Diggin' up Dead People

A Genealogy Blog

Week 9: Close to Home: Maria Mott

Amy Johnson Crow suggests “Close to Home” as the theme for week 9 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks 2015 challenge. Some weeks the themes are a slam-dunk for who I will choose to write about, others, well, not so much. Either way, I’ve found the optional themes helpful for guiding my writing. This week I’ve struggled with who I should highlight- do I choose the recently discovered New England ancestor, who was born closest to where I live now?   Or do I choose the one born on Long Island, just like me? Neither of these choices had a wealth of information to share just yet. I decided to go with close to my “home” not close to where I live.

Snip20150227_5

I was born on Long Island, New York. So was my great-great grandmother, Maria Mott. For a time, when I went to Hofstra University, I lived in Hempstead, Maria’s hometown.  How I wish I had been interested in researching my ancestry when I was right there!!!

1850 Caleb Mott Family

Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), Ancestry.com, Year: 1850; Census Place: Charleston, Montgomery, New York; Roll: M432_532; Page: 48A; Image: 101. Record for Hiram Serviss.

Maria Mott was born about 10 May 1841 in Hempstead, New York. Her parents were likely Caleb and Julia Ann Mott of Hempstead and she had an older brother, Lewis.   The first census that Maria is found in is the 1850 Federal Census, where she is enumerated with Caleb, Julia, and Lewis.


It is unclear what happened to the family in the intervening decade. Caleb, Julia and Lewis have not been found in the 1855 or 1860 census. (Lewis has been found in later censuses, Caleb and Julia seem to disappear after the 1850 census.)

In 1855 a 13 year-old Maria Mott, born in Kings county was enumerated as a servant in the household of James Raymond in Manhattan.   Maria was a resident of that county for 1 year per the census. Those that are familiar with present day Hempstead know that it resides in Nassau county New York. In 1841, Hempstead was part of Queens county New York. Nassau did not become a county until 1899. The age of Maria matches approximately to the Maria who is the focus of my research. Though Queens is the county that borders Kings, there is still the discrepancy in her place of birth, and it is unclear if this is in fact the same Maria, though it seems plausible.

Snip20150227_4

Ancestry.com, 1860 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), Ancestry.com, Year: 1860; Census Place: Hempstead, Queens, New York; Roll: M653_844; Page: 418; Image: 425; Family History Library Film: 803844. Record for Maria Mott.

An eighteen year-old Maria was enumerated with the Akerly family in Hempstead in 1860. Henry Akerly, the head of the family, was a coaster; he made his living from the sea, as did Maria’s father, Caleb. There is no known relation between the Akerly and Mott families.

In 1861, in Brooklyn, Maria Mott married Hiram Service [sic]. The marriage was announced in the Brooklyn Eagle and notes the Reverend Wm A Bartlett married them. Reverend William Alvin Bartlett was pastor of the Elm Place Congregational Church from 1858-1868. [I have not yet examined the church records to find the marriage but intend to attempt that search in the future. Marriage records available at the New York City Municipal Archives begin in 1866 for the borough of Brooklyn.]

Snip20150227_3

Ancestry.com, New York, Marriage Newspaper Extracts, 1801-1880 (Barber Collection) (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2005), Ancestry.com, Citing “The Brooklyn Eagle” published 16 Apr 1861. Hiram A Service to Maria Mott; 15 Apr 1861.

Maria and Hiram lived in Brooklyn. There they had at least 5 children, William, Frank, Julia, Remson, and Maggie. The family (without Maggie, who was born about 1871) was enumerated in the 1870 census.

1870 Service, Maria

Ancestry.com, 1870 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), Ancestry.com, Year: 1870; Census Place: Brooklyn Ward 20, Kings, New York; Roll: M593_960; Page: 116B; Image: 236; Family History Library Film: 552459. Record for Hiram A Service.

In the late fall and early winter of 1874, Maria was again pregnant. On December 9 she developed peritonitis puerperal – an infection that is often associated with childbirth. The infection further spread and a little over a week later she developed pleurisy. In the evening, on the 21st of December 1874, at her home, a two family house at 82 Spencer Street, Maria died.

Maria was buried in the Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, there is no marker.

Advertisements
2 Comments »

Week 8: A Good Deed: James T. Serviss

James T Serviss, born about 1810-12, died 1879 in Montgomery county, New York is one of my brick walls.

I have uncovered no definitive information about James’ parents.  There are many Serviss families in the area at the time that James was born, however, none have proven to be my Serviss.  In an effort to find James’ family I have examined probate records for the county of Montgomery.  I have been able to tentatively rule out some of the possible candidates, however, there are still a lot of Serviss that could be related.  No probates mention a James T Serviss as a survivor.  Two mention a Jacob.  James is the Anglicized version of the Dutch name Jakob or Jacobus.  It is possible that the Jacob referred to in these wills could be my James, but further research is needed.  In addition, there are quite a few Serviss’ found in 1810 and 1820 census records that do not have corresponding probate files.  So as of now, the field of candidates is still wide open.

