The Washerwoman’s Genes

September 27, 2006

More News from The Brooklyn Eagle

Filed under: Story — by WWG @ 8:36 am

SURROGATE COURT

December 7, 1884. The following business was transacted in the Surrogate’s Court, before Hon. Jacob I. Bergen, during the past week:

Letters of administration were granted on the estates of the following named deceased persons: . . . John Moloney, Caroline C. Sherwood, Hugh Allen, Jennet Burger . . . . all of the City of Brooklyn.

I haven’t been able to find a death certificate for Jennet in Esopus. She was living there in 1880, and she’s buried there. I even requested that the state of NY do a search, to no avail. Slowly, it dawned on me that there was one place I hadn’t looked: Brooklyn. The vital records of New York City are not copied to the state, unlike those of other local jurisdictions. Maybe the “kids” had brought Jennet down at the end. With this suspicion, in late August I sent away to NYC for a search.

So, finding that her estate was filed in Brooklyn is not a complete surprise. But still—plugging the many variations of her name into the Brooklyn Eagle and getting a hit was quite a moment. There is again hope that I might find a document conveying whatever her children knew of her origins.

And the will should indicate what happened to the property—to the house on the Turnpike that I found on the map from 1875. And any other property as well.

It might also include some information on her marital status. I am still not sure if the “Div.” on the census form of 1880 is accurate, or a euphemism for abandoned.

[Surrogate Court records for Brooklyn are kept in the Brooklyn Hall of Records. The public is able to research in a card index and request files be retrieved. They can be read and copied in a small room with a table and four chairs—the facility information online is quite specific. To obtain a copy of the file by mail is prohibitively expensive. The bonus of going there to research is that I might find other family wills in the card catalog file.]

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