1840 Census and Chester Parsons

Census Sunday

The 1840 census often exasperates genealogists.  I find the information presented to be challenging and able to provide new questions as well as details.

I was getting to know my 3rd great-grandmother, Mary Electa Parsons. In 1840 Mary Electa was 13 years old and living with her family in Saline, Michigan.  Of course, the 1840 Census only lists heads of households, so seeing Mary in the census is impossible. What I like to do is that the census record and determine who all of the individuals are that are listed suggested in the census.

Screen shot of 1840 Census
Crop of 1840 Census, Saline Township, PG 141

In the case of Mary Electa’s father, Chester Parsons the details, transcribed are:
Chester Parsons | – 1 –  1 – – 1 1 – – – – – // – 2 2 – 1 1

Then using my other records and sources I try to explain each of the individuals listed.  In this  case they are:

Males: 

  • 1 – 5 to under 10           Presumed to be Alfred (age 10)
  • 1 – 15 to under 20         Unknown
  • 1 – 40 to 50                    Presumed to be Chester Parsons (Age 41)
  • 1 – 50 to 60                    Unknown – Possibly brother of Chester or Deborah but most likely Deborah’s father Robert Maben (Age 59).

Females:

  • 2 – 5 & under 10            Presumed to be Harriet (age 8) and unknown.
  • 2 – 10 & under 15          Presumed to be Lucinda (age 15) and Mary Electa (age 12)
  • 1 – 20 to 30                    Probably Sarah Jane – Inconsistent Age.
  • 1 – 30 to 40                    Presumed to be Deborah Buel Maben Parsons

I am quite sure that Chester and his wife Deborah Buel Maben have one child that died in 1881. That individual could be the unknown male 15 to 20 or could be the female age 5 to under 10. That means there is another child living in the family that is completely unknown. All of the other children known to Chester and Deborah are accounted for.

Chester and Deborah were married in 1824, if they had a child in 1825 that child would have been 15 in 1840 and is a likely candidate to be the first unknown male. Likewise, the second unknown girls between 5 and 10 is a likely child. As such, I’m adding two tentative children of Chester and Deborah:

Unknown Parsons – Male – born 1819-1825. Living 1840 – Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan.

Unknown Parsons – Female – Born 1829-1835. Living 1840 – Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan.
I will also update my Unknown Parsons, who died 1881, to suggest it could be one of the above two or an entirely different child.

Finally, there is an unidentified male listed, age 50 to 60. Chester’s father was dead before 1840, however, Deborah’s father, Robert Maben, was still living. Her father would have been 59 in 1840. Additionally, Robert died in 1843 in Saline.  He does not show as the head of a household in Saline during the 1840 Census.  As such, I postulate that Robert Maben was living with his daughter, her husband, and her children.  Do I know this to be true?  No, but I think it is a strong likelihood. As such I’ll add it as a tentative fact until I see facts suggesting otherwise.

Robert Maben – Residence: 1840 – Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan (Probable) – Probably Living with daughter Deborah and son-in-law Chester Parsons.

Taking an 1840 census, applying all know relationships to the census and then attempting to reconcile any unknowns can lead to new insight into the family and family relationships.

————-Disclaimer————-

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Source: Family Search; 1840 Census; Chester Parsons – Saline Township, Washtenaw County, Michigan, Page 141; https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:XHYX-65H

 

William M Sanford – Pioneer

Roberts-Brown-2016 Research
Brown/Sanford Line

By Don Taylor

Map of places where William Sanford lived.My third great-grandfather, William M. Sanford was a pioneer. He is the first ancestor that I have encountered that was identified as a pioneer in two different books relating the history of two very different places. He came with his father and brother from New York to near Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan, in the 1830s to settle that area. Following his father’s model, he helped settle Wells County, North Dakota with two of his sons. Much like when his father settled Washtenaw County other family members also settled in North Dakota when he relocated there. He was a successful farmer in both locations and was known to have both cattle and sheep when he settled North Dakota.

