August 26, 2015

New Jersey Death records 1878 – 1893

I have not done much research in the state of NJ and was rather befuddled as I followed a New York family line as they moved to (and died in) Union County, New Jersey.  Index records are available on ancestry, so I was able to confirm when and where they died but wanted more information.

I thought perhaps I should order the microfilm from the FHL, but as I read the description for film 589830 it was described as an INDEX that might or might not include more information.

I decided to check the NJ State Archives site and was so pleased with what I found. They have numerous searchable databases including deaths (now complete for June 1875 – June 1893). I needed records for1880 and 1881. PERFECT !


Select the death records database and a search box appears. 

Then the result is shown with an order option.

Hit select and a printable order form appears.

Mail it in with a check ... and hope great information shows up soon.

If only New York State would be so helpful !! (The New York City are this
easy to use also .... but the rest of the state, not easy at all).

July 7, 2015

Jennie May Peckham Wright died in 1921

After spending time following the wrong Jennie down the wrong paths I decided to spend some additional time examining her family members. I knew that her husband George was buried at Graceland in Chicago and wondered if she might be too, but that was a dead-end. I knew that her cousin, Helen Wooster Peckham, lived and taught in Berkeley, California. So when I found a possible match for Jennie in San Francisco, I thought I had found her.
A California death record for Jennie M Wright, born 1855 and died 1907 seemed a match. But
reviewing that fact that her mother died in Chicago in 1912 made me wonder. Yes, I found the two living together in Chicago in the 1910 census, so that San Francisco death record was someone else. I could find no Chicago death record for Jennie, so I really wasn't sure what had happened to her.

It was my return to her father, Robert Watson Peckham, who died in Chicago in 1897 and is buried with his second wife at Rosehill Cemetery, that resolved the question. 

June 12, 2015

What happened to Jennie May Peckham Wright?

Born to Robert Watson Peckham and his 1st wife Valeria Peck in Richland, Oswego, NY in 1855, Jennie was raised by her maternal aunt Jenny Peck who married her father Robert after he was widowed in 1858. The family lived in Stillwater, MN and then settled in Chicago. It was there that Jennie married George Edward Wright, a native of Ohio, in 1879. They were married until George’s death in 1901; they had no children. I cannot find Jennie after the 1900 census when her stepmother Jenny was also living with them. Her stepmother died in Chicago in 1912 (though I cannot find her in the 1910 census) … were Jennie and Jenny living togehter? Why can't I find them?

At first I thought perhaps Jennie married Robert P, Smith in 1906, but it was not her. I found Jennie M Wright listed as a beneficiary in the 1919 probate notice for her relative George P. Elliott in New York. Was she alive? Where? I had found a possible death reported in San Francisco (where her cousin Helen lived) for Jennie M Wright born 1855 -- could it be her? If so, why would she be listed in a probate public notice 12 years later? So confusing!

Next I will check with the cemetery where her husband is buried. Puzzling.

June 2, 2015

Look carefully at Findagrave Photos

While researching my Peckham line from Oswego, New York I briefly glanced at a gravestone photo Erasmus Peckham (1832-1879) on findagrave.  He and his wife Nancy Wooster are listed together. However (thank you findagrave contributor H. Harmych) there is a also a photo of a second stone that provided new new information.

At first I had not paged down to see this second photo and when I did, initially the impact of the information contained there did not hit me. When I decided to transcribe information about these 2 previously unknown children, the death year 1865 seemed odd since Erasmus and Nancy married after 1870. Then examining it more closely I saw that Kittie's parents were noted as E.W. and K.B. Peckham while John's were E.W. and N.A. Peckham. Who was K B Peckham and what happened to her?

April 9, 2015

Civil War: 150th Anniversary

Today, the anniversary of the end of the Civil War,  makes me reflect on the many, many ancestors who fought in this conflict and the wives and children who were left to fend for themselves ... some for a lifetime if their soldier didn't return.

I have documented about 75 family members (some less directly related than others) who fought ... on both sides !  Some of my RI Watson groups and NY Comfort groups had splits within the family with some of the males moving south and fighting for the Confederacy. I can't really imagine how the family would feel with brothers and cousins pitted against one another.

All of my direct ancestors were in the north and those who fought were Union supporters. Today I am especially remembering 3rd great grandfather Charles Mansfield and two of my great great grandfathers, James McDole and Reuben Lake. All three were from Ulster County, New York. Charles died of disease in Louisiana at age 49 survived by his wife and 6 children (2 of whom joined his unit, Co D NY 156th). James McDole, a native of northern Ireland who immigrated in 1846, left his wife and 4 children. Luckily he returned unharmed, had 5 more children and lived to be 70. Reuben Lake joined as did his younger brother Francis. Reuben was shot in the neck and shoulder in South Carolina and was somewhat disabled for the rest of his life. However, he married Sarah Ann Mansfield (daughter of Charles) and produced a clan of 12 ! When he died in 1897 Sarah was left to raise her 7 minor children on a paltry widow's pension. Her pension files list her only asset as one milk cow.

I am trying to pass along some of this information to the next generation so they will have a better understanding of history as they learn about this in school ... I wish I'd had been told of the "Human" side of the war back when it seemed to be just a list of dates and places.

March 20, 2015

Did wives own property outright in 1870s?

I was surprised after examining the published probate notices for Mary Watson Rider of Orleans County, NY to find that her husband was still alive, but not listed as "kin". Intitially I thought he had predeceased her and that she was passing on their real and personal property to her family members. No one on his side of the family was named in Mary's probate filings. 

Mary and Job Rider lived in Murray, Orleans County at the end of their lives. They had been farming in Cortland and Monroe counties before showing up in Orleans in the 1875 census. It does appear that Mary's probate process dragged on for some time following her death in November 1878.  Job died the following summer and his probate notices listed many, many people in numerous New York counties and as far flung as Wisconsin and Alabama. Their probate notices were published repeatedly in The Holley Standard newspaper.

Not one person appeared as heirs of both Mary and Job. I thought that seemed a bit a strange.

February 24, 2015

1909 MN Death Certificates Lists Children Born & Alive

This is the first time I have seen this information captured on a death certificate … and it’s for their father!   

Rufus Metcalf Watson was born in New York in 1835 where he lived with his wife and children until some time following her death in 1882.  In the 1900 census he showed up in North Dakota and then died in Chippewa County Minnesota in 1909.

I examined his death certificate looking for some record of how long had been in Minnesota, but instead found a notation that he married at age 32 and that of his 6 children, 2 were living. 

In this case I already knew about his children – but such information could be very revealing!