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.

LAND OF MY PEOPLE – PART 2

As I mentioned in my last blog, I have had four different times when I’ve been able to locate the actual land that my ancestors lived on. The first story was my 3x Maternal Grandparents, John Henry and Martha Gardner. THE LAND OF MY PEOPLE

The remaining three stories are all from branches of my Paternal ancestors.

Unlike my Gardner ancestors, I grew up not knowing anything about my Paternal Grandfather, other than his name: Martin Henry Bliven. Over the course of years that I have been researching my family tree, I have learned many, many things about the Bliven branch. Two of the following stories are from this branch.

Henry Cranston and Sarah Jane (Baggerly) Bliven

Union Plains Cemetery, Byron, Michigan. This is the burial plot of Henry C. and Sarah Jane (Baggerly) Bliven

Henry Cranston Bliven was born 27 Nov 1822 in Phelps, Ontario, New York, the eldest son of Benjamin Barber and Palmira (Eggleston) Bliven. He was raised with his three brothers and three sisters on the family farm in Phelps.

By 1850, the 25 year old Henry had left his parents farm and was living and working for others. The 1850 U.S. Federal Census has him in Hopewell, Ontario New York, working as a farm laborer for Charles P. Maynard. Sometime in October 1855, as a 30 years old, he moved to Alfred, Allegany, New York to work as a farm laborer on the Almond Crandall farm.

On 11 May 1856, Henry C. Bliven united in marriage with Sarah Jane Baggerly, daughter of Henry and Dalinda (Welcher) Baggerly Jr. She was also born in Phelps, Ontario, New York. By the time of the 1860 U.S. Federal Census, Henry, Sarah Jane and their son William had moved to Potter, Yates, New York, where Henry was working as a Farm Day Laborer. The 1865 New York State Census shows that Henry owned his own farm in Jerusalem, Yates, New York. But the family would not remain there long.

1860 U.S. Census – H. C. Bliven and family, Potter, New York State
1870 U.S. Census – H. C. Bliven and family, Antrim, Michigan State

Between 19 September 1866, when Henry and Sarah Jane’s daughter Palmyra was born in New York State and 11 Dec 1867 when their son George was born in Michigan, the Bliven family, consisting of Henry, his wife Sarah Jane and their daughters Delia, and Palmyra, (their son William having died in January 1863) migrated to Shiawassee County, Michigan. Here in Antrim Center, Henry would purchase 40 acres for his own family farm. On this farm, his three youngest children, George B., Irma Isabell and Fred Franklin were born.

I was thrilled to locate on the 1875 U.S. Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, the land that Henry C. Bliven owned. I was also thrilled when I was able find the 1915 plat map showing the land that George B. owned.

1875 U.S. Indexed County Land Ownership Maps

But nothing was more thrilling than, when in September of 2009 I was able to locate and photograph the land in person.

A Barn on the farm land, unclear if on what used to be the Bliven Farm
Field of Corn
Recently plowed field

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the road that the farm was located on is “Bliven Road”, named for my 2x Great Grandfather Henry C.

At the death of Henry Cranston Bliven, his son George B. inherited the family homestead. Over time he would increase the number of acres from 40 to 80.

1915 U.S. Indexed County Land Ownership Maps

This land would remain in the Bliven family until October 1946, when George B. Bliven, who was moving to Florida for his health, would auction the land and all of the physical contents of the farm, including:

Ad for Bank Auction of Bliven Farm, published in the Livingston County Daily Press and Argus, Howell, Michigan 23 Oct. 1946.

George B. Bliven died in 1954 in Lakeland, Polk County, Florida. He was buried in Oak Hill Burial Park in Lakeland, having never returned to Michigan.

Although the Bliven family has not owned this land since 1946, as of 1975, it was still being considered the “Old Bliven Farm”, as seen in this Auction Ad from Livingston County Daily Press and Argus, Howell, Michigan 15 Oct 1975

This was not the only land owned by the Bliven family in Livingston or Shiawassee Counties. (to be continued …)

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THE LAND OF MY PEOPLE

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.

UNTIL NOW …

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!!

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.