A serendipity strike!

This is a quickie post. I was minding my own business on FB recently, reading my newsfeed when I came across this;

McCormack Store grocery bag

I was floored! This paper bag was from the McCormack General store in Mio, Michigan that was run for so many years by Elizabeth J. McCormack, the widow of Edward J. McCormack. Luckily, I am contact with Elizabeth’s great-grandchildren and they are talking to the owner of the bag(s). From what I am told, there are several of them. Elizabeth’s great-grandchildren will get at least one for their family and quite possibly I will get one too! I can’t believe it. Stuff like this is something else. You often wonder about some of the knickknack things that are associated with your family history.

Thanks for stopping  by and I hope you learned something new and special today!

March dates for the Clan McCormack

I would like to take a few minutes to remember some important events and an interesting tidbit or two for the members of the McCormack clan in the month of March.

5 Mar 1944 – Hilmar N. Nilsen died in Big Rapids, Michigan. Hilmar was the husband of Lura Vape Addy, only surviving daughter of Smith and Delilah Elizabeth (McCormack) Addy. He was also the only Scandinavian member of the McCormack Clan. He was 79 years, 4 months, 15 days old when he died.

8 Mar 1868 – Minnie Myrtle Van Wormer was born in Milan, Michigan. Minnie was the first wife of Henry Thomas McCormack. This is undated picture of Minnie although I would guess that it was taken during the decade prior to her tragic death due to cancer. She was the mother of three children, Lucille May, Edith Marie and Charles Harold. She would be 149 years and 6 days old today!

Minnie VanWormer

Minnie Myrtle (VanWormer) McCormack

11 Mar 1916 – Kathryn Elizabeth “Betty” Coon was born in Dewitt, Michigan. Betty was the middle daughter of Grace (McCormack) and Dr. Alfred Coon. At the time of her death, she was married to Gerald K. Miller. She would be 100 years, 11 months, 26 days old today! 

Betty and Patty

Betty and her daughter, Patty.

15 Mar 1956 – Merle Hemingway McCormack married Margaret “Margo” Yale. They were married in Flint, Michigan. He was the oldest child of William E. and Lavina J. (Hemingway) McCormack.


16 Mar 1891 – Robert Henry Addy was born in Schenectady, New York. He was the only son and youngest child of Smith and Delilah Elizabeth (McCormack) Addy. His older sister was Lura Vae Addy. This is the only picture of Robert which was taken as part of a family reunion at his uncle William E. McCormack’s house in Otter Lake, Michigan. He was also married twice. His first wife was Addie C. Snyder who died of tuberculosis. His second wife was Frances M. Foster. I, unfortunately, have pictures of either of his wives. He would be 125 years, 11 months, 27 days old if he had lived!


Robert Henry Addy

17 Mar 1908 – Margaret Williams Murphy was born in Berrien Center, Michigan. She was the wife of Leon Ray “Doc” Ingleright II (who was the son of Dr. Leon Ray and Katherine Fidelia (McCormack) Ingleright. She was the proud mother of two children, Leon R. Ingleright III and still living daughter. She would have been 108 years, 11 months, 28 days old had she lived this long! I have no picture for her unfortunately.

18 Mar 1905 – Delilah (McCormack) Addy died in Schenectady, New York. She was the eldest daughter of Michael and Catherine (Paine) McCormack. She was born somewhere in Kentucky. I’ve heard maybe Bowling Green or Harrodsburg. When she died, she was married to Smith Addy and the proud mother to two children, Violet Cassie Ingleright and Robert Henry Addy. A side note here, back in the early 90s, I actually met Violet Ingleright. I found her to a fascinating person. There is one mystery about Delilah that I don’t know will ever be solved. She died in Schenectady, New York but was buried in the Otter Lake Cemetery in Otter Lake, Michigan. Why? 

18 Mar 1899 – Edith Marie McCormack was born in Ithaca, Michigan. Edith Marie was the middle child and youngest daughter of Henry Thomas and Minnie (Van Wormer) McCormack. Her older sister was Lucille May and younger brother was Charles Harold. I love the picture of her below.  I wrote about it here. When she would up, she would spend some time in Okinawa. She would be 117 years, 11 months, 27 days today if she were still alive.


