Saturday, September 29, 2018

Proving the Generations 4: Robert Louis Robbins

In the first post of this series, Proving the Generations, I wrote how my goal is to use the Genealogical Proof Standard to show my ancestry through my great-great-grandparents' generation.

In this fourth post, I will be proving that my paternal grandfather, Robert Louis Robbins, is the son of William Bryan Robbins, Sr. and Marie Lewis.

My grandfather, Robert Louis Robbins (holding the kitten), with his parents, Marie (Lewis) and William Bryan Robbins, Sr, and his younger brother, William Bryan Robbins, Jr.
Taken c. 1924-5, probably in Muskegon Heights, Muskgeon Co., Michigan.
Digital copy held by Miriam J. Robbins, Spokane, Washington, 2018.

I was personally acquainted with my grandfather, as well as my great-grandmother (I met my great-grandfather at least once, maybe twice, but I was so young I don't remember him).  My grandfather told me that he was born on 21 September 1920 in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon Co., Michigan.  However, none of us are expert witnesses of our own births, since although we were there, none of us can remember the event!

Besides my own memories of my grandfather and his mother, my dad, aunts, uncle, and a great-aunt all have shared their memories of my grandfather and his parents.  Additionally, I have original and digital copies of many photographs of my grandfather with his parents.  Most importantly, my grandfather's birth to his parents has the following documentation:

  1. A Certificate as to Birth issued by the County of Muskegon on 3 July 1942*, certifying "upon a careful examination of the original records on file in the office of the Clerk of said County and Court" a record as to the birth of Robert Louis Robbins, born 21 September 1920 in Muskegon Heights, whose parents' names were Wm. S. [sic] Robbins and Marie Lewis (maiden), the latter of Muskegon Heights.  It also states the original record was recorded with the county on 1 November 1920 in Liber 10, page 40.[1]  I have a copy of the index page of the liber, microfilmed by the Genealogical Society of Utah, which corroborates that his birth was recorded in Liber 10, page 40.[2]  You can view the Certificate as to Birth in this post.  The liber record is not yet available to the public, and will not be until 2020 or later.[3]
  2. A birth announcement published in the local paper, The Muskegon Chronicle, on 2 October 1920, stating: "ROBBINS--To Mr. and Mrs. William B. Robbins, 1134 Hoyt street, September 21, a son, Robert Louis."[4]
  3. My grandfather appears with his parents, three younger siblings, and a paternal uncle during the enumeration of the 1930 U.S. Federal Census.  They were living on East Broadway in an unnumbered house (but not a farm) in Norton Township, Muskegon County, Michigan and were enumerated for the official census day of 1 April on 6 May 1930.[5]
  4. My grandfather appears with his parents and four younger siblings during the enumeration of the 1940 U.S. Federal Census.  They were living on a farm in Wright Township, Ottawa County, Michigan and were enumerated for the official census day of 1 April on 11 April 1940.  Unfortunately, the enumerator did not mark who provided the information at each household that day, as required.[6]
*At the time of all four of my grandparents' births, the law regarding birth registrations that was in place in the state of Michigan was Public Act 330 of 1905, which required the attending physician or midwife to file a certificate of birth with the local registrar within 10 days of the birth.[7]  Now filing a certificate of birth and issuing a copy to the family are two different things.  It's apparent that my grandfather did not have a copy of his birth certificate until he was almost 22 years old.  The date of 3 July 1942 coincides with his registering for the draft for World War II, for which he would ask a deferment due to his daughter's (my aunt's) impending birth in August[8], after which he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps on 13 October 1942.[9]

Additionally, DNA tests results from FamilyTreeDNA for my father and me show matches consistent with the degrees of relationship to a Robbins cousin who is a descendant of my great-grandfather's youngest brother, Don.  Also, my test results from AncestryDNA show a match consistent with the degree of relationship to another descendant of Don Robbins, as well as to a Lewis cousin who is a descendant of my great-grandmother's younger brother, Percy.

My grandparents, Robert Louis Robbins and Jeanne Marie Holst, on their wedding day,
12 October 1940, Coopersville, Ottawa Co., Michigan.
Original photo held by Miriam J. Robbins, Spokane, Washington, 2018.

