Curt Witcher Honored with a Hoosier Hospitality Award

Now this is extra special and well deserved. Thanks for sharing Dick Eastman. Curt is one of my favorite people. The MAAGI group works with him and his staff for the Institute that is held at the Genealogy Center. Love him!

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

curt-witcherCurt Witcher, manager of the Genealogy Center at the Allen County Public Library, was honored Friday with a Hoosier Hospitality Award from the office of Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb.

The Genealogy Center generally draws more than 100,000 visitors a year.

Witcher was honored for taking exceptional steps to make Fort Wayne’s genealogy tourists feel welcome. A press release announcing the award recounted this example: “On one occasion, a group of visitors was planning to be in Fort Wayne for only a short period of time. Witcher’s nominator said he took their information before they arrived and began doing the background research for them. When the visitors arrived and found that several pieces of their family history had been assembled, they were moved by Witcher’s generosity.”

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Dr. David Cousins, USCT-MI

I would first like to say thank you to my brother Calvin Murphy also known to us  as “Toddy”, along with the Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society, the Robert Finch Camp No, 14, Sons of the Union Veterans of the Civil War, Women’s Auxiliary and the local DAR members and others for their commitment to the recognition of the David W. Cousins and his family.


As a genealogist I feel the study of family is critical. We need to know from where we come from.  The younger generations in most families do not know where their roots originate.

The Cousins family, a free colored family actually hailed from Virginia. Around 1830 David Cousin (David W.’s father) was the head of the household in Washington County, Indiana. David and family left Indiana and settled in Cass County area between 1847 and 1850. According to Coy Robbins, an author of the book called Reclaiming African heritage says the Cass County Michigan area had several “colored settlements”. Also according to the 1850 census, David Sr. age 47 was living in Cass County.

I have been studying my family for over 30 years. Now I am teaching professionally on how to research family history and specializing in African American research. My research began helping my mother in the early 70s before computers and all the fancy gadgets. Toddy asked me to see if I could locate some additional information on a David W. Cousins. As a result of that research we found that we were distantly related. What a surprise! David Wilson Cousins served proudly in the 102nd United States Colored Troops. The Grand Traverse Area Genealogical Society conducted research led by Kathleen Farley and others.

David Wilson Cousins was born on 20 February 1838, in Washington County, Indiana, he is the son of David Cousins and Arilla Bland. On 24 July 1860, Wilson lived with his parents and relatives Laura, Robert, and Elsie in Porter, Cass County, Michigan. David married Mary Louisa Artis on 13 December 1860 . Mary who was born on 24 August 1844 in Ohio, and she is the daughter of George Artis and Susan Allen.

David enlisted at Vandalia, Michigan as a private in Company H of the 102nd Colored Infantry on 4 December 1863. He was mustered out sick on 7 May 1865.



Photo retrieved from

The history of the 102nd USCT was taken from the website (

The original regiment was created in July 1863 after an extensive editorial and letter writing campaign by Henry Barns who was then editor of the Detroit Advertiser and Tribune. The regiment was initially called the 1st Michigan Colored Regiment and retained that name until officially mustered into federal service. At the time the regiment was designated the 102nd United States Colored Troop (USCT). For his efforts Henry Barns was commissioned the regiment’s first Colonel, a post he retained until voluntarily stepped down in favor of a regular army officer.

The regiment drew recruits not only from the Detroit and southern Michigan area, but also from Ontario, Canada. Men who had escaped slavery through the underground railroad and settled in Canada returned to Michigan to join up when word came that the 102nd was forming. Many desired to fight for the freedom of family members still held in slavery.

The 102nd trained at Camp Ward, located in southeastern Detroit, which is the location of Duffield Elementary school today. The regiment left Michigan for federal service in March 1864 and assigned to the Department of The South. Its base of operations was Beaufort, South Carolina. The 102nd saw action throughout South Carolina, Eastern Georgia, and Florida. The regiment’s first test under fire occurred at Baldwin, Florida where it turned back a confederate cavalry charge with a bayonet charge of their own. They also participated and made a significant contribution to the Battle of Honey Hill, South Carolina. It was during this battle that Lieutenant Orson Bennett won the Congressional Medal of Honor for taking 30 men from the regiment and preventing a battery of cannon from being captured by rebel forces. The 102nd USCT was mustered out of federal service on September 30, 1865 and returned to Detroit to be disbanded on October 17, 1865″.