James married Catherine Hall, probably in the mid to late 1830’s.  Actual record of the marriage has not been found.  New York State vital records do not exist for that time period, and the church and record has not been located.    Their son Hiram, their oldest child I’ve found record of, and my second great grandfather, was born in January of 1837.  I’ve found 9 children born to James and Catherine, seven were girls and two were boys.

James T Serviss first shows up on the 1840 census in Florida, Montgomery county, New York.

1840 US; Serviss, James T

Ancestry.com, 1840 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010), Ancestry.com, Year: 1840; Census Place: Florida, Montgomery, New York; Roll: 296; Page: 257; Image: 527; Family History Library Film: 0017192. Record for James G Serviss.

At that time the family was two boys under 5, a male 30-40 and a female 20-30.  This corresponds in approximate age to James, Catherine and their sons, Hiram and John.

Serviss, James 1850

Ancestry.com, 1850 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), Ancestry.com, Year: 1850; Census Place: Charleston, Montgomery, New York; Roll: M432_532; Page: 48A; Image: 101. Record for James Serviss.

The 1850 census gives every name and shows the addition of daughters Mary, Margaret, Harriet and Malissa.  James was enumerated as a farmer in Charlestown, Montgomery county, New York, and the value of real estate owned was 6000.  He was also found in the agricultural schedule of that year’s census.  No land transaction has been found.  In 1855, he was an innkeeper in Glen, Montgomery county, New York, and the family had grown by an additional daughter, Hannah.

Ancestry.com, 1860 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), Ancestry.com, Year: 1860; Census Place: Mohawk, Montgomery, New York; Roll: M653_787; Page: 79; Image: 83; Family History Library Film: 803787. Record for James T Service.

Ancestry.com, 1860 United States Federal Census (Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009), Ancestry.com, Year: 1860; Census Place: Mohawk, Montgomery, New York; Roll: M653_787; Page: 79; Image: 83; Family History Library Film: 803787. Record for James T Service.

In 1860, James was enumerated as a saddler, in the nearby town of Mohawk.  The youngest two daughters were also enumerated in that year.   I have not found James in the 1865 census, in 1870 his occupation was general laborer.

In 1875, James and Catherine are enumerated with widowed son Hiram and his children in Brooklyn, New York.  He died in 1879, no death record was found in New York City records, and there is no New York State vital record as statewide registration did not start until 1881.

A death notice was found the Fort Plains Intelligencer, Mohawk, New York.  Disappointingly, though he is referred to as a “prominent citizen” no detailed obituary has been found.Snip20150218_2

Record of his tombstone transcription was found in the New York Genealogical and Biographical Record. [Edith (Van Heusen) Becker in collaboration with Melvin W. Lethbridge, “Tombstone Inscriptions, Montgomery County, NY,” “Cemetery on the Glen-Riders Corners Road, Glen, Montgomery County, N.Y.  Map No. 20.,” New York Geneological and Biographical Record, Vol. 60, No. 3, Jul 1929, 287]  A photograph of the tombstone may be found on his FindAGrave Memorial #70027808.

So why did I choose James for this week’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks theme- Good Deeds? The answer lies in the only other newspaper article I found about James T Serviss:

Trynski, Tom  "Old Fulton New York Post Cards" Newspaper image online; 6 Nov 1873; The Gloversville NY Intelligencer. (Gloversville NY Intelligencer 1872-1874 Grayscale - 0400)

Trynski, Tom “Old Fulton New York Post Cards” Newspaper image online; 6 Nov 1873; The Gloversville NY Intelligencer. (Gloversville NY Intelligencer 1872-1874 Grayscale – 0400)

3 Comments »

Week 7: Love: Winfield Scott Richards

A little late… but better late than never…

Winfield Scott Richards was the third son of Issac and Jane (Hipp) Richards.  Born in New York in 1840, he had two older brothers, Augustus, about 3 years old and one year old Theodore.  Another brother, Charles, was born 4 years after Winfield.  Winfield’s brother Theodore died in January 1849, he was 3 weeks shy of his 10th birthday.  It is likely that another sibling was born and died young; in the 1865 census Jane was reported to be the mother of 5 children.  Sometime during Winfield’s young life he lost sight in his left eye as a result of an accident by an arrow shot by his brother.

Winfield’s father Isaac was a farmer in Brighton near Rochester, New York.

