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Love the Ladies

Researching a woman in the family tree is often challenging. One might try taking advantage of the many computer searches to help find these missing ladies and glean the wealth of information that awaits a persistent researcher.


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Researching a woman in the family tree is often challenging. She does not always show up as regularly as her brothers in city directories and other records. Her name will most likely change at least once in her lifetime upon her first marriage. One must take advantage of the many computer searches that might help find these missing ladies and glean the wealth of information that awaits a persistent researcher.

On 10 Jun 1880, U.S. Census enumerator Robert Montgomery visited the Hugh Goodwin household in New York City. He certified that he completed his census assignment and did so in accordance with his oath of office.

At 610 West 38th Street he enumerated the household of Hugh Goodwin. The family appeared very standard for the time. Hugh was an Irish immigrant who was 38-years-old. He was a laborer with an Irish-born wife, Ellen, also 38. They had four New York born children: Margaret, 16, Owen 14, Peter, 3 and Sarah 10/12. Since infant mortality was so high in the 19th century the eleven-year gap between Owen and Peter did not necessarily mean that this was a second marriage.

Searching the family further quickly raised more questions than it answered. No Hugh and Ellen Goodwin could be found in the 1870 US Census records for New York City. Since both the elder children were born in New York one would expect to find them in the 1870 U.S. Census. Despite the island of Manhattan being enumerated twice in 1870, they were not there.

Searching the International Genealogical Index (IGI) at revealed that Hugh Goodwin married Ellen Rafferty, nee O'Brien on 1 Oct 1872. This made it impossible for Margaret and Owen to be their children. Either they were his children by a previous wife or Ellen's by an earlier husband and misidentified. It clearly demonstrated why there was a gap between the sons.

Rechecking the 1870 U.S. Census found a woman named Ellen Rafferty, age 28, enumerated with Margaret Rafferty, 6 and Owen Rafferty, 4. These children were the stepchildren of Hugh Goodwin and not his natural born children.

A check of the 1900 U.S. Census for the Goodwins and Raffertys was completed with minimal success. None of the adults in the 1880 census could be found. Only one of the four children was found; Peter F. Goodwin, 23, was enumerated with a Rafferty family but listed as boarder.

In 1900 Margaret would have been 36 and Sarah, 20. Neither appeared in the death indexes under the names Rafferty or Goodwin. Neither was listed in the civil marriage index in the Department of Health records. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Catholic marriages in New York City were not recorded with the government. Therefore, it is extremely difficult to track a woman and definitively determine if she married. The index alone is not enough to identify her if she married a second time, unless one knows her original married name.

I eventually found a Hugh Goodwin in the 1910 and 1920 U.S. Census records that was the same man as in 1880. His death certificate from 1926 named the same parents as his marriage certificate in 1872.

Luckily, at least one Catholic wedding was properly registered with the civil authorities. This made finding the record routine. It also provided a marriage certificate and a register of marriage entry that provided much more information than the simple entry recorded at the parish. The parish record, for example, did not identify Ellen as a widow.

Hugh was buried in a grave in Calvary Cemetery in Queens. Martin English purchased the grave in 1901. There were four burials in the grave; 1901, 1908, 1926 and 1939. A check of the death index showed that an infant Margaret English was buried in 1901. Martin English was buried in 1908. No one named English or Goodwin or Rafferty was buried in 1939 so I was stuck.

I was later able to find that Ellen O'Brien Rafferty Goodwin died on 29 Mar 1889. She, too, was buried at Calvary but in a different grave. That grave was purchased by Hugh Goodwin in 1876 and had three burials; 1876, 1889 and 1901. Clearly, she was buried with neither of her husbands. The death records found that a toddler named Patrick Goodwin was buried in 1876. His parents were not identified on the death certificate. However, he died at the address Hugh Goodwin was living at in the city directory that year. He also had the same first name as Hugh Goodwin's father.

The cemetery was able to reveal that the 1901 burial in this second grave was for a newborn named Helen Flaherty. Checking the New York Times for 1901 showed that both Margaret English and Helen Flaherty died at 620 West 46th Street in June and July. The newspaper in this period would run a death list everyday. This is a quick and easy way to sort potential family members in your research.

Checking the 1900 Census found a Flaherty family at 620 West 46th Street. The wife was named Sarah Flaherty and was 22 years-old, born Feb 1878. This did not match up with the 1880 Sarah Goodwin, but I had to make sure. Helen's birth certificate established that her mother was the former Sarah Goodwin. She had married Jeremiah Flaherty around 1898 and had a son named Jeremiah in September 1899 according to the 1900 U.S. Census.

