Monday, December 17, 2012

Marriage License of Charles Scheel and Margaret Platts

With all the images coming online - especially on - I have more things to post; hopefully this will keep up for a while!

First up is the Marriage License of Charles Scheel and Margaret Platts in 1927.  Double-click on the picture to embiggen.  I think I have some pictures of the happy couple on their wedding day, and I'll try to post them.

New York State Department of Health
Division of Vital Statistics
Marriage License

Place of Registry:  State of New York, County of Niagara, City of Niagara Falls

Registered No. 11778

Know all Men by this Certificate, that any person authorized by law to perform marriage ceremonies within the State of New York to whom this may come, he, not knowing any lawful impediment thereto, is hereby authorized and empowered to solemnize the rites of matrimony between

Charles E. Scheel 
of Niagara Falls in the county of Niagara and the state of New York


Margaret D. Platts 
of Niagara Falls in the county of Niagara and the state of New York
and to certify the same to be said parties or either of them under his hand and seal in his ministerial or official capacity and thereupon he is required to return his certificate in the form hereto annexed.  The statements endorsed hereon or annexed hereto, by me subscribed, contain a full and true abstract of all the facts concerning such parties disclosed by their affidavits or verified statements presented to me upon the application for this license.

In Testimony Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and affixed the seal of said City of Niagara Falls this Twenty-ninth day of September nineteen hundred and Twenty-seven.


The following is a full and true abstract of all the facts disclosed by the above-named applicants in their verified statements presented to me upon their applications for the above license:

                    From the Groom:                                             From the Bride:

Full Name:  Charles E. Scheel                                           Margaret D. Platts
Color:          white                                                               white
Place of
Residence:   2222-21st St., Niagara Falls, NY                  1728 Center Ave., Niagara Falls, NY
Age:             28                                                                    25
Occupation: Shipper                                                           Clerk
Place of
Birth:            Buffalo, NY                                                    Lockport, NY
Name of
Father:          Edward C. Scheel                                          Albert John Platts
Country of
Birth:            Buffalo, NY                                                    Lockport, NY
name of
mother:          Mary Culver                                                 Margaret McCulligan
Country of
Birth:             Buffalo, NY                                                   Lockport, NY
of marriage:   First                                                                 First

Monday, February 28, 2011

Platts in the 1892 NY State Census recently launched an update to their site, as well as uploading a bunch of searchable databases with images that were not online before, such as the 1892 and 1905 NY State Censuses.  Since many of the people discussed in this blog were in New York at that time, this is a hefty and exciting present!

New York  took a census of its people every 5 years: the Federal one on the 10's (1850, 1860, 1870...) and the State one on the 5's (1855, 1865...) until I believe 1915.   The State Census is not as detailed as the Federal one was, but still can provide some important clues.  It will pin somebody down to a place at a certain time, helping with establishing timelines and movements, or show changes in family status (or not), which can be important.  While it doesn't show much for the Platts, nor solve the mystery of John's disappearance, there are other family members it does spill some light on.  I'll detail them in later blogs, but wanted to finish with the Platts before moving on.

The 1892 Census was digitized in two page spreads with each side containing two columns of names and information.  That's quite a lot of information to view at one time, so I've snipped it, showing only the information about the Platts:

Header (not shown; handwritten information underlined, rest is boilerplate):
Page 4
Enumeration of the inhabitants living in the Third Election District of the First Ward of the City of Lockport in the County of Niagara, New York on Feb. 16, 1892. [signature of census taker]

Columns:  Name, M/F, Age, Color, In what Country born, Citizen or Alien, Occupation

Albert J. Platt,  M, 20, blank (meaning White), Canada, C(itizen), Mechanic
Thomas Platt,  M, 18, blank, Canada, C, Painter

Their mother, below:

Sarah Platt,  F,  43, blank,  England, C, Domestic (meaning she either cleaned houses or was a servant)

Saturday, May 08, 2010

My Brickwall: John's Mysterious Disappearance

After 1880, John Platts completely disappears from anything I can find. Without definite proof, there are several things that could have happened, but first, it is clear that the family moved Lockport, NY in 1882. However, I have not been able to track where they went. My theories on what happened to John:

(a) John was actually living with the family but not working from 1888 to 1893 when only Sarah is listed as head of household. While this is possible, it is not probable. The thinking of the time was to list all adults over 16 in the household, and that even if sick and unable to work, John was still head of household. It is rare that a woman would take this position if her husband was still alive.

(b) very shortly after the family moved, John dies. This would be someone's first assumption, but there is evidence to the contrary. Mainly the Lockport directories, which list Sarah Platts but not as a widow until 1893. Typically, if a woman was a widow, it is listed as such and there were many examples of this throughout the directories (so it was directory protocol to list widows when they knew).

