Tombstone Tuesday : Auguste Yustine (Schmandt) (Treptow) Block

C. F. William & Yustine Block grave marker, St. Lorenz Lutheran Cemetery, Frankenmuth, Michigan; 2012.
C. F. William & Yustine Block grave marker, St. Lorenz Lutheran Cemetery, Frankenmuth, Michigan; 2012.

Yustine was born at Karwenbruch, Kreis Putzig, Westpreußen, Prussia, 28 November 1838, the daughter of Martin and Luise (Juni) Schmandt.[1] She was baptized at the Evangelisch church at nearby Krockow on 9 December 1838.[2] Under the auspice of the same parish she married Gottlieb Johann Treptow on 28 November 1867.[3] On 20 July 1870, Yustine departed Hamburg with her husband and three children, including twin infants, aboard the S.S. Hammonia.[4] Less than two weeks later they arrived at New York on 1 August.[5] They settled at Frankenmuth, Saginaw County, Michigan where Yustine gave birth to three daughters.[6]

Following the death of her husband in 1877[7], Yustine married Carl Friedrich Wilhelm Block at Frankenmuth at St. Lorenz Lutheran Church on 1 September 1880.[8] They farmed at Birch Run Township, Saginaw County.[9] She had one more daughter with this husband.[10] Yustine died at Saginaw, Saginaw County on 16 November 1931, less than two weeks shy of her ninety-third birthday.[11] She is buried with her second husband at St. Lorenz Lutheran Cemetery, Frankenmuth.[12]

How we are related: Yustine is my second great-grandmother.

Reference Notes:

[1] Evangelische Kirche Krockow (Kreis Putzig, Westpreußen, Prussia), Kirchenbuch 1824-1846, births and baptisms, unpaginated, 1838, no. 100, Yustine Schmandt; Family History Library (FHL) microfilm 245,382.

[2] ibid.

[3] Evangelische Kirche Krockow (Kreis Putzig, Westpreußen, Prussia), Heiratsregister 1847-1944, unpaginated, 1867, no. 20, Gottlieb Joh Treptow & Auguste Eva Schmandt; FHL microfilm 245,381, item 4.

[4] “Hamburg Passenger Lists, 1850-1934,” database and images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 October 2015), manifest image, Hammonia, Hamburg to New York, leaving 20 July 1870, p. 642, line nos. 335-39, Johann Treptow family; citing Bestand [inventory no.] 373-7I, VIII (Auswanderungsamt I), Direkt Band [vol.] 024; Staatsarchiv Hamburg microfilm no. K_1715.

[5] “New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” database and images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 October 2015), manifest image, Harmonia [S.S. Hammonia], Hamburg to New York, arriving 1 August 1870, unpaginated, line nos. 333-37, Joh. Treptow family; citing National Archives microfilm publication M237, roll 332.

[6] Elaine Huber, translator, “St. Lorenz Lutheran Church (Frankenmuth, Michigan), Book II: Baptisms (1857-1885),” (typescript, 1995, St. Lorenz Lutheran Church Office, Frankenmuth), pp. 32-34, Block, no. 31.

[7] Huber, Elaine, translator, “St. Lorenz Lutheran Church (Frankenmuth, Michigan), Book II: Burials (1858-1885).” (typescript, 1993, St. Lorenz Lutheran Church Office, Frankenmuth), 1877, p. 1, Gottlieb Johann Treptow.

[8] Elaine Huber, translator, “St. Lorenz Lutheran Church (Frankenmuth, Michigan), Book II: Baptisms (1857-1885),” (typescript, 1995, St. Lorenz Lutheran Church Office, Frankenmuth), p. 32, Block, no. 31.

[9] 1900 U.S. census, Saginaw County, Michigan, population schedule, Birch Run Township, enumeration district 22, sheet 9-B, dwelling 204, family 204, William C. Block household; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 October 2015); citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, roll 739.