I was still trying to determine why Hugh Goodwin was in a grave purchased by Martin English. Looking for the Flahertys answered that question. Sarah Goodwin Flaherty died in 1904 according to the death index. Her widower and son could not be found in the 1910 Census but her widower Jeremiah Flaherty died in 1913. Where did their son go?

Finally, in the 1920 U.S. Census Jerry Flaherty, 20, appeared living with his aunt, Margaret English. I was not sure if she were his paternal aunt but then I saw her age, 56. I thought this has to be Margaret Rafferty! Margaret was widowed and had a son named Martin English, 17. That strongly suggested that the Martin English who purchased the grave in 1901 was her late husband. She also had an unmarried daughter named Ellen Moons, 26. This was evidence that Margaret had been married at least twice.

Neither of Margaret Rafferty's marriages nor the marriage of her half-sister was recorded with Department of Health. The Protestant clergyman who performed their brother Peter F. Goodwin's wedding in 1902 did record the wedding with the proper civil authorities.

A check of the baptismal registers at St. Raphael in her Hells Kitchen neighborhood, revealed that Margaret's last five children (three Moons in 1888, 1890 and 1894 and two English in 1901 and 1903) were baptized there. None of the sponsors selected were named Goodwin, although her brother-in-law, Jerry Flaherty, was chosen in 1901. Jerry Flaherty and his wife, the former Sarah Goodwin, baptized both of their children thirteen blocks away from St. Raphael at St. Ambrose in 1899 and 1901. Curiously, Sarah's brother Peter was not selected as a time and she was recorded as Goodman and not Goodwin.

Now with a few more clues it was easy to piece together what the full story was. Margaret Rafferty Moons English was enumerated under many different names throughout her life. In 1870 she was listed with her widowed mother correctly. In 1880 she was misidentified as Goodwin with her stepfather and mother.

By 1890 she had married her first husband, Arthur Moons. New York City had a second census in 1890. Dissatisfied with the federal count, the city sent the police force out to conduct a new enumeration in the fall of 1890. Margaret Moons, 26, was enumerated with her husband and family.

In 1900 Margaret Moons was enumerated as a widow.

In the 1905 New York State census she was enumerated at 620 West 46th Street with her second husband, Martin English.

By 1910 she was widowed a second time. She was enumerated as Margaret English, age 46, at 607 West 46th Street.

In 1915 she was enumerated at 643 Tenth Avenue, age 51.

Margaret died in 1920 and was buried at Calvary but not in the English grave. The 1939 burial in that grave turned out to be for the younger Jeremiah Flaherty.

If you keep scratching you can find a lot of information on a woman.

Oftentimes, the only women that appeared in city directories were widows. Margaret Rafferty appeared as Margaret Moons, widow Arthur in the 1897 city directory. Starting in 1910 she appeared as Margaret English, widow Martin. This is a great way to track a set of addresses and years of possible marriages for a person.

Another bonus is tracking a father and son with their widows. Arthur Moons was the son of Arthur Moons and Isabella Cooney. Since both Arthur Moons appeared in the city directory it was difficult to ascertain which was the father and which the son. Once Margaret appeared as a widow, it became obvious which address was the younger couple's. This was important because no birth certificates existed for their children. Midwives were also delinquent in their duty to register vital records. Having a proper address expedited obtaining baptismal certificates as a substitute.

Margaret's brother, Owen Rafferty, died unmarried in 1895. Funeral homes and cemeteries were fully compliant with making sure that deaths were duly recorded with the Department of Health. Their death certificates both identified their mother as Ellen but disagreed on the father. Owen died first and the certificate stated John Rafferty was his father. Margaret's death certificate in 1920 showed Peter Rafferty as her father.

A check of the city directories showed that as is often the case, a 31-year-old woman reporting information on her father is more reliable than a grandson reporting on a grandfather he never knew, 25 years later. Always remember to consider your source.

The city directories showed that from 1871-1873 Ellen Rafferty, widow John, lived at 495 Tenth Avenue. One of the neighbors in the 1870 Census lived at 497 Tenth Avenue according to the city directory. More convincingly, in 1874, Hugh Goodwin, driver, makes his first appearance in the city directory. He lived at 495 Tenth Avenue.

It is important to remember that 19th century life was different than today. A person most often did not live alone and would not likely appear in the city directory unless he was the head of household. Unmarried and widowed men lived with relatives or as boarders more often than not. Resist the temptation to make an ancestor fit someone in the city directory before your ancestor's first known marriage.

Checking further in the city directories found a likely John Rafferty. He was a grocer and lived at 524 Tenth Avenue. He was in the city directory from 1862-1868. While proximity suggested it was likely he was the man, we did not know for sure. No death certificate, burial listing or marriage record tied him to Ellen.

