Wednesday, November 26, 2014

52 Ancestors: #45 William Bennett (about 1806 in Ireland – 1890 in Burnside, Michigan, USA), and #46 Margaret McFarlane Bennett Brown (1926 in Scotland – 1909 in North Branch, Michigan)

I have removed this post due to inaccuracies, and newly discovered information.

I am going to do new posts on William and Margaret, with the updated information, as follows, but I didn't want to leave up inaccurate information pending getting the new posts up. The links will go live to the new articles as they are posted.

1 - William Bennett (1806-1890), Revisited, Part One, will address William’s life to the extent that I currently know it, including newly discovered information leading to more explanation of context of his early life in Canada

2 - William Bennett (1806-1890) Revisited, Part Two (Hypothesis), will address why my tree on ancestry is different than many others following this particular Bennett line up past William, and address my current hypothesis as to who are his parents, and why I think so. This particular post may constitute “thinking out loud” or, at least, “thinking in print, publicly,” but I want to put it out here so that I can get feedback on my hypothesis (whether you may be related or not).

3- Margaret MacFarlane Bennett Brown (1926-1909), will address Margaret’s life to the extent I currently know it. As such, there will be some crossover information, but the post was getting way too long when I tried to write about them in one post as I did before, since I have some new bits of information about her as well.

Monday, November 17, 2014

52 Ancestors: #44 Anna Gregor Bennett (1858 – 1929), my greatgrandmother

Climbing My Family Tree: Location of Puslinch Township in what is now Ontario Canada, courtesy of Google maps
Location of Puslinch Township in what is now Ontario Canada
 Courtesy of Google maps
Click to make bigger

This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

I had been intending to write about someone else, and had found some fascinating things. But, I hit a snag, and figuring out how to untangle it is taking too much time right now. So I’ve decided instead to write up my great-grandmother, Andrew Bennett’s wife, for this week, especially since she leads to the person I have been researching (who I will post about in the future – so you now know you have something fascinating to look forward to). Finding and tracking Anna before her marriage to my great-grandfather was interesting to me as well --- and again proves the helpfulness of researching more than just my direct line into to find my people. I’m not going to repeat the historical information I put in Andrew’s post; please read his post as well.

Anna Gregor is my great-grandmother:  my father’s maternal grandmother. Anna was born on October 7, 1858 or 1859 to Benjamin Gregor (1824 – 1880) and Elizabeth Taylor (about 1832 – before 1880). She was probably born in Puslinch Township in Wellington County, in the British colony of the United Province of Canada (in what today would be Ontario, Canada today), as her mother grew up there and her father moved there sometime in the six years prior to Anna’s birth. Puslinch Township is  just south of the town of Guelph, which is  61 miles (99 km) west of where Toronto is now and in the peninsula east of Lake Huron, west of Lake Ontario and north of Lake Erie. (See map at the head of the post.) I’ll discuss its history more when I do posts on Anna’s parents and grandparents as some of them were among the early pioneers in the area.

In the 1861 Census of Canada, Anna was 2 years old and living with her parents and older brother James (he was 4) in Puslinch Township. Her father was a farmer. The census recorder spelled their last name as Grigor. By 1871, the family had expanded to include younger brothers George (9) & Benjamin (3) and younger sister Gracie (7). And, again the census taker spelled their last name as Grigor. I think Anna’s mother died in or before 1879, as I cannot find her in any census in Canada or the United States after that date. Hr father died on 15 March, 1880.* The children left Puslinch Township by or shortly after 1880 -- four of the five moving to Michigan. James moved to Michigan first, in or about 1878 and the others joined him in 1879.

