When you do family history research there are a lot of these folks. They show up on a census or bible record as being in the family but then you don't know what happened to them. When the next census was done, ten years later, they aren't listed. I probably have hundreds or thousands of these people in my records.
Thomas Fulford was the youngest son in the family of Col. Thomas and Susan Fulford and was born in 1840. On the 1850 and 1860 census he was living with the family in the Straits area of Carteret County, North Carolina and then he disappeared.
In my records I just showed that he died sometime after 1860 but had no other information about him. With the Civil War just after that, I assumed he had enlisted and died or just moved away by the time the 1870 census came out.
Recently I obtained some family estate records from the period and one of them was a $20 promissory note to Ralph Martin signed by Thomas Fulford on September 18, 1860 in New York City.
The note was very unusual and I had no information about him or other family members living in New York and wasn't sure why this would be in the family records. I decided to check Census and City directories in New York for him.
He was not and there was only one Fulford listed who had been born in North Carolina, a distant cousin Captain William Hawkins Fulford. Captain W. H. Fulford was a Sea Captain who operated out of New York and sailed literally around the world many times in the 1860-1870s.
I had newspaper records of him regularly delivering cargo to Carteret County, North Carolina around this same time and wondered if Thomas Fulford had hired on as a member of his crew and that is how he ended up in New York. It was certainly possible since they were close to the same age and Capt. Fulford's father and siblings lived in the area.
So if Thomas Fulford was living in New York in September 1860, what happened to him?
I started checking the death records which were available online and found a listing for a Thomas Fulford on October 11, 1860. It didn't have any details other than a name and date so I contacted the City of New York to see if they had death certificates from this period.
I was surprised to receive the ledger below, which shows the Thomas Fulford who died October 11th was born in North Carolina and 21 years old, which matched my great uncle.
Then I noticed the second page and cause of death listed as Confluent Smallpox. It wasn't unusual for Sailors to contract Smallpox while traveling to other countries and then bring it back to port towns. Philadelphia had a Smallpox epidemic in 1860 and New York had over 2,000 cases even though effective vaccines had been available for over 40 years.
|New York City Death Certificates October 1860|
He was buried in the Trinity Church Cemetery. In the family records I found a receipt to Griffin Titus for the funeral and grave marker. The total cost was $66.00 and $21.25 was for a grave marker.
I found a New York City Historian and newspaper columnist who wrote about Trinity Cemetery and he was kind enough to respond to my email. I asked if there were records to identify the location of old graves. He had a copy of a book published in 1931 "Gravestone Inscriptions of Trinity Cemetery, New York City, New York," that listed all the legible markers.
There was one for Thomas and the marker was shown in the "Parish Ground" of the Eastern Division of the Trinity Church Uptown Cemetery.
There are thousands of graves in the cemetery and I don't know if I will ever get there to check myself but plan to try.