Arches at Glendalough 2009

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Looking at the friends of the family

One of the best way to hurdle the brick walls in my research is to look at the family and friends of my ancestors. By looking at other family members you can find clues that may lead you on a path to where you want to go. Examining the neighbors, friends, and associates of a ancestor can also point the way as well as finding new areas of research. Here is an example of what I did with a will.

When Captain James Peters wrote his will in August of 1802, he was suffering from yellow fever. A huge epidemic swept through New York at that time and sadly, at the age 41 he was a victim of the disease. When his will was probated not once, not twice but four times, the original and copies of it were made. These copies had to be accurate because it was a legal document. The fact that he was a sea captain and was wealthy according to the standards at that time made his will an important business document.

According to his will his executors were William Seaton of New York City and John Woodward and Job Tabor of New London. William Seaton died in Italy shortly after leaving New York for a better climate. (Yes, he was  Mother Elizabeth Seaton's husband!) Job Tabor was forced into bankruptcy in 1804 and by 1806 had died. The surviving executor, John Woodward, advertised in both New London and New York City newspapers that he was the surviving executor of James Peters. He also died before the probate could be completed because by 1809 Guy Richards of New London had petition in New York City courts that he was guardian of Captain Peters' son, James, and asked to be named the executor of Captain Peters' will.

On my "to do" list, I still need to examine William Seaton's and John Woodward's wills. I did look at the bankruptcy records for Job Tabor (located in NARA in Waltham). On a hunch I decided to also look at Guy Richards' will and lo' and behold there was James Peters Junior listed. This lead me to other records in other locations including tracking down James Peters Junior's will in Philadelphia and discovering more records for me to examine.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Fun times at NARA Waltham

My frugal Yankee ancestors would be proud of friend and one of my cohorts in genealogy adventures, Eileen, and I were able to get to Boston on a shoe string thanks to Amtrak. After snagging the great deal we arrived in Beantown with visions of ancestors dancing in our heads. We raced to the His. Gen. (A.K.A. New England Historic Genealogy Society) where we planned our researching hours and then trooped over to the NARA branch in Waltham.

I went to Waltham years ago and enjoyed my research visit at that time.I remembered that I broke through some of my brick walls looking at records housed there. Today was no different. What I  remembered from my previous visit were the people being fabulous, helpful, and kind. Today the people there were fabulous, helpful, and kind. From the two security guards who patiently went over the procedures and helped us get a taxi to the train station to the archivists themselves who assisted us in retrieving records-they were fantastic.

The big find of the day was discovering they had the original journals for the New London Custom House. These journals were the day to day records of the ships arriving (entering) and leaving (cleared) New London. The blotters, as they were called, gave information for ship captains, their boats, the type of boat, and what they were carrying. The blotters went from 1790 to 1797. There was a huge gap of  25 year before the records began again in 1821.

Nestled in this group of papers and journals were Records of Masters and Owners Oaths, Letters Received, and Vessel Enrollments. Each box had papers stuffed with information for people having business in New London from the late 1790s to the 20th century. The surprise of the day was discovering three crews lists that may not have been included in the microfilmed records. Another surprise was seeing early passenger records for New London. There were quite a few Irish listed in these records. Sadly it is not a complete holding. The folder I examined went from 1790 to 1821 and
contained about 20-30 papers.

All in all it was great visit.