Why I Research

Anyone who knows me, knows I am passionate about genealogy.

What’s not to like?

It appeals to my hunger for knowledge about my ancestors.
It teaches me about life and its foibles.
I learn alot about general history.
I get to travel, and I know the names of more counties and their locations than I would ever have guessed possible.

My late husband jokingly called me “the detective,” but, seriously, there isn’t a hobby better suited to someone who used to read Trixie Beldon, Girl Detective, books as a child.

Speaking of my childhood…since I was a child, I’ve always been fascinated by cemeteries. Discovering my love for genealogy made me realize it wasn’t a morbid streak; it was a yearning to know more about those who passed through life before me. Those cemeteries hold exciting clues for genealogists.

As I immerse myself in the goal of knowing more and more about my elusive ancestors, I have come to ask myself, Who am I? The answer…I’m a result of random decisions made by many ancestors who traveled across oceans and continents to find better lives or complete their own destinies.

My father’s side: My great grandfather, John Albert Billings was the son of Edward Billing from St. Breward, Cornwall, England, and Elenor Foote from Connecticut. Edward and Elenor married in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada.

John Albert married Emma Bromell in Canada. She was the daughter of William and Dorothy from Holsworthy, Devon, England.

John’s son, my beloved grandpa William, married Ariel Laverne Watson. Her family came together from similar beginnings in different locations:

Grandma’s paternal grandparents were Alex and Mary Watson from Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Her maternal grandparents were Hiram Rushton of Colne, Lancashire, England, and Eliza Schmactenberger of St. Joseph County, Indiana. Hiram’s father brought the family to Canada in the 1850’s. Eliza’s father crossed the United States from Ohio to Indiana, where he settled on a farm with his wife and children. Hiram’s job as a boiler maker on the Michigan Central railroad took him from Ontario to Indiana and back many times. He met Eliza at the restaurant where she was employed as a cook.

My mother’s paternal ancestors: Her paternal great-grandparents, Patrick and Honora Lang, emigrated from Ireland to New York in 1840, where their son James was born. They later moved to Houghton County, Michigan. John and Nora Reardon Lawlor, brought their daughter Catherine from County Kerry, Ireland, first to New York, then to Detroit, then to the same location in Houghton in 1865. James Lang married Catherine Lawlor and their youngest son was Thomas Lang, my mother’s father.

Her maternal great-grandparents, Theopolis and Domatilde Bertrand from Montreal, Canada, emigrated to Ohio, then Marquette, Michigan. Their son, Francois Xavier married Delia Senical, daughter of Joseph and Victoria Houle Senical, also from Montreal, but after they moved to Michigan’s upper peninsula.

Francois’s and Delia Senical Bertrand’s daughter Rose married James and Catherine Lawlor Lang’s son Tom in Calumet, Michigan. Her parents later moved back to Montreal, where they are buried.

Many generations of individuals made journeys that fulfilled their own destinies, dreams, and aspirations. If any one of them had decided not to take that journey, I wouldn’t exist.

So who am I?

I’m a product of my heritage.

Read a poem I wrote about the miraculous journey that leads to each individual’s existence: DNA, a Poem

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