Sunday, May 29, 2016

A MOTHER’S PILGRIMAGE ~ Bessie Cowen Gillen's visit to the grave of Glenn C. Gillen ~ Killed in action in World War I

A U.S. Army 37-mm gun crew manning their weapon on September 26, 1918 during the World War I Meuse-Argonne Allied offensive, France.  This would have been the day after Corp. Glenn C. Gillen was killed in this battle.

The Gillen family is a direct line for me.  I descend from William Gillen (1782-1841) and his wife Rachel Frampton (1781-1855).  They are my 4th great grandparents.

It is one of their great grandchildren that is the focus of my post today. 
Corp. Glenn Clifford Gillen
born 1 Jan 1896 in Chesapeake, Lawrence, Ohio
Killed in action 25 Sep 1918 in France

Corp. Gillen is my 2nd cousin 3 times removed.  Glenn’s parents are Elijah C. Gillen and Bessie Etta Cowen.  Glenn was the 2nd son born to this family.  He had 3 sisters and 5 brothers, two of which were twins.  All but the youngest girl would have had vivid memories of him.
A recent hint on brought up a record group I had never heard of before. It’s called U.S. World War I Mothers’ Pilgrimage, 1929.   In it is a list of mothers and widows who desired to travel to Europe to see the final resting place of their sons who were killed in action during World War I.

Here is the index:
Name: Glenn C Gillen
Gender: Male
Relationship to Soldier: Self
Rank: Corporal
Military Unit: Co. D, 139th Inf
Cemetery: Meuse-Argonne
Burial Place: Romagne-sous-Montfaucon, Meuse, Lorraine, France
Mother: Bessie Gillen

The image lists the Name and Addresses of the family member, their relationship to the deceased soldier and information about that solider.

GILLEN_Bessie E_WW I mothers pilgramage_1929_Kansas_enh_edited-2
GILLEN_Bessie E_WW I mothers pilgramage_1929_Kansas_cropped

Transcription of this entry:
Mrs. Bessie Gillen of Independence, Montgomery, Kansas is the mother of deceased soldier Cpl. Glenn C. Gillen, of Co. D, 139th Inf.  He is buried in the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery and she desires to make a pilgrimage to his burial location at a later date.

I wanted to learn more about this young man, who died at age 22 yrs. serving his country.  I was able to find the following records:
GILLEN_Glen C_WW I Draft Card_1917_IndependenceMontgomeryKansas
World War I Draft Registration for Glenn Clifford Gillen

During this tough time in our country, I wonder what this young man thought as he registered for the draft.

His parents visited him before he left for duty in September 1917.

GILLEN_Mr & Mrs E.C. visit son Glen_The Evening Star_25 Sep 1917_pg 2 - on Newspapers GILLEN_Glen_spends time with parents_The Evening Star_1 Sep 1917_pg 2 - on Newspapers

And there was a family picnic too.

GILLEN_picnic_The Evening Star_25 Sep 1917_pg 4_cropped-annotated

I think about this family, like millions of others, who said goodbye to their sons and never saw them again.

From the Independence Daily Reporter, 21 Oct 1918, pg 3.
This article is titled OME BOY HIT BY MACHINE GUN BULLET and is a letter from Sgt. Ben Taylor to his mother Mrs. Myrtle M. Taylor.  In it he mentions his experience and then says the following:

“I don’t know how true it is but I heard that night that Sergt. Frank D. Coate and Corp. C. Gillen were killed in action….”


Two more articles located on mention Corp. Gillen as missing in action and another names him for an honor roll.  I notice that Glenn’s brother, E. Ross Gillen is also mentioned for this honor roll.

GILLEN_Glen_C_missing_in_action_The_Topeka_Daily_Capital_6_Dec_1918_pg_10 GILLEN_Glen_C_named_for_memorial_honor_IndependenceDailyReport_25_Jul_1918_pg_1_annotated

Glenn’s mother, Bessie, was finally able to make that journey to France to see her son’s grave.  She was 61 yrs. old and appears to have traveled alone.  We can only imagine how she felt as she walked up to his headstone, so far from home.

Name Bessie Etta Gillen
Arrival Date 4 Sep 1931
Birth Date 1 Dec 1869
Birth Location Missouri
Birth Location Other Springfield
Age 61
Gender Female
Port of Departure Cherbourg, France
Port of Arrival New York, New York
Ship Name America

GILLEN_Bessie_pass list_France to New York on SS America_1931_annotated

Corp. Glenn Clifford Gillen of Independence, Montgomery, Kansas served in the 139th Infantry, 35th Division, Company D.

