Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Announcement From FGS On 1812 Pensions!

     Today the Federation of Genealogical Societies announced the resumption of work on the War of 1812 pension applications so many have been eagerly awaiting.  The following is from their blog:  

A security incident at the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) facility in St. Louis led to a work stoppage of digitization projects for security review. This incident was unrelated to the Preserve the Pensions project in Washington D.C., however, our project was impacted.  The Federal bureaucracy is a slow-moving beast, as many of us have experienced outside of genealogy.   The completed review led to new security and project protocols. These protocols imposed new cost, space, and completion date constraints on the project. Neither conservation nor digitization could resume without a renegotiated project plan. These negotiations were difficult and time-consuming...

     So why on earth could that not have been shared with the public?  Regardless, things are looking up and hopefully I will be able to read my 4th great-grandfather's file before too much longer.  Below is a link to the announcement on the FGS blog--

http://voice.fgs.org/

Monday, July 31, 2017

Tombstone Tuesday/ I Wonder About Annie

     


     For a long time, I was unsure what to make of the child called Annie.  I saw her tombstone in St. Anne's Cemetery in Palmyra, New York right next to my 2nd great-uncle James White and his wife Mary Ford so I assumed she must have been their daughter.  On her small stone was engraved simply, "Annie 1890-1893".  I found no record of her baptism in St. Anne's records, only her burial in 1893 which matched the date on her stone.  The burial record gave her father's name as James White, so that's that.  Except... in the census of 1900, which asked women if they had children, how many, and how many of them were still living, Mary told the census taker she never had any children.  So was Annie adopted?  A niece or other relative?

     Mary, a native of County Laois, would have been 37 at the time of Annie's birth, and James 41.  That's rather late to begin a family and there were no other children born to this marriage, but then again James and Mary didn't wed until 1887.  Today it occurred to me I had never located this family in the New York State census taken in 1892 when Annie would have been two years old.  Palmyra was a small town, it took only eight pages to enumerate it's residents that year, so I went page by page after an Ancestry search failed to turn them up.  Still nothing.  Ancestry wouldn't allow me to search by county, so I switched to Family Search which would.  They weren't listed anywhere in Wayne County, where Palmyra is located, so I tried Ontario, the next county over.  There they were!  James White, Mary White, and Anna M. White aged two living in the town of Phelps. 

     So little Annie was with James and Mary at the age of two-- she must be theirs I thought, and named for her grandmother, Anna Ryan White.  I recalled the census of 1910 also asked women about their children so I checked that one next.  This time Mary, now living in Palmyra, told the enumerator she had one child who was still living.  What?  All I can imagine is that Mary was so undone by her only child's death she couldn't bear to talk about it, certainly not to a stranger who came to her door asking intrusive questions.  I looked at the New York State Death Index, now coming online at Internet Archive, and found "Anna M. White" died 24 September 1893 in Palmyra.

     All the evidence points to James and Mary being Annie's parents.  The next time I'm able to look at church registers in Phelps I will look for her baptism there; since she isn't in St. Anne's baptismal records I think it's probable she was born in Phelps.  And I won't be at all surprised when I read that her parents were James White and Mary Ford.

    

Friday, July 14, 2017

Willie T. Revisited

     Two years ago I wrote a blog about my search for my 1st cousin 3X removed, John Sheehan, who left home one day in 1875 and was never seen nor heard from again.  I promised an update if I ever tracked John down or alternatively, if I discovered what had caused the unrelated death of his nephew William Thomas Sheehan seventy six years later at the age of only 52.  Well, neither of those things have come to pass.  John is still among the missing and it's clear now that I'm not going to get a cause of death for William unless I order his certificate from the state of California.  I've located a death notice for William, but he passed away in Los Angeles and those big city newspapers didn't devote much print to lengthy obituaries unless the deceased was famous in some way.

     So why am I writing an update?  Because I found something even better than a cause of death for William, I found a photograph!  OK, Ancestry found it I guess and sent me one of those little leaves, but I'm still excited.  It's so rare that I come across photographs.

William Thomas Sheehan (1899-1951
     
     William was 20 years old when this photo was taken.  The document it was attached to was his application for a Citizen Seaman's Protection Certificate which he filed in September of 1919.  The certificates functioned like  passports for seamen and were issued at all Great Lake and ocean ports by the collector of customs.

