Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Match Game

The magazine, Life in the Finger Lakes, has published a general interest genealogy article focusing on my Murray search. It was great to see the photo of my great-grandfather on the opening page. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will be read by cousins who recognize a shared history.

Searching for cousins who might know tidbits that will help me in my pursuit has become a bit of a mission for me.  For that reason, this post is designed to snag a cousin or two who might be doing some research of their own, but haven’t gotten far enough to connect the dots to me.

So, if you come from the Murrays or Van Pattens in the Cayuga and Seneca County areas of NY, particularly the towns of Auburn, Sennett, Waterloo, Geneva, Fayette, and Varick, we may be related.

I’ve done some census and newspaper archival research and have uncovered the following people who share ancestors with me. When listed, females’ last names are married names. These are not complete genealogies.

Richard Murray (married Ellen/Mary Ellen/Mariella)
            Son-John W. Murray (married Irene)
                        Son-Frank R. Murray
                                    Daughters-Lois and Evelyn
                        Son-Earl J. Murray
                        Son-Donald Murray
            Son-Albert L. Murray (married U’elma)
                        Daughter-Laura Clise
                        Daughter-Ella Brooks
                        Daughter-Nellie McCoy
                        Son-Richard Murray
                                    Son-Alan Murray
                        Daughter-Mildred Speer
                                    Daughter-Joanne Sickles
                        Daughter-Lydia Fischer
                        Son-Almond L. Murray
                                    Son-Alan Murray
                        Daughter-Alice Brown
                        Daughter-Dorothy Maloney

Mary Jane Murray Van Patten (married Asa Van Patten)
                        Daughter-Violet Parish
                        Daughter-Jennie Chilson
                                    Son-Frank Chilson
                        Son-Fred Van Patten
                                    Daughter-Marjorie/Margery Sanders
                                                Daughters-Lucille, Lorraine

Maybe, at some point in the not-to-distant future, someone will do an internet search on one or more of these names and see a possible connection.  And if anyone does, just post a comment.

And then let’s see if we have a genealogical match.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mind the Gap

Still trying to puzzle out where my Murray line came from, I've been coming at it more obliquely.  This morning I was doing one of my speculative searches on 3x great-grandmother's second marriage was to a Murray, but her first marriage was to a Stanford.  Ruth was born in 1784 and she had a son named David, so I used a birth date of 1780 and the name David Stanford to see what would pop up, thinking her husband's name might have been David. It merely lead me back to her son, but in a Auburn, NY directory I hadn't seen before. That, in turn, made me realize new directories had been added since my last directory search.

I spent about 30 minutes doing directory searches and adding some new pieces of information for my Auburn, NY Murrays.  New, but not surprising, as it was mostly additional years with the same people and addresses. Filling in gaps is always good though, because it's hard to tell if a gap is meaningful or not, so the fewer gaps, the better.

Then I stumbled onto a 1848 Syracuse, NY directory with a listing for Lucetta Murray. The surprise there was the date. Ruth had a daughter and a granddaughter named Lucetta.  I knew the granddaughter, born in 1848, had moved from Auburn to Syracuse, but as far as I knew, the daughter had lived her whole life in Auburn. Clearly, I had a new angle to explore. 

So, what else to do but see if Lucetta appeared in Syracuse directories in other years. I'm just getting started on that now, but I had to post this because of what I found next--a listing for Lucetta in Syracuse in 1891.  This had to be the granddaughter. I knew she was living in Syracuse by then. When I looked at the address, it seemed familiar. As in, recently familiar.  As in, the same address where the earlier Lucetta lived in 1848. Both Lucettas worked as domestics at the same address, over 40 years apart?

I think this gap is trying to tell me something. Can't wait to find out what.

UPDATE: A cautionary tale about why thorough research is necessary. 

Keeping the story simple, I'll just tell you I advised that the directory they identify from 1848 is actually a second 1891 directory. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

My Grandfather's Cufflinks

When my grandfather died, there were lots of odds and ends that no one knew what to do with, and no one seemed to want, and yet everyone was reluctant to just get rid of stuff. Because I was taking some of the bigger items, a box or two of “junk” was thrown into my U-Haul, passing the responsibility on to me.

