Yes, you read that right, my family members were willing to make a little research trip recently. They got a few instructions from me and off they went to the beautiful county seat of Belmont, New York, to look for some court records. How did I get them to do this, you ask? I really have no idea. Incessantly asking, perhaps …
Dad, Mom, my sister Bonnie and brother in law Doug spent an afternoon in Belmont looking for records of our ancestors Edward and Catherine (Youngs) Baldwin, who lived in Belmont for less than a decade around 1860. Two children were most likely born there, Harriet and my mother’s grandfather, Miles Edward Baldwin. Catherine’s earlier marriage may have taken place in Belmont, or perhaps not. Although my breakthrough about the origins of the Baldwins has helped us know more about Edward Baldwin, we are still mystified about many details of Catherine’s complicated life (which began, somehow, in Surrey, England).
Here are the questions:
- Are there birth records for any of the children? NO.
- Are there records for either of Catherine’s marriages? NO.
- Is there evidence of a divorce between Catherine and her first husband (who was still living in 1890) or, less likely, between Catherine and Edward? NO.
- Are there any records that might throw some light on Catherine’s first husband, William Bennett? NOT REALLY.
This last question is somewhat less clear because they talked to the county historian, Craig Braack, and he told them that there was, historically, a large Bennett family in nearby Granger. We may be able to contact them. My relatives made notes of some Bennetts found in census volumes there. They didn’t go into deeds, which are unlikely to be fruitful in this case.
The county historian can help genealogists hire a local researcher if they are unable to visit Belmont. That is how email questions will be handled. He pointed out that for the early years when no official records were recorded, local newspapers might occasionally have birth, death or marriage notices. An overview of local newspaper holdings can be found at the New York State Library. For those wishing to access a few volumes of Allegany County Probate records from home, FamilySearch has some Allegany County Probate Record books.
They enjoyed a nice lunch at the Fountain Bistro nearby.
All in all, I think it was a worthwhile trip. It was good to get confirmation that government birth, death and marriage records were not kept in Allegany County at that time. A divorce between Catherine and husband #1 was worth searching for. Another place where I will try to find that is Middlesex County, Massachusetts, or Worcester County, Mass. Next on the research strategy list would probably be immigration or naturalization records for Catherine, either in Massachusetts or New York. I’ve tried to find that, but haven’t tried hard enough.
It’s certainly good to have some support on the genealogy front. Whether the relatives hunt for old pictures, consult other relatives, accompany you to the cemeteries, or actually go looking for records, it really helps.
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