     This may have been William's first trip, the spaces provided for listing departures and arrivals is blank on his form, but there is a ship called the Pearl Shell noted on the application. Also included in the file is a notarized, handwritten affidavit from William's mother Lillian Putnam Sheehan giving his date and place of birth.  I found a reference to William's ship in a book online called International Marine Engineering, Vol. 23 that indicated the ship was an oil tanker that was part of the Merchant Marine fleet and had been taken over by the US government.  That would explain the 1920 census which says William was a machinist who worked for the government.


   Below is what is written on the back of the photo and I admit I'm stumped.  I get the "Citz" in pencil that must be an abbreviation of citizen, but the rest?  Any suggestions what it may mean would be appreciated.




    

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Pursuing John Vincent's Pension: Act 2

     


     Well, some good did come out of my disappointing correspondence with the FGS yesterday concerning the War of 1812 Pension files.  I was so vexed that I scoured the internet for other War of 1812 pension sources.  And I found one that had some relevant information about John Vincent!  This time I'm sure it's the right guy, there are several John Vincent's in the 1812 pension indexes that are online in various places.  The indexes contain very little information and it's not always easy to tell if you have your man or not.  In fact I wasn't one hundred percent certain that John or his widow ever drew a pension, which is why I never ordered a copy from NARA, which if any of the John Vincent files was the right one?


     This time I'm positive it's him.  The database is at the Family Search site and is titled United States Revolutionary War Pension Payment Ledgers 1818-1872.  I know what you're thinking, different wars, but the description notes that a few 1812 pensions did sneak in.  Somehow, the file I sought was one of these.  I typed in John's name and waited.  Only two hits came up, the first for John Vincent from Indiana and the second for John Vincent no location.  The second hit did include a wife's name, Mary H*.  I wasn't sure what that could be, my John did have a wife named Mary but I'd never seen the initial H used for her -- I clicked it anyway.

     The page that came up was dark and hard to read, all I could see was the name John Vincent, Private, a dollar amount and--hold on a minute!  Someone had written Canandaigua on the same line.
Hard to read, but the last word is Canandaigua
 Mary lived near Canandaigua for a time after John's death, but where was her name? Looking to the left I saw a name that had been crossed out.  It did look like the forename Mary, the indexers at Family Search thought it said Mary, for they had written "Mary H" in the description.  There was also a surname and it began with an H.  So the H wasn't a middle initial at all, it was all they could decipher of her last name.  I enlarged the crossed through surname and-- Oh. My. Goodness! It read "Howland".  Which was the name of Mary's second husband, and there-- the payments to Mary H stopped in 1864.  That is the year she died, it's her.




      Admittedly, I don't know much more now than I did before I found the ledger, but I did learn that John was a Private in the service and most importantly that a pension file does indeed exist for my direct ancestor John Vincent.  Now if they will only put it online...

Monday, July 10, 2017

Today's Tirade -- 1812 Pension Applications

Doublespeak- evasive, ambiguous language primarily meant to make the truth sound more palatable

     I can't imagine I'm the only totally frustrated researcher who has waited in vain for more images of the War of 1812 Pension Applications to appear on Fold3.  It has literally been years since the last batch was released.  You may recall the very successful campaign which raised $500,000 to pay for the digitizing and posting of the files, which was to be done in conjunction with the National Archives which holds the records and the Federation of Genealogical Societies.  Things were moving along, but then everything ground to a halt with letter M.  That's it, up to letter M then nothing.  And as luck would have it, my ancestor's name begins with the letter V.  

     The FGS Facebook page about the project hasn't been updated in nearly a year and the Fold3 site is equally mum.  When I inquired about the delay a year ago, this was the response--"there are persistent security issues and process control challenges with NARA’s internal operations"-- huh?  Today I tried again to get an answer to what was happening and got this reply-- "NARA has recently experienced some challenges managing their numerous work flows and processes...".  Did they realize how inadequate the first explanation was and revise it with a different but equally annoying excuse?  All I'd like to know is what is the problem?  And why the reticence to share that information with the individuals paying for the project?  It's much easier to be patient if one understands what is happening, (or not happening in this case), and why.

