Monday, August 20, 2012

Looking For The Widow Jane: Passenger Lists

Am looking for my maternal GGGM, Jane James Williams (1815 - ?). Just to recap, she was born in Wales in 1815, married Thomas Williams there in 1841. They had six children but he died in 1868. We find her in the Wales Census of 1871, and Census records before that. But try as I might - and believe me I've done nothing but try to find her in US records - I come up empty. So either I'm way off base and don't know beans about doing genealogy (and that's quite possible;) or something is wrong with what we assume to be true about her.

The only solid evidence we have of her after the Wales Census of 1871 is the photo taken in Troy New York with five of her six adult children, date unknown. My GGF, Daniel Williams (1852 - 1920) is in it on the right. His mother, Jane is to the left of him. Both are seated. So there she was in a photo taken in New York, big as life! And I ought to be able to find her in US records, right? You'd think!

This exercise in hunting Jane is testing my resolve... and what few powers of genealogy know-how that might have rubbed off from Mom on to this relative newbie are not adequate. I've looked in US and New York State Census records and come up empty with no solid conclusions but lots of speculations... can you even guess how common the name Jane Williams is?! I've looked for an obit with no luck at finding my Jane Williams.

My latest exercise is to look in passenger lists. We can safely presume that if she was born in Wales and is in the census there in 1841 to 1871, and then she makes an appearance in that New York photo, she probably came on a ship. So far, so good.

I've perused the passenger lists on Ancestry but this morning I was anxious to dig deeper so went to the Steve Morse 1Step web portal at It's a powerhouse of access and has super search engines built in. (Thanks again, Steve!)

I found that the less I enter in the way of data, as we hear many a time, the more results I get. Just to see what might happen I did the exact same search on Ancestry as well as the 1Step and the results were similar but slightly different, and that was curious and instructive. The 1Step results yielded 121 very reasonable responses. Ancestry just about couldn't stop bringing me stuff... 12 full 50 entry pages... like a young dog trying to please:) But out of all that dog pile of returns only 70 were appropriate matches for the search terms.

Interesting. That said, I'm sifting through the results and still looking for Jane!

Today's photo from The Archive:

My GF, Cambria "Camey" Williams, 1897 - 1960

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