All Night Genealogy Research

I did that… Saturday morning I woke up and grabbed myself I big cup of coffee and I opened my laptop and I started researching. I wanted to know when my great grandaunt’s 1st husband died, because I had nothing on him except a few photographs and his name was W.D. “Woody” Cook

W,D, “Woody” Cook; photo was originally black & white, but thanks to I colorized it.

Let me introduce you to Woody Cook, or at least what I knew of him. My grandma before she passed away showed me this photograph of her uncle. She said she was a little girl when he passed away so she only has a few memories of him. She said he was funny, always made her aunt Rena laugh and everyone else around him. And he would talk about being in the circus as a young man, but she couldn’t remember what he did something to do with taking care of the horses. And she remembered the scare on his face, but could not remember what happened to him.

That was the extent of what I knew about Woody Cook. And it was so hard to find him! I found a William D. Cook years ago, and I accepted him as Woody. 3 wives and 4 children in the same area that my great aunt lived in for a time. But Saturday I got to looking at the information on him and with his birthdate of 1813 he would’ve been 75 years old when my great aunt was born… nope that wasn’t him. So I deleted everything I had about him and started over. Looking for W. D. Cook. and Rena Cook, I knew that Aunt Rena came over from Canada in 1905 and that she was born in 1888 with the full name Lurena M. Tyrrell.

I narrowed my search to 1920 Census in Michigan. I found a Rena Cook born about 1889 in Canada married to a Woodason Cook born about 1875 in Pennsylvania. They were living in Detroit, Michigan on Brush Street, he was working as a Street Car Conductor and she was a Waitress in a Restaurant. It seemed likely but I wasn’t going to assume anything again… so I saved it to my Shoebox on Ancestry and kept on searching. Next I found Rena Cook in the 1905 US City Directories living in Kalamazoo, Michigan and working as a Stripper. Still no real proof that this was my Rena…. Nothing else, no other documents popped up.

“United States Census, 1920”, database with images, FamilySearch ( : 2 February 2021), Rena Cook in entry for Woodason Cook, 1920.

I dug out my photos I had of Lurena “Rena” and tried to look for clues. The following photo I got from my grandma. This photo is in a little folder with handwriting that says To Dear Papa From your loving son and daughter Woody and Rena Cook” I looked a little closer to the photo, took it out of the sleeve, nothing else written on the photo. As I put it back into the sleeve, I noticed the studio mark on the sleeve. Imrie Studio on Gratiot Avenue in Detroit. So maybe the 1920 Census was them….

Focusing on Woodason Cook, I found a marriage record of Woodason Duane Cook to a Mary Lorena Richard in London, Middlesex, Ontario, Canada, married on 24th of June 1918. At first I was going to ignore this, but had an image so I decided to look at the image. The image is kind of hard to read, but it was transcribed and it showed Mary Lorena Richard’s parents as James Tyrrell and Sarah Colbeck – my 2nd great grandparents!!! YAY!! (Also this rules out the 1905 US City Directory of Rena Cook in Kalamazoo working as a stripper, because she wasn’t a Cook until 1918)

“Canada, Ontario Marriages, 1869-1927,” database with images, FamilySearch ( : 8 March 2021), Woodason Duane Cook and Mary Lorena Richard, 24 Jun 1918; citing registration , London, Middlesex, Ontario, Canada, Archives of Ontario, Toronto; FHL microfilm 2,148,997.

According to this document, Lurena (known as MARY LORENA) was a widow and Woodason Duane Cook was a bachelor living in Detroit. They listed their religious denomination as Baptist for him and White Brothern of ? for her. Their witnesses were Ada A Williamson of Chelsey and Mable L. Bingham of London. J. Williamson of Chesley and a Methodist minister was the clergy that married them. It also states both their parents names, W. Alexander Cook and Millie Turnour for Woodason and James Tyrrell and Sarah Colbeck for Mary Lorena. His occupation was “Soldier”.

This answered one question of the 1920 Census, but left me with more questions.

  • Was Mary her real first name? I had always saw her name as Lurena M. Tyrrell
  • When did Lurena start going by Lurena? (Canadian Census of 1891 & 1901 have her listed as Lurena)
  • Who was this other husband who was by the last name Richard? and when did he die?
  • When did she come to America? 1930 US Census has her coming in 1905

I found a Detroit, Michigan, US, Border Crossing, Crew and Passenger List for 8th of Oct 1918 arriving in Detroit, Michigan for Lurena Cook. No other information found on the card.

