Philadelphia research isn’t easy. Even the maps make it hard. It’s a city between two rivers, the Delaware on the East and the Schuylkill on the West. S. A. Mitchell published a colored map with the wards identified, but for some reason did not align it with North of the top of the map. Kensington is in the lower right corner of this map instead of the top right corner where you might expect it. Gillette published a map in 1860 of the Vicinity of Philadelphia that is aligned with North on the top and East on the right, in color, and includes parts of the surrounding counties of Bucks, Montgomery and Delaware in Pennsylvania, and Burlington, Camden and Gloucester in New Jersey.
Philadelphia was a comparatively large city from the beginning of colonization in 1682, as a port city, an economic hub, and a center of government. Records might be in various sets of city, township, county, state governmental archives or private libraries, churches, or historical collections. Pennsylvania didn’t require marriage records until 1885, unlike later settled states like Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee which kept marriage records from statehood on. Church records are the best option for early vital records, marriages, births (contained in baptisms and sometimes confirmations), and deaths (contained in funeral or burial records).
Hannah E. Rush and David Conn were married in 1876 in Philadelphia, specifically January 10th in the Summerfield Methodist Church. They are found in the 1880 Philadelphia federal population census with a daughter Leola M., age 1/52 (a one week old baby). In the 1900 federal census for Pennsylvania, Hannah, Leola and Elsia a.k.a. Elsie Conn were enumerated together in Philadelphia.
Searching Ancestry‘s database of “Pennsylvania Church and Town Records, 1708 – 1985” does not reveal either Leola or Elsie Conn. However, searching this database for the surname Conn does give up some options including Elise Naomi Conn at St. John’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia.
Available From Ancestry
Following through on that search reveals Elsie Naomi Conn in the St. John’s Methodist Episcopal Church, Philadelphia, Baptisms.
Leola doesn’t show up in the Ancestry index either, however 12 images prior to the 1884 baptism of Elsie is Leola’s 1880 baptism including her parents’ names. Elsie’s baptismal record is clearly indexed, albeit incorrectly, under Elise instead of Elsie. Leola’s baptismal record is either skipped entirely or indexed under an alternate surname.
These two girls aren’t listed in Ancestry‘s database with baptismal records connected to St. John’s United Methodist Episcopal church in Philadelphia. Certainly they were both baptized and included in the handwritten records, which have been filmed, digiitzed and indexed by Ancestry. This is not a problem unique to Ancestry, but one inherent in all indexing from handwritten records on unlined pages. Reading the original records page by page or at least within the pertinent years, page by page, is obviously the answer. Remember indexing is not an exact science and indexed records provide clues. The original records may have much, much more and in this case, added the middle name Naomi and two specific birthdays to my cache of information about this family.