May 11, 2011

Slow but Steady Progress

In an earlier post, I described how I found the baptism record of my great-great-great-grandfather, Isaac Parks. It also allowed me to identify his parents and reconstruct the rest of the family, based on his siblings' baptism records. At the time, I still didn't know when he immigrated to America. He was born 1820 in England, and first shows up in Pennsylvania on the 1850 US Census, already married with four children. The oldest child was seven, and all their birthplaces were listed as Pennsylvania, but that still left a fairly large window: 1820-1843. And since he died in 1894, none of the censuses he was recorded on have a year of immigration or naturalization.

1827 New York
Over the past few years, I'd searched for his immigration record, but that period saw several men named Isaac Park(e)s immigrate–too many around the right age to be certain I'd found the correct record. Now, after a recent search, I was able to positively identify his record, only because his whole family immigrated with him. The ship's manifest matched his parents and all his siblings from baptism records. (Except they substituted the name Isabella for his mother Rebella, as I've found in other records.) I previously had no inkling he had other relatives who came to America–no records, letters, family lore, legends, or anything. But once I discovered that fact, it was relatively easy to trace the family in Pennsylvania. I found several census records that show the family settling in Cambria county and adding three more children to the fold. His father's naturalization petition was transcribed and uploaded to the Cambria county page on USGenWeb. His mother's grave was transcribed on Find A Grave. I'm now researching his siblings' descendants, and already made contact with a previously unknown distant cousin.

But the previous generation is going to be more difficult. Now that I know when his parents were born, I'm confident the baptism record I found earlier is his father's. His grandfather was also named Isaac, but I hesitate to label them Sr, Jr, III, IV, etc. because I don't know how many generations of Isaacs there were. His grandmother had a rather common name, Ann, and there were several Isaac Parkes in that area.

Three Isaac Parkes were married in the same parish the children were baptized in, within 5 years of each other: 1810, 1812, and 1815. The latter makes the most sense, as it was one year before their first child, and the bride is listed as Isabella. The names of the other two brides were nothing like Rebella. I haven't seen an image of the actual parish register yet, so it may actually say Rebella, and got indexed incorrectly. It wouldn't be the first time.

Now onto this Isaac's siblings and parents. I've found baptism records there for at least nine children whose parents were Isaac and Ann Parkes. The first was born in 1771, then a large gap until 1788 with two records, two more in 1791, one in 1793, and finally 1796 with three records, including Isaac. This must be at least two families, possibly three because of the spread. The only sibling of Isaac I know for sure is Sarah, born 1788, because she and her husband Joseph Haynes also immigrated to America, and a history book on Cambria county identifies Isaac as her brother.

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