Ancestor Envy

11 Apr

Let me preface this by telling you that I will “babble” family history to any poor fool that is willing to listen. One of my many victims over the years has been my friend Leslie. Up until recently she would smile and nod her head and give me the “glazed over” look whenever I launched into my “latest find.”  I have been encouraging her for some time to start digging into her family roots – to no avail.  Well, lo and behold, she finally allowed me to set up her family tree on! The only thing Leslie knew about her father’s family was that her grandparents had divorced prior to her father’s birth, and he informed her that, “we wouldn’t find much.”  Well, guess again Dad, within three days we knew her grandfather’s birth date, found him in all the census records, found his death date, and figured out who his parents and grandparents were and had connected with a distant cousin! And Leslie was hooked!  Another convert!

Now let me tell you – our Curbow-Montoya family database is quite large – but it has taken years to compile. We have scratched, begged, borrowed (and considered stealing) the information, documents and photographs that we do have!  While my husband’s family tree does have some interesting branches (many of the families have been in America since the 1600s and include several revolutionary war soldiers and a Governor of Colonial Virginia). My family – I got NOTHING!

Back to my friend Leslie – On her father’s side we found her ggg-grandfather, Hugh McCurdy (1829-1908), a Scottish immigrant, an attorney and a judge who was written up in the New York Times, who established the First National Bank of Corunna, Michigan, and who deeded land for a park now known as McCurdy Park in Michigan.

Hugh McCurdy

Her tree also includes step-great grandfather John Julius Ebear (1875-1954), a master sea-captain on the Great Lakes and his grandson (and Leslie’s first cousin 1x removed) Gordon Frederick MacLellan (1945-1975) who died on Lake Michigan with the sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald.

Edmund Fitzgerald

Today Leslie received a treasure in the mail. One of the cousins that she has connected with mailed her an entire envelope of old family photographs which span several generations of this family line, including several tin types. Have I mentioned – I got NOTHING??!


And if that wasn’t enough for a budding genealogist to get excited about – Leslie retrieved from her mother “the family bible.” This bible is large and very old, published in 1870. On the inside cover is a list of names, birth dates, marriage dates and death dates of every family member back to 1820. What?!  And I’m not even finished yet – taped on the inside cover are obituaries for several generations of her mother’s family – along with some photos.  And the biggest treasure – an original land grant (Kansas from lands belonging to the Kickapoo) issued to the widow of James Shaw for his service in the War of 1812 signed by William Stoddard, secretary to President Abraham Lincoln.  It really doesn’t get any better than this!  Oh but wait – I think I failed to mention that Leslie’s mother’s direct immigrating ancestor came to America on a little ship named the Mayflower.  You may have heard of it.


The Mayflower – 1620

All joking aside – Leslie – welcome to your new obsession – you’re off to a GREAT start !


Posted by on April 11, 2011 in Odds and Ends


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8 responses to “Ancestor Envy

  1. Mary Curbow

    April 11, 2011 at 10:09 pm


  2. Susan

    April 11, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Had to laugh at this, Judy. I feel this way about my husband’s family all the time. As for you – you got something. You got great taste in friends!

    • Judy Curbow

      April 12, 2011 at 5:40 am

      Yes, Leslie is a great friend….and I really am happy for her — sort of !!!

  3. MN Family Historian

    April 15, 2011 at 8:57 am

    Great post! Sometimes I wish my ancestors were that easy to find.

    P.S. The Edmund Fitzgerald sank on Lake Superior, not Lake Michigan.

    • Judy Curbow

      April 15, 2011 at 9:48 am

      LOL! Thanks for pointing that out….I guess we didn’t do our homework on that one!

  4. Jenny Lanctot

    April 15, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Not trying to add insult to injury or anything … but Gordon Lightfoot wrote a song called “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” in 1975 .. not sure if you or Leslie are old enough to remember it. It’s pretty famous too LOL.

    In all seriousness though, I’m happy for your friend, and happy for you that now you guys share an obsession, and you can convert even MORE people!

  5. Judy Curbow

    April 15, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Jenny…thanks so much for your post….and yes – we are BOTH old enough to remember that song! One of my favorites.


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