[10] Huber, “St. Lorenz Lutheran Church (Frankenmuth, Michigan), Book II: Baptisms (1857-1885), pp. 32-34, Block, no. 31.

[11] “Death Records, 1921-1947,” database and images, Michigan History Foundation, Seeking Michigan (http://seekingmichigan.org : accessed 24 October 2015), death certificate image, Saginaw County, no. 17310466 (state office no.), Yustina Block, 16 November 1931.

[12] St. Lorenz Lutheran Cemetery (Frankenmuth, Saginaw County, Michigan), C. F. William & Yustine Block marker, section 03; personally read, 2012.

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Frankenmuth & The Great Thumb Fire of 1881

Chart of the Burnt District of Michigan, The Great Thumb Fire of 1881.[1]
“Chart of the Burnt District of Michigan,” The Great Thumb Fire of 1881.[1]
134 years ago this month, the Great Thumb Fire swept through Michigan’s Thumb region. Hundreds perished in the fire. It destroyed over 3,000 buildings. The valuation of losses was over $2,000,000 in 1881 dollars.[2] The Great Thumb Fire of 1881 was the first major disaster response of the newly formed American Red Cross.[3]

The conflagration was centered mainly in the Thumb region counties of Huron, Sanilac, Tuscola, and Lapeer.[4] Largely forgotten to time, the fire extended as far west as Frankenmuth Township in Saginaw County. An article from The Saginaw Evening News provides the following details:

“The fires are spreading rapidly in the vicinity of Frankenmuth, and considerable damage has already been done. Three barns with their contents of hay and grain have been destroyed, and Martin Messner [Mossner] has lost 125 cords of wood and all his fences. Several houses are now in danger, and the fire is gaining.”[5]

Reference Notes:

[1] “Chart of the Burnt District of Michigan,” digital image, State of Michigan, Michigan.gov (http://www.michigan.gov/images/FIRE1881_22139_7.jpg : accessed 11 September 2015).

[2] William O. Bailey, Report on the Michigan Forest Fires of 1881 (Washington D.C.: Office of the Chief Signal Officer, 1882), 16; digital images, Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 10 September 2015).

[3] “How Has Red Cross Fire Response Changed Over the Years?,” American Red Cross, News, 8 April 2015 (http://www.redcross.org/news/article/How-Has-Red-Cross-Fire-Response-Changed-Over-the-Years : accessed 11 September 2015).

[4] Bailey, Report on the Michigan Forest Fires of 1881, 13-16.

[5] “Red Ruin: At Frankenmuth,” The Saginaw (Michigan) Evening News, 6 September 1881, p. 2, col. 3; digital images, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 10 September 2015).

Tombstone Tuesday : Anna Elisabeth (Hufnagel) Stern

George M. & Anna E. (Hufnagel) Stern marker, St. Lorenz Lutheran Cemetery, Frankenmuth, Michigan; 2012.
George M. & Anna E. (Hufnagel) Stern marker, St. Lorenz Lutheran Cemetery, Frankenmuth, Michigan; 2012.

Anna Elisabeth Hufnagel was born 29 August 1855 at Schwalbenmühle bei Windsbach, Mittelfranken, Bavaria.[1] She was the daughter of Georg Andreas Hufnagel and his wife, Eva Elisabeth (Böhm).[2] At 17 years old, she departed from Bremen and immigrated to the United States on board the S.S. Berlin, arriving at Baltimore, Maryland on 3 September 1872.[3] She appears to have traveled unaccompanied by any family members.[4] On 15 July 1877 she married George Michael Stern in Bay City, Bay County, Michigan.[5] Following her marriage, Anna Elisabeth resided in Frankenmuth, Saginaw, Michigan with her family.[6] She had one son.[7] Anna Elisabeth (Hufnagel) Stern died 29 November 1942 in Frankenmuth.[8] She is buried with her husband in St. Lorenz Lutheran Cemetery.[9]

How we are related: Anna Elisabeth is my second great-grandmother.