One of the many records at is the New York Emigrants Savings Bank records from 1850-1883. These records contain test books detailing the family members of the account holders and their immigration information.

On 19 Feb 1865 John Rafferty, a grocer at 524 Tenth Avenue provided this information. He hailed from Co. Tyrone and arrived in 1859 on the Cyn***. His wife was Ellen O'Brien and they had one child. This ties together all the loose ends. It is consistent with the information we knew about Ellen O'Brien Rafferty Goodwin and her older daughter. Margaret was born 12 Mar 1864 according to her death certificate and the 1900 U.S. Census. Owen Rafferty was born c. 1866 according to the census records but definitely after 19 Feb 1965 based on the bank records.

John Rafferty naturalized on 21 Oct 1863. This was also found at The last bit of interesting information from was the U.S. IRS Tax Assessment Lists, 1862-1918. As a grocer, John paid these taxes in 1864, 1865 and 1866.

The lesson for every researcher is don't give up on the ladies; there is too much to gain.


1862 John Rafferty, grocer, 524 Tenth Avenue (39th-40th Streets )

1863 John Rafferty, grocer, 524 Tenth Avenue

1864 John Rafferty, grocer, 524 Tenth Avenue

1865 John Rafferty, grocer, 524 Tenth Avenue

1866 John Rafferty, grocer, 524 Tenth Avenue

1867 John Rafferty, grocer, 524 Tenth Avenue

1868 John Rafferty, grocer, 524 Tenth Avenue

1871 Ellen Rafferty, widow John, 495 Tenth Avenue

1872 Ellen Rafferty, widow John, 495 Tenth Avenue

1873 Helen Rafferty, widow John, 495 Tenth Avenue

1874 Hugh Goodwin, driver, h. 495 Tenth Avenue (37th-38th Streets)

1875 Hugh Goodwin, manure, 528 West 40th Street

1876 Hugh Goodwin, driver, 520 West 40th Street

1877 Hugh Goodwin, driver, 520 West 38th Street

1878 Hugh Goodwin, driver, 514 West 38th Street

1881 Hugh Goodwin, driver, 610 West 38th Street

1883 Hugh Goodwin, driver, 610 West 38th Street

1884 Hugh Goodwin, laborer, 610 West 38th Street

1885 Hugh Goodwin, driver, 610 West 38th Street

1887 Hugh Goodwin, painter, 512 West 39th Street

1888 Hugh Goodwin, driver, 610 West 38th Street

1890 Hugh Goodwin, driver, 520 West 39th Street

1893 Hugh Goodwin, driver, 629 West 46th Street

1894 Hugh Goodwin, driver, 629 West 46th Street

1895 Hugh Goodwin, laborer, 608 West 46th Street

1897 Hugh Goodwin, driver, 624 West 52nd Street

1905 Hugh Goodwin, 803 Ninth Avenue (53rd-54th)

1908 Hugh Goodwin, trucks, 401 West 55th Street

1920 Peter Goodwin supervisor, 339 West 58th Street

1922 Peter Goodwin 335 West 58th Street or 203 West 63rd Street

1881 Arthur Moons, Jr., butcher, 546 West 40th Street

1883 Arthur Moons, butcher, 600 West 36th Street

1886 Arthur Moons, driver, 557 West 40th Street

1889 Arthur Moons, Jr., clerk, 557 West 40th Street

1892 Mary Moons death certificate 557 West 40th Street

1892 Arthur F. Moons, h 557 West 40th Street

1893 Arthur F. Moons, meat, 557 West 40th Street; works 508 11th Avenue

1894 Arthur F. Moons, driver, 557 West 40th Street

1894 Arthur F. Moones death certificate, 557 West 40th Street

1897 Margaret Moons, (wid. Arthur), 601 West 52nd Street

1900 Census, Margaret Moons, 660 Eleventh Avenue (47th-48th Streets)

1901 Martin English, 620 West 46th Street

1905 Martin English, butcher, 620 West 46th Street

1905 census Martin English, 620 West 46th Street

1908 Martin English, 607 West 46th Street

1909 Martin English, 607 West 46th Street

1908 Martin English death certificate 607 West 46th Street

1910 Margaret English (wid. Martin) 607 West 46th Street

1913 Jerry Flaherty death certificate 603 West 46th Street

1914 Margaret English (wid. Martin) 607 West 46th Street

1915 Margaret English, (wid. Martin) 607 West 46th Street

1916 Margaret English, (widow Martin), 643 Tenth Avenue This is a former residence of Arthur and Isabella Moons.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2009.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

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