Thursday, September 18, 2014

Genealogical Mystery: George Antoine's Marital Status

Recently, I got back into researching my Antoine side of the family and am trying to figure out a problem I had the last time I did research on them. The problem is with George's marital status. With each census I find that has George in it, his marital status changes. And it's not just as simple as you might think. I shall explain.

This all started when I found George Antoine's obituary, printed on Wednesday, September 8, 1943 in the Plattsburgh Press-Republican. In the obituary, it says that his wife died "a little more than a month ago, on August 5."


I did a search and found an obituary for George's wife. As it turns out, she died on August 2, not August 5. In the obituary, printed Tuesday, August 3, 1943 in the Plattsburgh Press-Republican as well, it states the following:

1) Her first name is Louise.
2) She is survived by one son, named Joseph Breyette. 
3) She is survived by two brothers, Joseph and John Chagnon, which means her maiden name is Chagnon as well. 


Using the information I had from both George and Louise's obituaries, I started searching Ancestry for Census records. The first census I found was the 1905 New York State Census. The census had George and Louise (spelled Louisa in the census) living at 52 Champlain St, Plattsburgh, New York with their two children, Bessie and George. 

1905 New York State Census.
(George's name is on line 28 on the right.)

The Census came with some suggestions on the side, including the 1900, 1910, and 1920 US Censuses. This is where it became very, very confusing. 

In the 1900 US Census, George is listed as living with his two children, George and Bessie, as well his mother, at 64 Champlain St, Plattsburgh. His marital status is listed as widowed. 

1900 United States Federal Census
(George's name is on the last line. The rest of his household is listed on the following sheet.)

1900 United States Federal Census
(George, Bessie, and Delia are listed on the first three lines.)

In the 1910 US Census, George (surname spelled Antoyne on the sheet) is listed as still living with his two children, George and Bessie, at 56 Champlain Street, Plattsburgh. But also living with them now is a Mary Breyette and her son, Joseph Breyette. George is listed as head of household and married. However, there is no wife listed. If you look at the census, under the "number of years of present marriage", it says that George has been married for twenty years. Mary Breyette is listed as being the housekeeper (as well as a widow) and Joseph is listed as the housekeeper's son.

1910 United States Federal Census
(George's name is listed on line 58.)

In the 1920 US Census, George is now living with just Mary and Joseph (surnames spelled Breyth on the sheet) at 59 Bailey Ave, Plattsburgh (incorrectly transcribed as Buley Ave). George is still head of household but is now listed as being widowed. Mary is still listed as being the housekeeper (and still a widow) while Joseph is now listed as being a boarder. 

1920 United States Federal Census
(George's name is listed on line 98.)

In the 1930 US Census, George (surname spelled Antwine on the sheet) is listed as still living at 59 Bailey Ave (spelled Baley Ave on the sheet), Plattsburgh. George and Mary are now married. George is still head of household. Joseph is still living with them and is now listed as being what seems to be "adopted son". Joseph is single. Also living with them is Joseph Congno and Viola Thompson. Joseph Congno's relation to head of house (George) is listed as being "brother-in-law" while Viola's relation is listed as being "niece".
1930 United States Federal Census
(George's name is listed on line 56.)

In the 1940 US Census, George is listed as living at 85 Lafayette Street, Plattsburgh and has lived there since 1935. George is still head of household and married. Mary is still living with him as his wife. Joseph Breyette is still living with them, with his relation to the head of house (George) now listed as being simply "son". Joseph is now a widow. Also listed as living with George is Joyce Breyette, Joseph's daughter. She is listed as being the "granddaughter" to the head of house. 

1940 United States Federal Census
(George's name is listed on line 27.)

The point of this post is to mainly get insight on the whole situation and hear what people's thoughts are on this matter. This whole situation regarding George's marital status has left me very confused. Feedback on this would be greatly appreciated. 

Copyright © 2014, David J. McRae

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Fredrick Joseph Meagher's Birth Record FOUND... And There's A Twist!

After many years of searching, I have finally located the birth record of my great-great-grandfather Fredrick Joseph Meagher. And there is a reason why I could not find it for so long - turns out he was born Frederick Sullivan.

After posting my earlier blog post regarding Fred in the Massachusetts Society of Genealogists Facebook group earlier today, asking for thoughts and comments, I got several responses, including one from Sally Donaldson-Taylor, who wrote the following.

There is a record of an August 4, 1876 birth of a Frederick Sullivan in Boston- parents Michael and Mary. I see that on his 1897 marriage to Sarah McGinn he is listed as Frederick J.S. Meagher. Theory #1- His full name was Frederick Joseph Sullivan Meagher and his birth was erroneously recorded under the surname of Sullivan. Theory #2- Mother Mary was married to Michael Sullivan, then remarried to Michael Meagher and he adopted the surname Meagher. Theory #3- Mary was not married at the time of his birth, (was her maiden name Sullivan?) and he was registered as Sullivan but then the parents married and he adopted his fathers surname in addition to the Sullivan surname.

After reading that, I remembered back to when I requested a copy of the parish record for Fred's 1897 to his first wife, Sarah J. McGinn. When it came in, I was surprised when it listed Frederick's surname as Sullivan but simply wrote it off as poor record-taking based on prior experience. But after reading Sally's comment, it all started coming together and started to make sense.

The names listed on parish record for Fredrick and Sarah's marriage.

I found the record for myself on FamilySearch and am thoroughly convinced that it is him. The date of birth matches. The place of birth matches. The first names of the parents match too.

But after looking it over, I am still left with questions. For starters, legally, was Fred's name Sullivan or Meagher? If was Sullivan and then Meagher, when and why did he make this change? Why is it I still can't find Fred on the 1880 United States Federal Census? On Fred's death certificate, his father's place of birth was Boston; his mother's Lowell. On his birth record, they're listed as being Ireland and Charlestown. Which is it?

Very happy to have found this record and a big thanks to Sally for helping me!

Copyright © 2013, David J. McRae

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Boston Couldn't Find Fred Meagher's Birth Record... Now What?

On April 14, 2014, I went to Boston City Hall: Registry of Births, Marriages, and Deaths to find my 3x-great-grandfather Fredrick Joseph Meagher's birth record. I provided them with the following information:

Name: Frederick Joseph Meagher
Place of Birth: Boston / Charlestown
Date of Birth: Aug. 4, 1876
Name of Father: Michael
Name of Mother: Mary

I brought a copy of Fred's WWI Draft Registration Card, his marriage record to his first wife, Sarah j. McGinn, and his daughter Mary Elizabeth Caroline Meagher's birth record with me as proof.

After searching through their records, the clerk was unable to find his birth record. She found a birth record for Frederick Meagher, born 1876 to Daniel and Julia Fay. The only other birth record she was able to find for the name Frederick Meagher was for one born in September of 1881 to William and Mary.

At one point, I presented her with Fred's WWI Draft Registration Card as proof of his date of birth. The clerk looked it over, went over and grabbed a book, searched through it, and then came back over and told me that the code provided on the Draft Registration card is not correct.

The woman recommended I visit the Massachusetts State Archives as they would be able to assist me further. I did not mention to her that I have already been to the State Archives previously and they were unable to find Fred's birth record either.

Throughout my years of research, any record I have come across with Fred's place of birth listed on it names it as being either Boston or Charlestown.

But now with Boston being unable to find anything on it, I am not sure about where to go from here.  So my question is, now what?

Copyright © 2013, David J. McRae