Thursday, September 19, 2013

Genealogy Bank

I am now in love with the Genealogy Bank site! For over 20 years my family and I have been looking for my great-great grandfather with no luck. At one point someone was even hired to try to locate him. We were told nothing could be found. After 5 minutes of searching for him in the newspaper archives at Genealogy Bank I was able to find his obituary. He died less than a month before his daughter was married in New York. Today seems the perfect day to find this as it is the anniversary of her marriage. I guess it is fitting to type up a little bio about him.

Samuel Miles Shick(s), was born in March of 1882 in Delaware to Daniel Shicks and his wife Emma R (Emaline) Shafer. Both Daniel and Emma were born in Pennsylvania. They had five children that I know of: Jemima (Mima), born about 1876 in Pennsylvania, she married Mert Warren in 1895, Lincoln, DE, moved to Hamilton, NJ; Frank M., all I know about him is he was born in PA and was alive when his mother died in 1923; Samuel Miles; George W., born 10 May 1884 in DE, died 23 September 1890; and William Baker, born about 1885, married as her second husband, Mary Bennett-Moore in 1930, Milford, DE, in 1925 he was living in Camden, NJ but died in DE in 1944, Smyrna, DE.

Samuel married Edna Rose Deputy, daughter of Benjamin Burton Deputy and Annie Meriah Warren. Their license was filed in Milford in May of 1905. In December of that year my great-grandmother, Mary Burton Shicks, was born.

The couple was listed together in the 1910 census but living with his mother in 1910 was Samuel as well so they may have separated around that time. Samuel would end up living in Trenton, NJ by 1918 when he had a WWI draft card filed. That was around the time Mary last saw him and the only time she ever remembered him. Her mother took her to Trenton on the train where Mary remembered seeing the bridge sign "Trenton Makes the World Takes."

According to an article in the Trenton Evening Times from 3 May 1919 Samuel was arrested as a material witness when the woman who ran the boarding house he was staying at and a pawnbroker were arrested for selling a firearm to a minor. He was still a resident of her boarding house in the 1920 census.

The Trenton Evening Times of 24 August 1925 has an obituary posted for Samuel. He was still living at the boarding house and had apparently been at the shore the night before. It was stated that he returned home around 9pm the night before, ate a big meal and retired for the evening. Jennie Harris, the boarding house owner, said the next morning she heard a thud from above but did not get up to investigate. Upon arising she found him dead on the floor of his room. The coroner said he died of apoplexy. They were notifying his brother William of Camden of his death and were awaiting instructions on what he wanted to do. Samuel was only 44 years old. Nothing else could be found. My next trip will be to obtain his death record to locate where he was buried.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Some Great New York Resources

These are probably not new to anyone but I just thought it would be worth listing some of the resources I use on a regular basis in my NY research. Of course, is one of the top but is so popular I do not see a need to type about it.

  • Fulton History- This is without a doubt the best site for NY newspapers out there. A good search option that I ran across for this site. go to google and type in your search then (i.e. Bennem It works wonders! You can do this search with any site you want but I find it most helpful here.

  • Family Search- I love this site! They currently have 32 databases specifically about New York. Not all are searchable so will not come up when you do name searches. The most important databases for me are the land and probate records, both browse only. They do have indexes to most counties but some of the indexes are only chronological by first letter of surname. So Beware, it can take a while to find what you are looking for. Along with the 1892 and 1905 state censuses you can search the 1915 and 1925 and chose to go view the image at They have "New York, County Marriages, 1908-1935" that is searchable but not 100% complete and does not include NY City.

  •  The Municipal Archives- This resource is not online yet as I am typing this post. They house a lot of important collections for genealogists based in the NY City area. One of those is the jury census for NY City for 1816, 1819 and 1821. The surviving schedules are: 1816 (wards 1-3, 5, 8, 10) and the 1819 (wards 1, 2, 4-6, 8-10). Information included  is as follows: Name, house number, street name, occupation, freeholder value, personal estate value, age, reason for jury exemption (see below), total number of eligible jurors in house and number of inhabitants. People who were exempt from service were also included. These were: women, people of color, aliens, the aged, military personnel, journeymen, firemen and professionals - such as lawyers. These records are invaluable if you have NY City ancestors from this time period as they include more information than can be obtained from the 1810 and 1820 Federal censuses. For more information about the censuses you can view them at the Municipal Archives website. As you can see if you are able to it is definitely worth paying them a visit. I could spend days lost in records!

