19 January 2015

Matrilineal Monday: Apolina Morrill’s parents discovered

Apolina Morrill is one of my husband’s immigrant ancestors. Until recently she was a dead end. I had only known her as Apolina. It was not until Pennsylvania made the death certificates easily available, that I knew who her parents were. My goal this year, concerning her, is to confirm her parents and learn more of Apolina, the wife of Charles Coursault.  

Her – and Charles Coursault’s – children are:
  1. Julia b. June 1885 ß hubby’s grandmother!
  2. Catherine (Katie) b. June 1887 marr George Bonner; daughter Lillian
  3. Leon (Leopold) b. January 1890
  4. Francis Prosper b. April 1892 marr Esther b. 1892; son Elmer b 1915.
  5. Marie b. August 1894
  6. Anna b March 1899
  7. Helen b 1902
All I knew to start with was what I learned from the Census records.  

Reviewing Census Records
1920 Census
Apolina is now 57, widowed and living in a rented home on Frankford Avenue with three children, a daughter in law, and a step grandson. Apolina now states she immigrated in 1871 and was naturalized in 1880. This is different than her response in the 1900 Census.

1910 Census
Already a widow, she was living on Brown Street with seven of her children and one grandson. Living at home are Julia, Catherine (married three years but no note on where husband is), Leopold, Prosper, Maria, Anna, and Helen. Catherine’s only daughter Lillian also lives there. Apolina states she has eight children, all living. 

1900 Census
She was born in October 1862 in England. She immigrated in 1880, having been in the US for the last 20 years. She married Charles Coursault 17 years prior, which would be 1882 or 1883. They had seven children, all of whom were still living in 1900. They lived on Green Street in Philadelphia. 

That gave some great springboards but no much to write down quite yet. Hence, time to be resourceful and creative! 

City Directories

1918 City Directory
Apolina is listed as the widow of Chas E. (Charles Edward). She owns 1039 Frankford Avenue. Also listed at that address are Francis and Leopold, both laborers. 

Death Certificate for Charles
Often spouses are included on death certificates. Charles left Apolina a widow in 1909 (he was murdered), however his death certificate simply says that he is married. It does not mention to whom. His parents names are not included either. The informant, who is often a family member, in this case happens to be the undertaker! 

Maiden name confirmed on death Certificates of children
  1. Julia – Her son Uncle John was the informant. Spouse is listed as Morgan Deyoe and her father is listed as Charles Coursault. However, Uncle John only knew his grandmother’s first name is Apolina and she was born in England. No maiden name is provided.
  2. Catherine – Her son Joseph was the informant. Catherine Coursault Bonner died on 27 May 1960 of arteriosclerotic heart disease. Joseph lists her spouse as George J Bonner and her father as Charles Coursault. Mother’s maiden name is however listed as “unk” – unknown.
  3. Leon – did not find one for him.
  4. Francis Prosper – finally! Francis died on 7 August 1946 of chronic myocarditis. His informant is Mrs. Bonner. This would be his sister Catherine. She provides that his late wife is Esther and names his parents: Charles Coursault and Apolina Morrill. Finally, a maiden name for Apolina!
  5. Maria – married Charles Blackman but I could not find her death certificate.
  6. Anna – married a man named Raymond but I could not confirm his last name nor could I find her death certificate.
  7. Helen – married Frank Falcon. Her death certificate also identifies her father as Charles Coursault and her mother as Apolina Morrill from England! The informant was Francis Coursault, her brother.
My goal however is not just to confirm her maiden name but also to determine who her parents are. Knowing now that she immigrated 1870 or 1871, I searched immigration records on Ancestry.com. She would have been seven or eight when she immigrated from England. 

I found an Apalina Morrell, age 7, arriving on 9 May 1871 in New York, New York. She arrived on the Great Western from Liverpoll, England. Her destination was New Jersey. She came with her father Isac (a 34 year old grocer), her 33 year old mother Mary and three sisters: Lavina, 6; Emma, 4; Isabella, 3; and infant Rowland. The transcription reads Apalina Morrell but the handwriting is tight and small. Judging by the other similar letters on the page, I am pretty confidant that this is my Apolina Morrill.  

Isaac Morrill, his wife Mary, and their children appear on the 1880 census further confirming Apolina’s parents. Apolina is a 17 year old button maker. They live on Market Street in Philadelphia. Her siblings are: Emma, 13; Bella, 11; John, 9; and Mary, 3. Little Mary is the only one born here in the States. She was born in Pennsylvania. This creates three questions: 1. Where is Lavina? 2. Is John and Rowland the same person? Did they simply not go to New Jersey? 

Closing Note
I accomplished two thirds of my goal today! It took me longer to compile this post than it normally does but I was driven to continue and now, I am glad I did. I confirmed Apolina’s maiden name is Morrill and learned her parents are Isaac and Mary Morrill. While I did not learn much else about her parents, I do feel accomplished!


Matrilineal Monday is a genealogical prompt of GeneaBloggers. 
© Jeanne Ruczhak-Eckman
Locations listed are located in Pennsylvania (USA), unless otherwise noted in post.