Finally, I am providing some information on my grandparents' marriage, even though I am not using it to prove my grandfather's parentage.  My grandparents' Marriage License/Certificate of Marriage[10] states my grandparents obtained their license and married on the same day, 12 October 1940.  The license would have been obtained at the Ottawa County Courthouse in Grand Haven.  They married in Coopersville in the Methodist parsonage[11], and my grandfather's best friend, Ray Adams, and the minister's wife were the witnesses.  I know that my grandmother's best friend, Geneva Parrish, stood with her[12], but like my grandmother, was underage, so she would not have been able to sign the Certificate of Marriage.

Marriage License and Certificate of Marriage of Robert Louis Robbins and Jeanne Marie Holst.
See footnote 10.

Conclusion:
Family stories and photographs, documents created at or near the time of birth or referencing an original record created shortly after birth, and DNA test results all provide conclusive evidence that my paternal grandfather, Robert Louis Robbins, was born 21 September 1920 in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County, Michigan to William Bryan Robbins, Sr. and Marie Lewis.

Sources:
  1. Muskegon County, Michigan, Certificate as to Birth, citing county birth liber 10, page 40 (1920), Robert Louis Robbins; Muskegon County Clerk's Office, Muskegon; original document held by Miriam Robbins [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Spokane, Washington, 2018.
  2. Muskegon County, Michigan, Index to births L-Z, 1867-1949 continued: 1920, Robbins, Robert L.; FHL microfilm 1,320,091, item 1.
  3. Carol McGinnis, Michigan Genealogy: Sources & Resources, Second Edition (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 2005), 50.
  4. "Heights Births," birth announcement, Muskegon (Michigan) Chronicle, 2 October 1920, p. 14, col. 3.
  5. 1930 U.S. Federal Census, Muskegon County, Michigan, population schedule, Norton Township, enumeration district 42, p. 21A, dwelling 416, family 442, William Robbins household; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 November 2008); citing FHL microfilm 2,340,750.
  6. 1940 U.S. Federal Census, Ottawa County, Michigan, population schedule, Wright Township, enumeration district (ED) 70-45, p. 5B, dwelling 97, household of William Robbins; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 6 March 2013); citing NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 1809. 
  7. McGinnis, Michigan Genealogy, 49.
  8. Bryan H. Robbins, interview by Miriam Robbins, undated (between 1996-2018).  Bryan stated that his father had received a deferment to enlist until after his daughter was born; at which time, he persuaded his brother, William Bryan Robbins, Jr., to go to Kalmazoo to enlist with him.
  9. Access to Archival Databases, "World War II Army Enlistment Records," database, U.S. National Archives & Records Administration (http://aad.archives.gov : accessed 22 Apr 2005).
  10.  Ottawa County, Michigan, Marriage License and Certificate of Marriage, no. 527, Robbins-Holst, 1940; duplicate document held by Miriam Robbins [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Spokane, Washington, 2018.
  11. Robert Louis Robbins, interview by Miriam (Robbins) Midkiff, 1989.  Bob stated that he and Jeanne were married at the Methodist parsonage.
  12. Bryan H. Robbins, interview by Miriam (Robbins) Midkiff, 1990.  Bryan stated that at Bob and Jeanne's 50th anniversary celebration which he attended, Ray Adams and Geneva Parrish, who were introduced as the best man and maid of honor, were also present.

Pin It

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Proving the Generations 3: My Mom

In the first post of this series, Proving the Generations, I wrote how my goal is to use the Genealogical Proof Standard to show my ancestry through my great-great-grandparents' generation.

In this third post, I will be proving that my mother, Faith Lillian Valk, is the daughter of William Valk, Jr. and Ruth Lillian Hoekstra.  Because my mother is living, I will not be providing as many details or citations in this post as I will in the posts where all the ancestors are deceased.

My mother, around 3 1/2 years of age.

My mother was born in Michigan during World War II.  Her father was serving in the U.S. Army, and so was not present at the time of her birth.  My grandmother told me her memories of my mother's birth, and I have numerous photos of my mother with her mother from infancy through adulthood.  Because my grandparents divorced when my mother was 22 months old, I have not seen photographs of my mother in infancy or young childhood with her father.  However, I have in my possession professional photographs taken of my mother in infancy and early childhood with "To Daddy, from Faith" captioned on the back, which I received from my grandfather's widow and son after his death.

