Sunday, August 28, 2011

Oh My, I'm Feeling Lazy

  Well it has been almost over two three weeks since I have posted.  What has kept me so busy?  Absolutely nothing major, just bits and pieces of life that I am trying to "accomplish" before I go back to my job as a teacher.  For the record, school starts on Wednesday, but I will drop in for a couple of hours on Monday to start dragging out my boxes of resources and try to get the opening day papers copied before there is a two hour wait for the copier.  We have been told that we should not stand on chairs to put up anything in our rooms due to two new workman's compensation claims already.  Now how can I decorate the top of the six kitchen cupboards in my room without standing on a chair?  I really don't see one of our overworked custodians artistically arranging my stuff while I stand on the floor and direct.

  I also just returned from a quick trip to Clinton, Iowa.  I hesitate to call it a research trip because it was not that organized, and I only spent about 24+ hours in Clinton, but I did find some new resources, new information and had a lovely 2 hour visit with my  first cousin twice removed who just celebrated his 90th birthday. I had never met him before but his mother and my great grandmother were sisters.  I'd say that was pretty good for only one day. Actually, the opportunity to meet him was the primary motivator for the trip.  I will write more detail in a later post as I am was so intent on my mission that I only took one photo.  Clinton is about a four and a half hour trip from my house, but the road goes through the southern part of Chicago so planning your trip to avoid rush hour is a definite consideration.  I promised myself that I would get back to Clinton this summer and once school starts, my summer is over.  I hoped that my brother and I could go together since our first and only time was such a great experience.  And, let's face it, it is much cheaper when you can split the gas and the hotel room. I am a very practical person, but our schedules didn't mesh.

  The other issue plaguing me is the fact that my desktop computer bit the dust due to a power outage/surge during a storm three weeks ago.  I have everything backed up in three other places so my research is safe but my email and addresses from newly acquired relatives is still residing in that black blue hole sitting on my desk.  With that computer gone I have also lost access to my printer and my scanner.  I know what you are thinking . . . why didn't you just go out and get another one?  Welllllllll . . . I hate pre-fab computers.  I am annoyed by all of the trial versions of programs I don't want that seem to worm there way into every crevice.  I don't like the cheapo keyboards that come with them, and I am worried that my perfectly good all-in-one HP Officejet and Epson scanner will not work with Windows 7 along with a few software programs like EQ5. Additionally, I wanted to see if anything could be salvaged from my old computer - like the email! Then  I remembered an amazing computer-technology-programming teacher I had in a summer school class two years ago.  He told us that he occasionally moonlights and builds computers.  I contacted him, didn't hear anything, contacted using another email and hear the great news that he does still build computers on the side, and he asked a few questions which I instantly answered in a return email.  That was over a week ago and despite several additional emails, I have heard nothing.  I am puzzled.  So yesterday, I stopped in to Best Buy (yuck!) to see what my choices were. They assured me that all of my old hardware would work with Windows 7 . . . I'm not sure I believe them.  What is a girl to do? 

  Here it is a week and a half later . . . . I still don't have a computer which means I still don't have a scanner or printer.  Somehow I don't feel like it is a real blog post without photos and so I have stalled and stalled hoping that I would have a working computer.  Every time I think of all the work to get it all up and running as well as reinstalling all of my software and downloading new drivers, my stomach starts churning.  It turns out that it was my hardrive that failed from the power outage but the good news is that it can most likely be salvaged. Yes, I did have it backed up elsewhere.

  While I was dealing with frustration over the computer situation at home and getting my classroom ready for a new school year, I made a decision about the FGS conference . . . I'm going!!  So I filled out the personal leave forms at school, and turned them in on Friday.  If I leave after school on Wednesday, I can make it to Springfield by 9:00 p.m., and I have a reservation at a non-FGS motel. Since I will be footing the whole bill, I have to trim costs where I can.  I have some concerns because in general I do not like traveling by myself.  I am too much of a chatty Cathy and talking to strangers is not the same as exchanging opinions, observations, and laughter with a friend.  Wish me luck!

