189 years ago, Laban Jenks passed away … and then moved.


Laban Jenks and Prudence [White] Jenks 

Laban Jenks, my 4 times great grandfather, passed away on 15 September 1829 in Bloomfield, Oakland County, Michigan at the age of 57.  Grandfather Jenks was born 11 June 1772 in Smithfield, Rhode Island to Jesse and Mary Smith Jenks.  He married Prudence White on 22 September 1793 at Cheshire, Massachusetts.  Their children included: Lucy (1794), Smith (1795), Orrin (1796), Patience (1797), Seth (1798), Polly (1800), Morris [my 3 times great grandfather] (1801), Laura (1805), Nathaniel (1806), Diadama (1808), Sophia (1809), Laban, Jr. (1811), Prudence (1812), and William (1814).

In the War of 1812. he served as : Captain Laban Jenks, Artillery Company, First Battalion, Sixth Regiment, Brigadier General Samuel Coe’s Brigade, Tioga & Broome, NY.

Grandfather Jenks did not like to stay in one place very long.  From Smithfield, RI, he removed to Cheshire, MA; then to Jenksville, NY [he founded it so he could name it]; moved on to Speedsville, NY [just up the road from Jenksville]; and then to Bloomfield, MI.  All but one of his children followed.

At his passing, Grandfather Jenks was laid to rest in the Gilbert Lake Burial Ground,  as was Grandmother Jenks and a number of other family members.  In 1917, all ‘residents’ were disinterred and moved to one of three cemeteries.  Grandfather and Grandmother were re-interred in Section 25 at Roseland Park Cemetery in Berkley, Michigan.

From the Bloomfield Historical Society, an explanation of the big move:

“Joseph Gilbert from Ontario County, New York, was one of the early pioneers in Bloomfield Township. He purchased the West ½ of Section 28 (320 acres) on 24 June 1823. His property was included the southwest shoreline of the lake named after him and was bounded on the west by present -day Telegraph Road. Not many years after establishing his farm his wife, Nancy died. Joseph buried her in a plot on his farm a couple of hundred feet from the shore of Gilbert Lake. Later he was also interred near his wife. For the next 80, or more, years, many of he pioneer families also used this small 150 foot square graveyard to bury their loved ones. It became known as Gilbert Lake Cemetery and shows up on historical maps from 1872 through 1908.”

“In 1917 Casper Case (1848 – 1939), petitioned the Circuit Court of Oakland County to have Gilbert Lake Cemetery “vacated” – that is, to have the remains and grave markers moved to another location. Casper Case was the grandfather of Homer Case (1915 – 2004), the long-time Supervisor of Bloomfield Township (1963 – 1981). Mr. Case claimed that the cemetery was overgrown with grass and weeds, and that there was no one to care for it. His petition was granted on 28 May 1917. The judge appointed two (2) men to move the “bodies and tombstones” in a proper manner. Three (3) local established cemeteries were identified as candidates to receive the graves from Gilbert Lake – Roseland Park in Berkley, Greenwood in Birmingham, and FranklinCemetery.”

“The minutes of Greenwood Cemetery Association record that it was agreed in their meeting on 21 February 1917 to “. . . accept the stones with suitable foundations for the removal of Gilbert Lake graves”. The work of moving the remains was completed in 1919. The Record of Interment for Greenwood Cemetery lists 53 graves were received and located together in Section H (Lots 25, 26, 36, 37, 38, and 39). This is area is along the west fence. Forty-nine (49) graves were removed to Roseland Park Cemetery at the corner of Woodard Ave. and Twelve Mile Road and placed together in special Section 25. This is a small triangular plot area on the south side of the cemetery along Twelve Mile Road. A special sign identifies the graves as coming from Gilbert Lake Cemetery. Most of the records for Franklin Cemetery were destroyed in a fire many years ago making it impossible to determine how many (if any) Gilbert Lake graves were relocated there.”

“In 1927 (eight years after the last graves were removed) the portion of the old Gilbert Lake Farm on the shore of Gilbert Lake was platted into the Shadow Acre Estates subdivision. Included within the boundaries of this subdivision, but without any identification, is the half-acre burial ground that once contained the remains of a large number of the pioneers of Bloomfield Township.”

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8 Times Great Grandparents Die 1 Year Apart

328 years ago, on 10 September 1690, Elnathan Botsford passed away in Milford, Connecticut.  He was my 8 times great grandfather, the son of Henry Botsford and Elizabeth Woolhead.  On 12 December 1667, he married Hannah Baldwin also in Milford, Connecticut.  One year to the day from Grandfather Botsford’s passing, Grandmother Botsford passed away, 10 September 1691, in Milford, Connecticut.   Two of their children would become my ancestors: Samuel (30 July 1670 – 14 November 1745) who married Hannah Camp was my 7th great grandfather.  His sister, Hannah (30 April 1674 – _______) who married John Prindle was also my 7th great grandmother through their daughter, Hannah who married her first cousin Samuel Botsford, Jr., the son of Samuel.

