Thursday, November 8, 2018

Discovering More Relatives in Catholic Cemeteries

Holy Name Cemetery is the final resting place for many of my family. The cemetery, also known as the Hudson County Catholic Cemetery, is in Jersey City, New Jersey.

From the New Jersey Records Preservation Group,

"The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark has made a small (but extremely significant!) improvement to their searchable database of burials ( The database includes burials in some Catholic cemeteries within the Archdiocese of Newark (including Holy Name in Jersey City, Holy Cross in North Arlington, Holy Sepulchre in East Orange, and several other Catholic cemeteries in Essex, Bergen, Morris, and Union counties).

Until recently, a search for an individual in the database brought up the name of the deceased, the burial date, and the plot number. However, there was no way to search by plot number or to see who else was buried in the plot with that individual. The recent addition, a small magnifying glass to the right of an entry, generates a listing of individuals buried in the same plot with the person whose entry is listed. This is an extremely valuable tool for genealogists, who may find parents, children, siblings, and other extended family members buried in the same plot. There are still burials being added to the database, so it is an ongoing project.

This change was implemented following input and a suggestion from the New Jersey Records Preservation Group (, who urged the Archdiocese to come up with a solution to help researchers determine who else is buried in plots with their loved ones."

Below are plot listings of people with no gravestones. Being able to view all the people in the plot is leading to new discoveries.

Edward Preston (1885-1903) and Michael Preston (1882-1918) were grandsons of Michael Preston (1813-1904).

Edward drowned after diving from the pier off 49th Street in Bayonne.

Michael was killed by a train (or murdered) in 1918.

Who is Edna Staley, died 1977? I have no idea.

She may be the Edna Mary Staley who appears in the Social Security Applications and Claims Index, born in 1921 in Schenectady, New York to Harry Staley and Edna Gallagher. I see no obvious connection to these Prestons.

Margaret Donovan (1855-1906), wife of John Coughlin (1854-1906), was a paternal aunt of little William.

William Donovan (1896-1900) was the son of Lawrence (or Laurence) Donovan (1862-1944) and Mary OReilly (1870-1944). Lawrence and Mary are buried in Block V, Section AA (see below).

I had no idea who else was buried with Margaret and William. Now I have two additional names, Eliza OLeary and Patrick Thompson, but I do not know how they relate. I will copy their death certificates on my next trip to the New Jersey State Archives.

As discussed above, Laurence Donovan and Mary OReilly, died 1944, were the parents of William, who died in 1900 and was buried with Laurence's sister Margaret in a separate plot.

William Donovan (1831-1897) and Ann Daly (1838-1893) were the parents of Laurence. They were from Skull East in Cork, Ireland.

Annie Esker, died 1895, was a surprise. Using the indexes of New Jersey marriages and deaths, she may be Mary E Esker, a baby who died in Bayonne a day before burial at Holy Name. Her parents could be William Esker and Margaret Dailey, who married at Saint Mary's Catholic Church in Bayonne in 1894. They could have some relationship to Ann Daly, which would be great, because I have nothing on Ann's ancestors.

Again, I need copy the records for these people to figure out the connections.

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Photograph from 100 Years Ago

A cousin surfaced in the DNA database at 23andMe and kindly shared a picture of my great great great grandmother, Susan Jane Marsh.

This picture was probably taken around 1910.
The child, Bessie Gulick, was born May 19, 1908 in East Orange, Essex County, New Jersey.
Susan Jane Marsh married William Reuben Bishop.
My line descends from their daughter, Minnie Caroline Bishop.
The newly discovered cousin descends from another daughter, Bessie, pictured above.

The bearer of this century-old image is a second cousin, once removed of my father. Their common ancestors were William Reuben Bishop (1842-1915) and Susan Jane Marsh (1848-1932).

The shared DNA ranges from 49 centimorgans to 105 centimorgans among my father and his three siblings. This is within the expected amount for second cousins, once removed.

Two of the segments can be attributed to the parents of Susan Jane Marsh: Eliakim Marsh (1816-1881) or Susan Long (1819-1882). How do I know this? Because of the DNA test of a descendant of Susan's sister, Elizabeth Marsh (1835-1914).

The rest of the segments can belong to either William Bishop or Susan Marsh. The relationships of the other DNA matches on these segments will demonstrate the origins of the segments.

