, Mrs. Martha Jane Van Fleet and one daughter, Mary E. Foster, and a brother, Joseph F. Van Fleet. The body was removed to Buck’s chapel to await funeral arrangements which will be announced later.

There were three other articles that came up in my initial search for Isaac R. Van Fleet: – an obituary for a Mrs. Van Fleet, 15 Aug 1911
– an article about a trial for defrauding the State in which Mr. Van Fleet was a juror, 23 Apr 1911
– an article listing candidates for city offices, listing Isaac R. Van Fleet for Constable, 05 Apr 1913
Later, I found the obituary for Mrs. Mary E. Foster, the Van Fleet daughter, 19 May 1976

None of the articles matched the dates on the MOTHER Headstone (1858-1004). When I found the Marriage license listing for Isaac R. Van Fleet and Martha Davis on 04 Jan, 1915, that would match with the name of Isaac’s widow in his obituary. So, it was easy to deduce that “MOTHER” must have been his first wife, but what was her name?

So I went back to Ancestry.com and put in the information I did know for the first Mrs. Van Fleet, and came up with Mary J. (Brady) Van Fleet, born on 14 Jun 1860 and died 11 Jun 1904. Unfortunately, searching in the newspaper, I never found an obituary for her. The obituary I did find dated 15 Aug 1911 is not for Mary J., nor is it for Martha Van Fleet, as she was still alive in 1926. This was the obituary for Mr. Van Fleet’s second wife, F. H. (Rich) Van Fleet, who is buried in Greenville, Michigan.

With a little more searching I found that Isaac Van Fleet’s third wife, Martha apparently remarried at least twice more after his death, and died in 1948. She is listed as being buried in Mt. Hope, but an exact location is not given. His daughter Mary is buried in Deepdale Cemetery, next to her husband, Grover Foster.

I still wonder why the family didn’t include the given names of Isaac and Mary on their headstones, but at least I now know who is buried under the headstones I remember most.


My Parent’s Current Neighborhood

Flora Bliven (front) and Ivy DeVaney (back) visiting Mt. Hope Cemetery and the Vincent – DeVaney – Bliven graves

I can remember going with my parents and an occasional Great-Aunt to visit Mt. Hope Cemetery, usually on Memorial Day weekend, or Decoration Day as it was known to my parents. Buried in the 10 grave plot were my paternal Grandmother Peggy (Margaret Vincent Bliven), my Paternal Great Grandparents – Elizabeth and Charles Vincent and my Great-Uncle Mick (Michael J. DeVaney).

All of them had passed away before I was born – Uncle Mick in 1914, Grandma Peggy in 1931, Grandpa Charles in 1934 and Grandma Liz in 1950 – so I didn’t know any of them personally, but I did know a lot of stories about them.

The annual trip to Lansing and Mt. Hope was a definite family ritual, one that I kept up even as an adult. I can remember one Memorial Day weekend in 1986 when my Mom, Dad and I visited not only Mt. Hope, but two other cemeteries in the greater Lansing area: Saint Joseph Catholic Cemetery (where my Aunt Dolly and Uncle Lew are buried) and Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens (where my Aunt Kitty and Uncle Ernie are buried.). Although it was never said out loud, I’ve always been convinced my father asked me to take the trip with my parents in order for one of his children would know where the relatives were buried. I wasn’t into Genealogy and Cemeteries at the time, but I’ve always wondered if my father knew my future even before I did.

I still visit these three cemeteries at least once a year, sometimes just to stop and pay my respects to my parents, who are now buried next to my paternal great-grandparents, or to research other family members who are also buried in them. As expected, I spend the most time in Mt. Hope, In November to decorate the family plot for Christmas and again in March to retrieve the Christmas Decorations.

Because of my many trips to Mt. Hope, many of the headstones in the surrounding plots have become very familiar to me. So over the course of the next few weeks, I’m going to be researching the families behind the headstones that I find in my parent’s current neighborhood.

