Monday, November 16, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday - Caroline Lee

A very special thank you to Richard Boyer for permission
to post his photo
I haven't posted on my Lees since August. I haven't really had time since school started up again. When I got a notification from FindAGrave that a photo request had been filled and the kind man gave me permission to post his photo I had to take time out of school to get this post up.

I don't know much about Caroline "Carrie" Lee. She never married and I've posted clippings before of her visiting my Quirk/Lee family in eastern Pennsylvania. Carrie is part of the Pittsburgh Lees that I still haven't been able to fully figure out where they belong in my tree. The best I can make out is that Carrie and her siblings were cousins to the Quirks (grandchildren of Edward Lee). Carrie's father was Thomas Lee, but I have yet to figure out how he relates to my Edward.

Caroline was born on September 11, 1856 in Pennsylvania. She died on October 12, 1922 and is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Pittsburgh. Her tombstone looks very similar to those of her parents. I'm guessing that they are buried nearby, but I don't know for certain. Carrie died of pneumonia.

Still, I know that they're related somehow. I just haven't unearthed that special bit of information that will solidify the connection. They visited. My family saved an obituary clipping of one of Carrie's siblings. Perhaps a Pittsburgh Lee will find this blog and be able to fill in the blanks. Maybe something else will turn up. Maybe. Maybe. It's best to cling to hope when you're still hitting that brick wall. If you keep hitting it eventually you'll win.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Amanuensis Monday - Working on my Brown Ancestors

The Plain Speaker,
21MAY1937, pg18
After a recent breakthrough in my Barrett line I decided to work on my Brown line. They are connected. Mary Barrett married Thomas Brown Sr. in 1901 and they had 6 children: Marian Veronica, Thomas Joseph Jr, Edward John Sr, Walter, Alice, and Hubert.

One of the reasons I'm working on my Brown line is that, well, it needs work, but also because my cousin, Nancy O'Donoghue, once told me that we were related to coach Hubie Brown. I've looked at articles on Hubie Brown and I have no doubt that she was right, but I need to start collecting the proof as to where he belongs. As I was doing that I came across more article on Rev. John A. Brown who I blogged about previously.**

So what does the priest, John Brown, have to do with Hubie Brown? John was Hubie's uncle and my first cousin twice removed. I also realized that while I had posted on Reverend Brown before I never updated my family tree. So continuing on with this post is making me rectify that situation.

"Rev. John A. Brown

Tomorrow morning at St. Peter's Cathedral in Scranton, John A. Brown, of Hazleton, will be ordained to the holy priesthood with an impressive service in which a large number of monsignor and clergymen will participate. Rev. Brown is a son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Charles Brown of this city, and is a nephew of Patrick Brown, of West Hazleton and Thomas and Neil Brown of this city, and comes from one of the oldest Hazleton families.

After graduating from St. Gabriel's high school. Mr. Brown entered St. Mary's College in Maryland and later followed his theological studies at St. Charles' College, Columbus, Ohio, and completed his preparation at Mt. St. Mary's College in Emmittsburg, Maryland.

After tomorrow's ordination, Father Brown will come here to celebrate his first mass at St. Gabriel's church on Sunday morning, May 23 at 10:30 and among the officers of the high mass will be his first cousin, Rev.. Father Charles A. McElwee, of Scranton, also a former Hazleton resident."

The Thomas mentioned in this article is my great grandfather, a child of Neil and Nancy Brown nee McCoy. John's father, Charles Sr., is my 2nd great uncle.

The Standard Speaker
21JUL1969, pg22
"Msgr. John A. Brown, a former city resident, who was elevated to his present position in the Roman Catholic Church on July 9 by Pope Paul VI during ceremonies conducted by the Bishop of Raleigh, N.C., is the brother of Mrs. Gertrude McLaughlin, of Alexandria, Va., who attended the ceremony; Mrs. Helen Cassidy and Mrs. Esther Cassidy, both of Elizabeth, N.J.; Leo Brown, of Cumberland, Md., and Charles Brown, of Elizabeth, N.J.

Msgr. Brown also has two sisters living locally, Mrs. Genevive (sic) Hooper, 585 Arthur St., and Mrs. Lawrence Gallagher, of Harwood. He is a son of the late Charles and Anna (LeGrande) Brown.

Msgr. Brown is pastor of St. Eugene's R.C. Church, Asheville, N.C. and Chaplain to the Catholic Daughters of Asheville."

This second article helps me fill in some of the details of my Brown ancestors even more than the first. My great grandfather isn't mentioned in it. This was because Thomas Sr died in 1955, but the article doesn't mention his other aunts and uncles so even if Thomas had still been alive he most likely wouldn't have been mentioned. Since John never married, being a priest and all, the sisters listed are easy to place in my tree. I placed husbands with the sisters mentioned in the article except for Mrs. Lawrence Gallagher. John had six sisters in my family tree and only five are mentioned here. The wife of Lawrence Gallagher would be either Ann (born 1900) or Mariam (born abt 1912).

A quick look in the Pennsylvania Death Certificates online shows me that Ann Brown died on February 19th 1919. She never married so unless there's another sister hiding out there, Mariann is Mrs. Lawrence Gallagher. I did find it a bit odd the she is listed by her husband's given name and not her own. Her other sisters are noted by their own given names. Could Mariam's husband be the only one still living? Possible, but not the subject of this post.

It's wonderful that the post lists all of those localities because apparently the children of Charles and Anna Brown nee LeGrande escaped Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Knowing where they might be can help me find other information. So now that I've entered all of those tidbits into my tree I can rummage around looking for marriage dates, obituaries, children, etc.

How does it pertain to Hubie? Well, Hubie was born in Hazleton, Pennsylvania and moved when he was about three years Elizabeth, New Jersey. Oh...and his father's name was Charles. Yes. These two clippings are a great start to working on my Brown side and seeing where Hubie will fit in.

** Tombstone Tuesday - Who Is Rt. Rev. John Brown
** Sunday's Obituary - A Genealogical Angel Sent This to Me

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Happy Veterans Day!

(This is a repost from previous years to thank those that have served in the military and to remember those veterans in my family as well. I feel like I'm forgetting someone in my family below. I'm sure it will pop into my mind some time after posting!)

