Saturday, March 29, 2014

Old Tool Made New in the Genealogical Toolbox

This past month's genealogy research has almost entirely been commandeered by new discoveries within the Heddendorf and Osterndorf family trees.  With the thanks to the last post on the William Henry Heddendorfs, which brought connections to unknown fourth and third cousins, I was redirected to a website I had not used in while and broke down another Brick Wall!  

That website:; it may appear simplistic in it's layout but the power is undeniable.  The site provides a straight forward search of over 26 MILLION old New York newspapers, for FREE, and you can see scanned images of the full page as well as zoom in for details.  The best method for searching a person is starting with exact phrase with last name, first name or initial.  For example, "Heddendorf, W" or "Heddendorf, William," though you actually do not need to worry about case sensitivity, thus, "heddendorf, W" will also work.  These searches will not highlight where on the page the match was made, sadly, but the search results will list a year for each associated "find" and the link turns purple after viewing, which means you do not have to remember exactly every result that you examined.  I do recommend using the website in anything but Internet Explorer since IE does not zoom well and takes a while to load.

Here is a screen shot of an exact search for "Heddendorf, W D" with the second result showing.

What we are looking for is in the bottom of the second column here, under the Obituary and In Memorium sections.

Zooming in even further, we can now clearly read Walter D. Heddendorf's obituary, who was also known as George Walter Heddendorf in the census records.

And just look at all the information we get out of this obituary:

  • Location and date of death;
  • Spouse's maiden name;
  • Approximate year of birth from age-at-death;
  • Funeral location and date;
  • Social groups of which he was a member.

That knocked out two brick walls with this one record: George's date of death and his wife's maiden name in the Heddendorf family tree!  All this information I can now add AND cite in my genealogy family tree software (i.e. Ancestry, FamilyTree, etc).  When adding the citation, remember to cite the newspaper the information comes from (eg. newspaper title, volume/issue, page, column/section) with the repository being  If the text is not too lengthy, it is also worthwhile to transcribe the text with the digital record/citation.

Oh, and if the paper you are viewing appears fuzzy even after you zoom in, do not worry, it is probably not you.  There are a couple of pages in my own search that were less than clear, making letters indistinguishable and impossible to read names.  Hopefully there are more good views than poor ones for your query.

So hop to it!  What will you find in your search?

Friday, March 7, 2014


I cannot believe it has been over a month since the last post.  I don't know if any body else has suffered the recent flu or if they have a fridge that wants them to lose weight without all the hard work, but I sure have!  Ugh, there were two days (a night and a morning) where it felt like I lost 10 lbs just by going to the bathroom.  (Sadly that did not actually happen.  Back to the Brazilian Butt Lift videos!)

Well, I can tell you that whilst I may not have made any breakthroughs on the family tree, I have watched a number of Legacy FamilyTree Webinars and gained a few pointers and resources I had not considered.

Plus, I just became addicted to the television series Copper, set in New York City's infamous Five Points during the later half of the Civil War.  Great sets (filmed in Ontario, Canada), costumes and of course acting.  Just waiting now for season 2 to arrive in the mail to find out what happened to the characters!  The gritty realism of the show made me reexamine all of my records on both sides of the tree to see if any of the family lived in that area.  The result was a resounding "NO".  The only possibility would be through John Aloysius McCue but without knowing more of his parents, I cannot get passed the 20th century.

Speaking of Five Points, that oh so notorious, immigrant area of lower Manhattan, one of the webinars covered GoogleEarth and their ability to add historic map layers, similar to the methods used by ArcGIS, that I might just reinstall GoogleEarth.

....Since this is a slow process, if anyone has a particular person they are looking for and do not see them in the tabs or one of the posts, please feel free to ask me in the comments or via email.

Happy Hunting!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Bemusing Case of the William Henry Heddendorfs

Or, How to Keep It In the Family

This is the story of a side branch of the McCue family tree that was lately brought to my attention and quite hijacked my time for the past couple of days, weeks really.  Hopefully I will be able to keep everything straight and understandable with this side branch of the family tree, the Heddendorfs.  The last posting of the McCue side was of Eben William Osterndorff and his family; what I should like to relate now is in connection to Eben's wife Margaret Blohm.  

Here is your Genealogy Road Map.  Sorry it was hand written, on the fly, with the Blohm children placed unintentionally out of order.  If you are able to follow this then the daughter of William H. is a fourth cousin to my Mom, making me a fourth cousin once removed from the daughter.