There were a couple of treasures, including two pairs of cufflinks:

I came across them again yesterday as I was cleaning out my jewelry box. I had forgotten about it over the years, but the top pair has a patent date—July 8th 1879. In spite of the fact that he wasn’t born until 1895, I just always assumed my grandfather purchased them, I figured the cuff links had been something that was manufactured for years. However, I now think it’s more likely these cufflinks belonged to my great-grandfather, who would have been 23 in 1879.

I decided to use Google Patent search to see what I could find and, sure enough, found it-- IMPROVEMENT IN COLLAR AND CUFF FASTENERS, a patent held by Julius Wehl. Further Googling of Wehl turned up his involvement in the bankruptcy of a NY bank where he was managing clerk and nothing else about him. I found one old query about cufflinks that sounded similar, but it was essentially unanswered, so led nowhere. I decided, with the cufflinks being rare, I didn’t think they would have been available for my grandfather to purchase in the 1900s.

Now, what about the other pair? Just from another cursory Google effort, I’d say they are from the early 1900s. So they probably were my grandfather’s. My great-grandfather died in 1909, when my grandfather was 14. If I can date them more specifically, I may be able to clarify the ownership. They appear to have a maker's mark. Or maybe it's only an artifact from the manufacturing process. I don't think it will be very easy to track down, but here it is:

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Yoo-hoo--Where are you 21st century cousins?

Well, a month or so ago, a comment I posted on a census record on yielded results. A descendant of one of my great-granduncles on the Murray side replied to my comment. I hoped my third cousins would have some family history that I lacked--family history lost perhaps in part because my great-grandfather, Albert, went to an orphanage at a young age. His brother, Stanford (aka Sanford), was slightly older. Alas, it seems Stanford might have been too young as well. And one comment sounded eerily familiar--according to Stanford's grandson, his grandfather's life was not spoken of. Just like my great-grandfather. More circumstantial evidence to suggest these children had a tough life.

There were no solid leads to follow, although Stanford's grandson had begun some family research and it seems as if he had hints that the Murray line was a Colonial line. That is consistent with information from some secondary data from census reports. I'll keep hoping I manage to uncover something leading back to the right location in Connecticut where I can discover some real evidence on whether the Murrays were Scottish or Irish immigrants.

I'm continuing to pursue two older sibling's line, hoping for clues. (two others were childless). Richard Murray and Mary Jane Murray Van Patten families...where are you and what do you know?

But, I really, really need to move beyond the internet and get to the Library of Congress and the DAR. I think it's the only way I'll have a break-through.

 A potential magazine story on my search is in some stage of development and I really hope it comes to fruition.

It's kind of cool to enlarge your family and share a history.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Mystery Monday- Is there a Clue in the Court of Appeals?

Because my great-great-grandfather, Erastus Murray, had a half-brother, David L. Stanford, who was a prominent businessman in their hometown of Auburn, NY, I thought maybe I could uncover information about their mother, Ruth Snow, by researching David.  I’ve searched many times on variations of David Stanford based on census listing spellings, but this time something unexpected popped up—a New York Court of Appeals case with a William Murray as plaintiff and implied David Stanford or one of his associates might have committed fraud. 

I’m going to have to read the case more thoroughly, but it appears Stanford may have led Murray to believe that he had purchased property from Stanford when in fact the ownership of the property was in doubt.  It looks like the case lasted several years from the late 1850s into the early 1860s with the decision turning against Murray.  It meant not only did Murray not own the property, but he also had to pay court costs and other fees. 

Worse yet, it appears David Stanford may have been involved in a similar fraudulent real estate transaction on a second occasion with another person.

