Tuesday, April 18, 2017

This One Is Personal

Jack & me, costume party

     You may have noticed a resounding silence from me of late.  Other than the blog about my rebel ancestor which was written quite some time before I published it, I haven't posted in awhile.  I've debated whether or not to do so now, but in the end I wanted to do something to mark the passing of a wonderful man, so here it is.

     My loving husband passed away last month and concentrating has been difficult, so writing has been impossible.  I have no words to express how much I miss him, but I hope to return to blogging soon.  Until then, sincere thanks to all of you who have written to me.
Ellie

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Announcing a New Holiday

    

 
     I've come to the conclusion my County Carlow ancestor Patrick Hore, who was hung by the British for defending Ireland's freedom during the rising of' '98, deserves some recognition.  To that end, April 5, the day on which he was murdered, will hereafter be observed, (in my family at least) as Patrick Hore Day.  I designed the t-shirt above and everyone in the clan is getting one which they had better wear.

     Patrick's offense was to administer an "unlawful oath" to Matthew Brennan.  Something along the lines of "damnation to the king and all the royal family".  Supposedly he also conspired to kill Luke Lyons, but I'm not sure if the conspiracy ever came to fruition.  Probably not since he was not charged with Luke's death.  Regardless,  I feel great pride at having a rebel in the family and now that I've finally found him, I couldn't bear to have his memory lost again.  Here's to you Patrick, may the Saints bless and protect you.

    

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Tuesday's Tip/Getting Techie...Just A Little Bit


    
     When I first began using the internet decades ago, there was a feature called "cache" that was visible every time a search was performed and hits resulted.  It was right there in smaller letters below the title and description of the web page -- and then it wasn't.  Cache by the way is basically a snapshot in time of a website.

     Cache was useful if previously viewed content had been removed from the site or if it was down for some reason or just taking FOREVER to load.  Even if the page had been removed, it was still possible to view the cached version.

     I never even noticed it was gone until the day I went to use it.  Well, it turns out cache is not gone!  It's simply hiding.  It can now be found residing right after the site's URL as circled in red above, just click the green arrow and there it is.  An alternative is to use Internet Archive's Wayback Machine which involves a bit more work than just clicking an arrow, but may have an even older version of the page of interest.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Grandpa Jeremiah And That Hussy Betsey

 
Death  of Betsey Grandy Garner,  born Sterling, NY -- died in Hastings County, Ontario, Canada
  
     Yesterday, instead of cleaning up my desk like I promised myself I would do, I spent the day figuring out the seeming inconsistencies in the life of Betsey Chase, the wife of John M. Grandy and then of Jeremiah Garner.  Betsey is not even related to me, but she did marry my third great-grandfather Jeremiah, so I needed to clear up a few things.  By the way, the back story of the Garner/Grandy nuptials is a somewhat sordid one that involves international borders, abandonment and bigamy, you can read it here if you'd like. 

     Although I was convinced Betsey died only a year and a half after her 1868 marriage to Grandpa Jeremiah in a foreign country, (OK, it was Canada), annoying contradictory evidence kept popping up.  One was the record in a database on the Wayne County, NY Historian's website saying Betsey Grandy married  Eugene Morris in 1874.  Did she tire of Jeremiah, return home and marry again?  Another was a pension record dated 1892, with the names John M. Grandee and his widow Betsey A. Grandee of New York.  But... Betsey died in 1869...didn't she?  Of course she did, the record of her demise is at the top of this page; I was convinced at one time and I'm not that easy to convince.  I read somewhere that while researching you should just go ahead and assume there was another person of the same name living in the same area as your ancestor.  That way you'll be extra careful before accepting the evidence you find at face value. I think it's good advice and try to keep it in mind while chasing my ancestors.
  
     I couldn't just assume Elizabeth Garner was Betsey Grandy even though I had their marriage record, and the likelihood of another Elizabeth marrying a Garner who was coincidentally an innkeeper like my Jeremiah, and lived in Hastings County, like my Jeremiah, and was from Sterling, NY like Jeremiah... oh heck, it's her!  I wouldn't even be questioning it if not for those nagging contrary records that turned up; in census after census my Jeremiah Garner is the only person of that name in Hastings County, or the entire Provence of Ontario for that matter.