     The person who responded to my query did volunteer that an announcement concerning the project is expected from the FGS on August first.  After all the secrecy, I'm hoping this means something has changed and the project will resume, M is an awfully long way from V.

     

    

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Maria Vincent No Longer Among The Missing

    

     Looking through some posts about my Vincent family today I noticed a blog written before I had located all the children of John and Mary Clement Vincent, they being Matilda, Thomas, Maria, and Janet.  That blog noted one child,  Maria, had yet to be traced.  Happily, that is no longer the case.

     Maria Vincent was born in Saratoga County in 1806, probably at Halfmoon like her brother and sisters.  She married  Morgan Dunham, (Donham in some records), the son of William Dunham and Eleanor DuBois, in Saratoga County around 1830.  A deed from Saratoga County shows Morgan selling land there in 1831 which may be when the family migrated westward to Ontario County, New York.  They were certainly there by 1834 when their daughter Juliaette was born in Bristol, New York on June 22nd.  The 1840 NY census also places the Dunhams in the county, living in Richmond, New York, as was Maria's mother Mary Clement Vincent, now twice widowed and listed under her second late husband's surname of Howland.  Maria's sister Janet was there in her mother Mary's household though in 1840 she is only a tick mark in a column.  Maria's brother Thomas Vincent with his family also resided in Richmond in 1840.  All the Vincent siblings and their mother were together in Richmond except Matilda Vincent Irish who lived in Victory, New York in Wayne County.

     Maria and Morgan would have four daughters and three sons in that order, all of whom would survive to adulthood.  Sometime in the early 1840's the Dunhams packed up their children and moved to Pittsford, New York where Morgan had a brother, about twenty miles from Richmond.  By that time the other family members had also sold their property in Richmond and joined Matilda Vincent Irish in Victory.  Pittsford would have been quite a change for Maria.  While Richmond was a rural farming community, her new home was booming.  The Erie Canal had come through town in 1825, while 1842 saw the arrival of the Rochester & Auburn Railroad.  Pittsford was a prosperous, expanding community at the time Maria and her family arrived though she wouldn't get to enjoy it for long.

     Maria died a  month before her 43rd birthday from dysentery on 18 July 1849 in Pittsford.  In the days before refrigeration intestinal diseases were common, especially in the warmer months giving them the name, "summer complaint".  With the exception of Janet Vincent Wetherel, who would attain the age of 78, none of the Vincent siblings had long lives; their mother had to endure the deaths of three of her four children.  Matilda Vincent Irish passed at 46, Thomas at 39, and of course Maria at age 42.  Her husband Morgan would marry twice more, first to a woman named Sarah whose surname is given on the Find A Grave site as Etts, then in 1870 to Hannah Sutherland who would outlive him.

     With all the Vincent children now accounted for, I'd really love to know what caused the death of my 3rd great-grandfather Thomas Vincent, only son of John and Mary, at the young age of 39.  The historian of Cayuga County where Victory lies, wrote me that several epidemics swept through the town in the 1840's, carried by travelers and pioneers.  We see this in the cases of Matilda Vincent Irish and her two year old granddaughter Mary Jane Wetherel who both perished during the 1847 epidemic.  So far a lack of records has confounded my search for Thomas' cause of death but it may turn up one of these days.

     
.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Most Wondrful News I Never Heard!

     


     For years I've had a love/hate relationship with the New York State Department of Health.  From taking forever, and I'm talking a YEAR here, to fulfill requests for vital record certificates, to finally putting a few death indexes online, but making it as difficult as possible to ascertain where the death occurred, they have earned my ire.  Apparently I'm not alone in this regard.  

     You may have heard of the non-profit group, Reclaim The Records -- made up of genealogists, historians and researchers-- in other words, my kind of people.  Near the top of their website is this sentiment, "Tired of restrictions and paywalls around public data?  So are we."  And they are doing something about it by filing Freedom of Information requests for public data and posting that data online---for free!  They filed a FOIL request to New York State and won access to the entire set of NYS death record indexes from 1880-1956.  Ridiculous as it seems, it took seventeen months to accomplish this even though the indexes are available on microfiche at several libraries around the state. The group is now in the process of uploading these indexes to the internet via Internet Archive, which I have to admit is one of my least favorite sites (I can never get the search function to function) but it beats driving to the city of Rochester Library, paying to park, and then spending another half hour driving home in order to check the index.  Which is fabulous!  Their page invites other genealogy sites to also put the indexes online, and with a little luck Family Search may just do that and make them searchable.  Wouldn't that be wonderful?

