Adios 2012!

Bruce, Jerry and Duane
Here we are already, the end of 2012!

If we rehash the year according to Time Magazine, the top news event was Hurricane Sandy. The most popular tweet was “Four more years,” by Barack Obama. And the number one sports story was Lance Armstrong’s fall from grace.

We are, by the way, also at the end of our yearlong Expletive Amos Boys blog. It’s been a fascinating journey, has it not? And just as the media has its top events, I’ve got my “top phrases.” They’re interesting expressions the Amos Boys used repeatedly in our weekly telephone chats.

Here they are:

“Speaking of police, do you remember the time…” 

Should we be concerned that this was the introductory line to a disturbingly large number of Amos Boys conversations? Like the story of Duane finishing a night of work at Matthew’s Restaurant and landing himself smack in jail.

“When I came out of the restaurant a guy was waiting on the sidewalk and he punched me in the eye,” says Duane, admitting that, yes, he may have previously smarted off to him. “A cop was there and grabbed us both. I had to get stitches and we both had to spend the night in jail.”

“That’s all hearsay…” 

Every once in a while the three guys came up with differing views of the same story. This, of course, is common for everyone as we remember events of our youth. What’s interesting though, is that in our year of reminiscing, I heard this comment most often from Bruce and it was always in reply to Duane and Jerry’s incriminating stories.

“Every day Bruce would chase Pat Matfore home from school. Every single day,” say both Duane and Jerry. “He’s the kid that grew up to be a big football player for St. Mary’s. And later he became a doctor.”

“I don’t remember that,” says Bruce. “That’s all hearsay. I was always Mrs. Amos’s good boy.”

“Giving it the Ol’ Beech Street Try”

Jerry made this comment more than a year ago when we first discussed the feasibility of doing this blog. At that time we brainstormed topics we wished to cover and how to coordinate the telephone calls. Jerry thought we should be an open book. He said even though none of them were big phone conversationalists, they’d give it “the Ol’ Beech Street try.” This rally, which references their house on Beech Street (you know, the one with the hard-as-rock front yard where all the kids hung out), is one he made several times throughout our project.

If we’re going to be metaphorically streetwise, the Amos Boys not only gave it the Ol’ Beech Street try, they made 2012 a Grand River Avenue of a year. Each Monday, as we connected via modern technology, they reinforced what I’ve always known—that these three brothers are truly special men. I feel so privileged to have shared this time with them.

Thanks Duane, Bruce and Jerry!

But wait, what about the rest of us? Our conversations in the comment section have been a blast. The Expletive Amos Boys blog is online for the duration, so let’s keep the chatter going!

And then there’s the reunion. Wasn’t last summer’s get together fun? Are you interested in having another? We need to start planning now—dates, location, activities!

Here’s one idea (and we certainly want to hear more):

This year, on September 14, Laingsburg is celebrating its 175th centennial anniversary. Check it out here. Note the mention of the Laing family’s interest in participating. That’s us! And remember the helpful gentleman we met last summer in the Laingsburg restaurant? He mentioned the possibility of a parade float just for us (now wouldn’t that just be riotous:-). Whether this materializes or not isn’t important, but, just in case, we need to start practicing our parade waves now.

It’s been a fun year everyone. Let’s keep in touch!

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!

We’re in the News!

Planning the Laing family legacy tour and reunion are, from left, Duane of Corunna; Shelley of St. Johns, daughter of Bruce; and Jerry of Lansing.

Hey folks! The big weekend is here and we are in the news! The Laingsburg News and surrounding publications covered our reunion. Here is an adapted article…

Four generations of Peter Laing descendants will gather in Laingsburg on Saturday, June 16, to revisit historical sites meaningful to his legacy. The group will meet at Cinders Grill at 9 a.m. and then take a road tour past family homes, churches and cemeteries in Shiawassee and Ingham Counties.

“Dr. Peter Laing and his family came to Michigan from Sarasota County, New York in 1833, settling first in Ann Arbor, where he practiced medicine. Following the death of his wife a few years later, he set out with his son William and son-in-law Mason Phelps, and took up land claims in Sciota Township, on the Grand River trail. Peter erected the first building in the township and opened a tavern, which soon became a popular stopping place along the trail. Dr. Laing later petitioned to open a post office at the tavern, and at his request the settlement was called Laingsburg,” adds Ed Buskirk, Laingsburg News editor.

The legacy tour is part of an Amos family reunion for brothers Duane, Bruce and Jerry Amos, who are great-great grandsons of Dr. Laing. Since January, the brothers have been meeting weekly via telephone conference calls and their conversations have sparked a renewed interest in the Laing and Gulick family histories.

