I posted back in March about my Thomas Woods mystery on a Madness Monday. He just appeared from nowhere in New York and I was starting to think that he might have been an orphan. Or maybe aliens landed and dropped him off.
I was getting very frustrated.
But I’ve solved the mystery with the help of a very knowledgeable guy at the Niagara County Historian’s Office in Lockport. He sat and pored through the records for me and found what I was looking for.
Thomas was born in Lockport and not England. That was the first thing that I had been trying to clear up.
He wasn’t an orphan (or an alien). His father died when he was young and his mother (Sarah/Sally) remarried a George Hanscomb (A few of the variations I’ve seen are Hanson, Hanascomb, Hascomb, and Hancomb.)
We found the announcement in the Lockport Daily Journal from 2 Jan 1860:
Mr. George Hascomb of Wilson to Miss Sarah Woods of Lockport, by the Rev. R. Norton.
Thomas was born in September 1859 and his mother married George in Jan 1860. George would have been the only father that Thomas knew.
That means that the 1870 census that I found, where Thomas Woods was 14 and living with George and Sarah Hanson was indeed him.
At the historian’s office, we were also able to search the state census. I love state census. I wish that all states had their own census. It can be so helpful.
Anyway, I found them in the 1865 census: George, Sarah, Thomas, and Anna Hancomb. Yes, Thomas was listed as Thomas Hancomb. I now have another name to search for.
He was also in the 1892 census, living with his mother. She was 73 and he was 34.
And we even found a newspaper abstract of his mother’s obituary. The actual newspaper is no longer available for this time period (I searched the library also).:
Mrs. Sarah Hanascomb. May 19, 1893 at home of son Thomas Woods, 139 N. Adam St. Lockport, age 72 years. Cold Springs.
Even though she was listed as having been buried in Cold Springs Cemetery, we weren’t able to locate her gravestone in the short amount of time we had in Niagara county. It was not listed in the tombstone transcription, but it is possible that it was in an older section of the cemetery. Maybe on our next trip (whenever that might be!).
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough time to head across the street to the courthouse and check out what records may have been available there. I am happy to have at least solved my mystery though. Thomas Woods did indeed exist before 1900.
I now have more things to look for:
1. When/where did Thomas’ real father, Henry Woods die? Is he buried there in Lockport? Did he die on the way over from England? Actually, now that I think about it, I shouldn’t rule out the possibility of him having run off or of them being divorced. I think that it’s more likely that he died though.
2. When did Sarah Woods/Hanscomb immigrate? Where in England was she from?
3. What happened to Thomas’ half sister Anna/Hannah? Did she live to adulthood? Did she marry? There is no mention of her in Thomas’ obituary in 1934.
4. Where is Thomas in the 1880 census? Is he perhaps going by Thomas Hanscomb instead of Woods?
I’m so excited that I’ve made some headway on the Woods line – finally! I now feel like I have a jumping-off point for further research. I can’t wait to get started.
I’d also like to add that while I was doing my research at the historian’s office, I signed a petition that I would love for you to sign also! Thanks!
Here is the information from the flyer I received:
“Fourteen Niagara County citizens have been awarded the Medal of Honor. One, however, has been denied his medal and his grave marker.
Michael Huskey, Irish-born Lockport native, earned the Medal of Honor during the Civil War as a sailor aboard the USS Carondelet (Steele’s Bayou Expedition, Vicksburg). He died before he received his medal.
His family continued to reside in Niagara County and also never received his medal. The family line has since completely died out – except for us, the people who benefited from his service and sacrifice.
Efforts are currently being made to have his grave marked and his medal put on permanent display in the rotunda of the Niagara County Courthouse.
We and Michael need your help to persuade the US Navy to honor his bravery by releasing his medal and marking his grave.”