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.