Ed Buskirk, Laingsburg News editor adds: “The Laingsburg Business and Community Association recently formed a committee, chaired by Dean Veith, to make plans to celebrate the city’s 175th anniversary in 2013. Persons interested in helping plan the event may contact Veith at ”

See you tomorrow folks! It’s going to be so fun!

Happy Birthday Jan!

dankers dairy

The reunion! It’s next weekend, folks! Are you getting excited?!!

As you know, the big event is at Duane and Jan’s house (I’m emailing information) and since many of us haven’t seen each other in a while, it’s very possible you haven’t met Jan. So this week, let’s get to know the very lovely Jan, who has blessed our family for the past 11 years and who also is celebrating an upcoming birthday!

Jan was born in Saginaw, MI, on June 22, 1944, to Clarence and Arleatha Henny. (This information alone is all we really need to know since for the past decade many of Duane’s children have been mystified by the possibilities of Jan’s age—she’s an ageless wonder!)

“I arrived on my parents 10th wedding anniversary,” says Jan. “I was brought home to the family farm and welcomed by my Grandpa Dankers and my only sibling, Ruth Ann, who is five years older than me.”

The family all lived together on 120 acres located between Bridgeport and Frankenmuth. Her great grandfather, a German immigrant, settled with other German families in this area east of Saginaw and set up farming, built log cabins and established the Lutheran church Jan’s family still attends.

“Grandpa Claus cleared the land and eventually built a Michigan farmhouse there where my nephew still lives,” says Jan. “They built up a herd of registered Holsteins and began Dankers Dairy. I don’t remember the cattle much since they were sold when I was very young but I remember the dairy well. My mother and a great aunt ran the daily operation until it was no longer profitable. It was a great place to go to get a pint of wonderful whole milk.”

An elusive quest thus far for Jan has been to find a Dankers Dairy milk bottle. Hey folks, keep your eyes peeled for one!

Jan’s father worked for GM Buick in Flint for more than 40 years and her mom, as Jan describes, “was the best volunteer at church and our schools that there ever was.”

“They loved having a garden and nurtured a love of gardening in both my sister and me,” says Jan. “We also had a cottage on Long Lake near Hale, MI, where we spent nearly every weekend in the summer. My sister and I still own it and enjoy time there. My dad always said it was good to work half a day on cottage maintenance and play the rest of the time. I still think that’s a good idea. Lots of good fish fries came out of the play part of the day.”

After graduating from Saginaw High School, Jan began studying elementary education at Michigan State University. Yes, those who know her, have no doubt of Jan’s Spartan loyalties—green is truly her color of choice!

“My program was a year-round program in conjunction with Delta College that involved time spent at Delta and MSU campus, plus regular student teaching, plus a year of internship in a school district in the area,” says Jan. “It was pretty intense but I graduated with all that in three years plus a semester. I really knew I was in a career that I loved when it was over.”

Two weeks after she graduated from college, she married her husband Ron on New Years Day, 1966.

“We had met up north at the cottage but he then went to Delta when I was there,” says Jan. “He went on to Albion College and graduated from Ferris State in pharmacy. We lived in Big Rapids where I taught school in Morley-Stanwood School until he was through school and then we moved to Grand Rapids where he interned and worked at Blodgett Med for six years.”

In 1973, Ron took a position as a pharmacist at Owosso Memorial Hospital, and later as the director of pharmacy. Here in Owosso, the Wyatt and Amos families began to cross paths. Ron and Jan bought a house on Garrison Road, around the corner from Duane and Carol’s. The Wyatts joined Salem Church and sent their children to Salem School, where the Amos’s also attended.

“We had four children; Kristen, Dale, Aaron and Katie,” says Jan. “During that time, I taught and was director of pre-schools. I was fortunate to be able to stay home with the babies until they were old enough to go back to school with me. When they were all older, I taught kindergarten and 5-6 grades at St. Joseph Catholic School in Owosso and then 6th grade in Owosso Public School. They were both wonderful places to work.”

You know, sometimes in our lives God has seemingly hard-to-understand ways of making things happen. That’s how it’s been for Duane and Jan.

In May 1995, Jan’s husband Ron was diagnosed with non-hodgkins lymphoma. He passed away in March 1996, just ten months later.

“By then, Kristen and Dale were both married and living in the Detroit area. Aaron was 17 and Kate was 14,” says Jan. “I was working at St. Joe’s and started working part time at Jo-Ann Fabrics to make ends meet. It was a scary time but we had also some wonderful and funny times charting our new path.”

