February 3, 2014
In the 1940 census I found Barbara Daly, 54, living in Chicago with her widowed sister Alice Ludington. Barbara was listed as a comptometer operator – not an occupation most would be familiar with today.
The comptometer was the first commercially successful key-driven calculator, patented in the U.S. in 1887. Interesting to think that Barbara was using this office tool in her job for the steam railroad more than 50 years after it was first manufactured.
Technology advances quickly today. What do we use now that might still be an office ‘staple’ 50 years from now?
January 22, 2014
I have been quite confused by the SANDFORD family of New York – or was it SANFORD? I found the spelling varied often. Harriet Watson Clark, known as “Hattie”, married Clarence H. Sandford in New York City in 1874. Their marriage certificate spells his name with 2 Ds … and hers as Clarke. So, you never know if the spellings are correct.
Sadly Harriet died in childbirth 3 years later and was buried at Green-wood Cemetery in Brooklyn. The cemetery’s website has burial records online where she is listed as SANDFORD, HATTIE W. But I could never find a death record for her husband and he was not listed under Sandford. I last found him in the 1915 NY state census and assumed he had died by 1920.
Harriet is buried in lot 18149, section 189 as is her mother-in-law Jane who died in 1900. In the 1880 census Jane was listed as a widow and neither she nor others in the family have yet been found in the 1870 census. So I was guessing that her husband Hiram died between 1860 and 1880. I could not find him on the Green-wood website either.
However, today just by chance I Googled “Green-wood cemetery section 18149, lot 189” and the following findagrave entries popped up:
HIRAM SANFORD, July 1868, # 57543743
CLARENCE H SANFORD, Nov 1923, # 57543704
Father and son, spelled with only a final D. I don’t know why I had not searched that site using both spellings … I assumed they would all be spelled alike. I must remind myself over and over DON’T ASSUME !!
Then going back to the newspapers, I found that Hiram (formerly of the US Navy which matches) died of paralysis in Brooklyn on February 1, 1868 and Clarence died in Norfolk, VA, unclear if he was just visiting. There is a disconnect between Hiram's death in Feb and reported burial in July -- but that's another story. At least I know where they were buried.
I had assumed Clarence died in NYC and that he and his father’s name would be listed with the same spelling as their wives on the Green-wood site. Next time and every time …. Check all spellings and check all the residents of a family burial plot, if at all possible.
January 10, 2014
Adam, my 4th Great Grandfather, was a physician and leather tanner in New York. I have many unanswered questions about him – including where he was born, who his parents were, possible siblings, why he moved to Westchester County late in his life. I am determined to find answers this year.
What I do know is:
- He was born about 1791, likely in Albany County
- He reported that his parents were born in CT
- He may have been Adam Jr
- He marred Harriet Watson before the 1820 census
- They had 7 known children born 1821-1843
- He lived in Berne, NY (1830 + 1840 census)
- He had a seat at the 1st Dutch Reformed Church
- He built a large tannery in Middletown in mid-1840s, creating the village of “Clark’s Factory”
- In 1860 he was living in Cortlandt as a physician
- He died in Nov 1860 + is buried in Cortlandt
- His wife outlived him by 5 years
- His wife, daughter Eliza and 2 grandchildren are buried with him
With a common surname like Clark and no other information about Adam, I was at a loss how to continue. I will be attending a research workshop at NEHGS in Boston in March when Adam will be at the top of my “I need help” list. NEHGS has great resources for New York research and I hope I’ll find some answers there.
January 3, 2014
I resolve to actively seek out more research help this year. I belong to some local genealogy societies, however most of those I am researching did not live where I do. I have joined historical and genealogical societies in the regions where my ancestors lived, but communication via mail is not the same as being there, chatting with those who know the area, using their resources. I have every intention of taking at least one road trip in 2014 to make use of those distant repositories.
I will help others with what I know. For two years now I have intermittently been adding cemetery photos I have collected to Findagrave .... I resolve to get them ALL posted along with brief biographical notes.
