Meet Clara LaVina Marsh-Davis Week 2-Photos, #52ancestors

Okay its week two of this wonderful adventure developed by Amy Johnson Crow; 52 Ancestors, 52 Weeks. It simply means I will do something each week revolving around my ancestors. Let me introduce you to Clara LaVina (Marsh) Davis. The Davis and Marsh families while living in Joyfield Township in Benzie, County, Michigan attended the Reorganized Church of the Latter Day Saints.

I really do not have any memories of her except my cousin Vanessa and I were combing her hair, while she sat quietly in a chair at her daughter’s house (Amyne’s house on James St., Grand Rapids, Michigan). I thought we were combing my aunt’s hair and my mother said, that was your great grandma! She was a church goer. Once she moved to the city of Grand Rapids she attended Rev. Julian’s Lutheran church. We don’t have many photos but this one is a favorite. This photo tells me this is a strong determine and very independent woman. Here’s a little bit of what I know about Clara, my maternal great grandmother.

clara marsh davis 1919 age 45

Clara LaVina Marsh-Davis

Born: 22 July 1874, in Manistee County, Michigan

Died: 4 September 1959, Grand Rapids, Kent County, Michigan

Parents: George W. and Mary Catherine (Goens/Goings) Marsh.

Clara is one of 12 children (six girls, six boys). Her Mother Mary Catherine was free born and her father, George W. was a former slave, farmer, and homesteaded 160 acres next to the Leonard Reed family from New York on Letteau Road, Pleasanton Township in Manistee County, Michigan. Thirty acres of the original 160 acres still remains in the family and the Reed family (a white family) are still next door. The Marsh and Reed family met on the trail and homesteaded next to each other. Clara’s mother Mary brought some apple seeds from Jefferson County, Virginia now West Virginia.

Here is a photo of Clara’s mother Mary Catherine (Goens/Goings) Marsh. We do not have a photo of George W. Marsh. Mary is pictured here with her granddaughter Mary Maniteau/Manitou.

Mary Goens Marsh & gdaughter Mary Manitou

A log cabin was the first house built and apparently it burned and another house was build near the road/path. It was close to something special with the area Native Indians. During the winter the Native Americans would pass by the house and rub up against the house. As I was growing up we spent our summers on the Marsh farm. The photo of the house since it has been restored. The house part on the left is the original house, you can see the chimney or something that splits the house and everything to the right was added by the current owners (my beautiful cousin Shelia is pictured in front of the house). The second photo is showing one of the fields of the Marsh House.


Clara left at the age of 16 with the David Hopkins family (A white family, which I find strange. I am not sure I would let my 16 year old daughter go to another state without me) and went to Dallas, Arkansas area. Mr. Hopkins was believed to operate a drug store. Clara had already passed the 8th grade, which was rare for the Arkansas area they were living in. People were shocked when they learned she could read and was educated. The local people did not want her to leave, they wanted her to stay and be the teacher. She for some reason knew she would when she bid her father goodbye that see would not her father again. She returned when she was 18 years when she received word from her mother that her father, passed 12 September 1892. Clara did a little bit of teaching while she was in Arkansas. Her job was to help the Hopkins wife with the kids. The Hopkins family had a daughter the same age as Clara. They liked to ride horses and had fun when riding to grab tree limbs and swing on them. One time the daughter, while they were riding yelled to Clara before she grabbed a tree limb, which actually was not a tree limb, it was a huge snake.

Another note on Clara, it is said that she was able to read tea leaves and loved to sew and never removed her basting threads on things that she sewed. This caused chuckles with the women in the family. She delivered her granddaughter Clara Eugene, my Aunt and also a neighbor lady’s baby, who named her baby LaVina, who was also albino baby. Per Clara’s granddaughter Verna, my mother, says “my grandma always seen the good in people and she always talked nice about everyone. She also identified people by seeing an animal in them when she looked in their face”. Now that is interesting!

Clara married 5 January 1896 in Benzie County, Michigan to Henry Allen Davis (born in Medina, Ohio, son of William and Mildred Ann (Brand) Davis. The Davis family was out of Chambersburg, Franklin County, Pennsylvania and was on route to Michigan after a five-year stay in Ohio. It is believed that William and Mildred were the first people of color to homestead in Benzie County. Henry was Clara’s brother in law, who was married to her sister Sarah Ann, who died in 1894, and had one child Randolph Davis.

Henry Davis

Photo: Henry Allen Davis, date unknown (b. 1862/63 in Medina, Ohio, d. 13 July 1929 Grand Rapids, Michigan)

Clara and Henry had five children (three girls and two boys). Clara and Henry also raised her nephew and her brother Warren Marsh’s two children Wes and Lester Marsh when their parents passed in 1910.

Here are some other photos to enjoy with my great grandmother Clara.

