My blog entry on planning a genealogical research trip has been by far the most popular post, so I thought it might be a good idea to revisit the topic and talk about how my 42 hours in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula went.
My #1 objective was more information about my brick wall great-grandfather Gottfried Hann.
We arrived in Marquette at mid-afternoon, so we hit the courthouse first. Based on a visit to their website, I knew Marquette County charged $5 per day to access records and I knew the span dates for their vital records. (I think they should have charged me double.)
I knew Gottfried Hann and my great-grandmother, Anna Larsson, were married in the county on 27 April 1891. FamilySearch has a Michigan marriage database that looked like the marriage was void. Were they actually married in Marquette County on that date? And what else could I find about Gottfried Hann?
I used my printed-out list of records, plus my family tree on Reunion on my iPhone at the courthouse. But I had to use the county’s indexes on gigantic ledgers (the women in that office never need to go to the gym!) to figure out which volume, sub-volume, and page the record was on. Gottfried and Anna were indeed married on that date, but the original license for Godfrey Haunn and Anna Larsen was destroyed (one of those convenient courthouse fires) and all I was able to get was an abstract.
I had more luck with birth and death records: Anna’s brother, Carl Anders, died in 1915, and I got his death certificate, plus his wife’s from 1968 and his children’s from 1993 and 1997. And I found Carl Anders and Elin’s marriage license from 1900. But there was no birth certificate for my great-uncle, Ernest Max Hann, who was born in Marquette County on 3 Mar 1893.
The courthouse was closing, so we drove by the house where my great-great-uncle and his family had lived for more than 87 years. And we located the cemetery, but it was too big to search at random and the office was closed.
That night I hit FamilySearch again hard, looking for that birth record for Ernest Max Hann and coming up dry. After many many tries, I structured my search as follows:
Michigan Births, 1867-1902 only
Father first name Gottfried
Mother first name Anna
Location: Champion, Marquette, Michigan
Bingo! “Maxin Ham,” born 26 Mar 1893, father Godfried Ham, b. Norway (?!) and mother Anna Ham, b. Sweden. The next morning, we were at the courthouse again first thing, but Michigan will only let you look at the abstract page and not copy the record. The abstract had no new information.
Then we headed to the local museum/historical society, where we had an appointment. I’d sent a list of research objectives to the curator and she had already pulled all the obituaries for me – isn’t that great? She’d cut and pasted my research objectives right into her records, so she’d have accurate statistics for her own reports.
I’d heard a lot about the Berggren family, but the stories were unclear on whether they were relatives. Because the obits were all ready, I was able to resolve the Berggren-Larson family relationships before they closed for lunch.
My husband and I then headed to the Ishpeming city cemetery 12 miles away and got the cemetery records and headstone photographs for all of the Larsons and Berggrens. Then back to the local museum/historical society again to talk to the curator about other local resources – payroll and business records for the local mines are being processed by archivists at the university and will be available in the future.
I searched city directories (no Hanns, but lots of Larsons and Berggrens) and mining accident records, and tried to parse the local Swedish newspaper from the turn-of-the-century. My extremely patient husband went next door to the public library to buy a copy of the local genealogical society’s Genealogical Resources of Marquette County Michigan (3rd edition, 2005) while I finished at the historical society. (They were closing the next day to move to a new building, something I’d learned in my call to the curator, which allowed me to rearrange our trip.)
Still hoping for an actual birth record for Ernest Hann, we next went to the LDS library, where they had microfilm of local records. I got scans and copies of Gottfried and Anna’s marriage registry and “Maxin Ham” ’s entry in the state birth registry.
We were almost too tired to eat that night, but then I got voicemail from the local Catholic diocese while we were at dinner. I’d been calling for several weeks before we left and hadn’t heard anything in reply until I got a voicemail that night, saying the church records were open only to priests, the parish I needed was defunct, and the records were now in another town, but I could write to request a search.
As we left town the next morning, a Saturday, I realized we’d drive right through the small town where the Catholic parish records were stored. We detoured off the highway and found the Catholic church. A very nice sister agreed to make a search on the spot of their index, but affirmed that the records themselves were fragile and sealed.
She found Wilfried Hann, son of Georgi Hann and Anna Shank, and Annie Larson, daughter of Lars Larson and Carolina Larson, in her marriage abstract register. And then she found their son, Maximus Hann, born 3 Mar 1893 and christened 26 Mar 1893.
All of this is just a long way of saying that planning pays off. I was able to get about twice as much done, including research on collateral lines. And while two new names in my Hann line doesn’t seem like much, it represents a big hole in that brick wall.
And now I’ll excuse myself – I have a lot of scanning to catch up on!
Thanks for some great ideas for planning ahead. It pays to be super-organized, and you sure are! 🙂
Aren’t they great? Many thanks to Rosemary – she knows her stuff.
I am glad you had a good experience in Michigan! I have been to the Marquette museum and they were very helpful.
It helps to have a husband you can flog like Scarlett O’Hara’s horse on the road back to Tara.
Wow! You had a great trip. Someday I hope to be as productive as you.