Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap

In my last post here on the Otter Lake Express, “A Glimpse into the Past”, I stated how much I liked that newspapers gave you a more in-depth look at the lives of our ancestors. In today’s post, I am not talking about the AC/DC song of the same name, but an incident that took place in the life of my great-granduncle, Arthur A. McCormack. Arthur was the son of Michael and Catherine McCormack.

Arthur McCormack at the family reunion in Otter Lake, Michigan.

Arthur McCormack at the family reunion in Otter Lake, Michigan.

A few nights ago, I was on Facebook and I saw an ad for GenealogyBank. Afterwards I went to GenealogyBank where I haven’t been for quite a while. Once on GenealogyBank, I did my standard search for anything McCormack. After looking at several dead ends, I came to this;

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap?

Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap? [1]

To summarize the article, Arthur was indicted for taking (very small) “gifts” while an alderman in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In my take of the article, it seems that Arthur was known for taking small “gratuities” during his time as an alderman in Milwaukee. Currently, my research has Arthur living in Milwaukee from about 1887 to sometime in 1908 or possibly 1909. So sometime during this almost twenty year period, Arthur was an alderman. The article seems to suggest that he stopped being an alderman around 1902 or 1903. In 1910, I have him and his wife living in Detroit, Michigan.

In researching your family history, it is often said that sooner or later you will find something that you may not be proud of. I am not saying that Arthur was totally corrupt but that he was a partially flawed man.

I also think that this article opens up several research possibilities. I could research his political career or his legal problems.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you learned something! I did!


1. Arthur A. McCormack,  “To Petty Graft, ” The Grand Rapids (Michigan) Press, 23 Nov 1905, pg. 3, cols. 4-5; digital images, GenealogBank.com (genealogybank.com: accessed 3 Oct 2015), Newspaper Archives.

A Glimpse into the past

The thing I love about newspapers that it can tell you things about your family and their lives. Today, I would like to share the wedding announcement of my cousin, Robert Michael McCormack. The announcement is located near the bottom of the first page.

Robert Michael McCormack & Jewel Hassell's wedding announcement

Robert Michael McCormack & Jewel Hassell’s wedding announcement [1]

It looks like their wedding announcement made the first page of the local newspaper’s society page. In the article itself, we learn the name of the religious official that married them, the number of guests, the names of the best man and maid of honor, the future plans of the newly married couple and several other interesting facts that you might not learned otherwise. With all the pictures on the page of brides and their mothers, I was a little disappointed that Robert’s bride Jewel Hassell wasn’t included.

I spoke too soon! I did some additional research at MyHeritage.com and I did find a picture of the bride and the maid of honor.

Jewel Hassell's wedding dress

Jewel Hassell’s wedding dress [2]

Even though the picture of Jewel, located in the center of the page, is heavily pixelated, I think you can tell that the new Mrs. McCormack was a lovely bride! With this second page, you can even see the picture of Jewel’s maid of honor, Lena Hopkins.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you learned something!


  1. “Wedding Announcement of Robert M. McCormack and Jewel B. Hassell,” The Port Arthur News, 14 Oct 1945, Section B, pg. 17 , col. 5, digital images, MyHeritage.com/NewspaperArchive.com (http://www.myheritage.com/research/collection-10025/newspaperarchivecom)
  2. “Wedding Announcement of Robert M. McCormack and Jewel B. Hassell,” The Port Arthur News, 28 Oct 1945, Section B, pg. 17 , col. 4, digital images, MyHeritage.com/NewspaperArchive.com (http://www.myheritage.com/research/collection-10025/newspaperarchivecom)

Amanuensis Monday – Affidavit of Decease

It has been a couple of weeks since I last posted and I didn’t start to post this piece but something else. Sorry for the delay.

Amanuensis: A person employed to write what another dictates or to copy what has been written by another. This topic was started by John Newmark of the TransylvanianDutch blog.

It has been almost two years since I made a post under the Amanuensis Monday moniker. This is the affidavit of decease for my great-grand uncle, Frank J. McCormack.

Here is my transcription;




Kankakee County         } SS.


             Arthur A. McCormack,                                , being duly sworn, deposeth

and saith; That                           Frank J. McCormack                                    late of the

Town of                      Kankakee                          in the County of Kankakee and State

aforesaid, departed this life at       the City of Kankakee             , in said County, on

or about the          9th         , day of           December                               A.D. 1917      

and that   he    died leaving              no           last Will and Testament, to the best of

              his                knowledge and belief.