Reference Notes:

1. Tobias Brenner, compiler, “The Brenner Collection,” type- and manuscripts, n.d., family group record for Gg Andreas Hufnagel and Eva Els Böhm, married 26 November 1848; FHL microfilm 541,585.

2. Ibid.

3. “Baltimore, Passenger Lists, 1820-1964,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 September 2015), manifest, S. S. Berlin, Bremen to Baltimore, Maryland, arriving 3 September 1872, p. 13 (unpaginated), no. 425, Anna Hufnagel; citing National Archives microfilm publication M255, roll 020, list no. 109.

4. Ibid.

5. Bay County, Michigan, Marriage Registers, 1877, p. 58, no. 1594, George Michael Stern-Elisabeth Hufnagle [sic]; digital image, “Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 26 August 2015); citing Michigan Department of Vital Records, Lansing.

6. See, for example, 1900 U.S. census, Saginaw County, Michigan, population schedule, Frankenmuth Township, p. 199-B (stamped), enumeration district 34, dwelling 74, family 75, Anna E Stern; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 1 September 2015), citing National Archives microfilm publication T623, exact roll not cited for individual images.

7. Elaine Huber, translator, “St. Lorenz Lutheran Church (Frankenmuth, Michigan), Book II: Baptisms (1857-1885),” (typescript, 1995, St. Lorenz Lutheran Church Offices, Frankenmuth), pp. 263 & 4, Stern no. 317.

8. “Michigan Death Certificates, 1921-1952,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 26 August 2015), Anna E Stern, 29 November 1942; citing Michigan Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing.

9. St. Lorenz Lutheran Cemetery (Frankenmuth, Saginaw County, Michigan), Anna E Stern marker, section 2; personally read, 2012.

Connecting the Hufnagels of Bay and Saginaw Counties

Recently, I received a message from a woman inquiring about a potential DNA match with her mother. We had both tested through AncestryDNA and were a high confidence match. A couple of weeks ago, my potential cousin and I connected via the telephone and discovered our shared ancestry through the Hufnagel line.

Three years ago, I began my Hufnagel research only knowing the name, birth and dates of my great-great grandmother Anna Elisabeth Hufnagel (1855-1942)[1] who had married George Michael Stern. This information had been recorded on a slip of paper by my grandmother which she had presumably written for my father. Beyond that, I had no knowledge of her or her family. The civil marriage record for the couple indicated Elisabeth Hufnagel was born in Germany and living in Bay City, Bay County, Michigan at the time of her marriage to my great-great grandfather on 15 July 1877.[2] This led me to search for her family origins which in turn led me to other Hufnagels in Bay and Saginaw Counties.

The Hufnagel surname was not particularly common in the Saginaw Valley and a variety of census, marriage, death, church, newspaper, probate and other records indicated the following additional Hufnagels born in Germany and residing in either Saginaw or Bay Counties, Michigan:

  • J. Michael Hufnagel (1842-1887)[3]
  • George Adam Hufnagel (1851-1920)[4]
  • Anna Maria (Hufnagel) Schreiner (1857-1922)[5]
  • Johann L. Hufnagel (1860—1896)[6]

Given their common surname, birthplaces of Germany, and proximity of settlement in the Saginaw Valley, it seemed likely they were all related. Multiple on-line family trees had them all listed as siblings, although none had adequate sources supporting this. Through the various records mentioned above, I found connections as siblings for George Adam, Anna Elisabeth, Anna Maria, and Johann L.[8] No records indicating J. Michael Hufnagel’s relationship to any of the other Hufnagels or their common parents were located.

A church record for Anna Maria (Hufnagel) Schreiner indicated her birthplace was Windsbach, Baiern.[7] This led to a search for records from the town of Windsbach, Bavaria. This then led to the discovery of The Brenner Collection of family group sheets extracted from parish records in and near the district of Ansbach, Mittelfranken, Bavaria. These records include Windsbach parish. The Family History Library (Salt Lake City, Utah) holds microfilms, 764 rolls to be exact, of the Brenner Collection. I ordered a film potentially containing records for my Hufnagels of interest.

