Sunday, May 22, 2016

Sunday Search: Speaking For My Ancestors


A few weeks ago I was at a business event in the Fishtown section of Philadelphia. While I did notice the construction being done on I-95 in that area I didn't take notice beyond the fact that the resulting traffic and detours delayed my arrival at the venue. However, after a conversation I had this week, there is certainly greater significance for me concerning that highway expansion project. It all started with a simple email that I received through my Ancestry.com account.

As it turns out, as part of this project they are conducting extensive archaeological excavations around the area that will be impacted by the build out. Again, being that I am not too familiar with that section of the city, I was unaware of this research being done. And while they slowly sift through the layers of history they are also digging into the records for each of the impacted properties. Well, to my surprise, my family turned up during this examination of historical documents.

The connection and the basis of the query which I received was because of Adah Mary Worth, my great great grandmother on my mother’s side, being listed in the 1870 census. At the time she was living in the Mullin household and the researcher was curious as to the connection she had with the family. He had been consulting both my public tree on ancestry.com and had been reading a few of the relevant posts on my blog to try and figure things out himself but, in the end, still needed to connect with me in order to put the pieces together. Well, after a long conversation where we each shared what we have been able to uncover, the resulting story was rather interesting.

As I have written about previously, Adah’s father, Jacob Worth, was killed in action during the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864. Adah’s two siblings passed away at around the same time leaving her as the only remaining child. By the 1870 census, Adah’s mother, Mary Eppright, had remarried to a man named William Mullin, a widower with a young daughter of his own from his first marriage (to Mary Pote). The duplication of Mary’s is what originally confused the research but we were able to verify everything shortly after our conversation. This new merged family lived in the area in question.

Adding further intrigue was the fact that Mary Eppright was born in Haverford, lived in Roxborough while married to Jacob Worth, moved to Fishtown with William Mullin, and, once again a widow, moved back to Roxborough soon after Adah met John Uttley who was a Philadelphia Police Officer in the 5th Ward (Roxborough). This answered the researcher’s additional question of why only Mary Mullin and Adah Worth are found living in Roxborough in the 1880 census (Adah and John Uttley married in 1881).

So, as it turns out, my family touches on more neighborhoods in the Philadelphia area than I originally thought and, once again, the census has proven to be a valuable tool in filling in some of the interesting colors and shades of some of the leaves in the family tree. And now I am interested in learning more about the archaeology being done in a few of the Philadelphia neighborhoods… some of the initial information can already be found at diggingi95.com. While by no means the primary reason for devoting the time and energy to researching the various lines in my family tree, this has been a crystal clear example of the impact that our work can have on others. Furthermore, by trying to find out as much as we can about our ancestors, it puts us in a better position to give them a voice in situations such as this. There are few feelings and situations more rewarding than that.