  • This last resource may take a while to explain. I have used this to answer a LOT of questions about my family and it even helped correct a previously posted erroneous portion of a book written that included one of my families. The New York State Bible Records housed at both the Schwarzman branch of the NYPL and the DAR library in Washington DC. I haven't viewed the collection in Washington so I am not sure how it is kept. It is a collection of unpublished Bible Records transcripts, many of which more than likely no longer exist. The NYPL has a main index but not an every name one. The DAR does have an every name index you can search through their site. Here's how: go to and click on genealogy, once there on the left chose the online research tab and click grc search overview, in the new window click the GRC at the top of the topic to go to the search page. put in your information and chose New York for the state. From the search results you are looking for unpublished Bible records or unpublished bible and family records. It will say "NY DAR GRC Report" for title. The volume and page numbers are the same as the one you are looking for at NYPL. The only issue I have run into with it is it is only for Bible Records obtained in NY. So a family from NY whose Bible Record was obtained by DAR from another state will not be included in this collection. The DAR library does have records from other states but the NYPL does not. The great thing about this collection is it does not only include DAR eligible people. It was anyone willing to let them transcribe a Family Bible they had in their possession. I even found mention of an ancestor who worked for the British Army while they occupied New York during the Revolution.

This doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of records available in the area. It is just a few I believe are worth noting at the moment.

I know I said I would type out information about David Read's children but I am gathering some more information about one of them. There are a lot of questions I have about his daughter Amanda that I am trying to make sense of before I post. I am going to skip them for now and talk about a family next that hit me hard while researching.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Final (For Now) Post about the Robert Macken Family

I told you I had a small update on this family. So I thought I would get it out there before I finished up the Read children. I’m afraid that when I get buried in their story I will forget all about the Macken information.

I will go by age so Mary is first. I found her in the 1900 census as a maid in New York so I filled in that information. I also discovered that she married David Cronin in 1906, a widower at the time of their marriage. They had no children and I’m not sure David had any by his pervious wife either as there were none living with them in any of the census records I have. Mary died 1925 in Brooklyn and is also buried in Holy Cross.

Elizabeth “Lizzy” is next. She was first married to a man named George Droge in 1901. I only had her marriage to Connolly because of her brother’s obit and the SSDI entry for her. The couple had 6 children together. George died in 1922 and she stayed a widow for a few years before marrying John J. Connolly. I cannot locate a marriage record for them but I know they were married 1925-1926 according to the 1930 census. I found several articles about Elizabeth in NY newspapers due to the death of her youngest child, Laurence Droge. Apparently he was suffering from diphtheria and when Elizabeth went for help at the hospital where the family was on vacation they turned her away. When she got him to a private physician she was told he was already deceased. The articles take a she said-he said mentality so there really is no way of knowing exactly what happened concerning her hospital visit. There was even a picture of young Laurence at the burial of his father 3 years earlier. Poor boy!

James, died 1908, unmarried.

Joseph, died 1907, unmarried.

The last one with an update is William. I received a copy of his marriage record and he is definitely the one who married Pauline Shannon in 1914. I traced them through to the 1940 census and from the look of it they had no children that I can find. Or, none that survived long enough for the censuses. Both were alive in 1940.

As for Charles. I still have not been able to prove that he was in fact the one who married Mary but am still searching. Will keep you updated.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

David Read and His Two Wives

David Read was someone we knew a lot about once he immigrated to the United States but nothing previous to that. A passport application for his son Charles changed all that. David Read was born September 1806-1808 to James Read and his wife Penelope. According to Charles’ passport application he was born in Coventry, Warwickshire, England. When I checked marriages for Warwickshire I came across one that jumped out at me. James Read and Penelope Yates marrying 8 April 1792 at Holy Trinity, Coventry. David was not listed among the children but they seemed to have changed churches like I do socks. So it could be it was transcribed wrong or happened in a church that isn’t indexed online yet. We will have to wait and see. One of the interesting things is that one of their younger daughters was named Harriet, which was the name of David’s oldest child. It’s not definite but everything seems to point at them as being David’s parents.

David immigrated to the United States around 1817 according to information from the 1900 census. Who did he come with? I wish I could answer that. Without knowing more about the family I have no way of telling. I am currently going through New York County wills for the time period to see if there may be a hint in one of them. He also said in the census that he was naturalized but I have no idea when. Add to that the fact there won't be a lot of information on a naturalization record pre-1906 there isn't much hope of further details.

