Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917

Four generations of RICHARDSONs 1917
William Richardson, Alice Josephine Richardson Dakin, Robert Worthington Richardson, Harry Bogart Richardson

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A Genealogy Angel! a RAOGK* in action!

In a blog post on A Family Legend and The Rest of the Story
I mentioned:

"When I asked my mother about her Richardson family, she said they came from Belfast Northern Ireland to Canada.  After she died I found her 8th grade autobiography where she said 'the Richardsons were great landholders in the north of Ireland.  After awhile they came to Canada and settled in Quebec.'"

In that blog post I mentioned that:
I found the wedding of Robert Richardson and Sarah Allen, the parents of William Richardson in the Anglican Cathedral Holy Trinity Church in Québec on 25 May 1832.  William was born on 5 November 1835 in Québec City.  Robert was a cordwainer.  Sarah had four children before she died 28 January 1843, in Québec City.  Robert remarried, this time to Harriet Isabella Birch on 20 September 1843.  They had nine children.  Not all of his 13 children made it to adulthood.  In the 1851 and 1871 censuses, Robert says he was born in 1810 in Ireland.

I have not verified the "great landholders" or the "Northern Ireland." Robert did work as a cordwainer in Québec, he sounds like someone who is working for a living rather than managing an estate of some kind in Québec.  I have not found any passenger records bringing Robert to Québec -- so I don't know if he came as a young adult or as a child.  I haven't found any potential Richardson parents for him in Québec.  I have noticed there are many Richardsons in Northern Ireland, many of them named William Richardson and some own land.  Robert's first son was named William.  So, maybe that part of the story is true.  That is left to be investigated further.

This has been a challenge without much success for a number of years.

Then out of the blue, a genealogy angel appeared unexpectedly.  On 28 January, I received an message on's Message Board.

From: Maria XXXX
Subject:  Hi from Ireland
My name is Maria XXXX and I live in Dublin.  I am currently
researching old newspapers in the hope of gathering information for
the family trees of several friends I am currently trying to help.  If I
happen across any that might be of interest to another family tree
then I try, where possible to track down that tree on ancestry so as 
to match them. ....

I do not know Maria, never heard of her, she's not related to me, she is searching for her friends and then doing this wonderful random act of kindness "If I
happen across any that might be of interest to another family tree
then I try, where possible to track down that tree on ancestry so as 
to match them."
So Maria is helping her friends AND the owners of their trees when she finds relevant obituaries.
Such a surprise.

So continuing with Maria's message:
... I believe the following death notice that appeared in 
The Montreal Daily Witness on the 26th Jan in 1875 belongs on
your Richardson Family Tree: "RICHARDSON -- In this city, on the
morning of the 26th January, Mr. Robert Richardson, aged 66 years,
a native of Cork, Ireland, and for many years a resident of Quebec. ...

Not exactly Belfast or Northern Ireland, But a place to start looking.
Maybe his family came from Northern Ireland Richardsons and moved to Cork and then he moved to Québec as a young man (before he married in 1832 and after he was born in 1810).
This opens up possibilities for searching.

The funeral will take place from his late residence of No 42 St.
Charles Barromee street, on Thursday, the 28th at 2.30 o'clock p.m.
thence to Mount Royal Cemetery.  Relatives, friends and
acquaintances are respectfully invited to attend without further
notice.  Quebec papers please copy."  I hope this helps with your
research.  Slan, Maria"

I followed Robert Richardson in the church records in Québec City for his two marriages and the births of his 13 children, and the deaths of a few of them.  I followed him in the local directories as a shoemaker, until he wasn't there any longer.  Then I found him and his wife Harriet Isabella Birch living with one of their children in Montréal and did have his death and burial there in 1875 -- matching exactly the information here.

But, I did not have his final address in Montréal, the fact that he told people that he came from Cork.
So, this was a wonderful gift from Maria in Dublin!

The other gift was Maria also took the time to transcribe a document from the Montreal Daily Witness (26 January 1875, page 3) that was not easy to read (she generously shared the link too in another message):

Thank you Maria from Dublin, you are a wonderful genealogical angel to be finding and sharing these obituaries with unsuspecting folks around the world who need your help!

*RAOGK = a "Random Act of Genealogical Kindness" -- just not from that very special website which was recently revived after the death of it's original site manager.

The link to this page is
©2015, Erica Dakin Voolich

Thursday, February 12, 2015

One More Scrapbook Revelation and a P.S.

Who is this sweet little girl?  
Why is her picture on a cover of a magazine including an article about "Blind Man's Bluff"?

This is Martha Elnora (Mattie or Nora) Worthington Richardson.
Either Mattie or her mother, Elnora Esther Cobb Worthington, created a beautiful scrapbook full of pictures from the DeMorest's Monthly Magazine that I wrote about in a series of blog posts.