Death Record in Two States

Edwin Jayne Duryea (1886-1942) died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on March 8, 1942 at the United States Naval Hospital. He served in the Army from 1911-1914 and again in World War I.

Edwin's death was recorded in two states: Pennsylvania, where he died; and New Jersey, where he lived.

This sometimes happens and is worth checking if the person of interest lived in a state other than place of death. One certificate could contain more information than the other.

Edwin's records both contain information in all fields of interest. The Pennsylvania record is clearer and in color because it is digitized and online at New Jersey's death certificates remain on microfilm with paper copies only available through the mail or in person at the Archives.

Edwin was the son of Albert B Duryea (1853-1924) and Margaret Lear Heavener (1851-1903). No marriages or children were found for Edwin. He had one brother, Paul Gamble Duryea (1883-1966), who married Susie Beulah Robbins (1884-1985).

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Tracking Campbell through Catholic Church Records

Margaret Campbell and Patrick Joyce (1834-1905) were my great great great grandparents.

Patrick's death certificate lists his father as Richard Joyce. I have no further information on his origins.

I have no information on Margaret Campbell's place of birth in Ireland or her parents.

Margaret died in May or June of 1870 a few days after being struck by a train in Katonah, Westchester County, New York.

The first probable appearance of Margaret and Patrick is the 1860 census in Patterson, Putnam County, New York. Patrick is listed as age 25, born in Ireland, with a personal estate of $50. Margaret's age is 20, also born in Ireland. No children are enumerated with them.

In 1865, the family can be more definitely identified because of the children, Mary, age 4, and Adeline, age 2. Adeline came to be called Delia. She was my great great grandmother.

Note that in the 1860 census, 5 years earlier, Patrick and Margaret were 15 years younger.

Working with the expanded Catholic marriage index at Find My Past, a record of Patrick and Margaret's marriage may have been found in 1860 at St Joseph Parish in Somers and Croton Falls, Westchester County, New York. Margaret's name is transcribed as Cammell, not Campbell.

I need to see the actual record, if possible, to verify the names and capture any additional information that may not have been included in this index.

I found two baptisms for children of Patrick Joyce and Margaret Campbell:
-Bridget in 1863 at St Mary in Wappingers Falls, Dutchess County
-James in 1869 at Immaculate Conception in Amenia, Dutchess County

In the entry for James, Margaret's name is spelled Cammell. This is what caused me to return to the marriage in 1860.

Was Bridget actually Adelia, my great great grandmother? The 1865 census lists two children, none named Bridget.

Immaculate Conception in Amenia was the church of another branch, Sheehy and Frawley.

The next step is tracking down these records.

Marriage Record Connecting a Person to a Place

Bridget Sheehy (1857-1916) was my great great grandmother.

With John D Preston (1857-1928) she had at least ten children born in New York and New Jersey.

Bridget's death certificate listed her parents, Edmond or Edward Sheehy and Bridget Frawley. A couple by this name lived in Amenia, Dutchess County, New York after leaving Ireland. Nothing definitively linked Bridget to Amenia.

Until now.

Find My Past expanded its collection of Catholic marriages and baptisms for New York.

Bridget Sheehy and John Preston have an entry for their marriage in 1877 in Amenia at Immaculate Conception. This is the same church used by Ellen Sheehy (1866-1938) and Thomas Culligan (1863-1937), the original clue for Bridget's family of origin.

In the transcripts of baptisms are four children of Bridget Sheehy and John Preston at Immaculate Conception:

-Michael, born 1878
-John, born 1879
-Mary, born 1881
-Catherine, born 1883

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

More Children for Edmond Sheehy and Bridget Frawley, Ireland to New York

Some DNA matches caused me to delve into my mother's Sheehy branch and find a lot more cousins.

Bridget Sheehy (1857-1916) was my mother's great grandmother. Her death certificate provided the names of her parents, Edward or Edmond Sheehy and Bridget Frawley of Ireland.

Through newspapers, census records, Irish baptismal records, and help from other researchers, Bridget Sheehy's origins were traced to Limerick, Ireland. Five other siblings were identified. They had immigrated to Dutchess County, New York.

Some recent DNA matches traced their origin to James Sheehy (1855-1934). He married Mary Moore (1862-1897). Their first identified child, George Edward Sheehy, was born in New York in 1884.

