October 17, 2012

New Evidence that I had the wrong parents for James W Clark of Delhi, NY

In my earliest efforts to piece together the family of Dr Adam Clark and his wife Harriet Watson of Albany County, NY, I made quite a few assumptions. They had married about 1820 and their numerous children were born between 1821 and 1843 prior to the establishment of government birth records. Several of their sons had Watson as a middle name and some had moved to Delhi in Delaware County. When I found a James W Clark, born 1829, living in Delhi, I initially wondered if he was another of their sons. James was a farmer in Delhi married to Elizabeth Bailey, the father of quite a few children, and a veteran of the Civil War. 

As time goes on more and more resources become available, providing the opportunity to check early life events more carefully. Especially helpful are smaller local newspapers, many of which are being digitized. For the era prior to government vital records, a newspaper report can be important. I have been spending time and effort searching those newly-available newspaper records for verification and documentation of many family members.  However, that is not how I discovered my error.

October 14, 2012

1951 Report of House Fire Reveals An Unknown Sister b 1822: Harriet Hill Hull

While searching online newspapers for information regarding the 1899 death of young Hiland Hill in Catskill, NY, the report of a house fire in 1951 surfaced.  It referenced a home at Hill and Bronson Streets in Catskill that had been built in 1848 by Hiland Hill (1786-1850), the great grandfather of my research subject.

It mentioned that the builder had been the father of  “late bankmen Frederick and Henry and Mrs. A. Cooke Hull”.  Really ? I had records for 2 other daughters of Hiland and his wife Mary Butler, Mary and Emily, both of whom had died unmarried. I knew nothing of Harriet.

Lucikly A. Cooke Hull is not a common name and I easily found him, a physician, trained in NYC and practicing in Brooklyn. He and Harriet married about 1845, too early for her to have ever been listed with her parents in a census. Aaron Cooke Hull was a leader in the field of homeopathic medicine as were his brother and brother-in-law which adds a bit of interest to the story of the Hill bankers.

You never know when a “remember when” or other historic notations in a newspaper will reveal new family members and stories.

October 12, 2012

Who was Alice Hill's Mother ?

While working on the Comfort Family of Catskill, NY I was tracing Hiram and Julia’s daughter Hellen, born in 1828.  She appeared as married in the 1860 census with husband Henry Hill and a daughter, Alice, aged 9. I had confirmation that Henry and Hellen had married in 1859 which made it seem obvious that Alice was not Hellen's daughter.  But who was Alice's mother?  Both Henry and Hellen had appeared in the 1850 census as single living with their parents. Had Henry married soon after and had his 1st wife died before 1859? 
I could find no evidence.

Although it is not available online, I was able to purchase a copy of the 1855 State Census for Greene County NY. There I found Hellen living with her mother, listed as single, and assumed I would find Henry as head of household with Alice and her mother. I did not. So I looked for his parents. His mother, now widowed, was listed as head with Henry and two of his sisters ... no Alice, no wife.

October 8, 2012

The Challenge of Common Names: Miss Black of Indiana

While working on the Peckham family, I found that George had married a woman from Indiana whose first name was at times listed as Elnora, Eleanor, Elenore.  I assumed that they married in New York City about 1917, but could not find a newspaper marriage announcement nor a matching entry in the ever-so-helpful index of brides and grooms created by and published for free by the Italian Genealogical Group. I wanted to find her maiden name and birth family.

Mrs. Peckham died in the mid-1920s and a death record index listed her name as Elenore Black Peckham … so that was a good start. I wanted to see if I could find Eleanor Black in NYC in the years before her marriage.  I did not find a census record, but a 1915 passenger record seemed to match her. It stated that she was born in Greenfield, IN about 1888 and was living on 114th Street in NYC. 

I thought the rest should be easy – just check the 1900 census. Not found ! She had been traveling overseas, so find her passport application. Not found ! No matching birth record was found for Eleanor on family search either.