Edith Marie McCormack

21 Mar 1956 – Elizabeth Jane (Rohr) McCormack died in Mio, Michigan. Elizabeth was married to Edward James McCormack, son of Michael and Catherine (Paine) McCormack. I have written quite extensively about her in part because I so admire what she accomplished in her life. When her husband Edward died, she was pregnant with their fifth child. The rest of their children were 10 years old and younger! She did not remarry and therefore raised three girls and two boys by herself. She also ran a general store for many years in Mio, Michigan. What really impressed me about her happened when her daughter, Lura Maude died in 1936. I wrote about that here.

23 Mar 1929 – John Michael McCormack died in Reno, Nevada. He was 66 years, 11 months, 17 days when he died. His wife was Gertrude Angeline Peacock, she unfortunately had died two years earlier. Their son was Henry Peacock McCormack. I wish I could add something new about John Michael because I think that I have written pretty much of what I have about him. What I could add about him is that he was a pillar of the young Reno, Nevada business community. Please use the search capability on the blog to find more posts about him.

This picture below is John Michael and someone that I think could pass as his twin brother. The picture of the man on the right was given to me by a descendant. What do you think, do the men look alike? Let me know.

A side by side

John Michael McCormack and his twin brother?

27 Mar 1943 – Dorothy Ellen McCormack died in San Francisco, California. I wrote about her death in my post, “Unexpected Finds.” One of the most saddening posts that I have written and one of the most saddening stories that I have heard. I don’t have a picture for young Dorothy so I hope that this works.


26 Mar 2010 – Patrick John McCormack died in Houston, Texas. He died of brain cancer. Patrick was the middle son of Robert Michael and Jewel (Hassell) McCormack, who was the son of Henry Peacock and Ethel (Davis) McCormack. I met him and his lovely wife, Linda at my first McBash (the western McCormacks family reunion) in 2009. I wrote a farewell post for Patrick. I only got to meet him that one time in 2009. When he died, it was a big shock for me.


Patrick John McCormack

31 Mar 1890 – William Edward McCormack was born in Lewiston, Michigan. William or Will, as I heard he was called, was the eldest son and second child of Edward James and Elizabeth Jane (Rohr) McCormack. I haven’t heard that he was named after his uncle William, his dad’s older brother (and my great-grandfather) but I think that it could be a fair assumption that he was. For a long time, he was involved in logging in the Bio area and also with the family farm. If he had lived to the present, he would be 126 years, 11 months, 17 days old!

– – – – – –

I would like to remind everyone that there is a lot more to the people listed here. If you have anything you would like to add about any of these people, please feel free to contact me. You can also talk on your own about any of these people that you know.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you learned something!

P.S. If you see anything that needs correcting, please let me know! Thanks again!

Honeymoon in Havana?

I think it was a semi-coincidence, with Cuba being in the news, that I came across this record the other day. It is the manifest of a return trip of the S.S. Governor Cobb [3] from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida. On one hand, a record like this isn’t something too much out of the ordinary. But when you combine the fact that the participants, Harold McCormack and Pauline Humphrey,  in the return boat trip got married about two and half weeks before. They were married on 29 Jun 1928 in Ithaca, Michigan.

In my opinion, it “says” that they were returning from their honeymoon in Cuba.

I did some figuring on the travel time taken in the various segments. Harold and Pauline, I think, most likely left from Detroit, Michigan traveling on train to either Miami or Key West. That would have taken about 45 to 55 hours via train. The boat trip from Key West to Havana would have taken about 7 hours.


S.S. Governor Cobb manifest [1]

This is the happy couple much later in life with Pauline on the left and Harold on the right.

Harold & Pauline McCormack

Harold & Pauline McCormack [2]

Since both people have, unfortunately, passed away we can’t ask them if they did take their honeymoon in Cuba or what they were doing in Cuba.

This is the ship that they traveled on from Havana back to Key West.


S.S. Governor Cobb [3]

I really would have liked to hear some of the stories that Harold and Pauline would have told upon their return to central Michigan. To travel to Cuba during the Roaring ’20s would have been pretty exciting for anyone and I am especially sure that it was pretty exciting for the newlywed couple.

