Wednesday, September 12, 2018

New York Family History Conference

I am off to New York today.  I am attending the New York Family History Conference hosted every two years by the New York G & B.  This year's conference is in Tarrytown, NY so I will be in my old backyard.  

This is my first trip back home since 2015.  While I do want to see some friends and visit a bit with family, I am really focused on the conference and want to experience every minute of it.  I have limited time and feel like I am squeezing an awful lot in to a short amount of time.  I would have loved to have set aside some time to do some research, visit the Rockland Room of the New City Library or walk through some new cemeteries, especially the one in Stony Point, NY.  I know a lot more than I did when I first started researching and there are many new ancestral places to visit.  The biggest obstacles to my research always seem to be time and money.  

Since I am staying in Tarrytown, I am hoping to make time for a quick excursion to the Old Dutch Church and Burying Grounds in Sleepy Hollow.  I am hoping to locate the grave of my 8th great grandfather and some other ancestors.(Hopefully, I will have more to say about him in the near future.) 

I had no idea about my connection to these places when I lived in Rockland and commuted to Marymount College daily.  

The conference starts tomorrow.  There are so many workshops I want to take, I am not sure how I will chose.  I hope to briefly update every day with what I have learned, who I have met and any other insights.  While I have been to other conferences, this one feels extra special. 

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Leonie Schuler Goulemus: A mystery in two or more parts

Leonie Madeleine Schuler was born in France in 1840.  She immigrated in March of 1845 to America with Catherine, her mother and her younger brother, Henri, known in the US as Harry. (Harry is my great great grandfather.)   

 The family reunited with their husband/father, Louis Schuler and settled with many other French/Germans in the fourth ward of New Orleans.  Louis and Catherine went on to have seven more children.  By 1880, Leonie is the only family member remaining in Louisiana. She is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in the tomb pictured above.   Also in this tomb is Frank/Francois Goulemus, Leonie's husband and six other people, Kleins, Karchers, Vitranos, all names I do not recognize.  Why do I not know these people? You wouldn't be buried with friends or casual acquaintances, members of what in genealogy circles we would refer to as the F.A.N. club, would you? My thinking is that these six other people must be relatives or closely connected to Leonie or her husband.  But who are they?

Our Darlings
Mary M. Klein 
Died Oct 17 1890
Aged 2 month & 19 days

Frank J. Klein 
Died June 21, 1891
Aged 5 years, 6 months and 8 days

I find it particularly compelling that the first two burials in this tomb are children. Very young children at that.  Leonie and Frank had no children (it states so in her will).  Leonie is listed in several city directories as a teacher. Could that be the connection?  

I have never been to the Greenwood Cemetery or visited New Orleans. Its only been about two years since I discovered that the Schulers, who I had identified as quintessential New Yorkers, ever lived in another place. I am still very much a novice when it comes to researching Louisiana and in particular, New Orleans.

Plot 17, Henderson-Magnolia-Hawthorne of Greenwood Cemetery is known as the Klein-Goulemus plot. My first clue that maybe these new found ancestors are connected to Leonie's husband's family.  But no other Kleins are listed on this tomb. Who are the parents of these young children?

The remaining graves are: 
My Darling Husband
Frank Goulemus 
Died August 10, 1891
Aged  68 years, 6 months and 7 days  

Albert Karcher 
June 24, 1914- September 1, 1971

Elaine Karcher Vitrano
She cared, she loved
October 6, 1936 - December 20, 2000

Bernard Vitrano 
September 10, 1932- February 26, 2003

Edith Lafaso Karcher
July 24, 1917 - January 11, 2007

No Kleins and none of these people are the right age to be the parents of the Klein children.  

The first document I locate pertaining to Leonie and her husband is the US Census of 1870.  They live together in the fourth ward and their household has three other members: Emma and Eugene Schuler and Katie Fish.  I know from the 1860 Census that Emma and Eugene are Leonie's sister and youngest brother. 

12 year old Katie Fish is a mystery to me.  There is no mention of parents for these three children and I can't find any other Schulers or Fish in Louisiana in the 1870 Census.  On the 1880 Census the household has shrunk to three: Frank age 57, Leonie age 39 and 21 year old Katie Fish, is listed as their niece.  I am pretty sure that Katie must be Frank's niece and not Leonie's, but now to prove it.  

