Birney-McClear-Hankerd family papers: 1835-1972
Summary Information
Title: Birney-McClear-Hankerd family papers
Creator: Birney Family.
Inclusive dates: 1835-1972
Extent: 5 linear feet
Extent: 1 oversize volume
Abstract:
Papers of the Birney, McClear (variant spellings), and Hankerd families collected in part by Marian T. Hankerd of Pleasant Lake, Michigan. Genealogies and family history; correspondence and other papers of James Birney and his wife Bridget McClear, Irish immigrant settlers to Bunker Hill in Ingham County, concerning family matters, his experiences in the California gold fields, politics and Catholic Church activities; letters of Terrence McCleer from the California gold fields; Henry Birney family letters and account books; Henrietta Township, Jackson County, Michigan, materials, including township records and assessments, and records of Henrietta Farmer's Club; Bunker Hill Township, Ingham County, Michigan, assessments; scattered records of SS. Cornelius and Cyprian Catholic Church in Bunker Hill; and related photographs.
Call number: 85222 Aa 2
Language: The material is in English
Repository: Bentley Historical Library
1150 Beal Ave.
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-2113
Phone: 734-764-3482
Fax: 734-936-1333
e-mail: bentley.ref@umich.edu
Home Page: http://www.bentley.umich.edu/
Finding aid created by Michigan Historical Collections staff

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

The collection was received from Marian T. Hankerd (donor no. 7005) in 1983 and 1984.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open to research.

To protect fragile audiovisual recordings (such as audio cassettes, film reels, and VHS tapes), the Bentley Historical Library has a policy of converting them to digital formats by a professional vendor whenever a researcher requests access. For more information, please see: http://bentley.umich.edu/research/duplication/.

Copyright:

Copyright is held by the Regents of the University of Michigan but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright is not held. Patrons are responsible for determining the appropriate use or reuse of materials.

Preferred Citation:

[item], folder, box, Birney-McClear-Hankerd family papers, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan


Biography

James Birney (1821-1881) and Bridget McClear (1820-1893) are two major figures represented in this collection. The Birneys and McClears were immigrants from Ireland who eventually settled in Unadilla, Michigan sometime in the late 1830s or early 1840s. Here James Birney met Bridget McClear, and on April 13, 1845, they were married. Beginning about 1847, members of the Birney family began moving to Bunker Hill in the southeast corner of Ingham County. James and Bridget followed them around 1848 or 1849.

Both Birneys and McClears were caught up in the gold fever of the time. James Birney made two trips to California: the first shortly after his move to Bunker Hill, and the second in 1856. He returned to Bunker Hill in 1861 and resumed management of the family farm. Thereafter, he devoted the remainder of his life to farming, community affairs, local politics, and Catholic Church activities.

Henry Birney, James Birney's youngest brother, is also represented in the family papers. He ran a livery business in Bay City. His wife was Maria, their daughter Alma.

Michael Hankerd was an Irish immigrant who, with his brother Dennis, apparently followed the construction of the Michigan Central Railroad as far as Dexter, Michigan. Here he stopped and purchased land. At Dexter, Michael married Margaret Jones (1811-1886), who had also immigrated from Ireland, in 1835. Sometime between 1848 and 1850, Michael and Margaret Hankerd moved to Henrietta and purchased lands near Pleasant Lake. They had five children. Their fourth son was Patrick Hankerd.

Patrick married Sarah Ann Birney (1851-1953) in 1872. Patrick had been a school teacher prior to his marriage; for years afterwards he farmed his lands in Henrietta. From 1889-1894, he operated a lumber and harness store in Munith. He served as Henrietta Township clerk in 1869-1870 and as township supervisor from 1870-1886. He ran successfully for state representative in 1876 and was re-elected in 1883 and 1885. Patrick Hankerd's unsuccessful bid for that office in 1900 marked the end of his involvement in politics. He would remain active in several farmers' organizations.