One of the mysteries I’ve been trying to unravel is why my great-great-grandfather deserted his family around 1860-1861.  The timing of the desertion and this court case could be mere coincidence, but I have lots of questions to answer before I can let it go.  Was William Murray connected to Erastus Murray and did William’s misfortune affect Erastus?  Was Stanford’s rise to prominence on the back of a family member?  Will I need to hire an attorney to help me understand the legalese?

I’ll need to be careful in my research…I know I’m biased toward finding someone other than Erastus to blame for children being sent to an orphanage.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Mystery Monday-What year is this photo?

How can you not love this photo?  Really, the hair is awesome!  Look at the shirt!

A cousin just sent it to me--a scan of a tintype of my great-grandfather, Albert Murray.

But I have no idea what year this is from.  Albert was born in 1856.  He was a farmworker and laborer in New York and around 1880-1882 settled in Emporium, PA where he married, was a constable, and at one point, worked at a dynamite factory.  I have trouble imagining someone who was a laborer being this finely styled for anything other than his wedding in 1882 when he was 26.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Marriage Certificate!

I just got word that a cousin has a copy of Albert "Allie" Murray's marriage certificate to Agnes Dalton!  I hope it will help me further with my efforts to uncover more about Allie (or Alley).  I wrote about my initial research here: Albert Murray, aka Edward Mallory.  At the time I wrote that post, it seemed the Dalton Gang connection was unlikely, despite family stories.  But maybe the marriage certificate will yield some clues.  Stay tuned!

UPDATE: 4/27/2014

Although I never found the marriage certificate, I did find this:

From the Sept. 20, 1909 Arizona Republican

Allan (but spelled Allen) was his brother's middle name, so I suppose this was the first phase of finding an alias, before he ended up as Edward Mallory. I haven't been able to locate him in the 1910 or 1920 census. Hard to tell what name he might have been using.

Oh, and just to confirm, Agnes was not from the Dalton Gang family. Her father emigrated from Ireland in 1880 and the family was living in Williams, AZ. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One Year Later

I guess people are pretty surprised when they hit the first anniversary of their blog.  I know I am.  Somehow I also managed to make this my 100th post.

I spent 2010 tracking various family lines back to the first immigrant to America, or a dead end, whichever came first.  I did pretty good, but there were a few lines with real mysteries I really wanted to solve, the Murray and the Stewart lines in particular.  Near the end of 2010, I wound down the comprehensive research and began to narrow my efforts.  I decided to focus on Murray and to make every effort to add enough pieces to the puzzle that the story would be much clearer.  I may mix in a small amount of time on other lines to keep burnout at bay, but I plan to keep Murray front and center.

I can't help but wonder what I'll uncover in the next 12 months.  Like the last few months, I won't be posting as often because I anticipate much of my research time will not provide any concrete results to share.  

I do have a little something cooking that could turn out to be interesting--I'm hoping to get a regional publication to do a story about my Murray line.  I've got my fingers crossed I'll be able to uncover distant relatives who have puzzle pieces to share.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tuesday's Tip-Easier Search of Fulton History Archive

The NY newspapers that have been digitized at Fulton History  are a wonderful resource.  Information I've uncovered has led to some wonderful discoveries. But I found the Search function there very frustrating.

Okay, maybe it was a "Doh!" moment, but after a lengthy period of frustration, I stumbled onto an easier way to search the archive.  Maybe everyone else already thought to do this, but in the event there is some poor soul out there struggling like I was, I wanted to share this tip:

Instead of going directly to Fulton History, use Google search instead.  Just use "fultonhistory" as a keyword, along with whatever you are searching for.  I found this provided fewer--thus more manageable--and more targeted results.  (In one case this approach actually provided hits where the Fulton History search had found none.)  In addition, the Google Preview function on the search results page allows me to see a snapshot of the PDF.  I can tell from photos, illustrations, page design, fonts, etc if the paper roughly fits in the era I'm looking for.  It's not exact, but does help eliminate some wasted effort.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Cayuga County Research Report

I received the Cayuga County, NY Murray line research results last week and I’ve been analyzing the information and organizing my thoughts about the next steps to take.  (You can follow the path of my research on the Murrays:          #1       #2     #3       #4       #5       #6       #7       #8 )

Overall, I’m both thrilled and disappointed with the information.  Thrilled because 1) there was confirmation of one of my hypotheses, 2) there was invalidation of another hypothesis, 3) there were some solid leads for future research, and 4) now I no longer wonder “what if I could do local research?”.  The disappointment comes not from any realistic expectation that wasn’t met….I just couldn’t help but dream of more complete answers (I know..hahahahaha).

