Diggin' up Dead People

A Genealogy Blog

Week 37: Large Family: Mary Shaw Vitty

Week 37 (September 10-16) – Large Family.

The challenge from Amy Johnson Crow at 52 Ancestors:

Did you know that all 10 of the most common birthdays are in September? (If you’re a chart geek like me, check out this heat map of birth date frequencies.) So let’s feature an ancestor who had a large family or who was a member of a large family.  My twist on this challenge is not to write about an ancestor with a large family but rather an ancestor that I was able to find a large amount of information on by examining a family member.

Mary Shaw was wife of Joseph Vitty and the mother to Harriet Vitty Smith.  She was born in England about 1799 and from there immigrated to Canada. It was in Montreal at the Anglican Church that she married Joseph.

Ancestry.com. 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. Name: Joseph Vitty Spouse: Ann Shaw Event: Mariage Marriage Year: 1820 Marriage Location: Montréal, Québec  Place of Worship or Institution: Anglican Christ Church Cathedral,Actes

Ancestry.com. 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.
Name: Joseph Vitty Spouse: Ann Shaw (not that the signature reads Mary ann Shaw) Event: Mariage Marriage Year: 1820 Marriage Location: Montréal, Québec Place of Worship or Institution: Anglican Christ Church Cathedral,Actes

It has been typical in my research that the women left fewer documents and records to follow, especially in the early nineteenth century.  Mary Ann is no exception to this rule.  She appears by name in the baptism record of her daughter, Harriet in 1821. Her husband Joseph Vitty is named in the 1825 Montreal census.  His household consists of 2 children and a married woman between 14 and 45 years old, presumably his wife, Mary Ann.  At some point, her daughter, Harriet, had immigrated to the United States, so I searched for Mary Ann and Joseph in US records.

Mary A. Vitty, age 60, next appeared in my research in the 1860 US Census in Manhattan.  She is enumerated in the household of Henry B Vitty, age 30.  Also in the household were a woman of the age to be Henry’s wife, several children and a male John S Vitty age 39.  Names of all occupants were given in the 1860 census, but relations were not defined. It was by researching Henry and John that I was able to find out more about Mary Ann.

Henry’s marriage record to second wife Eliza Jackson confirmed that Mary Ann Shaw and Joseph Vitty were his parents and that I was on the right track researching he and John.  It also provided that he was born in New York City in about 1830 placing the family there.

It was by researching John S Vitty that I was able to find the information to fill in the Vitty family.  John Shaw Vitty was a soldier in the Civil War and died at the Battle of Bull Run.  Mary, widowed several years earlier, was dependent upon her son for support and as such, she filed for a mother’s pension.  This file gives a wealth of information about the service of John Shaw Vitty.  In addition, much information was given about Mary Ann and her other children.

To prove eligibility for pension, Mary Ann was required to submit several documents.  An affidavit from the Madison Avenue Presbyterian Church in New York City provided names, birth dates and baptism dates for several children.  It also confirmed that the family was in New York by 1828 when daughter Sarah was baptized in that church.  In addition, an affidavit filed by Mary Ann gives names, ages and current locations of all her surviving children, a death date for husband Joseph, and Mary Ann’s own signature.  There was also an affidavit from the undertaker who attended to Joseph Vitty.

Further documents in the file follow the funeral expenses and settlement of the debts of Mary Ann Vitty upon her death. These documents fill in the picture of Mary Ann’s final years – she was in the care of her granddaughter.

Mary Ann Vitty died and was buried at Pennsylvania.

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Week 36: Working for a Living: Caleb Mott, LI Boatman

Week 36 (September 3-9) – Working for a Living: September 7 is Labor Day in the United States. The challenge from Amy Johnson Crow at 52 Ancestors is to write about an ancestor and his or her occupation.

In the 1850 Census, Caleb’s occupation is listed as boatman.

1850 Caleb Mott Family

“1850 United States Census,” Hempstead, Queens, New York; Roll: M432_583; Page: 150A; Image: 203, Caleb Mott, [digital image], Ancestry.com, accessed 2014.

Caleb Mott was likely the father of Maria Mott, wife of Hiram Serviss.  Maria is found in the household with Caleb, Julia and brother Lewis Mott in the 1850 United States Census.