Patrick and Sarah had eight children: Mary, Jane, Agnes, Charles, Helen, Vincent, Loretto, and Bernadette. Agnes died while still a young girl; the other children survived to adulthood. Mary, Loretto and Bernadette became nuns and Vincent became a priest. Only Charles married; Helen and Jane taught school and worked in a number of towns in Michigan before moving back to live with their mother. The Hankerd family also owned land around the shores of Pleasant Lake. They operated a summer hotel at the lake, rented boats, and leased land to visitors.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Birney Family collection documents the lives and activities of three inter-related families: the Birneys, McClears (variant spellings), and Hankerds. Covering the years 1835-1972, the collection consists of family correspondence, legal papers, personal and financial ledgers, and clippings; materials relating to Bunker Hill Township in Ingham County and Henrietta Township in Jackson County; and collected materials pertaining to SS. Cornelius and Cyprian Catholic Church in Bunker Hill.

The collection has been arranged into nine principal series: Family / Genealogical James Birney Family, the Henry Birney Family, the Patrick Hankerd Family, Henrietta Township, Bunker Hill Township, SS. Cornelius and Cyprian Catholic Church in Bunker Hill, Photographs, and Robert Stack research papers.

Subject Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in the finding aid database and catalog of The Bentley Historical Library/University of Michigan. Researchers desiring additional information about related topics should search the catalog using these headings.


  • Agriculture -- Michigan.
  • Bunker Hill (Mich.)
  • Bunker Hill (Mich. : Township)
  • California -- Gold discoveries.
  • Henrietta (Mich. : Township)
  • Irish Americans -- Michigan.
  • Michigan -- Social life and customs -- 1841-1850.
  • Michigan -- Social life and customs -- 1851-1860.
  • Michigan -- Social life and customs -- 1861-1870.
  • Michigan -- Social life and customs -- 1891-1900.
  • Michigan -- Social life and customs -- 1901-1910.
  • Women -- Michigan -- Bunker Hill.
  • Michigan -- Social life and customs -- 19th century.
  • Michigan -- Social life and customs -- 20th century.
  • Bay City (Mich.) -- Buildings, structures, etc.
  • Catholic Church buildings -- Michigan -- Bay City.
  • Catholic Church buildings -- Michigan -- Bunker Hill.
  • Business enterprises -- Michigan -- Bay City.
  • Carriages and coaches.
  • Churches -- Michigan -- Bay City.
  • Catholic churches.
  • Gold mining -- California.
  • Priests.
  • Stables.
  • Diaries.
  • Photographs.
  • Burney family.
  • Catholic Church -- Michigan -- Bunker Hill.
  • Hankerd family.
  • Henrietta Farmer's Club.
  • McClear family.
  • SS. Cornelius and Cyprian Church (Bunker Hill, Mich.)
  • Burney family.
  • Catholic Church -- Clergy.
  • Hankerd family.
  • McClear family.
  • SS. Cornelius and Cyprian Church (Bunker Hill, Mich.)
  • Birney, Bridget McClear, 1820-1893.
  • Birney, Henry.
  • Birney, James, 1821-1881.
  • Hankerd, Marian T.
  • Hankerd, Patrick, 1845-1911.
  • McCleer, Terrence.
Contents List
Request materials for use in the Bentley Library
Container / Location Title
 
Family / Genealogical [series]

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."

Box   1  
Genealogies: Birney, McClear, and Hankerd Families
Box   1  
"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.

 
Typescripts of Correspondence
Box   1  
1842-1844, 1848, 1855
Box   1  
1851-1853
Box   1  
1857
Box   1  
1858
Box   1  
1859
Box   1  
1860
Box   1  
1861
 
Correspondence
Box   1  
1841-1842
Box   1  
1843-1844
Box   1  
1843, 1848
Box   1  
1850-1852
Box   1  
1853, 1855-1856
Box   1  
Undated, 1857-1861 (2 folders)
Box   1  
1857
Box   1  
1858
Box   1  
1859
Box   1  
1860
Box   1  
1861
Box   1  
1862-1863
Box   1  
1864-1865
Box   1  
1866-1867
Box   1  
1868-1869
Box   1  
1871-1889 (scattered dates)
Box   1  
Legal Papers 1839-1899 (scattered dates)
Box   1  
Financial Miscellaneous 1842-1881 (scattered dates)

(includes receipts, advertisements, etc.)

Box   1  
Political Miscellaneous 1845-1859, 1857-1881 (6 volumes)

(includes party tickets, broadsides, etc.)