The following documents were created at or near the time of my mother's birth:

  1. A Certificate of Birth issued by the Michigan Department of Health, Bureau of Records and Statistics, stating my mother's full name, date of birth, place of birth (hospital and city).  It lists her parents as "William Jr. Valk" and Ruth Lillian Hoekstra, their ages, and their birthplaces.
  2. A Notification of Birth Registration issued by the U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, stating my mother's full name, date and place of birth, and listing her parents as "William Jr. Valk" and Ruth Lillian Hoekstra.
  3. My maternal great-grandmother, Lillian Fern (Strong) Hoekstra, mentioned my mother's birth and her parents' names in two places in her Family Record book.  This information would have been written between the time of my mother's birth and 10 September 1967, when my great-grandmother passed away.  Although this information may not have been written close to the time of the event, it was written by her maternal grandmother who lived in the same city and would have had personal knowledge about the birth of my mother, her first grandchild.

Additionally, my mother's DNA matches her parents' biological relatives on both sides of the family.  Her paternal cousin shares 758 centimorgans (cM) of DNA, which is consistent with a first cousin relationship.  She also shares DNA with numerous 2nd - 3rd cousins on both her father's and mother's sides, consistent with the estimated relationship ranges.

Finally, I am providing some information on my parents' marriage, even though it is not used to prove parentage.  My parents' Marriage License/Certificate of Marriage document states my parents' full names, age at the date of the license (issued four days before their wedding), residences, full birth places, and names of their parents: Robert Lewis [sic] Robbins, Jeanne Marie Holst, William Valk Jr., and Ruth Lillian Hoekstra.  The license half is signed by the deputy county clerk.  The certificate half is signed by the officiating minister, best man, and matron of honor, and gives the date and location of their marriage.  I have in my possession professional and informal photographs of the event, an invitation to the wedding from their scrapbook, and copies of articles from the local newspaper regarding their engagement and their wedding.

My mother is the daughter of William Valk, Jr. and Ruth Lillian Hoekstra.


Pin It

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Proving the Generations 2: My Dad

In the first post of this series, Proving the Generations, I wrote how my goal is to use the Genealogical Proof Standard to show my ancestry through my great-great-grandparents' generation.

In this second post, I will be proving that my father, Bryan Henry Robbins, is the son of Robert Louis Robbins and Jeanne Marie Holst (born Jane Marie York).  To begin, I must clarify that my paternal grandfather's middle name was often spelled Lewis, for his mother's maiden surname, and it is likely that his middle name was misspelled on his birth certificate.  I must also clarify that my paternal grandmother was an adoptee, born Jane Marie York, whose name was legally changed at adoption to Jeanne Marie Holst when she was 16, although she had been using the latter name as a foster child since she was three years old.  More details on my grandmother's birth and adoption will be provided in the fifth post of this series.

My dad at five years old.

Because my father is living, I will not be providing as many details or citations in this post as I will in the posts where all the ancestors are deceased.  My father was born in Canada during World War II to American parents.  My grandfather was stationed at a U.S. Army Air Corps base in the Province of Alberta, and my grandmother and my aunt, not quite two years old, were living on base with him.  My grandmother had followed my grandfather quite literally around the continent to the various bases he was assigned at.  These are the stories told to me by my grandparents and aunt (who has a few early memories of these times), and they are backed up by a photo album my paternal great-grandmother put together as a birthday gift for her son, my grandfather.  Additionally, I have a photo of my expectant grandmother walking down the street of the city where my father was born, holding my toddler aunt's hand; this photo was taken by a street photographer, a common occurence during World War II.  I also have numerous photos of my father with his parents, from infancy to adulthood.

My father was named for his grandfathers, William Bryan Robbins, Sr. and Alfred Henry Holst (my grandmother's adoptive father), showing indirectly that he is related to his parents, and thus grandparents.