You can find his memorial on by clicking here.
He is buried in the Meuse-Argonne American Cemetery & Memorial in Romagne, Lorraine, France.

Here is a photo of his headstone.  Used with permission.

GILLEN_Glenn C_headstone_25 Sep 1918_Lorraine France

I’m glad to have met Glenn C. Gillen all these years later, and learned a little about him and his family.  He never married and had no children that I am aware of.  But, his memory lives on.

Rest in Peace Corporal Gillen.

If you think you might be related to anyone mentioned in this blog post, please contact me.
In honor,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2016   Diane Gould Hall

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Locating that elusive Immigration record ~ Margaret Ritchie Milne (1820-1902)

Furnessia_photo of ship
A picture of the ship Furnessia - in service 1880-1912 Photo courtesy of

It doesn’t always happen right away.  I am talking about finding those records.  I’ve been dancing around this particular immigration record for a dozen years.
Margaret Ritchie Milne is my 2nd great grandmother.  She was born in Aboyne, Aberdeenshire, Scotland 23 Oct 1820.  She married Charles Milne, although I don’t yet have a marriage date for them.  They had four children, 3 daughters and a son.  It is the son, Andrew, from whom I descend.  Those three daughters were born first, so I’m glad they kept trying and finally had a son.

I knew Margaret had come to the United States after the death of her husband, Charles, who died in 1877. She is enumerated on the 1881 Scotland census.  But, I found her listed in a Detroit, Michigan city directory in 1886.  She is living with her son, Andrew C. Milne.

I also knew that she eventually moved back to Scotland, since she died and is buried there.

It’s often when we revisit the information we have for our ancestors, that things begin to line up and make sense.  Because we continue to learn as we research, we look at things from a different perspective.  That was the case with Margaret.

I looked at the Events I had listed for her in my Legacy database and realized that I was missing possible city directory listings.

I recently wrote a blog post about how helpful those city directories can be.  You can read that post here.

If Margaret was living in Detroit in 1886, could she have been there in 1885?  Time to check that city directory.  BINGO!  
I was able to locate it and found her daughter, Charlotte, living with her, listed as "Lotta."  Also on that same page is Margaret’s son, Andrew C. Milne, my great grandfather. 

1885_MILNE_Andrew_also Margaret & Lotta_DetroitWayneMichigan

If Margaret was living in Scotland in the 1881 census, but was in Detroit, by 1885, then I’ve really narrowed down her arrival date.
Sure enough, I located a record on for a Passenger list for Margaret Milne, traveling from Glasgow to the U.S. on 3 Nov 1882 on the ship Furnessia.  Who is on that passenger list with her?  Her 20 yr. old daughter, Charlotte.

This record is very difficult to read, but it was clear enough to me.  The ages for Margaret & Charlotte match exactly.

MILNE_Margaret & Charlotte_passenger record_3 Nov 1882_arriving New York_cropped

This was exactly what I’d been looking for these past dozen or so years.  I’m doing my happy dance right now.

Here is the indexed information from that record.

Name    Mgt Milne
Arrival Date    3 Nov 1882
Birth Date    1820
Age    62
Gender    Female
Ethnicity/ Nationality    Scottish
Place of Origin    Scotland
Port of Departure    Glasgow, Scotland and Moville, Ireland
Destination    Scotland
Port of Arrival    New York, New York
Ship Name    Furnessia

I’m very happy to have finally found this record.  What immigration records have you been searching for for a long time?  I’d love to hear about them.  Did you eventually find them?


WHY DIDN'T I SEE THAT?  When the obvious escapes us

STEVE MORSE'S ONE STEP WEBSITE ~ If you thought it was only for passenger records - Think again!

Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2016   Diane Gould Hall

Friday, May 13, 2016

PHOTO FRIDAY ~ Can you help me identify this man?

SMITH_Clyde J_photo sent from Sue Dattolo_labeled by her_cropped& enh_edited
This is a picture shared with me by a cousin.  She found it amongst photos that her mother, Jane, has.  The only thing written on the back is “Scotland.”  Jane is my 1st cousin once removed, on the Milne side of the family.

I know it’s a bit blurry, but in trying to read the printed words on the bottom I see ___Margie? on the lower left.  On the lower right corner I’m fairly certain it says Aberdeen.  What do you think?
UPDATE - Thanks to comments by readers, I now know that the photographer's name on the lower left is J. Hardie.  I have an address of his business in Aberdeen and the years he was in business.

