Hotel McCormack Arrivals!

I believe that I have said it before, but little gems like this clipping below are very interesting. It just shows a little slice of daily life. At one time, John Michael McCormack owned a hotel in Reno, Nevada. This is a notice of arrivals at John Michael’s hotel on June 17th, 1910. [1]

I would like to thank everyone for stopping by and hopefully learning something new about the McCormack clan.


Copyright (c) 2020, Jeff Ford


  1. John Michael McCormack, “Hotel McCormack Arrivals,” The Reno (Nevada) Gazette Journal, 17 Jun 1910, p. 10, col. 2, digital image,,, accessed 6 Jun 2020.

Henry and the sharing of the world!

I know that it has been a while since I last posted. I think that I found a little gem that might make up for some of my absence.

When you become the family’s genealogist/historian, one of the things that you feel as an obligation is to find things that tell a story or something about members of your family that help to tell a story about them. When you do find something that shows off ancestor, you can’t help but feel a good deal of satisfication.

I went looking for family gems at When I did, I had gone there intending to look for another family member than the one that I found. What I found was a little gem about Henry McCormack, the sixth son of Michael McCormack. A little background on Henry is that he was a prominent member of the Ithaca, Michigan business community. He was a store owner and at one time a board member of a local bank.

Here is my little gem;

Henry and the globe [1]

Who would have known that Henry McCormack was such a supporter of education?

I would like to thank everyone for stopping by and hopefully learning something new about the McCormack clan.



  1. Henry McCormack, “Y. M. C. A Notes,” The Alma (Michigan) Record, 4 Dec 1913, p. 2, col. 1, digital image,,, accessed 24 May 2020.

Looking for Michael's Past Pt. 1

Two of the things that have driven my research in the last few years are my desire to find out if Michael had any family in Ireland and if he came from County Kilkenny.

Several years ago, a friend of mine found a baptism entry for a Michael (Mc)Cormack. Michael’s parents, in the entry, are Patrick Cormack and Catherine Brodrick. This document was the very first time that I may have had a glimpse of the name of Michael’s mother. Through my research, I only know of one of Michael’s parents, his father Patrick. The name of Michael’s mother is a complete unknown to me.

This was the entry was found in the baptismal and marriage records for the St. Canice civil parish of County Kilkenny.

I looked at several years before and after the date of the entry in the same file for any other (Mc)Cormack entries. I didn’t find any additional (Mc)Cormack entries, but I may have overlooked an entry or two.

I decided that perhaps I should try a slightly different approach. Since I didn’t find any more entries, I felt that I need to look in other places around County Kilkenny to find any evidence of a marriage between Patrick Cormack and Catherine Brodrick and also any other children.

I started with a few of the many spelling variations of McCormack. The terms I came up with were Cormack, Cormick, and McCormack. I looked for different spellings of Brodrick. But there are just two main variations, Brodrick and Broderick. My final list of surnames that I came up with was Brodrick, Broderick, Cormack, Cormick, and McCormack. With those terms, I needed to find just where in County Kilkenny they were located.

The place to find that information is How the website works is that you supply a surname to locate and it will show you where in Ireland your surname is located by county according to Griffith’s Valuation. The first surname that I tried was McCormick. But there were no entries for McCormick in County Kilkenny. I had better success when I repeated that approach for the rest of the surnames on my list. I then listed each surname by the civil parish to see which parishes matched across the surnames and how many in each parish.

I left out the parishes that only occurred in one surname. I tried to get the parishes that had the most occurrences in a parish and also occurred in other surnames.

I will update everyone with any results that I happen to find!

I would like to thank everyone for stopping by and hopefully learning something new about the McCormack clan.

Copyright (c) 2020, Jeff Ford

What's my name?

What's my name?

The one thing that we are all known by is our name. That’s especially true for genealogists/family historians who look for their ancestors. We run into problems during our search when we come upon relatives with the same or similar names. We also run into problems when the relative’s name is spelled differently than what we have seen before. In the story that I will lay out for you in this post, one thing that I have been saying since I found the following information on Ancestry is that it isn’t how our ancestors spelled their name. It is how the census taker wrote down their name. It is how the clerk making the entry in the marriage books wrote their name as/ In this case, it is how the person transcribing the baptismal entry wrote the names of the McCormack family.

In the McCormack family, we have (or had) three men with the first name of Henry. Henry Peacock “HP” McCormack, the son of John Michael McCormack. Henry Davis McCormack, the first child of the previously mentioned HP. Finally, there was as he was known for most of his life, Henry McCormack, brother to John Michael and son of Michael McCormack.

