Another free local newspaper archives

Another newspaper relevant to the area of Michigan’s Franconian settlements has been recently digitized. The Tuscola County Advertiser is now available on-line, free, spanning the years 1868-1943. The digitization project is sponsored by the Caro (Michigan) Area District Library. Along with the Tuscola County Advertiser, they have also digitized many years of Caro High School yearbooks from 1922-2006. The newspaper and yearbook collection can be searched here.

Fullscreen capture 472016 83847 PM
Caro Area District Library “Digital Collection” webpage; Caro Area District Library (http://caro.ploud.net : 7 April 2016).

For other free digitized newspapers from Michigan’s Saginaw Valley and Thumb regions, see the posts “3 free local newspaper archives” and “More free local newspaper archives.”

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).

The Lovira Hart Letters : Frankenmuth Noted

The Hart family of Tuscola Township, Tuscola County were early Michigan pioneers, settling here, as my knowledgeable uncle proudly tells me, “before Michigan was a state.”[1] Several letters spanning the years 1837-1853 written by the family’s patriarch, Lovira Hart, and his wife to family in New York State are today housed in the University of Michigan’s Bentley Historical Library[2]. Transcriptions of the letters were published in Hildred Jay Hart’s Genealogical History of Lovira Hart, Sr. and His Ancestors and Descendants 1605-1976.[3] Not only do these letters give details of their family life, they also provide insight into the early settlement of Michigan’s Saginaw Valley.

Though not explicitly named, the new German settlement at Frankenmuth was noteworthy enough to gain mention in two letters written by Lovira Hart of neighboring Tuscola Township. In the excerpt below, it is clear that Lovira had already visited the German settlers not too long after their arrival.

Aug. 24 1845

“A new settlement has ________ Reserve between here and Bridgeport ________ seven Dutch families they are direct from Germany of the German Lutheran Order and have brot [sic] their Preacher with two Church bells they have also got their School Teacher and they expect more of their Country men soon to follow them they appear intelligent and can most of them speak the English language and possessing some considerable money they bought about one sec of land on the River at 20/ per acre.”[4]

Reference Notes:

[1] This oral history corresponds to the published assertion of Lovira Hart’s arrival in Tuscola County in 1836. See, History of Tuscola and Bay Counties, Michigan : with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Their Prominent Men and Pioneers (Chicago: H. R. Page & Co., 1883), 33; digital images, University of Michigan Library, Michigan County Histories and Atlases (http://quod.lib.umich.edu/m/micounty/ : accessed 14 August 2015).

[2] “Lovira Hart papers, 1837-1853,” entry, University of Michigan Library, Mirlyn Catalog (http://mirlyn.lib.umich.edu/ : accessed 14 August 2015).

[3] Hart, Hildred Jay. Genealogical History of Lovira Hart, Sr. And His Ancestors and Descendants 1605-1976. Centreville, Michigan: n.p., 1979.

[4] Hildred Jay Hart, Genealogical History of Lovira Hart, Sr. And His Ancestors and Descendants 1605-1976 (Centreville, Michigan: n.p., 1979), 188; excerpt from letters dated 24 August, 1845, written by Lovira Hart.

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).

Tombstone Tuesday : Johann Georg Leonhardt & Anna Abalonia (Heinlein) Weber

Johann G. L. & Anna A. (Heinlein) Weber grave marker, St. Michael's Lutheran Cemetery, Richville, Michigan; 2012.
Johann G. L. & Anna A. (Heinlein) Weber grave marker, St. Michael’s Lutheran Cemetery, Richville, Michigan; 2012.

In honor of Veterans Day it is fitting to remember Johann Georg Leonhardt Weber (25 April 1847-21 May 1910).[1] Johann, or John, was born in Frankenmuth, the oldest child of two of Frankenmuth’s original founding settlers, Johann Conrad Weber and Kunigunde Barbara (Bernthal). John Weber fought in the American Civil War. At age seventeen he enlisted in the United States Army on 17 August 1864 in Company D, 29th Michigan Infantry.[2] The regiment participated in battles in Decatur, Alabama and Overall Creek, Winsted Church, Shelbyville Pike, and Nolansville, Tennessee.[3]

On 20 April 1876 John was married in Richville, Michigan to Anna Abalonia Heinlein (7 October 1852-19 January 1931).[4][5] The couple was married by the groom’s uncle, Rev. George Bernthal. They lived in Denmark Township, Tuscola County where John farmed.[6]

John and his wife both died in Denmark Township.[7] They are buried in St. Michael’s Lutheran Cemetery, Richville. Three children who died early are also inscribed on their grave marker.[8]

Reference Notes:

[1]Elaine Huber, translator, “St. Lorenz Lutheran Church (Frankenmuth, Michigan, Book I: (1847-1857),” (typescript, 1990, St. Lorenz Lutheran Church Offices, Frankenmuth), unpaginated, no. 4.

