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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.