I want to take a moment to say thank you to everyone who has served honorably in our Armed Forces.  Without our service members past and present our country would not be where it is today. We would not have gained our independence, we would not have unified a divided country, we would not have stopped the atrocities of 2 World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan. There are many conflicts not mentioned which do not make light of the sacrifices that servicemen and women made in them. Sometimes the sacrifice was in time away from family and long hours. At times it was witnessing the horrors of those wars or even succumbing valiantly to them.

Not everyone serves their country as a Veteran does and not everyone can or should. You are unique, respected and given a burden that many would not be able to bear. Whether you served many months or many years in our Armed Forces makes no difference. You served. Thank you!

I'd like to now pay tribute to my family members who have served (I hope I didn't miss any!).

SGT James E Trunzo - USA


Sunday, November 8, 2015

Mystery Monday - Mystery Solved

It all started with a short clipping of a death notice in the Hazleton, Pennsylvania newspaper. It alerted me to my 2nd great grandfather's niece who I didn't know existed and to a sister I didn't know existed.

The Plain Speaker, 22AUG1903, pg 1

Now I can finally put Mrs John Dever (Nellie/Ellen Dever nee Reilly), her mother Margaret Reilly nee Barrett, and Mrs. John Mulhearn (Ellen Mulhearn nee Barrett) in my family tree.

Excerpt from Patrick Barrett's death certificate

I knew from Patrick's death certificate that his father's name was Edward Barrett and his mother was Mary Merrick. I head never heard of the surname Merrick before, but I was hesitant to add the names to my tree because the information was second-hand and given when someone was grieving. I needed more before including it.

While Nellie Dever's mom was only referred to as Mrs. Charles Reilly in her obituary I found her death certificate online, but it wasn't as clear cut as I would have liked.

Excerpt from Margaret Reilly nee Barrett's death certificate

Her daughter (also named Margaret) gave the information for her death certificate and it seems the elder Margaret's husband's name found it's way into the place of "father" on the certificate. I'd have dismissed this certificate entirely if it wasn't for seeing her mother listed as "Mary Merrick." Seeing that is what led me to believe that the father's name was most certainly wrong.

So there I was trying to see if Patrick Barrett and Margaret Reilly nee Barrett were siblings. The assumption is that they are, but you need more than assumptions. I went through all of the news clippings I could find on the Reillys and Devers and didn't find anything else I could use to solidify the connection. I went to sleep knowing that I was missing something. Something that was obvious. I couldn't sleep. I spent too much time thinking through this problem. When I woke up the next morning I knew what I needed to check.

In the initial clipping that led me to the niece of Patrick Barrett I had completely overlooked the other sister...Mrs. John Mulhearn. I didn't know her first name, but if my deductions were right she'd be another sibling to Patrick and Margaret. I found her death certificate. Her name was Ellen. Just like her niece Nellie/Ellen Devers nee Reilly.

Excerpt of Ellen Mulheron nee Barrett's death certificate

Their similar names was great and all, but I was interested in the information on her parents to finally make or dispel this theory. I found what I was looking for.

Her parents were indeed Edward and Mary Barrett nee Merrick. The information was given by what appears to be a nursing home. They were obviously given all of her information by her family. I also have a county in Ireland now. County Mayo. Who knows if it's right, but it's a new lead to take. Hopefully I'll finally be able to jump the pond!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Medical Monday - Breast Cancer in the Family

Bridget Barrett nee Farley's cause of death
I don't know of anyone in my family that has had breast cancer. At least I didn't. I found the death certificate for my 2nd great grandmother, Bridget Barrett nee Farley, and on it was her cause of death..."exhaustion from cancer of breast."

According to this she was diagnosed in January 1905 and she didn't die for a year and a half. I don't know how they attempted to treat cancer in the early 20th century. I'm not sure that I really want to research that. It's pretty horrific even today when we have chemotherapy and radiation treatment and surgery. 

During that time that she had cancer she actually went to Philadelphia for eye surgery. I wish I knew what was wrong with her eye(s). Not because it's really important, but I wonder if it was really severe...whatever it was. Was it so severe that it needed to be done? Would she have been blinded without it? Or was it minor and had it done believing that she was going to beat the cancer? Was the cancer so advanced that it caused this problem with her eyes? That's why I would like to know. 

The Plain Speaker, 28APR1905, pg5
Of course I sit here comfortably in 2015 and look back at medicine in the early 1900s and cringe, but I'm sure at the time they probably felt about their medicine the same way we feel about ours. What will my descendants think of our medicine in another century? Will they look at our cancer treatments and think they're barbaric and primitive? I hope so, because if they think that at least they'll have something better.

The Plain Speaker, 09MAY1905, pg5
Walter Barrett went to visit his mother in Philadelphia after the surgery. Those things aren't really reported in newspapers today. As a researcher I'm glad that they were reported. If they hadn't been I wouldn't have known about her having this surgery. This courage that I can at least hope some of which has passed on to me and mine.

These sorts of articles make family history more personal. More than just dates and names. They give us stories.

Walter was also the informant on Bridget's death certificate. Patrick, her husband, died two years after her. I don't know why he wasn't the informant. Perhaps he was too grieved. I imagine they all were.

Excerpt from Bridget Barrett's death certificate
I've seen far too many death certificates for my ancestors that have no parental information on them. It can be frustrating...very frustrating. On Bridget's I've got her parents listed as Hugh and Alice Farley nee Fagan. While I have to take it with a grain of salt (this is second-hand information after all), I do see a pattern in the names. 

Bridget and Patrick had six children: Edward, Mary (my ancestor), William, Hugh, Walter, and Alice. According to Patrick's death certificate his parents were Edward and Mary. Bridget's parent were Hugh and Alice. Their children were named after their parents it would seem.

These were all the revelations I got from Bridget's death certificate and those two small clippings. I have no obituary for her yet. hasn't added the Hazleton papers for 1906. I'm hoping that 1906 isn't one of the years permanently lost. I found out where in Saint Gabriel's cemetery she and Patrick are buried this summer and I was finally able to create FindAGrave memorials for them. I just seems like an obituary would help to close out the story.