In about 1833 he married a woman named Margaret Hunter. He did NOT marry Susan Hunter. I will explain who Susan is soon. The first mention of David in City directories is 1835, the year Margaret was born. He was living at 463 Bowery St. and was a sash maker. Don’t bother looking for that address on current maps. It no longer exists. Since I knew Margaret is a Hunter I decided to look at the directories for that time for anyone with the Hunter name. I was planning on mapping them out to see if I could find any clues, when I found Martha. Martha was the widow of James Hunter who was also living at 463 Bowery. Coincidence? I think not. I traced her forward and back and discovered that James was last in the city directory in 1823. Meaning he died 1822-1823. It could take them a while to get the directories out so information for a person may have actually been gathered a year earlier. I trace James backwards and the first mention of him is in 1809, milkman, living at 217 Bowery. As for Martha going forward, she is listed until 1839 and after that seems to disappear.  So now to look for proof.

Margaret gave birth to four known children: Harriet Humphrey Read, 1835; Amanda, about 1836; Martha, about 1838; and David, 1845. That is a huge age gap in the children so we may find that there were one or two we do not know about. I will list the information about the children in my next post since I have some new information about them to sort. Margaret died between the birth of David in April 1845 and the time the 1850 census was taken.

We now come to Susan. Yes, I know the 1850 census lists her as Susan Hunter Reid but she was definitely not David’s wife. She was Margaret’s sister. She was more than likely living in the household when her sister died and stayed on to help with the children while David worked and until he remarried. Susan lived with her niece Harriet once Harriet married. She died in Brooklyn, at the home of Harriet, 12 June 1898. Unfortunately her death record lists her parents as Mr. and Mrs. Hunter but it does say she never married. Lot of detail!

About 1855 David remarried. Her name was Eliza Darling, daughter of John Darling and Catherine Hicks. They had two children: Charles, 1856; and Emma, 1858.

It’s easy enough to trace David through censuses and city directories and there are a lot of them so I will not bore you with the details. If you aren’t asleep by now you are drinking some really strong coffee! Don’t worry I’m almost done for now.

David lived a nice long life. He died in Manhattan 16 October 1900 at the age of 82 of old age. Well, he definitely wasn’t young! Eliza died 3 January 1913 in Manhattan at the age of 94 years, 11 months and 14 days old. They are both buried in NY Bay cemetery in Jersey City. I live not far from there so as soon as I know where the plot is I am going to drag my very-willing husband for a trip to wander the cemetery.

I think that is it for now. Will type up the information on his children in a separate post because there is a lot of info about them. Or, to be truthful, some of them.

So much for my New Years resolution!

Yes, I have been way behind in choosing my next family. I finally picked through records I have access to about the Macken family with no luck in placing them in Ireland. Guess I will have to wait to find that out. I do have one or two new updates on them which I will type up when I have time but I want to get started with the next family. With that being said. One that has recently grabbed my attention is the family of David Read and his two wives, Margaret Hunter and Eliza Darling. I am typing up what I know as we speak so will get that posted ASAP.

Yesterday I had the chance to sit in on a webinar hosted at legacy that was very informative. It was Top 21st Century Genealogy Resources by Tom Kemp. If you have a chance it is definitely worth viewing. You can read more about it at the following link:

Another group of webinars that I have become addicted to are the Barefoot Genealogists webinars done through Crista Cowan is incredibly knowledgeable and goes out of her way to help you out! If you can view one live it is definitely something you want to do. You can view the archives at livestream or at the you-tube channel. She just had one today about using city directories which is one of the things I will discuss in my post about David Read.

So, without further adieu I am off to tell you the story of David Read.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Continuation of the Robert Macken and Sarah Ewen mystery

Well, I have found a few more things out about Robert and Sarah. I went to Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn the other day. The people in the office are fantastic and really went out of their way to help me out. I located the grave for Robert and Sarah only to find out that Robert is not mentioned on the tombstone (see below):

PHOTO- Original in possession of author.

I received a copy of Sarah's death certificate as well and YAY! Found out her parents. Sarah died 22 August 1914 aged 57 years. Her parents were Robert Ewen and Mary Hunter, both born in Ireland. I went to Griffith's Valuation and found only two so I am going to dig further into them and see if either could be her father.

Another update is I located the death records for two of their children, Michael and Sarah Ann. Michael died in Brooklyn 22 January 1883 aged 3 years 3 months and Sarah died in Brooklyn, 12 May 1884 aged 6 years 6 months. Both buried in Holy Cross so I may have to go back one of these days.