    Arthur A. McCormack     (signature)

 Subscribe and sworn to before me, this       24th     

day of       December       A. D. 1917

       Elmer A. Wilson         

    Notary Public,  in and

for Kankakee County Illinois

Here is the actual file;

Affidavit of Decease - Frank J. McCormack

Affidavit of Decease – Frank J. McCormack

For starters, it really doesn’t tell me anything new about any of the actors. What it does is it confirms several things that I do know, like Arthur’s middle initial “A” and Frank’s middle initial of “J”. Like their father, Michael McCormack, Arthur never used his full middle name and to the best of my knowledge, neither did Frank. By the way, Michael’s middle initial was “M” but he only used about three or four times. He never wrote down what his middle name was. But that is a subject for another post if I haven’t already done so.

I hope you learned something and thanks for stopping by!


  1. Kankakee County, Illinois, Frank J. McCormack probate file, Probate Court, Kankakee.

McCormack Family DNA Update!

I have great news! One of my research goals that I have since I started my research in the early 90’s has been to find out if the Michael McCormacks are truly Irish as most of my research has shown and as my gut tells me is true. Well, as I have found out other than my great-grandfather, William E. McCormack, neither one of his parents, Michael and Catherine, left a really great paper trail. My other option was a DNA test. Specifically, a Y-DNA test. For that, I needed a direct male descendant of Michael to take the test for me.  As I have said before in another blog post, I can’t take the test because my grandmother, God bless her, got in the way. Well, delaying the good news no longer, I have found a direct male descendant of Michael to take the test for me. Right now, I am not going to share his name. I want to thank this cousin for his cooperation! I have ordered a Y-DNA67 test for us. In about 2-3 months we should know some results.

Thanks for stopping by!

A marriage license

One of the interesting things about researching your family history is the documents that you find. One such document that I found, on Ancestry.com, is the marriage license for my late grand uncle Merle H. McCormack and Lois Murel Baker, his first wife.

Marriage License - Merle McCormack

Marriage License – Merle McCormack and Lois M. Baker [1]

It really doesn’t tell me anything new. It is just interesting to see. One of the interesting facts that you see on the license is the listing of the witnesses. I am not sure if the second witness, Alice Frankhouser, is a friend of my uncle Merle or his wife-to-be, Lois Baker. This marriage license also confirms the parents of both Merle and Lois.

I think someday I will print this document on the appropriate paper.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you learned something interesting!


1. Ancestry.com. Michigan, Marriage Records, 1867-1952 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2015.

Happy Birthday, William E. McCormack!

I originally wrote this particular post last year.


Today would have been William E. McCormack, my great-grandfather’s birthday. He was born on 9 July 1853 in Kilkenny, Ireland. He would have been 162 years old! His parents were Michael (M.) McCormack and Catherine (Payne) Steele. Shortly after his birth, he and his parents left Ireland via Liverpool, I believe, for the United States of America. For some unknown reason, they arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana.

William E. McCormack

William E. McCormack [1]

After a short stint in Kentucky and then in London, Ontario, Canada, William grew up in Ypsilanti, Michigan. When he was about 30 years old, he married Lura Grace Roys. Unfortunately, she died in 1895. They had one child, Grace Ellen McCormack. He then married my great-grandmother, Lavina Jane Hemingway in 1897.

Lavina Jane (Hemingway) McCormack

Lavina Jane (Hemingway) McCormack

They had three children, Merle, Alta (my grandmother) and Ruth.

Merle, Ruth and Alta

Merle, Ruth and Alta

I believe sometime in the 1880s, William built one of the finest house in the small village of Otter Lake, Michigan.

The William McCormack House in Otter Lake

The William McCormack House in Otter Lake

It still stands today but not in the magnificent shape that my great-grandfather initially built it. I am sure that I might be forgetting something since I am writing this at 4 am, but William was at times, a general/hardware store owner, a postmaster and probably many other things in Otter Lake.

William McCormack in front of his house in Otter Lake

William McCormack in front of his house in Otter Lake

The above photo is one of my favorite picture of William E. McCormack. Happy belated Birthday, great-grandfather!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you learned something!

DNA News update!

This is amazing, I am posting on consecutive days!

Last night (Tuesday night), I got an e-mail telling me that my YDNA-67 test was complete and ready for a lookover. I have taken a real quick look at my results. I my say that I don’t have a clue on what it all means. Give me a few days or weeks to find out what this all means. I don’t know how this test will help me in my McCormack research.

Thanks for stooping by!