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.  


  1. isn't it ironic when you start collecting data on your genealogy, you become closer to the soul of your roots? i must admit i am curious of my own family tree. all i know is that my biological parents are irish. i don't know if i have a sister or brother. i often wonder if i originate from a clan of artists. i write poetry as you know. i have many questions indeed. i'd like to be informed of my medical history as well. Congratulations for your detective work. you must feel both elation and sadness.

    1. Thanks Joe for your support. I would love to help you with your genealogy some day if you would like.

  2. A little bit of information is better than no information. Keep on searching, it will pay off!

    1. Janice- Thanks so much for reading my blog. You are so right, every little bit helps and eventually you can chip away at a big problem.

  3. I know exactly what you mean by wanting the details of your ancestors. I want the stories! And I sincerely hope to find that not all have been lost to time.

  4. Liz- Thanks for your comments. Its amazing the details you can find when you don't give up. That serendipity is one of the things I love about genealogy.


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