My dad made me call my Uncle B. to find out more about the parts of the family he didn’t know about. My goal, if it’s at all possible, is to trace back to my grandparents’ grandparents. This leaves trying to discover who Marie Corcoran’s parents were on my mom’s side (Marie being my Grandpa Bob’s mom), and figuring out who Frank B. Phillips’s parents were.
This is a more difficult task than it might seem, because the family wasn’t very close. Both my dad and my Uncle B. were going on at length about Barlow Phillips and cousin Van (who might have been cousin Dan), but neither of them knew if they were actually cousins of theirs or cousins of their Dad or who their people might be. And my Uncle B. told me this story, too!
As you know, my Grandma was the first woman realtor in Battle Creek. My Grandpa had a brother named Carol DeWitt Phillips. In the next town over, Marshall, (and my grandpa’s family lived between Battle Creek and Marshall) there was a male realtor named Carroll Phillips. In all the years they knew each other and worked in overlapping communities, they never bothered to figure out if or how they were related.
I also discovered that I’d been spelling my Great Grandma’s maiden name wrong. She wasn’t Ina Mae Heistein; she was Ina Mae Heistand. Which is mildly embarrassing, considering that my Grandpa’s name was Hildreth Heistand Phillips and I’d been spelling his name wrong all these years. But once I had her last name spelled right, I started out on a quest to see if I could find out anything about her family.
I remembered that the Heistands were supposed to have family members named George Washington Heistand and Abraham Lincoln Heistand. I never did find Abraham, but it turns out that George Washington Heistand was Ina Mae’s dad! I found him in the census records and discovered that she and Frank were living with George and his wife when the twins were little.
I could look at the actual census document, which someone scanned in and put on the internet. I got chills looking at it, knowing those names were my people. But, of course, it’s just light arranged to look like the actual document. It’s not the document itself. I wonder if there’s another round of chills awaiting if you see the document itself or if seeing the picture of the document ruins it.
And then I think, “I’ll never see that original document.” So, this is really as awesome as it gets for me. I’m not a professional historian or a professional geneologist. I’m just a girl with a computer who’s found a project that gives her an excuse to have pleasant phone conversations with her dad. And I’m glad that there’s a mechanism in place that lets me sit here on my couch and look at documents.
Here is the weirdest thing I discovered, even weirder than their being two Carol/Carroll Phillipses in my Grandma’s life without it being the least bit curious to her or my Grandpa: My grandpa was named Hildreth Heistand Phillips because Heistand was Ina Mae’s maiden name and Hildreth is someone’s maiden name–either her mom’s or some other mystery ancestor as of yet undiscovered. He went by Hick.
There’s another Hildreth Phillips in roughly the same geographic area, born about 30 years earlier than my grandpa. I’m just having a hard time imagining how this might come to be–that there would be two Hildreth Phillipses living in roughly the same part of Michigan at the same time who weren’t related.