Similar to the situation with the other siblings, I cannot link James to his parents, Edmond and Bridget, in New York. James is buried in Immaculate Conception Cemetery in Amenia, same as Edmond and Bridget.

In the online baptismal records for Clarina in Limerick, is an entry for James (called Jacobus in Latin). He was baptized March 25, 1855. His parents were Edmund Sheehy and Brigid Frawley. Sponsors were Thomas Leahy and Mary Sheehy.

Newspapers for the area of Amenia in Dutchess County, New York are available (for free) on

Searching the cemeteries online via FindAGrave lead me to Anna Sheehy (1851-1929), called Joanna in earlier census years. Again, she is not with her parents, Edmond and Bridget, in New York, though she is also buried at Immaculate Conception Cemetery. On the same microfilm roll as the other siblings is the baptism of Joanna, daughter of Edmond and Brigid, on May 4, 1851. Sponsor was Margarita Sheehy.

In New York, Ann Sheehy is first found in the 1875 New York State census in Pine Plains. She is Johannah Maloney, wife of Jeremiah Maloney. They have two children, Mary and John.
After Jeremiah Maloney died, Ann remarried to William Patrick Newman in 1890. He was not enumerated in her household in the 1900 census. Ann had at least two children with William: James and Patrick.

Ann's obituary in 1929 states that William Newman was lost at sea in 1905.

I ordered a copy of Ann's marriage record from 1890. Her parents may be listed, which would provide a more definite link to Edmond Sheehy and Bridget Frawley.

The third newly discovered child is the earliest one yet of Edmond and Bridget.

John Sheehy (1849-1926) was baptized February 9, 1849. Sponsors were Jacobus (James) Sheehy and Margarita Frawley.

John first appears in New York in the 1880 census in Amenia with wife, Nora Cleary (1856-1926), and daughter Alice, born in December of 1879.

John was buried at Saint Joseph's Catholic Cemetery in nearby Millbrook.

An additional DNA match could land us the generation beyond Edmond Sheehy and Bridget Frawley. The maternal grandmother of this DNA match was Margaret Gorman (or OGorman), born about 1874 in Ireland. Margaret's mother, according to her marriage record in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, was Mary Sheey. This Mary is not the daughter of Edmond and Bridget because they already have a daughter named Mary (1853-1897) who is accounted for. (She married Thomas Ahearn.)

It is great to take a DNA match and trace back until the Sheehy connection is found.

Thus far I have identified nine children of Edmond Sheehy and Bridget Frawley, born between 1849 and 1866 in Limerick, Ireland. Further research and DNA connections will solidify or modify this construct.

Bridget Sheehy was my great great grandmother.
She married John D Preston (1857-1928).

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Death Index Expanded in New Jersey

A wonderful thing happened for genealogy in New Jersey.

Reclaim the Records has secured indexes for deaths 1904 through 2017, with quite a few (temporary?) gaps.

You can view the images at

Index of deaths in Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey
Surname H. Year 1928.

The actual death records are housed at the Archives in Trenton through 1955. Deaths after 1955 can be obtained from the Department of Health, but only by certain people, and the cause of death is often obscured.

New Jersey Death Certificate
Mary Agnes Walpole (1831-1915), wife of Jacob Duryea
Note that the Department of Health blocks the cause of death.

Mary died of chronic nephritis. The full certificate of death is viewable at the Archives.

Before publication of this index, to find a record of death you needed to search the microfilm at the Archives year by year. Certificates are filed alphabetically on the microfilm. This is a waste of time and a barrier to promoting accurate research in New Jersey.

Deaths 1848 through 1900 are indexed at Family Search. An overlapping index by the Archives covers the years 1878 through 1897.

The indexes for deaths 1901 through 1903 were previously obtained by Reclaim the Records. They can be searched at

David Lutter Verona piano gun

Monday, July 9, 2018

Amanuensis Monday: Watson at Saint John's Episcopal Church in Jersey City

Marble Dale Com.
June – 8 – 1932

Not Entered in Books

My dear Mr. Carnie:

I am sending you the correct data in connection with the deaths of my parents- this to be entered in the Parish book- for the benefit of any one in the future, wishing for such information.

Born in New Milford, Connecticut
June 13, 1846
Died at his home, Marble Dale Connecticut,
September 12, 1908.

