Friday, November 19, 2010

A Debt of Gratitude and William O. Henderson

I owe a debt of gratitude to several bloggers and a Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness volunteer for helping me in my quest to find William O. Henderson.

About a month ago I wrote a post about the challenges of finding William O. Henderson, son of my grandfather's sister and her husband, William R. and Bertha (Meinzen) Henderson. I wrote the post hoping that some other family member might find it and contact me with further information. No family member has, but several bloggers made comments to the post which were immensely helpful, with the result that I've found William O. I want them to know that I am grateful for their help. Thank you!

The first comment was from Kerry Scott of Clue Wagon who recommended that I order an SS-5. I decided to wait to request it until I was able to determine with a little more accuracy whether there were other William Hendersons and to see if I could find an obituary or some other less expensive source for the man from Brooklyn.

The next suggestion came from Karen of Ancestor Soup who suggested I contact a volunteer in Brooklyn, NY, at Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK) (2nd from the bottom, she said) where I would find a volunteer who would copy information on public records.

Apple from Apple's Tree recommended a newspaper website, Fulton History, with old New York newspapers. She was kind enough to have already done a preliminary search and knew that there were over 300 references to William Henderson in Brooklyn, New York, though she didn't know if any were mine. She provided the specific search string with exact directions for getting to the search results.

Finally, Natasha of Today's Gift wondered if William may have been Bill in the 1930 census. That was something I hadn't considered and will see if I can find him. He would have been about 21. Thank you, blogging friends. I appreciate your help.

I tried Apple's newspaper search first. She told me it would be slow to load. It completely stopped my computer. I thought I'd go back to that source later. I hesitated to try RAOGK because I'd asked a volunteer to do something before, she agreed, and then nothing happened. So I put William O. on hold. Then late last week I noticed that someone had come to my blog as the result of a search for William Oliver Henderson. That was just the motivation I needed to continue my search.

On Monday I searched the Fulton History site and found that the William O. Hendersons who were mentioned predated the birth of my William O. That site was not helpful for this particular search but because my husband's family comes from upper New York and my daughter is working on his family history, that site could potentially be very, very helpful. Thank you again, Apple.

Next I went to the RAOGK site and emailed Jessica Scheiber, the Brooklyn, NY, volunteer. I explained what I was hoping to find and asked if the kind of searches she did could help me. She responded a few hours later after having done a preliminary google search. The options were to order a death certificate which would require that I prove a relationship; or she could search the index cards for Surrogate's Records. If she found a card for William O., she said she could pull his file and see what she could find. I asked her to please look in the Surrogate's Records whenever she had time. On Tuesday evening Jess sent information that confirmed that the man who died in Brooklyn in 1990 was my William O. Henderson. She provided so much information -- the date of the will; the names of the heirs; his address when the will was written; his date and place of birth; the date, time, and location of his death; his wife's name and their marriage date and location; his profession; the cemetery where he was buried; and the name and address of funeral home that took care of the funeral.

I am so grateful to Kerry, Karen, Apple, Natasha, and Jessica Scheiber for their help. Thank you, ladies. I hope I can return the favor or pay it forward to someone else searching for a pesky ancestor. And one last note. It seems that Jess has had some less than pleasant experiences with people requesting her help. If you choose to ask a volunteer from RAOGK to do something for you, please be kind and patient with them. We never know another person's time commitments and restraints.


  1. Thank you for the mention--I'm so glad to hear you found him!

  2. I'm glad the RAOGK volunteer was able to find him for you. Sometimes it's all about knowing where to look and whom to contact.


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