I take this time to remember someone that must have been a strong and brave woman and I'm proud to be your granddaughter.

Monday, October 26, 2015

My 5th Blogiversary And The Story That Started It All

"The Royal Charter off Moelfre"
Image used with permission of E. D. Walker

(This post and the anniversary of this shipwreck is the reason I began blogging five years ago.  It's now 156 years since my 3rd great grandfather lost his life in this shipwreck. I've found more cousins since then and sometimes blogging is slow when I'm in school, but the blog and I are hanging in there!)

October 26, 2010 is the 151st anniversary of my great-great-great grandfather, Manus Maurice Boyle's, death in the shipwreck of the Royal Charter. He worked in the coal mines of northeastern Pennsylvania. He and his wife, Alice Monaghan, were both Irish immigrants and longed for a better life for their two daughters, Bridget Mary and Anna. He left Pennsylvania in September 1856 to go to Australia to mine for gold in hopes of a better future for his family. He was returning to his family from Australia in the autumn of 1859. The Royal Charter would have taken him back to Britain. No one knows what ship he was to board to return to America. No one knows what fortunes, if any, he was returning from Australia with. During the last leg of his journey to Liverpool a hurricane struck. There was no advanced warning. None existed prior to that date.

The winds that raged over 100 mph changed from East to North/Northeast and the bay (Moelfre Bay) which Captain Taylor had hoped would shelter them became the instrument of their demise. The anchors that had been weighed, snaped in the first hours of the morning of October 26th and the ship was repeatedly thrown against the rocks until it split and sank. Of more than 480 passengers and crew only 41 survived. No women or children were saved.

The valiant efforts of one of the crew, Joe Rogers, and the inhabitants of the Moelfre coast were what enabled even those 41 to be saved. The storm had caused damage to one of the Moelfre homes and as residents were repairing the roof in the early hours of the morning they saw the ship in peril. They woke the town and 28 local men made a human chain in the violent waters of the bay to attempt to rescue those aboard. Joe Rogers took a line from the ship and swam to shore, being turned back in the violent waves of the storm at least 3 times before reaching the men on shore. The rope was used in an attempt to bring those from the vessel ashore.

Sadly, many of the passengers on the ship jumped or were thrown overboard. The bulkiness of the clothes of the time coupled with the fact that many had money belts and pockets filled with gold inhibited their efforts to the deadliest of degrees. Had they abandoned their garments and treasure many more may have survived.

There was over 322,000 pounds (British monetary unit) of gold aboard the ship. This was the amount insured back in 1859 and does not include the gold the passengers kept on their persons. I do not know the equivalent in today's currency the gold would be valued at, but it would obviously be substantially higher. The large amount of money combined with the rumors of "good fortune" that surrounded the town after the wreck led to the shipwreck being called the Golden Wreck.

The village church of Saint Gallgo became the collection point for the bodies. The Reverends Stephen Roose Hughes and his brother Reverend Hugh Robert Hughes paid the local inhabitants to bring the bodies to the church, a difficult trek up the rocky shores to the church made monetary remuneration the only way to persuade the locals to take on the grim task. They saw to the burial of those killed and personally answered over 1000 letters they received begging a response regarding loved ones. The stress from this caused the Reverend Stephen Hughes' life to be cut short. He died a few years later.

The church at Saint Gallgo still exists today and each year remembers those lost in this tragedy. Monuments stand to remember those lost. A distant cousin of mine Debbie Fay Buch and her husband, Josh Buch, placed a memorial stone at Saint Gallgo Church in August 2004. It reads:

Manus Maurice Boyle
Never Recovered from the Royal Charter
Placed by the Fay Family
Hazleton, PA USA 2004

I don't sit around depressed over the fact that this is the anniversary of my ancestor's death. What would have happened had he come home with gold from Australia? My 2nd great grandmother, Anna Boyle, may never have met her husband, Martin Blanchfield, and I would never have been born. Sometimes good can come from tragedy. People's fortunes can improve or worsen causing them to make decisions that determine the outcome of their history and sometimes other people's histories. It does sadden me to know that Manus was never to hold his youngest daughter, Anna. She was born 2 months after he left for Australia. It saddens me to know that his last thoughts were most likely of a family that he would not see again in this world. Or perhaps his last thoughts were of a determination to survive and get back to them. A determination that was matched by the ferocity of the circumstances in which he found himself. It saddens me knowing that he did not die the "peaceful" death of drowning for the majority of those lost were broken on the rocks of the bay. The passengers and crew of the Royal Charter died so close to shore that even today the wreck can be seen below the surface of the waters from the bay's shoreline. Still there, resting peacefully below the water.

It is not everyone that can say their ancestor's demise was written about in books. I have read two that write of the Royal Charter. One by Alexander McKee, "The Golden Wreck: The Tragedy of the Royal Charter" is out of print, but it tells of the voyage from Australia to it's wreck, the recovery of the remains of the victims and the trial of the crew that survived. I have read the account of the shipwreck written by the great Charles Dickens (yes, I said Charles Dickens wrote about this tragedy!) in his book "The Uncommercial Traveller" (only about the first 20 or so pages of the book are dedicated to this wreck. It's a series of 34 books and this is in volume 24. The entire series tells of Dickens' travels as he IS the Uncommercial Traveller).

I take this time today to remember a man I never knew, but love nevertheless. As a genealogist it can be hard to convey to those that do not research their ancestry that while we may never have met these names that appear in our family trees, we feel a closeness that defies explanation.

Rest in Peace, Grandpa. You will be remembered by your many descendants.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Medical Monday - William Reilly's Death

The Scranton Republican, 04SEP1913, pg16
Last Monday I posted about the death of Margaret Reilly nee Barrett. In that obituary her grandson, William Reilly, was mentioned. He died about a week before she did. What a horrible time for that family.


Young Man Claimed by the Grim Reaper

Death claimed William Reilly, aged seventeen years, son of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Reilly, of South Main street, early yesterday morning. He had been ill ten months.

Besides his parents, one sister, Margaret, survives. The funeral will be held Friday morning at 9 o'clock. A mass of requiem will be sung in St. Mary's church.

Burial will be made in St. Mary's cemetery."