Roberts-Brown 2016 – Ancestor #50

List of Grandparents

  • 6 – Grandfather: Richard Earl Brown (aka Clifford Durwood Brown, Richard Earl Durand)
  • 12 – 1st Great-grandfather: Arthur Durwood Brown
  • 25 – 2nd Great-grandmother: Marian Sanford
  • 50 – 3rd Great-grandfather: William M. Sanford

If you are descended from William M. Sanford or any of my other grandparents, please contact me.  I’d love to how you fit into the family and I’d love to share notes, documents, photos, etc. Please use the contact form below.

Biography – William M. Sanford (1823-1915)

William M. Sanford was born on 30 March 1823 in Genesee County, New York, the second of nine children of Ezra and Almira (Chamberlin) Sanford.

The year of William’s birth is somewhat in question. Assuming his birth was 30 March the following sources give the following ages and assumed year of birth:

Source Age Year of Birth
1850 Census[1] 27 1823
1860 Census 36 1824
1863 Civil War Registration 41 1822
1870 Census 46 1824
1880 Census 57 1823
1881 – History of Washtenaw Co…[2] 1823 (30 Mar)
1885 – No. Dak. Census 63 1822
1900 Census 76 1824 (Mar)
1910 Census
1915 – Death Certificate 92 1823 (30 Mar)

From all of these possible dates, none of them are compelling sources. Because the earliest record I have, the 1850 Census, suggests an 1823 birth year, I am going with that. That year is also confirmed by the History of Washtenaw County.

Rome City, Indiana CC BY-SA 3.0
Rome City, Indiana CC BY-SA 3.0

In 1836, when William was about 13 years old, William’s father, Ezra, his brother, Ezra, and he emigrated from and left his two New York to Michigan. They looked at several different counties, stopping in Calhoun County, but did not remain there long. They moved on to Noble County, Indiana, where Mr. Sanford bought lots near Rome City, Indiana (not to be confused with Rome, Indiana). The two boys (Ezra was about 19 old at the time) stayed in Indiana while Ezra senior returned to New York.  The following spring, Ezra (senior) purchased 200 acres on Section 21 in Washtenaw County, Michigan.[3]

Marriage and Children

On 18 June 1844, William married Mary Electa Parsons in Benton, Washtenaw County, Michigan.  William and Mary had seven children.[4]

  • Marion Sanford – born c. 1846. Marion married William Henry Brown about 1866; her death occurred sometime after 1885.
  • Unknown Sanford – born April 1850 and died before 1860.
  • Elva P Sanford – born c. 1852. She married William Wright on 27 April 1871; her death was sometime after 1929.
  • Almon C. Sanford – born in October 1855; he died 3 April 1922.
  • William A. Sanford – born c. 1858; his death was after 1880.
  • George P. Sanford – born 7 October 1865; died 5 October 1932.
  • Unknown Sanford – birth unknown; he or she died before 1881.

The 1850 Census shows the young couple with two children, one unnamed infant.  Living with them is J. W. Sanford, a 79-year-old farmer whose relationship is not known (by me).  Also living with them is 11-year-old Charles Sanford. Again, I do not have a clear idea who these two individuals are.[5]

From the 1860 Census, the family located to Aurora, Indiana.  Their fourth child Almon was born in Michigan in 1855, but their fifth child, William A, was born in Indiana about 1859. So, it appears that the family located to Indiana sometime between 1855 and 1959. In any event, the 1860 Census indicates the family consisted of William and Mary with four children, Mary (Marion), Elva, Elmon (Almon), and Willee (William).[6] (The unknown second child is not mentioned in the census.)

Map of Saline Village showing Sanford farm, 1874
Map of Saline Village showing Sanford farm, 1874

By 1863 the family had returned to Saline, Michigan, where William registered for the Civil War Draft. He was in “Class II,” which was everyone not in Class I.  (Class I were those aged 20-35 and those 36-45 and unmarried.) William indicated he was 41 and married making him Class II.[7]

By 1870, Marion had married William Henry Brown and was out of the house leaving Elva, Alma (Almon), Willie (William) and George. Also living with William and Mary were four-day laborers. James Roach, George Coats, Gabriel Reeves, and Wilson Hoag.[8]

