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, May 31, 2016

#85 Genealogy on the Road

I spent last week in New York City on a genealogy research tour with the New England Historic and Genealogical Society (NEHGS).  Since I grew up in Brooklyn, this was a tour that was just perfect for me.  I liked that the tour combined genealogical research with visiting places that involved immigrants coming to New York City.  I have relatives who lived in New York City since the mid 1850’s so this was an opportunity for me to find out more about them, particularly about how they lived and what they did.  This is the first of several blog posts that will focus on my research tour.  This one will just highlight where we went and what I found without going into any findings in depth.

We spent the major of our research time at the New York Public Library (NYPL).  While you may be familiar with the outside of the building with its magnificent lions, Patience and Endurance, what you may not know is that the inside is absolutely gorgeous. The marble interior is filled with artwork, sculpture, and polished wood.  It was amazing to be able to work there.  I requested a number of
Lion outside New York Public Library
books on Brown County, Ohio and used newspaper data bases that I were never available to me before.  My main focus for the NYPL was to expand my information about the Hannah’s in Brown County Ohio and to dig into the newspapers in Dedham Massachusetts and in the Caribbean. I was delighted to find that my great, great, great grandfather, James Hannah’s, will had been filed in Brown County, not Hamilton County where he died and where I had been looking for it and  find out more about the businesses that, Reuben Newell, my great, great grandfather, ran in Dedham.

We spent an all-to-brief afternoon at the Brooklyn Historic Society.  In their catalog I found the the archives for Packer Collegiate Institute, a school that my grandmother, mother, aunt and cousin had attended.  I also went there.  While I knew that my grandmother was a “Packer-Girl”, I was never exactly sure when she attended so I requested all the catalogs from 1865 to 1900.
Packer Collegiate Institute about 1890
At the library, I started to go through them year by year and it was not long before I found Gertrude Richards in the catalogs from the late 1880’s and early 1890’s along with curriculum.  I had a little more time at the Historical Society, which I used to find out whether or not any of my grandmother’s Cochrane aunts had also gone to Packer. And indeed one had; there in the in the 1865 and 1866 catalogs was Evalina Cochrane along with the curriculum for young women during the Civil War.  It is going to take me a while to figure out what kind of education each of them received.  The school was not divided into high and elementary school, but into various departments with several grades in each.

We also spent an afternoon at the New York City Municipal archives.  Several years ago, I had ordered death certificates for a number of my ancestors, so this was my opportunity to look at several more.  I knew exactly what I wanted there—death certificates for my Minarcik grandparents.  Despite
Ceiling Mosaic NY Municipal Archives
the fact that I have a love-hate relationship with microfilm machines, I did find both their certificates. By the way, the ceilings on the first floor of the archive building are covered with beautiful mosaics.

I am so pleased with all the information I found, and I will blog more about it later.  However, it is important to point out that I would not have been so successful had it not been for the very helpful librarians at each location and the genealogists from the NEHGS.