The obituary doesn't quite match the death certificate exactly. It had that he was just a few months short of his seventeenth birthday, but it's not a big difference. He was still too young to be taken from his parents.

Excerpt of William Reilly's death certificate
William was born on November 4th 1896 in Avoca, Pennsylvania. He died on September 3rd 1913. Aside from some possible misspellings his cause of death was "valvular disease of heart (mitral)." You could stop there if you chose to. There was something wrong with his heart...but you have to look further and ask yourself why did this teenager die because of his heart?

The secondary/contributory cause of death is "chorea - rheumatism". That's not as in arthritis, but as in rheumatic fever.

I did a little research to confirm that it was rheumatic fever and because I hadn't heard of chorea before. The first thing I though of was cholera, but needless to say that wasn't right.

Chorea is derived from the Greek word meaning to dance, but they were used to describe the irregular, jerky movements that some developed who had acute rheumatic fever. Rheumatic fever can develop from complications from strep throat or scarlet fever. Rheumatic fever, aside from the chorea-type movements, can also lead to heart damage/valve problems and heart failure.

So it would seem that William had gotten sick months earlier (as mentioned in the obituary) and this would be the outcome. Strep? Scarlett fever? Doesn't matter much. There were no antibiotics to treat it with and eventually his heart gave out.

It reminds me of Little Women when Beth got scarlet fever. She survived but remained weak for the rest of her short life. How many people this must have happened to. How many it still happens to in areas of the world without easy access to penicillin.

Rest in peace, William. May you be remembered forever.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Sunday's Obituary - Charles Reilly

The Scranton Republican, 16MAR1900, pg8
Continuing on with the Reilly connection. Charles Reilly was the father of Nellie/Ellen Devers nee Reilly. I recently posted about Nellie's death. She died in 1903. In a short clipping about her death it mentioned that she was the niece of my Patrick Barrett and a Mrs. John Mulhearn. I don't know who the latter is, but I've been able to discover that her mother's maiden name was Barrett. Sadly, her mother isn't mentioned by name in either of these clippings.

"Mr. Charles Reilly, a highly respected resident of this town, died at 10:45 yesterday morning at his home on Spring street, after seven days' illness of pneumonia. The deceased was in excellent health (sic) until last Thursday morning, when he was stricken in the mine. The family physician was called and administered to his patient, who showed symptoms of pneumonia. Mr. Reilly grew worse rapidly and despite the skill of the physician, he succumbed. Mr. Reilly moved to Avoca with his family from Hazleton fourteen years ago. He filled up the measure of duty as a faithful husband and kind father. Beloved and respected by all his associates in the walks of life, his departure is sincerely mourned. He is survived by his widow and four children, Charles, Edward and Margaret Reilly, and Mrs. John Devers, all of this place. Funeral will be held tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 10 o'clock with a requiem high mass in St. Mary's church. Interment in St. Mary's cemetery."

I can only imagine how miserable working in the mines was as he came down with pneumonia. The 1918 flu pandemic did have many cases of pneumonia that came on suddenly with death following a few hours later, but I doubt this was the case. Charles hung on for about a week. What was the state of his lungs after working in the mines? Did it make him more susceptible to ailments of the lungs like bronchitis and pneumonia? I can only imagine. The second obituary is very similar to the first.

The Wilkes-Barre Record, 16MAR1900, pg9
"The death of Charles Reilley (sic), which occurred yesterday morning, was a great surprise to his acquaintances, as it was not generally known that he was ill.  Last week he returned from work complaining of a severe cold, but paid little attention to it previous to that time. It developed into pneumonia on both lungs and his symptoms were of such a character as to occasion alarm among the members of the family and they at once had him fortified with the rites of the Church. Mr. Reilley (sic) was a pleasant, agreeable citizen, always interested in the welfare of his associates and ever anxious to minister to the comforts and pleasures of his family. He removed his family to Avoca from Hazleton about twelve years ago and during that time he made many friends but few enemies. Besides his wife, he is survived by two sons - Charles, a member of the council, and Edward of the school board; also two daughters, Mrs John Devers and Miss Margaret, at home. The funeral will take place on Saturday morning at 9:30 o'clock. Interment will be in St. Mary's Cemetery."

While the obituaries are similar the second one answers at least one of the questions I had. He had apparently been plagued by a cold which he ignored until it took a rather severe turn. Hardly surprising that he would feel the necessity to continue working when sick. Perhaps if he had taken it easy initially he may have never gotten pneumonia. Not really an option at that time. It was also a time without antibiotics.

No point in dwelling on what could have been. What is interesting to read were the bits about his sons. Charles Jr. is listed as a member of "the council"...whatever that was...government? Church? Apparently it was noteworthy. Edward was a member of the school board. With those bits of information I may be able to dig up some of information on them on Naturally, not much was said about his daughters. Disappointing, but not surprising.

While I do wish they had stated how old Charles Sr. was it isn't overly significant in my research. Perhaps I'll come across it in future research. Charles has a memorial on FindAGrave, but no tombstone picture yet.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Amanuensis Monday - Margaret Reilly nee Barrett

The Scranton Republican, 09SEP1913, pg16
Still delving into that Reilly/Barrett/Devers connection with my Barretts. From what I can figure Margaret (Mrs. Charles Reilly) is a sister to my Patrick Barrett. Her obituary here is frustrating to say the least. Her name isn't mentioned. I only know it's her from previous resources.

I'll admit to getting a little exited when I saw that the obituary mentioned her being born in Ireland. I figured that if they were going to go that far, they'd give a little more information, but no. Hopes dashed. They didn't even mention that she had originally resided in Cranberry, Pennsylvania...a small residential area near Hazleton. There's also no mention of her daughter, Nellie/Ellen Devers nee Reilly, who died 10 years before.

When searching I saw the death notice for William Reilly. The grandson mentioned in the post. I didn't think much about it because I was focused on Margaret. When I came across her obituary and it mentioned William's death shortly before I made sure I clipped that article too. After all...they all belong to me even if I don't have the solid connection yet. I'll get there.

"Prominent Woman Goes to Her Final Reward

AVOCA, ept. 8.

The death of Mrs. Charles Reilly, one of Avoca's oldest and most esteemed residents, occurred at the home of her son, Charles Reilly, on South Main street, Sunday night.