According to the 1880 Census, living with William and Mary in Saline, Michigan are three of their boys. Uhnond (Almon), William, and George. Also living with them are two “Servants,” Henry Morris and Joseph Evans.[9]

North Dakota

In 1883, the family relocated again and moved west. William Sanford with his sons A.C. (Almon C) and George located to Section 6, in northwestern Sykeston Township. We know that other of his family members located to North Dakota about that time, including his daughters, Marion and Eva and his brother, C. A. Sanford who was the donor of the Sanford Dormitory at Jamestown College. William had a successful farm, which included the first herd of cattle in the county, a thrashing machine, pedigreed stallions, and a large flock of sheep.[10]

Area of Sanford Homestead, Section 6, Sykeston Twnsp, Wells Co., ND

Dakota Territory held a census in 1885.  That census showed William and Mary living with their two sons, A.C. (Almon) and George. Also, living with them were two servants, George Huber and John Sager.  It is interesting to note that William’s daughter, Elva, and her husband William Wright, show on the same Census page.[11]

In 1888, after 43 years of marriage, William’s wife, Mary, died.[12]

Five years later, in 1893, married Harriet Kent a 59-year-old widow.[13] It appears that she died before 1900, because in the 1900 Census, the widower William is living with his son George (and George’s wife and son) in Township 146, Wells County, North Dakota.[14]

William married once again, on 26 February 1901, this time to Phila Geer Frisby.[15]

Death

Sanford Marker at Lake View Cemetery, Cathay, North Dakota
Sanford Marker – Photo by Cemetery Scavenger via Find a Grave; used by permission.

William died on 5 June 1915 in Charlotte, Michigan, at the age of 92. His death was preceded by a fall where he broke his hip. He was then removed to Cathay, Wells County, North Dakota for burial.[16]  William was buried with his first wife, Mary Electa (Parsons) Sanford at Lake View Cemetery, in Cathay, ND.[17]

Further Actions / Follow-up

  • Follow-up on lives of all of William’s children.
  • Continue research on William.

Contact

Once again, if you are descended from William M. Sanford please let me know how you are connected. I’d love to hear from you.

———– DISCLAIMER ———–

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ENDNOTES

  • [1] Family Search; 1850 Census; (William Sanford) Michigan, Washtenaw, Saline, Sheet 737, Line 41 & following sheet.
  • [2] Google Books; History of Washtenaw County.  Michigan:  Together with Sketches of Its Cities, Villages, and Townships…. 1881. http://books.google.com/books?id=2z0XAQAAMAAJ.
  • [3] Google Books; History of Washtenaw County.  Michigan:  Together with Sketches of Its Cities, Villages, and Townships…. 1881. http://books.google.com/books?id=2z0XAQAAMAAJ. Page 1409.
  • [4] Ibid.
  • [5] Family Search; 1850 Census; (William Sanford) Michigan, Washtenaw, Saline, Sheet 737, Line 41 and following sheet.
  • [6] Family Search; 1860 Census; (William Sanford) Indiana, Dearborn, Aurora Center, Image 424.
  • [7] Ancestry.Com; U.S., Civil War Draft Registrations Records, 1863-1865; William Sanford.
  • [8] Family Search; 1870 Census; (William Sanford) Michigan, Washtenaw County, Saline, Page 17, Line 22.
  • [9] Family Search; 1880 Census; (William Sanford) Michigan, Washtenaw, Saline, ED 237, Page 22 B, Line 16
  • [10] Spokesfield, Walter E.; The History of WELLS COUNTY NORTH DAKOTA AND ITS PIONEERS:  With a Sketch of North Dakota History and the Origin [sic] of the place names.  Valley City, N. D.:  Publisher: Not Identified, Published in 1929.
  • [11]  North Dakota State University; 1885 Census Index – Dakota Territory – (Wm Sanford) Page 35W-005; https://library.ndsu.edu/db/census/family?ed=35W-005-27
  • [12] Find a Grave – Mary E Sanford – Memorial# 142980426.
  • [13] Family Search; Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925; William Sanford – Harriet Kent.
  • [14] Family Search; 1900 Census; (George Sanford) – North Dakota, Wells, Township 146, Range 69, ED 212, Sheet 12A
  • [15] Family Search; Michigan Marriages, 1868-1925; William Sanford & Phila Geer Frisby
  • [16] Seeking Michigan; Michigan Death Certificate – William Sanford – Michigan, Eaton County, Charlotte.
  • [17] Find a Grave – William Sanford – Memorial# 142980536

Don’t avoid those Bright Shiny Objects.

