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Digital Subscriptions > Family Tree > Family Tree December 2017 > The Fifth Avenue Connection

The Fifth Avenue Connection

Sue Hassett knows all about the pleasures of unexpected findings when tracing ancestors’ lives, but this time she was totally unprepared for what lay ahead down the research path


The twists & turns of a family tale

Number 275 Fifth Avenue, the premises of Isaac’s tailoring business in New York. This line drawing was taken from Isaac’s book, a digitised copy of which was found on
This photo of Isaac circa 1916 is taken from US passport applications at

Surprise discoveries are the joy of family history. Early in my research I was drawn to my 2x great-grandmother, Sarah Rose Walker. Not only did she lead me to a small Somerset spa in the family, but she also formed a human link between two significant male ancestors, both of whom were a family historian’s dream come true, providing boundless opportunities for investigation. However, I was unprepared for where my delving would lead.

The two men in question were Isaac Walker, Sarah Rose’s cousin, and her eldest son, Alfred Willis, who was my great-grandfather. Both men were high achievers who led remarkably full lives. Further digging on my part produced a more materially substantial connection between the two men in the shape of an elegant property on New York’s prestigious Fifth Avenue. I couldn’t have been more astonished!

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About Family Tree

Come on, it's time to roll up your sleeves, leave the pleasant pastures of the 19th century, the birth, marriage and death records, and the census - and trace your family lines further back in into the past. This is your chance to explore new records, stretch your research and revel in the lives and times of your Georgian, Stuart and even Tudor ancestors.