“A Stranger Whose Name is Unknown”

While searching the wonderful fultonhistory.com, I came across this obituary:

Screen shot 2015-01-22 at 9.36.36 PM


We all know our ancestors can be elusive…that obituaries weren’t always printed and documents didn’t always exist. And even when records exist, they can be extremely hard to find, to confirm, to cross-reference…it can take years of research and many of us will be unsuccessful in ever finding the right connections.

So this newspaper clipping gives me mixed feelings. This stranger whose name is unknown is likely forever lost to history, but someone found the man’s death—or at least his anonymity—worthy of coverage.

Where They Lived

Many records give the address where our ancestors were living. Census records are a great source of addresses (check the left margin), as are some military records. I’m always interested in seeing whether the property still exists and what it looks like today.

Thanks to google maps and street view, you can often get a close look at a property.

Find a street address and then visit https://www.google.com/maps

Type in the address and you’ll see a box like this, top left of your screen:

Screen shot 2015-02-15 at 3.24.37 PM

Click on the photo where it says “street view” in white to get a look at the street:

Screen shot 2015-02-15 at 3.24.48 PM

Now us the + sign (bottom right) to zoom in, if necessary. You can often see the house number on or near the front door. In this case, my ancestors lived in the house on the far right:

Screen shot 2015-02-15 at 3.25.42 PM

You may not always find street view available – it depends on what Google has imaged. You’ll have the most luck in larger cities and towns, as opposed to rural areas.

You may also find that addresses have changed and the exact house number may no longer exist, even though the street does. The same is true of streets – names can change over the years. It’s also possible the building has been demolished in the decades or centuries since your ancestors lived in the area.

Happy hunting!

From the Poor House to the Soldiers’ Rest Home



Admission to the Greene County Poor House

My 3x-great-grandfather William Justice Warner had an interesting journey the last 15 years of his life. In 1870 he is living in Athens, Greene County, NY with his wife Mary and two sons, William and Walter.

According to William’s military pension records, Mary died in 1871 in Athens. In late May 1883 William is admitted to the Greene County poor house. The document includes some interesting info, including his place of birth and that of his mother and father.

In the remarks section it indicates:

He has no home, says he has come here for that reason to live and die here. He has no other other home, is a very nice old man deserving of a great amount of sympathy and care.

In 1887 William shows up in Bath, Steuben County, NY at the New York State Soldiers and Sailors Home. Oddly enough he is listed as married in the admission record, but widowed in the previous record. He lists his son, William, as next of kin and gives William’s address in Brooklyn, NY. That building looks like this now:

Screen shot 2015-02-12 at 7.45.52 PM

In 1892, William Justice Warner moved to this address to live with his son William and his family – wife Minnie, daughters Alice and Florence, and son George.

Finally, in 1897, William Justice winds up at the Soldiers Home in Hampton, Virginia where he dies the following year.



Family Recipe Friday

Mount Vernon NY Daily Argus 1942 - 3840Ok, so this isn’t my family recipe. I’ve never made this dish nor do I know of anyone in my family specifically making this dish.

However, I was intrigued by this circa 1942 “Victory Recipe” found in a New York state newspaper. I have to admit, I’m not a huge fan of fish and not at all likely to ever try this out, but I this advertisement caught my eye because it was a wartime recipe advertised by McCormick that incorporates the company’s spices.

Although the ingredient list is fairly long, the only items that are not spices are rice, canned peas, tomato consomme, evaporated milk, and the codfish. Sounds like it would have been an easy, economical dish—as promised by the ad.


So You Sold the Farm…

I’ve been looking for my ancestor’s farm by scouring old maps and looking through old texts for clues. As usual, I turned to fultonhistory.com to search through hundreds of pages of old newspapers. After searches for “Josiah Warner” didn’t turn up much, I started looking for Warner with a combination of place names such as Catskill, Athens, Coxsackie, and Greene County. These searches turned up a few articles pertaining to “Jofiah Warner”.

Then I found this:

Screen shot 2015-02-12 at 11.14.07 AM

The description of the farm’s location matches previous texts. Josiah didn’t arrive in the area until right around 1800, so why is he trying to sell his farm only 5 years later, and where did the family live if this land indeed sold? Census records show Josiah Warner stayed in the local area—perhaps on this land or perhaps somewhere else. The mystery continues!

Family Recipe Friday

I have no idea what family member this recipe came from, but it was with the large collection of recipe’s from my grandmother. I’m drawn to this “Jellied Grapefruit Salad” recipe card because of the interesting handwriting, the side-view drawing of what the salad should look like, and the terrifying mix of gelatin, juices, cream cheese, steamed prunes, and a garnish of mayonnaise. Yikes!

Screen shot 2015-01-22 at 8.53.49 PM

Scouring Old Maps

My 3x-great-grandfather William Justice Warner and wife Mary Van Loan, his parents William Jackson Warner and wife Amelia Mix, and grandparents Josiah Warner and wife Olive Jackson lived in Athens, Greene County, New York. They were farmers by all accounts, with William Justice Warner’s son (William John) as the first to pursue a different livelihood.

I’ve been searching for the burial locations for most of these people. William Justice is buried in Virginia, but his military pension records indicate his wife Mary died in 1871 in Athens, NY. I believe the older Warner’s also died in Athens. It dawned on me that as farmers, they were likely buried on their own land, but where was the farm?

Histories of Greene County and Athens, NY indicate the boundaries of Athens are as follows:

“…beginning at the south end of a bridge that has lately been erected arose the Murderer’s Kill that empties into the Hudson River near the house of Josiah Warner…”

“The house of Josiah Warner, alluded to, stood very near the ice house south of the creek.”

I grew up in a map publishing family and realized recently that I haven’t utilized old maps in my research. I haven’t found a landowners map indicating the precise location of the Warner farm, but I have determined its general location based on the descriptions. If you follow the squiggly line from the “S” (Murderers Kill) to where it intersects with a road coming from the Northeast, that’s the area. Interestingly enough, there is a notation for a “Mrs Warner” just below the “N”.

Screen shot 2015-01-18 at 9.10.19 PM


As I begin to plan a research trip, this information will be invaluable in whittling down the location. As a tip to others, many old maps and atlases are readily available online.