Friday, September 28, 2007

The Weather Gets Colder - That Means Only One Thing . .

. . . more genealogy work! During the summer, who wants to be stuck inside going through websites or images? Well, given our weather here in Chicago this past summer, there were days when I relished being in my condo with the central A/C running!

But now that more reasonable temperatures prevail (highs in the mid 70s, lows in the low 50's at night), I've been spending more time on genealogy. Plus I think it is great to take breaks every now and then. Those of you who work on genealogy know what I'm talking about - you will bang your head against the wall trying to figure out a relationship or why your great-great-great grandfather married his wife's sister after his wife died (more common than you think). And don't you eventually put it aside and move on to another part of your family tree and come back to the vexing problem later? And often, I find that I have a different perspective and usually find what I am looking for.

I've made two great advances - both of which are not yet posted to the Austin database.

First, I have been able to locate information on my great-great-great grandmother Catherine Sullivan O'Keefe. The "Sullivan" is the important part - I never had her maiden name and had no information whatsover. All I had were some pictures of her from about 1917 (see above) taken at the family home on Elm Place in the Bronx.

Catherine Sullivan was born in Albany, New York in 1837 and died in the Bronx in 1928. That means she was about 90 or 91 when she died (longevity runs in my family but alas, mostly among the women). It is unknown when she married David O'Keefe but she spent most of her entire life in Lowville, NY. I was then able to trace her parents, Daniel Sullivan and Mary Griffin Sullivan who both immigrated from Ireland, probably during one of the early potato famines around 1830.

Second, and this one has me so psyched, I have been able to trace my 4th great-grandmother on my mother's side - her name is Margaret De Wandelaer. This one has perplexed me for well over a year - I was giving up hope and figured she was dropped down upon Fonda, NY by aliens or gypsies or alien gypsies. The problem was her last name.

The 1916 printed family genealogy listed the name as DE WANDERLEAR. I knew through my research that there were many DE WANDELAERs in upstate New York especially around Albany and Schenectady. And the Genalogical and Family History of Northern New York by William Richard Cutter published in 1910 said that she was the daughter of "one of the sons of Johannes De Wandelaer" born in 1756. So it could have been Pieter De Wandelaer or Herman[us] De Wandelaer. As luck would have it, I knew using early census records would be a challenge since most records only listed the head of household by name and didn't list the wife and children until 1850 or 1860 (see, again, women didn't count!).

First, I headed over to the Records of the Dutch Reformed Church of Albany, New York 1683 - 1809 and scoured through baptismal records looking for either a Pieter or Herman De Wandelaer who had a daughter Margaret. I was able to locate a Johannes De Wandelaer who had married Gerritje Gansevoort in 1777 in Albany, New York. From there I was able to locate Pieter and Herman De Wandelaer and get information on their births, baptisms and marriages. Herman De Wandelaer married Rachel Ten Eyck and they had a daughter Margaret born in 1809 which matched the age of my Margaret De Wandelaer.

Well it took me much of one weekend to work through early census records using the Ancestry website (for which I have a subscription and believe me it is well worth it) where I discovered this: the early census records showed the family last name as WANDLER. I've come to the conclusion that a) the early census takers probably had a limited education and their writing skills were not the best; and b) those being counted probably had a limited education as well. The census taker probably only heard the "wandler" part and by 1840 or so it was pronounced more as an English surname than a Dutch ("de van de lar") surname. Funny since the original name is acutally French as in DE FRONDELAC.

So, now I've added five or six more generations off of this one person. And the tree continues to grow.

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