Friday, March 29, 2013

Finding a Maiden Name

Well it is that point in the semester when things start to become a little overwhelming and so I have not been able to find the time to post or research lately. However, working for a Catholic university provided me with a much needed day off yesterday (Holy Thursday) and today (Good Friday); thank God for Jesus, I always say.

Yesterday I ventured into Manhattan and had the opportunity to visit the NYC Municipal Archives. I have written about my experiences there before in this blog. It is one of my most favorite research facilities because one can view primary resources of vital records at a much discounted rate than ordering them online. And if you don't want to order a copy of a record your welcome to view and take notes from as many records as you would like for FREE.

I went with a list of a dozen records I wanted to see. Right now I am poking around on my Irish ancestors; some on my dad's side and some on my mother's side. The Irish are probably the most elusive of all my ancestors.

In any case, these dozen records were partly guesses. After combing through the NYC death record index online. I found some records that could potentially be related to me; siblings of my great-great-great grandparents. Some of my guesses were right, some were not. And why would I through away money on ordering documents for guesses? I wouldn't. That is why I look at guess in person for free at the Municipal Archives.

Lately, I have become quite interested in my 3rd great grandmother, Anna Hughes-Gray. My paternal grandmother, Nanny, has passed down to me Anna's memorial card. Anna was born in Ireland in 1843. She died in Queens County, New York on April 17, 1904. Her parents were Terrence and Ellen Hughes. I want to know more about the Hughes family.

From information provided by father's cousin Roseann, I know that a lot of the Hughes-Grays are buried together in a plot in Calvary Cemetery. Gratefully, I have dates of death for many of the family members but still, I wanted to look at their death certificates. 

Just because someone hands me information does not mean that I shouldn't verify that information with my own research. I am so very glad that I did look up the death certificates! I looked at Anna Hughes-Gray's mother's death certificate; Ellen. Ellen Hughes, my 4th great grandmother, died on March 10, 1884 in lower Manhattan - 535 West 11th Street to be exact. Ellen died in a time period when NYC began to collect the deceased's parents names and there - - there it was - - Ellen's maiden name which I had never seen before. Ellen was the daughter of Denis and Mary Sweeney. 

Holy Thursday, I'm a Sweeney!!

I love, love, love to find maiden names! I do realize women received their maiden names from their fathers and that it's still a patriarchal thing but a woman's maiden name connects you further into your roots. It leads you to her life before she took someone's name. It gives you another generation to search for. I love, love, love to find maiden names.

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