Note:  I am trying to get my cousin to send me a picture or scan of the back of the photograph.

Since we have lots of family on my maternal side, from Aberdeen, this would make sense.  But, who is this man?

Background on my family from Aberdeen

My great grandfather, Andrew Charles Milne was born in Aboyne, Aberdeen, Scotland on 8 Feb 1856.  He came to the United States via Canada in about 1868, with his sister Mary E. Milne.  Both of them eventually settled in Michigan.  Andrew is in Detroit by 1877 and in 1880 he marries Susan Anne Gillespie.  They have four children, 2 of whom died young.  Of the two that survived, Joseph Albert Milne and Irene Marie Milne, both married and had children.  Joseph is my grandfather.

Andrew died of Consumption at the young age of 36, on 8 Dec 1892.

Here is a picture that I had restored, of Andrew Charles Milne.

MILNE_Andrew Charles_portrait
Photo of Andrew Charles Milne - before restoration
MILNE_Andrew Charles_headshot_restored photo_circa 1880-1890
Photo of Andrew Charles Milne - after restoration

I guess my question is, could that photograph of the unidentified man be a member of Andrew’s family?  A father, brother, cousin, in-law?

If you recognize the man in the unidentified photo, please contact me.


WEDDING WEDNESDAY ~ Andrew Charles Milne & Susan Anne Gillespie – 1880

The Joys of the Scotland's People Website

Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2016   Diane Gould Hall

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

WORKDAY WEDNESDAY ~ Can I do a better job listing occupations in my database?

blacksmith linenweaver Railway Workers in the 1900's
Here’s the question I asked my self today.  How many people in my Legacy database have occupations associated with their data?  

Recording occupations should be one of the easiest things we do?  Right?

I mean, we review and record all those census records, most of which contain occupations.  We have death records, obituaries, probate and marriage records which can contain occupations.

The question is… we record them?

Why is this important?  What can we gain from knowing an ancestors occupation?
  • It gives us an insight as to what their financial circumstances might have been.
  • We can use it to gauge whether the John Gould listed in the 1880 census as a Carpenter, could also be the John Gould listed as a Bank Clerk or Lawyer in the 1900 census.  Would the occupation have changed that much?
  • We can use it to determine an identity based on others with the same profession, in the same area.  I found one of my husband’s family members this way.  He was a glass blower, which isn’t a common profession.
  • Perhaps the occupation would mean our ancestor belonged to an organization associated with the profession.  In that case, would there be publications I could find him/her in?
  • Is this a family profession?  Did the parent or do the children have the same occupation?
  • Did the occupation mean the ancestor and family would be moving around a lot.  Such is the case with itinerant preachers, railroad employees, farmers and others.
  • Was the occupation dangerous?  I’ve had ancestors who died at work.
These are just some of the reasons I believe it’s important to record the occupation of our ancestors.
I wanted to see how well I’ve done so I ran a report with Legacy 8 using the search feature.

I not only list occupations as I find them on various census & other records, but also have a separate entry for “occupation at time of death.”  I searched with both criteria.

Here is my search screen.

occupation -1

The resulting list told me that I have 187 individuals with occupation or occupation at time of death, associated with them.

Let’s run the numbers.

- My Legacy 8 database contains 4869 individuals
- That means that I only have occupations recorded for about 2.6% of those individuals.
- Now let’s take a look at how many of the 4869 in my database are males.

Taking into account that until World War II, most women did not work outside the home. 
I have 2548 males.  This means my percentage is a bit better and goes up to 13.6%.
Can I improve these numbers?  Absolutely!

Will doing so provide more information and leads in my research?  Yes.

Should I record every occupation from each census and other record separately?  I’m not certain on this one.  Perhaps only record another occupation if it is different from the one I have?

What do you do?  How do you record occupations?  Do you record them?

What discoveries have you made by following someone’s occupation?


Legacy 8 Search Function - What Can You Find?  I used "Occupation" as an example

Occupation Files on Ancestry - 1600-1995 - Have you seen these?

Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2016   Diane Gould Hall

Friday, May 6, 2016


We all know that city directories can be wonderful resources for information about our ancestors.  I continue to discover more and more surprising and wonderful things in these directories.

Most of my experience with directories involves Detroit, Michigan.  Just last year I wrote about finding an exact death date listed in the alphabetical name and address portion of a Detroit directory.  You can read that post here.  I was very happy to find that reference to the death date for my 2nd great grandfather, William Lindsay.  One more piece of evidence is always welcome.