Caleb is also found in the 1840 United States census in Hempstead, New York where his employment is listed as “Navigation of the Ocean”.  Notable in this census too is that one person in his household (at this point was three: one adult male, one adult female and a male child) over 20 years of age cannot read or write.  Either Caleb or his wife Julia were illiterate in 1840. This is not recorded in the 1850 census, perhaps they chose not to answer or perhaps in the intervening decade he or she had learned those skills.

1840 Mott p2

301. “1840 United States Census,”  Hempstead, Queens, New York; Roll: 330; Page: 167; Image: 1034;, Caleb Mott , [digital image online], Ancestry.com, accessed 2014, Citing: Family History Library Film: 0017203. The 1840 US census only includes the heads of household names, then enumerates other household members by age range and sex.  Caleb Mott’s household consists of one male child under 5 (consistent with son Lewis), one male 40-50 (consistent for Caleb born about 1793) and one female 30-40 (consistent with Caleb’s wife Julia born about 1805).  Enumerated near Caleb is an Elijah Mott.  There is no proven connection between Caleb and Elijah at the time of this writing (2014).

“1840 United States Census,” Hempstead, Queens, New York; Roll: 330; Page: 167; Image: 1034;, Caleb Mott , [digital image online], Ancestry.com, accessed 2014, Citing: Family History Library Film: 0017203.
The 1840 US census only includes the heads of household names, then enumerates other household members by age range and sex. Caleb Mott’s household consists of one male child under 5 (consistent with son Lewis), one male 40-50 (consistent for Caleb born about 1793) and one female 30-40 (consistent with Caleb’s wife Julia born about 1805).

Those two census records comprise the bulk of the information I have about Caleb.  He was born sometime around 1793 and was alive in 1850.  Then he and Julia disappear.  He worked as a sailor, and it is possible that he left Long Island.  No record has been found of their deaths.  His son Lewis turned up in Norfolk, Virginia in 1870, also working by the sea.  His occupation was oystering.

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Week 35: School Days: Benjamin A Bourne

Week 35 (August 27 – September 2) – School Days: Amy Johnson Crow at No Story Too Small has offered “School Days” as her prompt for week 35 of the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.  Now that school is well back into swing I hope I have more time to keep up with my blog!

Benjamin A Bourne was the son of Benjamin Aaron Bourne, blogged about in week 15, and Sarah Maria Smith, the subject of my week 13 post.  He was married (firstly) to Mary Louise Smith, week 23.

Benjamin was born in New York.  If the calculation from his age on his death certificate is accurate, Benjamin was born 5 August 1850 in Brooklyn.  His parents, Benjamin and Sarah, along with his sister, Clara Jane, had been enumerated on in Wells, Maine in the 1850 Federal census. The actual date the census enumerator performed the census was August 2, however the official enumeration date of that census was June 1.  If the census taker recorded the names of the residents as of the actual, not official date, the place of Benjamin’s birth is questionable.  However, all documentation found provides a New York birthplace.

Nine year old Benjamin is enumerated in Brooklyn with his parents in the 1860 census.  It is the first census I have found him in, I’ve yet been unable to locate the listing for the family in the 1855 NYS census.  In 1860, Benjamin is recorded as having attended school within the past year. The 1865 NYS census does not shed any further information on Benjamin, as expected he is found living as a child along with his sister, in the household of his parents.  The 1870 census finds Benjamin still with his parents, he has not attended school within the past year, can read and write, and is working as a clerk in an office.  At the time of his marriage in 1872, Benjamin’s occupation had changed to carpenter.  His ability to write was evidenced by his signature on the marriage document.

Benjamin Bourne Signature

Benjamin Bourne Signature

Benjamin and his wife Mary became parents to two girls, Clara and Mae, shortly after they married.  What then transpired between Benjamin and Mary in the early years of their marriage is unknown; in 1875, she and her girls were boarders, along with her mother, in the household of Edward Clark.  Although Mary was listed as married, Benjamin was not with them.  By 1880, Benjamin was listed as single and enumerated with his parents.  Mary was enumerated as the wife of Thomas Johnson. The girls were listed in the household and her mother and sister were within the same dwelling.  No divorce record has been found, nor has any marriage record been discovered for Mary and Thomas.