A grandson, William Reilly, died last week and his demise is believed to have weakened her condition, which was weakened owing to her advanced age.

Mrs. Reilly was born in Ireland and resided in Avoca for the last thirty years. She is survived by two sons, Charles and Edward, of Avoca, and one daughter, Margaret, of Scranton.

The funeral takes place Wednesday morning at 9:30 o'clock. Services at St. Mary's church and interment in St. Mary's cemetery."

Margaret is buried in St. Mary's Cemetery in Avoca. She has a FindAGrave memorial I created after finding this clipping.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Sunday's Obituary - Nellie Dever nee Riley

The Plain Speaker, 22AUG1903, pg 1
Remember when I posted about my mysterious Lees in Pittsburgh? I knew they were related, but I hadn't been able to figure out how they were related. Well, I still don't know, but now I have another mystery. This time in my Barrett line.

Patrick Barrett is as far back as I can go in my Barrett line. Sort of. Patrick died in 1908 and his death certificate listed his parents, but there's no guarantee that it's right. Perhaps knowing that his parents are listed as Edward Barrett and Mary Merrick (a name I've never heard in regards to my family tree...ever) may help me with this new mystery in the future. Who knows?

I know the Barrett in this clipping is my Patrick Barrett. The 1900 census shows my Patrick and his wife, Bridget, living in their home on East Diamond Avenue. I have three Mulhearns in my family tree, and one of them is a John, but I don't have much information on him. Perhaps this obituary that I found on will be able to shed some light on that.

"Death of Former Cranberry Lady.

Mrs. John Dever, of Avoca, a niece of Patrick Barrett, of East Diamond Avenue, and Mrs. John Mulhearn, of South Pine street, died last night. Mrs. Dever was formerly Miss Nellie Riley, of Cranberry. The funeral will take place at Avoca on Monday morning."

After finding this link I jumped back on to to try to find other articles about this mysterious woman from the Hazleton and Wilkes-Barre papers. I found some that may or may not be right, but then I discovered another on my Nellie and it shed a little light on how she died and where she's buried, but nothing on how she connects with my family.

The Wilkes-Barre Record, 25AUG1903, pg 12

Mrs. John Devers died on Saturday morning at the home of her mother on Spring street. Deceased was well known and highly respected by all who knew her. Her husband, mother, two brothers, one sister and four children survive, the youngest being 3 days old. The funeral will occur this morning with a requiem mass at St. Mary's Church; interment in St. Mary's Cemetery."

So the surname has an "s" in this article. Nothing to get all worked up about. So I went on FindAGrave to see if I could find St. Mary's Cemetery and discovered there was one in Avoca. I also discovered that there was a memorial for Nellie also showing her maiden name as Reilly (Riley). It has her birth as being in Hazleton in December 1864 and it has her linked to a memorial for her husband passing on March 3, 1906. How sad! Those kids were so young! Under her bio was a transcription of the clipping from the Wilkes-Barre Record and a statement by the author saying that she was the daughter of Charles and Margaret Barrett Reilly.

The Wilkes-Barre Record, 27AUG1903, pg 12

The funeral of Mrs. John Devers, whose death occurred on Friday morning under very sad circumstances, took place on Monday morning from her late home on Spring street. The remains encased in a handsome casket, were viewed by a great many sorrowing friends. A requiem mass was celebrated in St. Mary's Church by Rev. J. Lynch. The pall bearers were John Flannely, John Sheridan, James Walsh, John Gallagher, James Lavin, Edward Dunleavy."

All of this is very exciting, but it isn't proof. It is information that could possibly lead me to sources that will help me confirm or refute the information. I can also contact the FindAGrave contributor that posted the information and we can hopefully collaborate to figure this all out. I have no siblings for Patrick Barrett. Just the possibility of Edward Barrett and Mary Merrick being his parents. Now I have a potential sister in Margaret and possibilities of finding others, one of which may lead me to their parents!

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Mystery Monday - I Need a Clear Set of Eyes for This

1880 US Federal Census Patrick Barrett household

I need a sanity check. A pretty big one too. The above is from the 1880 U.S. Federal Census. It's my Patrick and Bridget Barrett nee Farley with three of their six children. They were living in Cranberry, Luzerne county, Pennsylvania. In 1900 they would be living on East Diamond Avenue (with all six kids) in Hazleton, Luzerne county. Hazleton and Cranberry are close to each other so this change in address isn't such a stretch. This clipping also helps connect them if there was any doubt...

The Plain Speaker, 22AUG1903, pg 1
I was supposed to share this clipping in a post published yesterday, but I apparently left it in "Draft" mode so it never went out. It will go out for next Sunday. I've got school-brain right now! Anyway in that upcoming post I have this clipping and deduced that this Miss Nellie Riley (Reilly) was most likely the daughter of Charles and Margaret Reilly nee Barrett. I've confirmed the Charles part, but Margaret is always referred to as "Mrs. Charles Reilly." Women's lib came to late too help me with that.

So I'm trying to connect Nellie with Patrick. She's his niece so if Margaret Reilly nee Barrett is her correct name, then I've pretty much got it down that Margaret is Patrick's sister. So I went looking for Charles, Margaret, and Nellie in the 1880 census. I found a Charles, Margaret, and Ellen (her FindAGrave memorial lists her as Ellen Devers nee Reilly) and they live right by Patrick and Bridget. Only one family separates the two...

1880 US Federal Census Tidley/Reilly household pg 25A
...but it just couldn't be easy because Charles and Margaret are listed as having the surname "Tidley" and the kids are listed as Ellen, Charles, Magie, Mary, and Edward. Also next to Ellen it has her relationship as "S. Daughter" which I would assume to be step-daughter, but she is listed as his daughter in his obituary and all those other kiddos are listed as well except for Mary. Perhaps she had passed away by then.

The above is at the bottom of the census page and the family continues over onto the next census page where Patrick is also listed...

1880 US Federal Census Tidley/Reilly/Mirick household pg 26B

So here we have a "S. Son" (guessing step-son) by the name of Martin Casina (ish). Below that is Charles' mother-in-law, Mary Mirick. Confused?