Clara Marsh Davis 1940

clara marsh davis 1940

irene and clara davis 1950s  Irene Arlington (Davis) Worden and Great Grandmother Clara on the right. Date unknown.

Great Grandmother Clara and daughters Amyne on the L and Irene on the R. Date unknown but in the early 1920s.

Photo of Malcolm School in Manistee County. As you can see one of Clara’s sisters (Hattie) and her three young brothers. Clara is in Arkansas.


Henry and Clara (on right) and their children and family. First Car-Photo taken in the 1920s.

Henry and Clara first car

Know your roots, they are long and strong!

Thank you, familytreegirl #52ancestors




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National Genealogical Society Issues Call for Proposals for its 2019 Family History Conference

Call for Proposals-NGS has recently announced for 2019, thanks Dick Eastman for posting this information and allowing me to share.

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

The following announcement was written by the National Genealogical Society:

ARLINGTON, VA, 2 JANUARY 2018—The National Genealogical Society (NGS) has opened the call for proposals for its 2019 Family History Conference, effective 2 January through 1 April 2018. The conference will be held in St. Charles, Missouri, from 8–11 May 2019.

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52 Ancestors 52 Weeks -#52Ancestors (AmyJohnsonCrow) One 2018 Goal!

Oh yes, I need to make one or two or several goals for 2018! We all need to consider the guidance of setting goals. There is alway a genealogy brick wall that needs to have some focus or taking a break from one ancestor to another so I joined the efforts of Amy Johnson Crow- and set at least one goal.

Amy has implemented another great program called “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.” Now what this means is every week for the next 52 weeks, one of my ancestors will get attention. I will either conduct some research on them, maybe even post a tweet or write a blog. There will be something as in thought and action about one of my ancestors. It doesn’t matter if it is a photo or an interview or a written article. Something will be done and will carry the hashtag of #52Ancestors

I invite you to join the efforts. I believe this is a great idea. Thank you Amy Johnson Crow! (luv you for this) It’s free ! Here is my first posting on one of my ancestors.

Ahira Harvey Worden, you are my maternal great grandfather and on my mind. You were born in Eaton County, Michigan 20 March 1838 and died 12 Dec 1916 in Oceana County, Michigan. You are the son of Parley and Lydoriana (Boyer) Worden. You married Elizabeth “Betsy” Boyer.  I really don’t know much about you except that you whittle wood and was a farmer. Also, you served in the Civil War and joined the GAR. I have decided to share some photos that represent you. (You are wearing your GAR Metal)

Ahira_H._&_Elizabeth_Boyer_Worden Your Obituary! You do not have a headstone, but I will remedy that situation soon.

Ahira Worden Obit 12 Dec 1916

Photo of some Michigan GAR, you are in the photo. gar pic ahira worden

Besides having your actual GAR metal, here is a chair you whittled.

Ahira Chair


“Know your roots, they are long and strong”

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It’s time to get a genealogy buddy!

For 2018, we need some inspiration and some team work. Recently, I posted on Facebook about a genealogy challenge I was experiencing, which all of us have at least one (LOL, I know this is an understatement). I am looking for William Michael Murphy, who is my great grandfather on my paternal side. On it says there are 10,417,187 historical documents with the surname “Murphy”. So why do I have a brick wall? I am wondering if it is really his name or not. Do I really have a great grandfather named William Michael Murphy? I have been researching him for “30 yrs” and nothing so far.


Per his son, my grandfather William Columbus Murphy b. 12 Oct 1881-7, his father was born in Indian Territory, but Granddad was not good on telling his own birth LOCATIONS! I have three locations for him, Des Moines, Iowa, Canton, Illinois and Halifax, Iowa which the state of Iowa says there is no such place in Iowa. (See U.S. SSA Application) GRRR…right now I only have a name. Which, in genealogical research makes this a little hard and longer to work through.


I do have the wife of William Michael, my great grandmother (Nellie McCorkle b. 1865, Greene County, TN (her parents are Rose (Henry) and John McCorkle. McCorkle was just a taken name per the Greene County, TN historical society. We do not know his the real surname -X-) and she remarried Henry Giles in 1897, as Nellie “Murphy” in Bell County, TN and they had two children Johnny Giles and Ethel Irene Giles. I have lost track of Johnny since WW1 and tracked Ethel Irene, know as Irene to her family, down to her grandchildren of her 3rd marriage.

Kentucky Marriages, 1785-1979

So I “assume” she was married to William Michael and then he passed before that. When and where is a mystery. There is a thought that William Michael, who should be listed as Black but oral history says he was half Native American. This might come from him being supposedly born in Indian Territory. Who knows, he might just be White and Black. I am hoping the FTDNA Big Y I ordered on my bother will shed some support on this Murphy file. William Michael might be a coal minor, since the 2nd husband was and the locations were near coalmines. Henry and Nellie were located in the 1900 Illinois population census and he and my grandfather William Columbus are listed as coal miners. In addition, in 1905 (Iowa state census) they are in Des Moines, Iowa-which the known Buxton Coal Mine is located. Hmmm I wonder if there was a mining accident or something and he was killed.

