Week 4: Closest to your birthday: Harriet Vitty

The prompt for week 4 from Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks challenge is – Closest to Your Birthday.  Though I’ve not yet found a direct ancestor with my exact birthday- my 3rd great grandmother’s birthday is pretty close.


Harriet Vitty was born on the 19th of May, 1821 in Canada.   Harriet’s parents, Joseph Vitty and Mary Ann Shaw, were both immigrants born in England. Harriet was baptized at St. Stephen’s Anglican Church in Quebec on 24th of June 1921. Per the register, her father was unable to attend the baptism, I wonder why?  I do know he remained with his family so whatever kept him away must’ve been temporary.


Quebec, Vital and Church Records (Drouin Collection), 1621-1967 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2008. Original Data: Gabriel Drouin, comp. Drouin Collection. Montreal, Quebec, Canada: Institut Généalogique Drouin.

Harriet’s family remained in Quebec for a number of years before immigrating south to the United States, specifically to New York. Evidence suggests that they immigrated about 1825.

Harriet Vitty married Thomas D. Smith, likely in New York City. Record of the marriage has not yet been found. It is likely they married before the birth of their son Edwin in 1842.  Records show Edwin was born in Ulster county; the next three children in the family are reported to have been born in New York County (Manhattan).  It appears they then moved back to Ulster.  Harriet’s parents appear to have been consistently in Manhattan throughout this time.  I wonder if they had, but have not found any evidence of, other family connections in Ulster county.

Thomas, Harriet and their 4 children were enumerated in the 1850 US Census in Ulster County, New York.  By 1855, the family had grown with the addition of 2 more children. Harriet and Thomas’ seventh child, my 2nd great grandmother Mary Louisa Smith, was probably born in mid-late 1855 or early 1856, also in Ulster county. By 1860, the addition of another daughter brings the number of children in the family to eight . (I have found record of nine children, Harriet is reported to be mother to 11 in the 1910 census, so there are two whom are, as of yet, unfound). By 1860, Harriet’s family had also moved back to the city from Ulster County.

Sometime before the 1875 Census, where she was reported as a widow, Harriet’s husband Thomas likely died. Research into the exact date and place of death is ongoing. I hope to learn and share more about what happened to them in the 15 years between 1860 and 1875. In 1875, she along with her daughter, Mary Louisa, and her grandchildren are boarders in the home of Edward W.C. Clarke. In 1880, enumerated with Harriet was a daughter, Jane, born about 1864. They were enumerated on the lines directly following Mary’s family. The whereabouts of Jane and the other children in 1875 are unknown.

I can imagine being with family must have been important to Harriet.   She was enumerated in the census with Mary in 1875, 1880, and 1900 census, and with George in 1910 (George was in the household immediately following theirs in 1900).  In the 1910 US census, Harriet reported that 2 of her 11 children are still living. These would have been George and Mary.

1910 US Census

Ancestry.com, 1910 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006), Ancestry.com, Year: 1910; Census Place: Union, Tioga, Pennsylvania; Roll: T624_1422; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 0165; FHL microfilm: 1375435. Record for Harriet Smith.

Harriet died in 1911 from the “effects of age”.  She was about 90. (The birth date recorded on the death certificate is 1 year earlier than the date reported at her baptism.  Because it was created when Harriet was an infant, I believe the baptism record to be the more accurate date.)  The exact place of death is not noted on the certificate; it is probable that she lived with her son George as she had in 1910.

1911 Smith Harriet death copy

Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Bureau of Vital Statistics, 36186, “Certificate of Death,” filed 22 Apr 1911, “Harriet Smith,” image online, Ancestry.com.

Harriet is buried at North Union Cemetery in Tioga County, Pennsylvania. Her son George and several of Harriett’s grandchildren are also buried there. FindAGrave memorial # 130333657


FindAGrave Photo by: Susan Barrow Spaulding (Permission given in contributor’s profile to use credited images)

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