The Three Henrys

In talking to various descendants of the last Henry, they mentioned that they were told either by Henry himself or other family members that his actual first name was Thomas. I said ok, but I need a little more than hearsay evidence to convince me. Last December 2019, I got an ubiquitious Ancestry hint. As I have privately told others, this hint found me. I didn’t and I don’t think I could. Why? Everyone’s last name was spelled much differently than I have seen before.

Henry McCormack’s Ancestry hint

McCormas? Paul? McCormis? As I told a descendant of Henry, I don’t know if there are enough wildcard characters to find this record. I have seen dozens of ways to spell McCormack. This was the FIRST time that I had seen McCormack or Payne spelled this way.

Henry’s baptismal entry

I made a few changes to reflect the fact that Henry’s actual first name was Thomas and not Henry. For example, at FamilySearch, I changed the birth/baptism name from Henry McCormack to Thomas Henry McCormack. But as I think I told this descendant of (the new) Thomas Henry, he may have been born and baptized as Thomas Henry McCormack, but he spent the rest of his life being known as Henry McCormack. He was married twice as Henry. He signed legal documents pertaining to his brother Frank’s probate case as Henry. He was also buried as Henry McCormack.

Another quick story that I would like to share with you is that if you notice that Henry was baptized as a Roman Catholic. This goes to support a family legend that a deal was made, I think, when Michael and Catherine were married that the boys were to be raised as Catholics and the girls were to raised as Protestants.

One last thing, now that Henry has/is a middle name, this makes three of Michael’s sons have known middle names. John Michael McCormack, Francis “Frank” James McCormack and Thomas Henry McCormack. There are two other sons of Michael that have middle initials, William E. McCormack (my great-grandfather) and Arthur A. McCormack. That leaves one son, Edward J. McCormack. I don’t think that I have found any documents that state if J was his middle initial or not or if the J stood for James or something else.

I would like to thank everyone for stopping by and hopefully learning something new about the McCormack clan.

Copyright (c) 2019, Jeff Ford

The McCormack Reunion – Colorized

A few weeks ago, I got an e-mail from Roberta Estes, the author of the DNA Explained – Genetic Genealogy blog. It was about a web-based service that colorizing b&w, sepia, and other old family photos.

Here is the URL;

Here is the “classic” black & white version;

McCormack Family Reunion

McCormack Family Reunion

Here are the results;

McCormack Family Reunion – Colorized

As you can see, it really looks pretty good although there are several obvious areas for correction, like some of the areas around of the eyes for example.

I hope that you like the results.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you learned something!

Copyright (c) 2019, Jeff Ford


Amanuensis Monday: A Teacher’s contract

Today’s document for Amanuensis Monday is a teacher’s contract for Lura McCormack Palmer in Oscoda County, Michigan.

It is my belief that documents like this contract add flavor and texture to someone’s life that otherwise may just consist of dates and locations.


It is hereby Agreed, By and between the Board of Education of School District, incorporated by the name and style of “The Public Schools of the Townships of Big Creek and Mentor,” in the County of Oscoda, and the State of Michigan, for and on behalf of said District, and Lura Palmer of the village of Luzerne in the County Oscoda and State of Michigan, a legally qualified Teacher in said County of Oscoda that the said Lura Palmer shall teach the Luzerne School of said District for the term of nine months, commencing on the 7th day of September in the year one thousand nine hundred twenty five for the sum of nine hundred Dollars to be paid as hereinafter specified.

The said Lura Palmer hereby agrees to teach said School, for and during the term above mentioned, to keep a correct list of the pupils, and the age of each attending the said school, and the number of days each pupil is present, and to furnish the said Board of Education with a correct copy of the same, at the close of the School, and to faithfully observe and enforce the rules and regulations established by said Board of Education for the government and management of said School.

The said Board of Education on behalf of said District, agrees to keep the said Schoolhouse in good repair, to provide the necessary fuel, and to pay said Lura Palmer for her services as Teacher of said School for and during the term above mentioned, the sum of Nine hundred Dollars, to be paid as follows;

One hundred dollars at the end of each school month . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

Provided However, That in case the Certificate of said Lura Palmer . . . . . . . authorizing her to teach, shall expire by limitation, and shall not be immediately renewed, or in case said Certificate shall be suspended or revoked by proper legal authority,  for immorality, or incompetency to instruct and govern said school, or for any other reason authorized by law, or, in case of the violation of this Contract by said Lura Palmer then, in any such case, the said Lura Palmer shall not thereafter be entitled to any compensation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

In Witness Whereof, We have hereunto subscribed our names, this  29th day of June A.D. 19025

Board of Education of “The Public Schools of the Townships of Big Creek and Mentor.”

Francis W. Hunter

Newell Angell

August J. Ladensack

Henry Bitter

Dan Pierce

Lura M. Palmer


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.


