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Shaking Your Family Tree!

Check Records of Port of New York


Question: My Moline (pronounced Melin) family left Gothenburg, Sweden, May 12, 1881, and went to Hull, England. From there they went to Liverpool and then to America. The library in Liverpool sent me a list of ships leaving around the time they would have left, but our National Archives was unable to find them on a ship passenger list. Can you help?

Answer: Most 19th-Century immigrants came through the port of New York. Unfortunately there is no index for New York arrivals for the period 1847-96, so you are faced with a tedious search.

They probably arrived in mid- to late-June, and probably you will have to read all the ship passenger lists of those arriving during this time. Start with the New York City records. These are available at National Archives Field Branches and through the Family History Libraries. At the latter, check the locality microfiche under "New York, New York City, Emigration/Immigration/Passenger Lists" and order the appropriate films from Salt Lake City's library.

Possibly they entered through Philadelphia, Baltimore or Boston, and you may have to search all.

Q: My ancestor was a minister of the Christian Church. On the base of his tombstone is a large leaf, under which is a hatchet and some kind of a hammer. Does that symbol have any special meaning?

A. I've been unable to find any information on the design you describe. Contact the monument companies in the area where your ancestor is buried and see if they can identify it. Many stonemasons were quite artistic and developed some unique designs.

Q: In my father's papers I found reference to our Baldwin family line indicating it goes back to Thomas K. Baldwin of Dorset, Vt., in 1757. What is the most productive way to prove this information?

A: By productive do you mean fast and least expensive? Then do the research yourself. Baldwin is an old New England line, but much depends on your father's previous research.

Is it documented? Did he cite the sources from which he obtained information? If not, re-do this work by starting with yourself and working backward, generation by generation.

Some printed Baldwin material, originally published in 1928 (see "Directory of the Ancestral Heads of New England Families, 1620-1700"), dates to Richard and John, sons of Sylvester Baldwin, who were early settlers of New Haven and of the first planters of Milford, Conn. Possibly this is your line, but you will have to find the documentation to prove such a connection.

Unfortunately many earlier genealogists did not have access to the sources we do today, or they relied too heavily on secondary--and frequently inaccurate--sources.

Q: My brother-in-law served aboard the USS Biloxi during World War II. He was lost at sea Jan. 17, 1945. We would like to know more about the ship and names of his crewmates and officers to include in a history. Is there a historical society that might be able to help us?

A: There is a quarto-size book available in most libraries, called "Jane's Fighting Ships," which may give a history of this ship.

Additionally, try the Naval Historical Foundation, Building 220, Room 218, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C. 20374. Also write to National Personnel Records Center, 9700 Page Blvd., St. Louis, Mo. 63132 for a form to request the serviceman's records.

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