Back to the photo of Woody and Rena from above, I can determine that the photography studio Imrie Studios did business out of their Gratiot Avenue location from 1916-1918, so this photo was most likely taken in 1918 the year they got married, probably after October when Rena came over.

I found the following articles on about Wooda Cook Jr.

This was quite exciting to me and confirmed my grandmother’s story of him belonging to the Circus. But it looks like both his parents were well known Circus performers. But the name got me, Wooda, it just didn’t match anything I had. Then I dug out another photo I had of Rena & Woody….

This was the first photo I received of Rena & Woody… I flipped it over and what do I see… written in ink are the words….

Aunt Rena & Uncle Wooda

It made the connection I was looking for, these documents proved to me that this was the Woody I was looking for. This sent me down the rabbit hole of genealogy that kept going all night long. I found him with his mother and 3 silbings in 1880 in Fayette City, Pennsylvania he was 6 years old. I haven’t been able to find him in 1900 or 1910 yet. I found his death certificate and his FindAGrave memorial. I found his baptism record from the New York, U.S., Episcopal Diocese of New York Church Records that give his birth date as 11th of May 1874 in Fayette City, Pennsylvania and his baptism date as 3rd of Feb 1879 at Saint Peters Chapel in New York City. His parents are Alexander Woodason Cook and Carlotta Cook. Under the date of his baptism was the word Quinquagesima (I linked the Wikipedia page) but in short it’s the Sunday before Lent.

I found so much more on Lurena M. Tyrrell and Woodason D. Cook… but that will have to be for another day.

Thanks for reading, Sherry

Richard Vincent & Elizabeth James

Richard Vincent, son of L Vincent (believed to be Levi), was born on 4 May 1810 in New York State USA, died on 26 Mar 1906 in Brant, Saginaw County,
Michigan, USA at age 95, and was buried on 28 Mar 1906 in Brant
Cemetery, Old Part, Brant, Saginaw County, MI.

Noted events in his life were:

  • Residence: Possibly?, 1836, Canada.
  • Arrival: 1836.
  • Residence: 30 Jun 1860, Port Huron, St Clair, Michigan, United States.
  • Residence: 1865, Port Huron, St Clair, Michigan, USA.
  • Residence: Residence Post Office: Owosso, 1870, Owosso Ward 4,
  • Shiawassee, Michigan, United States.
  • Residence: 5 Jun 1880, Brant, Saginaw, Michigan, United States.
  • Residence: 1900, Brant, Saginaw, Michigan.

Richard married Elizabeth James, daughter of John James and Jane Bolton, circa 1851.

Elizabeth James, daughter of John James and Jane Bolton, was born on 8 Jan 1832 in England, died on 8 Jul 1920 in Marion Springs, Saginaw County, Michigan, USA at age 88, and was buried on 10 Jul 1920 in Brant Cemetery, Old Part, Brant, Saginaw County, MI.

Children from this marriage were:

  1. Adeline Vincent was born on 11 May 1852 in Michigan, died on 20 Apr 1929 in Chapin, Saginaw, Michigan, USA at age 76, and was buried in Elsie, Clinton County, Michigan, USA.
  2. Louisa Vincent was born in 1854 in Michigan, died on 9 Sep 1890 in Owosso, Shiawassee County, MI at age 36, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Owosso, Shiawassee County, MI.
  3. Levi Vincent was born on 10 Jun 1854 in Port Huron, St. Clair County, MI, died on 15 Jan 1929 in Marion Springs, Saginaw, Michigan, USA at age 74, and was buried on 18 Jan 1929 in Marion Twp Cemetery, Marion, Saginaw, MI, USA.
  4. Henry (Hank) Vincent was born in Oct 1859 in Michigan and died on 16 Oct 1944 in Saginaw, Saginaw, MI, USA at age 85.
  5. John R Vincent was born on 8 Mar 1860 in Port Huron, St Clair, Michigan, USA, died on 6 Mar 1945 in Owosso, Shiawassee, Michigan, USA at age 84, and was buried in Oak Hill Cemetery, Owosso, Shiawassee County, MI.
  6. Mary Jane Vincent was born on 15 Jul 1865 in Michigan, died on 6 Oct 1932 in Wenatchee, Washington, USA at age 67, and was buried in East Wenatchee, Douglas County, Washington, USA. Another name for Mary was Mary Jane Vincent.
  7. James Vincent was born in Sep 1866 in Michigan and died circa 1900-1947 in Michigan, USA about age 34.
  8. William Grant Vincent was born on 8 Dec 1867 in Port Huron, St. Clair County, Michigan, USA, died on 27 Dec 1953 in Chesaning, Saginaw County, Michigan, USA at age 86, and was buried in Brant, Saginaw County, Michigan, USA.
And the organizing continues….

