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At times, on a journey, you come across something unexpected, a discovery that lends a bit of excitement to your adventure.  When Bill and I were last in Michigan several years ago, we visited Mackinac Island, a place I hadn’t been to since I was a kid.  When I had been there with my family all those years ago, we had ridden bicycles around the perimeter of the island.  Bill and I walked some of the paths farther in, and saw many wonderful wooded landscapes, and , a fort that I had never seen before.

Flags being raised at Fort Mackinac

Fort Mackinac was a well-known fort, and we got there early enough to see these Girl Scouts raise the flags that day.  The fort we discovered though was not nearly as well fortified.

Bill in the doorway into Fort George/Fort Holmes

The fort was not much more than raised dirt walls, but according to the sign nearby it “was the bulwark of British defenses in 1814 when the American attack was repulsed.”  I could see why.  It was at the highest point on the island, and looked straight down on Fort Mackinac.

Looking down from our newly discovered fort, we could see the flags that we had watched the scouts raise a few hours before.

Not all discoveries come in the form of forts or buildings though.  With genealogy, discovery often takes the form of documents; various records and photographs.

One such genealogical discovery I made was in the documents my father had sent me.  One in particular I called “genealogy gold”.  It was the obituary of my paternal great-grandfather, William H. Taylor.

William Henry Taylor Obituary


William H. Taylor, age 75 years, 3 months, and five days, who died March 15th, at his home here, was buried in Park Cemetry last Friday afternoon, following religious services which were conducted at the Methodist Church by the Pastor, the Rev. W. J. Velvick.

Mr. Taylor was born on Nov. 1o, 1857 in Upshur County, West Virginia, the son of John and Eliza Taylor. He moved with his family to Nebraska in 1884 and for nine years resided in that state. In 1893, he moved to Gallatin, Mo., where he made his home for sixteen years, moving from there to Arkansas, where he lived for three years. In 1913, he moved with his family to Malden and opened a furniture store having operated that business up until he was stricken with paralysi two years age. Mr. Taylor suffered his first paralytic stroke while serving on the election in1931, and had been unable to continue his business after that time.

He was married on March 15, 1883 to miss Georgia Chrisman and to this union nine children were born, three of these having preceded their father in death. Mr. Taylor is surviced by his wife and six children, these being: Roy Taylor of Carbondale, Ill.; Mrs. Dell Lukeheart, Ceadar grove, Iowa; Mrs. Ethel Littell, Mounds, Ill.; Mrs. Maud Hester of Malden;Mrs. Hazel Nobel of Parma; and Ralph Taylor of Flint, Michigan.

On the date of his death, Mr. and Mrs. Taylor, were celebrating their golden wedding anniversary, having been married for fifty years.

(handwritten) 2 of the songs (Some Day We’ll Know, Abide With Me)

 Wow!  I was blown away!  Basically this one document confirmed every bit of census data that I had already found, and filled in a few details as well.  Within about a year of marrying my great-grandmother, they had moved to Nebraska, where census data showed that five of their children were born:  Millard Dee (1885), Roy Oscar (1887), Boyd (1888), Lucy Dell (1891), and Ethel (1892). In 1893, the family moved to Gallatin, Missouri in Daviess County and lived there for sixteen years, enough time for three other children to be born:  Anna Maud (1894), Hazel (1896), and Floyd Ralph, my grandfather (1900).

My Grandfather and His Family

Now looking at the fact that 9 children were born and only 8 were living, I knew that child number nine could have been born in West Virginia prior to the first move, in Nebraska, in Missouri, or possibly somewhere along the road.  My best guesses were that, barring the possibility of a twin, it would be a child older than Millard, a child born in the gap between Boyd and Lucy Dell, or in the gap between Hazel and my grandfather.

They would live there until about 1909, when they moved to Arkansas, just in time to be there for the 1910 census.

Now there was no question; my family had indeed lived in Arkansas!

With the information from the obituary, I was now able to figure out which of the children were still living and which had died.  Ethel, Maud, Hazel and my grandfather were still living with their parents.  Roy and Dell were listed in the obituary.  Therefore, Millard and Boyd had died.  I was able to confirm this. I found a picture of their grave marker at findagrave.com.  Boyd died in 1905; Millard in 1907.  They were buried in Gallatin, Missouri.

Finally, my great-grandparents didn’t stay in Arkansas long; they moved to Malden in 1913, which is where they lived out their lives.  My great-grandfather ran a furniture store until he had a stroke in 1931 when he was serving on the election, and he died in 1933 on the day of his golden wedding anniversary.  It seems like the Ides of March was both a good and a bad day in his life.

I am not sure why this obituary was typed rather than a newspaper clipping like the one I was given for my great-grandmother.  Perhaps the copy was in a very deteriorated condition, and the person who typed it wanted to retain the information, even if it wasn’t in its original form.  Perhaps they copied it from a clipping that belonged to another member of the family.  This likely was done before the age of the Xerox machine.  It could have also been typed by one member of the family and mailed to another farther away.

The one piece of information that is on this typed copy though is one that you would not find in the newspaper.  That is the handwritten note that indicates two of the songs played or sung at the funeral.  Whoever wrote that down was either at the funeral or had spoken to someone who had been in attendance.

It’s always great to discover a new piece of information.  It’s greater still when a piece of information confirms the data you have.