I have been researching my family history for over three decades, becoming obsessed with genealogy at the age of 12. Through the years, I have been privileged to meet cousins all over the world and they have generously shared with me the findings they have come across. This blog is a way for me to share back and to keep my cousins abreast of all that I or others find.  Thank you, Jennifer Ralston Porter

Some of my ancestral surnames:

Ralston, Sinkey, Huston/Houston, McLane, Green, Sharp

Butler, Carroll, Ferrigan, Burke

Ellison, Cutler, Baines, Livesey, Van Buren, Cooper, Hudson, Ambler, Pryer

Tasker, Fry

Some of my ancestral places:

Butler County and Beaver County, Pennsylvania

Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland

Newry, County Down, Northern Ireland

Baildon, Yorkshire, England

Please feel free to contact me.


21 thoughts on “About

  1. I am a Gray. My mother’s father is a Cole who married an Ellison-Norma Ione P Ellison. This website is very helpful in my family tree. Do we know if the Van Burens have any relationship to President Van Buren, distant relationship or otherwise?

    1. I have been working on exploring this connection recently as one of my Aunts reminded me of the family story that our Van Burens are related to Martin Van Buren, the President. I looked on my great-grandma’s notes and see that Norma Ellison married Carl Cole. One of my great aunts remembers her father, Harold playing cards with Norma’s father, “Ray”.

  2. I would like to know the process you went through to obtain the records from the Michigan State Archives re Benjamin Ellison and Caroline Ellison who were in the Traverse City State Hospital. Any help or advice will be appreciated

  3. I am looking for information on my grandmother Lorina Martha Falor . She was in Traverse City mental hospital for approx 20 years. Any information would be helpful… It would be nice know something able her life there.. Our family is silent about how and why she was there. My father is dead, although he always said she died in an auto accident

      1. I am trying to obtain the records for my greay grandmother. Her name was Martha Vliet Pickens, died in 1948, in the hospital. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

      2. You have to follow the steps I outlined in the article to get the hospital records.
        I would first, get her death certificate. Second, get the probate records for the commitment to the hospital. These will be in the county she lived in at the time, no matter where the hospital is. The 1940 census is a good start for residence, then work backwards.

      3. Thank you for your reply. I did obtain her death certificate. The county she died in is Isabella, but the probate division doesn’t seem to have an avenue to request the hearing records. Sorry to hear about your accident & wish you continued healing.

  4. I think I may have found some more compelling evidence for Darius and Abigail As Nathanial P Townsend’s parents. NP Townsend is my 3d great grandfather. After finding your site, the Townsend and Gleason surnames as well as Cayuga County, NY jogged my memory about some earlier research I’d done but have been keeping on the sideline. In the Commemorative Biographical Record of the Upper Wisconsin Counties of Waupaca …Wisconsin ), I’d found an Elizabeth Townsend (b. 29 aug 1812 in New York on the Hudson River opposite of Sing Sing, NY) to Darius Townsend and Abigail Paddock who had removed to Cayuga when Elizabeth was 4. Elizabeth Townsend marr. Roswell Hicks in Cayuga, NY. Roswell Hicks (b. 7 Aug 1808) had moved to Cayuga from Auburn, NY and was the father of Milton Hicks who is the subject of the biography. Milton moved to Wisconsin with his father Roswell and family in 1843. Roswell’s father John Hicks married Esther Gleason. Could Esther Gleason be related to Mary Eliza Perkins’ 1st husband Cyrus Gleason? Could Elizabeth Townsend be NP Townsend’s older sister? The 1820 Census for Darius Townsend in Cato, Cayuga, NY has 1 female under 10 – could this be Elizabeth? It also has 1 male under 10 – could that be NP? The 2 males 10-15 could be William and Christopher? The 1830 Census for Darius in Conquest, Cayuga Co. has 1 male 20 to 29 – could this be William? It has 2 males 15-19 – I’m thinking this could be Christopher and NP. It has 1 female 15-19 – could this be Elizabeth at 18 yrs old? Given Elizabeth Townsend and Roswell Hicks had already gone to Waupaca Co. sometime around 1849 after living in Milwaukee for around 6 years, perhaps this was why NP had gone to Waupaca Co. sometime after living in Milwaukee per the 1850 Census? Perhaps NP Townsend named his daughter Elizabeth after his sister Elizabeth (although the name Elizabeth seems to be prevalent in the family-1st wife, 2nd wife’s middle name, etc.)? Ref: https://books.google.com/books?id=VElEAQAAMAAJ&lpg=PA661&ots=-BqOjwdesj&dq=%22abigail%20paddock%20townsend%22&pg=PA661#v=onepage&q=%22abigail%20paddock%20townsend%22&f=false

    1. This is what I think also, Chris. I think that NP moved to Wisconsin because his sister Elizabeth was there, and he moved closer to her when he could. I think he left New York possibly under some negative pressure at giving away baby Elizabeth to “strangers” when he had a large family and Betsey had an even larger family. Did you know that Betsey’s mother named Mary Alice (Elizabeth) and Darius (NP’s son) in her will and a lawyer had to track them down. Of course, Darius never returned from the Civil War.
      What branch of NP’s are you descended from? I’m so excited to “meet” another NP descendant.