A family group sheet from the collection confirmed the parentage, birth dates and places for the Hufnagels I had already identified as siblings:

Children of Gg Andreas Hufnagel and Eva Els Böhm married 26 November 1848 in Windsbach:

  • Georg Adam, b. 20 December 1851, Schwalbenmuehle [bei Windsbach]
  • Anna Elisabeth, b. 29 August 1855, Schwalbenmuehle
  • Anna Maria, b. 8 October 1857, Schwalbenmuehle
  • Johann Adam (aka Johann L.), b. 2 June 1860, Schwalbenmuehle [9]

Schwalbenmuehle lies to the east of Windsbach. It translates as “swallows mill.” The record lists Gg Andreas as a “Mühlgutsbesiter,” a mill landowner.[10] The record also listed these additional children of the couple:

  • Anna Elisabeth, b. 28 August 1849, Windsbach; d. 1 January 1850, Windsbach
  • Georg Michael, b. 21 October 1850 Windsbach; d. 15 November 1853, Windsbach
  • Margareta Barbara, b. 25 March 1853, Windsbach [11]

J. Michael Hufnagel, born 1842, about six years before Georg Andreas Hufnagel and his wife were married, was not a part of this record. Still theorizing he must be a relation, I continued to search the Brenner Collection. Another family group record potentially identified his birth:

Child of Gg. Andr. [Georg Andreas] Hufnagel and M. Barb. [Maria Barbara] Böhm married 4 June 1838 in Windsbach:

  • Johann Mich. [Michael], b. 11 January 1842, Windsbach [12]

This couple also had several other children between 1839 and 1846.[13]

Based on his proximity in time and location to the other Windsbach area Hufnagels in the Saginaw Valley, this Brenner Collection record is probably the correct record for J. Michael Hufnagel of Bay County, Michigan. This was the only record from the Windsbach area that proved to be a possibility for him.

The Brenner Collection is a derivative source and the information provided by the records is out of context and error-prone, thus making it difficult to ascertain the definitive connection of Johann Michael Hufnagel of Windsbach to the Hufnagels of Bay County, Michigan and Frankenmuth, Saginaw County, Michigan; however, I offer this hypothesis:

There is not enough information from both family group records cited to state that the father Georg Andreas Hufnagel is certainly the same man. There is no death recorded for Maria Barbara (Böhm) Hufnagel, but her last children were twins born 12 May 1846.[14] The other family group record for a Georg Andreas Hufnagel shows his marriage to have taken place on 26 November 1848.[15] It is possible that the Georg Andreas Hufnagel of both family group records is the same man if his first wife died sometime between the birth of their twins and his potential second marriage. Moreover, there do not seem to be records for Hufnagels in Windsbach prior to the 1838 marriage of Georg Andreas, lessening the likelihood that there were several Hufnagel families residing there. This would make Johann Michael Hufnagel a half-sibling to the other Hufnagels of Bay County and Frankenmuth, Michigan; however, the original church records of Windsbach should be examined in context to possibly prove this. American church records for J. Michael Hufnagel have not yet been located; they may provide further insight into his identity.

Since originally examining The Brenner Collection on microfilm, I found that Ancestry.com has recently digitized the collection as “Ansbach, Germany, Lutheran Parish Register Extracts, 1550-1920.” The collection is also still available on microfilm from the Family History Library, Salt Lake City, Utah.

Reference Notes:

1. “Michigan Death Certificates, 1921-1952,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 26 August 2015), Anna E Stern, 29 November 1942; citing Michigan Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing.

2. Bay County, Michigan, Marriage Registers, 1877, p. 58, no. 1594, George Michael Stern-Elisabeth Hufnagle [sic]; digital image, “Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 26 August 2015); citing Michigan Department of Vital Records, Lansing.

