1902 Park Avenue Tunnel Collision

—A New Rochelle Tragedy—



Research Journal for George D. Winter

This page was last updated: Saturday, 09-Mar-2013 17:40:27 MST


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There are several questions relating to George D. Winter which still need to be answered.

Birth and Parentage

This will probably remain a mystery until I can track him from his naturalization and immigration records in the USA back to wherever he was from in Scotland. The only information as to his place of birth is Scotland with an approximate year of birth of about 1836.

On reviewing the indexes for the various censuses in Scotland as found on Ancestry.com, two people named George Winter with year of birth in the 1835-1837 year range were found in the 1841, 1851 and 1861 census indexes. One was located in Dundee, Angusshire and the other was located in Kirriemuir, Forfarshire. In the 1861 Scottish census index, the one residing in Kirriemuir had the name of George D. Winter. This is the only occurrence where the middle initial of "D" was shown for either entry. Could this be the right George D. Winter?

On the other hand, George worked for a Scotish firm that was headquartered in Dundee. So, could the other George Winter in the 1861 Scottish census have been him? There is no way right now to determine one way or the other whether he is the George D. Winter found in the 1861 Scottish census. See the Employment section below for further information about the firm in which he worked.

Additionally, on searching the International Genealogical Index – British Isles (IGI) at FamilySearch.org, a George Duke Winter was found who had been christened 22 NOV 1834 in Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland, and who had parents named James Winter and Elizabeth Duke. Could this be him and/or the second George D. Winter as found in the Scottish census for 1861? Only time and further research will tell.

May 2011: On a search of the newspapers found at Old Fulton Post Cards, I came across a eulogy for George Winter in the New Rochelle Pioneer. In the eulogy, his friend wrote that George "... was well acquainted with the father of James Barrie, the novelist, and knew the latter when he was a boy — as they were living in the same village." [Source: The New Rochelle Pioneer, published February 9, 1902; eulogy submitted to the newspaper by William K. Palmer.]

WOW! This is the first clue that I have found concerning his place of origin. According to Wikipedia, John M. Barrie, author of Peter Pan, was born in Kirriemuir, Angus, Scotland. Assuming that what Palmer wrote in the eulogy was correct, then the George Duke Winter found in FamilySearch.org's IGI is indeed the same George D. Winter who died in January 1902 from injuries in the train collision in the Park Avenue tunnel.

FamilySearch.org's web site has also been adding to their site an index of Scottish Parish Records. According to one index record for George Duke Winter, his parents were James Winter and Elizabeth Duke. I've requested the microfilm from the LDS FHL so that I can view the actual baptismal record for any additional information including the names of any siblings.

If George's marriage record in New York City to Jennie is ever found, it may either corroborate this birth location and parentage or refute it.

Next Steps:

Immigration to USA

According to the 1900 Federal Census, George D. Winter arrived in the USA in 1861. Assuming that he arrived in the USA at New York harbor, CastleGarden.org web site would have the index for the time period. However, very little information is included in their index so it is difficult to rule out anything found there. Using the Castle Garden web site, a search for a George Winter from Scotland and from Great Britain between the years 1820 and 1870 resulted in zero hits for both locations. The same search for England turned up the following two entries:

Last Name First Name Age Sex Arrival Date Place of Last Residence
Winter George 18 M 13 Jun 1857  
Winter George 4 M 5 Apr 1834 BERKSHER
 

Of the two above, the 18-year-old is a possibility. My next step will be to obtain a copy of the actual manifest to see if it includes any additional data of interest. Of course, this assumes that he arrived at the port of New York. It is also possible that he could have arrived at any of the many other ports along the eastern seaboard of the USA.

However, it appears that George D. Winter was shown in the 1861 Census for Scotland as living in Dundee. Therefore, he would have immigrated to the USA at a later date. Further research needs to be done to locate his immigration records. And, of course, he could have arrived in the USA in one of the many cities other than New York City.

