Mary (Gonyea) Devins: Death Certificate

As mentioned in an earlier post, I had made a significant breakthrough in my research of Mary (Gonyea) Devins, my 3rd-grand aunt and sister of my 3rd great grandfather Frederick Gonyea. Through I had been able to track down her obituary, which confirmed she did exist and lived to be 98. Not only is this remarkable given that I only had one previous mention of her in my grandparent’s original research, we had no dates, locations, or really proof. Only a name, written down by my grandparents when they interviewed my 2nd great grand-uncle Alberton Gonyea back in the 1980s.

Yesterday in the mail I received from the City of Plattsburgh, NY a copy of Mary’s death certificate. This was significant for a couple of reasons:

  • For the first time, I have direct evidence that her parents are Louis Gonyea and Salome Larocque (Sally LaRock).
  • I have a specific birthdate now (October 10, 1842), which is oddly 8 years earlier than what her gravestone mentions.
  • It mentions both her and her father as being born in Redford, NY. This is the earliest evidence I have of the Gonyea family in Redford (1842) and given the conflicting reports of where Louis was born, potential evidence that he was born in Redford. This potentially moves back the date of the Gonyea family migrating from Canada to the United States to the early 1800s instead of the mid 1800s that was my original theory.
  • Unfortunately Salome Larocque is listed with an unknown birth location. Very interesting that her mother’s name was written in the french spelling, that continues to validate that Salome Larocque and Sally LaRock are the same person.

Unfortunately tracking down Mary and Louis’ actual birth certificate may near be impossible. New York is infamous for having poor record keeping, especially in the northeastern portion of New York that is referred to as the black hole of genealogy. New York didn’t have mandated statewide records until the 1880s and very few records if any records exist from before then. The only reason I was able to trace my family back to Redford was thanks to death certificates mentioning Redford, old family genealogies that reference that town, and the Assumption of Mary Parish records for the local church in Redford, which only go back to the mid 1850s but thankfully recorded my 3rd-great grandfather’s birth and baptism.