Wednesday, August 30, 2017

An Unexpected Value to Newspaper Research

I love to do casual newspaper research with my morning coffee, and most of the time I don't find anything particularly interesting.  This time, however, my casual research turned into a serious, hard-core data hunt.

I was hoping for an obituary for Dr. F. A. Seemann, and uncle in my husband's family who was born in Iowa, and practiced medicine in Dubuque and Sioux City before moving to California to finish out his career.  I didn't find that obituary, but imagine my surprise when I saw newspaper advertisements for Dr. Seemann's practice - in Detroit, Michigan!

The newspapers were dated 1903 and 1904, which was a little curious as I thought I had a fairly accurate and detailed timeline for his life.  But upon checking my database closer, I discovered a two-year hole in that timeline, between his appearance in a directory in Dubuque, Iowa in 1903 and his appearance in the Iowa State Census in Sioux City in 1905.  

These advertisements provide us not only with the knowledge that he was in Detroit, and a specific location for his office, but also a new time and place in which to do more research.  The ads themselves are highly entertaining, and bordering on outrageous.

Look for a few of them in a future post.


Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Michael Joyce - Is the Fog Beginning to Clear?

Is this the Declaration of Intent of our hard-to-find ancestor Michael Joyce?

This Michael Joyce lives in Clinton, Massachusetts, district of ???, and was born in the County of Galway, Ireland in the month of October, 1830, and is 22 years old.  He arrived at New York in the District of New York on or about the 13th day of April, 1849.  The date of the Declaration is September 13, 1852, and has his signature.

I have been trying to find definite information on our Michael's life for years.  Several years ago, I wrote a post outlining some of the difficulties I've had.  Various sources and documents have birth years ranging from 1829 to 1831, mostly 1830.  Some say his birthday is September 29, others October 2.

I have had the same sort of luck with trying to pin down exactly when and where he entered the country.  His obituary says 1848, but census records say 1846 and 1849.  The first documentation I have of him in the United States is in the 1850 census.

Then, along comes this Declaration of Intent.  Attaining citizenship was a two-part process, the first being Declaration of Intent papers, and Final Papers, or the "Naturalization Petition."  Law requires five years of residency before citizenship would be granted.   I should point out that citizenship was not required, and the process could be started without being completed.  Michael's census records do indicate that he was a naturalized citizen.

The Michael Joyce in this document states that he was born in October 1830, but unfortunately does not specify a particular day in October.  So far, this makes him a good candidate to be our Michael Joyce.

This document states he came to the United States in April of 1849.  This, also, is consistent with one of the censuses of our Michael.

This Declaration of Intent was done in 1852, and the declarant lived in Clinton, Massachusetts.  Our Michael lived in Clinton, Massachusetts in 1852.  The Massachusetts State Census shows only one Michael Joyce in Clinton in 1855, and that was ours.

There isn't anything here that provides absolute iron-clad proof that this our Michael, but the circumstantial evidence is good.  I believe this is probably our Michael Joyce.

With that, some caution.  The Michael Joyce in this Declaration entered the country at New York. There is another Michael Joyce who entered the country at Boston a little more than a month later, on May 26, 1849.  He was 20 years old (b. abt 1829), and was a passenger on the ship "Kate."  His previous residence was Liverpool (England), which would probably rule him out as our Michael.  I have no information on where this Michael ultimately went, if he settled in Massachusetts or if it was simply where he entered the country.

I have a signature of Michael Joyce from his will, dated August of 1914.  I compared it to the signature on the Declaration.  However, the signature on the will is extremely shaky, and the will was signed just 6 weeks before his death; the signatures of the 85 year old Michael Joyce and the 22 year old Michael Joyce don't have any striking similarities.

With this date of entry to the United States, I hoped to find a passenger list.  As I discovered, in 1849 when a passenger ship docked at the U.S., the passengers simply left the ship and began new lives, no "processing" or anything.  So... that ends that.

Now, the focus is to "flesh out" more information on the Michael Joyce family's years in Clinton, and to search for a Naturalization Petition, if one exists.  The family left the area ca. 1855-1857, and his five year residency requirement would have been completed about 1854, so there was ample time to complete the process.  Whether or not he actually did, I don't know.

Hopefully the next breakthrough won't take as long...

Sunday, August 13, 2017

We Spat the Spit

We finally decided to take the plunge and do DNA testing.  I was initially untrusting of the whole thing, but decided this may be the only way we're able to make any breakthroughs in the Joyce family research.

We waited for the tests to go on sale, and they finally did - $69, down from $99.  Today, the spit has been spat and they'll go back to Ancestry in tomorrow's mail.  Then comes 6-8 weeks of waiting patiently (not).  As I mentioned, we are most interested in hubby's Joyce line, hoping to make contact with a distant cousin descended from one of his great-great grandfather's siblings.  As for me, my most intense interest right now is to see how Ancestry's DNA algorithms handle double cousins.  My double cousin Shane has already been tested, and since we should have more genetics in common than typical first cousins, but not quite as much as siblings, it will be interesting to see how this is interpreted.

In the last six months, I've been reading stories of DNA surprises.  I'm not expecting anything to pop up from these tests, but then again, most of the people who got surprises probably weren't either.  At any rate, it's interesting.  I will post updates here.