OK so on Patrick Barrett's death certificate his parents are listed as Edward Barrett and Mary Merrick. I hadn't heard the name Merrick before, but then I found Margaret Reilly's death certificate and her parents are listed as Charles Reilly and Mary Merrick. Her daughter, Margaret, supplied the information for the death certificate and as we know Charles Reilly was her husband not her father.

So Mary Merrick pops up on both Patrick Barrett's and Mary Reilly nee Barrett's death certificates. When I found the 1880 census records aside from the step-daughter and step-son thing I was convinced I had found them. Then I started thinking about Mary Merrick. Wouldn't her name be Barrett? Why would they have her down by her maiden name in the census? I would say that perhaps she remarried, but why wold Merrick be listed as her maiden name on her death certificate? Am I trying to fit a square peg into a round hole? It's certainly not conclusive, but there are too many coincidences in all of this.

Thoughts? Because right now my mind is a bit muddled.

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Sunday's Obituary - Mary Frances Villers...nee Villers

Clipping from family
Yes...Villers nee Villers, but I'm not going there completely right now. I'm ramping up to it just stay with me.

"Mrs. Louis Villers Dies Suddenly Friday

Mrs. Louis Villers, 76, 1470 E. Mason St., died suddenly at her home Friday afternoon. She was a lifelong Green Bay resident and a member of the Cathedral St. Ann and Mission Societies and the Daughers of Isabella, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Circle.

Besides her husband, survivors include a daughter, Mrs. Edward Van Benadeno (sic), one granddaughter and five great grandchildren; a brother, Joseph; and a sister, Mrs. William Wendricks,* Green Bay.

The body will be at the Schauer and Schumacher Funeral Home at 2 o'clock Sunday afternoon. The Daughters of Isabella will say the rosary at 4 o'clock Sunday afternoon. The St. Ann and Mission groups will say the rosary at 7:30 in the evening. The Rev. John Gehl will say the rosary at 8 o'clock Monday evening, and will offer the solemn requiem mass at 9:30 Tuesday morning in the Cathedral. Burial will be in Allouez Cem-"

This clipping is from a family scrapbook that was passed on to me from my in-laws. The obituary cuts off there. I imagine that not much followed except "-etery" or whoever did the clipping would have thought to paste it on there.

Clipping from family
Her funeral notice was scarce with the ancestral information as well noting only a brother, Joseph Villers, and sister, Mrs. William Wendricks.*

"Villers' Rites To Be Held Tuesday  Morning

Funeral services for Mrs. Louis Villers, 76, 1470 E. Mason St., who died Friday, will be held at 9:30 Tuesday morning in the Cathedral. The Rev. John Gehl will offer the requiem mass and burial will be in Allouez Cemetery. The body is at the Schauer and Schumacher Funeral Home where Father Gehl will say the rosary at 8 o'clock this evening. Mrs. Villers is survived by her husband; a daughter, Mrs. Edward VnBenaden (sic); one grandchild; a brother, Joseph Villers, and a sister, Mrs. William Wendricks,* Green Bay."

So her brother's name is Joseph Villers. That's not really proof that her maiden name is Villers. Obituaries/Death Notices in the past weren't always clear with siblings. I've seen notices that say "brother" or "sister" when they meant "brother-in-law" or "sister-in-law." In this case Joseph Villers is her actual brother.

As in the short and not-so-sweet Funeral Notice posted for her husband, Louis, I mentioned that the statement "lifelong Green Bay resident" isn't accurate. Neither of them were born in Green Bay. They may have lived there for a good chunk of their lives, but not before their marriage in 1896. A marriage that isn't mentioned in their obituaries. Their parents aren't mentioned either. No worries. I know who they are and I have a copy of their marriage certificate.

Excerpt of the marriage record for
Louis Villers and Frances Villers
Louis Joseph Villers and Mary Francis Villers were married on March 26th 1896 in Lincoln, Kewaunee County, Wisconsin. Louis was the son of Martin Joseph and Octavia Villers nee Waguener. Mary Frances was the daughter of Pierre Louis and Emerence Villers nee Jadean. The parents of Martin Joseph and Pierre Louis were Eugene and Mary Teresa (maiden name unknown). So their parents were siblings making them first cousins. They weren't married in the church, but by a justice of the peace.

Louis and Frances had one child, a daughter. She is only referred to as "Mrs Edward Van Benaden" in the obituaries, but her name was Eva. Eva was born on December 28th 1896 and died on May 3rd 1974.

Finding cousins that married each other happens in genealogy. It certainly makes us question our research when we reach that conclusion because we assume it doesn't happen much. We make that assumption because it's looked at today as being wrong. I don't know how it was viewed in the late 19th century. Was it frowned upon then as well? Was this why the wedding wasn't performed in the Catholic Church? The reasons don't really matter nor should we view it as scandalous. Royalty had been doing it for hundreds, if not thousands, of years.

When you think you have a marriage in your family tree that involves someone that's already in your tree, don't panic. Just carefully review your research and confirm your suspicions. Your genealogy program will permit you to add someone that's already in there because genealogists know this happens. I have a great uncle whose surname is Brown and his wife was also a Brown. I just haven't discovered if they were related yet and if so how.

Just verify your research and breathe.

*Wendricks should actually be Hendricks.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Amanuensis Monday - Louis Joseph Villers' Funeral

This funeral notice for Louis Villers was in a family scrapbook. No obituary, just the short and not so sweet funeral notice. I already have Louis down in my research calendar for an obit-pull when I go home to Wisconsin for Christmas. I'm hoping I'll find one that's a little more satisfying than this.

"Louis Villers - At Schauer and Schumacher Funeral Home after 6:30 tonight. Rosary, 8 tonight and Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday. Daughters of Isabella. Funeral services, 9 a.m. Monday, Cathedral, the Rev. John Gehl. Allouez Cemetery. Mr. Villers died Thursday evening in a local hospital after a short illness. He was a lifelong resident of Green Bay and worked for the Green Bay Apostolate for 22 years." (handwritten July 7, 1960).

So who was Louis Villers? This funeral notice is pretty sparse. It doesn't tell us much and it's certainly not incredibly accurate.