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Solved . . . or at Least Partially Solved

Many thanks to another double cousin for a partial solution to the lady in my last post, "Oh, Those Beautiful Eyes".  Cousin June has temporary custody of the original photo, and so I asked her to look at it for me to see if she could read anything more than I could from my digital copy.  Yippee!  My reasoning was correct . . .  it says, the sister of great Grandma Mac.  Of course it doesn't give her name, but this means that the entire family must not have emigrated from Ireland.   June also saw a very faint date which looked like 1781, but would more likely have been 1881 or 1891 from my research into the photographer.

Many years ago my mother wrote to her cousin on behalf of my brother (the original family historian) and asked about family information.  A couple of years ago we reconnected, and when we went to visit her she generously allowed us to scan every photo and document,  as well as scribbled notes she had saved concerning the family.  One of those notes listed the names of great Grandma Mac's  (Bridget O'Callahan) sisters.  Sadly, she passed away before we could ask who gave her that information, but it had to be from the McDonnell side of the family, and the most likely person claims it wasn't her.  So we have this completely unsourced lead . . .  but leads are always welcome.  I have not yet found another family member who knew this information so that makes it especially precious to me.
Click to enlarge and read more details than those listed below. 

Edited transcription:

Great Grandma Bridget O'Callahan McDonnell had 3 sisters and 3 brothers

1.) Abigail - Pat Kennedy
Mary  m.William Green
Catherine m. Oscar Smedly

2.) Catherine O'Callahan - Pat Curtin
John m. Mary Gary

3.) Mary O'Callahan - Michael Reagan
Mollie m. Thomas McCarty
Albie m. Thomas Ayan
Bridget m. John Donovan

4.) John O'Callahan - Winnie Maloney
Winnie m. Frank McDonnell
Mary m.

5.) Dennis O'Callahan ?

6.)  John Daniel O'Callahan ?

The only issue is that it looks like all of these individuals lived in the U.S. based upon the listing of subsequent generations - except for the two possible brothers at the end.  That, of course, makes me wonder if the sister in the photo passed away since she was still in Ireland in the late 1800's. She obviously kept in touch with Bridget for a long time given the date of the photo and the fact that Bridget immigrated to the U.S around 1854.

From the 1925 Iowa census (a genealogist's dream census), I find that great Grandma Mac (Bridget O'Callahan McDonnell) lists her parents names as Simon O'Callaghan and Mary Galvan.  Now I need to find an Irish record with these names in combination.  The information I have says that Bridget lived in Cobh/Queenstown. So far, I have not found any records of her family or her immigration to the U.S.

Genealogy is an endless series of mysteries and oh, how I love the chase!

Well, if that photo is Bridget McDonnell's sister, could this unidentified tintype/ambrotype (I don't know the difference) photo, found in the same album, be her father, Simon O'Callahan?  His clothing with the wide labels, vest, and turned down collar along with his lack of facial hair and the photograph medium seem to tell me this is mid 19th century.  However, this is completely am impression on my part so if anyone who reads this has some expertise in this matter, please share.

But also . . . he has those eyes!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Oh, Those Beautiful Eyes!

Subtitle:  Can Physical Traits Lead Us to Photo Identification?
Well, now that you have seen my uncle Owen Kennelly in this week's Tombstone Tuesday post, it is obvious that he has very distinctive eyes.  On more than one occasion, I have been sitting with family members sorting through unidentified photos and the comment is made, "Oh, that's Owen just look at the eyes."  It was his eyes that I thought of when my late wonderful double cousin, Mary Margaret and I were going through an album of CDV and tintype/ambrotype photos.  The photos had been pulled out long before she received it but were still stuck between the pages.  Some of the photos have names on the back, some just have clues as to the identity on the back, and others are maddeningly blank.  We assumed they must be from either the family of Owen McDonnell or Bridget O'Callahan McDonnell because the identified photos pointed to an origination with that generation.  But are they from both Owen and Bridget or just one of them?

I need to do more research on clothing and hairstyles - something I would find fascinating anyway - to see if I can at least afix the photos in a time period.  Last winter I investigated submitting a few to Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective but the cost was going to be prohibitive and could not choose just one.  Indecision is a fatal flaw of mine. 

So today, I will share one with you.  It is the lady with Owen's eyes.   It is a definite physical trait and this would be an indication that he inherited it through his mother, Mary McDonnell Kennelly, the child of Owen  and Bridget O'Callahan McDonnell.

