Friday, May 15, 2009

Luck, Deduction, and Using All the Sources I Can Get My Hands On (via the internet)

Last week, I had to pull an all-nighter in order to finish a History paper by the deadline. If you know me at all, you'll know that that means that at 3 am, I was taking breaks after every paragraph to do super-quick (in theory) genealogy searches. I'd go to the Brooklyn Genealogy Information Page, choose a category, and then a page, and then do quick searches through the page for names in our family. Imagine my delight when, on the page relating 1893 Court News, I found a reference to a letter of administration "granted upon the estate of" Mathew Madigan.

I quickly copied it into an e-mail to myself and went on with my work. (Suuuuure I did.)

It was really an extraordinary bit of luck to come across it. The Brooklyn Genealogy Page is composed of transcriptions done by individuals, so it is not by any means complete. They don't have court news for every year; they don't have court news for every day of 1893. Luckily for us, they happen to have court news for April 10, 1893, which happens to be the day that the Brooklyn Daily Standard Union reported on the letter of administration for a Mathew Madigan.

Is he our Matthew Madigan? I think so.

I went back into's Brooklyn City Directory database, and looked at the Madigans for the early '90s. (I love that genealogy means I can refer to the 1890s as the '90s in a context where other people will understand to what I am actually referring.)

1892 - Matahew Madigan, driver, h 85 Luquer St.
1893 - Matthew Madigan, carman, h 85 Luquer St.
1894 (drumroll, please!) - Jas. Madigan, truckman, h 85 Luquer St.

Could it be a coincidence? Yes. But while I do some more research, I'm banking on the fact that Matthew Madigan died in early April (late March?) 1893, and that his son James. took over the family business afterwards. Here's the relevant page of 1894's Brooklyn City Directory:

No Matthew, but James is a truckman at 85 Luqueer. What does this mean? Apparently, that Matthew was living at 85 Luqueer right up until he died. We're left to wonder how on Earth his kids from his first marriage got the house and his second wife and five-year-old daughter ended up around the corner.

The next stop, of course, is to look at the actual records! I believe they're available either at the NY Municipal Archives in Manhattan or at the Brooklyn Supreme Court Building; I'll have to call to double check. I don't know quite what a letter of administration would include, or what other records would be associated with it, but I sure can't wait to find out!

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