Modern Day Genealogy Junkie

Gladys' list of family names

Well, where did September go? Somehow, I got extra busy and the weeks slipped by without any new posts to the blog. So sorry about that. But, hey, it’s October and we’re back!

October is also Family History Month. The Amos family is way ahead—we’ve been celebrating our history the whole year. Even so, genealogy is a study worth discussing, partly because it’s a popular trend and also because—well, of course—because it tells us who we are.

Family history made its first grab at me when I was a teenager. I remember talking with the Amos boys’ mother, (my grandmother) Gladys, and she wrote down a list of names. Then she gave me a copy of this photo. Suddenly the names became real people and I was hooked. I was a genealogy junkie.

Back then learning of our family tree was a slow and tedious hobby. I wrote to people, via U.S. mail, and then I waited. I sat in libraries and scanned through microfilm. Nowadays, the internet brings everything to an immediate accessibility. Some say it’s taken away the thrill of the hunt, but, hey, I’m a busy woman so I’ll take less thrill and more reward.

Have you gone online and checked out Ancestry.com?

Paisley Laing Military record

At this time, Ancestry.com is the biggest genealogy resource and with its claim of 10 billion records, it’s the candy shop of family history. One can’t decide which direction to go first. Birth? Immigration? Military? Census? With a simple click of your mouse on the waving green leaf you can find interesting artifacts like this military pension record for our Paisley Laing (the Amos boys’ great-grandfather).

Yes, Ancestry.com charges a subscription fee to join. But you can also check your local library – many hold subscriptions and allow you to use it for free. If you join, let’s share information!

So what about you? Are you a genealogy junkie? What does knowing our family tree mean to you?

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Creating New Memories

It’s been a week since our reunion and it kind of feels like post Christmas blues. We all had such a good time! It was so wonderful to see people we hadn’t seen in years and get to know those we hadn’t yet met.

Two things are for certain—those of you who couldn’t come, you really missed out. And those who did, want to do it again! So let’s start talking now and get some plans in the works!

And now for the recap!

Although the reunion actually started days and days before when Duane, Jan, Dave, Sam and Sarah set up the venue and Jerry, Elaine, Jerri Lynn, Jenny, Shelley and Cheryl prepared the food, we officially kicked off the day with our Legacy Tour Breakfast at Cinders Grill in Laingsburg.

Cinders served us a delicious breakfasts and patiently put up with our excitement (boisterous greetings and hugs without regard) and jovialties (loud and continuous laughter). The picture above shows us looking rather lethargic. I assure you we were not.

Thanks Cinders, you were the best! And thanks Laingsburg News for featuring us in your weekly news!

After breakfast we stepped outside and literally took over the town (remember Laingsburg is not that big). Jerry handed out the Legacy Files he meticulously compiled, complete with family tree information and maps. And Elaine stepped inside this store—how interesting, it turns out the store is owned by grandsons of Gladys’ husband Leo Klotz.

Not a good picture of the house but a great one of three lovely ladies! L-R: Jenny (Jerry’s daughter); Ruth (Duane’s granddaughter); and Cheryl (Duane’s daughter).


We walked by the empty lot where Peter Laing’s second tavern and inn once stood. We then checked out this house, located on 117 North Laing St, where Dr. Peter Laing and his wife Laura lived when their son Paisley was born. You can find a better picture of the house in the Legacy Files, and also on page 13 of the book Hill and Below.

From here, we all hopped in our cars and drove to the cemeteries.

Dr. Peter Laing and his second wife Laura Kemp (Paisley’s parents) are buried in the Laingsburg Cemetery, located just outside of town. 

Jerri Lynn (Jerry’s daughter) became the appointed “rubber” and is assisted here by Shelley (Bruce’s daughter).

We stopped at the farmhouse on Stoll Road where Paisley and Anastasia Laing once lived. The current owners were gracious enough to let peruse their lawn and take pictures. Here, we’re re-enacting this photo (gee, if anyone has a better shot, I’m sure some of us wouldn’t be the least opposed to replacing this photo).