Winfield enlisted as a civil war soldier at Rochester on 30 August 1862.  He served in the 140 Regiment, company D of the New York State Infantry.  Winfield participated in the battle at Gettysburg.  More about the 140 Infantry can be found by clicking: 140th Infantry Regiment; Civil War; Monroe County Regiment; Rochester Race Horses

After returning from the war, Winfield farmed on his father’s land.  On 14 August 1867, Winfield married Mary Elizabeth Banker.  Her parents were Adolphus Banker and Jenette Hepp/Hipp.  It is unclear if Winfield and Mary were in any way related, however, it seems possible at least, that they were cousins of some sort.  In 1870, Winfield is again enumerated as a farmer in Brighton.  By 1873, Winfield has moved to Rochester city and is working as a sawyer.  In 1877, Winfield was granted land in Michigan under the provisions of the 1862 Homestead Act. Link to: [Land Grant PDF]

In the 1880 census, they are listed as Scott Richards, wife Elizabeth and child Thrody Richards, age 7.   They lived in Higgins township, Roscommon county, Michigan, where Winfield worked as a clerk. In 1881, another son, Charles was born.  In 1893, Winfield was listed in the US National Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers; the corresponding image shows he was 5’11”, with a light complexion.  He worked as an engineer and he was married.  His nearest relative was son Thearon Richards of Rochester, New York.

In 1901, Winfield died.  The cause was cerebral apoplexy, a stroke.  Physician records found in Winfield’s service and pension records show he suffered from chronic disabilities prior to his death, and marked weakness on one side of his body, possibly suggesting an earlier, non-fatal stroke.

Winfield Richards is my ancestor by choice, or by love, but likely not by blood.  The first clue that something wasn’t “quite right” with my ancestral line was found in Winfield’s pension application.  There, son Charles Richards is listed, Thearon, my great grandfather, was not.  That raised a question, however a possible answer lied in the situation that Charles was a dependent minor at the time, Thearon was a grown adult with a family of his own.  The 1900 census (and also 1910),  stated Mary Elizabeth, Winfield’s wife, was mother of 4 children, two of whom were living.

Winfield’s mother, Jane Richards, last will and testament provided further information.  In Jane’s will she makes a bequest to “my grandson Charles E RICHARDS the sum of One thousand dollars and to Theron E RICHARDS (adopted child of Winfield S. and Libby RICHARDS) five hundred dollars”

2 Comments »

Week 6: So Far Away: Elisabeth Magdalena Mayer

Nellingen to New York

Nellingen to New York

The prompt from Amy Johnson Crow’s 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge this week is “so far away”. I’ve chosen to highlight my great-grandmother, Magdalena Meyer. She was born in Germany and immigrated to the United States, and per my map calculations at over 6000 kilometers from me she is the ancestor (that I have found thus far) who has originated at the place furthest from my home. She is also the ancestor that traveled furthest to immigrate to the United States.

I’ve not yet identified the ship that Magdalena traveled on to the United States, and do not yet know who in her family, if anyone, she traveled with.  The 1900 census provides the year of her immigration as 1874.

Naming customs are different in Germany, and important to understand when evaluating the records. Often at baptism two names were given. Often the first was a saint or honorary name and would be repeated, the second name would be the “call name”. This can be tricky when looking for records, especially birth/baptism compared to later in life records.

Elisabeth Magdalena Mayer, born on 24 Sept 1860, was baptized 30 Sept 1860 in Nellingen, Esslingen, Wurttemberg, Germany.   Her parents were Georg Friedrich Mayer, father and Christiane Bauer, mother.

1885 Merkel, Wm MarriageMagdalina Maier, daughter of Georg Friedrich and Christine Bauer, married William Merkel, 16 August 1855 in Brooklyn, NY.

Merkel Wm Marriage2.

Or was that Maggie Maier?

Both are from the same document. (note also it says William Merkel, but he signs Wilhelm Merkel, the copy is too light to read Magdalina’s signature.)

One of the witnesses to the marriage was Eberhard Maier, Magdalena’s brother. Gottlob Eberhard Mayer was baptized in 1857 in Nellingen. His parents were Georg Friedrich Mayer, father and Christiane Bauer, mother. (Eberhard is a twin; twins are known to run in families; William and Madeline would later become parents to twins.)

Lena Meier was the maiden name of the mother to Christina Merkel. Lena Merkel was also one of the names she uses when she is enumerated on census. Other names found in census records are Magolina Merkel and Madeline Merkel.

On her death certificate, her name given, by William Merkel, informant, was Madlein Meyer. Researching my great grandmother taught me to broaden my search when looking for specific names, and to look at the entire family unit.

Magdalena and William Merkel had 11 children. It appears the first two died very young. Their third child, Christina, was born in 1889, and was the eldest surviving child in 1900. Five boys were also enumerated in that census. In the following years another boy and lastly, a pair of twin girls were born. Sadly, one of the twins died at 6 months old.

When first married, Magdalena and William lived in Brooklyn. They later moved to Queens, New York, and finally to Franklin Square in Nassau County.

1933 Merkel, Madlein (Meyer)Madelein Merkel fell down the cellar steps at her home in early February 1933. The fall resulted in a fractured femur- she broke her leg, at the hip. Thirty days after the fall, on 6 March 1933, Madelein died of complications from that injury. She was buried at Lutheran Cemetery in Queens, New York. [The cemetery has been renamed to All Faiths Cemetery]

2 Comments »