Brown Research

Bright Shiny Objects - Photo by arbyreed - CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Bright Shiney Objects

Photo by Arbyreed (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

 

I’ll admit it; I get diverted from my goals by Bright Shiny Objects (BSOs).  I was working on a problem ancestor of mine, my third great-grandmother, Mary C. LNU (Last Name Unknown), about whom I know very little.

Bio – Mary C. (LNU) Brown (1823-?)

What I think I know:

  • She was born about 1824 in New York.[i]
  • She probably married Barney/Daney Brown about 1841.[ii]
  • In 1850, she was living with her apparent husband, Barney, and two children, William H and Myron O Brown in Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan.[iii]
  • In 1860, she and her apparent husband, Daney, were living with four children, Henry W, Myron O, Alice C. and David V. Brown in Saline, Washtenaw County, Michigan.[iv]
  • In the 1870 census, it appears that she is living alone.[v] Her son, Henry, was married and making a life with his wife and two children nearby. Not sure where Myron, Alice, or David were. I can’t find them nor their father, Barney/Daney, in the 1870 census either. So, I figured he possibly died in the Civil War. Certainly, I have a lot more research to do to determine if one of the many Browns who fought for the Union was my Barney/Daney Brown.

Newspapers

After I had figured out that I had exhausted my many searching methods on Family Search, Ancestry, and Genealogy in Time (read Google) for Mary, Barney/Daney, and the children, I thought I’d see if there were any newspapers of the area. I like using The Ancestor Hunt to seek out newspapers. I research Michigan enough that I have a bookmark right to Kenneth Mark’s Michigan page in my browser. I click it, then do a {Control/f} to “find” type “Saline” and–Bang–there were three newspapers listed for Saline. One was 1958-2014, outside of my possible range. But two were in the 1800s, both at Central Michigan University. So, off I go (metaphorically speaking).

Digital Michigan Newspapers – It is a “Bright Shiny Object.”

I quickly figured out how to search only the Saline papers and found lots of articles about various Browns, but none that appeared to be about this family unit.  (It might be really helpful if I decide to do a locational surname study.)  But this is a nice site.  I’d just bet I can find some juicy bits of information there – It It looks like it is a BSO!

Newspaper Clipping - Obituary - Janette A. Arnold Wakefield Parsons
Obituary Janette A. Arnold Wakefield Parsons

I went back to my genealogy program (I use Heredis) and selected the people who had any event in Saline in my database – 45 people.  I’ll bet some of these people are in those papers. As I worked through the list, at first I didn’t find articles about lots of them, A tantalizing bit here and there, like Sarah Young had perfect attendance in school in 1881. Then, I hit some really important articles. My 4th great-grandfather, Chester Parsons’ personal property was auctioned off by the administrator of his estate. Awesome detail of what was going up for sale, “12 cows, 16 head young cattle, seven head horses, 52 acres wheat on the ground and a large quantity of farm implements. Eighty acres of timber land is also offered for sale at a bargain.”  Very interesting stuff. I even learned that someone named Daniel Reeves lived on Chester Parson’s farm for six years, including two years while Chester was still alive.[vi] Who was Daniel Reeves and why was he living on the Parson farm?  I also found the obituary for Chester Parson’s second wife, which provided the date he married her, her maiden and widowed names, and her daughter’s names.  Those names might be helpful when I find Chester Parsons’ probate records.

The bottom line is that in a couple hours of investigating this BSO, I learned a couple dozen facts, developed several new avenues of inquiry and had a lot of fun.  I know that I probably should have kept to my research goal: What was Mary C [Brown]’s maiden surname? I still don’t know the answer to that, but I do know lots of new things. So it is okay with me that I diverted to look at the BSOs. The information I found added texture to my understanding of the lives of several ancestors. So, I’m glad I didn’t toss aside that Bright Shiney Object once I knew it wouldn’t answer my research question. I hope you find BSOs you can have fun with also.