3. History of Bay County, Michigan With Illustrations And Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men And Pioneers (Chicago: H. R. Page, 1883), 203.

Bay County, Michigan, Death Registers, 1887, f. 80, no. 386, Mike Hufnagel; digital image, “Michigan Deaths, 1867-1897,” FamilySearch (https://www.familysearch.org : accessed 26 August 2015); citing Michigan Department of Vital Records, Lansing.

Bay County, Michigan, probate case file no. 2172, J. Michael Hufnagel (1888); “Michigan Probate Records, 1797-1973,” digital images, FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org : accessed 7 August 2015).

4. “Death Records, 1897-1920,” Michigan History Foundation, Seeking Michigan (http://seekingmichigan.org : accessed 30 August 2013), death certificate image, Bay County, no. 164 (stamped), George Adam Hufnagel, 8 September 1920; citing Michigan Department of State, Division of Vital Statistics.

5. “Death Records, 1921-1947,” Michigan History Foundation, Seeking Michigan (http://seekingmichigan.org : accessed 26 August 2015), death certificate image, Saginaw County, no. 73 736 (stamped), Anna Maria Schreiner, 31 December 1922; citing Michigan Department of State, Division of Vital Statistics.

6. Find A Grave, database and images (http://www.findagrave.com : accessed 26 August 2015), memorial 116845299, Johann L. Hufnagel (1860-1896), Fremont Cemetery, Bay County, Michigan; a photograph by FELIX 5574 provides a legible image of the inscribed data including full birth and death dates.

7. Elaine Huber, translator, “St. Lorenz Lutheran Church (Frankenmuth, Michigan), Book II: Baptisms (1857-1885),” (typescript, 1995, St. Lorenz Lutheran Church Offices, Frankenmuth), p. 253, Schreiner no. 298.

8. 1884 Michigan state census, Bay County, Monitor Township, population schedule,  p. 20, lines 9-12 , household of Adam Hufnagel; digital images, “Michigan State Census, 1884-1894,” Michigan History Foundation, Seeking Michigan (http://seekingmichigan.org : accessed 30 August 2013).

Bay County, Michigan, Marriage Registers, 1895, f. 174, no. 4800, John Hufnatel [sic]-Mary M. Kraft; digital image, “Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925,” FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : accessed 27 August 2015); citing Michigan Department of Vital Records, Lansing.

“Death Records, 1897-1920,” death certificate image, Bay County, no. 164 (stamped), George Adam Hufnagel (1920).

“Obituary,” obituary for G. A. Hufnagel, The Bay City (Michigan) Times Tribune, Friday, 10 September 1920; digital images, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 09 November 2013).

“Death Records, 1921-1947,” death certificate image, Saginaw County, no. 73 736 (stamped), Anna Maria Schreiner (1922).

“Michigan Death Certificates, 1921-1952,” database, Anna E Stern (1942).

9. Tobias Brenner, compiler, “The Brenner Collection,” type- and manuscripts, n.d., family group record for Gg Andreas Hufnagel and Eva Els Böhm, married 26 November 1848; FHL microfilm 541,585. The birth date for Johann Adam matches that of tombstone record for Johann L. (see reference note no. 6).

10. Ibid.

11. Ibid.

12. Tobias Brenner, compiler, “The Brenner Collection,” type- and manuscripts, n.d., family group record for Gg Andr. Hufnagel and M. Barb. Böhm, married 4 June 1838; FHL microfilm 541,585.

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid.

