Welcome to my genealogy blog. Ancestors I Wish I Knew is a combination of genealogical information and stories about individuals in my family tree. The focus is on those from my Cochrane, Eitelbach, Merrett, Minarcik and Richards lines and their descendants.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

#51 William Cochrane and Andrew George Cobett Cochrane—That Wall is beginning to crumble

I never cease to be amazed that a brick or two, or maybe even three, may fall off that brick wall when you least expect it.  When I was in Washington, D. C. last month, I looked at a number of sources trying to figure out when William Cochrane and Andrew George Cobbett Cochrane with their families arrived in the United States from England.  All I knew was that in 1835 they both filed Alien Registrations in Erie County New York, indicating that they intended to become American Citizens. I
also had found a passenger list which indicated that an Andrew Cochrane arrived in Philadelphia in 1833-34.  That Andrew Cochrane was born in the correct year, but was it the right Andrew Cochrane.? Try as I might, I could find nothing for William Cochrane in terms of passenger arrivals.  That wall was still up.

The other day I was again looking at the information I had on Andrew George Cobbett Cochrane and decided to take another look at his application for a passport.  It had a lot of information on it, including that he had been naturalized.  I was hoping that the naturalization papers might be attached so I looked at the next page.  No luck.  However, I am persistent and decided to look at the pages before his application.  There I found a passport application from May of 1872 for his daughter, Emma Cochrane Kingman.  In her application she states that she was born in England on September 39, 1830 and came to the United States at two years of age.  Depending on when Andrew and his family arrived, she could have arrived in 1833.  Further, the parish record of St George’s Bloomsbury indicates that her brother Andrew Charles was born on February 8, 1832 and was baptized on February 29 of that year.

Taken together, these facts point to the conclusion that the Andrew Cochrane who arrived in Philadelphia may indeed be the Andrew George Cobbett Cochrane, brother to my great-grandfather.  Now I need to see if his naturalization records contain the date of his arrival.

If I could talk to Andrew, I certain would ask when he came to the United States and where he and his family landed.  I also would ask whether or not his brother, William, came at the same time.

Monday, March 16, 2015

#50 An Amazing Experience

I got back last week from an amazing experience.  I spent a week in Washinggon, D. C. on a week-long genealogy research tour with the New England Historic and Genealogical Society.  Imagine spending all that time with people who share your passion, understand your roadblocks, and can talk about things that most of your friends would consider very strange.  The first two days were devoted to getting to know and doing some preliminary research in the three sites:  Library of Congress, National Archives, and the Daughters of the Revolution Library.  Each one has its own rules and regulations, from what you can take in, copying fees, security screenings, cards, etc. For example,  you can take a purse into the DAR library with no size restrictions, your purse at the Library of Congress must be less than 9 by 6 inches, and you can take no purse into the archives, just a small clear plastic bag.    All that combined with finding out how to locate what you wanted was a little daunting, even though I had spent time looking at their websites and getting familiar with each one.    However, the NEHGS staff and the librarians at the sites were extremely helpful and I pretty soon had figured out how things worked.

So what did I find?  I went with some very clear questions that I wanted to try to answers and was able to answer some of them.  I confirmed that James Hannah did indeed fight in the War of 1812.  I found his muster cards on Fold3 at the National Archives.  He was a private in  the Pennsylvania Regiment commanded by Rees Hill.  I was not able to find where he lived in Cincinnati, Ohio or where he was buried.  From his pension file, I discovered that Joseph Minarcik, my great, great grandfather not only was with the 2nd Cavalry when it explored Yellowstone National Park, he was in battles against Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse!  For John Wesley Hannah, my great grandfather, I was looking for additional information about his Civil War service.  I found a number of documents that he signed.  Some were affidavits attesting that a particular soldier had indeed fought while others were rather sad, as they were the documents he signed when a soldier died.  Most exciting, however,
was to hold in my hands the letter that he wrote at the end of his tour of duty, requesting to be discharged and return home –that was much more personal and real to me.   There were questions that I was not able to answer.  Brick walls I did not knock down.  That is OK because for now I know
there is no answer, but maybe there will be in the future.

One of the best parts of the tour was the chance to interact with the NEHGS genealogists.  I learned a great deal from them.  From Rhonda McClure, I learned that you need to go beyond and look at the details in a documents and see where it leads you.  I have already used that and found that when you get a document in Ancestry.com, you need to look at the following pages as there may be more information.  Henry Huff gave me some great clues of how to get through a brick wall by looking at how others have solved similar problems, and David Dearborn taught me that there is much more information about the soldiers in the Civil War than the muster rolls and regimental histories.

My task now is to digest and organize all the information I gathered.  Stay tuned—I also gathered some information about my great grandmother’s three brothers and their service in the Civil War.