Friday, March 8, 2013

Lawrence Fay in the 1880 U.S. Census Mortality Schedule

I have developed a personal catalog of all my genealogy documentation. Recently, I have been working through all the census records in my collection; making sure I have produced a transcript for each one. By the way, one can find many blank U.S. Census forms available online to help with transcription.

Then I came across my copy of the 1880 U.S. Census Mortality Schedule listing my 3rd great-grandfather, Lawrence Fay. These Census Schedules are unlike the regular U.S. Census records. The U.S. Census Mortality Schedules list individuals who died in the preceding year; not the calendar year, mind you, but a census year. If the 1880 census started on June 1, the schedule list deaths from June 1, 1879 through May 31, 1880. I learned that fact this morning by reading a posted by Michael J. Leclerc on the Mocavo blog.

I found this Mortality Schedule by doing one of those broad sweeping, Hail-Mary type of searches in That's what I call a search when I am at my whits-end  and hoping to find anything I can by just searching for a last name; in this case, Fay. Sometimes I have success trying to see everything a database might have but most of the time that type of search results in too many hits and is just too overwhelming. I don't really recommend it but in this case I found a record I might not otherwise have found because he was indexed as Laramie Fay. Although, the record clearly looks like "Lawrense" to me.

These schedules provide the name of the deceased, age, sex, race, marital status, place of birth, parents' place of birth, occupation, month of death, how long a resident of the county, address at which he/she died, and attending physician.

At the time I found this record, I knew Lawrence Fay was buried in Saugerties, NY at the cemetery of St. Mary of the Snows Roman Catholic Church. I didn't know for sure where Lawrence died, though. I had found his wife, Bridget, and their children in a curious 1880 census record in which Lawrence's name is listed but then crossed out. I didn't know if he died in New York City or Saugerties.

Here is a detail from the 1880 U.S. Federal Census record I have for Bridget Fay and her children:

She was living on 44th St. in Mahnattan between 9th and 10th Avenue in 1880. See those Kellys listed between the two halves of the Fay entry?? Well, I have information that indicates Bridget's maiden name to have been Kelly. This record has me wondering if the Kellys living in the same building as the Fays in 1880 were perhaps Bridget's sisters or cousins of some degree. Maybe Larry & Bridget moved from Saugerties to Manhattan to be near her family because he was sick with Bright's Disease; an obsolete classification for nephritis, a kidney condition.

This 1880 census record has put me on a hunt for the Kellys but the other 1880 record, the Mortality Schedule, clarified for me why Lawrence's name was crossed out and helped me determine a date of death for him.  Lawrence's death certificate, which is held by the New York City Municipal Archives, indicates that he died on December 23,1879 and was buried on Christmas Day in Saugerties. What a very sad Christmas that must have been and what a very important record the 1880 Mortality Schedule proved to be.

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