The Italian Genealogical Group of New York is a wonderous organization -- creating and publishing (FOR FREE) many archived records for New York City. I have been a volunteer with them for several years and will continue to help them as their published databases have helped me greatly.
My biggest issue is that I have difficulty staying focused on one person or one line in my family tree. So my resolution for 2014 is to focus on one individual each month and make a serious effort to resolve open issues / clear brick walls. That doesn't mean I won't work on others, but it does mean I will dedicate some undivided attention to that month's resolution. FAMILY FOCUS will be my monthly routine.
Hope you have great success with your research this year !
December 1, 2013
The 1901 death of James McDole in Ulster County, New York was reported in the Ellenville newspaper. Only a few details of his life were included and some were rather vague, like he was married for about 50 years, served in Union Army for about 3 years. No mention of his birth in Ireland, but his age and Baptist minister were listed.
Survivors were noted as his wife Abigail and eight children, but only 7 of them were named: George, James, John, Mary, Ellsworth, Lydia and Thomas. Poor Anna, the second youngest and wife of Morris Hornbeck, was omitted.
At times a death notice can be a great help in identifying all the children and especially can identify or verify daughters who changed their names through marriage. If I had not already had the information on Anna and Morris, this news item would not have helped me.
By the way, I was lucky that in his case that the NY TownClerk’s register of Men Who Served in the Civil War listed his birth date and place (Londonderry) and both of his parents. It’s the compilation of data gleaned from all sources that can give us the full picture of our ancestors.
November 15, 2013
I am generally quite excited when I find birth / death dates while visiting a cemetery or see photo posted on Findagrave. My first thought would be “these dates are correct”, however, I have come to realize that’s not necessarily so.
I found findagrave entries with photographs for 2 of the children of John K Comfort and his wife R.A. Stephens in Mississippi. This son and daughter were listed with their parents in numerous census records where their ages and even their recorded names varied some over the decades.
Trofmoc, the son (in case you couldn’t tell) has a birth date of April 21, 1863 on his gravestone. His sister Exermenia’s gravestone shows her birth date as Sept 27 of the same year. I DON”T THINK SO ! How does that happen?
Obviously there can be problems with keeping track of a person’s birth date especially if they live a long life and a younger family member becomes the one to provide the dates to be inscribed on the stone. If a birth or christening record can be found, that’s likely quite accurate. I did not find either in this case.
Going back through the various census records, the brother is always recorded as older, even if not by much. The fact that he died at age 30 when his mother was still alive and living in the same locale, I tend to trust that he WAS born in 1863. By the time his sister died 50 years later, it is understandable that there might have been confusion over her exact birth year.
So, the bottom line is that I still don’t know, but strongly question Exermenia’s birth year and will just remain much more vigilant in seeking documented confirmation of birth and death years rather than considering a gravestone to be accurate.
November 6, 2013
These families were neighbors in Ulster County, NY and variously connected by marriage. Jointly they made an immense contribution to the union’s efforts in the Civil War.
Simon McConnell and Charles Mansfield were the oldest volunteers of this group. They both joined Company D, NY 156th Infantry along with Charles’ sons Josiah and Isaac. Sadly, both the fathers died from the effects of uncontrollable dysentery in 1863 leaving wives and young children at home. They were buried in Louisiana where they died.
Simon’s sons Edgar and Carmile McConnell both joined the NY 56th infantry and son Alexander joined the 1st Cavalry. Both the McConnell family and the Mansfield family married into the Lake family. Alex McConnell married Sarah Jane Lake, sister of Reuben who married Charles Mansfield’s daughter Sarah Ann. Many veteran brothers-in-law!
The young men fought in various units and some lived long lives, others not so long.
LAKE Unit Died
Francis Co D, NY 4th Cavalry 1867 at 21
Reuben Co F, NY 127th Inf 1897 at 52
Carmile Co F, NY 56th Inf 1895 at 50
Alexander Co D, NY 1st Cavalry 1898 at 55
Edgar Co F, NY 56th Inf 1925 at 85
Isaac Co D, NY 156th Inf 1910 at 65
Josiah Co D, NY 156th Inf 1935 at 89