The Washerwoman’s Genes

September 29, 2006

Thoughts from July: State Census Revelations

Filed under: Washboard — by WWG @ 9:51 am

I have made so many assumptions–so many mistakes–about Jannette. Instead of identifying her, putting some flesh on her bones with all this research, it turns out I didn’t know her at all.

I have complained of my uncertainty about what she was called, but I have been certain of one thing: it began with a “J.”

I haven’t been able to identify her family of origin. I have searched throughout the records of Ulster for Quimbys who might be her relatives. The Burgers were rooted firmly in Ulster, until the grown children migrated to Brooklyn.

On Hurley Stone House Day (in July), I spent my first two hours in the Genealogical Society, where the historican handed me the extant New York State censuses for nineteenth-century Esopus: 1855, 1865, and 1875. They are hard to come by and haven’t been indexed, meaning one must page through any towns of interest. But Florence herself has transcribed and indexed Esopus, surely saving me tons of work.

The state censuses are terse, but the data is there. In 1855, everyone goes by initials; so the entry begins, “Burger, CH 42 mason.” His wife is initial “G” not “J.” Her birthplace is Sullivan County—not Ulster at all. In fact, the two older children—“B” (for Benjamin) and “J” (for Josiah) are born in Sullivan also. The third is born in Ulster. For each “alien,” a length of residency is given. There seems to be a mix-up, in that B. is said to have resided in Ulster the longest, longer than his mother. What makes sense is if she has resided in Ulster the 19 years attributed to him, and he sixteen, and J. fifteen. This would put the family relocating back to Ulster in about 1839, in time for George’s birth.

In 1865, the head of household is “Genetta.” Perhaps, she did spell her name with a G, and the ”Genet” on her tombstone is more correct than not. Again, it confirms: “bSull.” It says she’s “md”–since Cornelius has remarried, this may be disingenuous, in the least. But it does suggest that the notation “D” on the 1880 census is a red herring. Then, “11 ch.” I knew of ten: those that lived to show up in the censuses. But I did discover the infant twin brother of Josephine who is buried in Terpenning Ground.

In 1875, the family head is called “Jennet.” Here she is listed as “wid.” For the third time, it indicates she is “bSull.” Only “Wm” is at home; he’s a “boatmHdsR. Here we learn that the house they live in is “frame,” that is, a house framed with wood beams and covered by boards; the census reports that most others in the area are also frame, but there are also “brick,” “concrete,” or “stone” houses. Ironic—the stone mason’s family lived in a frame house. By examining the neighbors, I can see that the family did reside throughout the period in the same neighborhood and thus most likely the same house, going back to Cornelius’ time.

Sullivan County: I know there’s a Fallsburg connection. Cornelius is living there in 1880. Some of the adult children reside there briefly, in retirement. Is that the place where Genet was born?

Genet: she is buried with that name. Perhaps I should call her by it.*

*It’s now September and I know her will was filed, a few weeks after her death, with the name Jennet.

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2 Comments »

  1. My copy of Old Gravestones of UC has her name transcribed as Jenet, not Genet.

    Comment by Jim — November 15, 2006 @ 6:27 pm |Reply

  2. I’ve visited her grave twice. The first time, a year ago, on a frosty pre-Thanksgiving morning, I couldn’t believe my eyes. “Genet”? But that is what it says. And the date in Poucher is incorrect as well: she died in 1884, not 1881. (The stone says 1884; I have finally gotten a hold of her death certificate which verifies the year–but not the name: she’s “Jeannette” on the certificate.) These seem easy mistakes to make if your notes are roughly scribbled or very abbreviated and you think you’ll make fine sense of them when you type them up. I wonder if other researchers have also found problems with the records in his book. But–I’m sure as heck grateful he did the work, because it enabled me to find the grave with not much trouble.

    Comment by washergenes — November 20, 2006 @ 10:05 am |Reply


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