Monday, January 16, 2012

Genealogy Lessons Part Three

   In Part Two of some of the lessons I learned while researching my grandfather's life, I told of finding him, age 11, as the oldest son in the family of George R. and Anne in the 1880 US Census in Conway Township, Livingston County, Michigan. Since, at the time, this was the only record I had of my grandfather, I started searching Livingston County for more data. This time instead of going to the courthouse, I went to the Family History Center in East Lansing where they have all the available vital record films from Michigan.There was an index film of birth records for Livingston, but the only two of the five children listed were Curtis (with a note that he was registered in Livingston but born in Shiawassee Co.) and my grandfather Edwin, who had filed a delayed birth certificate in 1945. Here is a copy:
All of a sudden my grandfather seems to have aged 10 or 11 years. His birthday of February 15th stayed the same on all documents. It is just the year of birth that changes quite dramatically. I can remember his telling his children that he hadn't wanted my grandmother to know that he was 10 years older than she was. There are a few other mistakes such as his father's age and his father's and mother's place of birth. Also his only proof was affidavits from two acqaintances who probably said whatever he told them to say. By this time, I had collected enough other information about the family to know the above certificate was false. So I picked up the clue about Grandpa's brother Curtis being born in Shiawassee County and made a trip to the County Courthouse in Corunna, definitely not the friendliest Clerk's office in Michigan. They would not let me look at the ledger books myself, but a lady took my list of names and birth dates I was looking for and disappeared into the back room. Fairly soon she came back to tell me that she had found Ethel Mae and Edwin, but my dates were wrong. In order to see the records I had to order a certified copy for $20. As Ethel Mae's appeared to be correct, I only ordered Edwin's and here it is:
Please note that Edwin's middle initial has changed to "W" but his birthday is still on February 15th. The year, however, has changed to 1873 which means he was born approximately 3 months after his sister, Ethel Mae, who, according to Shiawassee records, was born in November of 1872.