In 1996, Duane’s wife Carol was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. For three years, Duane and Carol battled her disease, but in August 1999, she passed away.

This brings us to June 9, 2000, when one evening Kate answered the phone and gave it to Jan, saying “Mr. Amos wants to talk to you.”

“I answered and he asked me if I would like to celebrate the end of the school year and go out to eat,” says Jan. “I thought Terri had put him up to this because she too was celebrating the end of a school year. I then answered with the most romantic phrase that I still haven’t been able to live down: ‘Sure. Why not.’”

“The rest is history,” says Jan. “The last 11 years have been so wonderful. We have laughed, cried, worried and been totally content. We know we will make it through anything together. As it should be.”

These days, besides putting up with Duane (sorry, Dad, I have to interject with some Amos Boys’ humor), Jan is also the wonderfully involved mother to her four children, who live in southern Michigan, Illinois and Wisconsin. She’s also a doting grandmother to Hannah, 15, Peter, 13, Jack, 2, and a new baby girl, due one month from our reunion.

So here you have it, as Jan says.

Janet Kay Henny Wyatt Amos,
Child of God.


Remembering Our Cemeteries and Knowing Us Amos’s

Margie (Maggie) Francis Laing Adams, Rose Lawn Cemetery, Perry MI

Here in Wisconsin, there’s a country cemetery up the road from our house that my husband’s family has maintained for more than 40 years. Every year on Memorial Day we gather with the ever-aging cemetery board members and discuss things like burning burdock along the fence line or increasing plot fees from $75 to $100. (I wrote about these exciting meetings here in my maternal grandmother’s blog.)

Anyway, planning for this year’s meeting has got me thinking about traveling to Michigan in three weeks for the Amos Reunion and the cemeteries we’re going to visit as part of our historical road trip. I’m getting so excited! In fact, we’ve now given the road trip an official name—the Gulick-Laing Legacy Tour, or, simply the Legacy Tour, since we don’t want to appear overly ostentatious.

Here’s what’s planned for the Legacy Tour

On Saturday, June 16, at 9 am., we’ll meet at Cinders Grill in Laingsburg. We’ll enjoy a dutch treat breakfast. We’ll go over route maps and handouts that Jerry is putting together. And best of all, we’ll raucously reconnect with those we haven’t seen in years!

After breakfast, we’ll all take off in our cars for the Legacy Tour. We’ll drive past homes where our ancestors lived. We’ll see sites where important buildings once stood. And we’ll visit cemeteries where our family members are buried. The tour may take 3-4 hours, depending on our speed. Join us whenever you wish, stay as long as you can stand us.

But the best comes after the Legacy Tour!

Duane and Jan’s house is where the real action will be! I hear they’ve even put in a horseshoe pit. The reunion starts at 2 pm. Come whenever you can, but for sure be there by 5-6 for the delicious dinner!

But wait, I’ve been thinking…

For some, it’s been decades since we’ve seen each other. Others of us haven’t even met. How will we know we’re Amos’s?

Joel came up with identifying clues. We need you to add to them!

You know you’re an Amos if…

  • You sing the special Happy Birthday song
  • You’re always late
  • You can never find your glasses
  • You can never find your glasses, and you look in the mirror and they’re on your head
  • Pickles are a required food for every gathering

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

Getting to Know Those Gulicks

George and Amanda Gulick and Family

The George and Amanda (Capen) Gulick Family
Standing, l-r: John, Elmer, Perry, Bert, Joseph (Joe Sr), Annette, Grace
Seated: Amanda (Capen) and George Gulick 

So last week we discussed the Gulick’s migration from Germany, to the Netherlands, to New York City and finally to Williamston, MI.

Let’s get to know George and Amanda Gulick a bit, since they’re the ones who really got the family started in the Williamston area. On New Years Day, 1853, George and Amanda were married in her parents John and Fanny (Holcomb) Capen’s home in Oakland County, in southeastern Michigan (like the Gulicks, the Capens, also spelled Chapin, had previously lived in New York before moving to Michigan in the mid-1800s).

In March of that year, George and Amanda moved northward to land located in Ingham County, between Williamston and Lansing. According to George’s obituary (if you can read it in last week’s post), he and Amanda cleared the land, logged the timber, built a log cabin home and farmed 80 acres of land.