My genealogy buddy Victoria R. says she feels my pain and she posted a response to my whine. (Victoria and I do Loudoun County, Virginia research) She says “I have a great grandfather in southwestern Arkansas by the name of John Robertson — Black, in Arkansas, named John, named Robertson. Sigh. I’ve been searching for more than “40 years” to no avail other than a 1906 marriage, a 1910 census, a 1917 WW1 draft registration, and a 1920 census. He’s dead before 1930 when widow and kids all going by Robinson. Just recently may have found a brother Tom who I stumbled upon when dutifully following up on the 1st marriage of John’s widow’s 2nd husband. A John Robertson provided surety for a Tom Robertson’s marriage to the sister of the woman who married the man who would later marry John’s widow. Hopefully researching Tom will lead to siblings and parents for John”.

images-1Now Victoria says…”Tell you what, we trade and set new eyes on these guys. I’m a firm believer in genealogy buddies”. We all help others on the research journey so it’s a great idea to swap ancestors and see if we can find new information and leads. So, hands down I agreed. We both need this fresh view.

Now we have exchanged timelines which each of us had completed on our ancestors. Our timelines has all of the known information and resources that we have logged on the ancestor. I am not that familiar with the state of Arkansas even though I lived in Arkansas for about 4 yrs. It will be a learning experience for me and I am ready for it.


I hope this tidbit has inspired you to partner up with a “genealogy buddy” or a group of buddies and let their fresh eyes take a look. We will let you know how it goes! What a great way to bring in the New Year!


familytreegirl familytreegirl logo

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It’s holiday time in America!

Thanksgiving is near and I often think of how did my ancestors celebrate this holiday. Those from Africa, those from England, and other places. Did any traditions come with them? My immediate families are in various states and I miss them all dearly. There are some that I do not know or never met due to the distances between us. But, I love those on social media. I can keep up with my adult children from Florida to Japan. I love looking at my first cousins in Michigan sharing photos of their grandchildren. This gives me a chance to connect and also share my genealogical research to those interested. I wonder if they celebrate as I know it? My mom set our traditions and of course and I continue to honor them. Mom would of set forth what she had experienced in her childhood and my children will do the same. Holiday traditions do get handed down generation by generation. We have the usual, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, rolls, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and either a turkey or tofu loaf as in my case. Well this year I am changing it up with a lentil loaf, with a side dish of brussel sprouts hanging with sweet potatoes and cranberries. Oh let me not forget to mention the four different kinds of pies. What are you having this year…are you changing it up a bit?

My best wish for all is to enjoy the time they will have with their family and friends this holiday season. Not all will enjoy as well as others will. Enjoy a couple of  family photos! One is from 1957 and I am five years old and the next photo is with my children and one of my older brothers in 2016.

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National Genealogical Society Seeks Nominations for 2018 National Genealogy Hall of Fame

Are you going to attend 2018 NGS in Grand Rapids, Michigan? Would you consider nominating someone? Please read Dick Eastman’s blog!

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

The following announcement was written by the folks at the (U.S.) National Genealogical Society:

At the 2017 NGS Conference in the States, held in Raleigh, North Carolina in May, the National Genealogy Hall of Fame welcomed Peter Stebbins Craig, a devoted historian and relentless genealogist whose pioneering research led to significant publications on the early Swedish settlements along the Delaware River. He was nominated by the American Society of Genealogists and became the thirty-second member to be so honored.

Would your society like to honor a genealogist whose unique, pioneering, or exemplary work lives on today? Perhaps there was a notable genealogist in your state or county whose name should be memorialized in the National Genealogy Hall of Fame.

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People of Color Genealogy Research, can it be done at the DAR Library?

It was time to think about going to the DAR Library and seeing what I can find. The options are endless.


Who is DAR? It is the National Society of the Daughter’s of the American Revolution, known as DAR. It is a lineage society and membership is open to any female 18 years and older regardless of race, religion or ethic background. Women wanted to be included in expressing their patriotic feelings, since they were not allowed to join any men’s group. Four ladies established DAR 11 October 1890. They raised $50k to purchased a piece of basically swamp land to build a fabulous building which is now known as DAR headquarters and Constitution Hall, etc., totaling one square block in Washington, DC.

Corner stone DAR

DAR still has the same objectives: Historical-to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the men and women who achieved American Independence; Educational– to carry out the injunction of Washington in his farewell address to the American people, to promote, as an object of primary import…

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