Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Best Resource I'd Overlooked

I got a real surprise when I noticed last night that the Kings County Estate Files database on FamilySearch allows you to "log in to view image." How had I missed that?! I'd used the collection before, but mostly just as an index, not realizing I could see the documents themselves. Well, last night, I logged in, and what a treasure trove I found! A few of the documents I'd already seen, having visited the Kings County Surrogate Court in person, but others were new to me - and had so much information!

The first estate file I found was that of James Mulvaney, my great-great-great-grandfather, who, I learned, died 17 Nov 1885. We'd long had a general timeframe for his death - mid-1880s, and we knew he had survived his wife Bridget, who died in 1883, but this was the first actual date of death I'd found. The list of survivors was more exciting, though. James left "no widow, but three children, to wit John Mulvaney, Patrick Mulvaney, and Mary Ann Mulvaney, all of full age, also James Mulvaney, about 5 years of age, and Thomas Mulvaney, about 3 years of age, children of Thomas Mulvaney, a dec'd son of said dec't."

Everything fits perfectly with what we knew of James's descendants, except that there's much more information about Thomas than ever we'd had before. Knowing he'd died in his 20s and was buried in his birth family's plot, I'd assumed he'd died unmarried and childless, but that appears not to be the case. We had, however, been lead to believe, by Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn, that Thomas had died in 1889, which is incompatible with his already having been deceased in 1885. My initial thought is that it's possible that a handwritten "1884" was misread or mistranscribed at some point as "1889," but this is a point that's going to need further research. Maybe the Thomas in the family plot isn't even the same Thomas! The existence of these two sons, James and Thomas, is an exciting lead to follow, too. I'm a descendant of Patrick, I'm in contact with descendants of John, and we're trying to find out what happened to Mary Ann. I didn't even know Thomas's descendants were another avenue to research, but now I'm looking forward to it.

I also found a useful file on the estate of James Madigan, brother of my great-great-grandmother Mary. I'd never had any idea what happened to him, but now I know he died, leaving no wife or children, as a young man in 1894.

1 comment:

Greta Koehl said...

I was lucky - when I first started using the Texas Death Certificate database on Family Search Record Search, you did not have to have an account and be logged in to access the images. Otherwise, I'd probably have been in the same situation as you - not aware that there is an image that can be viewed and downloaded!