Thursday, January 29, 2015

Searching for James Braithwaite Meldrum in Texas

My husband and I are planning a road trip to Texas in the next couple of weeks. He'll be meeting a friend to go birding and I am looking forward to 3 or 4 days of research time in central Texas. Last Fall I spent a week at the Family History Library focusing on my father's lines, but couldn't figure out what happened to my great-great grandfather, James Braithwaite MELDRUM.

James was born in Leeds, England on 15 Nov 1840, the second of six children of David MELDRUM and Elizabeth BRAITHWAITE. His older brother, William, had died 4 months earlier, having lived just less than a year. I have a copy of his birth and christening records.

The family emigrated to the US between 1847 (reported in 1900) and May 1849 (when daughter Catherine was born in New Jersey). shows a David Mildrum, b. ca. 1819, occupation = grower, as arriving in New York on 5 March 1849 (Source: Irish Immigrants: New York Port Arrival Records, 1846-1851). Unfortunately, it is just an index, so I can't tell for sure if this is the correct person/family.

In any event, the Meldrum family settled near Easton, Pennsylvania, and stayed there until the mid-1860s, when they moved to Pittsburgh. Father David worker primarily as a gardener and landscaper.

James B. Meldrum enlisted as a private in Co. D, 1st Infantry Regiment of Pennsylvania on 20 April 1861 for a period of three months. He then re-enlisted on 16 September 1861 in Co. A, 47th Infantry Regiment of Pennsylvania for three years. Records found at the National Archives suggest that he deserted on 24 January 1863 at Key West, Florida.

James apparently returned to the Easton area, as he married Nancy Maria STARK on 29 August 1866 in Easton. In 1867 he is listed in the Pittsburgh City Directory (as is his father) and he is enumerated in Ward 20 of Pittsburgh in 1870, along with his wife and two young sons. Another son and a daughter were born before the end of 1873 in Pittsburgh. James Meldrum, gardener, is listed in Pittsburgh city directories in 1870, 1876 and 1877. There is a Declaration of Intention filed 17 Feb 1873 and Petition for Citizenship dated 3 July 1876 in the District Court of the US for the Western District of Pennsylvania for a James Meldrum. (I am not positive this is the same James Meldrum, as there was another one in Pittsburgh at this time, but he was a tailor.) He then disappears from Pittsburgh records.

The 1880 US Census lists James' four children with their remarried mother in Williamson County, Texas. I found only one deed mentioning James in the microfilmed deed records of Williamson County. On 7 March 1878 James and Nancy sold a lot in Taylor to A. Bisang. I did not find any listing for when they purchased this property. 

What's curious is that the David Meldrum Bible lists James as dying on 15 March 1876.

But it also says James was age 37 when he died, which he could not have been in 1876. My suspicion is that he died 15 March 1878, barely a week after he sold the property in Taylor (originally called Taylorsville).

I hope to find records in Williamson County to confirm his 1878 death. There should be guardianship records for his 4 children, who were all minors in 1878. None have been microfilmed by the Family History Library. I also hope to find the deed record for when David purchased the lot that was sold in 1878.

I'd also like to know more about his widow's other two husbands. She married a man named A. T. Minor on 7 Jan. 1879 in Williamson County, but I haven't been able to find any records for A. T. (not even his full name). She then marries Frank J. Tomkins around 1885, probably in Houston, Texas (definitely not in Williamson County), but is living alone again in 1900. I don't know exactly when she died, but hope to learn that.


No comments:

Post a Comment