Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Search for the Real Annie Moore

I didn't blog about this when it first appeared, because I thought I could easily pull down the prize. I'm humbled. Again and again. It makes me want to really try harder!

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak posted a $1,000 prize for the researcher who finds the "real" Annie Moore, who came to the USA on 1 January 1892 and was the first passenger to pass through Ellis Island. Megan's initial post is here. Megan has another post here, and Joe Beine has an Annie Moore web page here.

Megan has done enough research to determine that this Annie Moore did not marry Patrick O'Connell and live in Texas. The news reports at the time vary (see Megan and Joe's posts) - one reports that her parents names were Matt and Mary, who lived at 32 Monroe Street in Manhattan at the time. One article says that the brothers who sailed with her were Anthony and Philip, another says the brothers were Tom and Joe.

This is truly finding a needle in a haystack. Some obvious opportunities for research include:

1) Find the Moore family in the 1900 US census to get a sense of the family structure (including brothers given names) and the location they lived.
2) Find a marriage record for Annie, and thereby get a husband's surname
3) Find a newspaper article about Annie's marriage, and thereby get a husband's surname.
4) Find a death record for an Annie Moore (maybe she never married)
5) Find Annie and her family in the 1910, 1920 and 1930 census.
6) Find Matt Moore and his family in the 1910, 1920 and 1930 census.
7) Follow the brothers in the 1910, 1920 and 1930 census.
7) Find a death record for Annie and/or her husband
8) Find an obituary for Annie and/or her unknown husband in a newspaper
9) Find an obituary for Matt Moore and/or Mary Moore to determine if Annie is still living and where.
10) Find obituaries for the brothers.

There are a number of comments at Megan's first site, including a researcher who has searched the Social Security Death Index using the given name Ann* and the birthdate 1 January 1877 - he found 18, which could be searched in the census and other records; of course, she may have died before SSDI records.

I, probably along with many others, have searched the 1900 census records online on both Ancestry (at the FHC) and HQO (at home) for the Matt/Mathew/Matthew Moore family, concentrating on New York City, and have come up very empty. I also could not find the brothers Anthony or Philip in the 1900 census of the right age. To understand the magnitude of the problem, there were several hundred Ann* born in 1876-1878 in Ireland in the 1900 census just in New York.

Who did she marry? Steve Morse's web site has search pages for Bronx, Queens and Kings County NY brides from 1871 up to 1937 (they don't cover all years), but the records before about 1905 don't list the groom's names. There were 6 marriages of Ann* Moore in this index between 1892 and 1900, and 20 between 1892 and 1920.

Did she die before she married? Steve Morse also has a search engine for New York City deaths 1891-1948, which lists 6 Ann* Moore who were born between 1876 and 1878. There are 11 Matt/Mathew/Matthew Moore who died between 1892 and 1948. It would help to have a birth year for Matthew Moore.

What have you searched for? What would you search for? Put on your thinking caps. Add to my list! Have FUN!


Lee said...

I would love to solve the mystery, but alas... I would add these to the to-do list:

1. The brothers should have registered for the World War I draft.
2. Someone with access should try to locate Annie's and her brothers' birth records in Ireland, County Cork. That should certainly solve the question of who her parents are.
3. Again, someone with access, should check the 1892-1894 New York City directories to see who lives at the address identified in the article. Even if it doesn't list a Moore, the family may have been boarding with another family.
4. The parents came over several years before Annie, Anthony and Phillip, so perhaps there is a record of their arrival at CastleGarden (.org?).
5. Is it possible the family decided to go back to Ireland?
6. When searching the census, keep an open mind. Sometimes when neighbors or family friends gave the answers, they assumed much.

These questions, in addition to those you raised in your post, come to mind. I wish everyone luck!

~ Lee

Randy Seaver said...


Excellent suggestions and pointers.

C'mon everybody, give us some feedback here - what would you do?