Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Albany Research Trip: Sorting through the Finds

The research trip to Albany, New York lasted three days.  I found a lot of useful information.  I was unable to post because Internet service was spotty.  I refueled the car in Albany and set out for home, where electric service was coming back after Hurricane Sandy.  I was wise to stop in Albany for gasoline.  The entire way back home was dotted with lines at gas stations, growing larger and with more police cars as I approached Northeastern New Jersey.  My home suffered no real damage and the electric and heat had returned Saturday morning after going out on Monday.  The food stores were slowly receiving new shipments of perishables.  Schools were closed because they either had no electricity or were too damaged.  More people were out riding bikes or walking to their destinations.  Traffic lights were out at many intersections and large trees blocked roadways.  At this moment, many blocks in town are still without power, heat, and water- while the first snowfall, Winter Storm Athena, is blanketing last week's destruction.

One of my goals in Albany was to uncover more information about Mary or Margaret Campbell, wife of Patrick Joyce.  I have not found either of them in the 1860 census and the earliest child I can find was born in 1861.  In the 1870 census in Pawling, Dutchess County, New York, Patrick Joyce is head of a household of four children under the age of ten; no wife.  Mary Joyce is listed on the Mortality Schedule, having died in May of 1870, "Railroad run over by cars."  She is a tail in my family tree- I do not know her parents.  Growing up, I heard the story often about how the train caught her skirts and dragged her to her death- after she threw a baby from her arms to safety.



At Albany, the index of deaths for New York State begins in 1881, or eleven years after Mary's death.  No luck there. A consultation with a researcher from the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society raised an important point:  A death by train could have occurred anywhere there was a railroad- not just in Pawling.

I expanded my search of digitized newspapers at GenealogyBank (you can access from home for a subscription or use Ancestry.com) and found a small article about the incident.


According to The New York Herald-Tribune [actually called the New York Herald in 1870], Margaret Joyce died in June of 1870, not May.  The researcher was right:  She was not killed in Pawling, but about 25 miles south, in Katonah, Westchester County, New York.  She was not killed instantly, probably lingering a few days after the train severed her leg.  I can only hope she was unconscious for those last days.

It is interesting (and fortunate) that she appeared on the Mortality Schedule because only deaths before May 31st of that year should be listed.  The newspaper article places her death in June.  So we have two dates of death.

My plan of action:
Contact St. John's Cemetery in Pawling where her husband was buried in 1905.
Contact the local historical society and town clerk for records they may hold for this family.
Search through more online newspapers using keywords of "Katonah" and "Harlem Railroad."