We found Paisley’s gravestone in the St. Patrick Cemetery, also his daughter Fannie Laing Hart’s (Maggie’s sister and the Amos Boys’ great-aunt). But we couldn’t find Anastasia’s gravestone.

Next stop: Gulick Road, to visit this well-kept farmstead where Perry and Fidelia Gulick once lived. Gladys was born in a house right next door, which is no longer there, and she also spent many years living here with her grandparents Perry and Fidelia.

It wouldn’t be at all alarming to learn that this shifty-looking crowd was hanging out in your driveway while you were gone, would it?

Jerry and Elaine planned in advance and notified cemetery sextons that we would be visiting—good thinking, because these country cemeteries could easily have been locked.

John and Fanny Capen (Fidelia’s parents) and Perry and Fidelia Gulick are all buried in the Foote Cemetery on Sherwood Road, in the rural Williamston area.

At the Summit Cemetery on Beeman Road, Williamston, we sang Kum Ba Yah to Gladys, in remembrance of our many nights singing around the campfire. We might have made it through without any tears except for the look on this guy’s face…

Our last stop on the Legacy Tour (by now many of us were wishing for a bathroom…) was the Rose Lawn Cemetery in Perry. Here, Margie (Maggie) Laing Adams is buried.

Jerry and Joel check out the family tree charts and tables of photos.


Back at Duane and Jan’s, the reunion started off with finger food and great conversation. Which led to more and more food. And more great conversation. And lawn games. And a slide show from the 60s. It couldn’t have gotten any groovier!

To top it off, we took more photos for more memories!

Duane’s family.

Bruce’s family (Shelley’s children and grandchildren were also here, but missed out on the pictures).

Jerry’s family.

Brothers Duane and Jerry with a cane handcrafted by Perry Gulick.

Our reunion hosts: Elaine and Jerry, Duane and Jan. Thanks SO MUCH for putting on this most special event!

Get Those Cars Tuned, We’re Doing a Road Trip

So, one activity we’re planning for the reunion is a drive-by tour of places important to our family history. Topping that off in order of interest is easily the town of Laingsburg.

Laingsburg, as you remember, was founded by our ancestor Peter Laing (the Doctor Peter Laing). We know a lot about him from the book The Hill and Below, by Birdie Colby and Emma Jane Wright. It’s a historical tribute to the town of Laingsburg and delves into the generational details of Peter and his family.

In 1833, Peter, his wife Mary, and seven of their nine children came from Wilton, NY, to Michigan. They settled in Ann Arbor where Peter set up a medical practice. In 1835, however, his wife Mary died.

Blood Tavern, Laingsburg, MI

Colby, Birdie, and Emma Jane Wright. The Hill and Below. Exponent Press. 1976. pg. 21.

The next year Peter left Ann Arbor and moved northward to Shiawassee County. Here, on the southeast corner of what is now Fenner and Grand River Roads, he built a log cabin tavern. This became a stopping place for travelers along the Grand River Trail, and later, when owned by someone else, it was called the Blood Tavern, or the “Old Red.”

Peter Laing's Home

Colby, Birdie, and Emma Jane Wright. The Hill and Below. Exponent Press. 1976. pg. 13.

That same year Peter built a home and second tavern near what is now Crum and Church Streets in Laingsburg. In 1837 he established a post office in the tavern and became the first postmaster. Thus the town’s name—Laingsburg.

Peter and Laura Laing

Colby, Birdie, and Emma Jane Wright. The Hill and Below. Exponent Press. 1976. pg. 8-9.

In 1844, Peter remarried. His second wife’s name was Mrs. Laura Louisa Kemp, and together they had two more children; Charles and Paisley. Paisley, of course, is noteworthy because he is the Amos Boys’ great-grandfather. (The name Paisley is interesting in itself. It shows up so many times in the Laing family—even some of the women have it as their middle name.) Also, take note of Peter’s age when he married Laura: 56 years old. And he was 60 when Paisley was born!

