A Needle in a Haystack


I’m continuing my search for a needle in a haystack, with the family name “Wood” on it.  So here I am documenting my investigation. My great-grandmother Bertha Wood (William) Mitchell’s father was Frederick Wood, born in Burke, New York, 1841. I know from a census that his parent’s were both born in Vermont, but have little other information about him, other than that he was a farmer. Naturally.

So how do I track down these nameless Vermont ancestors? When did they move to New York? To start with, since Frederick was born in Burke (West Chateaugay originally) in 1841

A survey of Ray’s Place (town histories) sometimes reveals names of prominent residents in the town’s history. Chateaugay mentions a William Wood there by 1834, while the history of Burke mentions a Mrs. Fred Wood (bingo) and a Mrs. Lydia McMillan as a surviving descendants of Joel Ancirews of Smith, Vermont. So these are clues to consider, or at least rule out. Ray’s Place histories of Chateaugay and Burke were written in 1918, so the towns are named accordingly. When I turn to the early census records of Franklin County, NY, however, I do not find a Burke, only Chateaugay, Burke being then West Chateaugay. Here is a list of the names Wood the 1810, 1820, and 1830 censuses.


Wood, Daniel           Chateaugay
Wood, Joseph           Chateaugay

Aaron Wood Chateaugay, Franklin, New York
Ezra Wood Chateaugay, Franklin, New York
Samuel T Wood Chateaugay, Franklin, New York
Silman Wood Chateaugay, Franklin, New York
Willis Wood Chateaugay, Franklin, New York

A Gazetteer of the State of New York, from 1843, contains a general 1840 census stating Chateaugay’s 2,824 inhabitants. Incidently, it also says that 720 of these residents were employed in agriculture (the Woods were farmers). Town profiles of the time are also given. But I think I’ll have to go to FamilySearch.org  and put in my list of names, beginning with the 1830 and 1820 names (though 1820 is probably a shot in the dark). While I’m doing this it is important to remember that from 1790-1840 only the head of household is listed in the census. Since the Town of Burke was formed in 1844 from the Town of Chateaugay so I still will need to look at Chateaugay records until my search goes into later years, providing Frederick Wood’s parents actually still lived there then, which in all likelyhood they did unless they were deceased.

Another sources for me would be to locate the Vital Records of Franklin County, New York to find the birth record of Frederick A. Wood. His parents’ names would be recorded on this record. If successful, I may even find a marriage record. If I cannot find a marriage record, the best bet would be to find the names of Wood in the 1840 census and search for the couple’s names in marriage records for the state of Vermont. Thus the haystack.

There are many Woods in Vermont and New York. So wish me luck!



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