And the organizing continues….

There are many ways to organize your genealogy. Most people these days do most of their genealogy on computers and/or tablets, thanks to And I am all for that, I love Ancestry and if, God forbid, something should happen to my hard copies I am so thankful that I have most of my research on ancestry or on my laptops.

But I am an “old school” fan! I LOVE having the actual documents or photos in my hands! And after trying to share my genealogy with someone I have found that I wasn’t always good at organizing and sourcing my research. So I am bound and determined to work on that this month.

Here are some of my tips on organizing your hard copies of your research. You can research “old school” going to the library with a pen and notepad (and lots of coins for the copy machine), or you can research online and print out the documents or photos from the comfort of your own home…. either way you need to have a few things. I have multiple 3-ring binders, in various sizes but my most common is a 2 1/2-inch binder. I add writable Insertable Big Tab Dividers to the binder, I have one tab for each family unit. Then I us sticky notes and highlighters to help keep myself on track and for easy viewing. The photos below are examples of what I would buy, you should buy what you like and what works for you.

Here are some tips from The Family Curator that she wrote for her local genealogy society newsletter. My thoughts are in italics after each tip.

Ten Tips for Organizing Genealogy Research

  1. Sheet Control – Use standard 8 ½ x 11-inch paper for all notes and printouts. (You will curse yourself if you have loads of half sheets falling out your binder. Unless you use post-it notes.)
  2. Stay Single – One surname, one locality per sheet for easy filing. (It’s very hard to do this at times when your ancestors lived close together.)
  3. No Repeats – Avoid errors; write legibly the first time.
  4. Dating Yourself – Always write the current date on your research notes. (This will come in handing later when you source!)
  5. Be Color Clever – Distinguish family lines with different colored folders, binders, tabs. (I have used color for location not surnames, but I love this idea!)
  6. File First – File one research trip or effort before starting the next one.
  7. Ask Directions – Write your own filing instructions; a big help when you take a long break.
  8. Supply Closet – Keep a stash of folders, plastic sleeves, tabs, printer ink.
  9. One File at a Time – Work through paper piles steadily; the mess didn’t happen in one day.
  10. KISS – Keep It Simple, Silly! Use an easy to set up, easy to maintain system.

Some more organizing tips from the internet:

Until Next Time….


Isaac Lane – Pvt

IsaacLane_CWPic (1)

FOUND Delia Lane Lash’s father’s information! Totally cool!! Isaac Lane who was a Private in the 8th Michigan Infantry Regiment, Company A. He was wounded at Battle at Antietam. He was captured there too on 17 Sept 1862 (haven’t found where they sent him, but I’ve got emails out to 3 of the prison camps). He was discharged 3 April 1863. Thanks to David Nighttrain Lane – (my 2nd cousin) for the following photos!

He was born 7 May 1839 in New York to Abial Lane & Lousia Swears.  Married Elsa Cobb (1851 – 1936) daughter of Ira H. Cobb & Esther Gillett sometime before 1870. They had 6 daughters & 5 sons.  He died on 17 Dec 1913 in Hadley, Lapeer County, MI & is buried in Goodrich Cemetery, Lapeer, MI on 30 Dec 1913.


Neff/Garner Brick Wall

Oh boy does genealogy have anything to do with LUCK? I think so. I was just playing around and trying to get my sources all in line, so I went to It said James G. Neff born in Michigan married Hattie Gainer on 03 July 1880 in Dryden, Lapeer County, Michigan.

Ok, Dryden is where Mary, Harriet, Albert lived with Mortimer Hilliker in 1870 all with the last name Hilliker. So I went looking in the 1880 census; Albert is with Alfred in NY and I found a Harriet Gainer (Garver) in Hart, Oceana County, MI (which is on the other side of the state from Lapeer) living in the County Poor Farm. I don’t know if this is my Harriet or not, where Harriet was from 1870 census and her marriage date of 3 July 1880 I don’t know, and then from 1880 to 1900 I don’t know where the family is other than Saginaw County.  I did find that her full name was Harriett Amelia Garner, I love that middle name!!
This photo was found in an old Bible, that was Harriet (Garner) Neff’s. The man sitting is James Gilbert Neff. The boys are Howard & Charles Neff, I believe the one on the left is Howard & the one on the right is Charles.