Before the 1892 New York State census, where they are enumerated together with their son, Benjamin and Katherine (Kate) Louisa McCafferty were married.  The 1900 census provides that they had been married for 17 years; the marriage would have been in about 1883.  No marriage record has been found.  It appears that both Benjamin and Mary may have remarried without benefit of a legal marriage license.

Benjamin and wife Kate went on to have at least 3 children- Benjamin, Asa and Kate.  In 1900, 1905 and 1910 census documents, Benjamin’s occupation was saw filer.  A saw filer maintained saws, typically in a mill, and would tie in to his earlier occupation of carpenter.  In Dec 1910, Benjamin died of general paresis- mitral insufficiency and oedema.

1910 11 Dec Death Benjamin A Bourne 004029104_1323422_01328

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Week 34: Non-population: Remson Serviss

The week 34 prompt from Amy Johnson Crow again focuses on census records:

Week 34 (August 20-26) – Non-Population: While we’re on the subject of special census schedules, have you found an ancestor on a non-population census — agriculture, industry, manufactures,  or 1890 Union veterans? Tell us about him or her.

The 1865 New York State census, agricultural schedule, gave a wealth of information about my farmer ancestor John W Hall, written about in my Week 5 submission, plowing through.  It was the first non-population schedule I had found and it was a gold mine of information.  John had also ended up on the 1875 NYS census death schedule.  Both of these are referenced in the week 5 post.

Since the special schedules topic did not give me anybody new to write about, I have to go off topic for the 34th ancestor entry.

Remson Serviss was not found in any non-population schedules. In fact, Remson was non-enumerated in some of the population schedules where he “should” be found.

Remson on was born about 1869 in Brooklyn, New York, son of Hiram and Maria Serviss.  Birth certificate index entries  have been located for some of Remson’s siblings, however, registration compliance seems to have been spotty and I have been unable locate a certificate for Remson. Research is ongoing to find the church and baptismal records.

Remson is enumerated as a child in 1870 with Hiram and Maria, in 1875 with Hiram, and after Maria’s death with Hiram and Emma in 1880.

In 1889 Remson married Clara Jane Bowen.  In the 1892 census Clara is enumerated with her mother, stepfather and siblings.  Due to the destruction of the 1890 US census, 1892 NYS census would have been the only time to locate Remson and Clara as a family.  Remson is no where to be found. Additionally, he is absent in 1900 as well.  (Clara had died in 1899).

Remson is found in the household of his older brother, Frank in (NYS census) 1905. He is listed as a boarder, his son was listed as nephew to the head of household.

Remson died in Brooklyn in 1909.  He is buried at Mt Olivet Cemetery.

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Week 33: Defective, Dependent & Delinquent: Alfred Wombwell

Week 33 (August 13-19) – Defective, Dependent, & Delinquent: In 1880, there was a special census schedule for “Defective, Dependent, and Delinquent Classes” — the blind, deaf, paupers, homeless children, prisoners, insane, and idiotic. Do you have someone in your family tree who would have been classified as such? (To learn more about the special 1880 schedule, see my post, “Do You Have a Defective Ancestor?“)

So far behind…. I am the delinquent here!

I searched the 1880 census for the ancestor that was enumerated on this schedule but did not find one.  So, looking at the purpose of the schedule I looked for someone who maybe should have been.  The two I had come up with I’ve already written about in previous posts.

Winfield Richards was half-blind due to a an accident that had occurred in his youth.  His brother, Augustus, had shot an arrow that had struck Winfield in or around his left eye, causing him to loose sight in that eye.

Alfred Wombwell is enumerated with his family in 1880.  Four years later, in 1884, Alfred died at the Monroe County Insane Asylum in Rochester, NY.  The circumstances surrounding his ending up at the asylum are unknown, however, cause of death listed is “paresis”  General paresis is a problem with mental function due to damage to the brain from untreated syphilis.  It generally occurs 15-20 years after infection.  While extremely rare today, it was much more common in the late nineteenth century.[1]


[1] https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000748.htm


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