There is a window in St John’s in memory of my father. (The Parable of the Sower)

I did so enjoy being with you for a few weeks, and shall do so again in the near future.
With warm personal regards for you and yours,
Sincerely yours,
Mary S Watson

As you know the Sanctuary Lamp is in memory of my mother.
Also please note change in my mailing address.
(Washington Depot Connecticut, R. F. D.)

My mother was-
Susanna Suttle, born in Paterson, New Jersey on July 22, 1846.
Died at her home in Marble Dale Connecticut,
July 7, 1930

My parents were married in St. Pauls Parish, Paterson, N.J. [New Jersey]
on September 18, 1867
by the Rev. Joseph M. Waite, Rector of the Church.

My mother was baptized, confirmed, and married from the same church.

If you will make correct entries I shall appreciate it so much.

I came across this note in the church book for Saint John's Episcopal Church in Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey while researching a branch of my Heiser family. The author, Mary Smith Watson (1871-1948), so much wanted this bit of her family history preserved. For Mary, here is her information for anyone's benefit, as she wished.

Saint John's Church is not operational. The stained glass windows are gone. In spite of efforts to covert the structure into condominiums, the building remains vacant and deteriorating. Below is the image from Google maps in 2017.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Source of Census Information

Reminder to everyone-

The census is an invaluable source of information for family researchers.

The note in the above 1940 census reinforces that the source of information was not necessarily the enumerated people themselves.

"This line vacant due to misleading information given by neighbor"

I do not know what the misleading information was, or who it concerned.

The note is in between the household of Bernard Burn (usually seen as Burns) and his wife, Ellen. The next household is their daughter, Marjorie, seen here with husband John Lysaght and daughter Anita. They were residing at 127 West 6th Street, Bayonne, Hudson County, New Jersey.

Use census information, but cautiously.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Amanuensis Monday: Will of Samuel Peer, 1819, in Morris County, New Jersey

In the name of God Amen.

I, Samuel Peer, of the Township of Pequanack, in the County of Morris and State of New Jersey, being of sound mind and memory this fourteenth day of September in the year of our Lord Eighteen hundred and eighteen. Thanks be to God for all his mercies, calling to mind the mortality of my body; and as touching the things wherewith it hath pleased God to bless me in this life, I give and bequeath in manner following (to wit):

1st, after my debts and funeral charges be paid, which is to be done by making sale of so much of my personal estate as shall be necessary by my executors herein after named, I give and bequeath the residue of my personal estate together with all my real estate to the use of my daughter, Susannah Peer, for and during her natural life, provided she continue to live unmarried, but if she should marry, this bequest to be null and void.

2d, after the decease or marriage of my daughter, Susan Peer, it is my will that my real estate descend to my two grandsons, Samuel Peer and Jacob Peer, and to be divided between them, that Jacob Peer shall have the house and barn where I now live with twenty acres of land to begin at the river below my house and to run westerly parallel with the road in front of my house untill it strike the back line of my farm and the residence of my homestead farm. I wish to be so divided that each of the two have an equal quantity, that is each an equal quantity of acres in the whole homestead farm. Also that each have alike quantities of wood and meadow land. And if my said grandsons cannot agree on a division of the said lands abovesaid then I appoint that Thomas Vanwinkle herein after named as one of my executors shall divide the same between them agreeably to the directions herein laid down, which division shall be conclusive between the said Samuel and Jacob. It is my intention that the bequest of my real estate herein made to my grandsons, Samuel Peer and Jacob Peer, be to them, their heirs and assigns forever. Also the lot of woodland which I brought of William Miller containing about twenty acres I also give to my two said grandsons and to their heirs and assigns forever and to be equally divided between them.

3d,  it is my will that my daughter, Susannah Peer, shall have no liberty to sell any of my personal estate of which I have given her the use of, nor to cut any timber, only for her own firewood and for fencing and repairing the farm and buildings.

And 4th it is my will that my two grandsons aforesaid pay the following legacies five years after they get possession of the lands herein bequeathed to them.
Unto the heirs of my daughter, Elizabeth decd [deceased], the sum of fifty dollars;
unto my daughter Catharine or her lawful heirs, the sum of fifty dollars;
unto the heirs of my daughter, Jane decd [deceased], the sum of fifty dollars;
unto the heirs of my son, Jacob Peer decd [deceased], the sum of fifty dollars;
unto the heirs of my daughter, Rachel Peer decd [deceased], the sum of fifty dollars.

