A strong woman
Every once in a while, I have one of those days that remind me that no matter what I am going through, I come from a long line of very strong women. I have shared the stories of some of these woman throughout my blog. These women would probably never have been given international awards or medals of honor. However, they were each strong and incredible woman in their own right. We often celebrate the heroes in our genealogy research, most of which are men. Today I want to celebrate the woman in my genealogy that struggled, loved, and survived in order to allow me to live the life I do today.
Sarah (Belden) Burt (1682 - 1749): Taken captive by Indians on February 29, 1704. She was 8 months pregnant at the time with her first child. She and her husband Benjamin, not only survived captivity but lived long enough to be rescued. Sarah gave birth to her first child Christopher. On the voyage home to Massachusetts, Sarah gave birth to her second son Seaborn. You can read more about Sarah (Belden) Burt, in the blog post: Benjamin Burt and His Family: Captives of the Deerfield Massacre
Mary Catherine (Clunas) McKenzie (1785 - 1857): Mary Catherine Clunas married Donald McKenzie in 1812 in Scotland, that same year they traveled almost 3,000 miles to Nova Scotia, Canada and then on to Malahide Township, Elgin County, Ontario, Canada to homestead in a new and untamed land. You can read more about Mary Catherine (Clunas) McKenzie in the blog post: Donald McKenzie, Talbot Settler of Elgin County, Ontario, Canada
Elizabeth (Miller) Faught (1845 - 1871): A young mother, suffering from a life-threatening disease. She fought with everything she had to find a cure that would allow her to stay with her husband and newborn daughter. You can read more about Elizabeth (Miller) Faught in the blog post: Elizabeth Miller and the hope of a cure
Sarah Ann (Healy) Hawley (1851 1924): Sarah Ann Healy, my 2nd great grandmother, left her home country of Ireland about the age of 16 to set off on her own to a new home in America. Once she arrived in America, she found her way to a small lumbering town called Alpena. She raised seven children and outlived all but two of them. She then made the long trip from Northern Michigan to Bellflower, California and then back again after her husband's death. You can learn more about her life on her timeline page or from one of the many blog posts I have written about her and her family.
Mary Anna (Faught) McKenzie (1870 - 1929): Mary Anna Faught, my 2nd great grandmother, overcame many struggles in her life, from losing her mother before the age of five, separated from her father and raised by her grandparents. Mary Anna grew up and married Alexander McKenzie. Alexander passed away at the age of 56, leaving Mary Anna with seven children to raise. Learn more about the tough woman by reading the blogs shown on her page.
Lavina (Hawley) Burt (1889 - 1953): Lavina May Hawley, my great grandmother, was the youngest of 10 children and grew up in a family with meager resources, to say the least. She was the mother of six children, four of which passed away before reaching the age of 3. For this alone, I consider her a strong woman. However, one of the things I respect most about her is her willingness to care for a home and raise children on her own in order to allow her husband Ernest Burt to work as a Missionary in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I truly believe that this sacrifice played a large part in myself and my family being a part of this church today.
Vera (Mason) Royer (1903 - 1982): Vera Ellen Mason, my great grandmother, was born around the turn of the century and married at 21. She raised five children through some of the most horrible and wonderful events in history. In her lifetime, she witnessed four wars (WWI, WWII, The Korean War and The Vietnam War), lived through the great depression, saw woman gain the right to vote and the end of racial segregation. Most of her life she survived with a 7th-grade education. Until, at the age of 76, she went back to school to earn her high school diploma. I am proud to call this strong woman my great grandmother. Read more about this in the blog post: It is Never too Late to Learn....
Grace Elizabeth Ann (Brock) Royer (1931 - 2000): Grace Elizabeth Ann Brock, my grandmother, did not have an easy life, and like all of us, did not always make the best choices. However, there are two things about her that stand out, her faith of her will to fight. Her faith was always evident, whether through her years of service as a soldier in the Salvation Army Church or the buttons she wore and the stickers she proudly displayed on her cane. Her will to fight was obvious through her determination to finish high school. Grace started taking night classes around 1972 and continued to do so over the next 20 years until in 1991 she accomplished her goal and graduated, at the age of 60, with her high school diploma from Herbert Henry Dow high school in Midland, Michigan. Read more about this in the blog post: It is Never too Late to Learn....
Edna Jean (Burt) McKenzie (1927 - 2013): Edna Jean Burt was my grandmother. It is hard to summarize her strength because she is one of those people that made such a huge difference in the lives of so many . Born the youngest daughter of a minister, she grew up to raise five wonderful children. Throughout her life, she was the glue that held our family together. It was her quiet but constant strength and faith that my McKenzie family is built upon. She not only cared for her family but all those around her. Her love and courage were contagious and I for one am proud to say that she is my grandmother.
My hope is that someday, my life can also be an inspiration to my daughter and her daughters. Not, because I did miraculous things or the millions that I won't make, but because life itself is tough, and the normal day to day things, like raising children and working to provide for a family, take strength. Although I have highlighted the strength of these nine women in my family history, I am well aware that there are so many more. I will continue to research and discover their lives and share their strength through my blog posts.
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I come from a very strong line of ancestors, of that I have no doubt. So, in honor of June being the month for graduations and to honor these members of my family, today I would like to share their graduation stories! All three of these people knew that "It is never too late to learn" or to go back to school.
