Immigration Confusion’

This is Erin. I don’t know how to make my name show up…So, I’ve been searching and searching my family, who have lived in Upstate New York since the 1800s. I know the county, the town, even the cemetery in which they are all buried (which I asked my dad to visit and take pictures, but he refused since it’s January and they have 3 feet of snow-I forgot that cemetery searching would be different in NY than it is here)! It was pretty easy to find all the relatives dating back to the early 1800s. Unfortunately, the easy part is over. Finding records in the United States, via censuses, newspapers, death certificates, and grave markers, is pretty easy. It all pops up in Ancestry.com, and if it’s a person with the same name as my relative and also from Franklin County, New York, I can be fairly confident that it is, in fact, my relative on the document.

Unfortunately, once I turned to immigration records, the ease of discovery dwindled. Do you know how many Ellen Howards immigrated to the United States from Ireland between the years 1823 and 1849?! Hundreds! So, how do I find which one is my Ellen Howard and not some other random lady? Also, since I haven’t been able to find a marriage record for Ellen and her husband, William Quirk, it’s possible they were married in Ireland and came over to New York together! In that case, I have to search for not only Ellen Howard, but also Ellen Quirk! And since it was too early for Ellis Island, the records are not as organized or digitized as they later became. So yeah, I’ve been struggling, to say the least.

How am I going to fix this problem? Well, first, I have contacted a woman on Ancestry.com who is definitely a relative and has information on her tree that I don’t have on mine. She even has pictures of some of the relatives, which never got passed down to my family (my grandfather was the youngest of 8 kids, my mom is the youngest of 6; there is no way me, my mother, or even any of her siblings ended up with anything cool). So, hopefully she will have some good information, or at least know someone I can talk to in her family. Second, I’m going to contact the town clerk in Franklin, New York, to find any more information on my relatives that lived there. Maybe there’s newspaper records or church records. I haven’t been able to figure out what church they attended (not too many Catholic churches in the mountains of Upstate New York). Hopefully that phone call will be useful.