Category Archives: Genealogy

Posts about the general topic of genealogy

Great-Great Grandma’s Stereoscope

I haven’t added to this blog in quite a while because I’ve been so busy with my genealogical speaking and research for clients, but I was in a genealogy class recently in which the instructor said we should all go home that day and write down one family story that only we knew and we should share it with other so it wouldn’t be lost.

Here’s what I wrote:

Woodward stereoscope. Photo by author.
Woodward stereoscope. Photo by author.

My mother told me this story a number of years ago. I don’t think any other living person in the family knows it. It concerns my grandfather, Harold Benjamin Hundey (1907-1987) and his maternal grandparents, Merritt J. Woodward (1846-1928) and Ellen Crout Woodward (1851-1915).

One day when he was a little boy, my grandfather was home in bed, sick. His mother brought home her mother’s stereoscope and viewing cards to keep him occupied while he recovered. The next day, the house belonging to his grandparents burned to the ground, consuming all their possessions. The stereoscope and the wooden hatbox full of viewing cards were the only items that escaped destruction.

They sit on my dresser now so I can look at them every day.

It’s so important to share our family stories!

How I’m related to the Woodwards:

Merritt J. Woodward (1846-1928) and Ellen (Crout) Woodward (1851-1915)

Their daughter, Mayme (Woodward) Hundey (1889-1971)

Her son, Harold Benjamin Hundey (1907-1987)

His daughter, Donna Jean (Hundey) Burke Weaver (1930-2003)


Mable Blanche (McGurn) Forquer: “And how Mom loved speed.”

Mable Blanche (McGurn) Forquer - Donna Hundey Burke Weaver Archive, used with permission.
Mable Blanche (McGurn) Forquer – Donna Hundey Burke Weaver Archive, used with permission.

Thirty years ago today, on 31 October 1984, my great grandmother, Mable Blanche (McGurn) Forquer (1882-1984), died at age 102. Grandma Mable was well-known in the family as a prankster and I remember her as pretty much always having a look of mischief in her eye. She was also quite fearless.

I want to remember her today by sharing a story told by her youngest daughter, my great aunt Aleene (Dorothea Aleene [Forquer] Davis [1917-1999]).

Grandma Mable and my great-grandfather Arthur Reason Forquer (1881-1951) owned a country store in West Branch Township, Missaukee County, Michigan in the early part of the 20th century. In Michigan-speak, that was “up north.”

Here’s Aunt Aleene’s story:

While living up north we had to go into Lake City for anything the little country store didn’t have. It was Mom’s delight to drive the team of horses for they were known to be the best around. And how Mom loved speed. Coming home from such a trip, and it must have been dark, a man tried to grab the bridle. It was thought that he knew it was the Forquer team and knew that the men often made the trip late at night to deposit money from the store. Anyway, Mom stood up in the buggy and laid the whip to the horses – needless to say the man fell off – and when they arrived at the livery barn the horses were hot with lather.

No nighttime robber in the Michigan north woods was going to stop Grandma Mable.

How I’m related to Mable and Arthur:

Their daughter Katy Pleasant (Forquer) Hundey (1910-2000) and her husband Harold Benjamin Hundey (1907-1987)

Their daughter, my mother



Dorothea Aleene Davis, manuscript, 1994; Donna Hundey Burke Weaver Archive, in possession of the author.


John Andrew Burke (1887-1971), The “Uncle Jack” I Never Knew

William Michael Burke (left) and John Andrew Burke in 1889
William Michael Burke (left) and John Andrew Burke in 1889. From the author’s collection

Families are funny things, and their dynamics are complicated. Even though I was 18 when he died, I never met my Grandpa Bill’s (William Michael Burke [1888-1956]) older brother or any of his family.

Jack and Bill were the sons of Michael Burke (1854-1889) and Agnes (McCormick) Burke (1863-1918), my great-grandparents. The boys were barely toddlers when their father died, aged 35, in an industrial accident in Peoria, Illinois. Their mother took them back home to White County, Indiana, where both she and Michael had been born.

William Michael Burke (left) and John Andrew Burke (right)
William Michael Burke (left) and John Andrew Burke (right). From the author’s collection

On 31 January 1893, Agnes married her second husband Franklin Riggs in White County. They lived in West Point Township, White County, Indiana, until they moved to Arcada Township in Gratiot County, Michigan sometime between 1910 and 1920. Arcada Township is where Grandpa Bill’s farm was, but I don’t yet know where Agnes and Frank lived in the township.