There were several documents created at or near the time of my father's birth which state his birth date and location of birth:

  1. His Certificate of Birth issued by the Province of Canada, stating his birth date, city of birth, his parents' names (Robert Louis Robbins and Jeanne Marie Holst) and their respective birth places (Muskegon Heights, Michigan, U.S.A. and Goodrich, Michigan, U.S.A.).
  2. A baby announcement in his baby book stating his birth day of the week, birth date (month and day, but interestingly, not the year), time of birth, "U.S. Station Hospital" and the city, province, and country, and signed by the attending doctor and nurse.  It appears this baby announcement may have been provided by the hospital where he was born.
  3. Within a few weeks of my father's birth, my grandfather submitted a Report of Change of Status and Address to the War Department.  This report gives my father's birth date and birth location, my grandfather's full name, Army serial number, grade, and military mailing address, and allowed for an upgrade in my grandfather's family allowance from the military.
  4. Although it was created when he was 16 years old and not at or near the time and place of birth, my dad's Certificate of Citizenship from the Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service gives his date and country of birth, and his current residence, which was known to be the same residence as my grandparents.  Citizenship is issued in the United States by the federal government only after careful examination of documents and the participating parties.
  5. While the Certificate of Citizenship does not list my father's parents' names, the Summons for Interview for Certificate of Citizenship, dated a couple of weeks previous to the certificate date and mailed to the residence where my father and grandparents lived, stated my father had to appear at the Office of the County Clerk with both parents.  Since my grandparents had to attend the interview, it stands to reason that the information on the certificate would be accurate.

Additionally, my father's DNA matches his parents' biological relatives on both his father's and mother's sides of the family.  His aunt shares 1,842 centimorgans (cM) of DNA with my father, which is consistent with an aunt/nephew relationship.  Dad also shares 325 and 255 cM with a paternal second cousin and maternal second cousin, respectively, which is consistent with a 1st-3rd cousin relationship.

Finally, I am providing some information on my parents' marriage, even though it is not used to prove parentage.  My parents' Marriage License/Certificate of Marriage document states my parents' full names, age at the date of the license (issued four days before their wedding), residences, full birth places, and names of their parents: Robert Lewis [sic] Robbins, Jeanne Marie Holst, William Valk Jr., and Ruth Lillian Hoekstra.  The license half is signed by the deputy county clerk.  The certificate half is signed by the officiating minister, best man, and matron of honor, and gives the date and location of their marriage.  I have in my possession professional and informal photographs of the event, an invitation to the wedding from their scrapbook, and copies of articles from the local newspaper regarding their engagement and their wedding.

My father is the son of Robert Louis Robbins (a.k.a. Robert Lewis Robbins) and Jeanne Marie Holst, (a.k.a. Jane Marie York).


Pin It

Sunday, September 02, 2018

Proving the Generations: My Parents and I

For some time now, I've been following the genealogy blog of a Dutch Facebook friend and accredited genealogist, Yvette Hoitink, who is using the Genealogical Proof Standard to attempt to prove that she is descended from Eleanor of Aquitaine, her supposed 26th-great-grandmother.

As I've been reading these fascinating posts which Yvette publishes once a month, going back one generation at a time, I've been thinking, "I should be doing something like this to show that I've accurately traced back my ancestry!"  My goal at this time is to work all my lines through my great-great-grandparents' generation, which will be a total of 31 posts.

So this is my first post in this series, which proves that I am my parents' biological child.  Because my parents are both living, I'm not going to provide the full details that I would in a post where all ancestors are deceased.

A photo taken of me at one week old, held by my mother.

I have five documents that were created or published at or close to the time of my birth which list my parents as Bryan Robbins and Faith (Valk) Robbins and give my birth place and birth date.  These documents include:
  1. My official birth certificate from the State of Alaska, with the signatures of my mother and the attending physician. This certificate also gives the age of my parents at the time of my birth, and their general birth locations.
  2. The Certificate of Birth from the hospital in which I was born, signed by the attending physician. It also has my footprints and my mother's thumbprints, and gives my parents' birth dates and specific birth locations (cities of birth).
  3. The certificate from my parents' church enrolling me in the Cradle Roll of the church, at the time of my Dedication to God at one week old (a religious event similar to christenings in other churches).
  4. A birth announcement published in the local newspaper of my mother's hometown of Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan.
  5. Birth announcements handmade by my mother and mailed out to family and friends, one of which is in my baby book.