Here are the challenges I presented to the researcher and the outcomes:
  • Copies of two newspaper obituaries:  James Murray in the June 12, 1822 issue of the Cayuga Republican and Ruth Murray in the March 24, 1857 Auburn Daily Advertiser  
Received copies of both and the previous information I had was an exact transcription.
  • Documentation of Erastus' parentage, especially any information that supports, or contradicts, that the James Murray in the 1822 obit was Erastus' father
One hypothesis confirmed:  Ruth Murray and her three daughters seemed probable mother & sisters of Erastus—In an 1876 probate record summary for one of Ruth’s daughters, Erastus was listed as one of the next of kin, along with the sisters and a half-brother.
  • Documentation, other than censuses, that Erastus & Christina were Albert's parents
Alas, nothing.
  • Any marriage or birth records for the James/Ruth, Erastus/Christina (would especially like maiden name), Erastus/Loretta
Sigh,  Nothing
  • General information about Erastus (especially the period of about 1860-1862, because that is when the family disintegrated and the Murray history, as I originally knew it, was fabricated)
In the same probate record mentioned above, it said Erastus hadn’t been seen in 16 years and was presumed dead.  Well, Erastus didn’t die until 1895, so this hints at him deserting his family around 1860, at about the same time his children were taken to the orphanage.
  • Information concerning James and Ruth's parentage/birthplace
Nothing new.

At this point, it probably seems like I didn’t get much, but I had a budget and I placed a cap on the number of hours for this project.  There were lots of leads uncovered that the researcher simply didn’t have time to pursue:  the probate record was only a summary, there wear a Surrogate Court listing for a Lucetta Murray (along with several other Murrays), some land records that might be relevant, along with some other bits and pieces.  She also presented the sources she reviewed but where she found nothing—valuable information too.  That will save me wasted effort.

But one of the best things uncovered helped solve a puzzle I hadn’t directly presented to the researcher and, at the same time, it presented me with an entirely new lead to follow.  It involved the relationship between the Murrays and the Stanfords.  In the information I provided to the researcher were these Stanford tidbits: 
  • Erastus had a son named Stanford.
  • In 1850 Ruth had a grandson named Edward Stanford enumerated with her.  By chance, that same year, I believed he was enumerated with his father, David Stanford.
  • An assumption that David was Ruth’s son-in-law (I didn’t mention the nagging concern I had because David was listed as Ruth’s son in her obituary)

So, what was uncovered—in the same probate record—was that David was a half-brother, meaning that Ruth actually was his mother, not his mother-in-law.  So Ruth Snow had married Unknown Stanford first, then James Murray.  The researcher also spotted a Ruth Stanford in the 1810 census (the year David was born and two years before Erastus was born).  What the researcher didn’t know was that three names above Ruth Stanford in 1810 was the David Murray I had been tracking as possibly the father or brother of her future husband, James.  And it was in Erastus’ birthplace, Brutus, NY.

A few days after I received the report, I had an email exchange with the researcher that sparked some lateral searching.  In her personal research, she had come across Murrays in Seneca County that might be related.  From the summary she presented, I knew there was a connection.  It sent me down the path of researching extended family connections.  I found that the family of Erastus’ brother Richard had lived in the same area for many years.  That made me wonder if his line might have a more knowledge of the family history.  In turn, I began to wonder how I could find anyone from this line.  I found an obituary from 2010 that indicated three of Richard’s granddaughters were still alive at that time.  So, I’m thinking about placing a query in that paper to see if a connection can be made.