Back Story
Margaret was the middle child in a household of five daughters and one son: Mary E, Anna, John (passed away at the age of 2), Minnie and Augusta Caroline, all born in New York City to German immigrant parents of Lutheran faith.  Their father, Claus Henrich Blohm, who sometime went by C. H., C. Henry or Charles Henry, was a baker and liquor dealer for the 16 years he resided in New York before his passing at the early age of 40 in 1858.  The eldest daughter, Mary, was only 12 at the time of his death, whilst his youngest, Augusta, was just born.  There is some evidence that C. H. Blohm may have extended his business into Blohm & Co with his brother-in-law but the evidence is not substantial.  A group of businesses more than merely a bar owner would explain how the Blohm daughters were able to have control of a number of properties around Manhattan 10 to 15 years after their father's death.  Sadly Claus' Letter of Administration cannot be located, despite being in the Index, which would have provided information on how the courts settled business affairs in the absence of a will.

In the years between Claus Blohm's death and the daughters appearance in the mortgage records, three of the daughters marry:
  • 1865  Mary (age 19) to Leo Zimmerman
  • 1868  Margaret (age 18) to Eben Osterndorff
  • 1874  Anna (age 25) to Wilhelm Heddendorf
Minnie appears not to have married or married much later in life, whilst Augusta married in 1882 at the age of 24 to George Weilage.  Two of couples continued the liquor business, with one couple thriving, the Heddendorfs.

Anna Blohm Heddendorf
Anna Blohm, born 1848, remained with her family until her marriage at age 25 to Wilhlem Heinrich Diedrich Heddendorf on 24 Feb 1874, though he is often recorded as William Heddendorf.  Thankfully for us, Wilhelm's profession and location are quite immutable: always living on West Broadway, Manhattan and dealing in liquors.  By 1880, Wilhelm and Anna have four children: William Henry, Maria/Mary Auguste, Henry Blohm and George Walter.  This is where it gets complicated, hence the Genealogical Road Map.

William Henry Heddendorf
William Henry follows in his father's profession of dealing in liquors but would appear to take full control of his father's and mother's liquor businesses after the death of Wilhelm in 1896.  William H. continued to build up his liquor business with his brother Henry and the Lion Brewery company on the Upper West Side where the family had resided.  After the acquistion of a number of tennant and store front buildings, William Henry is elected the second vice-president of the Waldamere Club, a social club comprised of the most prominent business men in Harlem, in 1901.  It is at this time that William goes into the business of stabling horses, primarily as the third largest for the police in Manhattan.  By 1909, William has given the liquor business to his brother Henry and branched out into the undertaking business.

Heddendorf Siblings
Maria or Mary took on the profession of piano teacher before marrying at the age of 25 in 1902 to Christian Gottlieb Loffler/Lofflier/Loeffler and having one son, Eugene.  Maria and William's brother Walter, as he was often listed as, was married the year before to May and quickly had two sons, William Henry and Henry Walter.  Sadly, Walter dies in 1906 with his wife following soon behind in 1912; the two sons were only aged 11 and 9, respectively, when their parents passed.  Records show that the sons William H. and Henry W. went to live with their aunt Maria and her son.

Maria's brothers marry later in life, with Henry marrying in 1912 to Henrietta G. Hahner (no known children) and William marrying in 1925 (age 52) to a widow Victoria, producing two daughters, Edith and Victoria.

Business Continues
Perhaps it was the lack of interest by certain members of Anna Blohm's grandchildren or mayhaps it was the fact of being the namesake, but it would appear that William H.'s nephew, William Henry, took over the some responsibility, if not the profession, of owning and operating a bar.  It should not be a surprise that William H.'s business started to fail at the start of Prohibition with debts being called in, and by the early 1930s, William H.'s marriage of less than ten years also crumbles.  William H. passes in 1937, leaving an estate worth more than $8,000 personal and $32,000 in real estate, which is entirely left to his surviving family members.  

The nephews William Henry and Henry Walter both move to Florida after World War II, where William H. continued the bar owner profession and had two sons of his own William Henry (Jr.) and Richard.  It is believed that Junior also took on the bar owner profession.  Edith and Victoria are known to have married though it is uncertain whether either produced any children.  It is also uncertain whether their cousins Eugene Loeffler or Henry Heddendorf married or had any children.  All four latter individuals are believed to have continued to reside in New York.

US Federal Census 1850 - 1880, 1900 - 1940; New York, Florida

New York State Census 1855, 1905

New York County, Letters of Administration Index, 1743 - 1875

Trow's City Directory, Manhattan and Bronx

New York Times, Obituary

New York Times, Real Estate and Mortgage

New York Times, Wills for Probate

The Tammany Times

Sunday, February 2, 2014

From the Archives of Anna - Post 1

Here is a list I encountered whilst confirming the locations of Anna Guy Selye's movement.  The list is from her collection of writings and consists of "Kin - also girlhood friends - & playmates & neighbors," as Anna describes the names.