(c) John was separated from the family while looking for work. This is a typical pattern for families during hard times: the head of the family goes out looking for work in a place where he has heard they are hiring, he gets a job and establishes himself and sends for his family. In this scenario, John would be looking for work from at least 1887 (when the directory took information for the 1888 directory where Sarah is first listed alone), until his death sometime in 1892 (when the directory took information for the 1893 directory when Sarah is first listed as a widow).

(d) John abandoned his family. There is a family rumor that this happened, although my father-in-law heard it was about his grandfather, Albert Platts. Albert is John and Sarah's son, and my research shows (and I'll be posting in future blogs) he was living with his family right up until his death. So the rumor was probably not about Albert, but may have been about John. Given that he was not finding consistent work, he had 8 children and a wife to care for, the economics of the time were hard and his expertise was being replaced by newer technology, and the possibility of drink, it is not hard to imagine that someone might be overwhelmed and walk away. It happened more times than we would like to think, and was easier than it would be today. There were no social security numbers or computer tracking; one could easily change their name or just walk off. I am currently looking for advertisements in Niagara County or Ontario papers regarding John Platts to see if this was the case. The wife or husband (women ran away too!) would have to advertise a missing person to see if any information could be found. If none was forth-coming, after a certain number of years (varied depending on the laws where you lived), abandonment could be claimed and a divorce granted. I am looking for that paperwork too. Rather than state "divorced," which was scandalous, many claimed to be widowed.
     Obviously a death certificate or news article could give us a lot of information, and I will continue to look for it, and will certainly post it when I find it!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Platts between 1880 and 1900

The 1890 U.S. Census went up in flames during a basement fire in the Commerce Building in Washington, D.C., and genealogists lost an invaluable source of information. We therefore must cobble together other documents and records to discover what happened during these 20 years.
     One of the main sources of information during this time is directories. Long before there were telephones, there were city directories listing who lived in the city and businesses. Even though they couldn't pick up the phone and call Roto-rooter, they still had needs for plumbers, electricians, etc. and many weren't just around the corner. Buffalo, NY has directories starting in the 1830s and other towns followed suit quickly. Our current telephone directories did evolve from these city directories.
     I had a chance to stop by the Niagara Historical Society in Lockport when I visited there and photograph pages from some of their directories. Rather than show you many of pages of them, I will just list my findings:

= 1880-1881 directory: John Platt listed in the Lockport Directory as living at 31 Price. This is consistent with the data from the 1880 Census.
= 1882-1883 through 1887 directories: No Platts listed in Lockport at all.
= 1888 directory: Mrs. Sarah Platts, domestic, listed as living at 165 Pine, Lockport. An Anna Platts is also listed as a domestic but living at 130 Locust. It is unknown if this Sarah & John's daughter, who would have been 18 or 19 years old in 1888.
= 1891 directory: Sarah Platts, listed as living over 7 Pine in Lockport. Anna is not listed, but an Albert Platt (no S) is listed as a tinsmith, boarding at 157 Pine and William H. Platt (again no S) is shown as a blacksmith living at 280 Chestnut. Again it is not known if this two men are the children of Sarah and John, but despite the misspelling it could be. The boys would have been 18 and 20 respectively at this time.
= 1893, 1894 and 1895 directories: Sarah Platts, widow of John, listed as living over 5 West in Lockport. William Platt is also listed in same location as in 1892.
= 1897 directory: Sarah Platts, widow of John, listed as living at 161 Prospect in Lockport. Again listed as under Platt (no S) are, but unknown if they are the sons of Sarah and John: (a) Albert J, laborer, h 435 Vine, (b) Thomas, laborer, h 9 Lagrange, and (c) William H, laborer, blacksmith, h 61 Lock.
= 1898 directory: Sarah Platts, widow of John, listed as living at 161 Prospect in Lockport. Again listed as under Platt (no S) are, but unknown if they are the sons of Sarah and John: (a) Albert J, laborer, h 17 Dayton, (b) Thomas J., laborer, h 9 Lagrange

The next directory was the 1900 one, a year which I will cover with the 1900 US Census.

Platts in the 1880 U.S. Census


In 1880, the Platts family was living in Lockport as shown by the U.S. Census of that year. My best transcription, with handwritten entries in italic:

Inhabitants in the 4th ward of Lockport, in the County of Niagara, State of N.Y., enumerated by me on the 9th day of June, 1880. Lyman A. Dietrick.

Living on Price St.

