Traverse City Record-Eagle


October 21, 2013

Group searches for family clues


Jenkins, a grave registration officer with the Michigan organization, said 254 Civil War graves have been identified and recorded in Traverse City’s Oakwood Cemetery alone.

"We provide the service to relatives who don’t know much about their ancestors who fought in the Civil War because we’re concerned that Civil War vets are being forgotten,” he said.

Researching family ancestry is a satisfying pastime, especially when it produces results like it did for Sandie McClain, chapter regent for the Job Winslow Chapter of the DAR.

“I was living in Southern California and did my own online research for information on my mother’s family,” she said. “My mother’s mother, Helen Phelps, died when my mother was an infant. We didn’t know her family at all. In 2005 I had moved to Michigan, and I found information that her mother and father met in Gladwin.”

McClain went to Gladwin to do research one weekend and found the link she sought.

“It happened that the Gladwin Genealogical Society was holding Log Cabin Days. I asked people if anyone knew my grandfather, and a woman in her 90s told me that she remembered my grandmother. In fact, my grandmother had been a teacher had taught this woman Latin. I actually found someone who knew her, and realized at that moment I knew more about my grandmother than my mother ever did.”

Finding that link to the past was a profound experience for McClain. “It gives you a grounding of who you are on the planet,” she said. “There’s a little bit of that person in you, and makes you realize you’re what’s left.”

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