The Washerwoman’s Genes

October 20, 2006

Mary’s Middle Son

Filed under: Story — by WWG @ 10:26 am

One of the mysteries is where my grandpop was in 1910. I have his marriage certificate in March of that year, with a Bay Ridge Avenue address on it. In April, in the census, his new bride is living with her mother (the two Josephines), under her new name, on Seventeenth Street, but grandpop isn’t in the household. They will continue to live in the Seventeenth Street house, so I wonder whether whoever gave the census information was just confused and omitted him.

He doesn’t appear in the census for that year at all—or rather I haven’t been able to scare him up. I decided to search Bay Ridge Avenue for him; even though he doesn’t pop out when I search directly for his name (and variants), I thought perhaps he was recorded at his old address in some indecipherable way but that I would recognize him if I saw the census page.

I figured out from a 1910 Brooklyn ward map on the web that his address would have been in the 30th Ward. Then I massaged Ancestry until it gave me a listing and description of the E.D.s in Wd. 30. I photocopied a map I have of contemporary Brooklyn and sketched in some E.D. boundaries until I figured out his was 1097. Then I called up and read the pages, searching the street names on the left margin until I came to Bay Ridge Avenue. I first found the odd numbers, but I read through the names anyway. Then, a few pages on, I found the even side of the block. Grandpop is not recorded at the address he was married from. I kept on reading, and about thirty numbers on there was a family with his/ our name—a variant, actually more common spelling of—but our name nevertheless. The head, James, is 35; he’s married, with three children. He is reportedly born in NY of a Pennsylvanian father and Irish mother.

So—is James a relative? Did my grandfather live with his family in Bay Ridge before marrying? Or live nearby to them because he was related? James might be a half-brother, the child of his father from a first marriage in PA. Or James might be a cousin, descended from the brother of grandpop’s father. Or is this just a coincidence?

I have been able to follow this other McM family through two more censuses. James’s origin varies: in the other two censuses he is said to be born in PA of a PA father and Irish mother. I would in the past have discounted him as a relative on the assumption that my McM line was rooted in NY. But Mary did live in PA, western PA, and it is possible that she knew McM there and not in Brooklyn. All reports are that my grandpop was born in Brooklyn, but that doesn’t mean his parents were ever there together.

James and his wife were apparently married about 1898. She is a NYer, so I would expect the marriage to be in Brooklyn. But 1898 falls within a gap of the marriage records indexed on-line at IGG; without knowing Emma’s last name, I can’t get the certificate number. I might just have a several-years’ search done to see if I can’t scare up the marriage license: perhaps it will give me a sense of who his parents are. I have not had any luck regressing James and Emma back from 1910. They seemingly were together in 1900—in the 1930 census he indicates he was married at age 22—but I can’t find them before 1910.

And there’s still the matter of Grandpop in 1910: where was he hiding?


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