Confused?  I think this means I can be my own family reunion since I am my own cousin.

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Happy 166th Birthday, Great Grand Aunt Eva!🎂


Evelyn Roselia Seymour 1 Sep 1852-6 Dec 1927

Evelyn Roselia Seymour was born on 1 September 1852 to David Miller Seymour and Mary Parker in Genesee County, Michigan, but her true heart was in her beloved Oakland County where she shared her life with her husband, Oliver Torry Jenks (17 March 1886 in Birmingham, Oakland County, Michigan) and raised her children, Seymour Arthur and Irene May.  Aunt Eva was the Jenks Family Historian and provided stories of our lineage at the family reunions from 1911 to 1927.  Oliver preceded her in death in 1901.  In her later years, Aunt Eva unhappily (she was quite “vocal” in her writing on this topic), abandoned her home in Birmingham and went to live with her daughter, Irene and son-in-law Joseph George Jones in Tampa, Florida, where she passed away on 6 December 1927.

Aunt Eva left behind a rich copy of her family histories and “minutes” of the events surrounding the Jenks reunions that all centered near the homestead of Morris Jenks in Southfield.



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Happy Birthday, Grandpa Weaver!🎂


It was 161 years ago (August 26, 1857) that my great grandfather, Lemuel Weaver was born in Perry County, Ohio, to Gottlieb Weber [Goodliff Weaver] and Anne Lane.  Goodliff immigrated from Württemburg and married Anne in Pennsylvania.   The relocated to Perry County, Ohio, with Anne’s parents, Richard Lane and Mary Gayer.  Grandpa Weaver was the 10th of 12 children for his parents.   His siblings included: Mary Ann Weaver (1836-1836), Roseanah Weaver Fisher (1837-1931), William Powell Weaver (1840-1927), Elizabeth JaneWeaver (1842-1874), Margaret Ann Weaver Wells (1844-1898), Charles Louis Weaver (1847-1930), Christiana Weaver Rinehart Schwartz (1849-1934), David Shreider Weaver (1855-1909), Jasper P. Weaver (1855-1860), [Lemuel], George Adam Hempleman -Weaver (1861-1879), and Eric Weaver (1864-1864).

Grandpa Weaver, for some reason, I failed to ask as I child, and I regret as an adult, moved to Norfold, Nebraska in the late 1800s where he was working at an asylum and met Grandmother Weaver, Effie Clarissa Lee.  The married in Norfolk on 1 August 1891.  For some time the couple then moved to Columbus, Ohio, where their son, Lee Norton Goodliff Weaver was born in 1893.  Soon after the family moved to Effie’s family home in Southfield, Oakland County, Michigan and resided with her parents, Charles Norton Lee and Esther Jenks Lee.  By 1900, they were living in Redford, Wayne Co, Michigan and a daughter, Olive Marie Weaver, was born. Olive only lived 5 days.  The family returned to the farm in Southfield.  In the next few years, Lemuel and Effie bought property at the corner of Tireman and Scotten in Detroit where they build a duplex home.  Grandfather Weaver worked for Detroit Edison.   He passed away 11 May 1929 and is buried in the family plot at Grand Lawn Cemetery in Detroit.

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Uncle Heinie Died 20 August 1970 —



Henry Allen Koontz – 25 November 1900 – 20 August 1970

Uncle Heinie was Grandma Florence’s youngest brother.  He stayed in the family hometown of Columbus, Ohio after graduating in Pharmacy from OSU and eventually opened his own Drug Store.   Uncle Heinie married twice.  The first time to Helen Reed who bore three children.  The first boy did not survive.   The second, a daughter, was named Helen Claire. The third, another son, was named Richard Darwin.  Sadly, Helen Reed died in giving birth to Richard.   Uncle Heinie married soon after her death to Bettinna Henry.   The two children did not know until late adulthood that Aunt Betty was not their natural mother.   The entire Koontz family kept the secret from the children which caused later discord.

In a family reunion, Uncle Heinie’s nephew, Charles Gardner Griste, shared the following account of Uncle Heine’s activities to help the poor of Columbus during the Depression:

September, 1990

This is the story of the “Bean Man”. Let’s call him Heinie. When I first became well acquainted with him, I was nine or ten years old. He was a bout thirty. He was my uncle, and I like to flatter myself that I was his favorite nephew. He was a Pharmacist and worked in a small chain drugstore — he worked a lot of hours. The chain wasn’t too successful and the store where my uncle worked was one of the least successful of the chain.

It was located in the “bottoms”, an area that had twelve or thirteen feet of water in it during the great 1913 flood in Columbus, Ohio. It was a very poor neighborhood; many residents worked for the railroad or in shops or small factories. A few owned homes, but many were renters.

In 1928 – 29 the Depression started; soon the railroad started to cut employees’ hours. Men often worked only twenty-four, then twelve, then eight hours a week. Many factory workers were laid off completely as the little shops and plants became unable to sell and had to close their doors. By 1931, conditions were bad. People lined up to get free soup form the Salvation Army; the soup being made from whatever scraps the S. A. could dig up. The line up often stretched for two city blocks. Each person carrying their little container to get some food.