Eugene Doncette
Edward      "       (later French Priest)
Augusta Middlebrook
Allie Wilson (Albert)
Elisabeth Wilson (Libbie)
Minnie Fraser - & John
John Carman (Preacher) older
Dr. & Mrs. Duncan Carman D.D.
Edward Carman Divinity Student much older than I 
Rosie Francis
Kate & Mary Noonan (older)
Mr. & Mrs. Fisher (Ponsant French)
Dr. & Mrs. John R. Barber Md.
Elisabeth & Susan (Su) Miller
John Carman
Aunt Adeline & Julia Hampton
Calvin Hampton - Uncle
Grandfather - Alexander T. Guy
born 1796 - ran away at 16 to join the Army 1812 - later "Indian War"

Searching for free through the 1875 New York State Census on, I was able to locate five individuals from the list residing in Rochester, Monroe, New York.  They include the following:

  • Allie (Albert George) Wilson, age 7 (born 1868), whose father is a Real Estate Dealer;
  • John and Mary Fraser, age 7 & 8 (born 1868 & 1869), whose father is a cabinet maker;
  • Kate (Kity) and Mary Noonan, age 18 & 16 (born 1857 & 1859), work as Box Shop Hands.

The latter individuals are most interesting as Anna's notes have stated that as a child, Anna was sent to work in a milliner's shop winding spools of thread where some of the women took pity on her.  Perhaps Kate and Mary Noonan were two of these women.

Another interesting find was sorting out Calvin Hampton, Aunt Adeline and daughter Julia Hampton.  Prior to Anna's list, I had known of her Aunt Adeline but had thought that it might have been her sister Julie who married Calvin.  This new research has further confirmed that nearly all of Anna's paternal family members moved from the Livingston Co, New York area to the Hillsdale, Jonesville Co, Michigan area in the mid 1800s.

But it is just past midnight now and all the remaining finds will have to wait until the morning...

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Confirmation of Anna Guy's Movements in the 1920s - 1930s

Sorry for the delay in this but have been busy with 4th cousin genealogy that seems to have solved a question I have held for a number of years and which I will get to in a subsequent posting on Osterndorff-Heddendorf connection.

Confirmed locations are dated in bold with my research of the location state in ( ).  This is assumes Anna Guy Selye wrote these locations in chronological order as she only wrote the location not the associated date.  ...Not sure what is up with the font

191?  Binghamton (New York)
191?  Belmont (Massachusetts)
1920  Lynnfield C. (Massachusetts)
1921  Touisett (Rhode Island)
1922  “Pack Sture” (possibly Park Circle, Florida, but that was 1930s so maybe not)
1923  “Ten Acre” farm
1924  Avon – Bank St. (possibly Connecticut for Avon; Bank St is NYC)
1925  Charleton St., NY
1926  Sauderstown T.I. (or L.I. but the only place that comes up is Rhode Island)
1927  Bank St. (New York City, New York)
1928  Quaker Neck (Maryland)
1929  Dallas, (Texas)
1930  Charleston, (possibly South Carolina)
1931  Bank (this is 61 Bank St, New York, NY)
1932  Norwood (Massachusetts)
1933  Bank – Boston (New York City, New York and Massachusetts)
1931/2  65th (New York; usually 135 East 65th St.)
1933  Farm Montgomery
1934  79th (New York; and 1937)
1935/6  Litchfield, (Conneticut)
1938  Manchester (Vermont)
2 – R. H.

Not listed are the following:

1914  210 East Ave, Rochester, NY (possibly 1913 or even 1915)
1933  Miami, Florida
08 Jan 1937  225 East 79th St, New York City, NY
16 Apr 1938  225 East 79th St, New York City, NY
1939  New York, NY
13 Feb 1940  Reid Hallow Colony, Brattleboro, VT (also noted as Halifax, VT in 1941)
10-14 July 1940  225 East 79th St, New York City, NY (also noted for Sept 1940)
14 Oct 1940  Reid Hallow, West Brattleboro, VT (also noted for Aug 1940)
06 Mar 1941  225 East 79th St, New York City, NY
18 Aug 1941  Reid Hallow, Brattleboro, VT (also noted for Jul 1941)
10 Jan 1942  Reisman Farm, West Brattleboro, VT
14 May 1942  Farmington, CT (c/o Mrs. F. T. Day)
13-14 July 1942  The Stratfield Hotel, Bridgeport, Connecticut
1946  Cross River, NY (Box 38)
1947 225East 79th St Apt 16D, New York City, NY (also noted for 1945)
1948  New York 21, NY

Monday, January 13, 2014

Take That Brick Wall!