Frank and Agnes had eight more children, in addition to the boys from her marriage to Michael. It’s easy to imagine that Jack and Bill might have felt marginalized in this big, new family. There’s no way to know at this point what kind of stepfather Frank was, but I remember my father occasionally mentioning his name in a not-very-nice tone of voice, perhaps passing on his father’s attitude. I don’t know. Frank died 9 January 1952, six months before I was born.

But back to Jack and Bill. Jack lost his right arm in a hunting accident when he was young. According to his granddaughter, Carole Grimes, Grandpa Bill accidentally shot him – yikes.

On 10 February 1915, Jack married Dorthea Belle Miksell (1890-1965). The 1920 Federal Census shows them farming in Arcada Township, Gratiot County, Michigan. By 1927, though, they were living in Michigan City, Indiana, where they remained for the rest of their lives, living at 1515 W. 10th St. Jack worked for the Pullman railway car manufacturing company, painting rail cars.

John and Dorothea Burke
John and Dorthea Burke. Courtesy of Carole Grimes, used with permission


It’s a shame when close family members don’t know each other, but I’m very happy that 21st Century technology has allowed me to connect with cousin Carole, Jack’s granddaughter. And I’m grateful that she’s given permission for me to share these great pictures of her grandparents.

Dorthea and John Burke
Dorthea and John Burke. Courtesy of Carole Grimes, used with permission

How I’m related to Jack:

Michael Burke (1854-1889) and his wife Agnes (McCormick) Burke (1863-1918)

Their sons, John Andrew Burke (1887-1971) and William Michael Burke (1888-1956)

William Michael Burke is my father’s father; John Andrew Burke is my great-uncle

Sources:, U.S., Social Security Death Index, 1935-Current (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2011., Indiana, Marriage Collection, 1800-1941 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 2005),, White County, Indiana; Index to Marriage Record 1850 – 1920 Volume I Lett, W. P. A. Original Record Located: County Clerk’s O; Book: C-12; Page: 285. Record for John Burke., Indiana, Marriage Collection, 1800-1941 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations Inc, 2005),, White County, Indiana; Index to Marriage Record 1830 – 1920 Volume II Let, W. P. A. Original Record Located: County Clerk’s O; Book: 5-W; Page: 74. Record for Agnes McCormick., U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 (Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2011),, Record for John A Burke., 1920 United States Federal Census (Online publication – Provo, UT, USA: Operations Inc, 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.Original data – Fourteenth Census of the United States, 1920. (NARA microfilm publication T625, 2076 rolls). Records of the Bureau of the Census, Reco),, Year: 1920; Census Place: Arcada, Gratiot, Michigan; Roll: T625_763; Page: 6B; Enumeration District: 31; Image: 1158. Record for John Burke.

Starting My Family History Blog

I’ve been meaning to start this blog for a very long time, and finally I just decided to get on with it.

My mother, Donna Jean (Hundey) Burke Weaver (1930-2003), and I took an adult ed class in genealogy in about 1974 at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, DeKalb Co., Illinois, where we were living. We’d both been interested in genealogy, but we didn’t really understand how to go about family history research in an organized way.

The class was an excellent introduction to all the forms and methods of research available at the time. I wish I could remember the name of the woman who taught it, because I’d like to try to track her down and thank her for getting us started down this road.

This is the first Pedigree Chart I filled out when we started our research.
This is the first Pedigree Chart I filled out when we started our research. The sources of each piece of information were noted on the back of the sheet. From the author’s collection

After the class, Mom and I worked on getting information from older relatives, sending away to county courthouses for documents, traipsing through cemeteries, tracking down books that might contain information on our forebears — all the activities that characterized pre-Internet research. As my career became more busy, I had little time to spend on it, but Mom kept on plugging.

When the Internet came along, Mom embraced email for contacting family members at a distance, Family Tree Maker for organizing her records, and FamilySearch for early online research. She bought a laptop to take on her trips to the Family History Library at Salt Lake City and to other research locations. She would love all the things we can do with technology these days!

After she died, I inherited the boxes and boxes of stuff she’d accumulated, along with her Family Tree Maker files. I was still working, and would still be for another eight years, so I was unable to do anything about organizing and sharing all the great information she’d found. But now that is my work in retirement.

In the meantime I had done a lot of thinking about the best way to give other family members access to these treasures of family history. While pedigree charts and death certificates get us genealogists excited, they’re pretty dry in themselves. It’s the stories they tell that can capture the imagination.

This blog is for telling those stories, so my extended family can take part in the delight that comes from learning about those people who came before us, and so that they and I can honor the love and hard work that went into making our own lives possible.

And I’ve just told my first family story….