I love the rush of receiving new information on a line that had been stalled!

Last week, I connected with a cousin from my Maternal Grandfather’s PHELPS line. Our common ancestor is my 3rd great-grandfather James Phelps. James was born about 1844 in England. He married Hannah HARTLAND in New York City in 1872 and they raised their family in Bergen and Essex Counties, New Jersey.

The “new” cousins reported that James’ parents were Joseph and Hannah Tyler Phelps, who settled in Philadelphia upon their arrival from England with their many children. I am most appreciative of this new information, as I know nothing of his family other than his father’s name was Joseph. However, without seeing what records my cousins used to ascertain this information, how could I be confident that our James belonged to this Philadelphia family?

Patience might be a virtue, but it certainly is not one of mine. I (literally) could not wait to renew my research on this line and have been working enthusiastically on trying to prove this relation.

I reviewed all my previous research on James to see if there was anything that would link him to this family. The earliest record I have for James is his 1872 marriage record which does not state his parents’ names. Census records show the family in New Jersey, with James working in a lock factory and as a metal pattern maker (this is a “key” piece of information!) James’ death certificate only lists his birthplace as England, his father’s name as Joseph and his mother’s name as Unknown. His obituary contains the same limited information, and does not mention any siblings.Advertisement from the 1867-68 Philadelphia City Directory.

Conflicting census records state James’ year of immigration as 1847 and 1865. My earlier attempts at locating his arrival (focusing on New York ports) were unsuccessful. By extending the search to Philadelphia, I located an 1852 arrival of a James PHILLIPS, age 6, with his mother Hannah and siblings. The father Joseph Phelps had arrived in 1851. Census records show this group in Suffolk, England in 1841; Warwickshire in 1851 and Philadelphia in 1860. But is this “my” James?

The Philadelphia City Directories for 1861 through 1868 lists both Joseph and James Phelps at the same address and with the same occupation of Lock Smith. Advertisements in the same publications extends their scope of work to Silver Plater. By 1870, Joseph is still listed in the city directories, but James is not.  During the same time frame that this James Phelps leaves Philadelphia,  my James Phelps is getting married in New York City. I think this is looking good!