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.
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.
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.
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.
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: