My great-grandfather, James C. Siegel of Schenectady, New York (30 AUG 1884 - 13 DEC 1951) was married to a Catharine Pearl Chadwick on June 30; I don't have the year and this information from a newspaper announcement my dad had. When James C.Siegel died, he was married to Frances (18 FEB 1891 - ?). James Siegel had a son named William Matthew Siegel (1 APR 1907 - 26 APR 1970). It appears Frances Chadwick was William's mother; according to William Matthew Siegel's death certificate. Is it possible she was once Catharine Pearl and then changed her name to Frances? I'm not finding very much information for either name.

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    Hi, welcome to G&FH.SE! You don't mention your sources for any of this information. If you can tell us what you already have, we can write better answers. You can use the edit link under your question to add more at any time.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Oct 28, 2017 at 3:09
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    The question and all of the answers so far assume that all the records for James Siegel from which this information was taken actually belong to one man named James Siegel, and you don't have a same-name situation here. Have you used occupation, economic status, and other identifiers to check that you aren't combining information about two different men?
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 17:05
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    @JanMurphy - that's a good point. I'd assumed that the match was good enough on age, marriage, origins etc, between the three censuses, but it may not be a safe assumption. James' occupation in the censuses is "Elec. Worker", "Express Man" and "Chauffeur / Railway Xpress" respectively. The latter two, both with Frances, still look a good match. The first may bear closer examination.
    – AndyW
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 17:21
  • @AndyW Your answer made a good crack at the census records -- the next step might be to add other record types as in Charlie's answer. One difficulty with not having a source list included in the question is that it makes it difficult to know how may different record types have been consulted so far.
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 17:27
  • @AndyW Yes, I have found the same information from those censuses years as well. The way you typed the information was helpful and I will look into that more. I'm new to this site and am learning how to use it. Sure wish I could scan information I have to show where I'm getting the information I have so far. Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.com are two I am using. I corrected the original post to state that James C. Siegel was my great-grandfather. William Matthew Siegel was my grandfather. William's son, Gary James Siegel, was my dad. Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 2:04

2 Answers 2


The best fit I can find to the people in your question are entries from the 1910, 1920 and 1930 US censuses on FamilySearch. All are in Schenectady, New York. Assuming this is the right family, we can list the most relevant-looking fields:

1910  James Siegel      Age 25   Married 3y   Born: NY  Father born: Germany
      Catherine Siegel  Age 19   Married 3y   Born: NY  Father born: NY
      William Siegel    Age  3                Born: NY  Father born: NY

1920  James Siegel      Age 35                Born: NY  Father born: Germany
      Frances Siegel    Age 29                Born: NY  Father born: Ireland

1930  James Siegel      Age 45   Marr @ 22yo  Born: NY  Father born: Germany
      Frances Siegel    Age 36   Marr @ 18yo  Born: NY  Father born: NY
      William Siegel    Age 23                Born: NY  Father born: NY

The records for James Siegel match well. The 1910 and 1930 censuses say he (first) married at the age of 23, and William must be his son with Catherine. A birth certificate (or baptism record) for William would clarify that, of course.

James is married to Catherine in 1910 and Frances in 1920 and 1930. Could they be the same person? That's more difficult. Frances' stated age rose by only seven years between 1920-1930, so at least one of those ages must be in error. Her father was born in Ireland, or in New York. Again, one of those can't be right.

The 1910 census tells us that James and Catherine married 3 years earlier, so around 1907, when James was 22 and Catherine was 16. The 1930 census says that James married at age 22, around 1907. That's a good match. It says that Frances married at age 18. If we take her age at the stated 36, then she married in 1912, too late to be William's mother. If she was actually 39, to match the 1920 census age (and the 1891 birth date in the question), then she married in 1908. That puts her closer to Catherine in marriage age and date, but there are still errors of 1-2 years. Some cause for caution, but for census entries those aren't particularly awful discrepancies.

Given the several apparent errors, it's hard to know what data to trust to reach any reasonable conclusion. Frances is a fair, but not perfect, match to Catherine, so if we default to scepticism we would start by treating them as different people.

In that case, look into the possibility that James remarried, to Frances, within a few years of William's birth. The likely reason for that would be that Catherine died some time between 1910 and 1912. Look for that record, and for James marrying Frances soon after. If the records don't exist, then that may lend more weight to Catherine and Frances being the same person with a simple name change.

In the question you give both Catherine and Frances the (pre-marriage?) surname of Chadwick - where do those details come from? Any extra records you have are worth stating by editing the question, as they could be very relevant. If they did have the same surname, that must make it more likely that they were the same person, but it's not guaranteed. For example, my tree has a man who married his late wife's niece, who had the same surname as her.

I'd note also that a William Siegel, born 1907, has 1915 and 1925 New York State census records (for Schenectady) returned in the FamilySearch search, in which he is described as "Grandson". I don't have paid access to the Ancestry.com site to see the full results, but if you do then those must be worth a look to see if it's the right William. If you can find the grandparents, and they are not called "Siegel", then you may have found Catherine and/or Frances' parents, which should help find other records.

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    1915: Head Matthew Siegel age 65; wife Minnie Siegel age 55; daughter Myrtte Siegel age 21; grandson William Siegel age 8; residing Rotterdam. 1925: Head Matthew Siegel age 75; wife Minne Siegel age 65; grandson William Siegel age 18; son Edward M age 43: residing Rotterdam. Matthew is a farmer and in 1925 the street given is R.D. 4. (1915 is blank).
    – Jan Murphy
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 17:12

Its not very likely they were the same person. Changing a first name happens once in a blue moon but changing a second name too doesn't really happen. It is more likely that your grandfather married twice.

Best bet (I don't know what site you are using) is to try and find two seperate marriage certificates, one for him to each of the women. If you can't find that, then you can begin exploring the avenue of a possible name change. I have never tried, but I'm assuming there are record offices out there for keeping track of such things.

  • I've been using death certificates, newspaper announcements, memorial books, etc. I have been using Ancestry.com and Familysearch.com and those have been a little helpful. Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 2:06

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