June 29, 2015

Marriage record for David Thomas Ryan and Mary Elizabeth Fitzgerald

In the Massachusetts Town Records databases I highlighted in my previous entry, I also found the marriage record for my great-greatparents David Thomas Ryan and Mary Elizabeth Fitzgerald. I had previously only been able to find a transcribed record, but here is there actual certificate!

Ancestry line:

David Thomas RYAN (1875-1939) m. Mary Elizabeth FITZGERALD
Clare Regina RYAN (1911-2001) m. Boruch Bernard KRANTZBERG
My father (living) m. S. HOWES

June 27, 2015

Boston vital records on FamilySearch

FamilySearch is probably my single favorite go-to genealogy site. First of all, it's free, and second, it is a treasure trove of records, databases, and online books-- they add and update databases almost every day. I'm still discovering things that are available on FamilySearch.

One database that I've been investigating recently is Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001. This database has vital records for many cities in Massachusetts, and I specifically found a few of my ancestors' birth, death, and marriage certificates for Boston.

Unfortunately, the records in this databases are not indexed, so finding specific records takes a bit of know-how and time. I'll do a step-by-step tutorial of how I found the death record for my 3x-great-grandmother Margaret Dailey Fitzgerald.

We're going to go to the main Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Town Records, 1627-2001 database from categories U.S. > Massachusetts.

Here, we're looking for Boston, which is Suffolk County.

Within Suffolk County, we're going to select Boston.

Margaret Fitzgerald died on 14 April 1889, so to find the record number, we're going to go the death index, and select the database for 1882-1891, and because her last name began with "F", we'll select A-H. 

We'll now search the index , which is listed alphabetically by the deceased's last name. Listed under "Fitzgerald", I found a listing for a Margaret who died in 1889 at the age of 80 (it's a little hard to read). This is probably her, so I'm going to note the corresponding record number, which is 2867

Now we'll get out of the death index search, and scroll down to deaths... the record number we're looking for is 2867, so we'll go into the database where that number will be.

The record numbers are usually (not always!) in chronological order, so after a bit of flipping through, we find her actual death record!

If you have a vital record in the form of a register list, the record numbers will probably be located next to the entries for each person. In this fortunate case, you can save time looking up the record number!

Hopefully, new records will be added to this database. I wanted to get death records for my 2nd great-grandfathers Thomas Fitzgerald and Thomas Ryan, who both died in 1916. The death index includes 1916, but the actual death records only go up to 1910-- you can get record numbers, but, annoyingly, not the records themselves.

Don't forget to explore these Massachusetts town records!

June 20, 2015

A postcard from Krasnostav

Last week, I happened to come across a postcard online:

The postcard depicts soldiers, who look Russian, resting in a village. It is labeled "Bei [by] Krasnostav - 1915", and the artist is an H. Klein. There is also a name as well: Elsa Biermann.

Krasnostav was a shtetl (small town) located west of Kiev in modern-day Ukraine, part of what was in the early 20th known as The Pale of Settlement. Jews had been relocated in large numbers to this area, and it was here that my grandfather Bernard was raised. He was born in 1901, so in 1915 he would have been a 14-year-old resident; it would be another five years before he would immigrate to the United States.

My grandfather was pretty reticent about his life in "the old country", and didn't discuss his family much with my dad. His family had a dry good store, but they were quite poor. My father tells me that his father always had a great appreciation of the United States, sometimes seeming to be in awe of what he was able to have here.

This is the shortest branch of my family in terms of how far I'm able to go back, which is only to Bernard's father Menashe, my great-grandfather. Pity that, since it's my own surname.

So when I stumbled upon this postcard, and saw that the price was only about $8 in American money, I had to get it. It's not every day that I come across 100-year-old postcards of my grandfather's hometown, after all! It arrived just a few days ago.

Now I just wish I could find out more about the artist and the card's background...

June 13, 2015

Burial records for 3rd greats Joshua and Arvilla Palmer

Last weekend, within a timeframe of 48 hours, I discovered where my 3rd great-grandparents Joshua Palmer and Arvilla Bailey Palmer were buried, when Arvilla died, and got photos of their stone uploaded to Find-A-Grave.

I had been unable to find death records for Joshua and Arvilla, and the state did not have them either. So I emailed the Concord Historical Society* and my email was forwarded to the person who is in charge of cemeteries in Concord. Last Friday afternoon, this person got back to me with the name of the cemetery (Blossom Hill), and even included burial records and map showing exactly where the burials are located.

Arvilla Bailey Palmer either died or was buried on 11 January 1861, at 45 years old. Her husband, my 3rd-great Joshua, died at age 48 on 25 May 1864 (this I already knew, as I had found his death notice in an archived newspaper).

They are buried with their daughter Flora A. Palmer Follansbee, sister of my 2nd great-grandfather George Bailey Palmer, and her husband James W. Follansbee. He was apparently a Civil War veteran who had seen a lot of action, and was actually present at Appomattox when Lee surrendered to Grant. 

Joshua's name is incorrectly given as Joseph
Saturday morning, I created memorials for Joshua and Arvilla, and that afternoon they were claimed. The following afternoon (Sunday), the volunteer posted the photo of their stone.

Thanks to all who helped make this possible!

Ancestry line:

Joshua PALMER (1815-1864) m. Arvilla BAILEY
George Bailey PALMER (1850-1926) m. Mary Olivia PURINTON
Frank Bailey PALMER (1888-1958) m. Bessie Maud WINSLOW
Dorothy Elizabeth PALMER (1918-1984) m. Henry Richard HOWES
S. HOWES (1937-1999) m. my father

*No one responded to the couple of emails that I had sent, so I sent an actual letter. Yes, though the mail. I've done this before when email and phone calls haven't been returned, and I in my experience this succeeds in getting a response. About a week after I sent the letter, I got the email.