The First of Many Brick Walls …

In 1996, after learning some what I believed about my heritage to be untrue – (What?  I’m Not German?) I decided to start doing some research into my genealogy. I wrote down what (I thought) I knew, based on memories of going through old photo albums with my  mother when I was a teen.

ellen and flora.1jpg
Ellen and Flora (date unknown)

I contacted my mom’s older sister Ellen as well.  Aunt Ellen was considered the Family Historian. She sent me what information she had on the Gardner-Roberts families, but not much about the Gerald family members.

Not much was available online back then and I was still working full time, so I wasn’t able to visit many libraries or archives.  I was limited to the CDs that came with the Family Tree Maker software I purchased. Needless to say, progress was very slow.

In 1999, after my Aunt Ellen passed away, I was contacted by her friend and avid genealogist Jean (Grange) Sawyer, who was able to provide me with a lot of new information and sources of information about both my Gardner and Gerald families.

But, despite all the information I’d been given, one piece remained elusive – Who were the parents of my 3rd Great Grandfather – George Washington Gardner.

He seemed to appear out of thin air – no one knew who his parents were. There were hints, such as on the 1850 Federal census there was a Lydia Humphrey living with the family.  Could she be his mother?  It was known that she wasn’t related to Tabitha, George’s wife, so who was she?

1850 Census

There was no Birth Record to be found and the Death Record was somewhat confusing – what was the name of the town where George was born?  Was it in Maine?  Was it in Massachusetts, as some other family members thought?  Where was he born?

Fast Forward to to 2017.  I’ve now spent close to 25 years researching my family tree.  I’ve retired from my IT job and get to spend my days & nights doing what I love – Genealogy research!  I spend my days still working with computers, but now I do it on a volunteer basis for a Genealogy website – GenealogyTrails.com, where I host the State of Michigan web page and 5 county web pages.

Genealogy seems to have become an obsession to many, many people, and there are now vast amounts of information available online (not all valid, however!!) I’ve learned many techniques for interpreting historical records, but still no concrete information about my 4th Great Grandparents, until one day…

While researching data for one of my county web pages, I came across an article that talked about how many times names and places on the Federal Census reports were written phonetically because the census taker didn’t know how to spell the names.  Very interesting information, and something to keep in mind as I transcribed data to my web pages.

In September, 2017, I spent a week in various parts of the Beautiful State of Maine, a retirement gift from my family. While I was there, I was researching my Maine roots, which I do every chance I get. While in the Tobey cemetery in Canaan, Maine, researching Fitzgerald graves and looking for possible ancestors, I came across a Gardner grave.  I didn’t recognize the name and didn’t think much more about it, as I was concentrating on Geralds/Fitzgeralds.

Death Record1After returning home, and I was updating my Gerald family information with what I had found in Canaan, I came across the notes I had made when I again tried to interpret where my 3rd Great Grandfather had been born… Could he have been born in Canaan? At this same time, I received a text message from my cousin Alissa Noble, who is also a descendant of George W. Gardner.  She had just realized that perhaps George W. was born in Canaan and that the name of the town on his Death Record had been written phonetically – Kainon, to mean Canaan, Maine.

gardner burrill marriageExcited that someone else thought that maybe he was from Canaan, I immediately started to search online records for Gardner’s in Canaan, Somerset, Maine. I added to some of the searches the name of Lydia, in case she was perhaps related to George. What I found was a marriage record for a DAVID GARDNER and a LYDIA BURRILL in Canaan, Maine in 1806. The right place, the right names, the right dates.

How do I prove that this marriage is for my 4th Great Grandparents and George Washington Gardner’s parents?

AncestryDNA – both Cousin Alissa and I have taken the AncestryDNA test and both of us have matches to members of the Burrill family through Lydia (Burrill) Gardner Humphrey.

There are still brick walls in this branch of my family.  Who are David Gardner’s parents?  There are three daughters under the age of 10 listed for David Gardner in the 1810 Census.  What are their names?  Did the survive childhood?

I love that genealogy allows me to solve a puzzle and at the same time present a new puzzle to solve.