     Still, those records did exist and they needed to be reconciled.
What if the pension referred to a different couple with the names John M. and Betsey Grandy, living somewhere in New York?  The record at Family Search didn't give a home address, just "New York State".  It did however give the next best thing, John's unit, the 10th Regiment of NY Heavy Artillery.  Unlike modern day soldiers, those of the Civil War era usually enlisted locally and served alongside their family, friends and neighbors.  Checking to see where this regiment was formed, I found the 10th was made up of soldiers from Jefferson County, far north of  Cayuga County where the Garners and Grandys lived.  Now I checked the 1850 census of Jefferson County for a John Grandy and found him in Clayton.  At age 17 he was just the right age to be a Civil War soldier.  Strangely, Ancestry had nothing at all about John Grandy, Civil War soldier; I sometimes wonder if they are transferring their military information to Fold3 which they now own?

     Family Search though, had lots on John.  Along with the above mentioned pension record they had the 1890 veteran's schedule showing John still in Jefferson County and the marriage of Daniel, a son of John M. Grandee of Clayton and (I crossed my fingers here) BETSEY Robbins!  YES!  There WAS an explanation for the pension, it was a different couple bearing the names John M. and Betsey Grandy/Grandee.  But there was still that pesky local marriage in 1874.  Now I searched the 1850 and 1860 censuses of Wayne and Cayuga Counties, because they lived in an area right on the border of the two counties, and there in Butler, Wayne, New York I found Betsey Grandy, daughter of Lewis Grandy, seven years old in 1860; she could easily have been married fourteen years later.  This must be the future wife of Eugene Morris.

     I do this all the time and I'll bet I'm not alone.  I research a subject and find what I deem to be conclusive evidence, but as years go by I move on to other lines and the memories of my fantastic finds fade. When I return to the other family I find myself doubting my own conclusions.  And that is where this blog comes in so handy, and why it has a search function.  All I have to do is check past posts and oftentimes there is an analysis of the research I've already done.  For me this is so much easier than keeping a research journal, even if no one ever read what I wrote it would be worth the effort.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Mappy Monday/Finding Uncle John Crotty's Farm

  

     My third-great-grandmother Honora Crotty Power was born in the Catholic Parish of Tramore, County Waterford in 1814.  I know this because on March 12 of that year, her parents Ellen Kelly and Patrick Crotty had her baptized in that place.  I also know Honora grew up and married Edmond Power there sometime around 1834.  They made their home in Cullencastle, still in Tramore Parish, where they had at least three children.  I believe there were others born to them, but unfortunately Tramore church records are missing for the early years of  the Power marriage.  Their youngest child Philip, born in 1857, is the lone baptism found in Tramore.  I know of the existence of the other two children only because they appear in obituaries in the USA. 

     Honora came to America between 1875 and 1880, probably alone as a widow.  The 1875 New York census shows all three of her known children in Farmington, New York but she is not with any one of them.  In 1880 Honora was living with her daughter Ellen Mahoney in Farmington, where she died in 1888, her death certificate being maddeningly devoid of any genealogical information.  That was about all I could find for a long time, but although the church records are missing for the period when Honora married and began her family, earlier church records survive.  I was able to find the marriage of her parents in 1809, and along with her baptism, that of her older brother David, and her younger brother Patrick Jr.

     Farmington had several different Power families living there at the time Honora arrived, some were from Waterford and were probably related, but I'm not sure how at this point.  There was only one Crotty family however-- that of John Crotty, his wife Ellen and their daughter Mary.  Could this be Honora's brother?  There was no baptismal record for him in Tramore, but what were the odds the only two Crottys from Ireland living in a small town like Farmington were not related?  Not good as I discovered, they were related!  The story of how I proved it is here.

