City directories, including Michigan’s can help family history researchers find success in tracking down these “lost relatives.” Since many of them are published annually, city directories can give historical perspective on a family’s residence within a particular community. They can also identify when and where they moved into a city, list a spouse’s name, a resident’s occupation and/or place of work, and even narrow the possible date ranges of an ancestor’s death. City directories can also serve as an effective substitute for the 1890 U.S. Census. In addition, they have perhaps their greatest value with more contemporary ancestors, especially those who lived after the 1930 census. However, city directories generally contain entries only for those ancestors who lived in the urban areas of the United States, as directories usually do not exist for rural areas and some smaller communities.
One of the popular companies that publish city directories in Michigan are the R. L. Polk & Company. Dating back to the 1870’s, the Polk directories are a standard alphabetical listing of the city’s residents, and also include a section both by street address and a business directory.
Michigan City Directories
The Library of Michigan maintains a large collection of Michigan city directories, dating back to the early to the mid-1800’s. Many of the Michigan directories, especially Detroit, are also available on microfilm, as part of the United States City Directories collection.
Although some of these cities may have earlier published directories, here is an overview of the Library’s holdings in hard copy for several of notable Michigan cities: Ann Arbor, Battle Creek, Bay City, Benton Harbor, Detroit, Escanaba, Flint, Grand Rapids, Jackson, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Manistee, Marquette, Monroe, Muskegon, Niles, Pontiac, Port Huron, Saginaw, Sault St. Marie.
Similar to city directories, business gazetteers are valuable resources for those researchers with ancestors who were business owners and can also be used to research the business or company itself. This includes identifying the approximate years of operation, the location, what products or services were manufactured, and the names of the CEO and other executive officers.
With an emphasis on Michigan, the Library does have a number of other states, too; many state business gazetteers are also available at Heritage Quest Online.
Emigration from Jaslo, Poland
The Cetnar family came over from Jaslo, Poland by traveling on the ship Capella which departed Hamburg, Germany on April 1, 1881 and arrived in London, England. The family more than likely traveled by rail from Jaslo, Poland to Hamburg, Germany. Jaslo is in the Southeastern part of Poland. From the Hamburg passenger list, the family is listed as: Peter (Piotr) with his occupation as farmer, Maria, Adam, Justine, Ladislaus (Wladyslaw/Walter), Carolina, Kataryna and Vinenz. Their accommodations were not listed on the passenger list which meant they more than likely stayed in the steerage. They departed from London, England on the ship Victoria and arrived in New York, New York on April 25, 1881. The family probably traveled by rail from New York to Detroit, Michigan. This had to be a lot of rough traveling for a family during this time frame especially seeing the youngest was only six months old.
The amenities at Castle Gardens included two wash rooms, one for men and one for women. Furthermore,there was hot water, soap and towels, all free to the immigrant. The garden was heated in the winter and in the warm weather there was a cooling fountain. There were no beds at Castle Gardens and immigrants. They were encouraged to go on their way the same day they had arrived. There is a myth that names were changed at Ellis Island. This did not happen. The manifests were made at the port of embarkation or during the voyage so the name on the manifest was determined in whatever port the immigrant left from, not when they arrived in the USA.
Because the 1890 census was destroyed, the first census records they were listed in was in the 1900. The Cetnar name may have been misspelled but it was never changed or shorten. Peter Cetnar was born June 25, 1840 in Pilzno, Poland and died on June 16, 1904 in Detroit, Michigan. His parents are listed Michael Cetnar and Katharina Stojanowski Cetnar. Peter was Nationalized on April 29, 1892. Mary Cetnar-nee Jarosz was born on August 15, 1847 and died on August 9, 1938 according to her death certificate. Her parents are listed as Thomas Jarosz and Magdeline Madajewski. Peter, Mary and many other Cetnar family members are buried at Mount Olivet Cemetery.
England to Livonia, Michigan
This is the genealogy of the Bennett family tree. According to the Immigrant Ship Transcribers Guild, my Bennett family came over on the Ship Vibilia, from London, England to New York. The ship arrived in New York, New York, on September 17, 1836. From the passenger list, it lists Thomas Bennett, 37 years old, male, Farmer, and Daniel Bennett, 21 years old, male, farmer. According to the Index of Landowners in 1876, Thomas owned 98 acres on Section 33 in Livonia Township. The family grew over the next several decades. Because of the family growing the acres of land was divided up to between the descendants. From the 1880 census, it stated that Thomas was a widowed retired farmer who was born in England and both of his parents were born in England. To the left is the Bennett Coat of Arms. Below is an outline report of my 3rd Great-grandfather’s family. Since I have not found out where they were born in England, it would love to connect with anyone who is researching this family. Bennett family tree, Family Tree Research
Outline Descendant Report for Thomas Bennett
1 Thomas Bennett (1801 – 1880) b: 11 Apr 1801 in England, d: 11 Jul 1880 in Livonia, Wayne, Michigan
- Ann Watts (1811 – 1877) b: 30 May 1811 in England, m: 15 Oct 1827 in Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, England, d: 30 May 1877 in Livonia, Wayne, Michigan Bennett family tree, Family Tree Research
….2 Thomas William Bennett (1829 – 1884) b: 02 Nov 1829 in Chelsea, London, England, d: 31 Mar 1884 in Lapeer, Lapeer, Michigan, USA; Mount Hope Cemetery Bennett family tree, Family Tree Research
- Mary Ann Bishop (1833 – 1913) b: 07 Aug 1833 in England, m: Abt. 1856 in Michigan, USA, d: 01 Feb 1913 in Flint, Genesee, Michigan; buried in Lapeer, MI on Feb 4, 1913 Bennett family tree, Family Tree Research
….2 Edmund Bennett (1836 – 1905) b: 04 Aug 1836 in Livonia, Wayne, Michigan, d: 13 May 1905 in Middleville Village of Thornapple Twp., Barry, Michigan, USA; Mount Hope Cemetery Bennett family tree, Family Tree Research
- Cordelia VanAkin (1842 – 1910) b: 06 Feb 1842 in Northville, Oakland, Michigan, USA, m: 24 Feb 1859 in Nankin, Wayne, Michigan, d: 09 Sep 1910 in Detroit, Wayne, Michigan
….2 Francis Bennett (1839 – 1908) b: 18 Mar 1839 in Livonia, Wayne, Michigan, d: 18 Mar 1908 in Fowlerville, Livingston, Michigan; Greenwood Cemetery
- Adelia Venetia (1845 – 1917) b: Oct 1845 in Livingston County, Michigan, m: Bef. 1871, d: 23 Jan 1917 in Fowlerville, Livingston, Michigan, USA; Greenwood Cemetery
….2 Helen Nellie Bennett (1845 – 1917) b: 20 Dec 1845 in Livonia, Wayne, Michigan, d: 09 Nov 1917 in Salem Twp., Wayne, Michigan
- Seymour W. Orr (1839 – 1920) b: 23 Nov 1839 in Michigan, USA, m: 1872 in Michigan, USA, d: 28 Feb 1920 in Plymouth, Wayne, Michigan; Newburg Cemetery, Livonia, Wayne, Michigan
….2 John G. Bennett (1848 – 1915) b: Jun 1848 in Livonia, Wayne, Michigan, d: 17 Dec 1915 in Plymouth, Wayne, Michigan
- Louisa A. Chapman (1845 – 1938) b: Oct 1845 in Livonia Twp., Wayne, Michigan, m: Aft. 1870 in Northville, Oakland, Michigan, USA, d: 1938 in Livonia Twp., Wayne, Michigan