In this contract, Lura Maude (McCormack) Palmer ((1897-1936), the daughter of Edward James and Elizabeth Jane (Rohr/Dimmick) McCormack, is contracted to be a school teacher for the townships of Big Creek and Mentor.

I was given a digital copy of this contract by Lura’s grandchildren. I would like to thank them for sharing this little piece of history with me and the rest of the world.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you learned something!

Copyright (c) 2019, Jeff Ford

William E. McCormack’s pocket watch

As the story goes, my great-grandmother, Lavina J. (Hemingway) McCormack gave this watch to her new husband, my great-grandfather, William E. McCormack as a wedding present.

Lavina Jane McCormack, the bride
William E. McCormack, the groom

The Present

Front face
Back face

This watch is NOT for sale!

At the present time, the watch is not in working condition. I really would like to get the watch repaired and back into working condition. When I first received the watch, the inside back cover would not open. I took it to a local jeweler and they opened it for me. That enabled me to see the movement serial number and from there I found out some technical information about the watch. According to an online database for (Elgin) pocket watches, this watch is estimated to have been built in 1894.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you learned something today.

Proof in Canada

One of the things that I have always been looking for in researching the family is more proof of their stay in Ontario, Canada beyond the 1861 (Upper) Canada census. [1] I say that because in that census Michael is really the only McCormack that is identified by their full first name. Also, the rest of the boys in the family wasn’t born yet. A few months ago, I got a hint from Ancestry about my great-uncle Frank. He was one of the remaining boys that were born in Canada or at the time, Upper Canada. The others being his brothers, Arthur and Henry.

The full page [2]

In the above picture, the entry that we are very interested in the is on the second page or the right side and it is the third entry from the bottom. Below is an enhanced selection.

The transcribed text says;

86 (entry number?)


Aug 2nd

The body of the entry;

Was baptized (sine ______) Francis born April 20th 1865 _________ of the lawful marriage of Michael McCormick and Catherine Payne (Delila).  Sponsor Delila McCormack. F.L. Byrne

One note: The second word of the two words in parentheses is thought to be some unique spelling of ceremony.  My “translators” couldn’t come up with an exact spelling of the “mysterious” second word!


Without Ceremony?

Without ceremony?


There are several things/facts that we can take away from this entry. First, Frank’s “real” birth name was Francis. That makes sense since Frank is the common diminutive of Francis. Two, his (apparently actual) birthdate of April 20, 1865. That is a few months earlier than I had previously thought. Prior to finding this record, I had thought that he was born in June of 1865. I believe that I had gotten that information from one of the censuses. Third, we have another confirmation of the marriage of Michael and Catherine. Finally, the name of the sponsor. Delila McCormack.

At the time of Frank’s baptism (and currently), I know of two people with the first name of Delila.  The first person would be Delila McCormack, the first daughter, and second child of Michael and Catherine. At the time of her brother’s baptism, Delila was only 11 years old! I have never heard of an 11-year old (girl) being a sponsor. Upon doing some elementary searching, I have seen several examples of a sponsor that young. But there is a slight problem with Delila being the sponsor. The problem is that family lore says that the boys were to be baptized/raised Roman Catholic and the girls were to be baptized/raised Protestant. This is a Roman Catholic baptism of a boy but his (only) sponsor was his sister who was supposed to have been raised as a Protestant. So, are we still talking about the same person as the sponsor?

The other person with the first name of Delila was Catherine’s sister-in-law, Delila Payne. She was married to Catherine’s brother. But in 1865, as far as I know, Delila Payne was residing in Harrodsburg, Kentucky.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you learned something!


  1. Ontario Census, 1861, Ontario, Canada, Ward St. Lawrence, ED 1, Pg. 4 and 62 (stamped), family 33, Michael McCormack, digital image,,, accessed 9 Sep 2012, citing Year: 1861; Census Place: London, Middlesex, Canada West; Roll: C-1050-1051; Page: 4.
  2. Ontario, Canada, Diocese of London (Ontario); London, Ontario, Roman Catholic Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 2017, Francis J. McCormack,, Provo, Utah, United States of America.

Happy Birthday, Alta McCormack!

I would like to apologize to all my followers and McCormack family members for being so absent for so long! Life just got in the way! I will be more active in the future! I also would like to apologize for not having something new for everyone to read. That new content will be forthcoming!


I would like to honor my grandmother on her birthday! I wish I could add more than I did here. Happy birthday once again Grandma!