Thank you for stopping by and I hope you learned something new today!


  1. Florida, Passenger Lists, 1898-1963,” database with images, Ancestry.com (http://search.ancestry.com : accessed 27 Nov 2016), entry for  Harold McCormack, trip from Havana to Key West, FL; citing Records of the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1787 – 2004, Micropublication T940. 122 rolls. NAI 4345370. Record Group 85. The National Archives at Washington, D.C.
  2. “Harold and Pauline McCormack”, privately held by Jeff Ford, [ADDRESS FOR PRIVATE USE,] Lebanon, Tennessee, 2009
  3. S.S. Governor Cobb

Happy Anniversary!

Happy 163rd wedding anniversary to my great-great grandparents, Michael McCormack and Catherine (Payne) Steele who were married today 163 years ago at St. Mary’s church in Kilkenny, Ireland!

Here is the marriage document;

Marriage Certificate 1 - Michael & Catherine

Marriage certificate for Michael and Catherine

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you learned something.

Memorial Day – For those that have fallen


The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier

Thank you all for stopping by the Otter Lake Express today! I really don’t have a specific McCormack related post for you since as far as I know, no McCormack died in the line of duty. We, the men and women of the McCormack clan, have had many members who have served their country in one of the branches of the United States military or merchant marines.

No, today I, speaking for the entire McCormack clan, would like salute and remember those proud Americans that, unfortunately, gave their lives in the defense of our country so that the rest of us could enjoy the freedom and liberty that this country is known for.

So, visit a cemetery to remember a fallen service member and lay flowers or plant a flag or talk to someone that has lost a family member in a conflict. You could also donate to the Special Operations Warriors Foundation. Since a lot of our wars in the last couple decades have been led the Special Operations units, they have been, I think, harder than the regular military units.

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

The Passing of a McCormack legend!

McCormack Reunion (Master)

The McCormack Family Reunion

Hello, once again! Today, I, unfortunately have some bad news. Some of you will that have following the Otter Lake Express for a while, will remember my posts about Elizabeth J. (Rohr) McCormack, the wife of Edward J. McCormack. In those posts, I wrote about how Elizabeth, at the age of 69, “adopted” her two granddaughters because her daughter died and her son-in-law, for some reason, couldn’t raise them. She might not be a legend, but in my book she is.

A couple of years ago, I contacted one of the sisters and I believe that we had a good relationship going. That sister was Charlotte Fontaine Palmer. The other day I learned from Charlotte’s  nephew that she died almost a year ago. About two or three years ago is when I had my last contact with her. We were in the beginning stages of discussing about getting copies of some of her family pictures. Well I got busy with work. Real busy and I just never got back to her. I would constantly think “Well, this weekend or whatever, I will get around to writing Charlotte about her pictures.” Now, if I ever have the time, I can’t write that letter. In all my dealings with her, she was really nice to me. I would also like to think that she would have appreciated what I have written about her grandmother/mother. I think that almost everyone would have enjoyed her take on how her grandmother, at 69 years old, raised her and her sister and still ran a small country general store.

So, if anyone out there has an elder relative that has an unique story or not, contact them before it is too late. They have stories that are special and interesting and enriching. I have a couple of relatives that have died either before I got into my McCormack family history or I knew them or was able to contact them. You might learn something and I will bet that you will have a good time listening to them.

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you learned something!

Mother’s Day for the McCormack women!

Yesterday was Mother’s Day and I would like to celebrate the McCormack women below and others who are not shown and talked about here. I must add that other than my grandmother, Alta McCormack Ford, I have not met any of these women. I was inspired to write this post because of a friend of mine, Michelle Ganus Taggart over at her blog, A Southern Sleuth, and her post, Mothers and Grandmothers. Thank you, Michelle!