Working from the back forward always has its benefits when the good stuff is at the end and it is even better when that good stuff resolves a few unanswered questions!

So I know I have not reached writing about Anna Guy Selye, aka "Mother-Mother", but this bit from her notes is just too good to not mention.  Quick backstory: after Anna received confirmation about the death of her wayward, fortune seeking husband, leaving her penniless, it has been rather difficult to track her in the historical records, making only two appearances after 1915.  One of those records was her 1931 divorce papers and the other was the 1940 US Federal Census (USFC).  She could not be located in the 1920 or 1930 USFC, despite checking all the known haunts for the family, though her married daughter was found.  It is understandable that perhaps Anna did not want to be found by the census or perhaps the family member who answered the door forgot to include her in the list of members.  Mayhaps she was traveling at the time.

This latter reason is quite probably given the recent information that has just surfaced.  Working backward through her notes, in what is quiet the undertaking to transcribe all of her papers, I came across a page in which she recounts that the past 18 years has seen the family residing in "twenty different places, not to mention boarding schools and camps."  Anna adds that, "It would seem strange to the children not to move, at least once a year...", where the children she is referring to are her four grandchildren by her only daughter Harriet Selye Campbell.  Sadly this page, like most of the pages, is not dated but given the contents of this particular writing, one can deduce that it is anywhere between the late 1920s to 1930s, as her grandson Billy is still playing with his toys, "this jangling of metal!"  ...Then again, it could have been written as late as the early 1940s based on some of the locations and the fact that boys & men of all ages still enjoy their "toys"!

So here is the list of locations - cities, towns and some house/farm names - Anna wrote (and that which I can make out) with my internet sleuthing to track down the states these locations might be.  Sadly she did not put any dates with these locations! But thankfully some of her letters and correspondence still survives so some of the locations can pinned down in time and I hope to be able to tell you in a subsequent post.

Binghamton (New York)
Belmont (Massachusetts)
Lynnfield C. (Massachusetts)
Touisett (Rhode Island)
“Pack Sture” (possibly Park Circle, Florida, but that was 1930s so maybe not)
“Ten Acre” farm
Avon – Bank St. (possibly Connecticut)
Charleton St. NY
Sauderstown T.I. (or L.I. but the only place that comes up is Rhode Island)
Bank St.
Quaker Neck, (either Virginia or North Carolina)
Dallas, (Texas)
Charleston, (possibly South Carolina)
Norwood (Massachusetts)
Bank – Boston (Massachusetts)
65th (New York)
Farm Montgomery
79th (New York)
Litchfield, (Conneticut)
Manchester (New Hampshire)
2 – R. H.

Still a lot more work to be done with the transcriptions but slow and steady wins the race!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Case for Syphilis? ...I hope not!

Syphilis - the bacteria, venereal disease you do not want to get if: a) you were born before penicillin; b) wanted or building a family; or c) do not have access to a sanitary environment or hygiene.  (Then again, even if you have penicillin, you still do not want this.)  Unfortunately for Eben William Osterndorff, he lived in a time with such conditions and may have had syphilis.  Since we do not have access to his remains nor a time machine, let us review the evidence.

The Father
The cause of death listed for Eben W. Osterndorff is paralysis with the date of death being 19 November 1891, aged 49 years, 10 months and 23 days.  Before the 20th (or even the 21st) Century, syphilis was rarely listed as a cause of death, usually due to the negative connotation associated with the disease and stigma to the family, but cannot be ruled out as a possible cause.  No other contributing causes are noted on the certificate of death.  Paralysis could have also resulted from botulism, multiple sclerosis, vitamin B12 deficiency, cervical spondylosis or motor neuron disease.  Without further historical medical records, oral or written family history, it is not possible to rule these others causes leading to paralysis either.  But what else do we know about the family?

For the majority of his adult life Eben was a coal dealer, a liquor dealer during the Civil War, a grocer and possibly a post master.  There have been no indications of poor health as would be noted on the US Federal Census (USFC): no blindness, deaf and dumbness, idiocy nor insanity.  There is also no notice of time being spent in a sanitarium or hospital but there is also no indication that he did not have a problem with alcohol, at least not one that was on public display.  Indeed, his life seems to be quite the opposite, being a member of a number of charity organizations and Episcopalian church groups.  His occupation allowed him to marry in his mid-twenties and almost immediately have two daughters, spaced two years apart.  In fact the coal and liquor businesses seem to do well enough to support three generations under one roof in a nice area of Manhattan just a stone's throw from Central Park. 