I searched New Orleans, Louisiana Birth Records, 1790-1915 for both Katie and Katherine Fish, to no avail.  I did find Alice Blonche Fish, born 5 March 1859, to William Fish and Apolline Pauline Goukelmeiss.  Not Goulemus, but close enough to continue the pursuit.  

More soon.....

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Milton Morgan and Martha Hall

My next big research project will be to learn more about Milton Morgan and his wife Martha Hall.  They were life long residents of Monroe, in Orange County, NY. Born in 1847, Milton survived the Battle of New Orleans, where he was captured and taken prisoner of war. 

 He was released and spent the rest of his life as a miner in the iron mines of Orange County. 150 years ago today, on July 4, 1868 at the First Presbyterian Church in Goshen,NY Milton married Martha Hall. They are the parents of Josephine Rose my great great grandmother. Happy 4th of July.  

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Looking Forward, Looking Back

     I can hardly believe that it's time for yet another year end review of my family history research.  Where does the time go? 
      My biggest challenges continue to be time and distance.  I struggle to find a balance between doing all I want to do with my research and maintaining this woefully neglected blog with work and my other real life obligations.  I also continue to work around the fact that for now, I am miles away from the areas I want to research and can't run out to the local history room of the New City Library with a question, take a leisurely stroll through the cemetery or drive by an old family home.  I continue to learn how to be a different kind of researcher.  
    I spent time this year learning about my Schuler family and how they made it from France to New Orleans to New York. I obtained death certificates and made other connections using newspapers (English and French!) and probate records.  My great-great grandfather Harry's sister, Leona is the only Schuler who stayed in New Orleans.  I learned a great deal about her this year and she continues to be one of my most intriguing ancestors.  A goal for 2018 or 2019 would be to visit New Orleans and see what else I can uncover.  
     After more than ten years of searching, I found the 1901 marriage certificate for my Finnish great-grandparents.  This document, despite being hard to read was full of information I have longed for- their parents names and hometowns in Finland. For me, a major brick wall is down! 
     I also focused on my Cassidy family. A brief two years ago, I barely knew they existed! George Cassidy, my three times great grandfather lived his whole life in about a five block radius of Manhattan. Prince Street, Crosby Street, Mulberry Street. How I wish I knew of his existence when I visited the Tenement Museum. Census records list his occupation as Soda Manufacturer and his death certificate states "New Yorker for life."  I love him and I am so curious to learn more. Could my love of soda be inherited? 
     This year I was able to obtain his death certificate and discover where he was buried- Calvary Cemetery, Woodside, NY.  I found evidence of his two marriages and the births and a few untimely deaths of his children, including my great great grandmother, Elizabeth Cassidy Schuler.  In the NY Herald I found the notice inviting friends and family to his funeral held on December 31, 1876, ironically 141 years ago today.   
     This year I began attending meetings of the Florida Genealogical Society- Tampa.  They have interesting speakers and friendly members. I made time to visit the genealogy floor of the Germany Library.  I was impressed with the width and depth of their collection for the Northeast and their helpful staff.  It's a distance to travel for me, but worth the trip.   
    FGS hosts a wonderful seminar each October at the Robert W. Saunders Library and I have been lucky to attend every year since I moved here.  This year's speaker was David Rencher of Family Search who was both knowledgeable and entertaining.  Lisa Louise Cooke was the speaker at the Pinellas Genealogy Society held at the somewhat easier to find, Largo Library.  Cooke talked about using more familiar websites like youtube in your research and gave me ideas for incorporating social media.  I was inspired by this to use October is Family History Month for a daily post on my Instagram feed. This was fun and I will do it or something similar again. 
    This past November I spent the weekend in Orlando to attend the Central Florida Genealogy Society's Family History Conference.  This day long event was full of high quality classes and instructors and featured Christa Cowan of and youtube's the Barefoot Genealogist.  It was exciting and fun and I learned a great deal.  
   Closer to home I have begun recently to photograph graves for the FindaGrave website.  Being far from the places I want to research, I understand how much this could mean to another researcher.  I started with a few photos at the nearby Meadowlawn Cemetery.  Since this is where my own father is interred I know it well.  Uploading photos to the site, I stumbled across another local cemetery and went off in search of it to fulfill its few photo requests.  
    West Elfers Cemetery is tiny and tucked into a hill off a busy road and basically hidden in plain site.  I was stunned to see this beautiful place, full of historic markers in such disrepair.  A large tree branch fell across 6 or 7 graves.  The ones I could read were those of World War I veterans.  Garbage was strewn about.  I walked the entire cemetery and couldn't locate the three graves I was looking for.  Many markers are crumbling and unreadable.  One of my goals for 2018 is to contact Pasco County Public Works to hopefully get that branch removed and perhaps find a scout troop that will help me with clean up.  
  I have also been able to strengthen my skills by helping others.  I have learned a great deal about Italian and New Jersey research by compiling the family tree of a relative and I have been able to facilitate genealogy programs at my library. I also got to dabble with West Virginia records and helped a library patron find her ancestor's ad in the Boston Pilot!  This ad was chock full of names, places and dates, and so exciting to find!   I hope to hold more genealogy programs at the library. 
     I am grateful for the work of organizations like Reclaim the Records, who fought to obtain the release of the New York State Death Index and many other records researchers and historians rely on.  Also on the activism front, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society's efforts brought to my attention the need for letter writing to prevent New York City agencies from changing the dates vital records would be released. As a member, I jumped at the chance to express to these agencies and public officials how important the timely release of these documents is to me and other researchers.  
    I benefit from my NY G & B membership even though I am too far to be a very active member. Their webinars, publications and new website are top notch.  I am looking forward to January's webinar week.
   My biggest goal for 2018 is to attend the NY G & B's NY Family History Conference in September. Fortunately for me its being held in my old stomping grounds of Tarrytown, NY- close to the train and the Westchester Airport!  I am busy planning up some research trips I can tack on to these few days in New York!  On the top of my list is a walk through the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to hunt for some ancestors! And maybe even making time to visit with some living relatives.  
  I am hoping to keep researching and learning all I can about these characters from all sides of my family tree. The hardest part for me will be keeping with the deadline, but I am planning ahead and promise to do my best with this goal.  

