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December 13, 2008

December Ancestor Most Wanted - Quebec, Michigan, Ontario

December Ancestor Most Wanted - $75.00 Reward

The Ancestor Most Wanted this month is not mine, but my husband's. William Ivis Massey was born 16 Nov 1847 in Quebec to William Massey and Ellen (Eleanor) Montgomery.

The last confirmed record of William was in the 1861 census for St. Marys Ontario as a 14 year old living with his parents. We knew he was deceased by August 1912 as his brother Thomas Massey's' obit mentions an "only brother James Massey"

I had found an entry in the 1881 Census St. Thomas, Elgin Co. Ontario which I believed might be William Ivis Massey and a son George William.

William MASSEY 32 Irish born Quebec Occ: Brakeman Religion:Church of England
George MASSEY 2 Irish born Ontario Religion:Church of England

But who had William married? He is listed as married in this 1881 census but where is his wife? How could I prove or disprove that he was William Ivis? No birth record was found for a George Massey born ca 1879 in Ontario so that was no help.

I hunted for William and George (born ca 1879), convinced this was our man.

I found a marriage record that could have been George - but it was badly written and hard to read. The index showed it as

Name: George H Massey
Birth Place: Ontario
Age: 22
Father Name: W F Massey
Mother Name: W Wheeley [Wheeling?]
Estimated birth year: abt 1879
Spouse Name: Elizabeth H Nagle
Spouse's Age: 24
Spouse Birth Place: On
Spouse Father Name: George Nagle
Spouse Mother Name : Sarah Charles
Marriage Date: 17 Aug 1901
Marriage Place: Essex
Marriage County: Essex
George was a fireman

Could the father "W F Massey" be W I (for Ivis)? I could not find a marriage for a William Massey and "W Wheeley" or variants

Finally this year I found a George William Massey born Jan 1878 in Ontario, living in Detroit Michigan in the 1900 census. He was with his mother Jennie Orr age 37 and born May 1863 in Ontario, his stepfather Andrew T. Orr age 32, and siblings (all born Michigan) Ellen E Massay [sic] 14, James Massay 9, William Massay 7 and Jeanett Orr 1. The census claims that George immigrated to Michigan in 1881.

This looked good - it seems quite possible that George was the son of William found in the 1881 census for St. Thomas. Possibly Jennie the mother had gone on ahead to Michigan? William and George must have followed shortly after the 1881 census was taken, and then more children were born (Ellen, James and William) in Michigan.

The fact that the daughter's name was Ellen and the last born son William gave more credence to my theory that this William was our William Ivis, son of William and Ellen.

William, the father of George, must have died between the birth of little 7 year old William Massey and 1 year old Jeanett Orr. So I had a death date of circa 1891-1899

I have found more clues and bits of circumstantial evidence to place William the father of George, as our William Ivis Massey.


* George is found in 1910 United States Federal Census for Detroit Ward 3, Wayne, Michigan with a spouse Elizabeth.

* He is found in World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918 with wife Elizabeth Hilda [this fits with the marriage I found in Ontario in 1901]. They live at 1860 Joseph Campeau Street

* The 1920 United States Federal Census finds George & Elizabeth Massey living in Hamtramck, Wayne, Michigan with her parents. They are living at 1860 Joseph Campeau Ave

* The 1930 United States Federal Census for Groveland, Oakland, Michigan find George & Elizabeth and her Nagle relatives

The circumstantial bit of evidence linking this George to our William Ivis Massey is the finding of William Ivis's brother Frank Massey in the 1916 Border Crossing Records for Detroit Michigan. This record states that Frank and his wife Lena are visiting Frank's Uncle [sic] George Massey at 1860 Jos Campau, Detroit Michigan. George Massey who lived at 1860 Joseph Campau was Frank's nephew not his uncle but confusion over relative terms is not unusual so that does not concern me.