Climbing my Family Tree: 1884 Michigan State Census (Goodland twp. Lapeer County, MI), found at
1884 Michigan State Census (Goodland twp. Lapeer County, MI)
Found at
Click to make bigger

I found Anna in the U.S. Census, in 1880, when searching for her brother James; she was living with him in Burnside Township in Lapeer County Michigan; she kept house for him as he farmed. Searching the surname “Gregor” at, I found James, Anna, and Benjamin in the 1884 Michigan Census (see above picture), living in the township of Goodland, in Lapeer County. James (27) worked in “lumber manufacturing”, Anna (24) was his housekeeper and Benjamin (17) attended school.  The census also indicated that a female of 18, who had previously lived in the household, had married Anson Bentley on August 18, 1884. I also found a marriage record for Grace’s marriage to Anson Bentley on that date. Between these three documents I felt I had enough information to confirm that this was indeed where my great-grandmother and her siblings had gone after the probable death of their parents, and to confirm this was my Anna (Anna Bennett is a very common name). The census form also asked the time of residence within the state, which is how I found out that that James moved to Michigan first. He reported he had been there 6 years and Anna and Benjamin reported they had been there 5 years.

I think Anna’s younger brother, George, remained in Canada when the others moved to Michigan, although I’m not certain of that.  The first record I found him in was a marriage record for 1888, in which he married Emily Janette Lamont in Puslinch; the record indicated that his residence was in Hespeler, Ontario which is 9 miles (15 km) west of Guelph. [George, and his wife subsequently moved to Manitoba Canada and lived out their lives there. Anna's sister, Grace, and her husband, Anson Bentley, moved to Kansas, then Wyoming, and then to Idaho where they were buried. Anna's youngest brother, Benjamin, married Maude Amelia Thompson, and they lived most of their life in Indiana. After Maude died, he moved to Illinois; he was buried in Newago, MI with Maude. Unfortunately, I lost James after 1884.]

I feel a bit sad for Anna, with her family scattered at long distances from her. My brothers are all at long distances from me, but I have telephones, the internet, cars, and airplanes, and Anna likely didn’t have any of them. While telephones had been invented by the late 1870’s, their use in homes wasn’t common in rural areas until into the mid-1900’s because it was so expensive to string the wires out to the farm homes. Brown City itself received telephone service in 1898, but long distance calls were expensive and not private, as many families in separate households would share a “party” line and could hear whoever was speaking if they picked up their receiver. The rural areas of Sanilac County were slow to receive telephone service, until Federal Funds were approved to help run electricity and telephone wires to rural areas in the Rural Electrification Act of 1936 – seven years after Anna died.

I wonder if her brothers and sisters ever visited her, or she, them? With railroad travel it would have been possible and a lot easier and less time than horse and wagons had taken—one could travel across the country in a week instead of the several months it had taken just a few decades before.

I bet letters from Grace, George, James, and Benjamin were like gold the rest of her life. I hope they were good correspondents.

Climbing My Family Tree: Postcard of Brown City MI  Main Street East in 1906
Postcard of Brown City MI  Main Street East in 1906
Off copyright and in the public domain, but
found at (where there are more postcards)
Click to make bigger
Sometime after moving to Michigan, Anna must have met and gotten to know Andrew Bennett when he came home to visit family in Lapeer County (adjacent to Sanilac County – Brown City straddles both counties), from where he was working in Evart MI, as she married him on April 16, 1885. Anna and Andrew lived in Brown City, MI, on the Sanilac county side at least through their last child’s birth; the children’s birth records show a Brown City address. Their children were: Benjamin Gregor (born 15 February 1886, married Florence Short, and died 31 January 1970); William John (born 15 April 1889, married Mary Kalbfleisch, death date not discovered for certain yet); Elizabeth Grace (born 8 May 1891, married Arthur Bernard Martin, died 7 February 1920),  Blanche Maud (born in January 1894, married & divorced William John Huston, died 8 February 1948), Andrew Russell (born 26 January 1896, married Olive Gertrude Glover, died 23 July 1969), Anna Mae - my grandmother (born 16 May 1898, married Owen Carl Henn, died 12 September 1977), Margaret McFarland (born in August 1900, died 6 April 1935) and Thomas Edison Bennett (born 19 February 1906, married Lenore M. Griffen, died 1969). 

