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Monday, February 20, 2012

Making my blog private

It's obvious that I haven't been posting much to my blog. And there's a good reason for that. Several, in fact.

First, work has been busy and stressful. Since I have to work in order to support myself, I have to give this my highest priority.

Second, I've been increasingly put off by the discussions around professionalism in the practice of genealogy. I understand why it's important, but I chafe at the thought that everyone has to be held to the same unreachable standards. It's not that I want to be sloppy about the research I do, but I do it for fun and to educate myself. I don't plan to publish it. I don't plan to market my research services. I have no intention of hanging out a shingle that says "Professional Genealogist". I'm not a professional. I don't want to be one. I also don't want to spend more time worrying about whether I'm living up to some standard that others seem to think I should. All that matters to me is that I'm happy with the quality of the work I'm doing. 

Third, I haven't done any original research or analysis in more than a month because I can't figure out how to get started again. Every time I sit down to it, I question myself and my direction. I can't make any progress when I can't bring myself to take the first step.

So, I've made the decision to take my blog private again. Yes, I know that it won't be cousin bait that way, but I can still use it to work through my previous research. 

Frankly, I need to find the fun again, or it's just not worth the effort.

Please note that I've disabled comments.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Hardwood, NY - where is it?

My great-grandfather's death certificate stated that he was born in Hardwood, NY. His marriage certificate indicates that he was born in Sullivan County, NY.

But where is Hardwood? Is it in Sullivan County? Is it elsewhere in NY?

When in doubt, turn to Google! So I googled "Hardwood, NY" (with the quotes). And I got a lot of results about hardwood floors. Hmm. Maybe I need to go about this a different way.

So, I googled "Sullivan County NY towns" (without the quotes). The first result was from the New York HomeTownLocator website here. There was no "Hardwood" listed, but there was a "Hartwood" and a "Hartwood Club". Hardwood and Hartwood sound alike, so it's possible that the doctor who wrote the death certificate misunderstood the name. Or, my great-grandmother told the doctor the wrong name because she misunderstood it.

Back to Google I went, this time to search for "Hartwood, NY". One of the first links was for a Wikipedia article for Forestburgh, New York. The article said that the Town of Forestburgh was located in Sullivan County, and it included the hamlets of Hartwood and Hartwood Club.

My conclusion from this is that the information I had about Edward Ludlow Norris' birthplace was consistent on the marriage certificate (Sullivan County, NY) and the death certificate (Hardwood, NY).

Onward to finding Edward's birth records. I hope.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Edward L Norris - death 27 July 1906

On my amended list, I first planned to find the death certificate of my great-grandfather, Edward Ludlow Norris. From conversations I'd had with my grandfather, I expected to find his death certificate around 1906 when my grandfather was 6 years old. I also knew that he'd died of tuberculosis.

Among the most useful websites for finding vital records in New York City are free index databases provided by the Italian Genealogy Group and the German Genealogy Group. Both groups shared in the creation of the vital records index  databases, and these databases are available for search online and in the NYC Municipal Archives. I tend to use the German Genealogy Group's website because it doesn't have music that plays when you open the webpage.

I navigated to the NYC Death Index search page, and I entered "Norris" for Last Name, "Edward" for First Name, "1905" for Start Date, "1907" for End Date, and "Manhattan" for County, and I clicked Submit.

I received one response back from my search:

Search Results from NYC Death Index





This looked like the likely death certificate for my great-grandfather although my grandfather was not quite 6 at the time. So I ordered the film from the Family History Library. When I got the film, I was certain that I had the correct certificate:

142. New York, New York County, Manhattan death certificate no. 1906-23500, Edward L Norris, FHL microfilm 1,323,125, quality of data: 3.
What did I learn from this document?


  1. Edward was a driver at the time of his death.
  2. Edward was born in Hardwood, NY. The marriage certificate stated he was born in Sullivan Co, NY. It's possible that Hardwood is in Sullivan County.
  3. His father's name was Joseph Norris which matches the information from the marriage certificate.
  4. His father was born in Hardwood, NY.
  5. His mother was Henrietta Chilsen which is only a slight spelling difference from the information from the marriage certificate.
  6. His mother was born in the State of NY.
  7. Although the copy is cut off, his age at death was 33 years, 7 months, 16 days which calculates to a possible birth date of 11 Apr 1871.
  8. He died of tuberculosis which matches what my grandfather had told me.
I now have a more specific location for Edward's birthplace which should help find more information about him and his parents.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Edward Ludlow Norris - Adele Irene Barthelme - marriage - 2 Jun 1897

Using the names of the mother and father from my grandfather's birth certificate, I was able to locate the marriage record for my great-grandparents. I'm going to attempt to post this image. If it disappears like the one from the previous post, I will have to discontinue posting until I can figure out why Blogger doesn't play nicely with Picasa.

