Happy 2nd Anniversary!

It was today, 2 years ago, that the Otter Lake Express burst onto the genealogy blogging universe! Happy Anniversary!

First of all, I want to thank everyone and anyone that has helped me in many ways to blog and research the family of Michael McCormack. There is NO way that one person could do as much as I have without the much appreciated assistance of the living members of the extended McCormack clan. I don’t want to mention any names because I will certainly forget someone and I don’t want to forget anyone.

Someone once asked me why I blog and research the McCormack family? One reason that I do this is because of people like my great-grand uncle Frank J. McCormack. Why in particular him? Well, he and his wife both died at an “young” age. He was 52 and she was 48. The big reason is that they died childless and thus had no one to tell their story once they passed away. I want them to remembered. There are other stories that I could tell. One story is about Elizabeth J. McCormack, the widow of Edward James McCormack. He died during the winter of 1898. Elizabeth was pregnant with their sixth child and had 4 other children waiting on her. She went onto raise five children by herself in the woods of northern lower Michigan. Then when she was in her late 60s, one of her daughters died and she had to “adopt” and raise her two granddaughters. Then there is Maria “Minnie” McCormack Barnes. In the fall of 1900, her first child fell ill and died a horrible death. The person signing the death certificate? Her brother-in-law, Leon R. Ingleright.

Those are just some of the reasons why I blog and research the family of Michael McCormack. Thanks again to all those that have helped in some manner. Your efforts on my behalf and the behalf of our common ancestors are much appreciated.

Thanks for stopping by!

A possible marriage lead?

For a long time, I have known that my great-grand aunt, Maria “Minnie” Bedina McCormack, was married in 1894 to Charles Eli Barnes. What I didn’t know was where and exactly when “Minnie” and Charles got married. I figured somewhere in Michigan because of Minnie’s and Charles’ background. Both were born and raised in Michigan [1][2]. Charles was a captain on the Great Lakes. I use Minnie instead of Maria is because that is what I found her to be called.

My possible marriage lead came to me when I was working on Minnie on FamilySearch.org. I had been working on adding some records to Minnie. Two of the last records that I found were indexes from the State of Michigan. One record had the data and another had the data and a picture of the actual index. Here below is a transcribed copy of the index [3] I obtain from FamilySearch;

Name: Charles E. Brown
Birth Date: 1868
Birthplace: Michigan
Age: 26
Spouse’s Name: Minnie B. Mccormack
Spouse’s Birth Date: 1869
Spouse’s Birthplace: Michigan
Spouse’s Age: 25
Event Date: 18 Jun 1894
Event Place: Au Sable, Iosco Co, Michigan
Father’s Name: Charles Barnes
Mother’s Name: Emeline Wood
Spouse’s Father’s Name: Martin Mccormack
Spouse’s Mother’s Name: Kate Steele
Race: White
Marital Status:
Previous Wife’s Name:
Spouse’s Race: White
Spouse’s Marital Status:
Spouse’s Previous Husband’s Name:
Indexing Project (Batch) Number: M73797-8
System Origin: Michigan-EASy
GS Film number: 963406
Reference ID: 37 p61


There’s a lot of data there. Let me start by telling you what does NOT match versus what does match because the second list is much longer than the first. The first thing that doesn’t match is the last name of the person at the beginning of the record. It is given as BROWN. Even in the recorded index below, the name appears to be BROWN. The second thing that doesn’t match is Minnie’s age. It appears to be 25. The date on file that I have for her is 16 Apr 1867 [1]. The date from the index, if correct, would have her born about 1869. There is an apparent discrepancy of about two years. The third piece of data that doesn’t match what I have is the first name of Minnie’s father. The index has it as Martin. About 99% of the records that I have found on him state his first name as Michael. There are a few instances however where Michael uses a middle initial of M. This index would be the first instance of the appearance of Michael’s middle name.

Minnie and Charles are the fourth couple down. I also have a jpg of the index [4];

Index including the marriage of Minnie McCormack and Charles E. Barnes.

Index including the marriage of Minnie McCormack and Charles E. Barnes.