Naturalization

According to the 1870 Federal Census, George D. Winter was a naturalized citizen. So his naturalization would have to have occurred prior to 1870, assuming that the census entry was accurate.

As for his naturalization, a search of the indices for New York City located on Italiangen.org's web pages did not turn up anything. Of course, they don't profess to have transcribed every record. Additionally, a search of the online index of naturalizations in Westchester County which is on the web site of the Westchester County Archives contained no one with the name of George Winter.

In the 1870 Federal Census he was living in Bayonne, Hudson county, New Jersey. It is also possible that any naturalization papers could have been filed in that state. In writing to the County Clerk's Office of Hudson County, New Jersey, I was told that they had no naturalization record for George Winter or George Winters.

Next Steps:

Marriage

He and Jennie married about 1865. This year of marriage was based on the number of years they had been married (35 years) as shown in the 1900 Federal Census. Perhaps locating Jennie's death certificate may be of help. At least it would identify her maiden name.

May 2011: In searching Old Fulton Post Cards again for Jennie Winter, I found that additional newspapers had been added and one contained an obituary for Jennie Winter which gave her maiden name as Wright.

Next Steps: Obtain a copy of her death certificate to corroborate that her maiden name was Wright. Then search newspapers of the time period to see if any notice of marriage was listed in a newspaper.

Notes: The vital records index for New York State is located at several repositories within New York state, the nearest to me is the National Archives in New York City. Since she died in Westchester county, her death certificate would have been filed with the state. [For additional repositories holding the NYS Vital Records Index, see the Upstate New York Genealogy Blog at: http://www.unyg.com/blog/index.php/2008/02/how-to-obtain-copies-of-vital-records-for-genealogical-purposes-in-upstate-new-york/]

In trying to find George and Jennie's marriage record, a search at the New York City (NYC) Municipal Archives will need to be made. According to their web site, they hold marriage records for Manhattan for the following time periods: June 1847-1848; and July 1853-1929.

Obituary

So far, no obituary has been found for George D. Winter. A more extensive search of NYC newspapers at the New York Public Library, Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, will need to be done. This library has both a finding aid on their web site and an alphabetic listing of the NYC newspapers held in their microforms room. Included in that listing is a Scottish American Journal for the years 1865 to 1925, which I plan on reviewing to learn if George D. Winter may have been mentioned in this publication.

Also check the New Rochelle newspapers at both the New Rochelle Public Library and at Old Fulton Postcards web site. The Library at the New-York Historical Society also has a large collection of newspapers including those for NYC.

Cemetery

According to the death certificate of George D. Winter, he was supposedly buried in New Rochelle, NY and a newspaper mentions "Green-Wood" as the cemetery. Could they mean the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn? If so, that cemetery has a database of their interments online but George Winter did not show up in the online database. Another possibility was the Greenwood Union Cemetery in Rye. However, on emailing them, they responded that they did not have him interred in their cemetery.

As of February 2011, I have not yet contacted each of the cemeteries located in New Rochelle to inquire as to whether or not he is buried in any of them. Further research will need to be made.

May 2011: In searching Old Fulton Post Cards again for Jennie Winter, I found that additional newspapers had been added and one contained an obituary for Jennie Winter which stated that she had been buried in Beechwoods Cemetery in New Rochelle. However, on calling that cemetery, I was told that they had no record for either Jennie or George Winter.

Next Steps: It is also possible that his wife Jennie was also buried with him when she died in 1917. A search of the NY State vital records index will turn up the death certificate number. An application to New York State for her death certificate may then identify the cemetery in which Jennie Winter was buried. [See information above under Marriage heading for information on locating her death certificate.]

So, back in November I sent an email to the Onondaga Public Library requesting that they conduct a lookup in the NY State Vital Records Death Index for the number of Jennie's death certificate. They must have been busy as they overlooked my request completely. I recently sent them a followup email asking how long it usually takes so that I could have a realistic expectation of the timing. They were very nice and apologetic for overlooking my initial request and provided me with the certificate number for Jennie Winter. But, as life is pretty hectic for me right now, I will have to delay requesting the death certificate from NY Dept. of Health for a month or two.