New York, New York County, New York City Municipal Archives, Manhattan marriage certificate no. 1897-8401, "Edward Ludlow Norris & Adele Irene Barthelme,".


When I found this, I felt like I had hit paydirt. It had an age for my great-grandfather (26). It had the name of his father (Joseph S. Norris) and the name of his mother (Henrietta Chilson). It had a birthplace (Sullivan County, NY). It also had a great deal of information about my great-grandmother and her family, but that is a story for another day.

Using the information I had gathered about my great-grandfather, my next steps were:

  1. Find the death record for Edward Ludlow Norris in New York County, NY. My grandfather said that his father died when he was six, so I'll look for a death certificate in the 1905 - 1907 range, moving further out if needed.
  2. Find a birth record for Edward Ludlow Norris in approximately 1870 or 1871 in Sullivan County, NY.
  3. Find Edward, Joseph, and Henrietta Norris in the 1880 Federal Census for Sullivan or New York County, NY.
  4. Find Joseph and Henrietta Norris in the 1870 Federal Census for Sullivan County, NY. Based on his age, it was possible that Edward was alive then, but it wasn't certain. Since Edward was born in Sullivan County in 1870 or 1871, I figured it was likely his parents were married and living in Sullivan County in 1870.
  5. Find Joseph Norris and Henrietta Chilson in the 1860 Federal Census for Sullivan County, NY.
  6. Find Joseph Norris and Henrietta Chilson in the 1850 Federal Census for Sullivan County, NY.
  7. Find a death certificate for Joseph Norris in Sullivan or New York County, NY.
  8. Find a death certificate for Henrietta Norris in Sullivan or New York County, NY.
This marriage certificate is what got me hooked on genealogy. The thrill of the chase. Solving a puzzle. Analyzing the information gathered, and determining next steps. [NOTE: I added item #1 to the list on 21 Aug 2011 when I realized I'd left it off.]

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Frederick Henry Norris - birth 15 Aug 1900

The story begins with my maternal grandfather, Frederick Henry Norris. Grandpa was born on 15 Aug 1900 at 619 W. 48th St, New York, NY. His birth certificate was badly misspelled by the midwife who delivered him. "Frederick" was written like "Fridrich", and "Norris" looked like "Norres". He apparently had difficulties getting others (like the Social Security Administration) to accept his real name.


New York, New York County, Municipal Archives, New York City, Manhattan birth certificate no. 1900-32892, "Fridrich H Norris"



And the misspellings don't stop there. His mother's name is listed as "Adella A Norres", and her maiden name is "Bartolome". None of that is accurate, although it's close. His father's name was "Edward", though. I sincerely doubt my great-grandfather was a "pedler"; more likely, he was a peddlar.

I believe that the midwife (Anna Allemann) was German-speaking, and she spelled the names and words the way they sounded to her.

None of that matters, though. It was easy enough to find the marriage certificate for Grandpa's parents. And that's where the fun really began.

Beginning to blog about my brick walls

I've been considering blogging as a way to resolve my family history brick walls for several years. In fact, I created this blog in 2006 or 2007, I think. Unfortunately, family circumstances didn't permit me to spend time on blogging.

When time became available, I debated about the blog again. At that time, my concerns were more practical -- privacy. Since this impacts my brother and his family as well as me, I was concerned that I'd be "giving too much away" if I blogged about my grandparents.


Fast forward a few years, I've decided that talking about my grandparents isn't likely to cause irreparable harm. They're all deceased (as of 1997), and my parents are both deceased, too.

I've decided to concentrate on my mother's family. In particular, I'm going to try and work through the brick walls of her father's family. I've chosen this side of my family in part because I've worked them back the farthest, and in part because it's the only part of my family that allegedly arrived before the Revolution.