What these two records give me is a firm date that Minnie and Charles got married and the first possible instance of the use of Michael’s elusive middle name. I don’t know if sending off a marriage request form to the State of Michigan would help me any but it is worth a try. One thing that the jpg file shows me that the transcribed file doesn’t give me is the names of the witnesses to the marriage. The first name is Minnie’s older brother, Henry McCormack. The second is Mrs. M. McCormack. I am guessing that this could be Minnie’s mother, Catherine (or Kate). Then again, it could be Henry’s first wife, Minnie Van Wormer. The marriage certificate or record that I get from the State of Michigan might tell me just who Mrs. M. McCormack actually was. Or it might not.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you learned something!


1. Michigan, Department of Health, death certificate (State) no. 69477 & (local) no. 238, (11 Dec 1963), Maria “Minnie” Bedina McCormack, Vital Records Section, Lansing.
2. Ashtabula, Ashtabula County, Ohio, State of Ohio Department of Health, death Certificate no. 71329, 20 Dec 1941, Charles Barnes.
3. “Michigan, Marriages, 1822-1995,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FCXG-9MR : accessed 23 February 2015), Charles E. Brown and Minnie B. Mccormack, 18 Jun 1894; citing reference 37 p61; FHL microfilm 963,406.
4. “Michigan, Marriages, 1868-1925,” index and images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/NQ39-Q9C : accessed 23 February 2015), Charles E Brown and Minnie B. Mccormack, 18 Jun 1894; citing Au Sable, Iosco, Michigan, v 2 p 286 rn 37, Department of Vital Records, Lansing; FHL microfilm 2,342,499.

Why I blog (or write) about my family’s history!

This blog post is an exception to my rule to write about the history of the Michael McCormack family. I am writing about a friend of mine, at least I hope she is, and a blog post that she wrote recently. My friend’s name is Michele Simmons Lewis and her genealogy/family history blog is Ancestoring.

The particular post that I am referring everyone to is CSM William Perry Simmons (1933-2015). Why am I referring people to this post and blog? Because it encapsulates everything that I would like to write about in my blog. In this post, Michele tells some stories about her late uncle, William Perry Simmons, a Command Sergeant Major in the U.S. Army. It is full of love and reverence qualities that I hope that I can write about in my own blog posts about Michael’s extended family. It adds a little bit of flavor to someone’s history that can be sometimes just a bunch of cold facts and documents.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope everyone enjoys Michele’s heartfelt post about her uncle as much I did.

An overseas birth certificate?

On Saturday 7 Feb 2015, I “ordered” a birth certificate or record for Elizabeth Petronella Dornauf via a page on the website of Weisbaden, the town that I believe she was born in. Elizabeth was the wife of Arthur McCormack, the younger brother of my great-grandfather, William E. McCormack. I say “ordered” because it didn’t ask for any payment information or anything like that. It did however ask for my contact information and I did get an e-mail confirming my request which was in German. I will keep everyone updated if anything happens.

Thanks for stopping by!

Happy Birthday, Alta Lyleth McCormack!

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 yesterday 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. 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!

Happy Birthday, Aunt Ruth!

I would like honor my grand-aunt Ruth Eleanor (McCormack) Farrell on her 111th birthday! I don’t have much more to add other than another picture of her below the first photo of her.

Happy Birthday, Aunt Ruth!


Today, February 2nd, is my Aunt Ruth’s birthday! Happy birthday, Aunt Ruth! Actually she is my grand-aunt, but I always called her Aunt. Ruth Eleanor McCormack was born on February 2, 1904 in Otter Lake, Michigan. If she was still alive today, she would have been 110 years old. Her parents were William E. and Lavina Jane (Hemingway) McCormack. She was the youngest of three children born to William and Lavina. The other children being my grand-Uncle Merle and my grandmother, Alta.

Here is my best picture of her;

Aunt Ruth as a child

Aunt Ruth as a child

She also appears in the reunion picture which can be found at the post, The Beginning, at Friday’s Faces from the Past – The Children of William E. McCormack.

I would like to add this picture of her;

McCormack Children at Hemingway Reunion

McCormack Children at Hemingway Reunion

From left to right; Ruth (McCormack) Farrell, unknown older couple, Alta (McCormack) Ford (older sister), Merle Hemingway McCormack.

Unfortunately, I can’t say if I ever met her. If I did, I don’t remember it. She had two children both of whom are still living. In 1930, she married Arthur Willard Farrell in Toledo, Ohio. As far as I know, she didn’t have a full-time job outside of the home although I suspect that she may have been a teacher because my grandmother, her older sister, was a teacher.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you learned something!