Box   1  
Account and Record Books 1849, 1857-1881 (15 volumes)
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.

 
Correspondence
Box   1  
1875-1888 (scattered dates)
Box   1  
1889-1952 (scattered dates)
Box   1  
Legal Papers 1872-1896 (scattered dates)
Box   1  
Miscellaneous programs, invitations, etc.
Box   2  
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.

 
Correspondence
Box   2  
Undated (2 folders)
Box   2  
1864-1866
Box   2  
1867
Box   2  
1868-1874
Box   2  
1886-1888
Box   2  
1889
Box   2  
1889-1891, undated
Box   2  
1890
Box   2  
1891
Box   2  
1891
Box   2  
1892-1895
Box   2  
1896
Box   2  
1897
Box   2  
1898
Box   2  
1899
Box   2  
1900
Box   2  
1901
Box   2  
January-September 20, 1902
Box   2  
September 21-30, 1902
Box   2  
October 1-15, 1902
Box   2  
October 16-31, 1902
Box   2  
November 1-15, 1902
Box   2  
November 16-30, 1902
Box   2  
December, 1902
Box   2  
January-February, 1903
Box   2  
March-August, 1903
Box   2  
September-December, 1903
Box   3  
January-March, 1904
Box   3  
April-September, 1904
Box   3  
October-December, 1904
Box   3  
January-May, 1905
Box   3  
June-December, 1905
Box   3  
1906
Box   3  
1907
Box   3  
1908
Box   3  
January-April 1909
Box   3  
May-December 1909
Box   3  
January-September 1910
Box   3  
October-December 1910
Box   3  
January-March, 1911
Box   3  
April-June, 1911
Box   3  
July-December, 1911
Box   3  
1912
Box   3  
1913
Box   3  
1914
Box   3  
1915
Box   3  
1918-1930
Box   3  
Newspaper Clippings
Box   4  
Diaries (Patrick Hankerd) 1870-1878, 1881, 1883-1889
Box   4  
Diaries (Sarah Ann Hankerd) 1919-1921
Box   4  
Legal Papers 1835-1903 (scattered dates)
Box   4  
Financial Miscellaneous (scattered dates; chiefly receipts) 1837-1953
Box   4  
Political Miscellaneous (scattered dates; includes party tickets, clippings, pamphlet) 1872-1900
Box   4  
Miscellaneous (includes school reports and programs, invitations, obituaries, etc.) 1869-1910
Box   4  
Account and Record Books 1875-1922 (scattered dates) (11 volumes)
 
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.

 
Township records
Box   5  
Assessment Roll 1870
Box   5  
Return of Births 1870-1871
Box   5  
Supervisor's Reports 1876

(also other financial records, 1879-1883)

Box   5  
Annual Itemized Statement 1898-1899
Box   5  
School district financial records 1911-1940
Box   5  
List of Registered Voters (?) undated
Box   5  
Miscellaneous receipts, legal papers, etc.
 
Henrietta Farmer's Club
Box   5  
Record Book 1908-1919
Box   5  
Record Book 1919-1920
Box   5  
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.

Box   5  
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.

Box   5  
Correspondence, Subscription Lists (James Birney) 1865-1876
Box   5  
Financial Statements (some years missing) 1919-1947
Box   5  
St. Patrick's Celebration Programs 1935-1940
Box   5  
Sodality Records 1906-1916
Box   5  
Church histories, Clippings, Newsletters (includes materials from other Catholic churches and organizations)
 
Photographs [series]

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
Box   5  
Personal (Alma Birney)
Box   5  
Livery Business
Box   5  
Patrick Hankerd family and related
 
SS. Cornelius and Cyprian Catholic Church, Bunker Hill
Box   5  
Church
Box   5  
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.

Box   5  
Maps and Tracings, Michigan and California
 
Correspondence, copies and typescripts 1842-1861
Box   5  
Bridget McClear 1842-1844
 
Birney Family 1852-1861
Box   5  
Chapter VIII 1857-1858
Box   5  
Chapter IX 1858
Box   5  
1859-1861
 
Bridget and James Birney 1859-1860
Box   5  
1859
Box   5  
1860
 
James Birney 1851-1861
Box   5  
1851-1854
Box   5  
1861