March 25, 2014

Ludington – Comfort marriages in Catskill, NY


Brothers Archibald and Tertullus Ludington were born to Col Henry Ludington and his wife Abigail in Dutchess County.  Both migrated to Catskill in Greene County where they raised their families.  Each had a daughter who married into the Comfort family.  Emeline was born to Archibald and his wife Elizabeth Sears in 1805.  Julia was born in 1807 to Tertullus and his wife Rebecca Brown.

Brothers Hiram and Joel Comfort were born in Montgomery, Orange County, NY to Samuel Comfort and Ana Maria Youngblood in 1791 and 1800 respectively. They both migrated to Catskill in Greene County in early adulthood.  Within a three month time period in 1822 the brothers married the Comfort Cousins – Joel and Emeline in May followed by Hiram and Julia in August. The girls were both quite young (17 and 15) which may have been the custom at the time and/or may have been a necessity in light of their fathers’ deaths a year or so earlier.

Between the 2 couples, they increased the Comfort clan by 11. Five daughters were born to Hiram and Julia and 3 sons and 3 daughters to Joel and Emeline.  The migration continued with only a few of that next generation remaining in Catskill.

March 19, 2014

FAMILY FOCUS: John I Hill 1801-1884


John was a lumberman in Wawarsing, Ulster County, New York, born to unknown parents possibly in Shawangunk.  About 1830 John married Esther Furman (1808-1902), daughter of Joseph Furman and Polly Sheeley.  My challenge this year is to identify John’s parents and siblings.

Interestingly one of Esther’s sisters, Catherine (1816-1880) married Isaac Dubois Hill (1812-1888).  I’ve been wondering if Isaac (who often seems to have gone by his middle name) and John might have been brothers or cousins.  Isaac reported that he was born in Orange County and John reported Ulster. They were born 11 years apart and the 2 counties are adjacent. Some unsourced online records show John as the son of John W and Charlotte Mullaney Hill; I have not been able to confirm this.

Assuming that John was in fact born in Shawangunk, I checked the 1810 census and found two families with boys under 10, headed by Isaac and Sturgis Hill.  But that trail goes cold in 1820 when neither Isaac nor Sturgis show up as head of household in Ulster County. Might they have moved to Orange County? There was a family headed by Isaac but it’s almost impossible to know if it is the same household.

John and Esther had 8 known children – perhaps one of their descendants knows something of John’s birth family and will stumble upon this post. That would be my lucky day !! The children and spouses are listed here.

1833   JOHN  + Phebe
1835   JOSEPH + Mary (moved to VA)
1837   LUCINDA (unmarried)
1840   JANE + James Cutler
1843   ALMIRA + August Stangle (Brooklyn)
1844   EMILY + Francis Sheeley
1847   WILLIAM + Eliza (moved to VA)
1850   MARY A + Lorenzo Low (moved to CT)

I don’t know where else to look. I’ll search out church records for Shawangunk and see if they show up. If you have another suggestion, please drop me a note 

February 3, 2014

She was a Comptometer Operator


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

Another Way to find Burial Records


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

FAMILY FOCUS: Dr Adam Clark 1791-1860


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

Some resolutions for 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

Newspaper Death Notice 1901 for James McDole


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.