The Known Children
Unfortunately for us, Eben and his wife Margaret have their children in the early 1870s and the 1875 New York State Census for New York county is missing.  This means that when we catch up with Eben and his family in 1880, it is not possibly to ascertain whether they had more children who died young or were unable to have more children.  The only other option is to check if the baptismal records for the Episcopalian St. Michael's church still exist for the 1870s and whether they are accessible to the public, as this was the church in which Eben and Margaret married and where Eben had his funeral services.  Currently no record has been found, as of yet.  What we do know is that another daughter appears as a young adult with her unmarried sister in the 1900 USFC; the 1890 USFC being destroyed in a fire.  No New York State Census was taken in 1885, nor is there a microfilm copy of the 1892 OR the 1905 New York State Census for New York county, though there were taken originally.  The estimated year of birth for this third daughter is 1883, nearly 12 years after the second daughter!  If this third daughter is indeed a daughter of Eben and Margaret, why did they have more than a decade of hiatus between the daughters?  If we can rule out bad finances (see previous post on Eben W. Osterndorff), perhaps we can rule in a medical/biological cause.

The Mother
Let us consider Margaret Blohm Osterndorff, the mother, and her death.  Margaret's certificate of death reports that she died on 30 Jan 1898, at the age of 47 years, 11 months and 4 days, the chief cause being "asthenia - remittent malarial fever", with contributing cause being "malnutrition - extreme emaciation as result".  The fever is reported to have lasted 3-4 days and the asthenia to have lasted several weeks.  If Margaret had caught syphilis during her childbearing years, perhaps she passed it on through some of her pregnancies and survived when the infection went into its latent phase.  The latent phase may last up to decades and beyond the first years of this stage the illness is no longer transmissible, which means that healthy, non-infected children can be born.  Catching malaria may have prevented Margaret from progressing to the tertiary phase and possibly death, or maybe she was already in the final stage but the symptoms were not recorded when she contracted malaria.

Final resting place of Eben William Osterndorff,
Lot 14949, Green-Wood Cemetery.
Photo by Bob Collins,
published 31 Oct 2010 on
Possible Children
So here is an interesting bit!  Both certificates of death for Eben and Margaret list their final resting place as Green-Wood Cemetary, Brooklyn, NY.  This cemetery is large enough that one can perform an online burial search using variations of the surname: Ostendorff, Osterndorf, Osten, etc.  What we find with such a search is that Eben and his family are listed under Ostendorff, with family including Eben, Margaret, Emma, May/Mary, Eben's step-motherVeronica, his sister Dora and mother Maria (probably).  Thanks to the wonder of the internet and volunteer's with quirky interests, reports there are no headstones for the Osterndorffs buried in lot 14949, section 157.  What is important to note is that there are two unaccounted for Osterndorff women in this section: Maggie, buried 04 November 1875, and Henrietta, buried 26 July 1878.  Without headstones, it is not possible to immediately know how old any of these individuals were when they past; it remains to find the death certificates and/or orbituaries to determine more.  Could Maggie and Henrietta be syphilitic children born to Eben and Margaret?  Is the Dora listed in the burial list (buried 30 July 1883) actually Eben's sister or could she be a daughter with the same name?  Eben has been the only individual found with an obituary.


Given the evidence thus available, no resolution about the presence or absence of syphilis in Eben William Osterndorff's family can be made.  What has been found are more avenues of research to pursue and travel down.  A genealogical road map!  Then again, if The Doctor was available, we wouldn't have this or any other genealogical problems, brick walls, quandaries, concerns, etc.

But what is your take?  Did Eben contract syphilis and pass it on to his family?  Are there avenues (or even back streets/alleys) of research I have not considered?  Ones that a person with limited monetary resources could get to?  Feel free to leave a comment or questions below!

Happy Hunting!

The Doctor, Time Lord, version 10

Green-Wood Cemetery Services.

Hall LA. ‘The Great Scourge’: Syphilis as a medical problem and moral metaphor, 1880-1916. Paper presented at the Courtaud Institute Symposium, 23 May 1998.

Mandal A. Syphilis Symptoms.

Osterndorff EW. State of New York Certificate of Death. 1891.

Osterndorff MB. State of New York Certificate of Death. 1898.

Paralysis Cause Possibilities

Rudy's List of Archaic Medical Terms

US Federal Census 1870-1880, 1900, All Manhattan