There were a lot of great posts this week.  Here are some of my favorites:

  1. Dee over at Shakin’ the Family Tree posted a very haunting photo of a child’s funeral procession.  It amazes me what you can find at flea markets.
  2. I just love the blog Family Tree Rings: An Ancestral Birthday Blog.  It has a gorgeous colorful design and I love the idea of posts on each ancestor’s birthday – complete with gift ideas!  Head on over there and check it out!
  3. I love antiques – especially when they are family heirlooms.  Check out the beautiful Tennessee chair over at Nolichucky Roots.
  4. Head on over to She Finds Graves and give Kellie a big blog hug.  Her relatives are driving her crazy this week.:)I think that most of us have felt this way at one time or another.
  5. Those of you who are like me and at home instead of at the RootsTech conference this weekend, you can live vicariously through others.  Read the We Tree Genealogy Blog and Olive Tree Genealogy Blog for updates.
  6. Jennie over at They Came to Montana has a great post on Ancestor Trading Cards she has made.  They are so cool!  When I have the time, I would love to make a set of these for my kids.  I could use it in our homeschool as we’re studying history.  I could even print their “stats” on the back.  What a neat idea!
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My husband’s great-grandfather, Thomas Woods, was born in Lockport, New York on September 25, 1859.

I know very little about his parents, Henry and Sarah Woods.  They were both born in England and must have immigrated sometime in the 1850’s. (That is my guess at least. I don’t have immigration papers on them.)

Sarah remarried to a George Hanscomb in 1860, so Thomas’ father must have died either when his mother was pregnant with him, or else soon after he was born.

I decided to do a little research on the history of Lockport to learn what life might have been like during this time period (1850-1930’s).

Lockport is in Niagara county, and as you can see on the above map, is located just a short distance from Niagara Falls.

I found a book on Google, entitled Lockport: Historic Jewel of the Erie Canal, by Kathleen L. Riley.  It states the following:

In a Souvenir Program Commemorating the Lockport Centennial 1865-1965, former Niagara County historian Clarence O. Lewis wrote of the genesis of the Lockport story: “Any history of Lockport should begin with the digging of the Erie Canal and the construction of the ten combined locks because our city was born of the canal and received its name from that tremendous engineering feat which proved to the skeptics that boats could ‘sail up hill'”

And here is a brief timeline I put together of the history of Lockport and Thomas Woods:

1808 The county of Niagara was established.
1817 Construction started on the Erie Canal in Rome, New York.
1825 The canal was finished and they had a great celebration.
1829 Lockport was incorporated as a village.
1835 Manufacturing had become very important. There were many mills in town. The population of Lockport was over 6,000.
1840 Construction work started to enlarge the canal.
1842 The steamboat arrived on the canal.
1850 The population of Lockport was about 12,000
1851 The first gas street lights were turned on in town.
1852 The Railroad opened.
1854 There was a large fire in town. 26 buildings and ten acres of the village were burned.
1855 The Clinton Street Methodist Church was organized. {this is significant, because Thomas later lived on Clinton Street and his son married the minister’s daughter.}
1859 Thomas Woods is born in Lockport.
1859 Henry Woods must have died sometime around here.
1860 Thomas’ mother, Sarah, married George Hanscomb.
1865 Lockport was incorporated as a city with 4 wards.
1879 The first phone in Lockport was installed.
1892 Thomas Woods was 34 and living with his mother, Sarah Hanscomb.
Abt 1892 Thomas Woods married Mary Spencer
1893 Thomas’ mother, Sarah died.
Abt 1894 Thomas started working at Thompson Flour Mill in Lockport.
1897 An earthquake rocked Lockport
1900 Thomas Woods and his family were living in Lockport.
1910 Thomas and his family were living in Lockport.
1915 Thomas’ son Henry died in a fire in their home.
1918 Thomas’ daughter Florence died from Spanish Flu.
1920 Thomas and his family were living in Lockport.
1929 Thomas retired from the flour mill.
1930 Thomas and his family were living in Lockport.
1934 Thomas Woods died in Lockport.