Future Actions:

  • Research Mary C. [Brown] and determine her maiden surname, place of birth, death, etc. (Again.)
  • Find the Probate Records for Chester Parsons (1799-1887) – Washtenaw County, Michigan.
  • Determine if Barney/Daney Brown served in the Civil War.
  • Determine if there is a relationship between Daniel Reeves and the Parsons family.
———-  DISCLAIMER  ———-
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ENDNOTES

  • [i] The 1850, 1860, and 1870 census records for her are all consistent, 26, 36, and 46 years old respectively.
  • [ii] Their first child, William Henry Brown, was born about 1842 in Michigan.
  • [iii] United States Census, 1850,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MF8P-F8S : accessed 23 March 2016), Barney Brown, Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan, United States; citing family 185, NARA microfilm publication M432 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
  • [iv] “United States Census, 1860”, database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:MWDZ-DLM : accessed 23 March 2016), Daney Brown, 1860.
  • [v] Year: 1870; Census Place: Saline, Washtenaw, Michigan; Roll: M593_708; Page: 315B; Image: 166772; Family History Library Film: 552207  Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.
  • [vi] Saline Observer (Saline, MI) – 1891-12-10, Pg 5, Column 2 (last paragraph) – via Digital Michigan Newspapers; Central Michigan University
.

newspapers-com-234x60-2 newspapers-com-234x60-2

In Memoriam – Russell Erwin Kees (1927-2016)

By Don Taylor

Photo of Russell Kees in army uniform
Russell Kees c. 1952
Source: Don Taylor

When I was growing up, my Uncle Russ was always a mystery – almost a myth. He was a photo on the wall and a wonder, as in “wonder what happened with Russell.  I knew my middle name came from him. I had heard a few stories, about how he took care of his sister, my mom, a lot when they were kids.  He was five years older and quite protective. I knew that after his grandmother’s husband died, he live with his grandmother during high school.  He was just a tad too young for World War II, but he did serve in Korea during the Korean War. After his military service he came back home to Detroit to help take care of his grandmother again. in 1953, his grandmother Ida (Barber) Knight died then he decided to “go out west” to find his natural father, who he hadn’t seen since he was five.  Then, he vanished to us.
My mother married, changed her name, and moved to Minnesota, making it hard for anyone to find her. Her mother, Donna, lived with my mom and me throughout the 1950s into the 1960s and never had a phone in her name, so she was virtually impossible to find as well. Every once in a while my mom would see a telephone directory for another city and look to see if there was a Russell Kees listed. When she found one, she’d call, but none of them was her brother.

In 2002, I was involved with my genealogy, searching for my biological father, to no avail, and got to thinking, could I use some of my new-found skills to find Russell? I talked with my mom who indicated that Russell graduated from Southwestern High School in Detroit in 1945, but not with the other students, he graduated in January, an odd time of the year. I devised a plan. I went to Classmates.Com and contacted every person in the 1944 and the 1945 classes from Southwestern High School. I told them my story and asked if they knew Russell Kees and if they had any contact information for him. People were responsive, and many remembered Russell but none had contact with him in years. Finally, a person responded, she had a reunion list that included Russ’s current contact information. She gave me his email address.  I contact Russ first by email, then by telephone, it was great. I learned that he spent much of his adult life living on Kwajalein Island, in the Marshall Islands, which is about half-way between Hawaii and New Guinea. He had been married three times and had one daughter. He had just retired, was living in Arizona, and would love to reconnect with his sister again.  Super!  I helped coordinate where and when they would meet and booked my flight from Boston to Minneapolis, so I could be there when it happened.  I then wrote an email to Classmates.Com and let them know of my success in finding my mother’s brother and told them they hadn’t seen each other for 50 years. I told them the date they would be meeting and thanked them so much for the service they provide. few days later, I received a telephone call from “60 Minutes II.” They had been informed by Classmates of the reunion and would love to send a crew to film it.

