Monthly Archives: September 2010

House History: The owners

The 1894-5 Buffalo city directory shows only one house on our block, and it wasn’t ours, which makes sense because our house was supposedly built in 1900. The 1900, 1910 and 1920 US Censuses list the owners of our house as George A. and Carrie L. Rowe. George was a physician in Buffalo (the 1902-3 Buffalo city directory shows his office at 60 Niagara Street), born in 1854 in Ohio. He married Carrie, who was also born in Ohio in 1865, in about 1887. The 1910 census asks each woman how many children she had and how many were living. Carrie never had any children.

Each year they had a servant and/or boarders living in the house with them. In 1900, they had a boarder named Louise Otto, a 15-year-old girl born in New York in 1885. They also had a servant named Mrs. A Rahler or Kahler, a 19-year-old woman born in England in 1880. She was married, though her husband is not listed in the household, and she had been in the United States for 19 years, immigrating in 1881.

In 1910, they had a different servant, Mabel Ellsford, living in the house. Mabel was a 34-year-old widow who immigrated from England only four years earlier in 1906.

The 1920 census shows one “roomer” living in the house with Dr. George and Carrie. She was Marie B. Moreland, an unmarried 41-year-old woman born in New York. Interestingly, her occupation is listed as secretary in a physician’s office. There were plenty of doctor’s in Buffalo at the time, but could she have been Dr. George’s secretary? How awkward would that have been?!

Sometime between 1920 and 1927, Dr. George died. The 1927-8 Buffalo city directory lists “Rowe, Carrie L (wid Geo A)” living in the house. The 1930 census also lists Carrie as a widow with three single women boarders. They were Helen Maxam (age 35, born in Michigan), Henriette Conrad (age 40, born in New York) and Marjorie Mahoney (age 50, born in Michigan). All three were stenographers: Helen worked for N&E Power Company (not sure what N&E stands for yet) and Henriette worked for an insurance company. Marjorie doesn’t list where she worked. Interesting details in this census include the fact that the house had a radio set and it was valued at $8,500, the lowest on the block which ranges from $8,500 to $20,000.

Carrie is still listed as the owner in the 1933 Buffalo city directory, but she probably died sometime in 1933 or 1934. Subsequent city directories from 1934 to 1967 list other residents. They are:

  • Mrs. Maritta C. Sanders, 1934 (listed as owner)
  • Mrs. Agnes C. Mutchler, 1936 (not listed as owner)
  • VACANT, 1937
  • Mrs. Eliz Spencer, 1938-1946 (not listed as owner, 1938-1941 indicate she was living alone)

The only other Buffalo city directory available online was for 1956. It lists Mrs. Eliz Spencer as the owner, but I’m not sure at what point she actually purchased the house. Looking at the ownership, I’m wondering if the house was foreclosed on sometime between 1934 and 1936 during the Great Depression, and Eliz Spencer finally bought her home of about 10 years once the depression and World War II ended.


van Pletzens

Today I was going through the many comments left by van Pletzen family members. I think that family has received the most interest on this little blog, and the family is much bigger and more widespread than I imagined.

In browsing through the comments and trying to tie family members together, one thing became very clear very quickly–I need more than names. If you are a van Pletzen, send me your info–parents’ names, grandparents’ names, aunts, uncles–anything you can think of. And most importantly, please include any dates and places you know–birth dates and places, death dates and places. The more information the better!

Hopefully with more information, I’ll be able to tie some of you into the van Pletzen Saga!

Begg lines revisited: The joys of intermarriage

Yesterday, I was inspired by a comment left on a blog post about Samuel Begg. The post was written by my mother-in-law about her grandfather, and posted on my husband’s blog to share with the world. (This, by the way, is one of the reasons I enjoy blogging about my genealogy finds–hearing from distant cousins.) So, I decided to revisit the Begg lines and see if there was any new information out there.

Since that part of the family is from Scotland, I went back to ScotlandsPeople, a site I haven’t visited in a while–been concentrating on South Africa a lot lately. I didn’t have a lot of luck on Beggs themselves, but I hit a vein on the related McCrone line.

Elizabeth McCrone was the great-great grandmother of Samuel Begg, making her my great-great-great-great grandmother-in-law. Her daughter, Anne Stevenson, married James Begg around 1836, probably in Muirkirk, Ayrshire, Scotland (that’s a record I should look for). That’s just background…

I had already found Anne Stevenson Begg’s death record showing her parents as Thomas Stevenson and Elizabeth McCrone. Last night, I was able to find Elizabeth’s death record (27 Mar 1858 in Muirkirk), her marriage to Thomas Stevenson (27 Jun 1794 in Muirkirk), and her birth record (25 Mar 1778 in Muirkirk) which included the names of her parents, John McCrone and Mary Aird.