     But back to maps; since I grew up one town over from Farmington, I was naturally curious about where the Crotty's had lived there.  So I went to Ancestry and searched their collection of ownership maps. It took a little persistence, John was mistakenly indexed as J. B. Cratty, but I found him.  I'm sure it's my Uncle John-- right across the street is the Wallace farm.  James Wallace was John's brother-in-law, husband of his wife Ellen's sister Mary Mullett.  Even today  these two families from across the Atlantic remain together, buried side by side in St. Patrick's Cemetery in nearby Macedon, NY.

     I took a drive out to the spot pictured on Ancestry's map but things had changed a bit.  The old map showed the two families on a road that goes straight through to an east-west road.  No such road exists.  Being familiar with the area I was pretty sure I was in the right place, but things were not lining up. I then looked at a satellite map which brought everything into focus.

      Look there, right below the T formed by the two roads.  The outline of an old, long unused road can clearly be seen in darker green running though the wooded area.  It's overgrown, but still visible.  The house on the left was the spot John and Ellen Crotty lived a century ago.  While their home is gone now, and another has taken it's place, the fascination remains for me. This spot is a tangible link to my Irish past.  I've surrendered any notion of being able to fully explain the emotions kindled by standing in my ancestor's footprints, but if you're reading this, I probably don't have to.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Friday's Photo/Ned Burke, Irish American Hero

Edward George Burke

     Looking around Ebay today, I came across this photo while searching one of my ancestor's localities.  The picture is labeled a "memorium" of Edward George Burke of the US Navy-- I just had to know more about this handsome young Irishman.  His story is a tragic one that occurred in the summer of 1911 at Owasco near Auburn, New York; the place my Irish immigrants settled after leaving Ireland during the famine.

     A search at the Old Fulton newspaper site produced this sad story featured in the Oswego Daily Times dated July 12, 1911:

     Owasco Lake last evening, added another canoeing tragedy to the list due to this frail craft when Edward George Burke, of Philadelphia, a graduate of the United States Naval Hospital service, was drowned with his cousin, Miss Adelaide McCarthy, a pretty high school girl and niece of Mayor O'Neill of Auburn.
     Burke reached here yesterday, and Miss McCarthy was showing him the lake as they paddled south.  Suddenly a terrific windstorm burst and their canoe capsized.
     A motorboat coming to the rescue was swamped by the heavy seas.  Burke shouted, "Save the girl, don't try to take me in."  The engine of the motorboat stalled however as the wind blew the helpless craft away.  Burke, still trying hard to tread water while holding his cousin, disappeared.
     The bodies of the unfortunate couple were not recovered.  Burke's parents are both dead, but his brother resides in Philadelphia.

     Ned and his cousin Adelaide were eventually found, and buried in the same plot at St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery in Auburn a few days later.  A monument consisting of a bronze tablet affixed to a boulder stands in Emerson Park overlooking the lake, it reads:

IN MEMORIUM
EDWARD GEORGE BURKE, LATE US NAVY
DROWNED IN OWASCO LAKE
ELEVENTH DAY JULY NINETEEN HUNDRED
ELEVEN
STRIVING TO SAVE THE LIFE OF
MARY ADELAIDE McCARTHY

I KNEW YOU NOT; I KNOW YOUR NAME, NED BURKE
'TIS THE MISTY ISLE WITH TH' EMERALD CREST
THAT SUCKLES YOUR RACE AT HER TEEMING BREAST;
THAT SPURNS THE CRAVEN, THAT ADORES THE MILD,
THE GENTLE, THE TENDER, THE WOMAN AND CHILD.

WHITE WAS THE SOUL OF YOU NED BURKE
THE WINDS WERE HIGH AND THE WATERS WERE BLACK;
TWAS DO OR DIE WITH THE MAID AT YOUR BACK;
WITH NEVER A QUIVER OR HALT AT THE TEST
YOU GAVE YOUR ALL, YOU GAVE YOUR BEST

THIS MONUMENT WAS ERECTED BY PUBLIC
SUBSCRIPTION TO COMMEMORATE A BRAVE DEED



Thursday, February 16, 2017

All Roads Lead To Garrettstown

     


     Now that my Vincent family has been fairly well figured out, at least until I'm able to get a peek at those 1812 pension applications, I've turned my attention back to Ireland and Counties Carlow and Kildare.  Mostly because a recent DNA match appears to link me to John McGarr who I believe is the father of my Daniel in Ballyraggan.  

