Recently, I went on a genealogy quest to Upper New York State and New York City. The goal of this quest was to seek out records for Henry Titchworth and Mary Jeroleman whose marriage took place on the 27th October 1800 at the English Lutheran Church in New York City. Henry and Mary may be the parents of William Titchworth. There is no direct proof of this, but Phoebe Field, William’s daughter, created a hand-drawn genealogy stating that Jacob Jeroleman was Mary Jeroleman’s father. No one knew the first name of Mary’s husband.
Normally, I don’t rely on trees created by other people. There are two reasons this one seemed reliable. First, Phoebe Titchworth was the family historian. In my family, one of my sisters is the communicator. She always knows what everyone is doing and where they are. Phoebe Titchworth was the communicator for her family. In 2023, we keep contact with family and friends using social media. In Phoebe’s time letter writing was how people kept in touch. I received letters that were written to Phoebe. These letters, given to me by her granddaughter, included correspondence from cousins, aunts, and uncles – some who asked for genealogy information. Phoebe must have heard and remembered information from her father as well as family stories .
The second reason this tree seemed reliable was other distantly related lines of the Titchworth family also had heard the surname “Jeroleman” in family stories. This doesn’t prove that Henry Titchworth and Mary Jeroleman are the parents of William, but it is another piece that suggests they are.
My goals for this genealogy quest were simple:
1. To discover baptismal records for the children of Henry Titchworth and Mary Jeroleman. Pre-trip research suggested that this might not be possible due to missing records. Still, I was hopeful.
2. Another goal was to find genealogies completed by other researchers on the Jeroleman and Titchworth lines. I was convinced this goal was achievable.
3. Lastly, I wanted to find the church in New York City where Henry and Mary married. An internet search showed that this church was in Lower Manhattan at the crossroad of Mott and Cross (now Mosco). I felt pretty sure this goal would be accomplished.
The old English Lutheran Church now the Church of the Transfiguration
What did I learn about researching in libraries and archives?
1. Libraries and archives have information online about their collections. Most websites have a “Visit Us” section that details what to do before arriving at the repository. The New York Public Library (NYPL) website advised me to register for a temporary library card prior to my arrival. They also give free 30-minute virtual consultations. This was a huge help. I was advised where in New York City to go to get answers for specific questions. The New York State Archives had a pre-arrival form to fill out. Their catalogues list what records are available, and I was able to order them online.
2. Chat with the archivists. They were delighted to help and not only answered my questions but showed me how to use the online catalogues to find more information. One of them printed out for me a list of New York State records available on Ancestry.com. Another one found which microfilms I needed and where to locate them in the archives.
3. Be willing to listen and learn. Showing respect for the archivists’ knowledge facilitates their willingness to help. My ability to listen, ask questions derived from curiosity, and learn from them resulted in questions being answered thoroughly. I became more familiar with their records.
It was a stretch for a homebody to leave home for 12 days to go on a genealogy quest but the discomfort of new places was offset by the joy of searching for genealogy records.