Over the years, their acreage grew and their family grew. By time their children were adults, George and Amanda owned enough land to give farms to all seven of them (four more children died in infancy and childhood). According to a newspaper article written by Lula Howarth, their son Joe lived on the original farmstead and his family stayed on the farm long enough for it to become a centennial farm.

So, looking at the family photo above, aren’t those some dapper dudes? Okay, maybe John, the cheery guy on the left is dapper. He went on to become a doctor in Illinois. The rest of the siblings stayed on their given farms or settled in the general community.

It’s interesting to see a layout of this area. Click here and check out the map Jerry made for us. You’ll see a whole neighborhood of Gulicks and Gulick-in-laws all living within a few square miles. This is family togetherness at its best.

Or perhaps its worse.

According to family lore, some were a bit of a raucous crowd. At night, the men gathered together to raid chickens from neighboring farms, and during the day, one wife hung a quilt on the clothesline to signal a male acquaintance that her husband was gone. I wonder, is this what they refer to as “dirty laundry”?

Our guy is the more serious Perry, third gentleman from the left (surely, he didn’t participate in any of the above behavior). On November 26, 1878, Perry married Fidelia Walton, whose family, interestingly, had also come to Michigan from New York.

Perry and Fidelia (Walton) Gulick

Perry and Fidelia (Walton) Gulick, 1878

Perry and Fidelia (Walton) Gulick, record of their wedding

Perry and Fidelia took up farming on the land his parents gave him on Gulick Road. They had two sons; Glen Maynard, born in 1882, and Bryon Earl (who went by Earl), born in 1886.

Earl and Glen Gulick, circa 1890

Earl and Glen Gulick, circa 1890

So now we’re getting to a time period relative to people we know—or should I say people that people we know knew. Does that make sense?

In 1905, when Earl was 19, he married Maggie Francis Laing, age 17. In the early years of their marriage, Earl and Maggie (who sometimes is recorded as Margie) lived next door to his parents on Gulick Road. In 1906, their first child Ralph was born. In 1911, their daughter Gladys was born.

That’s right. Our Gladys. And her mother Maggie is the same Grandma Maggie to the Amos Boys who raised Jerry during his childhood.

In some ways, these Gulicks are just names and faces. We see them listed in historical data and on, but we don’t really know who they are. Thankfully, Jerry can help us with that. While they were still alive, Jerry spent time talking with these older generations and he has recollections of them from his childhood. Through Jerry, we can know a bit about Glen and Earl.

Glen Gulick, circa 1900s

Glen Gulick, circa 1900s

Jerry remembers his great-Uncle Glen to be a soft-spoken, charming, gregarious guy who loved to hunt, fish, gamble and drink. He never was married, although rumor has it he once courted Nellie Able, a relative of R.E. Olds.

“I don’t think he or Earl were ever real interested in farming and they never accumulated much property or savings,” writes Jerry. “Glen went blind in his old age and became cranky, especially when Gladys had to take him to the rest home, known to him as the “County Home” or “Poor House,” near Okemos.”

Jerry remembers his grandfather Earl as a jokester who enjoyed a good laugh. He tells the story of Earl rebottling used whiskey bottles with burnt sugar water and selling them to unsuspecting people in Jackson. When the census enumerator came to his house in 1936 and asked the necessary vital questions, Earl answered that he was married to Gloria Swanson. By then, he and Maggie were divorced and his second wife’s name was Clara Swanson. So, humorous guy that he was, Earl Gulick is forever down in history as living with Gloria Swanson, the very famous actress. So much for the credibility of the U.S. Census!

“Earl was a conductor for the Lansing Urban Line and later a house painter around Lansing,” writes Jerry. “They used to mix their own paint in washtubs with white lead and linseed oil, and then take a leak in it to keep it from separating while drying.”

Jerry says Earl must have had a soft and caring side. He and Glen cared for their father Perry when he had severe dementia before dying in 1922. Earl then quit his job to care for his mother Fidelia before she died the next year. Over time he was there for other relatives as well.

Earl Gulick, Jerry Lynn Amos, Jerry Amos, 1961

Three generations: Earl Gulick, Jerry Lynn Amos, Jerry Amos, 1961

Earl Gulick

Earl Gulick obituary

So here you have it—nearly three hundred years of Gulick genealogy all wrapped up into two weeks of blogging. Life truly is a journey! And 100 years ago, this land between Williamston and Lansing is where the Michigan Gulicks happened.

I’m thinking we need to take a family trip and visit the area. Anyone game?


Tentatively June 16, 2012

Elaine, Jan and Shelley are planning a family reunion!
More information soon to come!