Name/Color/Sex/Age/Marital Status/Occupation/Employment Status*/Disability Status/Literate Status/Birthplace/Birthplace of Father/Birthplace of Mother

= Line #1, John Platts, White, M, 43, Head, Married, Machinist, Checkmark for employment status*, no disabilities listed, can read and write, born in England as well as both parents
= Line #2, Sarah Platts, White, F, 33, Wife, Married, Keeping House, No employment or disability status, can read and write, born in England as well as both parents
=Line #3, Samuel Platts, White, M, 12, son, at school, no employment or disability status, attended school this year, born in England as well as both parents
= Line #4, Anna E. Platts, White, F, 11, daughter, at school, no employment or disability status, attended school this year, born in England as well as both parents
= Line #5, William Platts, White, M, 9, son, at school, no employment or disability status, attended school this year, born in England as well as both parents
= Line #6, Albert Platts, White, M, 8, son, at school, no employment or disability status, attended school this year, born in Canada, both parents born in England
= Line #7, Thomas Platts, White, M, 6, son, at school, no employment or disability status, attended school this year, born in Canada, both parents born in England
= Line #8, Mary Platts, White, F, 5, daughter, no employment or disability status, born in Canada, both parents born in England
= Line #9, Clara Platts, White, F, 3, daughter, no employment or disability status, born in Canada, both parents born in England
= Line #10, Alfred Platts, White, M, 10mo (b. Aug of prev yr), son, no employment or disability status, born in Canada, both parents born in England

*Employment status: The questions asks how many months, if any, was the person unemployed in the year previous to the census. This was in response to several fiscal crises in the US and was designed to see how many people had been out of work. However, the information was deemed too erratic and unuseable.

A brief stop in Canada

It is hard to say where John Platts was at the time of his mother's death. He could have been living nearby in Holloway, Derbyshire, England. Or he may have already sailed to Canada. Since I have not found the his name on a ships' list yet, it is hard to determine.
     What is known is that he and his family were listed on the 1871 English Census, then he and Sarah appear in the Wellington, Ontario, Canada Birth Registry with the 16 June 1873 birth of Albert (previous blog, 1/20/07). Four more children follow quickly: Thomas on 23 March 1875, Mary Ellen on 9 Dec 1876, Clara on 10 July 1878 and Alfred on 29 Sept 1879. So within 12 years of marrying, Sarah had given birth to 8 children that we know of.
     There is no census or other records that I have found showing what they did or where they went during their stay in Canada, nor their reason for immigration. My best guess is that they were following where the work was, and that there had been some kind of depression or loss of work in Derbyshire.
     Upstate and Western New York, as well as parts of Ontario, Canada were evidently well known in parts of Derbyshire and Yorkshire. I met a University of Buffalo professor who was studying the connection of quarrymen between these parts of the globe. Evidently, good quarrymen were hard to come by and once they found places to quarry in New York and Ontario (like when they were building the Erie Canal), many were recruited from England. A lot of Yorkshire and parts of its neighboring county, Derbyshire had lots of quarries in which men were trained and recruited from. As we saw in previous census, Lea/Holloway was one of the Derbyshire area that had quarrying nearby. Many of these men would work in New York during the warm months, then winter in England where they could work in better temperatures. Kind of an 19th century snowbirds!
     With stone masons in the family and living around them, John and Sarah probably knew or heard about New York and Ontario from these men. And when times got tough, they probably followed them or at least heard about greener pastures from them.
     I will post more in future blogs about the economic conditions of the times in both Derbyshire and Ontario as I find out about them.

Death of Martha Platts

. .

Above is the Death Certificate for Marth Stocks Platts. Following her death, I have lost track of John's siblings. I will post any findings in future blogs as I discover them. My best transcription of the above certificate, with hand-written entries in italic and typed ones in bold:

Certified Copy of an Entry of Death
Given at the General Registry Office

Application No. COL864309

Registration District: Belper
1872 Death in the Sub-District of Wirksworth in the County of Derby
No. 436

Where and When Died: Twenty first April 1872, Lea
Name and Surname: Martha Platts
Sex: Female
Age: 70 years
Condition: Widow of Josiah Platts, a bookkeeper
Cause of Death: Bronchitis Emphysema Certified
Signature, description and residence of informant: Samuel Platts, Present at the death, Lea
When Registered: Twenty fifth April 1872
Signature of Registrar: John Bacon, Registrar

Remainder of document is modern day legalese about authenticity, etc.

(1) Bronchitis Emphysema would have been a respiratory disease, very similar to modern-day emphysema. Certified means that a doctor had signed or reported the disease and that the clerk or sheriff had looked into this and not found it suspicious.
(2) Samuel, who was present at the death of his father and reported it, also did the same for his mother.