Climbing My Family Tree: 1900 Federal Census - Andrew and Anna Bennett Family
1900 Federal Census - Andrew and Anna Bennett Family,
found at
Click to make bigger

By the time their youngest child was four years old, the family moved out to Maple Valley township, in Sanilac county and farmed until they retired. Then they moved back to a house in town in Brown City, leaving the running of the farm to their son William and his bride. Andrew died in 1925 and Anna followed three years later on April 18, 1928.

This is when I truly regret that I cannot find any Sanilac or Lapeer county newspaper archives online. When I can find historical newspapers online for where my ancestors lived, I can find out all sorts of things that help me build a fuller picture of them as a person as besides real news stories, the old time newspapers printed stories about who is going to visit who, who had someone over for dinner, church activities, school activities, legal notices, anniversary and reunion celebrations, as well as obituaries. But, try as I might, I can’t find any for any newspaper in Sanilac or Lapeer counties at any of the major (or minor) newspaper archive sites.

If you know anything about Anna Gregor Bennett and/or her family, and are willing to share, please contact me by leaving a comment below or by emailing me at the address provided in my Contact Me page.

Update: Anna's father, Benjamin Gregor, died 15 March 1880, according to the index of Ontario deaths on Familysearch.

I truly wish I knew more about my great-grandparents. I wish I had pictures of them. I’ve seen pictures of one of Anna’s brothers and of her sister on other people’s trees on, and that just makes me want to see her more (I can’t post the pictures of her siblings here for you to see as I haven’t reached out to the tree owners to ask for permission to do so yet).

I’d also like to know when, where and why her parents died. And where did her brother James go after 1884; did he have a family of his own? And more of what her life was like.

By the way, did you know that there are petroglyphs in Sanilac County that are 300-1000 years old?! Too cool! I'd also like to go see them! But until I do, here’s a link to a blog by a guy who did go see them, who has lots of pictures at the bottom of his post about his trip to the Sanilac Petroglyphs Historic State Park

Canadian census of 1861; U.S. Federal Censuses for 1880, 1900, 1910, 1920, and 1930; Michigan State Census for 1884;;; ;;

Sunday, November 9, 2014

52 Ancestors: #42 Andrew Bennett (1858 – 1925), my great grandfather, Canada East to Michigan, USA

Climbing My Family Tree: Flag of the British colony of the Unified Province of Canada (which existed 1840-1867)
Flag of the British colony of the Unified Province of Canada (which existed 1840-1867), in the public domain
This is my latest post for the “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks” challenge initiated by Amy Johnson Crow of the No Story Too Small blog. For more information about the challenge and links to the other blogs participating in the challenge, please click on the badge in the right margin.

Andrew Bennett was born on November 26, 1858, in the British colony of the Unified Province of Canada in an area that would now be in the province of Quebec, Canada (see post on George Butler Wilcox and Mary Jane (Currier) Wilcox for explanation of the history of the making of Canada as we know it today).  He was the 7th child (of 13!) of William Bennett and Margaret McFarlane/McFarland. His siblings were: Mary Jane (1845-1923), Charlotte M. (1848-1916), Thomas (1849-1934), Elizabeth (1850 - ?), Nancy Ellen (1855-1927), Dorothy (1855-1927), [Andrew], Sara 1858-1877), William (1862 - ?), Janet (1863-1932), John Edward (1865-1935), Lucretia (1868 - ?) and James (1873 - ?).  [I’ll go into more detail about his siblings when I write about his parents.]

Climbing My Family Tree: Baptism record of Andrew Bennett (son of William) 1862
Baptism record of Andrew Bennett (son of William) 1862, found at
Click to make bigger

I don’t know exactly where he was born in the Unified Province of Canada, but he was baptized, in 1862, in Valleyfield. It is in what is now the southwest corner of Quebec, about 20 miles from today’s Ontario-Quebec Province line. The delayed baptism likely came about because his parents had to wait for a traveling pastor to come through the area. While people could gather to worship God without an official from the church, things like marriages and baptisms tended to wait until an ordained pastor came through the area.

