Sunday, April 13, 2014

Ragu Challenge: 3-2-1 Cite

Dear Myrtle ( issued a challenge designed to encourage genealogists to realize that "we are bigger than our genealogy programs." Instead of habitually plugging data into our programs, the challenge encourages us to use put the concepts we've been learning in Mastering Genealogical Proofs into practice. She calls it the Ragu Challenge: 3-2-1 Cite. Use 3 documents, write 2 paragraphs (at minimum), and tell about 1 event, citing our sources. Ragu because "it's in there." What follows is my attempt at this challenge.

I never met my grandfather, who died when my father was a child. Family lore says he was an orphan born in Brooklyn who lied about his age to join the Navy, and had an older sister, Helen Carman, who lived in California, now deceased. My research challenges some of those assumptions, but supports the basic facts and answers the research question, When and where was the birth of Albert H. Pastoor, who was living in Peekskill, New York, in 1940? Who were his parents?

Although more documents and paragraphs will be required to fully answer my research question, to meet this challenge, I've decided to use the following three documents:

1. The U.S. Navy personnel records for Albert Herman Pastoor;

Compiled service record, Albert H. Pastoor personnel file, service no. 1521327, (discharged 1921); Official Military Personnel Files, World War I; Enlisted Personnel, 1885 - 1951, United States Navy; National Personnel Records Center, St. Louis; photocopies supplied by Center without citation. Above photo, from the service record, is the affidavit of Mrs. Helen Pastoor Carman, sister to Albert Herman Pastoor.

2. The marriage certificate of Albert Pastoor and Margaret Westerman;

New York Borough of Brooklyn, New York City Department of Health, marriage certificate 15863 (1920), Pastoor-Westerman; Municipal Archives, New York City.

3. The birth certificate of Andrew Pastor;

Borough of Brooklyn, New York, birth certificate no. 1312 (1898), Andrew Pastor [Albert Pastoor]; Municipal Archives, New York City.

All three documents are original records. The Navy personnel records contain Albert's original enlistment papers of 7 Jun 1915. His sister, Mrs. Helen Pastoor Carman, signed an affadavit stating she was his sister and guardian and that Albert H. Pastoor was born 30 Jan 1898 in Brooklyn, New York. Elsewhere in the document, the names of his parents were listed as unknown. Although the information here is primary, meaning it is eyewitness information, I use it guardedly; Helen was older and likely present at her brother's birth, but she would have been very young and her information would therefore be questionable. However, the fact that it is a notarized affidavit, sworn to before the United States Navy officer performing the oath, gives it a bit more weight. This document provides direct evidence of the birth of Albert Pastoor.

The second document, the marriage license and certificate, is dated 17 Nov 1920. Albert H. Pastoor and Margaret Westerman were married in Borough Hall in Brooklyn by the deputy city clerk. Although the clerk officiated the ceremony, Albert is likely the informant, making the marriage information primary; but his birth information is secondary since he couldn't have been an eyewitness at his own birth. However, the information agrees with that on the Navy records. This document also names his parents as Albert [the surname Pastoor is implied] and Anna Kolb. His sister, Mrs. Helen Carman, is a witness to the marriage. This document provides direct evidence of the birth of Albert Pastoor.

The third document, the birth record, at first glance appears to be unrelated because of the different given name of Andrew instead of Albert. However, Andrew "Pastor" is the third child born to Anna Kolb on 30 Jan 1898 in Brooklyn, NY. Albert "Pastor" is named as the father. The date and location of birth, as well as the names and ages of the parents agrees with that given on the marriage license. The physician who attended the birth signed the certificate as the informant, presumably with information given to him by the mother and/or the father, making it eyewitness information or primary information about the birth.

There is an obvious conflict with the given name of this child. Further research (beyond the scope of this challenge) has revealed that the parents, Albert "Passtoor" and Anna Kolb, had a daughter who was born and died in childhood. She was born before Helen, which is in agreement for Albert (aka Andrew) as the third child named on the birth certificate. The 1900 census information (see below) for the Albert Pastor household, living at the same address as that of the 1898 birth record, is also in agreement concerning the name and date of birth of Albert (son), the names of his parents, and the number of childen born to the mother. No other candidate for Andrew Pastor has been found. This birth record provides direct evidence of the birth of Albert Pastoor, aka Andrew Pastor. (The conflict in the 1900 census of the given name for Helen as Engalena has been resolved and is for another challenge.)

1900 U.S. census, Kings, New York, population schedule, New York City, Borough of Brooklyn, enumeration district (ED) 166, sheet 15A, p. 190 (recto), dwelling 89, family 289, Albert Pastor household; digital images, ( accessed 6 Nov 2013); citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T623, roll 1,050.

All documents are in agreement with the birth date and location of Albert Pastoor. Although his enlistment papers state that the parents are unknown, the other two documents naming the parents are in agreement. It may be that in the enlistment papers, Albert and Helen omitted the names of their parents for personal reasons. Reseach has revealed that their mother had died six months before Albert joined the Navy, and their father had died four years earlier in an institution, under what would be considered shameful circumstances at the time. They likely did not want to reveal such personal information so soon. Since they obviously knew the names of their parents (as shown on the 1920 marriage certificate), it calls into question the reliability of the Navy affadavit despite the agreement of its information.

The conflict regarding Albert's given name is more of a mystery. It is possible that the name was recorded incorrectly on the birth record because of a misunderstanding (German was their native language) or it is just as likely that they decided to call him after his father and neglected to change the name on the birth record. I think the fact that my grandfather used the same given name as the father named on the birth record and marriage record lends credibility to the idea that he was named after his father.



  1. Hiztorybuff,

    Great blog post and entry into the 3-2-1 Cite Challenge.

    I have one question and it is probably not that important, but, Do you have documentation on the relationship between Albert and Helen. The folklore about being an orphan is why I am asking the question. That question, for me, is to help confirm who Albert's parents were.

    Thank you,


  2. Thank you for your feedback, Russ. The only documentation I have for the relationship between Albert and Helen is Albert's obituary (flimsy, I know) which states she is his sister. That's the only direct evidence; the rest is indirect. I've been unsuccessful, so far, in my search for Helen's first marriage record. I'm hoping it names her parents like Albert's did. I have a similar given name dilemma for Helen--her birth name was Angelina, as recorded on the 1900 and 1905 censuses, her birth record and a ship manifest for the family. In all records dated 1914 or later, she uses the given name "Helen." I know this is the same family because my still living uncle met his now deceased Aunt Helen in 1979, a meeting I have a photo of. The hunt continues. BTW, I really enjoy your posts about Evidentia and FTM.

    1. This is beyond the scope of this challenge, but have you been able to find any of them in the 1880 Census or any City Directories or other 1890 alternate resource ?


  3. Well, all the children were born after 1890; Anna (mom) arrived in the U.S. about 1890, so none of them would be found in the U.S. Albert (Sr.) arrived in 1867 in New York at age 17, was naturalized in 1889 in Rhode Island (after living there for 8 years according to the papers) and was living in Jersey City, NJ in 1890 when he married. Although he should be on both the 1870 and 1880 censuses, I have been unable to locate him. He doesn't appear in any city directories in the known locations at the dates he should be there until he appears in the Brooklyn directories 1896-1901. From that point, I have a pretty good timeline, knowing his whereabouts every couple of years until his death in 1911. The mystery is what did he do for the 22 years he was in this country prior to his marriage? And where is he? My current theory is he was living in another household with a surname that is too mangled to find. :)