Important to understanding the history of the family is the small Family / Genealogical series. Mentioned as part of this series, but now transferred into the library's printed collection, is the thesis written by Robert E. Stack in 1972. This volume is entitled, "The McClears and the Birneys - Irish Immigrant Families -- Into Michigan and the California Gold Fields, 1820-1893."
Genealogies: Birney, McClear, and Hankerd Families
"The McClears and the Birneys -- Irish Immigrant Families-Into Michigan and California Gold Fields, 1820-1893" thesis by Robert E. Stack 1972
James Birney Family [series]
Much of the early correspondence in the James Birney Family series relates to Bridget Birney's family, the McClears. Because of hard economic times in Michigan, Bridget's mother, Sally McClear, was forced in 1840 to move back to Tariffville, Connecticut, to work in the mills. Bridget joined her there in 1842. The early letters in the collection thus consist of exchanges between James and Bridget, and between members of the McClear family in Michigan and Connecticut.
Later correspondence in this series consists mainly of letters between James and Bridget and their children while he was gold prospecting. When James returned to Michigan, a brother, Thomas Birney, remained in California, and there are letters in the collection from him. The Birney letters provide detailed information about their daily lives, James' time in California, the management of the farm in Bunker Hill, and family financial matters. The letters are filled with news of family and friends, but in addition, include comments on politics, their church activities, and the economic conditions of the time.
The remainder of the James Birney series consists of legal papers and such miscellaneous items as election tickets and receipts, various account books from their farm, and a policy register (ca. 1870s) of the Farmers' Mutual Fire Insurance Company. The account books contain records of expenses and accounts of James and Bridget, and illustrate their struggle to pay debts and to get ahead financially. Among these account books is a volume kept by James in 1856 while he was in California.
Political Miscellaneous 1845-1859, 1857-1881
(includes party tickets, broadsides, etc.)
Account and Record Books 1849, 1857-1881
Oversize Volume 1
Financial journal 1848-1879
Henry Birney Family [series]
The next series in the collection concerns James' youngest brother, Henry Birney, his wife Maria, and their daughter Alma. Included are correspondence, legal papers, miscellaneous clippings, and marriage and birth announcements. There are also some of Alma's financial record books for the period of August-November 1878, as well as examples of some of the poetry and fiction that she wrote.
1875-1888 (scattered dates)
1889-1952 (scattered dates)
Legal Papers 1872-1896 (scattered dates)
Miscellaneous programs, invitations, etc.
Account Books (Alma Birney) August-November 1878
Patrick Hankerd Family [series]
The Patrick Hankerd series documents the activities of Patrick Hankerd and his family. The earliest materials concern Patrick's father Michael Hankerd (1808-1861). In the collection there is a deed, dated 1835 and signed by Andrew Jackson, for lands in Washtenaw County, Michigan Territory. Another deed for lands in Dexter dates from 1837. Several of the earliest letters in this series are addressed to Margaret Hankerd in 1867 from her brothers in Boston inquiring about the possibilities for work in Michigan. The series includes account books and receipts from this period when he operated a lumber and harness store in Munith as well as from his farming days. His diaries contain terse entries on the weather and business and farming activities between 1840 and 1889. Some of the material in this series, and much in the following series, documents Patrick's active political career. His papers also includes his appointment as delegate to the National Farmers Congress of the United States from 1891-1893. There is also a letterhead naming Hankerd as president of the Michigan State Union of the American Society of Equity and proclaiming "Farmers to the Front."
The bulk of the correspondence was exchanged among the Hankerd children and their mother Sarah while the children were away at school or work. These letters are rich with details about daily life. They offer insight into the occupational opportunities open to women at the turn of the century. The letters to and from Vincent are numerous and give an especially complete picture of the metamorphosis of a high-spirited schoolboy into a seminarian.
Political Miscellaneous (scattered dates; includes party tickets, clippings, pamphlet) 1872-1900
Miscellaneous (includes school reports and programs, invitations, obituaries, etc.) 1869-1910
Account and Record Books 1875-1922 (scattered dates)
Henrietta Township [series]
The Henrietta Township series includes a tax assessment roll for 1870, an annual itemized statement for 1898-1899, a voter list, and scattered financial records of the school district from 1911-1940. Of interest is a report submitted in 1876 by Patrick Hankerd, Supervisor of Henrietta, of persons receiving temporary aid. This report is part of a volume which also consists of personal financial records, presumably of Patrick Hankerd, for the years 1879-1883. This series also includes record books, 1908-1920, of the Henrietta Farmer's Club.
Assessment Roll 1870
Return of Births 1870-1871
Supervisor's Reports 1876
(also other financial records, 1879-1883)
Annual Itemized Statement 1898-1899
School district financial records 1911-1940
List of Registered Voters (?) undated
Miscellaneous receipts, legal papers, etc.
Henrietta Farmer's Club
Record Book 1908-1919
Record Book 1919-1920
Miscellaneous (includes constitution and by-laws, application, etc.)
Bunker Hill Township [series]
The Bunker Hill Township series consists of tax assessments for the years 1873-1874.
Tax Assessments 1873-1874
SS. Cornelius and Cyprian Catholic Church, Bunker Hill [series]
The next series concerns SS. Cornelius and Cyprian Catholic Church in Bunker Hill and involves all three family lines. This series consists of letters to James Birney about Catholic Church affairs, lists of pew rentals and miscellaneous subscription lists, and a run of Annual Reports of the Collection for the Education of the Seminarians of the Diocese of Detroit; there is also a brief history of the parish written by Sarah Ann Birney Hankerd. The remainder of this series includes financial statements, 1919-1947, various programs, booklets, clippings, and miscellanea, both from SS. Cornelius and Cyprian and from other Catholic churches and organizations.
Financial Statements (some years missing) 1919-1947
St. Patrick's Celebration Programs 1935-1940
Sodality Records 1906-1916
Church histories, Clippings, Newsletters (includes materials from other Catholic churches and organizations)
The photographs series includes a number of photographs of Catholic priests and one of SS. Cornelius and Cyprian Church. Of special interest is a photograph of Henry Birney's livery business in Bay City with drivers lined up in front. There are also several photos of Alma Birney.
Henry Birney Family
Personal (Alma Birney)
Patrick Hankerd family and related
SS. Cornelius and Cyprian Catholic Church, Bunker Hill
Priests (from Bunker Hill and other churches)
Robert Stack Files [series]
The Robert Stack series consists of working papers used in his dissertation on the Birney-McClear families. These include copies and transcripts of letters from members of the Birney family, 1841-1861. Also included in the 1994 accession are maps from Michigan and California used in the dissertation.