     The earlier images are online now and the others are coming soon, completion by August is the goal.  Those later images can be viewed if you download the zip file, but these files are huge, and August isn't so very long to wait.  It should be noted the index does not include deaths in New York City, those in mental institutions may be omitted, and compliance with the law requiring that deaths be reported was spotty in the early years.

     I don't know how I missed this great news, although since the loss of my husband I haven't been paying much attention to genealogy.  Now that I'm getting back into my research, this was a very pleasant surprise.  I'll still have to wait an interminably long time if I choose to order the actual certificate, but this is a definite step in the right direction.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

What Do You Mean DNA Is Worthless?

     
                                                                 Wikimedia Commons


     A few days ago my copy of Family Tree magazine arrived in the mailbox.  Among the reader's letters was a diatribe about DNA testing.  The author of the letter asserted DNA testing was a waste of money and of no use to anyone other than adoptees and "obsessive" genealogists looking for far distant cousins.  I beg to differ.

     I've made quite a few discoveries using DNA.  For example-- my Dad's match with a descendant of our McGarr line from County Kildare put me in touch with a distant cousin who had information I lacked and that rarest of finds, a photograph!  Also in the McGarr line, another match strengthened my theory that John McGarr of Garrettstown in County Carlow is my 4th great-grandfather.  A Gunn match brought family details as well, and so did a match in my Vincent line. 

     Then there's James White, my perennially troublesome 2nd great-grandfather whose birthplace eluded me for decades only to be solved when several DNA matches pointed to Queens County, Ireland as the spot.  Recently I came upon another DNA match for the White's of Queens.  This one looks like a possible older brother for my James.  His name is John White, born in Queens though there wasn't much information about townlands.  What's particularly intriguing about this John White, is that the DNA match is rated "very high" and the ever useful Irish naming pattern.  While the tree doesn't have parents for John, it does list his children.  My James' parents were James and Margaret,  John named his first son James, and his second daughter Margaret, while my James named his third son John.

     In each of these cases, DNA helped me find people I was related to, garnered more information from the individuals who took the tests, and in several cases is the most compelling proof of a relationship to date.  Especially with Irish research where there are no early birth records for Catholics other that baptisms that may or may not have survived.  The same holds true for early settlers in America as they pushed westward from the New England states, there were no churches or record keepers in the wilderness.  To wit; a match in my Clements line for a mid-1700's relative in colonial New York (New England puts New York to shame on early record keeping) appears to confirm that I was right about Mary Clements being my 4th great-grandmother.

     To me it seems absurd to dismiss DNA testing out of hand.  I've found DNA to be an invaluable tool that I would recommend to other researchers in a heartbeat.  While the ethnicity part can be somewhat off, although mine was spot on, the science behind matching is solid.
     

Sunday, May 14, 2017

They Turn Up In The Most Unexpected Places

     
                                              Nebraska Plains                           Wikimedia Commons


     I've been doing a little research on my homesteading Vincent/Matteson family recently, and this morning while playing with homestead records at Ancestry.com I noticed the site has two separate databases related to homesteading; the US General Land Office Records 1776-2015, which can be searched online at the government site for free, and also US Homestead Records, 1861-1908.  I know quite a bit about when the Matteson family arrived in Nebraska and where, but I was curious about the details of their life, like what sort of house did they live in?  Was it a dugout, a "soddy" or a more substantial dwelling?  One way to find out was to ask NARA to send the family's packet of homestead records including the "proving up papers", which as the name suggests were to prove to the government that improvements had been made to the claim and a house had been built thereon.  These papers include a description of the house and other buildings on the property along with other details.  Perusing the NARA form I noticed a fee of $50 would be charged, which inspired me to seek the desired information elsewhere.