15. Brenner, “The Brenner Collection,” Gg Andreas Hufnagel and Eva Els Böhm (1848).

Old News Beat : The Fourth of July, 100 Years Ago

Independence Day happenings in the lives of our “FrankenGen” ancestors, 1915:

Frankenmuth News header
“The Frankenmuth News” header, 08 July 1915. [1]

Annual Big Time at Birch Run

The annual celebration of July 4th and picnic was held in Smith’s grove at Birch Run. A local band and a number of special features made an enjoyable day. Among the sports, the relay races and the needle race were the most closely contested. The speakers were Clarence Hall and James Lempman of Detroit, and Rev. Scott, Jos. Winslow, M. L. Hadseil, and William McGregor of Birch Run. A ball game between the married and single men was a feature of the afternoon. The married men were the victor by a score of 6 to 5.[2]

Richville Hotel Destroyed by Fire

The large wooden hotel at Richville, known as the Richville house, owned by Jacob Raquet Jr of Saginaw and conducted by Fred Ranke, was burned to the ground Sunday [4 July] morning. Nearly all the furniture was destroyed. With hard work nearby buildings were saved and the total destruction of the little town averted.

Mr. Ranke awoke and smelled smoke and running out of the house found the roof and third story in flames. He got his family out and the piano and children’s bed, but all the rest went up in smoke. Help from Reese and the efforts of the town people saved the rest of the town from destruction.[3]

And the The Saginaw Daily News reported:

Saginaw Ready For The Fourth

Several events are scheduled for Sunday [4 July] afternoon, including the automobile races at the Saginaw Racing association half mile tracks, and the public outdoor meeting at Hoyt park, where it is expected Senator William Alden Smith and Congressman Joseph W. Fordney will make addresses. At the Auditorium The News’ war pictures will be shown in the afternoon with two performances in the evening…

Monday for Main Celebration

Monday, July 5, is to be celebrated as the main holiday by the general public, and it is for that day the small boy has loaded up with firecrackers and similar preparations. Of the events Monday the culmination will be the fireworks display at Hoyt park in the evening following the admirable custom of other years; this eliminates any reason for private fireworks and bringing all the Saginaw family together for one joyous demonstration, the actual work being in the hands of experts, assuring safety with pleasure. In the afternoon, the big attraction will be the Ringling Brothers’ circus out on Genesee Avenue, near the city limits. In fact, the circus is expected to be here Sunday all day and this will unquestionably draw large crowds to that vicinity, the arrival and tenting of a circus still being one of the most powerful magnets known.

Special value is being given to Independence day this year, by reason of the European war, bringing its perplexities to this country and emphasizing the need of true patriotism and true citizenship. July Fourth is the Americans’ day, and all over the land the spirit of Americans is to see to it that it brings its lessons to all peoples living under the Stars and Stripes. The double holiday calls for the display of the Flag, both Sunday and Monday, and it is looked for that every Saginaw home and every Saginaw building possessing a flag display the same.[4]

Reference Notes:

[1] Header, The Frankenmuth News, 8 July 1915, p. 1; digital images, Frankenmuth Wickson District Library, Frankenmuth News Archives (http://www.frankenmutharchives.org : accessed 3 July 2015).

[2] “Annual Big Time at Birch Run,” The Frankenmuth News, 8 July 1915, p. 1, col. 4; digital images, Frankenmuth Wickson District Library, Frankenmuth News Archives (http://www.frankenmutharchives.org : accessed 3 July 2015).

[3] “Richville Hotel Destroyed By Fire,” The Frankenmuth News, 8 July 1915, p. 1, col. 6; digital images, Frankenmuth Wickson District Library, Frankenmuth News Archives (http://www.frankenmutharchives.org : accessed 3 July 2015).

[4] “Saginaw Ready For The Fourth,” The Saginaw Daily News, 3 July 1915, p. 1, col. 3; digital images, GenealogyBank (http://www.genealogybank.com : accessed 3 July 2015).

[Mappy Monday] What grew here? : Using Vegetation Maps in Your Research

Saginaw County Vegetation circa 1800 map, produced by Michigan Natural Features Inventory.
Saginaw County Vegetation circa 1800 map, produced by Michigan Natural Features Inventory.