     When the NLI put the Catholic parish records online, I spent days pouring over them and creating lists of baptisms and marriages from Rathvilly and Baltinglass Parishes, but my organizational skills being somewhat lacking, they were all over my computer; some were transcriptions, some were screen shots, a few downloads... you get the picture.  Deciding that the best way to handle this mess was to create one document arranged chronologically by parish, I set to work and now have a useful set of records.  I still have a folder containing the above described mess, but now I also have a neat index of what I've found.  I like duplicates because I still do NOT trust computers.  And every time someone's airline cancels their flight due to a "computer glitch" my mistrust is vindicated.

     Looking down at the addresses in my ever so neat list,  three places dominate--Ricketstown, home of the Hore family, Ballyraggan where the McGarrs resided and Garrettstown, where it appears both lines lived before moving to the other two townlands.  All are quite close together.  The earliest event mentioning Garrettstown is the 1802 baptism of Richard "Magah", son of John & Catherine, alas no maiden name is given.  This couple are, I believe, John McGarr and Catherine Murphy, also the parents of my Daniel (I think) making Richard and Daniel brothers.  In 1803 Elizabeth "Magah" was born at Garrettstown to a Michael and Mary.  They, I believe, are Michael McGarr and Mary Hayden, Michael being a brother of the above John McGarr (again, I think).  If I'm right about this, that would make Daniel and Elizabeth first cousins, and following my tree down to the present day, Elizabeth my 5th cousin which is exactly what the DNA match says.

     I didn't find any early Hore baptisms with a Garrettstown address, but there is a barely legible one from another family in 1801 for whom Michael and Winny Hore acted as sponsors.  Also, when my third great-grandfather Michael Hore married Mary Travers in 1814, the address was Garrettstown.  That year is the last time I find Garrettstown in my ancestor's records. Checking the Tithe Applotment books I found no family members in the townland, they had clearly moved on before the book was compiled for that area.  Michael McGarr is believed to have died about that time, and his widow Mary Hayden was among the early Irish immigrants to Auburn, New York.  The only individual that I found named Hore in the area is John living at Ricketstown.  I know there were others in the area, but the books don't reflect this.

     The Tithe books did show my Daniel McGarr in Ballyraggan and a John "McGra" living about 5 miles away in Knocklasheen More!  This John could be my man, especially since the name right next to his is "Widow Murphy", his wife Catherine Murphy's mother perhaps?  There's really no way to be sure, so I go on collecting puzzle pieces.  As I once read somewhere, the more pieces you have the easier it is to see what the picture will eventually be.

Friday, February 10, 2017

Friday's Photo/Timothy McGarr, AKA "The Snooty One"

1856-1942

     Today's photo is not of the best quality, but it's the only one I could find.  In young adulthood, Timothy McGarr worked for the Associated Press going on to become private secretary to Roscoe Conkling, US Senator.  Tim rose in New York State politics to become secretary of the New York State Department of Mental Hygiene.  I knew that a man of such prominence must have had numerous photos taken over the course of his career, and we here at EA headquarters did not rest until we found this one in an obscure book online. 

     Timothy began life in much reduced circumstances in Auburn, NY.  His parents, John McGarr and Mary Kelly, were Irish immigrants who married in Auburn and immediately began a family.  Timothy was their eighth child, to be followed by two more.  His father died when Timothy was ten years old and his mother when he was thirteen.  After that his oldest brother Richard raised him and his siblings, quite a responsibility for a young man of twenty four.

    Timothy was briefly mentioned in a blog of mine from November of 2015 concerning discrimination against Catholics in 19th century America, which noted his father-in-law's alarm that his daughter had married an Irish Catholic.  What I left out of that blog was that Tim's father-in-law made no effort to hide his disgust over his child's marriage, writing in a family history-- "(T.E. McGarr) is said to have been educated, in part at least, for a Roman Catholic priest; and it seems the veriest irony of fate that I, having had fear and detestation of Roman Catholicism bred in my very bones, and, since I arrived at years of discretion and understanding, having ever regarded the Roman Catholic Church as being, in all respects and without exception, the greatest calamity that ever befell the human race, should, despite myself, be thus connected with the unclean thing."  I hope his daughter slapped him.