So, here are a couple sites to put on our tour. Don’t worry, we’ll make up a map with everything clearly marked (really, I’m surprised Mapquest doesn’t specifically mention the Amos name in their online maps).

In the meantime, here are three interesting newspaper articles. Jerry has several more, but guess what, you’ve got to come to the reunion to see them!


This first article is about Helen Lucretia Phelps. She’s not directly related to us, but I thought its headline deserved attention. Can you imagine the uproar it would cause today? I asked the Amos Boys who might have been “non-white?” Native American Indians.

Laingsburg area newspaper

According to Jerry, at one time there was a push to change the town’s name to Sleepy Hollow. This next article covers a bit of that topic. The name change didn’t go through, obviously, but now there is a Sleepy Hollow State Park nearby.

Laingsburg newspaper


Laingsburg newspaper

Town Names and Family Pride

Not everyone can make the prestigious claim of a town bearing their family name. The Amos Boys can. In fact, through their mother’s maternal side, they can actually claim ownership of two towns—two, if you allow a bit of embellishment. And since embellishment is often what family history is all about, we’re going to do just that.

A few miles east of Lansing, near I-69 and Woodbury Road in Shiawassee County, is the has-been Irish community of Corktown. Even though there are Corktowns wherever the Irish have gathered, and even though ours is so small it doesn’t even make the map, we can still puff with a little bród Éireannach.

Corktown was settled by our ancestors, the Corcorans, who came from Roscommon, Ireland in 1838. The Corcorans farmed on Corcoran Road and being the community-minded folk that they were, they donated land for the Corcoran School, the Corcoran Cemetery and a Catholic church.

Looking at our family tree, we find names such as Bartlett Corcoran; who begat Patrick, who immigrated to the United States; who begat Owen; who begat Anastasia. (Anastasia is such a cool name—I really think one of you millennials should name your baby girl Anastasia.)

Now, let’s go seven miles up the road to the small town of Laingsburg. With a population today of 1283, this cozy, little community is actually listed on the map. Laingsburg was settled by our ancestor Peter Laing, who, in 1836, moved to the area from New York and set up a tavern.

From the Laings, we can boast Scottish roots. We have John Laing, who immigrated from Annondale, Scotland in 1773; who begat William; who begat Peter, who founded Laingsburg; who begat Paisley.

Let’s now connect these two families.

In 1870, Paisley Laing and Anastasia Corcoran married. They settled on Stoll Road, south of Laingsburg and raised this great family of five children, one of whom was Maggie Francis Laing, the Amos Boys’ grandmother.

Paisley Laing Family

Paisley and Anastasia Laing Family
Standing, l-r: Nellie, Phoebe, Maggie
Middle: Paisley (holding Hazen, baby of John and Fanny Hart), Fanny, and Anastasia
Front: Joseph B. Gulick (Nellie’s husband), John Hart (Fanny’s husband) and Earl Gulick (Maggie’s husband). Missing from the photo is Paisley and Anastasia’s son Peter, who perhaps was the photographer.


Paisley Laing House

Paisley and Anastasia’s farmhouse as it is today, 10060 Stoll Rd., south of Laingsburg.


So here we have a summarized version of our family on the Amos Boys’ mother’s maternal side. In two weeks, we’ll take a further look at Laingsburg and its founder Peter Laing. In the meantime, be sure to read Dave’s comments. He’s a super sleuth and found interesting data on the Laings.

Reunion
What are your plans for the upcoming reunion on June 16? We’ve got great ideas formulating, including a self-guided road trip to Laingsburg, Corktown, Williamston, and all the family farmhouses and cemeteries in between. Let us know so Elaine, Jan, Shelley and Jerri Lynn have an idea of how many are coming. Be there!


Genealogy information gathered by Jerry from the Michigan State Library, Corcorans and Burts, by Paul Burt, 1983; The Hill and Below, by Birdie Colby and Emma Jane Wright, 1976; Ancestry.com; and U.S. Census Records. Also included is some of Jerry’s speculation, which he claims is his specialty.