Photo of Sylvia Matson, Vicki Mabrey, Russell Kees - 2002
Sylvia Matson, Vicki Mabrey, Russell Kees –
2002

A few days later, I received a telephone call from “60 Minutes II.” They had been informed by Classmates of the reunion and would love to send a crew to film it.

(A quick aside: “The 60 Minutes II” call occurred while I was at work. In talking to them I was late for a staff meeting.  When I got to the staff meeting, my boss asked why I was late, I told him that “60 Minutes” had called and I couldn’t really hang up on them. He said “WHAT!” and I said, it really wasn’t “60 Minutes,” it was “60 Minutes II.” My boss’ eyes were like saucers, and he asked, “what did they want.”  I said, “would you believe they wanted to know what it was like to work at DCMA.” The look on his face was priceless – he totally freaked out. Then, I told him, no, they actually wanted to know the particulars of my mother and her brother meeting for the first time in 50 years. My boss was so relieved. I don’t think he thought it was funny, but all of the other people at the staff meeting did.)

My mom and Russell’s first meeting in 50 years
was filmed by a crew from “60 Minutes II”

My mom and Russell met in the hospitality area at a local hotel and the crew was there to film it. Their reunion went wonderfully. A few weeks later, “60 Minutes II” said they needed more and flew my mother from Minneapolis and uncle Russ from Phoenix to Albuquerque, put them up in a five-star hotel and filmed an interview with Vicki Mabrey.  Unfortunately, another Classmates.Com story took precedence over mom & Russ’s meeting so most of their interview ended up on the cutting room floor.

Sylvia & Russ on a cruise.

Mom’s husband, Edgar Jerome Matson, died later in 2003, and Russell and my mom became great friends. The took a cruise to Alaska together and a riverboat cruise on a paddleboat on the Ohio River. They loved sharing their time together. It was great to see their relationship grow and them to become great friends.

Although I only saw Uncle Russ six or eight times, I miss him dearly and miss the way he made my mom so happy.

Russell Erwin Kees (1927-2016)

Russell was born in Detroit, Michigan on 29 August 1927 to Samson (Sammy) Clark Amsterdam and Donna Knight [1] as Russell Erwin Clark Amsterdam. As a young child, he traveled with his mother and father, who were in show business, around the country. He was with them on the ship to Panama in 1930. Sammy and Donna divorced in 1932; Sammy lived in New York, Donna lived in Chicago, and Russell lived with Donna in Chicago.

Photo of Sylvia and Russell Kees, circa 1937
Sylvia and Russell Kees, circa 1937

About 1937, Donna became involved with a man named Russell Kees and lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan with him. Both my mom and Russell adopted the surname Kees, although I don’t believe that Donna ever married Russell Kees and both my mom and uncle Russ are sure Russell Kees never adopted them.

The husband of Russell’s maternal grandmother, Ida (Barber) Knight, Harvey Knight died in 1942 and Russell went to live with Ida shortly after that to help out there. He graduated from Southwestern High School. In high school, he was noted as an excellent roller skater.

He enlisted and service during the Korean War.  Russell told me the story that while in Korea, a plane strafed the jeep he was driving. He said he got out and into a ditch real fast.

His name change to Kees not being legal gave him some problems in the 1950s when he applied for a Top Secret Crypto clearance for his job. (A problem I too shared with my Taylor/Larson/Matson name changes and my inability to identify my father’s name.)

In 1954, Russell married Delphine Ann Sieradski. That marriage was short-lived and ended in divorce quickly.

In 1958, Russell married Jacqueline R Wigfield; they divorced as well, probably in 1964.

In 1965, Russell married June Elsie Callaway. They soon had a daughter. Russell and June divorced in 1968.

Russell spent many years on Kwajalein Island in the Marshall Islands. While on “Kwaj,” community theater dominated his activities. Theater was his passion, and he starred in many roles while there.  He is known to be an excellent piano player, able to play the “Flight of the Bumble Bee.” In the 2000s he recorded playing “Beautiful Mother of Mine” a song written by his mother, Donna in 1923.