     About now you're probably wondering where the label, "the snooty one", came from.  While researching the McGarrs on Ancestry.com I made contact with a descendant of this McGarr line.  In her possession was an old letter packed with family lore, obviously written in response to another long ago family researcher's questions, which she generously shared with me.  This is the same letter that confirmed my hunch that the three children buried in an Alabama cemetery were indeed the children of Timothy's sister Catherine.

     The letter talks about the usual family happenings, in "Grandpa McGarr's" family, covering several of Timothy's siblings, then it comes to Tim himself-- "Tim, the real snooty one who was Commissioner of Lunacy of the State of New York and must have made quite a bundle."

     So there we are.  Was Tim really snooty?  Or was the writer a tad bit jealous of his success and affluence?  Motivations not likely to be found in typical genealogy records, but then who thought I'd discover Tim's in-law's bigotry in a book online?  I'm very interested in this McGarr line because my theory is that Tim's father John McGarr, the immigrant, was the brother of my Daniel McGarr who remained in Ballyraggan, County Kildare.  A possible link made more intriguing by shared DNA, but that's a story for another blog...

Thursday, February 9, 2017

National Archives of Ireland Family History Workbook

Glendalough, Co. Wicklow--what was their address before 1606?
      
     The NAI has created an interesting new site with information concerning online resources and featuring a free Irish genealogy workbook at:   https://www.irishgenealogy.ie/en/2016-family-history/welcome  Even though I've been doing Irish genealogy for a number of years, I found a few things I was unaware of here, for instance-- County Wicklow didn't even exist as such until 1606 and the idea that perhaps most Catholic parishes kept no burial records  because it was the state church that owned the graveyards in the early 19th century.


     After arriving at the site, click the green button labeled  "Let's get started", and up comes a page with a few hints about Irish genealogy along with seven short videos describing each "module" covered in the course.  Quite short actually, only about a minute each but worth viewing.  These are narrated by the engaging, respected genealogist John Grenham and a joy to listen to.  Well, to be fair, I find anyone with even the slightest Irish accent a joy to listen to, but Mr. Grenham has the added bonus of being a very learned man. 

     The workbook containing the modules themselves can be downloaded in PDF format.  At the bottom of the video page a green bar across the bottom will prompt you to download the course, which doesn't take long at all.  Reading it doesn't take long either, each module is only a couple of pages.  I particularly enjoyed the online searching tips and the modules concerning surnames and placenames.

     As I mentioned, the videos are well done, the course is easy to get through in one sitting and you may learn a thing or two.  One thing I don't think gets the attention it should, and doesn't in the course either, is the fact that the censuses of 1901 and 1911 contain detailed descriptions of our ancestor's living conditions.  That really doesn't happen in US censuses.  Several additional forms exist in the Irish censuses, one with information about the house itself and who the landholder is, and one for outbuildings.  In 1901 my 3rd great-grandmother Margaret Gun (mis-transcribed Geen) can be found living in urban Listowel on land owned by the Earl of Listowel, with her grandson, her widowed daughter Johanna Connor and Johanna's three grown children.  They lived in just two rooms...the six of them!  The form for outbuildings noted a "piggery" on the property, but failed to mention if it was inhabited by a hog at the time.  These bits of knowledge about their lives are very important to me and I would bet to many family historians.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Friday's Photo/ Edna Steinfurth of Erie PA


     Meet Edna L. Steinfurth, born 12 September of 1899 in Erie, Pennsylvania to Henry Steinfurth, the son of German immigrants and his wife Augusta, a native of Germany.  Edna grew up in Erie with an older brother Arthur and three younger siblings, Irene, Walter and Beatrice.

      I love these old full length photos.  This one must have been taken around 1910 give or take a few years and shows not only the clothing, but the footwear a young girl of the era would have worn.