Vera Ellen (Mason) Royer was born in 1903. She married Josephat E. Royer in 1924 and they raised a family of four children. On the 1940 census, when Vera was 37 years old, she states that her highest level of education completed was 7th grade. 39 years later, that changed for Vera.
At the age of 76, now living at the Ranieri Rest Home, Vera started working towards her high school diploma by attending evening classes at Sault Area High school.
12 years later, in 1991, Vera's daughter in-law and my grandmother, Grace Elizabeth Ann (Brock) Royer, also made the decision to go back to school. At the age of 60, Grace graduated with her high school diploma from Herbert Henry Dow high school in Midland, Michigan.
The same year, that Grace graduated so did her grandson, Brian Royer, who graduated from Alpena High School in Alpena, Michigan.
The story of strength and determination doesn't stop there. In 2005, Albert Royer, son of Grace (Brock) Royer and Father of Brian Royer, graduates with his high school diploma at the age of 54. Albert, left high school in 1968, when he was a senior, only to return to finish what he had started 37 years prior.
Newspaper article published in The Alpena News on Friday, June 3, 2005
These three amazing members of my family are proof that "It is never too late to learn" or to finish what you started!
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Sylvester P. Mason was born on about 1815 in Danube, Herkimer, New York. His father's name was George Mason.
On June 23, 1834, at the age of 19, Sylvester enlisted in the U.S. Army in Albany New York.
Sylvester is noted as having blue eyes, light hair, a fair complexion and a height of 5'6". His occupation is listed as a Clothier. A clothier is a person that makes, sells, or deals in clothes or cloth.
At the time of reenlistment, his occupation is listed as a soldier. He is noted as having blue eyes, light hair, a fair complexion and a height of 5'11 3/4".
Only two years after he reenlisted he was reported as a deserter on October 25, 1842.
Five days after being reported as a deserter, on October 30, 1842, he married Nancy Osmer in Port Huron, St. Clair, Michigan.
Sylvester was apprehended on September 12, 1844 at Fort Gratiot in St. Clair County, Michigan and received a court martial on November 5, 1844 for deserting.
At this point, it sounded like his military career was over, although, he did take a break from his military career to start a family. From 1848 to 1859, Sylvester and Nancy had four children, 3 sons (Robert, Silas and Perry) and 1 daughter (Amelia).
Sylvester returns to Port Huron, St. Clair, Michigan. He and his wife Nancy have two more children, Mary May and Martin Mark Mason. Martin Mark Mason is my maternal second great grandfather.
Lesson Learned: We all have great men in our past! I see Sylvester as a great man, a hero who fought for our county. Just like us, those great men are also human. Yes Sylvester was labeled a deserted, but I would like to think that he deserted because he met the women he was going to marry. With this post I honor my 3rd great grandfather, Sylvester P. Mason.
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I had my DNA tested through Ancestry.com in 2014. As, I think most genealogist would agree, the possibility of finding family connections based on shared DNA is an exciting prospect. On the other hand, staring at a list of almost 3,000 DNA matches ranging from my paternal uncle to a possible 8th cousin with a low to moderate confidence level, can be a little overwhelming. However, every once in a while, you see that little green envelope with a number by it at the top of your screen, indicating that you have a new message.
A couple of weeks ago, I received a message from a woman named Lisa, who happens to be my 1st cousin 2x removed.
Lisa's father Gordon Earl Mason was the youngest brother of my great grandmother Vera Ellen Mason.
I have not spend a whole lot of time researching the Mason family line as of yet. However, just knowing that there is someone out there, that I have never met, that shares not only DNA but also a passion for genealogy is a wonderful feeling. I look forward to getting to know Lisa better and having the opportunity to share family information with each other.
Lesson Learned: Sources of genealogical information comes from a variety of different sources. As genealogists, we can bury ours noses in birth, marriage, census and death records. However, the real sense of "family" comes from the personal interaction with family you know and family that you now have the opportunity to get to know.
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Finding this 1930 census record makes me remember that even though a pedigree chart follows a specific line, sometimes those lines intersect in ways that aren't obvious.
I have looked at this census several times for two different families, one on each side of my family tree.
Joseph Royer in household 14 with his wife Vera and children George, Alfred and Marian. Alfred Royer is my maternal grandfather. He is 1 year and 11 months old (born in April of 1928) in April of 1930 living in Sault Ste. Marie, Chippewa, Michigan.
Truman King in household 15 with his wife Loretta and children Willard C. and Katherine and two brother in-laws (Loretta's brothers) Frank and William Ward. Truman and Loretta King are my paternal great great grandparents.
My paternal great grandmother Mae Arla King (daughter of Truman and Loretta) had already moved out of the home after her marriage to Orlie Charles McKenzie in 1919. My grandfather Alexander Orlando McKenzie was born in January of 1924. Alfred Royer and Alexander McKenzie( Maternal Grandfather and my Paternal Grandfather) being only 4 years apart very well could have played together as young children.
Conclusion: in 1930, Sault Ste. Marie, Chippewa, Michigan, my Paternal Great great grandparents and my maternal Great Grandparents were living right next store to each other.
Lesson learned: Names, Dates and Place are great, but the moment when a story comes out of the evidence is what makes this all worth it!
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My name is Rebecca Walbecq. My maiden name is McKenzie. My Genealogy journey began about 15 years ago after talking to my grandma about her family. The spark was lit and since then genealogy has become my passion!