Happy New Year!  May this be a great year for you and your family history research!  

Friday, September 15, 2017

What you leave behind

This time last week I was busy packing up everything I needed to evacuate for Hurricane Irma.  My mom, two neighbors and I were leaving the coast of Florida and heading inland to hopefully avoid the worst of it and to get out of our house in the flood zone.

Filling the car with people, groceries, bedding and whatever else you may need for an undetermined amount of time and leaving is scary stuff.  This was my first serious hurricane experience.  I am a New Yorker, we buy bread and milk and wait for the plow.

We stored important documents, photos and sentimental things up high.  I took all my genealogy folders, books and files and put them in plastic storage boxes lined with garbage bags and placed them on top of my bed.  I covered them with more garbage bags and blankets.  It broke my heart a little to leave them behind, but under these circumstances this was the best I could do.  I said a prayer and drove to safety.  The predictions changed multiple times over the next few days.  It was going to be worse, it was not going to be as bad.

 I doubted myself several times and thought about what I left behind.  The original documents, the photographs, the ephemera.  I kept thinking of my great great grandmother's confirmation certificate from St. John's in the Wilderness Church, 1895.  I thought of the map my Great-Uncle Harry drew for me of Gethsemane Cemetery in Congers, with an X indicating where I could find the Schuler graves, like a treasure map.  I thought of all the pictures of my father.

It is over.  We are fine.  Our house and road didn't flood like forecasters sometimes predicted it might.  When I got home all my genealogy papers and folders, were just as I left them, tucked safely into the garbage bags and blankets.

I hope and pray we never have to go through that evacuation process again.  I am grateful my mom and friends and I all had a safe place to hide through the duration of the storm.  But I know if we do I will be making room in the car because my genealogy will be going with me.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Olga Poyhonnen

Olga Poyhonen is my maternal great grandmother and one of my family's most recent immigrants.  Olga traveled to New York from Nilisa, Finland to live with her older sister after the death of her father.  She traveled alone, in steerage, and came to work as a seamstress with her sister, Minna.  

