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Happy birthday, Henry Ford!

Fox Run genealogical society celebrates local legend

Created date

December 9th, 2013

On July 30, Henry Ford would have turned 150 years old. History buffs at Fox Run took the opportunity to learn more about the famous creator of the Model T and founder of Ford Motor Company.

Remembering a local legend

About 150 people attended the Henry Ford birthday celebration, which was organized by Fox Run s genealogical society. Residents and visitors were treated to an in-depth presentation entitled Henry Ford and His Family: From Roots to Branches. Henry Ford enthusiast and researcher Steven Stanford, nephew of resident Jeanette Coviak, gave the presentation. Many people living atFox Runare retired Ford employees, and some knew Henry Ford personally, making the event particularly meaningful for the audience. Jeanette says even many people who never worked for Ford were touched by Henry Ford s life. For instance, she says, Henry Ford started an initiative for square dancing to be taught in Detroit-area schools. At the birthday presentation, Jeanette says her nephew asked how many people recalled those square dancing lessons from their school days, and quite a few people raised their hands. It was a very successful event, Jeanette says. In keeping with the birthday theme, the Fox Run genealogical society treated attendees to slices of birthday cake after the presentation. Jeanette, who is a member of the society, says the event also marked the club s sixth anniversary, so it gave members a chance to celebrate together and provided an opportunity for newer residents to learn more and become involved.

Independent researchers collaborate

Members of Fox Run s genealogical society typically work independently on their own research projects and then come together at meetings to report their findings and share information about tools for digging up information about their ancestors. It s good because we can exchange tips and give each other encouragement, Jeanette says of the club. The genealogical society also organizes informative discussions, presentations, and field trips to research libraries. In September, the group was slated to visit Lyon Township Library, which has the capability to order records directly from the FamilySearch Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, one of the country s largest genealogical research facilities. In October, club member Bob Williams was planning to give a talk about his aunt, a murder victim whose story became famous and was later turned into both a book and a movie. We try to go from a technical subject one month to a more general topic the next month, Jeanette says. Some of our genealogists are published authors, and others are just starting out.

Finding famous ancestors, long-lost cousins

In the process of conducting her own family research, Jeanette discovered a famous ancestor. She says she is related to Oliver Morel de La Durantaye, who was a military officer when France colonized North America in the 1600s. De La Durantaye was the commandant of the area that would later become Michigan. Jeanette is writing the story of her famous ancestor and plans to give a copy to each of her grandchildren for Christmas. The more I dig, the more I find things like the part of France he was from and the route his ship took through the Caribbean and then up to North America, Jeanette says. The more I dig into the story, the more interesting it gets. Interestingly, Jeanette s genealogical research also has brought her closer to her living relatives. Using sites like, she s found distant family members conducting their own searches. I ve found relatives, like second cousins, who are also on there researching the family, Jeanette says. I had no idea they existed, but I do now, so we ve exchanged names.