Friday, November 4, 2016

Did Josephine (Sievert) and Harry J. McNeill Move to Cleveland?

Josephine Sievert was the ninth child of Vincent Sievert and Susanna Raduntz. She was born 16 Oct 1871 in Joliet, Will County, Illinois.[1] By the time she was a teenager, she was working as a seamstress.[2] She lived where her family at 1148 N. Hickory until her marriage to Harry J. McNeill on 26 Feb 1900.[3] Here is an image of the marriage license and certificate.

1900 Marriage Record for Harry J McNeill &
Josephine Seavert in Joliet, Will Co., Illinois

They were married early in the year and I expected to find the couple living together in the 1900 census in Joliet. However, I could only find one couple who matched most of their statistics in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio.[4]

1900 U.S. Census, Cuyahoga Co, Ohio for Harvey J. McNeill

right side of the same census record of Harvey J. McNeill

So let’s analyze this entry to decide whether this couple is the same couple who married in Joliet. The 1900 census was conducted on June 1. The entry for Harry and Josephine was done on the 9th of June. This was a little over three months later. So it was possible that they moved to Cleveland. We’ll look at several pieces of information.

Name: One conflict from this census was the spelling of Josephine’s husband’s first name. Here he was called Harvey J. and was Harry J. on the marriage record.  The middle initial and the spelling of the surname matched between both records.

Birthdate/Age: It stated that he was born June 1877 and was 23 years old, though it appears to be crossed out and 22 put in. He probably was born in the later part of June and has not had his birthday yet. The marriage record said he would be 23 years old on his next birthday. Josephine’s birthdate was listed on the census as Oct 1876 and that she was 24 years old, with the age crossed out and replaced with 23. The marriage record gave her age at her next birthday as 24. So this information agrees with the information on the marriage record. However, there is a baptism record for Josephine from the St. John’s Catholic Church which gave her birthdate as 16 Oct 1871 and her baptism as 21 Oct 1871.[5] This is a conflict. If this date was correct, then Josephine would have been six years older than Harry. It is quite possible that she lied about her age to make herself closer in age to Harry.

Marriage status and date: They were both listed as being married and the length of time as 5/12 of a year, or 5 months. If married in February and counting from February to June, that could be counted as five months.

Birthplace: They both stated as born in Illinois, the same as the marriage license.

Occupation: The rest of the information on the census gave “Harvey’s” occupation as a superintendent at a steel mill and that they were renting a house. On the marriage record, he was a gas maker. According to the “Old Occupation Names” at the Hall Genealogy Website, a gas maker was a real occupation.[6] Coal was heated to make gas to be used for lighting, heating, or powering a gas engine. It is possible he would have the skills to work at a steel mill.

Information that supports this is the same couple that were married in Joliet:
·         They were a newly married couple that have been married just five months.
·         Harry/Harvey’s age and birthdate matched the marriage record.
·         His occupation was similar though not identical.
·         Both gave Illinois as their birthplace.

Conflicting information:
·         He was called Harry in the marriage record and Harvey on the census.  Harry could be a nickname for Harvey.
·         Josephine’s age on the marriage and census records conflict with her birth certificate and baptismal records. However, it is possible that a woman might lie about her age if she was considerably older than her future husband. Here, she was six years older.

My current thinking about Josephine and her newly married husband, Harry J. McNeill, is they moved to Cleveland, Ohio shortly after their marriage. They were not in Joliet in the 1900 census, nor did Harry McNeill appear in city directories in Joliet in the years just before 1900 nor just after. He appeared in city directories in Cleveland after 1900.

Let me know what you think.

[1] State of Illinois, Department of Public Health, Division of Vital Statistics, Certificate of Birth, Will Co, 1871, no. 1330, Josephine Sievert, FHL 1992139.
[2] W.F. Curtis & Co's, Joliet City Directory, (, 1889 p 366, Josephine Sievert.
[3] Will County, Illinois, Marriages, no. 19082, 1900, Harry J. Neill to Josephine M. Seavert; FHL film 2342847.
[4] 1900 U.S. census, Cuyahoga Co, Ohio, pop. sched., ED 86, Cleveland, sht 7a, p 40 (stamped), fam 137, Harvey J McNeill, digital image, (, citing National Archives and Records Administration, T623.
[5] Baptism of Josephine Sievert, Church of St. John the Baptist, Joliet, Illinois, 1871, Josephine Sievert, Bk 2, pg 48, no. 70.
[6] “Old Occupation Names,” Hall Genealogy Website ( : accessed 4 Nov 2016).

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