Additionally in November 2012, I contacted the George Davis Funeral Home in New Rochelle and asked whether or not they handled George Winter's burial. I received an email from the firm's general manager stating that he would try to look into my request. I recently followed up in January 2013 and inquired whether or not the firm had any chance to look into the cemetery location for George Winter. The general manager of the George Davis Funeral home wrote me in February 2013 and provided the names of cemeteries for those people from the train collision for whom the funeral home had records. Unfortunately, George D. Winter was not one of them. Curses! Foiled again! Oh, well, back to basics!

Probate

A search of the probate files at the Westchester County Archives needs to be made. Did he leave a will? What will the Estate Inventory papers tell me?

A review of the index for the Surrogate's Court files held by the Westchester County Archives revealed that no will had been filed. Copies of the index cards for this record group were also found on microfilm and viewed at a local LDS Family History Center.

Because George D. Winter died intestate, the Letters of Administration for George D. Winter were assigned to his son, William J. Winter, with full power of attorney to administer his assets. Also shown in the Estate Inventory papers located at the Westchester county Archives were the addresses of Jennie Winter and her two sons. Frederick was living with his mother in New Rochelle, while his brother William was residing in New York City. Little additional information was found in the Estate Inventory papers.

Civil Law Suit

So far, only a search of newspapers has been made regarding the lawsuits and the following article has been found about a lawsuit filed on Winter's behalf.

Winters Heirs Get $15,000
The New York Central Railroad Company has settled the claim of the heirs of George D. Winter, of this city, who was killed in the tunnel accident, by the payment of $15,000. Mr. Winter was seventy-one years old.

Source: New Rochelle Pioneer, published 14 Jun 1902.

What court records would be available, if any, of this settlement? Further research needs to be done. Also, will need to check court records at the Westchester County Archives.

Next Steps:

Land Deed

When did George D. Winter purchase his home in New Rochelle? When was it sold? I have never researched land purchases within Westchester county so this may be another opportunity to fill in any gaps in research.

Next Steps: Learn where deeds and property transfers are held for Westchester county, New York. I've looked at the Library Catalog for the LDS Family History Library and saw that both the Grantor Indices and Grantee Indices are availabel on microfilm at LDS Family History Centers. I'll have to request the microfilms and review them.

Employment

According to the Census, George D. Winter was employed as a dry goods importer in the 1880 Federal Census and an importer of linen in the 1900 Federal Census. How can I find out where he worked?

On searching Google, an entry was found in The Trow (formerly Wilson's) Copartnership and Corporation directory of New York City, Volume 49, page 133 (published by Trow in 1901), stating the following:

Duncan James & Co. (Dundee, Scotland) (George D. Winter, N. Y. manager) 89 Franklin
Could this be my George D. Winter? Another similar entry was found in a Trow corporate directory (page 349) published in 1890. Further research into this James Duncan & Co. will need to be done before I can determine whether or not this is a viable lead.

After placing a query about this company on the Angus (Forfarshire) Message Boards at Rootsweb, some one responded referring me to the Clan Duncan web site and a page about "The Duncans of Jordanstone & Drumfork." Not sure that it is of any help as I still don't know what that firm does. Have also emailed the clan inquiring as to whether or not they know what the firm of James Duncan & Co. of Dundee did and whether there might be any employee records available.

Meanwhile, a search on Google.com has since turned up a web link to the following directory found at the Internet Archives:

Handbook of European Commerce: What to Buy and Where to But it; Being a Key to European Manufactures and Industry For the Use of Purchasers and Merchants Seeking Direct References for Business Purposes. . ., by George Sauer [London, England: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington, 1876].
On page 70 [page 118 of 526] of the directory I was able to learn that the firm of James Duncan & Co. was a manufacturer and exporter of linen. So, this confirms what was found in the Trow city directory for NYC and that this is the same George D. Winter! Yipee!




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