From: Jim Cochrane
I am stumped in trying to find the names of my gg-grandmother's female siblings.
My gg-grandmother was Eliza Ann Cochran, she is listed as being confirmed at the
Presbyterian church in Westfield, NY in 1837. Her obituary, from 1888, in the
Gary Interstate Newspaper of Gary, SD says she had 4 sisters and a brother.
Through research done by my aunt many years ago, her brother evidently lived in
Washington state in the late 1800s. I believe I may have located him and he
never married. I have been trying to figure out how I could learn the names of
her 4 sisters who must have lived in the Westfield, NY area for a time. I have
written the church there, and don't ever get a reply. I have tried the
Pendergast Library without success as well. Do you have any suggestions?
Although it is often difficult to trace female ancestors, your do have several
options available since you already know the maiden name. Ol' Myrt recommends:
-- US FEDERAL CENSUS RECORDS (searchable at Ancestry.com and through library
access to Heritage Quest). Most particularly you will want to view the 1850,
since it is the first to list every member of the household by name.
Unfortunately the relationship to head of household isn't mentioned until the
1880, which would be too late for Eliza Ann's birth family.
-- MARRIAGE RECORD of Eliza Ann as perhaps one of the witnesses is a member of
her side of the family. I am thinking specifically of the civil marriage license
application and return, not the church record. Also look for any other brides
with the maiden name Cochran, as they may prove to be Eliza Ann's siblings or
cousins. These will probably be loosely indexed on the "C" page at the BEGINNING
of the marriage register book.
-- DEATH RECORD for Eliza Ann. Did her spouse provide the info or was it a child
or sibling of Eliza Ann that was forthcoming?
-- PROBATE RECORDS in Westfield, New York for anyone with the last name Cochran.
You are hoping to find parents and paternal grandparents who will mention Eliza
Ann and her siblings as heirs. Admittedly we have no way of knowing that they
died in the area. These will probably be loosely indexed on the "C" page at the
BEGINNING of the will books or a separate index to probate files.
-- PROBATE RECORDS in Gary, South Dakota for Eliza Ann's will and/or
distribution of estate. It is entirely possible one or more of her siblings will
be listed. Remember to look for her under her married name. It would be
advisable to look at her husband's will and probate packet for the same reason.
-- CHURCH RECORDS. OK, let's tackle this matter. Imagine how the secretary at
the church would receive your family history query, at the same time the local
congregation is worrying about fund raising to replace the old organ, and what
to do with the squirrels in the belfry. You must admit that we do not know if
Eliza Ann is the oldest or the youngest, so the church secretary would have to
look at about 40 years of records prior to her confirmation and 40 years
following her confirmation. With cryptic handwriting in old church books being
what it is, I can see how a busy office worker would not be able to honor your
request. Unless the inquiry is specific, and involves looking at ONLY one
record, you are probably not going to get a response. So what's a family
historian like you to do?
SAMPLE OBJECTIVE: Obtain Eliza Ann Cochran's confirmation record, which your
family believes occurred in 1837. This would give you her parent's names.
-- Search for the record first on microfilm through the LDS Family History
Library or its 4,000+ branch Family History Centers. See the online catalog at
http://www.FamilySearch.org for the
correct microfilm number to order. If the records are on microfilm, you can
search them to your heart's content to find the confirmation of all of Eliza
Ann's siblings. Hopefully all of the sisters were married in the same church as
well. Then you could trace their families under the new married names in US
Federal Census records and such.
-- Failing that, send your SINGLE request to the church via snail mail.
It also occurs to Ol' Myrt that there might be more than one Presbyterian church
in the Westfield area. A thorough study of that county history including printed
books and info at www.USGenWeb.com should
reveal the answer.
FOR FURTHER READING:
-- Carmack, Sharon. A Genealogist's Guide to Discovering Your Female Ancestor:
Special Strategies for Uncovering Hard-To-Find Information About Your Female
Lineage. 152 pp. (1998) ISBN: 1558704728
-- Schaeffer, Christina. The Hidden Half of the Family. 310 pp. (1999, 2003)
Happy family tree climbing!
Your friend in genealogy.