5th, after the decease or marriage of my daughter, Susannah, all the personal estate which she hath had the use of and is in being then it is my will shall be equally divided amongst my children or their lawful representatives so that the representatives of each have the share divided equally amongst them that their parent would have.

6th, I appoint Samuel Peer, my grandson, and Thomas Vanwinkle to be executors to this, my last will and teswtament.

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal dated as above.
Samuel Peer, his mark

Signed, sealed, published, and declared by the said Samuel Peer to be his testament and last will in the presence of us:
Samuel Peer Jun
Thomas Vanwinkle
Isaac Drake

Thomas Vanwinkle, one of the witnesses to the foregoing will, being duly sworn according to law, did depose and say that he saw Samuel Peer, the testator therein making his signature to said will and heard him publish and declare the foregoing writing to be his last will and testament, and that at the doing thereof the said testator was of sound and disposing mind and memory as far as this deponent knows and as he verily believes and that Samuel Peer Jun and Isaac Drake the other subscribing evidences were present at the same time and signed their names as witnesses to the said will together with this deponent in the presence of the said testator.
Thomas Vanwinkle
Sworn before me March 16th, 1819
David Thompson Jun, Surrogate

Samuel Peer, one of the executors named in the foregoing will, being duly sworn according to law, did depose and say that the foregoing writing contains the true last will and testament of Samuel Peer, the testator therein named, so far as he knows and as he verily believes and that he will and truly perform the same by paying first the debts of the said decd and then the legacies in the testament specified so far as the goods and chattels and credits of the said decd can thereto extend and that he will make and exhibit into the Surrogate’s office of the County of Morris a true and perfect inventory of all and singular the goods, chattels, and credits of the said decd, and render a just and true account when thereto lawfully required.
Samuel Peer
Sworn before me March 16th, 1819
David Thompson Jun, Surrogate

Renunciation of Thomas Vanwinkle
I, Thomas Vanwinkle, being named as one of the executors in the foregoing last will and testament of Samuel Peer, late of Morris County, decd [deceased], do hereby renounce my right to act as executor of the last will and testament of the said Samuel Peer decd, and do decline taking upon myself the burden or duties of an executor to said will.
March 16th, 1819
Thomas Vanwinkle
Signed before me at Morristown
March 16th, 1819
David Thomspon Jr

Note: Samuel Peer was my 7th great grandfather.
I descend from his daughter, Jane, who was deceased when Samuel wrote his will in 1818.
Jane married John Cook (1745-1821).

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Marriage of Step Siblings

A marriage between step-siblings is not a rare encounter.

Below is an explanation with documents on one such marriage.

Richard Everet Wolff (1908-1992) was my father's second cousin, three times removed. The common ancestors were Peter John Hyser (1790-1874) and Ella Fritz (1801-1847) of Greene County, New York.

Richard married his step-sister, Grace Liebeherr (1914-1993) in 1939 in South Orange, Essex County, New Jersey. One year earlier, Grace's mother, Edna Schermerhorn Hogan (1884-1938), who was also Richard's step-mother, died. I don't know if her death influenced the timing of the marriage. Perhaps a descendant could write in to clarify?

Witnesses Edna Gamble Liebeherr (sister of Grace Liebeherr) and G Wallace McComb.

Death certificate for Annie Coombe, first wife of Charles Wolff, 1927
in Westfield, Union County, New Jersey.

Death certificate of Edna Hogan, second wife of Charles Wolff, 1938
in South Orange, Essex County, New Jersey.

Richard's parents were Charles Endicott Wolff (1881-1946) and Annie Rosalee Coombe (1886-1927). They had married in Jersey City in 1907.

In 1928, one year after his first wife's death, Charles Wolff remarried to Edna Hogan in East Orange, Essex County, New Jersey. Edna was the widow of Richard Liebeherr- Grace's father, who had died in 1924.

Death certificate of Richard Liebeherr, first husband of Edna Hogan, 1924
in East Orange, Essex County, New Jersey.
Informant was Ernest L Broome of Tarrytown, New York.
Why was his wife not the informant?

The merged families in the 1930 federal census at 116 Prospect Street, East Orange, Essex County, New Jersey.

The family remained living together in 1940 following the death of Mother Edna
and the marriage of Richard and Grace.
195 Prospect Street, East Orange.