In my third post about the scrapbook, I wrote:
Since initially posting about my family's scrapbook initially in A Scrapbook with a Surprise, little did I know how this would challenge me to find out more.  I had no idea that so much could be learned from what looked like a simple scrapbook full of period pictures.  I shared some of that adventure in Some Logic, Some Help, and "Ask a Librarian" or two ... Gives an Answer.   Well the adventure continues and, as the blindfolded person in the above picture, I feel as if the clues are all around me -- IF I could ONLY see them!
Here's my latest update on the adventure.

Discovering that the scrapbook was made from a copy of the Congressional Record (45th Congress, 1877-1879) led to one question after another about not only the Congressional Record but also the history of scrapbooking in an attempt to date the album.

The help of many people made this story possible:
Gena Philibert-Ortega (, Ellen Gruber Garvey (author Writing with Scissors: Am. Scrapbooks from the Civil War to the Harlem Renaissance), Madaleine J Laird (, Connie Reik (Tisch Library, Tufts U), George D Barnum (Agency Historian Government Printing Office), and John J Devine (Boston Public Library, Social Sciences and Governmental Information Department).
Thank you.

Now, you can read the whole story in one article in the Winter 2015 issue of Crossroads, or in my series of blog posts:
A Scrapbook with a Surprise
Some Logic, Some Help, and "Ask a Librarian" or two ... Gives an Answer
Blind Man's Bluff ... Is that What this Scrapbook Playing with Me?

The conclusion, included in the article but not in the above posts is this:
In order to date the scrapbook, just finding the year of publication of the pictures in it and year of publication of the Congressional Record that was being used was not sufficient.  We needed to know when the volume became available to the general public.  The congressional sessions that it covered, ended in February 1879.  After editing, reviewing, etc. it would then go to press.  Now, the turn around is about 18 months.  How long it was then, is unknown.  The clue would be when would it have arrived at the Depository Libraries around the country.  The congressmen would have had it to share with constituents about the same time.  So, checking with the Boston Public Library, the date it was checked into the BPL collection was 2 September 1884 -- 5 1/2 years after it the congressional session ended.

A post script:
I thought my blog post ended there, with knowing the possible date of the acquisition -- what else was there to learn?

Well, George D Barnum, after seeing the article in the Crossroads, emailed me:

I just looked again at the article, and I couldn’t resist passing this thought along: I don’t believe I’d seen a photo of the binding of your scrapbook before.  It’s a very standard GPO binding of its time. The marbled paper on the boards of the front and back cover would have been made here at GPO (believe it or not, we still do it for some things, although not the bound Record any more).


Thank you George for that last clue and interesting video.

©2015 Erica Dakin Voolich
The link to the page is

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Robert Richardson, who are you? Mary Curtis, who are you? Thomas Richardson, who are you?

Among the pictures in the box of family pictures was this handsome gentleman.  Written on the back:
"Robert Richardson
(father of Thomas Richardson
who married Mary Curtis)"

From my untrained eye, the photo seems to be an ambrotype (1855-1865).

It was with the photos of my Richardson family.  I have a Robert Richardson (1810, Ireland - 1875, Québec City & Montréal Canada) married twice first to Sarah Allen (abt. 1815 - 1843, Québec City) in 1832 and Harriet Isabella Birch (1818, Québec City - 1902, Montréal) in 1843.

Robert and Sarah had a son Thomas Richardson born 27 October 1837 in Québec City.  I have not found any marriage of him to to anyone, let along a Mary Curtis.

Robert and Harriet had a son Robert who lived less than a year (August 1846 - 13 April 1847).

Maybe, there was another son of Robert who produced a grandson named Thomas who married Mary Curtis.  With a large family you'd expect some potential candidates.

Robert had 14 children with his two wives, at least 5 children made it to adulthood and 6 are known to have died in childhood.  There are potential possibilities of fathers for the Robert shown in the photo:  Thomas (b. 1837), Charles (b. 1848), Frederick (b. 1852), Arthur Henry (b. 1855).  But age wise, any of these sons having a son Robert as early who was an adult to fit the dates of the picture seems improbable.  Their  brother, my Great Great Grandfather William, did not have any son named Robert.

Clearly, this was someone possibly connected to my Richardson family who had very few pictures of family members.  Cousin in Canada?   Cousin in USA?  Cousin in Ireland?

Maybe our Robert had a not-yet-identified brother,  who had a son Robert with a son Thomas?

Another possible clue:  when I was researching my William Richardson (pictured in 4-generation picture above), son of Robert Richardson and Sarah Allen, I contacted the Bank of Montreal.  The Archives shared their records of William and mentioned a Robert Richardson who also worked for the bank.

Any information will be gratefully accepted as I try to figure out my Richardson family.

And if Robert Richardson above is your ancestor, maybe we are cousins!