I know I have slacked on picking the next family but I am waiting for two records before I start typing everything up.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Mystery and Family History of Robert Macken (?-1901) and his wife Sarah Ewen

Since I received a copy of his death certificate today I decided to talk a little bit about Robert. He is one of my big confusions as no matter what I do I can't seem to get anywhere with him.

Robert was born probably in the month of January anywhere from 1845 to 1856 somewhere in Ireland. Lot of detail huh? It gets better trust me. According to his death record his parents were Robert and Mary Macken, both born in Ireland. See I told you it got better! He came from Ireland around 1870-1871. He married Sarah Ewen.

To give you an idea of how difficult it is to narrow down a birth year for either of them:
1875- Robert is 28, Sarah 26
1880- Robert is 35, Sarah is 30
1892- both are 45
1900, both are 47 with birth info: Robert Jan. 1853, Sarah July 1853
1905- Sarah is 50
1910- Sarah is 58

Sarah Ewen was born in Ireland. Yeah, I know, I'm so full of details! She is the miracle woman who ages only 5 years in 10. I wish I was that lucky. I can't narrow down to a birth year for her since it ranges depending on when you asked her (see above). She disappears from the census records after 1910 so I'm assuming she died sometime between 1910 and 1920. I am currently checking into whether she was in the 1915 NY state census so I may be able to narrow it down a little more (fingers crossed).

As for their children. I don't know what to say about them. some appear out of nowhere and some disappear into thin air:

Mary, born about 1872, is in 1875, 1880, 1892, and 1905 censuses. Not in 1900 and 1910.
John, born 5 February 1874, married Mary Ellen Hyland in 1897. Had 8 children. Was still alive in October 1955.
Robert Francis "Frank", my great-great grandfather, born 7 January 1876, married Mary Hanrahan July 1900. Had 7 children, 6 surviving to adulthood.
Sarah, born about 1878. In 1880 census. No further mention.
Michael, born November 1879. In 1880 census. No further mention but may be the 15 year old Joseph mentioned in 1892 census that isn't placed within family anywhere else.
Elizabeth "Lizzy", born 7 October 1881. married a Connolly and died in Brooklyn, November 1972.
James, twin, born 8 February 1886. In 1892, 1900, and 1905 census. No further mention.
Joseph, twin, born 8 February 1886.
Agnes, born January 1891. In 1900 census. No further mention.
Now these two are confusing. Apparently Robert and Sarah had two sons Charles and William but the birth info for Charles, William uses later in life and Charles uses different information. I am not 100% sure about them after the 1910 census so will update as I find out.
William-Charles, born March 1889. He is in the 1900 census as Charles and himself in the 1905 and 1910 censuses. I believe he may have married a woman named Pauline but not sure yet. I know he was alive when his brother Robert died in October of 1955 as he is mentioned in the obituary.
Charles, in 1900 he is said to have been born March 1889 (see William above). Afterwards he used January 1891 so he may have been a twin of Agnes and there was just a mistake in the census. Been known to happen! He is in the 1905 and 1910 census with his mother. I believe he may have married a woman named Mary. He was also mentioned in his brother Robert's obituary so I know he was alive in 1955.

I trace Robert through census records and city directories until 1900. They moved all over a small section of Brooklyn. A labourer by trade he was listed as a longshoreman on his death certificate. In 1900 he was living at 297 Hamilton Ave., Brooklyn, Kings, NY with his wife and several of their children. Now here is where it gets confusing again.

Robert died 17 September 1901 at 297 Hamilton Ave. The same address he was living at in 1900. The address was also the residence his son Robert Francis "Frank" Macken gave when he got married in July 1900. So I know it is him. His age is in the right range. I know his wife is listed as a widow in 1905 so he died 1900-1905. Only 2 died in that period and one was way too young to be him. The issue is that on his death record he is said to be single. Has got to be a mistake right? His burial place is Holy Cross. This weekend if it doesn't snow too badly I am heading out there to see if I can find him. Wish me luck!

Everything has to start at the beginning

I wasn't sure how I would handle a blog but decided it would be a good idea. I hope to get information down to help someone else who may be as confused as I am. As for how I am going to accomplish anything I think I have a good plan. For family information I have decided each Sunday I will pick a random couple in my family tree and go through everything I have gathered about their lives. You never know what you could have missed or may see differently now that you have more information about them. From there I will make a research plan, make sure everything is up to date in the tree, and research them and no one else for a week. That way I'm not jumping around like I normally do. I guess you could call it my genealogy New Years resolution. We will see how it goes!