In addition, there are a couple of photos of my expectant mother taken during the time she would have been pregnant with me; many photographs taken of me at a very early age with my parents (I was the first child and first grandchild!); many cards of congratulations about my birth kept in scrapbooks and my baby book by my mother; a letter my dad wrote to his parents shortly after my birth; stories my mother told me about the day I was born; and my own earliest memories of my parents dating back to when I was 18 months old (yes...I remember seeing the local school on fire and hearing the town siren!) and 27 months old (accompanying my father to the local airstrip to pick up a wreath of flowers someone had shipped to be placed on the grave of my infant brother).

My parents and me, when I was about three weeks old.  I believe my maternal grandmother took this photo, as she had come to Alaska from Michigan to help my mother care for me.

However, documents, photographs, and memories do not provide 100% proof of biological  parentage.  After all, there are many stories of secret adoptions, babies being switched at birth, and other examples of Misattributed Parental Events (MPEs) that one occasionally reads about. While I truly had no doubts about my parentage, I did want to have my parents test their DNA for genealogical purposes, especially since my paternal grandmother was an adoptee.  My parents agreed to test through FamilyTreeDNA, and the results show my parents and I each share 3,384 centimorgans--or 50%--of our DNA, which is consistent with the amount of DNA shared in a parent/child relationship.

So there you have it:  I am my parents' biological daughter! 

Pin It

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Richard V. Robbins of Pennylvania and Michigan: Is He Related to One of My Robbins Ancestors?

Michigan Department of Community Health, “Death Records, 1921-1947,” database with images, Seeking Michigan (http://cdm16317.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/search/collection/p16317coll1), entry for Richard V. Robbins, 20 May 1921, certificate no. 41 355.
(click on image to enlarge)

One year ago today, I made a discovery on one of my Robbins lines (I have two).  I have known from one of my cousins that there was a land transaction between Richard Robbins and my 4th-great-grandmother, Marinda (Robbins) Robbins in Oceana County, Michigan in the 1880s.  I have been trying to figure out if Richard was a relative of Marinda, or of her husband/my 4th-great-grandfather Joseph Josiah Robbins.

As I've mentioned often, my 4th-great-grandparents both had the last name Robbins.  They married each other.   They don't seem to be related, or if so, not closely. Joseph was born in Otsego County, New York and his father's name was George.  Marinda was born probably in Broome County, New York or Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania (they border each other), and her father was Uzza Robbins.

So one year ago, I took another look at Richard's death certificate.  He was young enough to be Marinda's son, so it was doubtful he was her brother (we haven't identified all her siblings).  Perhaps he was a nephew?  I saw his parents were Stephen Robbins and Sarah Wright, and he was born in Pennsylvania.

Looking through old notes and family tree info that was exchanged between myself and other Robbins genealogists, I saw that Stephen Van Rennselaer Robbins married Sarah Wright, and was a son of George Washington Robbins and Abigail Hicks, the couple I am 99% sure are also the parents of Joseph.  Although most of George and Abigail's children moved directly from the Town of Westford, Otsego County to the Town of Carroll, Chautauqua County, New York, Stephen followed the same migration trail as my Joseph:  living first in Elkland Township, Tioga County, Pennsylvania, then Liberty Township, McKean County, Pennsylvania, and then probably on to Oceana County, Michigan (I say "probably" because I don't know if Stephen did for sure...but his son Richard definitely did!).

Stephen also joined the same unit that Joseph did during the Civil War:  the 58th Pennsylvania Infantry.  In their forties, they both would have been considered "old men" at that time.

Joseph and Marinda's son Charles, my 3rd-great-grandfather, once declared in an newspaper interview before he died in 1934, that the family moved from Pennsylvania to Hesperia, Oceana County, Michigan near "where his aunt was living near Martin's lake in Newaygo county."  I have long been trying to identify this aunt. Was she Sarah (Wright) Robbins?

Also, Stephen's brother, George Robbins, Jr., bought land in Oceana County, and lived in Newaygo County, Michigan (the counties border each other, with the village of Hesperia lying on that border).

It looks likely that Richard V. Robbins was Joseph's nephew, not Marinda's.

