Monday, March 22, 2010

Fearless Females - Day Twenty

Yeah, yeah, a few days late on this one too...

From The Accidental Genealogist: "Is there a female ancestor who is your brick wall? Why? List possible sources for finding more information."

I have a variety of female ancestors who are brick walls. But one of the more recent walls (one I hit so hard it knocked me off course for a while) is my great-great grandmother, Helen Coolidge Adams (1849-1929).

Helen married William Adams (1840-1888) on 14 May 1867 at Madison Square Church in New York, New York. I know from a marriage notice in the New York Post (accessed via that she was the daughter of "the late Henry Coolidge".

Other genealogical sources she appears in mention her as "Helen Coolidge" -- no daughter of whomever, from wherever. Example from A Genealogical History of Henry Adams, of Braintree, Mass., and his descendants; also John Adams, of Cambridge, Mass., 1632-1897.
"William, b. Jan. 31, 1840. m. May 14, 1867, Helen Coolidge. He d. at Searsdale, N.J., 14 July 1888."

So I know her father's name was Henry, and that as of her marriage in May 1867, he was deceased.

I also have copies from Descendants of John and Mary Coolidge of Watertown, Massachusetts, 1630. In this genealogy (p. 188) there is listed:
"Henry (Coolidge), b. Oct. 17, 1815, a merchant of New York; m. at Ridgefield, Conn., Nov. 3, 1847, Margaret Hawley, b. 1824; d. 1906. Of four children known William, Henry, Helen and Fannie..."

But I'm not sure this is the right family.
1. In reading the content of the above entry, first of all I'm not sure if Henry died in 1906 or his wife, Margaret, died in 1906. If Henry, this is the wrong family since Helen's father died prior to 1867.
2. But, Ancestry has a U.S. Federal Census Mortality Schedules Index entry for a Henry Coolidge, a merchant born in New York, who died in 1860 at 44 years of age in Fairfield County, Conn. The birth year fits the Henry Coolidge married to Margaret Hawley, as does the profession. Further, Ridgefield, Conn., where Henry Coolidge and Margaret Hawley were married is in Fairfield County.
3. 1870 Census. Lists Helen Adams as the wife of William (with 2 young children) in Scarsdale, New York on 21 July 1870. But there is also a Helen Coolidge listed with her mother, Margaret, and siblings William, Henry and Fannie, in New York, New York on 12 July 1870. Could be the same woman visiting her mother and family? Attempts to find the Coolidges in the 1850 or 1860 censuses have not turned up anything (and I'm not sure it'd tell me anything, anyway).

So I'm trying to prove or disprove the relationship between Helen Coolidge Adams and Helen Coolidge, daughter of Henry and Margaret Hawley Coolidge. Where to look next? Marriage and/or death records for Helen Coolidge Adams. Probate records for Margaret Hawley Coolidge.


  1. Hi. I came across this post as I was googling my grandmother, Helen Coolidge Adams who was the daughter of Thomas Adams who was the son of Helen Coolidge Adams and William Adams. I'm sure you've figured out by now that they are the same (Helen Coolidge/Helen Coolidge Adams.) I actually have her ancestry all the way back to the 1600s.

    1. I have - thank you! I connected with another descendant of Helen's a number of years ago who's been extremely helpful in filling in details for me. Thanks for taking the time to comment all these years later!