Heinie was — I suppose — you might call “chicken hearted”; he didn’t like seeing people that he knew be hungry. So, I guess, he decided to do his own bit to help. He bought Campbell’s Pork and Beans — about ninety-six cans a week, at one time, and passed them out to anyone that said “I ‘m hungry — I’ve got a family, they are hungry.” They were given one or two cans of beans and when they said “I can’t pay,” Heinie said that if they ever could, to return the cans to him.

Conditions were slow to improve, unemployment went up to about fifty percent in the “bottoms” and the workers were almost all just working part time. Roosevelt, with his aid programs, was almost like a god to these people and ninety-six percent of the votes in the area went to the Democrats.

Since the small drug store chain was in trouble, Heinie finally opened his own store — underfinanced, I’m sure. But, he continued his bean program. And things were improving; quite often someone would bring in two or six or twelve cans and “replace the ones you [Heinie] gave me” and he didn’t even have to buy many beans.

The Republicans were in dire straits. All of their candidates were soundly defeated and they searched for candidates that might possibly win — win anything: City Council seats, County seats, state seats, anything. And, eventually, someone hit on the idea of asking Heinie who was a Republican to run for City Council in Columbus, Ohio. He agreed; he spent no money on his campaign (he didn’t have any to spare) and when election day had passed he was elected. Not by a piddling few votes, he got ninety-six percent of the votes in an area where other Republican office seekers got five or ten percent. Later, he ran for other offices; eventually, sold his Pharmacy and was a “full time politician.” His kindness and his honesty kept him in office until he died. And many residents in the “bottoms” were quite angry if you stated you were not going to vote for the “Bean Man.”

At his funeral, of course, there was his immediate family. But, also a volunteer group of fifty motorcycle police, the Governor of his state [Ohio ], a couple of Congressmen, the Mayor of his city [Columbus], and over one hundred private cars. Many tears were shed for the “Bean Man.” And many tears were shed by people that only knew him as the “Bean Man.”

He never talked about what he did. In fact, I think it somewhat embarrassed him. His daughter and son, I’m sure, don’t know about the “Bean Man ,” but they will find out — now.

Maybe, there was one good politician ……


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Great Grandparent Koontz 131st Anniversary!


Koontz Family – approx. 1905

It was 131 years ago (August 9, 1885) that my great grandparents, Casmear P. Koontz – call me C.P. – and Phebie Ann Gardner were married in Noble, Indiana.  The photo above was taken with the all five of their children: Essie (1887-1953), Ethel Jeannette (1889-1969), Florence Marie [holding the doll] (1895 – 1981), William Peter (1898-1974), and Henry Allen (1900-1970).  Grandfather Koontz insisted he be called C.P., not Cas, not Casmear.  He claimed his middle name was Pulaski after the Revolutionary War General.  It was probably Peter since everyone in the Koontz family seemed to have the name somewhere attached.  Anyway, Grandfather Koontz was born 5 October 1857 in Navarre, Ohio, and died 12 December 1914 in Columbus, Ohio.   Grandmother Koontz was born 19 October 1862 in Falls Village, Connecticut and died 5 February 1935 in Columbus, Ohio.   She also has the distinction of appearing twice in the 1930 U.S. Federal Population Census – once in Detroit, Michigan with her daughter, Florence, and once back home in Columbus.

This day was extra special for my grandmother, Florence Koontz Weaver, since in 1948, 70 years ago today, her first grandchild, Roland Craig Strachan, was born.


There is a rumor in the family that Grandma was not happy with her elder daugher’s choice in names for this child.  She sent flowers to the hospital signed “Craig’s Grandma”. He was called Craig his entire life.

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Great Aunt Essie — Happy 131st Birthday!


Ethel and Essie Koontz


Essie P. Koontz was born on 7 August 1887 in Ligonier, Noble County, Indiana, to Casmear P. (call me C.P.) Koontz and Phebie Gardner.  Aunt Essie was the older of the two children in the above photograph (the younger was Ethel, born in 1889).   My grandmother, Florence, was born a number of years after the two pictured.  Essie was the eldest of the five children of C.P. and Phebie Koontz.  Both Essie and Ethel (pictured above) were born in Indiana, the other three were born in Columbus, Ohio.  Aunt Essie married Louis Kincaid Postal in 1912.  The marriage did not last and by 1922, Aunt Essie had enough and divorced Louis.   In 1923 she married Harold Rudolph Spuhler.  Uncle Harold also happened to be Aunt Essie’s ½ first cousin, once removed.  The couple had no children.  Aunt Essie died in January 1953.   My grandparents, used to take one grandchild down to Massillon, Ohio, to visit Aunt Essie and Uncle Harold each year.  My older cousin, my brother, and I made the trip and I have a very vague memory of Aunt Essie (I was only 3 when she died).

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