16 December 2013

Failed Correspondence

If your involvement in genealogy is more than a passing fancy, I feel sure that you’ve corresponded, in some fashion, with any number of folks, society, library, archive, etc.  And, I also feel sure that you, just as I have, had your share of successes and disappointments that resulted from the effort.  Not having success via the more traditional communication channels, I am taking my failed attempts to the blogosphere.
I am in the throws of getting ready for our trip to Pennsylvania for a Christmas visit with family.  Pennsylvania is where the majority of my and my husband’s ancestors are from.  So, I thought, I’d incorporate some research in our plans.  Realizing that I cannot do it all, I have been focusing on those ancestors that were closest to or predominately from Philadelphia, Philadelphia County and then zeroing in on those with unanswered questions.
One of my ancestral challenges has been my Great Grandfather, Wallace Arthur BEARDSELL.  He immigrated to Pennsylvania in 1893, coming from Holme, Yorkshire, England.  I have been able to track him from that point forward to 1940 where I find him listed as a resident in the Philadelphia Home for Indigent Men and Woman.  The home is still in existence today,its current name is Riverview Home.  I ‘lose’ him after1940.  I have, to date, not been able to determine his date of death nor burial location.  My Great Grandmother, Wallace’s first wife died in 1900 and is buried at Greenmount Cemetery, Philadelphia in an unmarked grave.  My Grandfather is not with her.  Wallace’s 2nd wife died in 1964 and is buried at Lawnview Cemetery, Rockledge, Pennsylvania, with her first husband.  Wallace isn’t there. 

His eldest daughter died in 1940 and is buried at Magnolia, Cemetery, Tacony, Pennsylvania.  She too is buried with her first husband and his family.  Her father isn’t there.  Wallace’s son George died in 1954 and is buried at the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Oaks, Pennsylvania.  His daughter, Edith (my Grandmother), died in 1987 and is buried alongside George, and her husband, Walter G LINDSEY at the St. Paul’s Episcopal church.  Their father isn’t there.  His remaining daughter, Lidie BEARDSELL Iannuccie (my half-Grand Aunt), lived to 100 and recently past away last year and is buried with her husband at New Cathedral Cemetery, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  And, Wallace isn’t there. 

Last year, having learned that the Riverview Home, formerly the Philadelphia Home for Indigent Men and Women was still in operation, I called and then e-mailed to inquire about historical records for former residents; did historical records exist?  Was it possible to obtain copies?  Were the records archived on site?  If not, where were they located and who should be contacted?  It is a year later, and to date I have not received any response.

Similarly, another ancestral challenge from York, York County Pennsylvania, is my Grand Uncle, William Gordon LINDSEY.  His last known residence in 1920 is the Children’s Home of York and York County; he’s listed as a ward of home.  In the first part of this year, January 2013, I wrote the home explaining that I was researching my paternal family history and that my Grand Uncle’s last known residence was the Children’s Home of York and York County, Pennsylvania.  I inquired if they had the archived records for their former wards and if it was possible to obtain a copy.  I noted that my specific interest was in learning if William G LINDSEY had lived at the home until age of maturity or if he had been adopted by another family.  I took great pains to explain, that I understood that for privacy reasons they may not be able to provide adoption information.  Obtaining this information would provide me with the much needed clue; IF William G LINDSEY was a resident of the home until the age of maturity, I would continue the search for the LINDSEY surname.  IF William was adopted, I might have to accept that I might never find him because his name, in all probability, may have changed. 
Again, a year later and I still have no response.  About two weeks ago, I took this to the York County, Pennsylvania FaceBook page.  To date, no response there either.
These are just 2 of my most frustrating ancestral challenges; aggravated by failed correspondence.  Not all research and communication can be accomplished via the computer and social media.  I understand.  But . . .  I will be in the Philadelphia area over the holidays, so it is my plan to visit the Riverview Home and the Pennsylvania Genealogical Society; crossing my fingers for better success in person.  But a visit to York, York County, Pennsylvania is not possible this trip.  That will have to wait.

How about you, the reader?  Have you had failed correspondence?  What are your tips to work through the challenge(s)? 

I encourage you to share your stories here, perhaps I or another reader can help.  And, if any of you are familiar with either of these facilities – The Riverview Home in Philadelphia or the Children’s Home of York and York County, Pennsylvania – and know if they’ve kept their historical records and who to contact for more information, I would love to hear from you.
Genealogy, by its very nature requires patience; a virtue that I was not endowed with. 


  1. I have been to the York Historical VERY helpful people-mostly volunteers, lots of info available by surname-- I dont have files avaulable for contact info---but do look them up, it is well worth the trip Gram K

    1. Elaine, thank you so much for the lead; I certainly will look into. I hope you will visit Family Preserves again.

  2. Tracy,

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today's Fab Finds post at http://janasgenealogyandfamilyhistory.blogspot.com/2013/12/follow-friday-fab-finds-for-december-20.html

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    1. Thank you Jana. I wish you and your loved ones a ver merry and blessed Christmas.

  3. Hello-- I really enjoyed reading your post, which I found in a search for the Home for Indigent, where a possible relative of mine died. You already might have found this by now, but Wallace Beardsell was buried at Odd Fellows Cemetery, according to his 1946 death certificate, which is now on Ancestry.com. The cemetery no longer exists, but the graves were moved to the Odd Fellows-owned Mount Peace and Lawnview Cemeteries: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Odd_Fellows_Cemetery_%28Philadelphia%29 Records for these are at Lawnview: http://www.cemeteryco.net/lawnview-location

    1. Thank you, for the information. I appreciate your taking the time and interest to look up what had been one of my ancestral challenges.

      I'm glad you enjoyed your visit to Family Preserves and hope that you will visit again. If there is anything that I might be able to help you with in your research, please let me know.