Thursday, February 25, 2016

Throwback Thursday: Roots in Pennsylvania

I was supposed to do a review of May 2015, but that doesn't appeal to me right now. So you'll have to wade through a Family History post.

My great-grandmother Gertrude Anderson Fenex was the daughter of Thomas Henry Anderson and Bridget Burke (Bourque). Both Thomas and Bridget were of Irish descent. Thomas was born in New York in 1850 to Thomas and Catherine Anderson. Both Thomas and Catherine were born in Ireland between 1820 and 1825. At some point, they immigrated to New York. I found Catherine's maiden name listed on the death certificate of her son, Peter Anderson. She is listed as Catherine Seary.

Questions I wish I could answer:
Where was Thomas Anderson born?
Where was Catherine born?
Anderson isn't a typical Irish surname. Is it possible that the Anderson comes from a different country originally?
Were the Andersons Irish Catholic or Protestant?

I think that Thomas and Catherine immigrated to New York. I just learned that Castle Garden Port  did not open until 1855 to process immigrants. According to, immigrants arriving in New York before 1855 were processed by their incoming ship and doctor's onboard. There wasn't an official processing station in New York.  I think that Thomas and Catherine immigrated between 1840-1845. I don't think they moved to New York later than 1845. I do not know, and haven't been able to find whether or not they were married before they immigrated to the USA or if they were married in Ireland.

Realistically, they could have immigrated to New York before 1840 and if so, they would have come with family. There are different periods and locations of Irish immigration. If they immigrated during the 1840s, they may have come because of the Potato Famine, but it seems unlikely, because I think they most likely immigrated before 1846. However, I could be wrong.

Questions I wish I could answer:
Were Thomas and Catherine married before they immigrated to the USA?
Did they immigrate separately? Were they children or teenagers when they immigrated?
Which ship(s) did they sail on?
Which port did they sail from?
How did they pay for their passage?
Why did they choose to immigrate to the USA?
Are there are other ports in New York state?

New York and Census Records
From US census records, I found that their sons, Matthew (1847), Thomas H. (1850), Peter (1852), Terence (1843 or 1844), William (1856) and Joseph (1858), were all (allegedly) born in New York.

Questions I wish I could answer:
Some of the research I have done lists Terance twice so he is found in my tree more than once. I believe he is only one person and I need to merge him. But it is possible there were two boys named Terance.
Did the family live in NYC for awhile? Or did they live in other places in New York?

A Missing Girl?
Today, while doing a search, I came across a really interesting census record from the New York state census of 1855 for a family that seems to resemble the Thomas/Catherine Anderson family living in Metz, Cayuga County, New York. They were living with a couple named the Taylors. The boys are listed right along the row, with the right ages and names.

What surprised me is that a girl, Elisabeth, was listed between Matthew and Thomas. That seems to make sense, but she is missing from the 1860 census, meaning that she could have died. I really need the confirmation from the 1850 USA census because she would have been born then.

At this point, I believe that Thomas and Catherine did have a little girl, who died between 1855 and 1860. I also confirmed that Elisabeth didn't stay with David and Sophronia Taylor. She doesn't appear in either the 1860 or 1875 censuses.

Questions I wish I could answer:
Did Thomas and Catherine have a daughter named Elisabeth?
Did Elisabeth die before 1860 while they lived in New York?
How can I find that information?
Did Thomas and Catherine live in Metz, New York? If so, what brought them there? Were they related in some way to the Taylors?

Move to Pennsylvania
In the US 1860 census, Thomas and Catherine are now settled in Providence, Luzerne, Pennsylvania. Their children, Matthew, Thomas, Peter, Terrence, William, and Joseph, are all listed. Thomas is listed as a laborer on the census. Their personal estate was valued at $50, which seems to be normal for the other people listed on the same census page. I also learned that Thomas  could read and write, at least a little and that neither he nor Catherine had any formal schooling.

Questions I wish I could answer:
What brought Thomas and Catherine to Pennsylvania?
What kind of work did a laborer do?
How much was $50 dollars worth in 1860? This site tells me that it would have been worth $1428.57 in today's money.

Life In Pennsylvania
In the 1870 census, Thomas and Catherine are now living in Plymouth, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania with their six sons who ranged from age 23 to 11. Thomas is listed as being a stone mason. His wife's profession was "keeping house", which made me grin because I bet keeping a house with six boys clean was a lot of work. I also imagine she spent many, many hours preparing food for six hungry boys.

There was a large Irish population in the area. Many of these people worked in the coal mines. A large rich vein of coal was discovered and workers were needed to extract the coal. I don't know if Thomas worked in the mines, but some of his sons did.

In the 1880 US census, Thomas and Catherine were still living in Plymouth, Luzerne County, PA. At this time, four of the boys: Matthew, Thomas, Peter, and William were living elsewhere (or perhaps some of them had died). Terrance (27) and Joseph (22) were living with their parents. Thomas was once again listed as a laborer, Catherine kept house, Terrance was an engineer, and Joseph was a laborer.

I was unable to find either Thomas or Catherine after the 1880 US census, so I assume they died sometime after that.

I wonder if either was buried in any of the cemetaries near Plymouth. I wasn't able to find their graves listed, but that doesn't mean they don't exist. I found that Peter died on August 18, 1930 (according to his death certificate), was a coal miner, and was buried in the St. Rose Cemetary in Carbondale, Pennyslvania. This information was confirmed by two sources: the death certificate, and then a listing from the St. Rose of Lima Cemetary in Carbondale, PA listing of graves. Joseph Anderson was buried in 1939 in the St. Rose of Lima Cemetary in Carbondale, PA.

Questions I wish I could answer:
What happened to all the boys? Did they marry? Where did they live?
When did Thomas and Catherine die and where were they buried?
What kind of people were they? Did they feel like it was worth it to immigrate to America? Did they achieve their dreams?


The information I have found comes from the U,S. Federal Census Records: 1860, 1870, and 1880. I also found the Anderson family in the 1855 New York State Census. Catherine's last name was written on Peter Anderson's death certificate record around 1930.



codygma said...

Thanks for sharing. You wrote up a nice commentary. It is hard to find answers, isn't it?

swedemom said...

Thanks for commenting. It is hard to find answers for sure. I spent some time working my local Family History Consultant and she gave me some ideas of where to go next. I've been looking through the Luzerne County GenWeb site which actually has quite a few links to interesting info. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find the Anderson name... I still have a lot of searching to do.