The first McCormack woman that I would like to celebrate is the matriarch of the McCormack clan, Catherine (Paine/Payne) McCormack. Briefly, I know that she was born in Ireland. There is a “suggestion” out there that she was born in either County Cork, Ireland or Cork the city. She was married before marrying Michael McCormack but as far as I know, her first husband died leaving her young widow. In 1853, she married Michael and gave birth to her first child, my great-grandfather, William E. McCormack. What really stands out to me is that soon after he was born, he and his parents left Ireland to the United States via Liverpool, England. When they left Ireland, William was maybe 4 or 5 months old. At that time, the trans-Atlantic trip took about six weeks. Even now, traveling with an infant is not easy. Also, they made the trip around October/November of 1853. The weather couldn’t have been the greatest! The next thing that really impresses me about her is that she followed and gave Michael 10 more children of which 9 lived to adulthood. She moved from Kentucky – the “rumor” is that her brother lived in Harrodsburg, Kentucky – to Ypsilanti, Michigan to London, Ontario then back to Ypsilanti then up to northern Michigan and finally living in the same village as her first son, William.

Catherine McCormack

Catherine McCormack

The second woman that I would like to celebrate is my great-grandmother, Lavina Jane (Hemingway) McCormack. As I have mentioned before, she is my connection to the famed Hemingway name. What stands out to me about her is that the circumstances in which she came into the McCormack clan. She and William lived in the same village, Otter Lake, prior to the marriage. So, she must have known William’s first wife, Lura before she died unexpectedly and William and Lura’s daughter, Grace. It seemed that she handled things with grace. She and William had three beautiful children of which my grandmother, Alta McCormack was one of.

Lavina Jane (Hemingway) McCormack

Lavina Jane McCormack

The next woman that I would like to remember here is my grandmother, Alta Lyleth (McCormack) Ford. She was born in Otter Lake, Michigan in 1902 and was the middle child of William and Lavina. One of the things that I remember about her is when I was a little kid is that me and my family would visit her at her house. She had a corner house in Garden City, Michigan. I would run around the house and my parents or grandmother would “time” me. Little did I know at the time is that none of them timed me. I am crushed! (haha!) I would also stay a few days with her every summer as a young kid. I remember helping her do some work on her garden that she had in her backyard. There were a few stories about her childhood but sadly I really don’t remember any of them. I am working on a post about her trip to Europe in 1925 with her younger sister, Ruth. Sadly, she died while I was in the service (Army) in California in 1986 and a few years before I really got into my McCormack family history. She could have been a real treasure trove of knowledge.

Young Alta

A young Alta McCormack

The next woman that I would like to talk about is Ethel Davis McCormack. She was the wife of Henry Peacock McCormack, the only child of John Michael and Gertrude (Peacock) McCormack. The biggest thing that impresses me about Ethel, besides being a rather small woman in stature, is that she like her grandmother-in-law, Catherine, she had 10 children of which one is still alive! Anytime, a woman has 10 children, that is simply amazing! When her youngest child was born, her oldest was 21 years old!

Ethel Davis McCormack

Ethel Davis McCormack

The final woman that I would like to tell you about is Elizabeth Jane (Rohr/Dimmick) McCormack. I have written about her before – Celebrating Women’s History Month – Elizabeth J. (Rohr) Dimmick McCormack – but I will try to briefly tell you about her. Her story is very impressive. Very. She had married Edward J. McCormack, son of Michael and Catherine in 1886. In 1898, he died. At the time, they had four children. Here’s the kicker. She was pregnant with their last child. Northern lower Michigan in the winter is not a nice place. For a young woman with four children and another one on the way, it can be brutal. Well, she bought a general store in Mio, Michigan and raised her kids. She never remarried either. To top everything off, when she was 69, she “adopted” her two of her granddaughters. They were 7 years old and younger. Something else, huh? I thought so too.

Elizabeth J. Rohr McCormack

Elizabeth McCormack behind the counter of her general store

I don’t want to have “favorites” here, but Catherine McCormack and her daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Rohr McCormack are two very impressive women. I am very proud that they were a part of the McCormack legacy.

I would like to mention two additional women. My mother and sister. My mother is something special. My sister is something else too. She and her husband had four kids of their own. About 5 or 6 years ago, they adopted three sisters.

Happy Mother’s Day to the women that I talked about here and to the rest of the McCormack mothers that I couldn’t mention due primarily to time and space!

I would like to thank you and everyone else for stopping by! I hope you learned something new and special.