What is interesting is that David relative, from his mother’s side of the family, Kitchen Artis  Company H,  is the only known photo of a solider from the 102nd that the state of Michigan Archives has in their collection.

Unknown-1.jpeg                                                                     Kitchen Artis

David applied for a Civil War invalid’s pension on 13 November 1883. And by  1900, David and Mary and their granddaughter Hazel L. Cousins. lived in Mayfield township, Grand Traverse County. (,_Michigan

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There was an memorial Service held on July 30th 2016. I headed up to Michigan and  was honored to speak on behalf of the family. I want to thank those that were able to attend on behalf of the family; Jimmy and Myra Simpson, Frances Dalton, Marsha Steward-Sanders, Carol Norman, Deonna Todd-Green, and Diana Todd-Green. Enjoy the photos, it was a great turnout and well supported effort. Also, to our new family connections Margie Helmer & Roger Wood! Thank you for coming it was a beautiful memorial and gun salute.







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MAAGI 2017, Ft. Wayne, IN

It is with pleasure we are announcing that the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI) for 2017 will be held at the Genealogy Center in Ft. Wayne, Indiana. the dates are set, July 11-13. We are excited to keep our partnership going with Curt Richter and staff at the Genealogy Center. We will have 4 Tracks and registration will open soon. Give a LIKE to us on Facebook to keep up to date.

Here’s a few highlights of  2016. Judy Russell gave a speech to a packed room, the new DNA track was full, we had to turn folks away! We all had fun and learned some new things to work with.


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To My Fellow White Ladies

Very clear and to the point. Please read and share. Thank you for sharing your view “white lady”. I really appreciate this.

bonus | magpie

White ladies, I have some bad news.

I love you.

(That is not the bad news. I just want to say it first, because I do love you.)

You raised me. You are most of the ladies I spend time with. You are all of the ladies that I am related to. You are most of the ladies that I learned with, and work with. You are the ladies who licked a hankie and wiped my face before the pastor of the parish came around to our table. You are the ladies who taught me how to cook the things your husbands and sons loved to eat. You are the ladies who showed me to tuck a pair of pads and a bottle of ibuprofen into my purse, always (always! don’t forget). You are the ladies who smoothed your hands down my hair while I fell asleep in your lap. You…

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Research ladies of Jefferson Co

This gallery contains 14 photos.

Originally posted on J. Gray Researching:
Special thanks to Walter and Sarah! ? ? ? ? ? ?    The first Gathering at Harewood Plantation just outside of Charles Town! Hosted by S.Walter Washington and Sarah Brown, both direct descendants…

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Announcing MAAGI! July 12-14

Originally posted on familytreegirldotcom:
(2015 MAAGI Students and Facilitators, Harris Stowe University, St. Louis, MO)  For the past three years the Midwest African American Genealogy Institute (MAAGI) has provided an amazing learning experience for genealogists and researchers. MAAGI is an institute and…

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Freedmen’s Bureau Project Completed with Nearly 2 Million Records of Freed Slaves Indexed

This is good news, great partnership. Thanks for sharing the information Dick Eastman. These records will be vital for anyone research African American and Refugees. Thank you to all the individuals who spent time indexing these records. I can’t wait to access them.

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter

A project to index the records of 4 million freed African-American slaves is now completed, almost a year to the day after the project was launched by the LDS Church’s FamilySearch International genealogy service with an announcement June 19 of last year at the California African American Museum in Los Angeles.

The Freedmen’s Bureau Project has marshaled the efforts of 18,940 volunteers working coast to coast in the United States and Canada, uncovering the names of nearly 1.8 million of some 4 million pre-Civil War era slaves.

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