Tuscola County, Michigan, death certificate no. 9, John G. Weber, 21 May 1910; digital image, “Michigan, Death Records, 1897-1920,” The Archives of Michigan, Seeking Michigan (http://www.seekingmichigan.org : accessed 16 August 2012).

[2]Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War, 1861-1865, 46 vols. (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Ihling Bros. & Everard, 1903[?]), 29: 68; digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 November 2014).

[3]Record of Service of Michigan Volunteers in the Civil War, 1861-1865, 29: 1 & 2.

[4]Tuscola County, Michigan, Marriage Registers [vol. ?], fo. 239, J. George Weber-Anna A. Heinlein, 30 April 1876; digital images, FamilySearch, ”Michigan, Marriages, 1868-1925” (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NQS8-BQX : accessed 10 November 2014).

[5]Tuscola County, Michigan, “Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1952,” database, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/KF7N-P8X : accessed 10 November 2014), entry for Anna Abalonia Weber, 19 January 1931.

[6]1900 U.S. census, Tuscola County, Michigan, population schedule, Denmark Township, enumeration district 109, sheet no. 5 A, dwelling 96, family 97, John G. and Abelonia [sic] Weber; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 10 November 2014); citing NARA microfilm publication T623, roll 744.

[7]Tuscola County, Michigan, death certificate no. 9, John G. Weber, 21 May 1910.

Tuscola County, Michigan, “Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1952,” database entry for Anna Abalonia Weber, 19 January 1931.

[8]St. Michael’s Lutheran Cemetery (Richville, Michigan), Johann G. L. & Anna A. Weber marker; personally read, 2012.

Tombstone Tuesday : Woldemar Von Renner

Woldemar Von Renner grave marker, St. Michael's Lutheran Cemetery, Richville, Michigan.
Woldemar Von Renner grave marker, St. Michael’s Lutheran Cemetery, Richville, Michigan.

 

Karl August Woldemar Von Renner (18 December 1838-17 November 1918) was born in Lübben-an-den-Spree, Brandenburg, Prussia.[1] With his parents and siblings he immigrated to the United States in 1855 aboard the Bark Copernicus.[2] The family settled in Illinois.[3] In 1869 he married Dorothea Bernthal in Frankenmuth.[4] Woldemar attended the Concordia Theological Seminary to become a teacher and graduated in 1859. He served congregations in Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri; and Cincinnati, Ohio. In 1874 he began teaching at Frankenlust, Michigan, and in 1881 he began his tenure at Richville, serving as both teacher and principal of St. Michael’s parochial school district.[5] In total he worked as a teacher for 53 years.[6]

Woldemar passed away at his home in Denmark Township, Tuscola County, Michigan.[7] A small headstone marks his burial location in St. Michael’s Lutheran Cemetery.[8]

Sources:

[1]”Jubilee Celebration and Most Remarkable Tribute to Lutheran Pastor and Teacher,” The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, 15 August 1909; digital images, Ancestry.com , Historical Newspapers Collection.

[2]”New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1957,” digital images, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 29 April 2014), manifest, Bark Copernicus, 23 June 1855, list stamped 540, “Erste Cajute” [First Cabin] line no. 3, Waldemar von Renner, age 16; citing microfilm publication M237 (Washington: National Archives and Records Administration), roll 153.

[3]”Jubilee Celebration and Most Remarkable Tribute to Lutheran Pastor and Teacher,” The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, 15 August 1909; digital images, Ancestry.com , Historical Newspapers Collection.

[4] ibid.

[5] ibid.

[6] “W. Von Renner Dies at Richville, Age 80,” The Frankenmuth (Michigan) News, 21 November 1918, p. 1, col. 6; digital images, The Frankenmuth Archives (http://www.frankenmutharchives.org : accessed 29 April 2014).

[7] ibid.

[8]St. Michael’s Lutheran Cemetery (Richville, Tuscola County, Michigan), W. V. Renner marker; personally read, 2012.

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.