     That's when I found the Homestead Records at Ancestry.  I'd already looked at George W. Matteson's paltry one page record at the Land Office site, describing his 80 acre claim filed in the Norfolk Land Office, for land in Lincoln Township, Washington County, Nebraska.  Ancestry's Homestead Records database contained an additional 14 pages of George's file, no doubt the same pages I would have received from NARA for my $50.  From these documents I learned George settled on his land on August 1st of 1869 and built a frame house with a shingled roof, five doors, (five doors???), and seven windows.  He dug a well and plowed and cultivated most of his 80 acres excepting the one acre he planted to forest and another half acre in fruit trees.  

     However, there was more.  Two entries down on Ancestry's search results page was, "George W. Mattison", with an I instead of E.  His claim was filed with the North Platt Land Office.  That couldn't be him, my George's land was on the Missouri River, no where near the Platt on the other side of the state.  It was clearly another George Matteson, why on earth would he want land nowhere near him?  

     But just to be on the safe side...  I clicked on the link, skimmed through the file, and there on page 3 was this--

     "I, George Mattison of Washington County ...solemnly swear that on the 16th day of June 1869 I made a homestead entry at the US Land Office at Norfolk Nebraska... this additional entry is for my own exclusive benefit..." 

It was him!  And he signed his name to the form with the correct spelling. There were 15 pages in this file also, the fourth being a real bonanza, it confirmed his Army service record along with the discharge date and place, while giving me some new information-- the town of his birth.  I knew was he was born in Herkimer County, NY, but now I had a town...Russia.  The form mentioned an amendment to US homestead law adopted on March 3, 1873.  Upon looking that up, I found it was titled, "The Soldiers and Sailors Act of June 8, 1872", it read in part--"An act to enable honorably discharged soldiers and sailors, their widows and orphan children, to acquire Homesteads on the public Lands of the United States..."  So that's why his military information was in the file.  It went on to state that soldiers like George who had only 80 acres could use this amendment to acquire an additional 80 acres to bring them up to the limit of 160 acres per homestead.

     Using the description of the land, I found it was near a town called Cozad in Dawson County, Nebraska almost 250 miles from George's original claim.  I was puzzled why he would want to claim land so far away, but on the other hand, if the government was giving away land it would be foolish not to accept.  It occurred to me, perhaps all the public land nearby had already been claimed and this was the closest George could get.  I'm confident the family never left Washington County, they can be found in every census there until George died in 1908 at the home of his sister in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska, still in Washington County.  It appears this new land was considered part of his original homestead so the requirements for living on the land five years and building a home there were waived.  Now I'm curious what he did with his additional 80 acres?  Every genealogy answer begets another question...

    

Monday, May 8, 2017

Mappy Monday; Where I Learn More About Google Maps and Knockardagannon

Kyleahaw to Knockardagannon North                                    Courtesy of Google Maps

     I'm still gathering data on my great-great-grandfather James White, looking for that holy grail, definite proof that he was from County Laois and the name of his townland.  One of my DNA matches on Ancestry generously sent me his research on the White/Keyes families from Rathdowney Parish, which strongly points to a place called Knockardagannon North as being the townland of James' birth.  Parish records of the Catholic Church there are missing for precisely the period I need, which at least explains why after years of searching I've never found any for James, his sister Catherine or his parents James Sr. and Margaret Keyes, whose names I have from James' marriage record here in the USA.

     I've found various scraps of information here and there and the place-names Rathdowney, Kyleahaw and Errill in County Laois keep turning up in my research.  I turned to maps to get an idea how close these places were to each other, using the "directions" option at Google Maps.  Being a definite right-brained person, even then it was not easy for me to visualize the distances between these areas.  The map above shows the shortest route between Knockardagannon North and Kyleahaw.  The latter place being the birthplace of James Treacy who came to America in 1906 to live with Grandpa James' son James White Jr.  The two places look very close, but exactly how close were they?

     I decided to "walk it" using the little person in the bottom right corner of the map on the Google site.  I set him down at the intersection of R433 and the "road" to Knockardagannon.  This is what that looks like when you switch to street view--

                                                                                                                     Google Maps

and this is as far as one can get.  The little guy just wouldn't go down that country lane no matter how hard I tried to persuade him.  I attempted a different route with no better luck, he wouldn't go down the road Knock. North sits on either.  Then I tried satellite view!  I'd love to say I thought of that on my own, but it was an accident; in trying to pan out further on this image it automatically switched to satellite.  At that point, I did come up with the bright idea of trying to look at Knock. North that way and voila!

