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Finding parents' names before listed on DCs

Finding parents' names before listed on DCs

Posted: 1359898583000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Tompkins, Boylan

Does anyone have advice for finding a parental names for a Brooklyn resident who died in 1883?

My Margaret Tompkins Boylan lived from ca 1847-1883 and her parents names are not listed on her DC, as the form didn't required it at the time - it only says that one was born in the US and the other in Ireland.

I know that her maiden name is Tompkins from a lot of birth, marriage and death certificates of her children. I have tried finding a census record for Margaret Tompkins (tried Thompkins too) prior to when she was married in New York (most of the few census records I have indicate she was born in NY, as does her DC but one census says NJ)

I have no idea what church they were married in so I don't know which Church to which to write. Most of my family didn't register civilly until after 1900. I tried the Dioceses for a genealogical search three times in the last 18 months but they never respond to my emails/calls.

I did also visit the grave, but there is no stone. Just a lot of very green grass. Her obit in the paper just says she is the wife of Michael F. Boylan.

Not sure where to turn next. Sorry for the long message.

Brooklyn, NY

Re: Finding parents' names before listed on DCs

Posted: 1360287327000
Classification: Query
I am not a family member but is your Margaret listed in 1875 Kings County with husband Michael, children John, Mary, Joseph, and Robert? Would you please reference other censuses, sources, dates, etc, so that we might be able to help.

Re: Finding parents' names before listed on DCs

Posted: 1360288589000
Classification: Query
Thank you for writing.

Yes, you have the right family. I don't have a lot of information - she was only 36 years old at the time of her death. The others in the grave (called cemetery) are her single children and husband. As far as I know, she had at least 8 children (women listed with married names):

John 1865-1940
Mary McCann 1866-1894
Lucy 1868-1870
Joseph 1871-1933
Robert 1872-1933
Anastasia Russlend 1876-1958
Michael 1878-1880
Margaret Van Name 1881-1913

If her year of birth from the DC is correct, she was born in 1847-ish. That would make her 17 at the time of John's birth. Her DC says her mother was born in the US and father in Ireland.

Her obit didn't list a Church for funeral services. It was a small obit that just stated her married name (but with the middle initial C - not sure what it stands for), date of death, age, her husband's name and her address.

The married couple lived in Vinegar Hill section of Brooklyn. I have her listed in the 1870, 1875, 1880 NY/Federal Censuses.

I just noticed an hour ago that added an index of the 1855 NY census (yay!) but a search of Margaret Tompkins/Thompkins didn't have any hits that I think make sense.

I tried to flip thru the un-indexed 1865 NY State Census but haven't found them yet.

Hope I haven't babbled on too long.

Thank you again,

Re: Finding parents' names before listed on DCs

Posted: 1360335585000
Classification: Query
You might try getting a marriage certificate # from the Italian genealogy group (it's not just for Italians) database for Brides and Grooms.

NYC - which Brooklyn was a part of back then - did require marriages to be registered.

I was able to get the documents for my g-grandparents who were married in 1885. It had both sets of parents listed.

Re: Finding parents' names before listed on DCs

Posted: 1360336609000
Classification: Query
Thank you for replying.

Unfortunately, they didn't register with the NYC Dept of Health. Many Catholics only registered with the Church. Unfortunately, my three attempts for a genealogy search with the Dioceses went unanswered.

The Italian Gen site is great. I've been indexing for them and it is a lot of fun!

Re: Finding parents' names before listed on DCs

Posted: 1360359498000
Classification: Query
It is frustrating beyond words that Brooklyn did not put parents' names on death certs until after it became part of greater NYC in 1898. Even then it took awhile because they thriftily used up the old forms, as I have found to my disappointment.

But it can sometimes be done with a lot of time and patience. Tho a death/funeral newspaper notice might not have the info, sometimes there is a separate obituary, a small article. It takes reading thru the whole paper a few days before and a week after the death date. Yes, I have found incorrect death dates on death certs.

The other major tip is to research every relative you can find. This has done it for me a number of times. Look at censuses for neighbors who might be relatives. Build up Ancestry pages on every member of the family. I found the origin of one gg grandmother thru a listing in a tiny surrogate's court legal ad.

I'm sure you know the Brooklyn Eagle, Brooklyn's main newspaper, is free online thru 1902. Many later issues are available free thru

But I too still have several Brookly gg grandparents who are total mysteries re their parents' names or origins. Always glad to hear other suggestions.

Re: Finding parents' names before listed on DCs

Posted: 1360364896000
Classification: Query

thank you for your great reply. I have tried all those. I think they were on the poorer side...they lived in Vinegar Hill but he had what I'd think was a good job as a blacksmith.

Have you been to the Surrogates Court? I went over the summer to find another GGG's will - and I found a ton of info in that! Such as a deceased first wife and a son left behind to be raised by his late wife's brother. Good stuff. They were super helpful there too.

Unfortunately, I don't have even one sibling or parent's name for her. It is SO frustrating!

Thanks again,

Re: Finding parents' names before listed on DCs

Posted: 1360600045000
Classification: Query
Any chance you would post info re 1870 & 1880 censuses (Ward, ED, page, etc)? I've not been able to locate the family. Also, location of obituary( Eagle,date, etc)? Thanks

Re: Finding parents' names before listed on DCs

Posted: 1360621060000
Classification: Query
Surnames: Tompkins, Boylan
I'd be delighted. I appreciate any help and/or ideas.

I also included the 1875 NY Census. Wasn't sure what was best - so I attached the obit (it was the Eagle, May 6th 1883) and the 1875 census and put in links for the 1870 and 1880.

The census taker in 1880 didn't do a good job. Said they. were both born in Ireland and spelled their names wrong. I think he even spelled blacksmith incorrectly.

The 1870 census taker wrote down Martha instead of Margaret. Not sure if that is significant or just an error but it hasn't led me anywhere yet.

1880 Census:


Re: Finding parents' names before listed on DCs

Posted: 1360641440000
Classification: Query
Two more tips.

I have had some luck by searching with the keyword of the address, using no name. That has worked on You might find a relative's name.

Also, I'm sure you know well that the first two boys and first two girls were usually named for the grandparents. Sometimes the father's parents first; sometimes the mother's; sometimes neither. I'd search NY for all possible spellings of Tompkins with the boys' names. Then search the census for those families. A lot of work but it may pay off in the census before she was married and might still be at home.
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