At the time, I didn’t explore the rest of that particular 1899 Detroit directory.

Fast forward to this week.  I’m doing a little research on some great grand uncles, who are listed in a probate record, as living in Detroit, Michigan in 1884.  These family members were born over in Devonshire, England and I knew some of the immigrated to the U.S.

Sure enough in a search on, there is a reference to the 1884 Detroit city directory.

William Burgess

William Burgess
Residence Year:
Street address:
33 Leverett
Residence Place:
Detroit, Michigan, USA
Publication Title:
Detroit, Michigan, City Directory, 1884

Here’s the image for this entry.

1884_BURGESS_William & John & others_Detroit directory

The next thing I wanted to look for in the directory was the listing of specific addresses, which will usually tell you the person who owned or rented at that location.

Instead of finding that I found, in “Miscellaneous Information” 

LIST OF DEATHS IN DETROIT from May 15th 1884 to May 6th 1885 – Compiled from City Mortuary Reports

Deaths in Detroit - first page


I didn’t know this list existed.  Do the directories from other years contain this list?  I know information can vary from year to year.

I quickly created a search list in Legacy using the exact criteria.

Death search 1884-85

And, got the following results:

Death 1884-85

I know that Elizabeth’s married name was Burgess. 
I located here on page 86.
  • Burgess, Elizabeth……………May 16, 1884
I didn’t  locate William G. Thorpe.  He was just a baby who died at one month and two days of age.  Perhaps they didn’t list children?  Or, he wasn’t taken to a mortuary, since this list results from mortuary records?

I plan to continue my search in the Detroit directories for more death dates.  Who knows what I’ll find?

Have you found records like this in directories from your research areas?  If so, I’d love to hear about them.

Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2016   Diane Gould Hall

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Lifespans of my 2nd Great Grandparents

Randy Seaver, who writes the well known Genea-Musings blog, always comes up with something fun for us to do in his Saturday Night Genealogy Fun posts.  My problem is, I don’t always have the time to participate on a Saturday.  I really liked the theme for this past Saturday, so I’m going to write about it today.

Directly from Randy’s blog, here is our assignment:

1)  We each have 16 great-great grandparents.  How did their birth and death years vary?  How long were their lifespans? 

2)  For this week, please list your 16 great-great grandparents, their birth year, their death year, and their lifespan in years.  You can do it in plain text, in a table or spreadsheet, or in a graph of some sort.

Here is my list.

From my paternal side:

John C. Gould (1833-after 1911), at least 78 years
Sarah M. Hart (1835-1911), 75 years
Horace Henry Thorp (1836-1907), 71 years
Catherine Dorsey (about 1842-1898), about 56 years
William Lindsay (1830-1898), 68 years
Mary Wallace (abt 1832-1895), about 63 years
John Fitzcharles (abt 1833-1893), about 60 years
Elizabeth “Betty” McGovern (abt 1818-1866), about 48 years

From my maternal side.  Note:  I don’t have all eight of my maternal 2nd great grandparents identified yet.

James Gillen Hunter (1832-1884), 52 years
Susan Caroline Boggs (1842-1913), 70 years
Charles Milne (abt 1822-1877), about 55 years
Margaret Ritchie (1820-1902), 81 years
Joseph Gillespie (1837-1908), 71 years
Susan Burgess (1841-1933), 91 years

The average lifespan on my paternal side is 64.9 years.  The men averaged 69.2 years.   The women averaged 60.5 years.

The average lifespan on my maternal side is 70 years.  The men averaged 59.3 years. The women averaged 80.6 years.

It would seem that it’s better to be woman in my family, especially on my maternal side.  It is well known on my mother’s side of the family, that the women live long lives.

The 2nd great grandparent who lived the longest was Susan Burgess at 91 years.  Here’s a photo of Susan Burgess at about age 70.

BURGESS_SusanGillespie_headshot circa early 1900s.jpg

The 2nd great grandparent who died the youngest was Elizabeth “Betty” McGovern who lived in Scotland.  She was only 48 when she died.  I don’t have a photo of her.

I'm curious about my husband's side of the family now, so I'll have to check the lifespan for his 2nd great grandparents too.

Thanks for the idea Randy.

Here are some other Saturday Night Genealogy Fun posts that I’ve participated in:

SATURDAY DAY FUN! Golden Wedding Anniveraries

SATURDAY NIGHT FUN! What's Your Number? Counting Ancestors 

Happy hunting,
Michigan Girl

Copyright ©  2010-2016   Diane Gould Hall