While Valleyfield was first incorporated as a manufacturing town many years later in 1874, it existed as a frontier settlement before that. In 1858, it was a small hamlet about 40 miles west of the island of Montreal, on the eastern edge of Lake St. Francis, and at the head of the Beauharnois Canal (part of the St. Lawrence Seaway Canal system) on the south side of the St. Lawrence River. The hamlet is now a city named Salaberry-de-Valleyfield. This area was largely settled by Scottish immigrants; even the name Valleyfield came from a paper mill, Valleyfield Mills, in Scotland. Andrew’s mother was born in Scotland, according to most of the censuses (and his father was born in Ireland).

Climbing My Family Tree: Map showing the site of Valleyfield, east of Lake St. Francis, south of the St. Lawrence River and at the head of the old Beauharnois Canal
Map showing the site of Valleyfield,, Quebec, east of Lake St. Francis, south of the St. Lawrence River
and at the head of the old Beauharnois Canal, off copyright
Click to make bigger

From 1830 through about 1870 was a period of immigration from Canada to Michigan in the United States called “Michigan Fever”, wherein large numbers of Canadian immigrants came to Michigan, including those newly arrived in the province of Canada. They were tempted by reports of the decline of the Indian population in Michigan, good climate and resources, including good farm land, iron and copper deposits, and a growing lumber industry.

Andrew’s father, William, moved his family to Lapeer County, Michigan towards the tail end of Michigan Fever, in or by 1870. From the 1830’s to 1870 Lapeer County’s main industry had been lumber, but after the trees were gone, the county began attracting farmers like Andrew’s father and became primarily agricultural. According to the 1870 U.S. Census, William and Margaret were living in Burnside in Lapeer County, Michigan in 1870 with William and their oldest son Thomas working as farm labor. Also in the household were the youngest six children Andrew (14) through Lucretia (either 4 or 2 - the census form is hard to read --’s indexer says she is 4, but I think it says she is 2). His oldest daughter Mary Jane was married to John Young and living next door. The youngest son, James, wasn’t born yet.

By 1880, Andrew was 22, and had moved away from home, and was living with his sister Dorothy (called “Dolley”) and her husband, Robert Watson, in the relatively new town of Evart, Michigan in Osceola County on the Muskegon River in the northwest portion of the Lower Peninsula. Both men worked in a saw mill. These would have been good jobs. The 1870’s through 1890’s was a time of remarkable growth for the railroads in the United States and as the first transcontinental railroads were being built, the companies building them relied heavily on Michigan for the wood ties used in constructing the railroads as they crossed the plains states where no trees grew. I don’t know that Andrew and Robert were involved in this industry but as it was a booming trade in Michigan at that time, they may well have been a cog in the trade. [Here is an interesting article on the “timber rush” in Michigan during those years]  

Climbing My Family Tree: Saw Mill on Budd Lake Michigan in the late 1880, about 35 miles north of Evart Michigan
Saw Mills on Budd Lake Michigan in the late 1880, about 35 miles north of Evart Michigan. Found at,
click to make bigger

Andrew was apparently also making visits home to Lapeer County, because at some point he met and wooed Anna Gregor (daughter of James Peter Gregor and Elizabeth Taylor), whom he married on April 16, 1885. I know that he and Anna continued to live in Brown City, on the Sanilac county side (the city straddles the Lapeer County and Sanilac County line), at least through their last child’s birth. Their children were: Benjamin Gregor (born 15 February 1886, married Florence Short, and died 31 January 1970); William John (born 15 April 1889, married Mary Kalbfleisch, death date not discovered for certain yet); Elizabeth Grace (born 8 May 1891, married Arthur Bernard Martin, died 7 February 1920),  Blanche Maud (born in January 1894, married & divorced William John Huston, died 8 February 1948), Russell Andrew (born 26 January 1896, married Olive Gertrude Glover, died 23 July 1969), Anna Mae - my grandmother (born 16 May 1898,married Owen Carl Henn, died 12 September 1977), Margaret McFarland (born in August 1900, died 6 April 1935) and Thomas Edison Bennett (born 19 February 1906, married Lenore M. Griffen, died 1969).  I see the potential for a whole bunch of new-to-me cousins here! If we’re related I’d love to hear from you!

