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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Looking for other ways to prove family relationships

Marian's Question was
I am searching for any record of my g Grandmother. According to her obituary she was was born in Westchester Co., NY May 15, 1818. Her Father died when she was 3 months old and her Mother a short time later. She then was adopted by a Townsend family. According to her childrens church records her birth name was Mary Smith. The obituary states her name as Mary Townsend Collins. She married Patrick Collins {born in Ireland in 1812} and the first record I find is their first sons death certificate which states that he was born in Utica,NY The next records are land records in Wethersfield, Wyoming Co., NY in 1857 and church records for their childrens baptisms,confirmations and marriages in St. Patrick's Catholic church in Java Center, NY, Wyoming Co. I have tried various NYC, Westchester Co, board lists also written to the early churches there and am having no luck. They had 7 children one of whom is my Grandfather. Another tidbit from the obituary is that she rode the first passenger train 7 miles to Fordham in 1836 so if that is correct she was still in NYC then. My main interest is which Townsend family adopted her and when she married my g Grandfather. I would be so grateful for any help you could give me and thank you so much for taking your time to do this wonderful volunteer work

OLIVE TREE ANSWER: Dear Marian - Sometimes church records contain the names of witnesses to the event (Baptism, marriage, or burial). It is possible that members of her adoptive Townsend family would have been present at such events. Have you checked for witness names in the records you have found?

You might also want to check census from 1850 on to see who was living near Mary and her family. Look for Townsend names. I use Ancestry.com for my census research but there are other sites that also have some of these records.

Finding a Townsend isn't proof that they are the family your Mary was adopted into, but it allows you a working theory of relationships. So if you find Townsends nearby or sponsoring vital events, you can then search them to see what if any, their relationship is to your Mary.

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