Sunday, June 14, 2020

Verifying the Birth and Baptismal Dates for Sarah Hughes Rowan

As genealogist we always want to be able to ‘prove’ a piece of data we have on an ancestor. We like to have multiple sources that prove a vital fact. In our current times this is much easier but as we go back in time records are scare or nonexistent.

For years I have gone to the New York Municipal Archives in Manhattan and one of the records I have searched for is the birth certificate for my paternal great great- grandmother Sarah Hughes Rowan. I knew Sarah was born about 1850 in Manhattan but I had no proof. The birth records in New York City are very spotty during this time period. I searched for a few years before and a few years after. I searched name variations, etc. to no avail. I just didn’t want to except the fact that I would never have verification of her birth date and year.

Recently, while I was working on baptismal information about the missing Rowan children, Sarah’s children, (see post The Missing Rowan Children-Who Were They) I decided to look yet again for Sarah Hughes Rowan’s baptismal record. Find My Past has Roman Catholic Church records for Manhattan. Amazingly, much to my surprise, there it was in the Roman Catholic records for Manhattan churches. WOW!!!

At first, I wasn’t even sure this was the right one. After all the searching, could this be the right one? I looked for the parent’s names-father, Patrick Hughes…yes, mother Susana McCana…hmm… I know her as Susan McKenna, ok, that is close enough with handwriting and all but I’d never seen her referred to as Susana (Hmm, maybe that’s why I can’t find her death record?). Then I saw the parish name…St. Columba…wait a minute…I’ve been in that church! I have stood in that church! That is the church where, 18 years later,  Sarah Hughes would marry John Rowan! (see post and photos Wedding Wednesday-John and Sarah Hughes Rowan ) Happy dance time! This is the right baptismal record for my great great grandmother Sarah Hughes Rowan! Finally!!

This gives me the date of Sarah’s baptism and birth. From the marriage certificate, census records, death certificate, etc. I believed Sarah was born in 1850 and her birth date is listed as 2 December 1851. OK, so I was a year off but in the ballpark.  I also have her baptismal date 4 December 1851, church and can update my records:

The next thing I need to do is to write to St. Columba to see if I can determine who Sarah’s sponsors/Godparents were. This will either help me find family in the area or friends of the family. This was a great find to help me verify Sarah’s date of birth in the early 1850s with scarce records, as well as, her Baptismal information.

I just find it so amazing that I stood in that Church and thought of Sarah and John marrying there and now I know she was also Baptized there. That also tells me that Sarah and her family were part of that church for many years. How exciting!

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

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