While I don’t know for certain what Andrew was doing to support his family during those years since the 1890 census was burnt in a fire in Washington, DC, and there seems to be a dearth of Michigan records for the same time period (courthouse fires, I’m told), family stories tell me he was a farmer, and I have a map showing the land he owned & likely farmed in 1894 (see below). This makes sense because agriculture was the main industry for Sanilac County after the logging period, like it was in next door Lapeer County, and because he listed himself as a farmer in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 censuses. It would have been a tough time to be a farmer as farm produce prices went down as the transcontinental railroads were completed and as the Great Plains states were settled towards the last quarter of the 19th Century, leading to an abundance of product making it to the stores, and in the Panic of 1893 which began when the Reading Railroad company declared bankruptcy, causing a severe economic depression. Stock prices declined, and over $1 billion worth of bonds were defaulted. Hundreds of banks closed, 15,000 businesses failed, and numerous farms went under. The unemployment rate in Michigan was at 43%. The U.S. economy began to recover in 1897, after the election of President McKinley and the discovery of gold in Alaska.

Climbing My Family Tree: 1894 Land Ownership Map of Maple Valley Township in Sanilac County Michigan, showing Andrew Bennett's farm
1894 Land Ownership Map of Maple Valley Township in Sanilac County Michigan, showing Andrew Bennett's farm,
 found at
Click to make bigger
In the 1900 census, Andrew reported he had been married 15 years, was 46 years old, and he was a farmer.  Also in the household were  his wife Anna, 41; Benjamin, 14; William, 12; Elizabeth, 9; Blanch, 5; Andrew, 4; and Anna, 2. They lived in Maple Valley Township in Sanilac, County, Michigan. He also stated that he owned his farm but that it was mortgaged – likely as a result of trying to live through the bad times.

By 1910 Andrew had paid off the farm and owned it free and clear, and was farming with the help of his oldest son still at home – William (15). Benjamin had gotten married and started his own household the year before. Both Andrew and Anna reported their age as 51, Also at home were Elizabeth (18), Blanch (16), “Russle” A (14), Anna (11), Maggie (9), and Thomas (7).  

In the 1920 census, Andrew and Annie reported that they were 61, and that they became naturalized citizens in 1899. Andrew and William (31) are farming the property together and the farm is described as a general farm. Elizabeth had married and was working as a servant in a boarding housing at which she, her husband, and her infant daughter also boarded, in Muskegon, Michigan. Sadly, she died of pneumonia, complicated by influenza, a month after the census was taken. Andrew’s daughter Blanche (25) lived at home and worked as a public school teacher. Also at home were: Annie (21), Margaret (19), and Thomas (17).

Andrew died on January 30, 1925, at the age of 66. I don’t know of what or how he died. He was survived by his wife Ann, and seven of their eight children (his oldest daughter Elizabeth having died 5 years earlier).


I’d like to find out more about the missing years in the late 19th Century, and about how he died. I’d also like to know more about the farm. I must remember to check the land and probate records (if they still exist). I’d love to find a photograph of him and Anna (I would love to see my great-grandparents!). There’s a lot more I’d like to know, but it runs to the details that make a personality or a life, and would take too much time to explain. If you are related to any of these people and would like to connect and/or share your stories, suggest corrections to my information, or pictures, I’d love it if you would contact me by leaving a comment below or by sending me an email at the address in my “Contact Me” page.

