genealogy

A couple of sassy girls

I love this photograph from 1926 of my Great Grandmother Emily Nixon and her sister Olive with my Great Grandfather John Schwarz.  There is so much to look at in the picture from the automobile to the ukulele to the outfits and saucy grin of my ancestor. The location is probably somewhere in the New York City vicinity.

My great grandparents 1926

My great grandparents 1926

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Genealogy and Maps

Maps can really add a lot to any genealogy research. I posted earlier about some sources of Sanborn Maps.  Here is another example of maps that can be an addition to your genealogy research. Brooklyn Genealogy Wesbite has copies of Johnson Maps which show tax parcels, businesses and landowners.

Town of Jamaica, Queens County, NY (1873)

Town of Jamaica, Queens County, NY (1873)

The Johnson Map atlas’s are very helpful. I found my ancestor Conrad Fleck in Jamaica Queens New York on this 1873 map. The map is a great resource to to find neighbors and other family members who lived in the community.

Happy Birthday to my Great Great Grandmother

February 16, 1883 is the birthday of my Great Great Grandmother Emma Borgwardt May. She was the matriarch of a large family by helping to raise her daughter Bertha May Burke’s children when her husband was killed in a car accident. My father remembered her fondly as a warm hug and no nonsense type of lady. Happy Birthday Emma!

Emma Borgwardt May

Emma Borgwardt May

Messy Ship Records

One of the thorns in my side when it comes to researching my ancestors is finding ship records of when they arrived in the United States. I know what port they arrived and a general idea of country of origin. I had not anticipated the horrible handwriting of the log books. Yikes! It took a lot of detective work and thinking of how many ways last names could be written to find most of my ancestor’s ship records.

Dugald Yuill Ship Record 1867

Dugald Yuill Ship Record 1867. Port of New York at Castle Garden

I did some earlier posts with links for immigration and naturalization records that I have found to be helpful if your ancestor came through New York.

https://historyrambler.wordpress.com/2014/01/10/immigration-records/

https://historyrambler.wordpress.com/2014/01/28/the-american-dream/

Gerhard Torborg Ship Record 1854 Port of New York at Castle Garden

Gerhard Torborg Ship Record 1854 Port of New York at Castle Garden

Real life Downton Abbey

My great great grandmother Emily Shields was born in Bilton, Yorkshire, England on October 25, 1868 to William Shields and Fanny Clark.  She worked as a nanny and then later a governess for a local estate.  I have been trying to find its name and have had a hard time. Her father William was a gardener and family lore says the head gardener. I have been able to find the Shields family residing in Bilton from 1861-1901 in the English Census.  Emily married Thomas Tyson Nixon in 1890 in Hull, East Riding Yorkshire.  I think of the television program “Downton Abbey” whenever I imagine their daily life as servants who dared to dream of a better life than one of servitude. The courage to dream of a life different than the strict hierarchy of a noble house makes me think of how special my ancestors must have been to think things could be different.

Nixon Family in the US

Nixon Family in the US

I have letters from Emily’s son, Leonard Nixon, that were left to my mother that talk about their time in Yorkshire and the trip to the US in 1907.  He explains that times were tough before they left as there was a recession in England. Thomas was a stone mason but work was scarce and he left the family for the United States first in 1902 get a job and make money to send back to the family for passage to America.  He only returned once in 5 years to visit the family as he made money to better the lives of his family. It was on this return trip that Emily conceived their final child Leonard. Thomas Nixon came back for the whole family back in 1907. It was then that he met his son Leonard for the first time.

Leonard Nixon, Thomas Nixon, Emily Shields Nixon and Emily Nixon Schwarz 1951

Leonard Nixon, Thomas Nixon, Emily Shields Nixon and Emily Nixon Schwarz 1951

Thomas and Emily did a wonderful thing by taking that leap of faith and immigrating to America to have a better life than what was to be had in Yorkshire. They lived the American dream to raise a happy and successful family.