Other Facts

* Ellen E. Massey born Nov. 1885 Michigan married David H. Mitchell and had a daughter Ruth E. Mitchell born 1920 Michigan. Ellen's birth or marriage certificate would verify who her father was (William Ivis?) and her mother Jennie's maiden name. Ellen is found in the following census records 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930

* James Massey born Bet. 15 Sep 1890 - 1891 in Michigan married Alice (surname unknown) They had 3 known children - Donald, Douglas & Eleanor. Finding his birth or marriage record would provide parents' names. James is found in the 1900, 1910, 1920 census, not in 1930. He is also found in World War I Draft Registration Cards (fireman living Detroit, was in US Merchant Marine)

* William Massey born 05 Jun 1892 in Michigan married Olga H. Thiel and had 2 known children - Grant and Robert. Finding his birth or marriage record would provide parents' details. William is found in the following census records 1900, 1910, 1920, 1930. He is also found in World War I Draft Registration Cards (ship carpenter)

* Jeanett Orr, Jennie's daughter was born Oct 1898 in Michigan. She is in the 1900, 1910 census for Detroit Ward 9, Wayne, Michigan with her parents Andrew and Jennie. In 1920 she is with her aunt and uncle Ellen and David Mitchell in Detroit Michigan. I have not found her in 1930

* Margaret Orr, another daughter of Jennie, was born circa 1903 Michigan. She is in the 1910 census for Detroit Ward 9, Wayne, Michigan with her parents Andrew and Jennie. In 1920 and 1930 she is with her aunt and uncle Ellen and David Mitchell in Detroit Michigan

What's Missing

I cannot find Jennie or her husband Andrew Orr after 1910 in Detroit.

I cannot find a death certificate for William Ivis Massey. Did he die in Michigan? Ontario? Or elsewhere.. he worked the railroads so he may have been in another location at the time of his death

I cannot find a marriage record for William Ivis Massey and Jennie (the W Wheeley of George's marriage in 1901??) UPDATE: FOUND by Apple!

I cannot find William after 1881 in St. Thomas but we know he was alive at least until 1894, possibly until 1899.

$75.00 Reward for any one of the following

Proof of William Massey's death

Proof that George, James, Ellen and William Massey are children of William Ivis Massey and Jennie UPDATE: George is not the so of Jenny, he is from William's first wife. The birth records of James, Ellen, William and three other children have been found, proving them as children of William and Jenny Massey

Marriage record of William Massey & Jennie (or Jennie's surname) UPDATE: FOUND by Apple!

William Ivis Massey from 1881-his death (ca 1891-1899)

$25.00 Reward for any one of the following

Location of Jennie Orr after 1910

Location of James & Alice Massey after 1920


Apple said...

At Family Search Labs there is a marriage record for William J Massey (age 30) and Jennie McDonald (age 19) on 10 Sept 1881, Detroit, MI. His place of birth listed as Quebec and hers Ontario. He worked for the railroad.

So my guess is that Jennie was his 2nd wife, the first being W Wheeley.

Certainly not proof but maybe it will lead to something else.

Genealogy Blogger said...

Apple - great find! Please send me your mailing address via private email ( and your reward will be on its way!!

Thank you for taking the time to look for this, it is almost certainly our William Ivis Massey (even tho' his initial has been rendered as "J") Knowing Jennie's surname takes me down another road of research. Thank you!


Apple said...


Your website has been very valuable to me over the years, especially when I was just starting to look for my early New York ancestors. I'm happy if I was able to repay at least a tiny portion of that. Besides I love a challenge :-)


Genealogy Blogger said...

Thanks so much Apple - both for your kind words about my site, and for the research! From your find, I was able to do some more hunting today and found several more children for William Massey and Jenny (Jeanet) McDonald.

I also found the marriage of Andrew ORR and Jenny MASSEY in Detroit in Jan. 1898. So now I know that William Massey probably died between 1891 and 1898, no doubt a railway accident. The problem is - where? I find no death record for him in Michigan.

Off to hunt some more....


Velda said...

I have the birth record for William Ivis Massey, perhaps I missed it but I couldn't tell whether you had that or not.


Genealogy Blogger said...

Thank you Velda - I do have all the available baptism records of William and Ellen's children from the church in Quebec. I didn't note that in my post but I should have. I appreciate your time spent on this!