Closing in On William Boyd Hill’s Origins

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This past week, Ancestry.com has made its immigration and naturalization records available for free. I already had access to most of these records with my subscription, but I was spurred to pay closer attention to them thanks to the special offer.

I decided to try one more time to find out more about one of my paternal great-grandfathers, William Boyd Hill. From census records, I know he was born around 1840, that he was a grocer in Philadelphia and that he hailed from Ireland. I hadn’t had any luck finding out when and/or where he entered the United States though.

I was a bit disappointed with the search function for the immigration and naturalization records, at least as they were set up for the free access this week. You didn’t have a chance to limit results by exact spelling, etc. The results included way too many bad hits. I was already dealing with a rather common name and didn’t want to have to weed through still more extraneous information.

I decided to narrow my results by record type instead and that led me to what I hope was the jackpot. First, I selected the Citizenship and Naturalization records from the choices on the left-hand side of the Ancestry results page. I didn’t see anything that jumped out at me. Either the name was right and the country of origin was wrong, or vice versa.

Next I selected Immigration and Emigration Books. Drilling down still further, I saw that there was a listing for Philadelphia, 1789-1880 Naturalization Records. Bingo. I didn’t have any evidence that my great-grandfather ever left Philly once he settled there. If he applied for citizenship, it would have been in that city.

Sure enough, when I clicked on the link, the very first result was for a William B. Hill from Great Britain/Ireland who filed a Declaration of Intent with the Court of Common Pleas in 1873. I’m still not sure he’s my William Hill, but I read more about the record and how to get copies of the original records.

First, Ancestry has a page about these records. It gives a lot of background about the source behind the record and where to request the originals. I also looked up the repository itself — the Philadelphia City Archives (link goes directly to the Naturalization Records section). This page was helpful because it gives still more background about the records it holds and its fee schedule.

Now, I’m getting ready to send off my request to the archives to see if they can send me more information about this William B. Hill. Fingers crossed that he’s the right one and that the original information will contain more tidbits to tell me about his origins!

Tombstone Tuesday: The HILL Family

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After receiving a couple of vital records pertaining to my family, I was able to delve a bit deeper into my dad’s mother’s side. Her death certificate revealed the full names of her parents, neither of which I had prior to last week. Once they were known, new information became available.

While searching on FindAGrave, I came across the grave site for my great-grandfather William Boyd HILL. The marker indicates that a number of Hills are buried at the same spot in addition to a gentleman I believe to be related to my great-grandmother Martha Alcorn SIMPSON (Martha A. Hill on the stone).

The photo posted on FindAGrave is in shadow and I haven’t had luck discerning all of the dates on the stone. Still, I’m ecstatic to have found this stone online and thankful that it’s there at all. Luckily, Philadelphia’s not too far of a drive. Someday soon, I hope to make it up there to see the stone in person.

SNGF: Most Recent Unknown Ancestor

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This week’s mission from Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings: 1) Who is your MRUA – your Most Recent Unknown Ancestor? This is the person with the lowest number in your Pedigree Chart or Ahnentafel List that you have not identified a last name for, or a first name if you know a surname but not a first name.

2) Have you looked at your research files for this unknown person recently? Why don’t you scan it again just to see if there’s something you have missed?

3) What online or offline resources might you search that might help identify your MRUA?

4) Tell us about him or her, and your answers to 2) and 3) above, in a blog post, in a comment to this post, or a comment on Facebook or some other social networking site.

One of my paternal great-grandmothers is my MRUA. As I posted in a Surname Saturday post a few weeks ago, my father’s mother was #5 Ida Bole Hill (1880-1943), the daughter of Irish-American grocer #10 William B. Hill (~1841-?) and his wife, #11 Martha (aka Mattie; ~1847-?). I have not discovered Martha’s last name. Census records seem to show that Martha was born in Pennsylvania, but both her parents were born in Ireland.

William and Martha had seven children total, five of whom were still living by 1910, when Martha was listed in the U.S. census of that year as 62 and widowed (still in Philly).

One item that will probably assist me with finding out about Martha and the Hill line in general is William’s death certificate. I have not spent much time on this particular part of my family, however, because of the daunting hill of Hills I must sift through when pursuing records about them.

Interestingly, in going back through my records about the Hill family, I found them listed twice in the 1870 U.S. census:

1870 U.S. Census, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Philadelphia Ward 26 Precinct 9, p. 323 (stamped), dwelling 1903, William B., Martha and Mary Hill; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 7 November 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll 1442. (Listed as second enumeration.)

AND

1870 U.S. Census, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Philadelphia Ward 26 District 88, p. 524 (stamped), dwelling 131, family 151, William B., Martha and Mary Hill; digital image, Ancestry.com (http://www.ancestry.com : accessed 26 August 2009); citing NARA microfilm publication M593, roll  1414. (First enumeration, done in June of that year–much more information on this page.)

Surname Saturday: HILL (Pennsylvania, Ireland)

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Brown. Smith. Johnson. Somewhere along the way, almost all of us have an ancestor(s) with a name so common, the task of finding just the right people seems next to impossible. In my case, it’s my HILL line.

idaperhaps-sm

My Grandmother, Ida

My father’s mother, Ida, was the daughter of Irish-American grocer William B. Hill (~1841-?) and his wife, Martha (aka Mattie; ~1847-?), who raised their family in Philadelphia. According to census records, William was born in Ireland, and Martha’s parents were born there as well. I have not found Martha’s maiden name yet.

annahill-sm

Anna S. Hill

William and Martha had seven children total, five of whom were still living by 1910, when Martha was listed in the U.S. census of that year as 62 and widowed (still in Philly). Her daughters Anna (1872-?) and Elizabeth (1874-?), both public school teachers, were still living with her, as was her son, Joseph (an inspector at a glass factory). These three siblings were in their 30s at that time. Interesting side note: on the back of Anna’s photo, her name is written along with a street address that now appears to be part of the campus of Temple University — I will need to investigate if she was a student there or if perhaps the university has acquired the property since.

I have not been able to trace William B. Hill back any further from his time in Philadelphia with his wife and children. I don’t know when or where he arrived from Ireland. I have not found his exact death date yet. I haven’t figured out who the fifth surviving Hill sibling was or when the other two siblings passed away and why. It’s not that I’ve tried and failed to find this information. Since Hill is such a common name though, I’ve been putting off delving into this line. It just seems so daunting to me. Writing today’s post, however, caused me to jump on in and I hope to report back that I’ve found some good leads in the coming weeks.