     I'm unable to find a record of a first marriage for Edna, but there is a death certificate for a child who appears to be her daughter--



    I found Carl Simonsen, the father in the certificate, in later censuses with a wife named Hannah, so he and Edna must have divorced.   Edna later married George Swanson and eventually moved to New York State, first to Jamestown and by 1940 to Buffalo, New York.  Edna passed away 14 October 1989 at the age of 90.  She and her husband George, who died in 1966 are buried together in Erie Cemetery in Erie, Pennsylvania.



   

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wednesday's Website/New York Gravestones

     


     I've been working on filling in my Vincent family tree, working back in time.  I've always been led to believe that no gravestone exists for Sarah Cowan Wells whose granddaughter and namesake Sarah Charlotte Fowler married John Taylor Vincent around 1850 in Wayne County, New York.  So I was quite surprised to see a family tree on Ancestry.com which had a supposed photo of her stone.  The thing is, the picture is so small and blurry it could be anyone's stone.  Find a Grave has no image of Sarah's stone though it does have several of her husband Austin Wells'.  I know she's there with Austin, I have a list of burials from the cemetery office which lists Sarah Wells, wife of Austin with the appropriate dates.  Both are in Section C, row 13, of Old Turnpike Cemetery in Cambridge, New York .

      I looked around for more sites that might have a photo of Sarah's stone and ran across this site, New York Gravestones .  They didn't have a pic of Sarah's marker either, though they too had one of Austin's.  What this site did have was actual photographs of tombstones with no unsourced assertions as to the deceased's family connections nor undocumented burials with no picture of the stone-- like that other site.  While it's great to see those possible family facts, and sometimes they are correct, I'm concerned casual researchers may believe the data on Find a Grave comes from cemetery records; too often it doesn't.

     Personally? I have my doubts there is a marker for Sarah Cowan Wells, or a readable one at any rate.  She must be buried next to her husband Austin, why take a photo of his grave and neglect hers?  New York Gravestones doesn't have as many burials as Find a Grave, but they are growing.  I'll be sending my photos to them in the future.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tuesday's Tip/Searching on Find A Grave

     I've found Find a Grave can be a little frustrating when I'm searching for someone whose last name could be spelled in various ways, or if the person in question has married and I'm not sure of the correct spelling of her married name.  They can be a little persnickety about spelling, and you can't search by the deceased's first name alone, which with well over one million burials isn't really feasible anyway.  There is a back door however, if you have an idea where the burial may have taken place.

     Select "Search for a cemetery" on the home page. Now you can select a specific state and county.  At this point, a list of cemeteries will appear which you can whittle down further by village or town.  Once you have selected a cemetery, you will be able to search by first name alone.  Granted this works best in smaller cemeteries or if the first name is an unusual one like say, Wentworth, but if you've been unable to find the burial the traditional way it may be worth a try.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Wednesday's Website/Civil War Prison Database

     Now that I've proven my ancestor Mary Augusta Vincent married George W. Matteson, I'm naturally curious about their courtship.  George enlisted in 1861, five years before the couple married in July of 1865.  Did they know each other when he enlisted, did they meet while he was home on a furlough?  Their homes were one hundred miles apart in 1865, how did they meet?  George mustered out of the army in early March of 1865, only four months before the marriage, it seems to me they must have been acquainted, perhaps even engaged, for at least part of his service.

     I'm not too hopeful I'll find the answers I seek, but nonetheless I've been reading histories of the 76th regiment and pouring over letters from men in George's Company F.  One bit of information that turned up was that George was captured at the Battle of the Wilderness, 5 May 1864 and held prisoner for seven months.  Some of the regimental histories mentioned their soldiers being sent to the notorious pow camp at Andersonville Georgia; was that where George was taken after his capture?  If he spent seven months in that prison he was lucky to have survived, many died within much shorter time spans.  A young soldier named Price who was taken prisoner the same time as George lasted only three months in it's confines.

