Research dead end for Mary F (or Frances Mary) Comings, her husband and son

+2 votes

This is not of earth-shattering importance in the grand scheme of things, but I am not fond of missing puzzle pieces. I am still relatively new at this, and am hoping someone out there can direct me to some research tricks and tips that might be able to fill in the missing info.

First... here are my two primary information sources:

Cummins, Albert Oren. Cummings genealogy ; Isaac Cummings, 1601-1677 of Ipswich in 1638 and some of his descendants. Montpelier VT: Argus and Patriot Printing House, 1904, page 443. Viewed online at

Moarr, Rev. George. The Cummings Memorial, A Genealogical History of the Descendants of Isaac Cummings, An Early Settler of Topsfield, Massachusetts. New York: Published by B. F. Cummings, 1903, page 335. Viewed online at

I have created a Wikitree record for Mary Frances Comings Van Zandt (Comings-180). I have not created one for her husband because I can't verify his first name, nor can I find any dates.

Here are my notes on what I have (and have not) found so far. I should mention that in all of my searches, I have tried all of the various Comings/Cummings name spelling variations, with and without middle names and initials, every combination I could think of.

The Isaac Cummings genealogy lists her name as Mary F. The Cummings Memorial lists her as Frances Mary.

The Isaac Cummings genealogy lists her husband as Irwin W. Van Zandt and their son as Everett Chandler Van Zandt. Google searches for Irwin W. Van Zandt returns no other results, and no results can be found for the son either.

The Cummings memorial lists her husband as Irving W. Van Zandt. That source does not list their son.

Irwin/Irving's parents' names are not listed in either source.

Mary/Frances's parents are Chandler Comings and Frances Palmer Comings, and are well-documented in the available records.

The 1870 US Census at has a near-match, with Susan, Mary F and "Francis" "Commings" (mother and 2 daughters) in the same household in New York City. The given ages of Susan and Mary do not quite match their dates of birth in the Isaac genealogy (or the Cummings memorial). ("Mary F" is the person I am trying to document.) This record would seem to indicate that Mary/Frances was not yet married in 1870.

The 1940 US Census at lists a family consisting of Mary, Irving, and Edward Van Zandt, but the given ages are not consistent with Mary's date of birth as given in both genealogies, so this is likely not the same family. Other than this and the 1870 census record mentioned above, US Census records do not seem to have any helpful information.

Findagrave memorial 88420534 is Irving W. Van Zandt, from Rochester, NY, 1854-1911, buried in Mount Hope Cemetery in Rochester, with parents and siblings listed but no spouse.

Another Irving W. Van Zandt died in San Francisco in 1811 (birth year unknown) and is buried in Colma in San Mateo County. No relatives at all are listed in his findagrave memorial. With two graves on opposite sides of the country, it would be a stretch to believe that these two men could be the same person.

No birth records, marriage records, nor death records have been found for any of these people.

Edited to add, apparently by some keystroke combination I hadn't tried before, I found her baptism record (New York). Her birth name was Mary Frances Comings and she was born in 1846, not 1847. I also found  a death record (but no death certificate image) from Chicago, dated 22 Apr 1937, husband Irving W. Van Zandt. This at least adds confirmation that that is his actual name, but still does not connect him to either of the men by that name found at findagrave.

Second edit. The plot thickens. I found a newspaper article from Chicago, dated June 26, 1904, wherein a man named Irving W. Van Zandt accused his wife of engineering a plot to have him declared insane and committed to an insane asylum. Chicago is significant because that is where Mary Frances died in 1937... but the wife in the newspaper article was named Elizabeth. Is it possible they divorced and he remarried? No way to tell. And we're still no closer to filling in all the blanks. But if anyone wants to join the fun, here's the URL to the article. Just close the clipping thingy and scroll up to the article directly above the clipped one.

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WikiTree profile: Mary Van Zandt
in Genealogy Help by Carolyn Comings G2G6 (7.9k points)
edited by Carolyn Comings

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