Happy Hour in Michigan

Cousin Adrienne sent me this photo shortly after we “met” online:

Happy Hour in Michigan

“Happy Hour in Michigan”

Adrienne and I live on opposite sides of the state, and didn’t meet each other face-to-face until several years later, but that’s another story.

Once Adrienne had gotten me addicted to genealogy research, I started looking for our “brick wall” ancestor, Mary Lawrence.

While I was up to my eyeballs in Census records, Adrienne and I lost touch with each other for a while.

The following are excerpts of email exchanges between Adrienne and me after she saw that I had found “Mary Etta.”

Sat. Apr 14, 2007 10:48:06 PM

Dear [Username Withheld],

I saw that you submitted a personal tree to Ancestry which contains:

Name: Mary Etta Lawrence
Birth Date: 1853
Birth Place: Leonidas, St. Joseph, Michigan, USA
Tree Name: Rani Kaye’s Family Tree

Do you have more information about this person that you could share with me?

Thank you, Adrienne

Springtime in Michigan“Springtime in Michigan”

Sat. Apr 14, 2007 11:51:51 PM

Hi Adrienne!  I do have a little more info on our family now than what I did the last time we were in touch.  I’m glad to have your new email address!  Cousin Rob told me you moved, and he gave me your new home address and phone number and I’ve been meaning to call you but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

What I’ll do as soon as I get this email sent off to you, is I’ll do an invite to my tree through Ancestry.com that will let you see anything you want to on the tree.  I’ll give you “editor” privileges, which means you can upload photos, edit info, add info, whatever.  If you don’t have a tree going on Ancestry.com, feel free to just use mine as your homepage and add your branches. –She ended up doing this; and so did about 37 other cousins of mine! —

I talked to Rob a few weeks ago … he had sent me his tree on a CD.  His computer was down for quite a while, I guess … and I think he’s still not able to use his Family Tree Maker Software.  Rob’s got an invitation to connect to our tree, too, but he hasn’t gotten around to accepting the invite yet (or else he isn’t sure how to do so) … I’ve been meaning to call him to see if he wants me to resend the invite.

If you want to call me tomorrow night, feel free!  My phone number is still ___.  I’m usually working on genealogy every Sunday, Monday, Friday, and Saturday evening from 8 or 9 o’clock until about 11:30 p.m., so feel free to call any of those days and times.

Good to hear from you again!  Send me an email if you can’t call.  Love, Rani

Sun. Apr 15, 2007  12:06:02 AM

Hi Rani!

I’m so glad to be in touch with you again! Guess what? Today at noon I found the highchair that was handmade and beautifully carved in 1919 by great uncle Albert White (Hortense and Jacob’s brother). It was in my Aunt Margaret’s basement hidden away in a dark corner. It was a day away from being tossed into a dumpster by a demolition crew (her home was condemned and is being gutted this weekend). I salvaged some old photos and found one of you today too with Hortense and some other children. The note on the back said it was Hortense’s birthday. You were a cute little kid.

I’m really glad that you are in contact with Rob. He went off line and I couldn’t get hold of him anymore. I tried sending e-mails, but they were never answered. I was afraid that maybe he had passed away. We talked on the phone once and he had planned to come to Michigan for a visit, but that was the last I heard from him

How on earth did you find out Mary’s middle name and where Charles White was from? It has driven me nuts trying to find that information? I was really excited to see it. I signed up with Ancestry.com just so I could e-mail you.

I hope you’ve been well and your family too. We are in a new house now. The address, if you ever need it, is: ____ My phone numbers are:  Home ___ Cell ___.

Really good to hear from you, Adrienne.

Sun. Apr 15, 2007 4:39 PM

Dear Adrienne,

Wow — Did you know the highchair existed before you found it? How did you find out who made it? What a find!

Re: the photos from my great-grandma’s birthday — are the other children Donny, Jeri Louise, and Denny H__? I don’t have a copy of that picture, but for some reason I think I remember having seen photos that were taken that day.

Did you connect to me at Ancestry.com yet? I am still working on putting everything from my tree onto my page at Ancestry.com. That’s a lot of data entry, and not as much fun as research is … but I really want to have it online, and sourced, so that family members can get to it and don’t have to duplicate any work that I have done.


We wrote a couple more emails back-and-forth discussing the high chair and my childhood cuteness:


Then I wrote back to explain how I found Mary Etta:

Sun. Apr 15, 2007  8:47:11 PM

Adrienne, I found Mary Etta about a year ago.  I just now got out the paper trail so I could reconstruct the steps that brought me to her.

In January of 2006 I found at the LDS site a Marriage listed between Wm Woodrick born in Germany, parents John Woodrick and Sophia Tinna on 01 Sep 1897 in Centreville, St. Joseph, Michigan, to May White.  I was pretty sure this “May” was Hortense Mae, because Wm. sure seemed to be my gr-grandpa.

Meanwhile, I was also trying to find Mary E. Lawrence’s first husband (Mr. “Davis”).  In May of 2006 I found a Marriage record for Wilson S. Davis born in Cincinnatti, Hamilton, Ohio to Mary E. A. Lawrence born in St. Joseph, Michigan – Marriage Date 27 Mar 1872 in Van Buren, Michigan.

I knew from the 1880 Census that Mary Lawrence’s father was born in Canada, and that she was born about 1855 in Michigan.  So I knew that she and her parents should have been in the 1860 US Census.

So I just read through 1860 Census Lawrences, found Marietta in St. Joseph, noted that the Davis marriage said his Mary E. A. was born in St. Joseph, (I think I remember looking at the original handwritten copy of this Mary E. A. and realizing that the .. between the E and the A was a double t, but I didn’t keep a copy of that — I just remember saying to myself, “that’s Mary Etta, not Mary E. A!”)

After I found Marietta Lawrence, daughter of Boswell in the 1860 Census, I looked for Boswell in other years.  When I saw that in 1850 the Lawrences lived right next door to a bunch of Whites, I figured this must be my Lawrences.

I think the next door White family is what eventually got me to Charles Henry, but I didn’t figure him out until a couple months ago.  I have not attached all the census records to everybody at Ancestry.com yet.  I just added a couple more records as I was reconstructing this sequence of events for you.  I will try to work on attaching the rest of them now after I send this to you.

On the trail of Charles Henry, I have been transcribing White censuses from all over the country.  You see, I have another elusive White ancestor on my DAD’s side too.  I just recently found the both of them, and boy was that satisfying, but it really took a lot of work.

Talk to you later.  Rani

Marietta 1860 Census


If you’re not into genealogy, this blog post probably seems BORING – but this is the kind of stuff that gets Adrienne & me more excited, even, than “Happy Hour.”

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5 Responses to Happy Hour in Michigan

  1. alesiablogs says:

    You definitely got the bug! lol

  2. J9 says:

    My daughter has a great-great grandmother named Mary Etta, too. Mary Etta Kennebrew…isn’t that a great name? I wonder if that was a fashionable name for a time? There are a lot of Harriets in my family tree; I don’t see the appeal of that one.

  3. I want to comment on your snowman photo!!! This is why I love winter…. Snowmen are friends I’m sad to see to every spring and excited to create every winter… Snowmen can tell a story like in your photo…. Love it!!!!

  4. alesiablogs says:

    this was my husband’s great grandpa who lived in st joseph for a short while. I beleive he made musical instruments. Some big company up there etc etc. Thought you might get a kick out of this.

  5. Mustang.Koji says:

    Wow… You’ve been at this for a while now! Congratulations on your effort… And for the record, I feel Happy Hour and genealogy go well together. ;)

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