     Surfing around trying to find some lists of prisoners I stumbled upon this site: http://www.civilwarprisoners.com/index.php
containing searchable databases of Andersonville and Cahaba prisons along with the prisoners aboard the Sultana, a ship which exploded as it was carrying prisoners from those two places to freedom.  I selected Andersonville's database and typed George's name into the search fields, immediately this popped up--


     He had been taken to that terrible place!  There's no telling what shape he was in when he was released, but it couldn't have been good.  By the time of his capture the prisoner exchange program had been halted leaving growing numbers of Union prisoners trapped in Confederate prisons which had insufficient resources to care for or feed them.  This leaves me wondering even more, was Mary Augusta engaged to George in 1864?  Did she know of his capture and where he was?  Maybe someday I'll find out.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Finding Mary Matteson

     
George Washington Matteson


     Work here has continued apace in my attempt to find more proof of the identity of the wife of George W. Matteson.  An earlier post  outlined all the circumstantial evidence I've amassed on that topic, which points to my ancestor Mary Augusta Vincent being the bride. I'm pleased to say I've now found the evidence that settles the matter. 

     To review, my ancestor Mary Vincent, was  born to my third great-grandparents Thomas and Matilda Taylor Vincent in 1838 and was last seen living with her sister Louisa Vincent Hurd in Cohocton, Steuben County, NY in 1865.  After 1865 she either died, was married, or she joined the underground.  Several family trees posted on Ancestry showed two different Mary A. Vincent's, (along with two different sets of parents) as the wife of George Matteson,  I managed to rule both those young women out by determining who they really had married.  The funny thing was, there weren't that many women named Mary Vincent or Mary A. Vincent born in New York around 1838.  Further evidence that the woman who married George was indeed my relative was the name she chose for her first daughter.  It was Frances, probably in honor of Mary's recently deceased sister Frances Amelia Vincent Coons.

     A few days ago I took a trip to the Rochester, NY library to view a book I'd found in their online catalog containing marriages extracted from Steuben County newspapers, including the time period of the wedding.  Surely this book would provide some answers, I was running out of options.  The results were very disappointing--no results.  Last night while looking through my notes I remembered a tree on Ancestry that listed no parents for Mary Vincent, (or was it the wrong parents?) , either way it had her marriage taking place in Steuben County, the source being "US Pension Office".  If the marriage had indeed occurred in Steuben County that would be fabulous; I was reasonably certain my Mary Vincent born in1838 was the only Mary Vincent circa 1838 living in Steuben County in 1865.

     The owner of said tree had never responded to my polite inquiry as to the exact wording of the source, which meant I had to somehow get a look at George's Civil War Pension file-- documents which I've been led to believe are not yet digitized--another dead end.  Just for the heck of it I typed all the following into the Google search box--"Civil War"  "George W. Matteson"  "New York", and hit enter.   The first two hits were for Ancestry searches which for some reason had the location as California, not New York.  The third hit was my own blog, then Find A Grave, next a WorldCat link for the wrong George Matteson; the sixth hit was different, this one's heading was, "Archive Grid-Sager brothers Civil War Letters", with "George Matteson 76th" in small type underneath.  That was at least the right George who I knew had served in the 76th so I clicked it, maybe George was mentioned in the letters?  I next did a "find on page" search for Matteson and there, highlighted in the sidebar, was another link titled, "George W. Matteson 76th New York Infantry", from the Allen County Library...so I clicked that too.

     Up came a page with details that read, "1 online resource-- twenty four unnumbered pages-- Military Service, Affidavit, Pension record, etc. etc..."  What?  Could it be?  I hardly dared believe my good fortune, but there it was, George's pension file!   I started through the pages hoping against hope that the tree at Ancestry had been right about the marriage information being contained in this document.  There was mention of the name Mary A. Matteson, a cause of death for George, pension amounts... I kept going and finally, there on the next to last page I found it, "married Mary A. Vincent July 2nd 1865 at Bloods Corners, Steuben County, New York!"  Another search revealed that Bloods, today called Atlanta, was a small hamlet in the Town of Cohocton. The marriage place was not just Steuben County, it was the exact township where my Mary was residing in 1865. This clinches the deal for me, I have the right name, right age, and right wedding place.  

     I'm still amazed I found this, there are only a few hundred pension files on the site, out of tens of thousands that exist.  What were the odds the one I needed would be there?  And yet it was, sometimes if you're persistent you just get lucky.