Monday, October 6, 2014

William's Whereabouts

      William V. Devine was my maternal 2nd great-grandmother's youngest brother.  I almost didn't find him.

     I had always known about Anna Devine, William's cousin.  She was a schoolteacher at the Rock School, a one room schoolhouse in Rifton,NY.  My grandmother used to tell me stories about Rifton while we sat together looking at the old black/white photos.  Her grandmother, Teresa, rented a bungalow every summer and that is where my grandmother and her daughters spent their carefree days.  I had heard about the old covered bridge and of course Anna Devine and her one room schoolhouse.  I was fascinated with the town of Rifton.  Once I became interested in genealogy I wanted to learn more about this town and especially Anna Devine.  My grandmother had already passed away so I was all alone on this genealogical journey.  I had obtained a copy of Anna Devine's death certificate from the local town hall.  From that document I learned that she was buried in St Peter's Cemetery which is located in Rosendale,NY and not too far from Rifton.

     I had become obsessed with the Devines.  This is the Irish side of my family and I knew nothing about them.  Anna Devine's father, John, was my 3rd great-grandfather, Patrick's brother.  Patrick and his wife Emily were both born in Ireland.  I do not know the counties nor do I know the years of emigration for my 3rd great-grandparents.  Besides my 2nd great-grandmother, Teresa, Patrick and Emily had 8 other children according to the letter my grandmother's cousin wrote me a few years ago.  The youngest of those children was William.
     I called St. Peter's Cemetery out of the blue one day inquiring about the Devines who might be buried there.  I was particularly interested in Patrick and Emily.  I was told that there is a plot for Patrick and Emily but they are not buried there, only William is there.  I was given William's date of death and age.  The woman I spoke to had no other information for me.  Whatever became of Patrick and Emily?  Will I ever find them?  I visited the cemetery and found the tombstone which had William's name, age, and date of death engraved on one side and the names of his parents on the other side.  I called town hall in Rosendale and they didn't have a death certificate for William.  I was hoping this record would give me William's date of birth as well as places of birth for his parents.  I knew his parents were born in Ireland but I didn't know the counties.
     Just when I thought I'd have to order William's death record from the New York State Department of Health in Albany, I saw one of those shaking green leaves on my tree.  I usually take these leaves with a grain of salt.  I don't attach any records without verifying.  This particular hint (shaking leaf) was a death certificate. showed me a certificate ! along with William's date and place of death.  The date shown, 22 Jan 1903, is the same date that is engraved on the tombstone but place of death was Manhattan.  Did William travel to or move to Manhattan?  He had been living with his mother in Esopus according to the 1900 federal census.  I ordered a copy of William's death certificate from which allows five free records per month for New York City (5 boroughs) for specific years.
     Two weeks after I placed my order online, I received via email, the death certificate for William V Devine.  I was so excited!  Crazy to be excited about a death certificate?  Maybe, to the average person, but perfectly normal for those of us who are stalking our ancestors.  Was this my William?  We shall soon find out...
     Yes!  This William was indeed my 2nd great-grandmother, Teresa's younger brother.  The death certificate has the correct parents' names of Patrick and Emily, states that parents were born in Ireland, and has the place of burial as Rosendale,NY which is where my William is buried.
     I was a bit startled to see the cause of death.  A fractured skull and a brain hemorrhage is what brought William to his death at the age of only 21 years.  The place of death listed on the certificate is the same address as his residence.  So, what happened?  Did he get into a scuffle at the local tavern, get struck in the head, go back to his apartment where he eventually died?  I tried searching for a news article, an obituary, a death notice, and found nothing so far.  I might never find out what happened that day but at least I found William.

                                                                      Rest In Peace
                                                                    William V Devine
                                                                  1883 - 22 Jan 1903