 I am still learning about Olga and her sister.  I will have a lot more to say about her and how I came to have this picture of her and her young son soon.  

I didn't want this day to end without posting about Olga.  It was on this date, May 11, 1893 that Olga first disembarked in the great city of New York and began her life in America.  She was 14 years old.  

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Elizabeth Cassidy Schuler

One of my lofty genealogy goals for this year is, after years of neglect, to spend time focused on my paternal lines.  It was my mother's family that first piqued my curiosity in genealogy and so for years, they captured most of my attention.  

Elizabeth Cassidy Schuler is my two times great grandmother.  That is reasonably close, I should know something, or at least more than I do about her.  I find her to be mysterious and intriguing and I am determined to learn more.  

The earliest documentation I can find for Elizabeth Cassidy is the 1855 New York State Census.  She is 5 years old, referred to as Betsy Ann, the daughter of George and Mary Cassidy.  She is their second child of eight and the oldest girl. 

From 1855 to 1870, the Cassidy's live in Ward 14 in lower Manhattan, spanning 15 years they move from Election District 1, to 3, to 4 where I have discovered they lived at 130 Prince Street.  An interesting neighborhood now, for sure.  I wonder what it was like in 1870?  And I am reminded of my visit with my dear friend Karen to the Tenement Museum of New York. 

My trail for George and Mary and their other seven children runs cold here in 1870. I know based on census data, George was born in New York and Mary in Ireland. I am on the hunt to get back another generation and locate Mary's maiden name and someday, where she came from in Ireland. 

In 1870, Elizabeth marries Harry Schuler, my great, great grandfather.  They live in Queens (Newtown) and sometime between the 1892 New York Census and the 1900 US Federal Census relocate their family to the Rockland Lake area of Congers, NY.  

The most striking thing, the most personal and saddest thing I know about Elizabeth is from the 1900 U.S. Census. Mother of how many children? 13. Number of these children living? 7.

The last sighting for Elizabeth and Harry together is the 1905 New York State Census. Harry is listed as a widower on the 1910 US Census and I can not locate him on the 1915 NY Census. For a long while this is where my trail ended.  

Recently, I had been reacquainting myself with the wonderful online resources available through the New City Library's Local History Department and rediscovered HRVHN the Hudson River Valley Historical Newspaper Database.  I was able to narrow down the time period and search only Rockland County newspapers and there it was, the obituary for Elizabeth Schuler printed in the April 24, 1909 edition of the Rockland County Times.  

As excited as I was to finally find this link the in chain, I must admit her obituary was underwhelming....  "died at home on Tuesday, funeral on Friday... survived by her husband, 3 daughters and 4 sons."  

I need details! I need names! I need dates!  So I searched online for a 1909 calendar and estimated that her funeral was April 24 and she died on April 20. Now I had a starting point.  I mailed off for her death certificate without having to spend money to search multiple years.

Within a week, I had Elizabeth's death certificate from the very efficient Town of Clarkstown Town Clerk's office in my hands!   (I do have to admit that seeing a death certificate for Elizabeth Schuler was a bit creepy, as that is also my mother's name!)

I was right!  Her date of death was April 20 and burial was April 23. And with the information that she was 59 years, 6 months and 0 days at her death I was able to use an online birth date calculator to learn her exact birth date: October 20, 1849.  Sadly, her death certificate was no help in learning any details about Elizabeth's mother Mary, her maiden name and birthplace are listed as don't know.  

I know a lot more about Elizabeth Cassidy Schuler than I did a month ago.  I still don't know what she looked like, whether she preferred sewing to cooking or what part of Ireland she was from and I may never know, but there is more to discover about her and her parents and siblings. And I still have a great deal to learn about her children and their children.  That's the thing with this kind of research, you solve one mystery and you are presented with two or three or twenty more.  

New York Family History Conference

I am off to New York today.  I am attending the New York Family History Conference hosted every two years by the New York G & B. ...