I used the following sources for many of the timeline dates:
Official Lockport, NYsite

I actually visited Lockport last May to do some research.  I really wish that we had been able to stay longer.  There was so much I wanted to see.  I only hit the library and the historical society.  The courthouse was closed by the time I finished there and then we headed out of town and on to Pennsylvania.  I’ll make it back again someday!

So, even though the Woods family wasn’t involved in building the Erie Canal, it must have been an exciting place to live during this time period – with ships passing by all of the time.  I’m thinking that I may order a book or two to read about this area so that I can glean some further details.  Many of the ones I read online were only available for the first portion of the book, therefore I missed out on the time period I was looking for!

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Family tradition says that my 3rd great-grandparents, Patrick and Mary (Denahay) O’Connor farmed land which belonged to a monastery in Dubuque county, Iowa.

Actually, the story goes that Mary was pregnant with her first child when her parents sent her to work at the monastery.  She sent money back to Patrick so that he could come and join her.  He “somehow” lost the money and she had to send more.  He eventually joined her in Dubuque and then they farmed the monastery’s land.

Was she not  married to Patrick when she got pregnant?  When and where did they end up getting married?

I decided to do a bit more research to check and see if there even was a monastery in that area. Was there any truth to the legend?

I did some googling (I love the internet) and I found that yes, there is indeed a monastery there, actually an abbey.

It is called New Melleray Abbey and is located just south of the city of Dubuque.  Their website says the following: “New Melleray is a Cistercian (Trappist) monastery located in the rolling farmland south of Dubuque, Iowa. We support ourselves by farming and making wooden caskets.”

Gorgeous, isn’t it?

(Photo Credit

According to their website, the lands of the monastery were settled in about 1848.  Temporary buildings were erected.  The permanent buildings weren’t started until 1868.  So, my ancestors would not have seen the beautiful buildings above.

I also found a history of the monastery online at Google books.  It stated that:

“They pursue upon their estate the lives of great proprietors of land, and feel the same responsibilities for its proper improvement that is felt by lay owners of property.  The lay brothers, whose hours of manual labor are more in number than those of the choir brothers, are not numerous enough to adequately cultivate all the lands, and therefore many laborers are employed, and some of the land is leased.”  From “History of the Trappist Abbey of New Melleray in Dubuque County, Iowa” by William Rufus Perkins, published in 1892.

So, yes there was a monastery and yes they leased the land out and had laborers work on it.

In the 1860 census, I found the family of Patrick O’Connor living in Dubuque county, with a post office of  “New Melleray”

Mary’s oldest child was 3, so I’m assuming (as long as she didn’t have another older child who died) that she must have immigrated in about 1857 – and Patrick soon thereafter.

So far, it’s looking like the legend is true.  Now if only I could find their marriage record somewhere!!  Did they marry before the baby was born? An immigration record would be nice too.  Those common names are so hard though – there are a LOT of Patrick and Mary O’Connors in this world.

I am also taking into consideration the fact that the New Melleray Abbey has a “mother” monastery – the Mount Melleray Abbey in Ireland.  Does this have any significance?  Was Mary’s family from this area?  If not, then why did they choose New Melleray?

I just love how answers always lead to more questions….

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Hannah Emmett Cossaboon was my husband’s 3rd great grandmother.  She was born 9 August 1816 in New Jersey and died 9 November 1888 in Millville, New Jersey.  Here is her death certificate, which I ordered a number of years ago. I ♥ that her mother’s name is Thankful.  I don’t think that I’ve ever known anyone named Thankful.

1. Full name of deceased: Hannah Cossaboon
2. Age 70 years
3. Color white
4. married, widow
5. Birthplace: New Jersey
6. Last place of residence: Millville, NJ
7. How long resident in this State: since birth
8. Place of death: 2 st, Millville (603 S. 2nd St.)
9. Father’s name: David Amett, Country of birth: US
10. Mother’s name: Thankful Amett, Country of birth: US
11. I hereby certify that I attended the deceased during the last illness, and that she died on the ninth day of Nov 1888; and that the cause of death was malarial fever and Senile Decay

Length of sickness [blank]

Charles H. Hubbard

Residence: Millville, NJ

Name of Undertaker: Weatherby

Residence of Undertaker: Millville

Place of Burial: Mt. Pleasant

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