Sunday, October 29, 2017

A Lot More Questions Than Answers-Eliza Tooker Terry

All I knew when I started looking at the life of my paternal 3rd Great-Grandmother Eliza Tooker Terry was that according to her cemetery stone she was born on 6 January 1809 and died 28 July 1859.  My search, while very frustrating at times, gave me a little more information about Eliza.  When we start getting back to our ancestors in the early 1800s information gets a lot harder to come by.  There were no laws about collecting vital record information.  If it wasn’t for the US Federal census, which began in 1790, the sources of information beyond the census records are generally found in Church records, family Bibles, or recorded local histories.

I have no verification of where Eliza was born in New York.  I wonder if she was a local girl and met Walter in Southold or possibly in Brookhaven, Suffolk County, NY where I think Walter’s family may have been from.  Will I be able to determine that one day I wonder?

I found some information that Eliza Ann Tooker married Walter Franklin Terry about 1825 but I have no verification of the date or where they were married.   I wonder if I can verify through Church records someday exactly where and when they were married?

I do know they had 10 children: Walter Franklin (1826),  Albert Bunce (1829), Charles (1831), Gilbert -my Great-Great Grandfather (1833), Edward Henry (1836),Elizabeth (1838),  Ira Brewster (1840), Emily (1843), Josephine Virginia (1846) and Amelia H. (1853). 

1830 US Federal Census-I am unable to find Walter in the census so I have no idea where he and Eliza were living in 1830.

1840 US Federal Census- I know that Walter Terry (see post Using Census Records to Tell the Story of Walter Franklin Terry) was living in Southold with 1 White Female between the ages of 30-39 which presumably was Eliza Ann his wife who would have been 31 years old at the time.  So, I know Eliza and Walter were living in Southold at this time.
Southold was settled by English colonists in 1640, and in most histories this is reported as the first English settlement on Long Island in the future New York State.

1850 US Federal Census- Taken on the 13th of July 1850 in the Town of Southold it lists Eliza A. Terry as age 40 years old and the wife of Walter Terry a 45 year old Farmer.  Eliza’s birthplace is listed as New York. Their children are listed as Franklin age 24-occupation Farmer, Albert age 21-occupation Seaman, Gilbert age 17-occupation Laborer & attended school, Edward age 14 & attended school, Eliz age 12 & attended school, Ira B. age 9 & attended school, Emily age 7 & attended school and Josephine age 4 & attended school.  (Hmm, I doubt 4 year old Josephine was going to school.)

According to the census takers notes there were 986 families listed as living in Southold and 907 dwellings.  The population consisted of 2301 White Males, 2322 White Females, 41 Colored Males, 59 Colored Females with a total population of 4,723 residents.  There were reportedly 379 Farms and 110 Deaths within the previous year.

I was able to verify Eliza's death in July 1859 at the age of 44 with this record from the 1860 US Federal Census Mortality Schedule:

Eliza A. Terry 44 years old, Married, Place of Birth-New York, Died in July of 1859 of Dropsy which had lasted 2 weeks in duration.  When I searched on-line for old medical causes of death I learned that ‘dropsy’ is a swelling caused by accumulation of abnormally large amounts of fluid usually caused by kidney disease or congestive heart failure.  If it hadn’t been for this Mortality Schedule I would never have known how Eliza died.  Now I wonder if the birth year I have is wrong or if her age was reported incorrectly?  I thought she was 50 when she died?  If she had been 44 at her death that would have made her only 10 when her first child was born.  17 was still young but more probable in the early 1800s.  I am guessing that whomever gave the information was incorrect.

I had been unable to find Eliza when searching Ancestry’s data base for the Mortality Schedule because the transcriber had listed her name as Eliza A. Jerry.  When I realized she died in 1859 and I knew there had been an 1860 Mortality Schedule done in NY I was able to search the pages for Southold and I finally found Eliza.  A feature I like about Ancestry is that I was also able to go on Ancestry and correct the spelling of her name which will help other researchers.  A good reminder, if you can’t find someone in a record but you know they should be there, is to go page by page in the area you thought they lived.  Errors happen especially if the handwriting isn’t easy to read or the census pages are hard themselves to read.  This was 157 years ago after all.

I am guessing that my Great-Grandmother’s (Carrie Eliza Terry Warner) middle name Eliza came from her Grandmother Eliza Ann Tooker Terry.  Oh, how I wish there was a photograph of Eliza.    I have so many more questions I would like to have the answers to.  Will I’m frustrated I wasn’t able to find more I am grateful  that I was able to find the verification and cause of death for Eliza.  That and the 1840 and 1850 census records are additional information but so many more questions.  I will just need to keep searching and maybe a distant relative out there will be able to help, too.

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.

Enjoy the journey,


  1. Don't you love those mortality schedules? I don't think the U.S. government had genealogists in mind when they created these records, but they are certainly made to order for our needs.

    1. You are so right Diane. Just wish they had done them more often then every 10 years. That would have been a tremendous help for

  2. Other than the tombstone where her surname is listed as Tooker - do you have any other information on that ? Terry, Stuart, The Terry Manuscript, Suffolk County Historical Society, Riverhead, NY list her as Eliza Ann Miller I Am not saying that is correct I'm just saying what it says.

    Walter is also mentioned in "Long Island Forum," He Knew the Peconic Mill, Dr Clarence Ashton Wood, September 1954.

    Please check with Suffolk County Historical Society for more information.

    1. Yes, I know the confusion. I am not sure where I was able, years and years ago, to get the information that Eliza Ann was a Tooker. I will be checking out the Historical Society. I have done a lot of research there but not on Eliza. I think they may have attended the Presbyterian Church so I plan to check out their records as well. It's also possible that Walter's second wife, who was also named Elizabeth may have been the 'Miller'. I know Eliza Ann died in 1859 yet when you look at the 1865 NY Census you find Walter married to an Elizabeth which I was finally able to figure out was his second wife. Still trying to sort it out. Guess a little confusing with the similar names. Found her listed as Eliza Miller on LI Surname website. I do have a copy of the Terry Manuscript and the article "He Knew Peconic Mill' but just saw her listed as Eliza in the Terry Manuscript, if I remember correctly. Definitely a mystery to solve and I appreciate your suggestions. Need guidance on this one.

    2. Well I can give you help on his second wife.

      Elizabeth Ruland born Abt. 1808 Middle Island, Suffolk Co., LI, NY died 26 Apr 1890 Brookhaven, Suffolk Co., LI, NY married first Abt. 1830 Daniel Brewster Dayton Daniel died in 1860 she and Daniel had 6 children. Then she married Walter Franklin Terry Elizabeth Ruland was the daughter of John Ruland and Rebecca Yarrington

    3. Thank-you!Sure gets confusing with similar names. Are you related?