Back to Grand Rapids and then on to Berlin, 1912-1919

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By 1912, Bill and Emma (along with Emma's father and siblings) had made the decision to move to Grand Rapids.  Although Bill still had a number of relatives in that area, by this time his father had died (on March 4, 1904) and his mother had remarried and was living in Kansas City, Missouri.  His sister Grace and brother-in-law James Plowman, living in the town of Berlin in Ottawa County, were the only members of his immediate family still there. 

It is likely that Bill and his in-laws moved to Grand Rapids to take advantage of the increased employment opportunities that the city offered.  Bill was soon back with the railroad working as a freight agent, Roando Merrill was a trucker, and Elmer Merrill was a lathe hand in a factory.  The two families lived together in a house at 840 Franklin Street SE.  It was here in 1913 that Emma gave birth to their third son, William James McNitt, always called James or Jim and named after his father and his uncle James Plowman. 

Emma Merrill McNitt and her son James  Bill McNitt and his mother Ella  Grace McNitt Plowman and her mother Ella
Emma with son James, 1913; Bill with his mother Ella, ca. 1913; Grace McNitt Plowman with her mother Ella, ca. 1913

After a couple of years in Grand Rapids, Bill and Emma moved their family out to the nearby village of Berlin (now known as Marne), where his sister Grace Plowman lived.  Bill was working for the GR&I Railway for at least part of the time they lived in Berlin.  The town was on the rail line between Grand Rapids and Grand Haven, so he may have either worked in Berlin or commuted into Grand Rapids. 

Picnic at Lamont, Michigan, 1915
Picnic at Lamont (Ottawa County), 1915.  The families involved are those of Bill McNitt, his sister Grace McNitt Plowman (including her father-in-law and mother-in-law), their first cousin Bertha Martin Maurer, and Bertha's sister-in-law Maria Maurer Hunt.  Emma McNitt is kneeling at the right, Bill is partially obscured to the left of her, Walter is behind the first two girls in the front row, James is in the middle of the front row (turned away from the camera), Glenn is next to James.

The McNitt family  Emma McNitt holding her son James
Bill and Emma and sons Walter, Glenn, and James, 1915; Emma and James, 1915

Emma McNitt with son James and nephew Thomas Plowman  The McNitt family  Bill McNitt and James Plowman
Emma with son James and nephew Thomas Plowman, 1917; Bill and Emma with sons Walter, Glenn, and James, 1918; Bill with brother-in-law James Plowman, 1918

Bill McNitt's draft registration card  Back side of Bill McNitt's draft registration card
Bill's draft registration card showing his residence as Berlin and his employer as the GR&I Railroad, September 12, 1918