The indirect evidence is mounting that Joseph Josiah Robbins was the son of George Washington Robbins and Abigail Hicks.  I haven't found the direct piece of evidence; I may never find it.  But the puzzle pieces are fitting together better than ever.  It's time to find a direct male descendant of George and Abigail and (Y-DNA) test him against my dad!

Pin It

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Seven Generations

Theo lovingly pets the polar bear that belonged to his
Great-great-great-grandfather, William Bryan Robbins, Sr.
4 July 2018
Taken at the home of his Great-grandfather Robbins in Stevens Co., Washington.

Earlier this month, I spent time with extended family and friends at my parents' place for their annual Fourth of July barbecue.  My 20-month-old grandson, Theo, attended with his parents, my daughter and son-in-law.  It was Theo's second Fourth of July at his Great-grandpa and Great-grandma Robbins' property high in the Selkirk Mountains, and this time he was big enough to run around.

And run around, he did.

They say it takes a village to raise a child.  It took almost that many to keep an eye on a busy toddler that loves to explore: his parents, his three cousins, and me.

Occasionally, he would come across something that would capture his attention, and he would hold still for a few minutes.  One of those items was the polar bear statue of my great-grandfather, William Bryan Robbins, Sr.

I have written about Bryan's service with the American North Russian Expeditionary Forces in a series on this blog, and it is the statue I reference in the first post in that series. When my dad was a boy, he and his father came across this statue at a nursery.  Grandpa decided it would make the perfect gift for Great-grandpa, as a way to honor his military service.

When Great-grandpa died, the statue became Grandpa's.  And after Grandpa died, my aunt brought it out West from Michigan to deliver it to Dad on one of her visits.  Now it sits on the covered front porch of my parents' log home, up in the pine forests of Eastern Washington....

...where Theo discovered it.

I wish I could have captured the look on Theo's face when he spotted Great-grandpa's polar bear.  His eyebrows rose, his mouth opened wide (so that his binky fell out!), and then he ran to squat and pet the bear.

In that moment, I felt the pages of history turn.  I had met my great-grandfather a couple of times when I was very little (too young to remember, unfortunately).  And here was my grandson, admiring and loving something that had belonged to an ancestor five generations before him, a man his Mimi (grandma) had met.  A man his Mimi will tell stories about to him, when he is old enough to understand, just as my father and grandfather told me stories about their grandparents and great-grandparents....

...the stories that motivated me to begin genealogical research; the stories that motivated me to write down my ancestor stories, or AnceStories.

When my great-grandfather died in 1972, he had known seven generations of Robbins in his lifetime, from his great-grandparents, to his grandparents, parents, siblings and cousins, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. It was a span of knowing people who had lived over the course of 152 years, from 1820 to 1972!

My grandfather also had known seven generations of Robbins in his lifetime when he passed in 2003; people who had lived over a course of 159 years, from 1844 to 2003!  My dad, at nearly three-quarters of a century old, has known seven generations of Robbins, too; even though his great-grandfather Robbins died before he was born, he knew his great-grandmother.

I have known six generations of Robbins.  And if I'm lucky, someday, I'll be a great-grandmother, and know Theo's children.  Who knows how many generations Theo will know in his lifetime?

In Pacific Northwest Native cultures, there is an inter-tribal value of "Seven Generations," in which the impact of decisions on the next seven generations is considered.  As genealogists, have we considered how we are passing on the stories, photos, heirlooms, traditions, and culture that we have learned and inherited from the ancestors within memory to our descendants?

How many generations have you known?

Friday, March 16, 2018

Her Name Was...Anna?

Nellie May Concidine, c. 1905.
Unknown location, probably Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan.
Original privately held by Miriam Robbins,
[ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Spokane, Washington, 2018.
(click on photo to enlarge)

Last night, I was lost in thought, looking toward my dining room wall, which I call my "Ancestor Wall," since so many of my ancestors' portraits grace it.  My eyes fell on the portrait of my adoptive great-grandmother, Nellie May (Concidine) Holst (1883 - 1953).  Nellie...hmmm.  Was her first name really Nellie, or was it Eleanor?  Maybe I needed to double-check her birth record to see how her name was originally recorded.  Then I realized that I wasn't sure I had her birth record.

