Sunday, December 30, 2018

Murnane and ODonnell of Bayonne, New Jersey

Mary ODonnell was an aunt of my maternal grandmother. She disappeared after the 1920 census in Bayonne (19 West Seventeenth Street). Mary was born June 1, 1899 in Bayonne, Hudson County, New Jersey to Patrick Francis ODonnell and Delia Joyce

Someone wrote to me, inquiring about a marriage between Mary ODonnell and John Murnane around 1919 or 1920. Mary ODonnell is not an unusual Irish name. I have several in my family tree. Was this Mary ODonnell any relation to any of the people with the same name in my tree?

I checked the online New Jersey Marriage Index and found a possible match for 1920. This is an index by bride only and provides the husband's initials, not full name, for the years 1920-1929. The marriage records are housed in the Archives in Trenton and are organized by year by groom's surname.

The marriage certificate in Trenton showed that the entry in the index was indeed for the marriage of John Murnane and Mary ODonnell on July 3, 1920 at Saint Mary's Catholic Church in Bayonne. This Mary is my grandmother's missing aunt, shown by the names of her parents on the record.

The following year, the couple's first child, John Murnane, was born March 24, 1921.

Tragedy struck on July 30, 1925 when Mary gave birth to a baby girl prematurely. Both mother and baby died. (This day was also my grandmother's fifth birthday.) They were buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in North Arlington, Bergen County, New Jersey. (Mary's parents are interred at Holy Name Cemetery in Jersey City.)

Cause of death: toxemia of pregnancy and PP [post partum] haemorrhage.

You can view all people in a plot at Holy Cross. Also buried with mother and daughter is Daniel J Murnane in 1964. I do not know who this is.

A hint for finding Mary, besides the inquiring person, was in the wedding announcement of Margaret ODonnell to William Joseph Coughlin in August of 1920. Margaret was a sister of Mary. "Miss ODonnell was attended by her sister, Mrs J Murnane, as maid of honor."

We welcome more cousins to the ODonnell branch.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Mystery Military: George D Russell from World War II

I am looking for George D Russell.

The only information I started with was his Army Serial Number from World War II, 32960000, and last known address in the Forest Hills section of Queens, New York at 100-35 72nd Road.

From there, I found that George was born about 1914. He enlisted in the Army in May of 1943 in New York City. He was discharged in 1946.

The Army Serial Number was correct (see images from Fold3 below). I wrote to the National Archives for the service record. If I could find a birth date for George, I could filter out the rest of the men with this same name.

The response was that the fire of 1973 destroyed most records, but I could request the final payment voucher.

The final payment voucher verified the address in Queens. It looks like George left the Army in January of 1946 after foreign service. His signature is at the bottom of the page, which could prove useful if I find another document.

The record from has George as single.

The record from has George as married. Is the record from the same person?

I searched ship records for George Russell leaving the United States and returning in October 1945 through January 1946. No luck.

I created a family tree of all the men named George Russell living or born in New York in the target time frames. I would not know if I have included the correct person.

The Beneficiary Identification Records Locator Subsystem (BIRLS) is available at I do not see a compatible entry. (These records are also a target for release to the public for free through Reclaim the Records.)

I searched newspapers for the address. I did not find George Russell associated with the Queens address in newspapers. I found other people at this address.

The Quinlan sisters, Eileen and Doris, lived at
110-35 72nd Road in Forest Hills in 1961.

If anyone has any leads on George D Russell, I would appreciate hearing from you. Thank you.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Married Twice to Each Other

Noah Wetmore Duryee was born about 1827 in New York and died February 4, 1866 in Morrisania, New York. He was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Noah's widow, Lucretia Daily, married Peter Romain in 1885 and 1890. I have not found an explanation.

Peter Romain's first wife, Rachel, died in 1881 and was buried in Woodland Cemetery in Newark.

Peter and Lucretia resided together in the 1885 New Jersey state census in East Orange with Peter's grandson, Alfred.

Peter and Lucretia's first marriage was March 4, 1885 in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey. Both lived at 27 Steuben Street in East Orange.

The second marriage was February 12, 1890, again in Newark, where they were living at 230 North Seventh Street.

Peter Romain died April 20, 1894 in Asbury Park, Monmouth County, New Jersey.

Lucretia died August 24, 1920 in Bronx. According to the index at, burial was in Newark. I will need to view the original certificate of death at a Family History Center to possibly discover which cemetery.

Friday, November 23, 2018

DNA Matches Released by Living DNA

Living DNA ( has entered the pool of companies offering genetic matching to relatives.

This feature, called Family Networks, is in the Beta stage, so we can expect additional features and tools in the future.

You do not have to test with this company. For FREE, you can upload a DNA file from a site where you have tested.

I tested with Living DNA in October 2016. The attraction was a detailed break down of ancestry within Great Britain and Ireland. You can view the results here.

In October 2017 I uploaded my mother's DNA file from 23 And Me ( The breakdown of ancestry is apparently not available for transferred files, unfortunately.

My only DNA relative in the database is my mother.

Including me, my mother has three matches. She has thousands at the other major testing companies.

The percentage of shared DNA was exciting. These people could be second or third cousins. But the centimorgans placed the matches in the fourth to fifth cousin range (assuming no endogamy, which is a frequent barrier in my mother's tree). It looks like Living DNA calculates the percentage at double compared to the formulas at other DNA sites.

I sought to view the shared DNA segments for a better idea of how close these people might be, but no segment information or chromosome browser is available at this time.

I tried to message the matches to request a family history. The messaging feature is not available yet.

I am glad that My Living DNA is participating in relative matching. Hopefully new tools will make this another useful site for genetic genealogy.

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).