Photo of Russell Erwin Kees
Russell Erwin Kees
Probably c. 1948

He was an avid golfer, winning tournaments for his age group when he was in his 70s.

Russell Erwin Kees died on 16 March 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.
He is buried at National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona, in Phoenix, Maricopa County, Arizona in Section H3, Row B, Site 39.

Russell is survived by daughter Dawn Milligan, sister Sylvia Matson, and two grandchildren.

If you knew Russell and have a story or two you can share, I would love to add your story about Russell to my family history.  Also, I’d like any photos you may have of Russell.  I will add them to a family album and possibly use them in a coliague  remembering Russell. Please use the comments below to share with me.  Comments will be considered as public unless you specifically state you would like the story kept private within the family.

Endnotes:

[1] This is the only record I have seen that indicates that Madonna Montran used the name of her stepfather, Harvey Knight.

Sources:

1940 Census – Michigan, Kent County, Grand Rapids, ED 86-156, Sheet 10B, Line 61, Age 12, attending school.  Ancestry.Com
Birth Certificate – State of Michigan – State File #: 121-582-0201178.
Cook County, Illinois Marriage Index, 1930-1960 – Ancestry.Com
Donna Montran Collection – Digital Scans held by Don Taylor
Email – Various between Don Taylor and Russell Kees & Don Taylor and Russell’s sister (Living).
New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 – Ancestry.Com
Find A Grave Memorial# 161134930 – Russell Erwin Kees

Random Acts of Cemetery Kindness – Essie Pansy Barnes Roberts

by Don Taylor

During my recent trip to Detroit, one of my newly-met half-sisters, Beverly, and I had the opportunity to visit the Michigan Memorial Park in Flat Rock, MI.  Our common grandmother Essie Pansy (Barnes) Roberts is buried there. Also, two of Essie’s children (an aunt and an uncle to us) are buried nearby.

I had done my homework before arriving. I downloaded an overall map of the cemetery and then contacted the cemetery for locations of the specific individuals.  They were most helpful. I received the specific plot numbers for the people and I received a detailed map of the plots from the cemetery staff.

Marker – Essie Pansy (Barnes) Roberts
Beloved Mother – 1903-1982
Photo by Don Taylor

When we arrived at the cemetery, we were able to park very close to where the plots were. It was Memorial Day 2016, and the cemetery had many people. When we found the marker a nice man, whose family member was buried a few yards away, offered to help us clean up the site and make it look better as it was quite overgrown. He then came over with a trimmer, blower, water bottle and paper towels and made quick work of cleaning up the marker. The difference was amazing. No longer did the grass encroach upon the bronze plaque, but was cleanly off the encircling cement as well. It just looked so clean, so fresh. We thanked our new friend for his work.

Marker – Aunt Pansy (Roberts) Romer
1922-1987
Photo by Don Taylor

As Murphy would have it, when we reversed the flower cup to add flowers direct from Beverly’s garden mud and goop came out and dropped onto the bronze plaque. So we had to wipe the marker down again. We added the flowers and said our respects.

Next to Pansy’s marker is the marker of her daughter, our aunt, Pansy Marie and her husband, Edward Harold Romer.  Our anonymous friend had also trimmed up their marker. We thanked him profusely for his efforts once again. We paid our respects there and moved on to Uncle John’s marker.

Marker – John H Roberts
(photo shot from top and inverted)
Photo by Don Taylor

Uncle John, and his wife Isabel, Roberts’ marker was the least encroached upon of the markers before we arrived. Our friend didn’t clean that one up. He asked if we wanted him to do so, but it really didn’t need it like the other ones did. Again, we paid respects to Uncle John and his wife.
Then we returned to Essie’s marker. It was really moving for me to introduce myself to a grandmother I had never known and who never knew that I existed. But from everything my cousins and siblings say, she would have embraced me and loved me completely and totally had she known of me. I miss never having had the chance to know “Gran” first-hand.

Marker: Essie Pansy (Barnes) Roberts with flowers
Photo by Don Taylor

Future Actions:
Collect stories and memories from the siblings and cousins regarding Essie so that I may get to know her.

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