------------------------------------------- Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2008. ( Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin.); U.S. Federal Censuses for 1870, 1880, 1900, 1910, and 1920; Genealogical Research Library, Ontario, Canada. Canadian Genealogy Index, 1600s-1900s [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2005. (original source: Cadastres abreges des Seigneuries du District de Montreal (Vol 1) No 2, Beauharnois, Quebec, 1863.); U.S., Indexed County Land Ownership Maps, 1860-1918 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. (Collection Number: G&M_64; Roll Number: 64); Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1952," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 05 Nov 2014), Andrew Bennett, 30 Jan 1925; citing Brown City, Sanilac, Michigan, United States; 00552; Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics, Lansing; FHL microfilm 001973091.; Encyclopedic Canada, or, The Canadian album: Men of Canada; or, Success by example, in religion, patriotism, business, law, medicine, education and agriculture; containing portraits of some of Canada's chief business men, statesmen, farmers, men of the learned professions, and others., Vol. 5, William Cochrane, John Castell, Hopkins, W.J. Hunter (The Bradley-Garretson Co., LTD, Brantford and Ontario Canada, 1896.) [found as an e-book on Google Books];Quebec History, Valleyfield:;;; “Michigan Fever”, part 1:; Michigan Fever, part 2:; Lapeer County Condensed history:;;

Also I’m currently listening to the History of the United State, 2nd edition, by The Great Courses, (which I’m getting in 6 CD installments from my local library), in the car on my way to work. This is where I learned about Michigan supplying the railroad ties for the building of the transcontinental railroads, and the Panic of 1893.

I also have the sources of my information on the kids; if you want it, please contact me,. Otherwise, I will include it whenever one of them gets their own post.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Post Delayed

I'm sorry for the delay in getting up a 52 Ancestors post this week. I expect it will go up Saturday - after I have a chance to write it.

This past weekend and this week I've just felt exhausted and therefore have been going to bed at morning person hours -- and getting up at my normal night person hours (although there was nothing normal about last Saturday when I slept until 1:35 PM!). All this sleep is cutting into my research and writing time (let alone my chores)! Accordingly, I'm behind again.

I've come to the obvious conclusion that I'm not likely to truly get 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks as the challenge goes - I still intend to try, so it's possible, albeit not probable as I've never caught up from my break for moving this summer. I'm still perennially 2-3 ancestors  behind everyone else, and the calendar.

I've decided to spill over into January if necessary but I will finish 52 Ancestor posts (49 will be Grandma Anna Mae Bennett and 50 will be Grandpa Owen Carl Henn), before moving on to whatever this blog turns out to be. I've also decided on a future research/blogging strategy. I read a lot of Genea-blogs (at lunch at work, through Feedly), which is how I've learned how and where to conduct family history research. Therefore I know that one is supposed to pick a branch and proceed until you can't go anymore, but that seems to leave out family/cousin readers. One blog I follow (wish I could remember the name right now, I'd link to it, but...*blank* ...sigh) divides her research into quarters of the year, and spends one quarter of each year on one branch, defining "branch" as rooted from each grandparent. I think I will follow her example and spend three months on each branch [Bennett, Henn, Erwin, Snyder & up from each grandparent to all the other names in that branch] from January on out (including the spillover, if any), for the foreseeable future. If there turns out to be no spillover then the order will change to Erwin, Snyder, Henn, Bennett as I am doing it this year.

Since I know so much more about how to do this than when I started much of this next year will be spent on organization and clean up, before things get out of hand -- much easier to do it one year out than several years later as I see some doing. So I'll go over all I've done so far, making sure that the connections I've made seem sound and getting all my cites to the accepted standard (I bought a book on evidence citation standards for genealogy) -- at least I know that will be somewhat easier for me than some as I DO have cites for every single piece of evidence I found (I'm somewhat fanatical about being able to document and/or cite sources on my work), they just probably aren't to accepted form since I didn't know there was an accepted form until recently. 

I figure about a month to a month and a half on clean up before trying to push forward on each branch. I will also take the time to read some of the history books I've picked up about where my ancestors lived so as to better understand their context. 

I do intend to do more Ancestor Highlights (what I called the bios before the 52 Ancestor challenge), and other posts -- the blog won't go dead. For those relatives concerned I won't have anyone more to write about, 1) I'm just starting grandma Henn (Bennett)'s family (by the way, we come from, or through, a different part of Canada than I was told we did) and 2) says I have 1405 people in my family tree at the moment --true, that's not all straight up as I find it helps my direct line upward research to research each sibling of each person and their kids for about two generations down -- but they're all relatives and fair game for blogging about, especially the ones who lived through interesting times!