                                                                                                                                          Google Maps

     There it is, Knockardagannon North--there is absolutely nothing there.  Unless you count the bogs to the north.  Actually there's not much in Kyleahaw either.  But this map does show, in a visual way that even I can comprehend, how very close the two places really are.  I like that the little blue dots showing the route carried over from the first map too. That icon in the white square is a person walking the distance between the two places in six minutes.  That 500m below the figure translates to about one third of a mile.  Knock. North was literally right in Kyleahaw's backyard and Errill is about a mile and a half east on R433.  They are practically the same place.  In fact the 1901 census shows the Treacy family living in "Knockardagannon North (Errill, Queen's County)".  Perhaps their home was the wee house just above the intersection?

Monday, May 1, 2017

One Place You Don't Want To Find A Relative

Newark, NY State School
     
     I recently received a message via Ancestry.com inquiring about a distant family branch from Newark, New York.  My paternal great-grandfather's family, or families, have not been thoroughly researched I should add; I've mostly concerned myself with his first marriage, the one which produced my grandfather.  Grandpa's father had bad luck with wives, he buried two before the third one outlived him.   My grandfather never spoke about his half siblings, and I never met any of them so they were a bit of a mystery to me.

     I had done enough research on the various families of Great-grandfather to know that when Newark was mentioned it was probably in relation to a daughter of his second marriage who I will call Rita. Though she's been gone thirty years now, I know she has descendants who are involved in genealogical research, so I hesitate to use her real name and cause anyone embarrassment.

     After reading the message, I looked at my family tree software to see what I had found on Rita -- outside of her marriage and place of death it wasn't much.  I ran a few searches and was shocked to find that in 1940,  24 year old Rita was a patient at the Newark State School For Mental Defectives.  According to that census she was a resident there in 1935 as well.  I then did some searches looking for the identity of the person who had sent me the message and I discovered the most likely candidate was a son of Rita's born in 1938.  That made no sense!  His mother would have been a patient at that time if the census was correct.  But wait, his last name and his mother's maiden name were the same, was he born out of wedlock?  I went back to the 1940 census and sure enough, he too resided at the State School, enumerated as a boarder.  Rita must have become pregnant while she was a patient and her child remained institutionalized with her after his birth.

     Now I looked for information about New York State Schools in the mid 1930's.  Many of the patients in that era were what was then termed, "high functioning", and teachable.  Some even lived and worked in the communities surrounding their institution, though they remained on the books as patients.  Another search turned up a PDF of the 1935 town board minutes from the place where Rita had lived prior.  In the brief excerpt under the title was this, "Trip to Newark State School -- Examination: Mental Defective, Rita..."  No last name in the description, could it be her? 

      I clicked on the title to open the PDF and there among the quarantines and inspections in the report of Health Officer Reeves, I found Rita, "mental defective".  To today's sensibilities that label sounds so harsh, so dismissive and lacking in compassion.  And to have a toddler in that place!  It disturbed me to think none of Rita's family took the child in.  Her father, my great-grandfather, had remarried by that time and had more children with his third wife, and Rita had three older sisters, one of whom was married with a young son of her own and still living in the same town.

     At some point, Rita left the State School, married, and had several more children.  Which made me curious about her husband.  You won't believe where I found him in 1940... an insane asylum in the Panama Canal Zone!  He had joined the US Army and was stationed there.  More emails from the author of the original query confirmed he was indeed the son who was born in the State School and was seeking his father's name.  He told me he was born at the school to a mother with a low IQ and was taken from her at an early age, and placed in foster care.  They did reconnect at some point later on, and he knew his half-siblings.

     I've never heard a word about this sad, disturbing chapter in my family's past, mental disabilities just weren't talked about in the 1930's and even today it's hushed up.  I hope in the end Rita found some happiness, but I'm not banking on it.  In the early 1980's her youngest son hung himself with a bed sheet in the local calaboose...

    

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.