Louis was not a lifelong resident of Green Bay. In the 1880 census he is listed with his parents, Martin Joseph and Octavia Villers nee Waguener, in Ahnapee, Kewaunee county, Wisconsin. In 1896 he was married in Lincoln, Kewaunee county and in the 1900 census he and his wife, Mary Frances, are in Algoma, Kewaunee county. It's not until the 1910 census that he is living in Green Bay.

As for if the rest of the information is accurate or not it's hard to tell...there's not a lot there. I was a bit surprised to see that it gave where he worked for 22 years, but not who he had been married to for over 50 years. Of course his wife predeceased him so perhaps this is why.

Aside from his parents (listed above) Louis Joseph Villers had four siblings: Florence, Mary Ann Octavia, Alta Ellen/Ella, and Agnes. He and his wife, Mary Frances, had one daughter, Eva. Louis Villers has a FindAGrave memorial I created a few years back. His wife, Mary Frances, is on the same stone. He is my husband's 2nd great uncle.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Amanuensis Monday - The Death of Martin Joseph Villers

Bismarck Daily Tribune, April 4, 1904, pg 1

Martin Joseph Villers was is of those people in a family tree that adds interest to genealogy research, while at the same time you wish he wasn't there. No one wants a murderer in their family tree, but sometimes those people are there and you can't change it. Martin Joseph was convicted of doing some horrible things (see below for links to other posts), but I'm not sorry he existed. The way his wife was written of in her obituary shows that she was well-liked/respected, and they had five children together that (to my knowledge) were respectable members of society. Without this man in our family tree there would be no family tree for my husband or my children. They would never have been born.

I am fascinated by this man's story because I want to know why he did what he did. Unfortunately, the newspaper articles on both of his trials (yes there were two for two different crimes) don't do much to explain the whys. Did he do it for land the man he killed owned? Why not just buy some then? Could he not afford it? Was there a falling out between Villers and the man he killed from whom, I believe, he was renting the land? Was he just a wicked man? That last one I just don't want to believe, but it's possible. In the 1880 US Federal Census Villers' occupation was a policeman. I know that doesn't make him a good man. There have always been people that sought out positions of trust and power to abuse them. Was that why or did he used to be good and something inside him snapped? I want to believe that there was a catalyst.

He was a model prisoner when he was in jail, but he was also sick. Either way he behaved himself once he got there and that gave me hope that he might not have been all bad. It doesn't excuse the bad and being sick and well-behaved behind bars certainly didn't garner any sympathy from the public. In fact, as far as being ill went, the public thought he was faking. He proved them wrong. On April 4th, 1904 he died in prison:

"A Life Prisoner is Dead

Death of M. J. Villers, Life Prisoner at the Penitentiary, with a Gruesome Record of Crime

M. J. Villers, a life prisoner in the penitentiary from LaMoure county, died Sunday of cystitis. He has been ill for several years, in fact having come to the institution seven or eight years ago in such poor health that he was at once put under medical care.  The case of Villers was one of the most interesting from a criminal standpoint of any in the institution. He was first brought to the penitentiary in 1895 for an assault upon Mrs. August Tromner. The history of the case briefly is as Follows: In the year 1895 or thereabouts August Tromner, a farmer living in LaMoure county disappeared. No one knew of his whereabouts, although the last seen of him he was with Villers. Some time after he disappeared, Villers went to the Tromner place, assaulted Mrs. Tromner and threw her in an old well, at the same time firing the barn. He thought no doubt he had killed the woman but she managed to crawl out of the well and crawled to the neighbors stating what had been done. Villers was arrested and sentenced to nine and a half years in the penitentiary. After he had been in the institution for a year or so, a farmer, plowing in the field, saw some bones that had evidently been thrown up by a badger. Further investigation disclosed the remains of a man who had been buried in the field, but in such a state of decay that identification was impossible except for some articles which had been buried with him and which were identified by Mrs. Tromner as having belonged to her husband. Suspicion was at once directed to Villers as having killed Tromner and buried his body there and an order was obtained from the district court of that district for the return of Villers from the state penitentiary for trial. He was tried for the murder of Tromner, found guilty and sentenced to imprisonment for life, being at the time of his death serving the life sentence. Villers was in his 62d year at the time of his death. A coroner's inquest will be held, as provided by law in the case of prisoners dying at the penitentiary. Villers is the second lifer to die in the past few months, the other having been Thomas Swidensky, who was convicted for the murder of Mrs. Kent at Mandan."

I can't call it an obituary. It isn't one and I had, perhaps unrealistically, hoped to find one. Even though some of his children who lived in North Dakota had visited him in jail for Thanksgiving (Bismarck Daily Tribune, 29NOV1897, pg 2) it would appear that he was brushed off eventually...or perhaps they just didn't want to draw attention to the events after he passed.

The wonderful people at the North Dakota Historical Society have helped me with information on MJ Villers previously. I contacted them recently to see if they knew if there was a cemetery on the penitentiary grounds and if not where would he have been buried. I was told that the Burleigh County, ND, Remembrance Book has him buried in St. Mary's Cemetery. I created a FindAGrave memorial for him when I got the information. They also sent me a copy of the article transcribed above (aren't they absolutely the best?!?

After creating that memorial I requested a photo. I wasn't overly hopeful. His wife, Octavia Villers nee Wagner (various spellings exist and I believe this was Americanized) is buried in Calvary Cemetery in Stutsman County and not with him. I found out in early June that there is no tombstone for him. A wonderful FindAGrave volunteer, Brian Backes, contacted the cemetery office and discovered it was unmarked. No tombstone for him. I lean more to thinking that was a family decision. He wasn't mentioned in his wife's obituary either.

No doubt he did terrible things, and I wish I had some good stories for him to be remembered by. I don't, but he will be remembered for the wonderful family that he fathered. Rest in peace, Martin.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Wednesday's Child - Nancy May Bronsavage

The Plain Speaker, 28SEP1944, pg 20
This clipping is another of those that I had the choice of it being too small to read or ridiculously large but legible. I chose the latter. sent me an automated email one day letting me know that there were some new additions to their collections that included some of my saved searches (I love that!) so when I got to the "Bronsavage" link this was one of the articles I saw and I was surprised and grieved.