What did the vegetation consist of at the location of Frankenmuth prior to European settlement? It was a beech-sugar maple forest. The answer was easily found using Michigan Natural Features Inventory’s “Vegetation circa 1800 Maps.” These maps show the vegetation growing in Michigan at the time of the General Land Office cadastral surveys taken between 1816 and 1856. According to the Michigan Natural Features Inventory website, “Surveyors took detailed notes on the location, species, and diameter of each tree used to mark section lines and section corners. They commented on the locations of rivers, lakes, wetlands, the agricultural potential of soils and the general quality of timber along each section line as they were measured out.” From theses notes the Michigan Natural Features Inventory created color-coded maps for each of today’s Michigan counties. The maps include township section outlines and numbers making it easy to locate a particular location. They can be accessed here.

Did it rain on Grandma’s wedding? : Using Historic Weather Data in Your Genealogy Research

I have not heard much talk about using historic weather data in genealogy research. It’s an under-utilized tool that can help paint a picture of special dates and times of our ancestors lives. Weather data can illuminate a variety of historical scenarios:

  • What was the weather like on the day Great-Grandmother gave birth to her first child? (Was it negative ten degrees and in the middle of a freak snowstorm?)
  • Was rain plentiful, or was there a drought the year the family established the farm?
  • Did Great-Grandfather really have to walk to school up hill, both ways, in two feet of snow?

Answers to these questions may be found online, for free, courtesy of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center. Among the information provided are annual and even daily weather summaries dating as far back as the 1700s.

So, the stories were true! Vassar saw thirteen inches of snow in one day in February 1898.
Maybe the stories were true. Vassar, Michigan saw thirteen inches of snow in one day on 21 February 1898.

The site may be a bit confusing at first, so I’ve put together quick tutorial on how to access weather data that’s useful for the genealogist and historical researcher. But first, here are a few quick links to some of the good stuff for the Saginaw Valley:

Bay County, Michigan: Daily Summaries

Flint (Michigan) Bishop International Airport: Annual Summaries

Genesee County, Michigan: Daily Summaries

Midland County, Michigan: Daily Summaries

Saginaw County, Michigan: Daily Summaries

Saginaw (Michigan) MBS International Airport: Annual Summaries

Tuscola County, Michigan: Daily Summaries

  • What was the weather as your immigrant ancestors stood on the deck of their ship as it pulled into New York harbor?

Here’s a link to the weather observation station in New York’s Central Park, with data back to 1876:

New York, New York Central Park Belvedere Tower: Daily Summaries

Climate Data Online: A Quick Tutorial

Begin by accessing the Climate Data Online: Search Tool.

Make a selection from “Select Weather Observation Type/Dataset” drop-down menu. Genealogists will likely find the annual and daily summaries to be the most useful.

National Climatic Data Center: Online Search Tool screen.
National Climatic Data Center: Online Search Tool screen.

Leave the default in “Select Date Range” menu. You will still get all the station results for your selected area.

In the “Search For” drop down menu, I find the “Counties” option to be the most efficient. Searching by county will show all the available station data for the entire county across a range of dates.

Next, type the name of your county in the “Location Name, etc.” box and click the “Search” button.

A menu displaying possible location choices matching your criteria will appear along the left-hand side. Select your correct location of interest.

Click on the name of your selected search result.
Click on the name of your selected search result.

Your data set location details will appear. In my case, I chose “Daily Summaries.” To see all the station daily summary data sets available for your county, click on “see station list below” next to the number of included stations or scroll to the bottom of the screen and click on “Station List.”

Click on "see list of stations."
Click on “see station list below.”

The “Location Station List & Summarized Data Inventory” will appear. Select your station of interest.

Click on your selected station.
Click on your selected station.

The “Daily Summaries Station Details” will appear. It will display a map and also provide location coordinates for the station. Scroll down to select the year and month of interest from the drop down menus.

Select the year and month you wish to view from the drop-down menus.

Your “Record of Climatological Observations” displays.  Data may include maximum and minimum temperatures and rainfall and snow amounts.

Your results display.