With those names, I did a search and was able to find the birth records of three more children of John and Mary Aird McCrone–a daughter, Christian (b. 11 Aug 1780 in Muirkirk), a son Hugh (b. 26 Jul 1794 in Muirkirk) and another son, John (b. 20 Apr 1797, d. 26 Nov 1797, both in Muirkirk). My instincts tell me that there must be more children between Christian and Hugh, as there is a 14 year difference in their ages. I’ll have to do more searching.

HERE’S WHERE THINGS GET INTERESTING…..and why I like doing research in Scotland….

Remember James Begg (Elizabeth McCrone’s son-in-law)? It turns out (and I already knew this) that he is the illegitimate son of one Adam Begg, Jr. and CHRISTIAN MCCRONE, born in Muirkirk on 4 June 1809. I don’t have any proof yet, but I highly suspect that his mother and his future mother-in-law were sisters…making his wife his cousin! This probably wasn’t totally unheard-of, though, so don’t freak out too much!

Better yet (and still no concrete connections) is what I found on Elizabeth brother’s birth register. Her brother, Hugh–his full name is Hugh BEGG McCrone. That would indicate that the McCrone family had a connection to the Begg family long before Elizabeth’s daughter married James Begg and her other daughter…well….”knew” Adam Begg (at least twice, incidentally…Adam and Christian had two illegitimate sons, James and Adam III (b. 20 Jun 1804 in Muirkirk) before Adam Jr. went off and married Sarah Broadfoot in 1818. (I have never found a marriage record for Adam Jr. and Christian McCrone, nor do I know what happened to Christian after her two sons were born.)

So, before this line gets any more entangled I think I need to unravel it before moving on to another line. Otherwise, I’ll never figure it out when I come back to it.

Conway – Bayman finds

Several months ago I discovered a couple of websites that focus on South African genealogy: Ancestry24 and Ancestry24 is a subscription service with transcriptions of original records or compilations–including parish baptism, marriage and burial records, voter registration lists and court records. Some transcriptions can be viewed without a subscription. has a limited collection (the South Africa Death Records index, South African Newspaper Classifieds from 2007 and South African Settler Families Genealogy), but they supply digital images of original records on a pay-per-view basis (US$7.00 or 50 ZAR per record). It can take several weeks to receive the digital image, but the wait is worth it–and for people like me, it helps to control costs!

Using these two sites, I’ve made some serious headway on our Conway – Bayman lines–my father-in-law’s great-grandmother’s family. It started when I found Eliza Conway Bayman listed in the Death Records index at When I finally received the image, I was thrilled to see not just her death date and age, but also her birthplace (Mossel Bay), husband’s name (James William Bayman), all of her children and her parents’ names (Richard and Ann Conway)!

Using this new information, I found the death record for her husband, James William Bayman, on Not only did it list the usual, but I learned that he was born in London, England, and had a previous wife (Catherine Margareta Styl) and children. And again, it gave the names of his parents (James William and Sarah Davis Bayman).

I have taken this information and tried to find more information on James William Bayman in England records on, but haven’t had much luck yet. However, yesterday I found baptismal records on Ancestry24 for several of James’ children with both wives. (HINT: when looking at baptism and marriage records, pay attention to the witnesses. Many times they are relatives and can contain missing information.)

House History, Part 1

A few weeks ago, I was poking around the top floor of our new home, and found a bit of history that we hadn’t noticed before. In a closet just inside the door on a section of wall where the old wallpaper had come off was some writing in pencil:

Paper hanged by C. W. Brayman 1900 Niagara Street, City March 7, 1922

Paper hanged by C.W. Brayman
1900 Niagara St. City
March 7, 1922

Blane and I bought a 110-year-old house in Buffalo, New York, last month. It’s the type of house I’ve fantasized about owning–a house with history, and one where we can do a little bit of restoration work. The people we bought it from have been in the house for about 35 years, and they told us they had purchased it at an estate sale when the original owner died. This would make us the third owners of a house that has been alive for more than a century!

My first thought when I saw this inscription on the wall was how I could have missed it for so long. We’ve both been up on the third floor several times. It looks like it has only been used as storage space for many years, but is finished with three bedrooms and a hall closet. The wallpaper in the hallway is fabulous! There are bits of old furniture that were left behind, so we’ve been exploring and dreaming about what we could do with the space.

My second thought was wondering who C. W. Brayman could have been, and started thinking about the history of our new home. I immediately logged on to and started searching for C. W. Brayman in the 1920 US Census. I very quickly found Charles W. Brayman, age 20, living with his parents, Charles A. and Louise Brayman, and step-sister, Catherine Werle [?], in an upper flat of 1920 Niagara Street, Buffalo, NY.