      1. Thanks. Nice to connect with you too. I am descended through Adniram (sp.) Townsend > Hubert W. Townsend > Nordean Townsend > Living > me. If you’re familiar with Detroit, I’m also descended from the Livernois (Benoist dit Livernois) family (Livernois ave.; Cadillac/Fort Ponchartrain) through Hubert’s wife Martha V. Livernois.

      2. Hi Chris- Would you happen to have any photos of Adonirum or his children? Or even NP? I would very much like to see a photo.

  5. Good Morning,
    My Great Uncle passed away at the Northern Michigan Insane Asylum aka Traverse City State Hospital. His death certificate said he was buried or removed to Ann Arbor MI. Was this a usual practice that the deceased at the hospital were sent to Ann Arbor rather than to a family burial plot?
    Thank you
    Kimberly Homminga

  6. Jennifer,

    I am Liane (Townsend) Fenimore from the Townsend Society. We converted the Townsend Memorial about the descendants of the 3 Oyster Bay brothers into a FTM file. We had it on our website but pulled it for various reasons [errors, incomplete info, incomplete or no sources]. I am the Journal editor and as I have time, I am correcting the FTM file.

    I just found a Weston Bible on the NEHGS website that details the Christopher Townsend and Ruth Thorn family group and that led me to his brother DARIUS and your blog.

    We are only taking these families down to the 1850 census but as Darius died before the census [FAG] I want to include his children and spouses. I see you have a link to the father’s will and other things on here. May I use what you have as it will save me a lot of time? I will credit you and your blog under Darius himself in the notes field. All will be cited.

    I am also an Oyster Bay Townsend via Dutchess Co., then Orange, then up to Wayne which is right next to Cayuga, and out to Wisconsin, so we are distant cousins somehow. My father’s closest YDNA test matches are John Townsend1 descendants but we are stuck with Joseph 1757-1812 in that exasperating place, Dutchess County.

    Thank you –

    1. I hope you knew you could borrow the info I put on my blog. That is why I publicly share it. I was in a bad car wreck in 2016 and just getting back to my life.
      The problem is I am not certain about Darius’s children exactly. I cannot find a historical document linking Nathaniel P Townsend to Darius as son to father.
      I am pretty sure, since NP named his son Darius, and there are other clues, but a good genealogist would have a document or other concrete evidence proving the connection. Best Jennifer

  7. I am a descendant of Darius’ brother Christopher. My husband, Larry, and i were doing some research today and found your blog in which we found the pictures you posted of the will of Christopher Senior, stating that you found it on familysearch.org. We went there and unfortunately, was unable to find the will. Would you be so kind to tell us the steps necessary to find it – so that we can document it correctly? Up until today, we had only the names mentioned in Christopher’s will. This was a great find – we greatly appreciate your posting. Also if you have birth, death and marriage dates for Darius & Abigail as well as a complete list of their children, we would appreciate your sharing of the information. If you are ok with us including the info on our site – please give us your full name and how you would want it sited. Our site is at: http://www.mccurdyfamilylineage.com – If you visit our site, start with Darius – I have so many Townsend lines you might get lost otherwise. Thank again for posting Christopher’s will – that was our find of the day!
    Kathy McCurdy

    1. The will was found by searching through the New York Probate Records under the county, Dutchess, and using the index. I don’t know yet Darius and Abigail’s family, not enough research done yet.

    2. Hi Kathy-
      The will was found through a manual search of the digital images and not found through a search. I have been out of the picture for a couple of years due to an accident so don’t even know if familysearch has indexed those yet. I simply read and read and read until I found it, the old fashioned way.
      I do not have exactly who were Darius’s and Abigail’s children. And my information is so incomplete it shouldn’t be used. Darius did not leave a will.
      I am still trying to pinpoint this information.

  8. I was born 1944 and adopted at two years old and my drunken biological father committed my mother to the Traverse City Asylum poss. between 1947 – 1952. For years I have been looking for records for Traverse City Asylum. My Mother’s name is Marguerite Angeline Darling Alrick. I hope you can help me.

    1. I don’t do research for people. You’d have to follow the steps to secure the records as outlined in my article. Good luck. the article is posted here on this blog.

    2. If your mother was committed there was a court hearing and those records are in the probate court of the county she lived in at the time.
      This is your best hope of good information.

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