Nellie May (Concidine) and Alfred Henry Holst, c. 1905.
Unknown location, probably Grand Rapids, Kent Co., Michigan.
Original photo privately held by Miriam Robbins,
[ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Spokane, Washington, 2018.
(click on photo to enlarge)
A little background:  Nellie was born in Byron Township, Kent County, Michigan.  She was the second child and first daughter of half-Irish, half-Scots John Dennis Concidine (1854 - 1925) and Anna "Annie" Matilda Higby (1861 - 1903), a woman whose roots go back into colonial New England.  After teaching for a few years, Nellie married a German-Swedish immigrant, Alfred Henry Holst (1882 - 1952) in 1905.  They had a set of twins, Earl and May, who died in infancy in 1909.  Then they had my grand-aunt, Lucille, in 1918.  Hoping to enlarge their little family, they fostered and later adopted my paternal grandmother, born Jane Marie York, whom they named Jeanne Marie Holst.

I looked in my family tree software, RootsMagic, and the only sources I had for Nellie's birth were family records, census records, and her death certificate.  I looked in my electronic files and did not see a birth record for her.  So off I went to FamilySearch to look in their Michigan Births, 1867-1902 collection.

It took some creative searching to locate Nellie's birth record.  A search for "Concidine" with the Exact Search box unchecked (because Considine and Constantine are common alternate spellings) yielded results for Nellie's siblings, Ethel, Loid (Lloyd), and Manly (Manley), along with 151 other results, but no Nellie.  After several unsuccessful other searches, I finally settled on leaving the name field blank and searched  the birth location Byron (exact) and the birth years 1883 - 1883 (my family records stated Nellie was born 23 December 1883 in Byron Township).  This yielded a list of all babies born in Byron Township in 1883, a total of 31.  And one of them was an "Anna Corcadine" born 16 December 1883 to John and Anna:

"Michigan Births, 1867-1902," database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NQCN-TZQ : 10 March 2018), Anna Corcadine, 16 Dec 1883; citing item 2 p 344 rn 1287, Byron, Kent, Michigan, Department of Vital Records, Lansing; FHL microfilm 2,320,696.
(click on each image above to enlarge detailed area)

Her name was...Anna? What in the world?

You need to understand how birth records in Michigan were created, prior to birth certificates being issued in 1905.  The town supervisor or a city clerk would canvas his area once a year, going door-to-door to record all the births and deaths that had occurred in that township or ward the previous year.  Remind you of anything?  Yes, the census.  Vital records, births and deaths, were recorded census-style in Michigan, from 1867 to 1895 (death records) and 1905 (birth records).  After 1895/1905, death/birth certificates were issued.

So all the issues we have with people going missing or having incorrect information recorded on censuses applies to birth and death records in Michigan from 1867 to 1895/1905.  To add to the rates of error, we're not exactly sure what happened to these original recordings.  The information was copied into the county birth and death libers, many of which have been microfilmed by the Family History Library.  Then the information was further copied and sent off to the secretary of state, and recorded in the state birth and death libers, also microfilmed by the Family History Library and now digitized and available online as the Michigan Births, 1867-1902 collection. I have not been able to find what the town supervisors or city clerks did with those original records they made when going door-to-door.  They do not seem to be in existence.

So the record viewed above is actually the third recording of the information of Nellie's birth, copied from the county record, copied from the door-to-door record, which was recorded in May 1884, five months after Nellie's birth.  We also do not know who gave out this information to the recorder: her mother...her father...a relative living in the home...or a neighbor?

I am now more stumped than ever.  Was Nellie originally named Anna (after her mother), but then the family decided to call her Nellie?  Was Anna a recording error made by the town supervisor, or did it get mis-copied from the original (for instance, did one of the recorders glance at the mother's name and write it as the child's name)?  Also, our family records state Nellie was born on 23 December 1883, but this record says 16 December.  Sometimes, finally being able to access the record generates more questions than provides answers!  In these cases, careful comparison and analysis between multiple records that contain similar information must be made, and a reasonable conclusion must be drawn, understanding that more than one reasonable conclusion can be made.

What I am sure of is that Nellie was born to John and Anna (Higby) Concidine in Byron Township in December 1883. I will look for other sources to which to compare the birth record and come up with the best reasonable conclusion about her name and her birth date.

Pin It