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Mason County Memories

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History Column 282 Dave Petersen When one thinks of family and family history for most people it includes, parents, grandparents and possibly great grandparents along with a vague idea of nationality or origin of one or two lines. That initial group includes 14 direct ancestors. Two parents, four grandparents and eight great grandparents, When you start working on your family history you start with what you know, and who you know and branch out from there. The numbers of ancestors in your family line grows exponentially. 16 gg grandparents, 32 ggg grandparents, those five generations represent 62 individual ancestors. I was looking over some of the charts and family sheets I made about 12 years ago before I got my first computer software for genealogy and I can't imagine the effort it took in earlier years to access information and document data let alone try and keep track of kinship to thousands of individuals. When you go back 10 generations there are over 1000 direct ancestors. I can look at the corner of the program I have now and it tells me that so and so was the wife of my 1st cousin 3 times removed. There are programs that you can buy and there are programs that are free. You can go to Familysearch.org which is a site operated by The Church of Latter Day Saints and download the PAF Personal Ancestry Program which is a good way to get yourself started without spending a lot of money and you can see if genealogy is something you might enjoy doing. In previous columns I've mentioned that there are established genealogies for many family lines and if you are lucky enough to plug your family into it then the hard work of tracing your family back 20 generations has already been done. Sometimes that is not as easy as it sounds though. You may believe that you know which line you descend from but proving it is another matter. There are exceptions. If you are a Wisner of various spellings you are probably descended from Johannes Weesner born in 1676 in Switzerland and fought against Louis XIV of France. There was a time that tracking down a copy of the book Wisner's in America could be a time consuming costly endeavor. These days it's as simple as going to books.google.com and searching through the public domain books. You can download the PDF in minutes, or search the book online for the specific people you are interested in. I really love the feel and touch of old leather bound books and would rather have that to go through but you've got to love the ease and access of thousands of free books, some of which are very rare and hard to find. The 1976 reprint and the 1882 original of the History of Manistee, Mason and Oceana Counties comes up in the search but it cannot be previewed or downloaded. It's a public domain book but for some reason it cannot be accessed. Maybe someone from County Government can get the hold removed, it would be nice for local researchers to access it online. Oceana County Pioneers and Businessmen comes up for free access, a book printed in 1890 in Pentwater by my 2nd great uncle William Tuller. I only wish he would have included his father's parentage as long as he was in the publishing business. There is however an illustration of him in the book which I used to identify him in a couple of group photographs. Another site you should consider taking a look at is the Daughters of the American at http://services.dar.org where they have a search engine to access the Revolutionary soldier database. What is nice is that you can search by the last name alone and you can also access the lines of those who have documented their ancestry previously as well as others who are related to them. New information is being added daily to this site by volunteers, and it is a great resource if you think you have some ancestors and relatives who fought in the War of Independence. On family photos, often with these large family group pictures there were multiple copies handed down in different branches of the family. Identification of these type of pictures can be a nightmare but make a photocopy and number each individual. This is where finding those second and third cousins helps out as you can compare photographs. If you have photographs to share with our readers please contact me at 757-3240, e-mail to davep@blackcreekpress.com, or mail in care of the Ludington Daily News, P.O. Box 340, Ludington, MI, 49431 Pic1 This is a reunion of the Bromley Clan circa 1900 just outside of Walkerville. Often you will find they stand together in family groups. Each person has been identified as a result of seven different branches of the family scattered all over the United States. I have heard different members of the Bromley clan exclaim that they are not related to the ones "around here" Since the family has been here for 360 years it is unlikely. Pic2 Smith Bryte was killed at the Battle of Cold Harbor, Hope Church June 4th 1864, his service records at the National Archives states he was 6'4" tall among other information only important to a genealogist. Surnames can change over time. The challenge in this family are the changes from Brect, Bryte, Bright. The important clue in his name is that his first name is his mother's maiden name. It was not uncommon to incorporate family names in that way as well as the name of the town the child was born in.

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