The best part though is that this photo is definitely connected to Ireland!! As you can see the photographer is listed as Hunter in the lower left and the location as Cork in the right.  Both Owen and Bridget were from County Cork with Owen from Grenagh and Bridget from Cobh also known as Queenstown. Having a rock for a prop seems like an unusual choice, but it might have some significance that I am unaware of.  I have also tried to look up clothing styles for the 1880's (which is the time period my intuition tells me this is) and it looks similar.  I cannot tell if there is a bustle on the back but all that gathered material sort of points to that.  Now both Owen and and Bridget immigrated in the 1850's so this has to be someone they left at home and continued to correspond with if I have the correct decade.  According to the information on Photo Tree, dark card backgrounds became popular in the late 1880's to 1890's.  But was that the same in Ireland?

Click to enlarge.

Let's turn the photo over.

This gives us a bit more information about the photographer.
H. Hunter
28 Patrick Street,
Copies can be had
Enlargements any size on paper or canvas artistically finished in oil, water colors, or crayon, can at any time be produced without another sitting.

And since I am a fly by the seat of your pants, impatient, family historian who tries many options, I Googled the photographer's name as well as posting a query on the Ireland message board of  While the internet is great, the kindness and generosity of other family historians is the fuel that keeps us moving. As expected, I received a reply that linked to interesting information.  Using the Ask About Ireland website can be exceedingly confusing so I appreciated a link to the section that would be most helpful.  Combining this with my Google information, I have discovered that,  according to Aldwell's City of Cork Directory, in 1844-45 there was a Henry J. Hunter working as a post office secretary at 27 Patrick Street in Cork but by the 1867 Henry and Coughlan's City Directory there is a listing for an H. Hunter, photographer at 102 Patrick Street.  Then there is a photo on Flickr that lists the date of a photo at about 1890 and the back of the photo is identical to the one above except it is lighter in color.  Am I boring you yet?  I am trying to set down my research findings and methods.  However, the term methods may be a bit too organized sounding for my research. 

Now, have you noticed anything else on the back of the photo?  I encouraged you to click on the photo to enlarge it.  In VERY faint script at the top it has the words "(too faint to read then . . .)Great Grandma and possibly Mc".  This would mean it could not be a sister left in Ireland, but the woman is too young in this photo to be the mother of Owen McDonnell, born 1833 or 1837.    I have strained my eyes on this writing innumerable times trying to make out the full notation and used my photo editing software to try and enlarge and enhance it to no avail.  

The mystery of her identity remains.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday - Owen Kennelly

Owen Kennelly 
July 19, 1902- October 1970 
Queen of Heaven Mausoleum - Chicago, Illinois

My mother's favorite Uncle

Obituary in the Chicago Tribune, October 29, 1970

Owen D. Kennelly, retired CPD, beloved husband of the late Hazel and Ellen (Nell); fond father of Joseph F, (Tina and Gerald E.(Phyllis); grandfather of six; gr. grandfather of two; brother of Margaret Coughlin, John and the late Anna Farley, Mary Murray and Edward.  Funeral Saturday, 10:30 a.m. from William C. Smith and Sons Inc., 2500 N. Cicero to St. Bartholomew Church.  Entombment Queen of Heaven Mausoleum.  Member of B.P.A. and Fraternal Order of Police. Visitation after 3 p.m. Thursday.

What makes this Tombstone Tuesday unique is the full picture below of the vault above in the mausoleum.

You will notice his first wife, Hazel, mentioned in his obituary, is in the vault above he and his second wife, Nell.   But . . . Hazel was not originally buried in this vault.  In an earlier Tombstone Tuesday, I posted about Auntie, the maiden aunt who shared the home at 2338 W. Washington Blvd with her sister, my gr. grandmother, her entire life. I mentioned in that post that I couldn't understand why she was buried alone with no family next to her. After all, she was a legend in the family.   

This is why.  Hazel,Owen and Auntie originally purchased plots together, Hazel was originally buried there as planned, then Owen became reacquainted Nell and married her not long after. Rumor is Nell, who had long had a crush on Owen, came to Hazel's funeral offering comfort to Owen and the rest is history.  No one has a bad word to say about Nell.  She loved Owen and was generous with her considerable money.  So rather than separate Owen from his first wife, she had Hazel moved to the vault above theirs.  It is notable that Owen, who died last, could have spent eternity with either wife, but he chose Nell.