Happy birthday, Grandma! Alta Lyleth (McCormack) Ford was my grandmother. My grandmother was born on February 3, 1902, in Otter Lake, Michigan almost 2 years before her younger sister, Ruth (I wrote about Ruth’s birthday in the post, Happy Birthday, Aunt Ruth! Alta’s siblings were Merle and Ruth. Alta was the middle child. Here is the best picture I have of my grandmother;

Young Alta McCormack

Young Alta McCormack

I don’t know much about her childhood. However, I do know that she attended high school in Flint, Michigan. Flint isn’t too far from Otter Lake. I just wonder where she stayed while attending high school. When she was in her early 20s, with her sister Ruth and perhaps a church group(?) went to Europe for several weeks. I started to post about the trip. During the trip, my grandmother kept a diary of what happened. It was very interesting to read my grandmother’s thoughts on the trip. I think she attended what would become Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Michigan where she became a teacher. That is a profession that she shared with my dad. On July 30, 1932, she married Aubrey Ford. She and Aubrey had three children; Nancy Jane, William McCormack, and Richard Curtis. Sadly, my uncle “Dick” died in 2012. From what I have gathered from informal talks with my dad, my grandmother’s marriage to my grandfather was not very good. So in September 1954, she divorced him. It was funny because when I was growing up, we never talked about my grandfather. He was never discussed at my grandmother’s. I do have one story about my grandmother I would like to share. It must have been when I was 5 or 6 years old. We would visit my grandmother’s house in Garden City, Michigan. She had a squarish house. When I got there, I would ask either my parents or my grandmother to time me while I ran around her house. I would take off like a bat out of hell. Which for a little kid of 5 or 6 was pretty fast! When I got back to the “starting line” I would always ask the timer how did I do? They would always tell me “you ran faster than last time” or something like that. Little did I realize at the time that they were lying to me!  They never timed me! I am so hurt! Sadly, my grandmother died in May 1986 while I was stationed in California. I think because I was getting out in a couple of weeks, I couldn’t make the funeral. She is buried in the Otter Lake Cemetery in Otter Lake, Michigan next to her parents, William E., and Lavina Jane (Hemingway) McCormack. Thanks for stopping by and I hope you learned something about my family!

A McCormack DNA update – A strikeout!

I wanted to give everyone a DNA update. If I failed to announce it to everyone, the McCormack yDNA “project” results came in. Right now, “we” are in the R-DC9 haplogroup. We are awaiting more people to compare our results to. Our kit number is 436834.

What I really wanted to announce today for the McCormack yDNA “project” is that we struck out on our first attempt to find another branch of the Michael McCormack family. I need to give some background for this. About 4 or 5 years ago, I posted in an online Irish forum about my attempts to look for relatives of Michael. To my great amazement, someone from Ireland replied! Even better, he said his family was also from Kilkenny and lived there during the same time period that Michael did. We kept up the correspondence since then. Earlier this year, I finally got a yDNA test (Y37) and convinced my Irish friend to take it for me. In mid-October, FTDNA received the test. They said that it would be 4-7 weeks before our results would be posted. Well, last Thursday I got an email from FTDNA saying that our results were in and would be posted that day.

To start out, I had my Irish friend tested at the Y-37 level with the idea if that our results matched that we could always increase the testing level from 37 markers to 67 markers and beyond if necessary. I excitedly logoned to look at the results. As I looked at my friend’s results, my expression went from great anticipation to bitter disappointment. Well, by the 3rd marker our genetic distance, G.D., was 3. As I looked further at my friend’s results, the genetic distance only increased to a final result of 24. That is, “my” results only matched my Irish friend’s results at 13 out of 37 markers. I had put a lot of hope into the fact, or wish, that our results would match. My friend and I had talked many times about how we really thought that our families were related. So, when it turned out that we weren’t, I was “disappointed.”

I told my friend about it and he was just as disappointed as I was. He felt the same way that I did that our families were related. But as I explained to him, that sometimes you get results like this. Genealogy, especially genetic genealogy is not a guaranteed proposition. It was a roll of the dice and it didn’t payout this time. Both he and I are still working together to find Irish or non-Irish relatives for our respective families.

I am not sure what my next step will be in regards to DNA testing. There are two options that I can do right now. The first option would be to increased our testing level from Y67 to Y111. That would cost about $99. I am not exactly sure on what that would do to increase the number of matches for our results. The second option would be what is called the “Big Y” test. At the current time, it is an expensive test at about $475. The “Big Y” test would give us some finality to our haplogroup designation. As with increasing our testing level from Y67 to Y111, I am not sure what the “Big Y” test would do to increase the number of matches for our results.

I want to thank my Irish friend for agreeing to test for me. I hope that it works out for him. I also want to thank my McCormack cousin for agreeing to take a DNA test for me. I wouldn’t have been able to do this much without his cooperation.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope that you learned something!