Sunday, 13 March 2011

New York - can you help?

I've been researching my family history for 14 years and love nothing better than getting my hands filthy in graveyards and rummaging around archive offices in parish records, wills, land records and quarter sessions.

However, a strain of my family is from the good old US of A, and boy - are they giving me gip. Probably once a year I get a tiny new clue, and today I've come across another one. You see, I know my ancestor - Parden Harvey was born (1811ish) and married (1836ish) somewhere in New York and his first two children were born there - but so far Ancestry and Family Search haven't thrown up any BMD records AT ALL! Aaaargh.

Last month I discovered Parden's eldest daughter Jane was born in Essex, NY in 1837. (Essex town, Essex County???).

Today I found a second marriage for his second child John, which gives his birthplace - but the life of me I can't read the handwriting (below). I have had no opportunity to visit New York so this means nothing to me. Can anyone help?
Thank you - anyone who is able to help.



  1. Is that 'Conh**du'?

    Meanwhile, if it's Essex County, NY have you tried here:

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Jarmara Falconer said...
    Hi Lily, I wish I could help. I've spent over 28 years researching my family history... Lucky for me they all came from Whitby, North Yorkshire and I've been able to trace them back to 1716, but I know how frustrating it can be when you cannot read something because it's faded or badly written. Try looking at the shapes of the letters around your word you're trying to read, to if you can match up any letters in your word. What you are trying to do is see how the writer forms his/she letters to recongise how they have written their words. I hope this makes sense to you. Good luck and I hope you crack the code.

  4. Hi Jarmara. Thanks very much for your comment. To me it looks like Contr...udu. I've compared it to other writing on the page but there's no real other clue. It is frustrating - I have transcribed hundreds of 16th century wills over the years, but this has stumped me because I'm not familiar with New York - and of course this place may not even exist any more!

    Thanks to anyone offering help!

  5. Lily, I'm not sure you've seen this website but maybe it might help:
    I love a puzzle.. let us know if you figure this one out!

  6. Could be Conhocton, Steuben County. A PN Harvey had a household there in 1840. (My Parden was always known as PN.)

    It's now called Cohocton.

    Suggestions are still welcome!

  7. "Hands filthy in graveyards" Yoiks! last time I was caught in the cemetery with a shovel (just a spot of weeding of course), I was hounded out of town by hacks at the local newspaper.


Lily Childs is a writer of horror, esoteric, mystery and chilling fiction.

If you see her dancing outside in a thunder storm - don't try to bring her in. She's safe.