"Girl At W.H. Killed By Car

Nancy May, five-year-old daughter of Mr. and Mrs Michael Bronsavage, of 107 East Cranberry avenue, West Hazleton, was fatally injured at 6:15 last evening by an automobile operated by Albert Miller, of 207 East Broad street, West Hazleton.

She was taken to the State Hospital by Miller and Raymond Schneider, driver for the West Hazleton Fire Company, at 6:22 and succumbed three minutes later from a fractured skull.

According to Chief of Police Carl O. Meiss of West Hazleton, Miller, who is constable of the First Ward in that borough, delivered a prisoner to the West Hazleton lockup.

Coming out of the building he drove around it to Clay avenue where the accident occurred near the girl's home.

According to Miller he did not see the girl but when he noticed another girl standing nearby with a frightened expression he stopped his car and found the injured child in the street.  The West Hazleton authorities are checking today to ascertain whether she was hit crossing the street or ran into the side of the car. No dents were found on the auto.

Chief Meiss was assisted in the investigation by Lieutenant Edward Waitkus and Patrolman Andrew Scheagan.

Miller appeared before Justice of the Peace John Nensteil, of West Hazleton and furnished bail in the amount of $2500 on a charge of involuntary manslaughter by automobile.

Deputy Coroner John J. Salvator, Jr., was called and after investigating, issued a certificate of death cause by automobile accident.

The child is survived by the parents.

The child's mother is the former Helen Krupko (sic), of Coxeville.

The funeral will be held Saturday at 9 a.m., from the family home. Mass of the Angels will be held in Ss. Peter and Paul's Lithuanian Church at 9:30 a.m.

Interment will be made in the parish cemetery."

I knew Nancy May Bronsavage existed. I may have even been told that she died young, but when people tell me things in passing with no proof I tend to let them go in one ear and out the other. Not to be rude, but because there are so many things going on in my mind regarding genealogy that as Sherlock said "I have to delete something."

Now that I've seen the article in black and white I'll most likely never forget it again. Seeing it is different than hearing that they had a daughter that died young. The details make it real. Having children myself makes it even more real. Losing a child is every parent's worst nightmare and you feel it even when the loss you read about is someone else's.

According to Michael's obituary Nancy May was the only child Michael and Helen Bronsavage nee Krupka ever had which makes this even more tragic.

I hadn't been able to find Michael, Helen, and Nancy Bronsavage in the 1940 census previously, but this article told me that they lived in ward 1 of West Hazleton. That narrowed it down to 34 pages to scan through on and I found them quickly. Their surname was transcribed as "Bronavage".  Only the "s" was missing so I would have expected the Ancestry search engine to have picked that up, but it didn't. Living with them was Michael's brother, Anthony Jr., and his surname was transcribed "Bonarrigo". I submitted correction for all of them and linked the record to my family tree.

Nancy May Bronsavage was born on May 21st 1939 and died on September 27th 1944. She was buried in Saints Peter and Paul Lithuanian Roman Catholic Cemetery on September 30th 1944 and has a memorial on FindAGrave. She is my first cousin once removed. Rest in peace sweet, little girl.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Medical Monday - My First Casualty from the 1918 Flu Pandemic

Death certificate - Alice Dougherty nee Fay
Alice Dougherty nee Fay is the first person I've come across in my research to have died from the 1918 flu pandemic. The cause of death was croupous pneumonia with influenza as a contributing factor. Croupous pneumonia is an outdated term. Today we call it acute lobar pneumonia.

I've done research on the "Spanish Influenza" outbreak of 1918 before. Sadly each time I've read The Great Influenza by John M. Barry I've meant to take notes and then failed to do so. Maybe the third time will be a charm. It's an excellent read, but does get technical in parts. That doesn't bother me, but when I go to pass on the information in a post I want to be able to do so correctly, and I'll need notes.

Either way it is incorrect to refer to this terrible pandemic as the "Spanish Flu." It did not begin in Spain as was originally though. The belief now is that it actually began in America and spread to Europe due to WWI. Think about that one. Lots of people in training camps to fight in the war. Lots of people moving around the world. More so than would have been normally. With an estimated 100 million people worldwide potentially killed by this flu outbreak I thought that I'd be counting the bodies in my family tree that succumbed...but that didn't happen.

Each time I came across someone that died in 1918 or 1919 I thought...yep...the flu got 'em. It didn't though.

Abraham Turnbach died in December 1918. He was electrocuted. He did repair work in the local coal mines and his death certificate says that he came in contact with "hot wires." He left behind a pregnant wife and quite a number of children.

Mary Turnbach nee Blanchfield, Abraham's wife, died in March 1919 of heart failure due to mitral regurgitation. They listed a contributing factor as "miscarriage." That may have been the terminology at the time, but we wouldn't call it miscarriage today. We'd call it a premature birth. The child, Joseph, lived...for two weeks.

Joseph Turnbach was born on March 7th 1919 and died on the 26th. His cause of death is difficult to read, but one of the components was malnutrition which was contributed to his premature birth. I suppose today we would say "failure to thrive."

Thank you to FindAGrave contributor Virginia (#47379955) for kind
permission to post her photo on my blog
Elizabeth "Bessie" Dugan nee Quirk died in December 1918 from placenta previa which caused Bessie to have a c-section. A contributing cause was separation of the placenta. Placenta previa and placental abruption (detachment of the placenta) are two different things, both of which are claimed on her death certificate. Her child, Elizabeth "Betty," survived (for a few years anyway).

So when I came across Alice's death certificate and saw pneumonia and the flu on there she became my first casualty. Alice and her husband, Francis Joseph Dougherty, had six children: William, Francis Joseph Jr., Leo, Mary, John, and Alice. All but two outlived their mom.

You can see on the tombstone above not only Alice's name, but those of her family buried with her. Alice died at the age of 35 and her husband, dying at the age of 84, never remarried. Her two little twins, Mary and John. Her daughter, Alice, married Matthew Gallagher and lived to the age of 91 while he only lived to the age of 48.

Despite having a husband and four little ones at home, Alice was the only one to succumb to this terrifying pandemic. Alice Dougherty nee Fay is my first cousin three times removed. Rest in peace, dear cousin.