Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Finding Dominic's Children


In this month's quest to see whether there is any family connection between my uncle DeMilt Eggert's grandfather, John Eggert, and the renowned chronometer maker and founder of the New York firm of D. Eggert, we've been stuck in 1850 New York City. New York City, because that was the earliest location where I could find John Eggert's family in census records, and 1850, because that was the earliest enumeration in which all members of a household were listed individually by name.

The problem lies in the fact that John, having been born about 1819, by that point in 1850 had been recently married to his eighteen year old bride Catherine, and was living in the household of his new father-in-law, ship's captain John Peckner. For that 1850 census entry, there was no way to connect John Eggert to his own parents. Thus, even locating a census record for Dominic Eggert would have told us nothing.

Taking a research step which could prove risky, let's reverse our search direction. Instead of trying to push backwards in time, locating a record showing John Eggert's father, let's jump to Dominic Eggert and see whether we can reconstruct a family line for the founder of the Eggert business.

To get us started, we have one small clue—one unfortunately coming to us without any documented support. For that detail, we'll need to return to the March 2017 discussion about the Eggert chronometer on the forum of the National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors. An entry in response to the original query on this forum thread mentioned that because Dominic Eggert was losing his eyesight, in 1848, he turned over the helm of the business to his son Charles.

Once again, owing to that census issue in 1850, we are left with the research problem of finding Charles and his household separate from that of his presumed father. How are we to know we even are pursuing the right Charles Eggert? In cases like this, I try to make an educated guess and start following the trail, looking for clues which will either stop me in my tracks or bid me pursue further.

In Charles' case, we once again encounter a scenario much like what we've already stumbled upon with the newly-married John Eggert. We see a twenty four year old man entered as "Chas." Eggert, along with an eighteen year old woman, presumably his bride, named Martha A. They were living in the household of an older woman named Martha McCormick. Interestingly enough, below this woman's name was an entry for a man half her age, named Robert McCormick, whose occupation was listed as ship's chandler.

Following those clues to other documents, it turns out that someone in New York City named Charles Eggert married someone named Martha A. McCormick in 1849. Moving to records a decade later, we can find the 1860 census showing a couple by that name, with children named Charles, Ada, and William Henry Eggert. While the elder Charles is listed as a watchmaker, a confusing additional detail shows the family no longer living in Brooklyn, New York, but in Millburn, New Jersey.

Not to worry, though, for we've seen that location pop up in our journey to trace this Eggert family before. Looking around on that same 1860 census page, it was easy to spot the name of the household next door: D. Eggert, a man whose occupation was listed as watch and chronometer maker.

While this looks like a promising candidate for father and son, what we need is not only more proof to connect the two men—and to make sure they are the right pair—but to broaden the family circle to see who else should be included. After all, if Charles doesn't lead us to more information on the other children of our Dominic Eggert, perhaps one of the other children—if there are any—may provide the help we need.

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