Friday, February 25, 2011

Almost the Whole D___ Family!

Does it look like this was taken on a Sunday?

 I would like for you to again meet my grandmother's family, the Moldt's.  Since my grandmother was the only person in the family missing, I have to assume that she was taking the photo.  The skeptical looking woman is my beloved and stylish great grandmother, DaDa Mae - Mae Allen Moldt.  On the right is her first husband and my great grandfather, Edward Thomas Moldt, his parents immigrated from Denmark. On the far left is James Bush Allen, Mae's father from Eramosa Twp., Canada West (Ontario).  Their oldest son, Edward Allen Moldt (known as Doc because when he was young he would carry around a black bag like a doctor), sits on the ladder with his mother's arm holding his. Lastly,  perched high on the ladder is their youngest child, Harold, (always known as Uncle High).  I am not positive what year this was taken, but Harold was born in 1908, and he looks like he is maybe 12 or 13.  I will guess it was around 1920.  

While I know I have posted this photo before, what I want you to compare is this "Sunday Best" with the Facebook style photo that was taken at the same time!  Either young people haven't changed  in the last hundred years, or my grandmother was ahead of her time with her quirky photos. 

Left to right: Edward A. Moldt, Edward T. Moldt, James B. Allen, Anna Mae Moldt, Harold Moldt

Wait. . . do I detect a hint of a smile from Edward Thomas and James B.?  They always look so somber and domineering in all my other photos.  My grandmother definitely had a sense of humor with her photography, so they must have had a sense of humor to go along with this.  The caption she wrote in white ink on the black album page under the photo said, "Almost the whole d--- family!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Auntie's Fame

The formidable Auntie Anna McDonnell

 This past weekend I met so many new (to me) relatives at my double cousin, Mary Margaret's funeral. I explained how we were doubly related, and then  names, relationships, and stories began.

As I was talking to one cousin (double of course) the subject of Auntie came up. His most vivid memory of Auntie revolved around chocolate cake.  As a young boy he was visiting the Kennelly  relatives in Chicago when, I think he said, his Aunt Mary Kennelly offered him a piece of chocolate cake - a nice thin slice. When Auntie saw this she took control of the cutting knife and proclaimed, "Oh, for pete's sake Mary, he's a growing boy!"  and proceeded to cut him a man-size piece of cake.  With a smile on his face he turned and never forgot that cake . . .or Auntie.  Then I told him that recently I was going through an old crumbling three ring binder of recipes that belonged to my mother.  Most of the recipes were cut out of old magazines like Family Circle and Woman's Day and pasted onto lined loose-leaf paper.  But like a piece of gold hidden in the dirt,  I found Auntie's Chocolate Cake recipe - in my grandmother's handwriting.  He lit up, and asked if he could have a copy.  Of course I promised I would send it to him, but I thought you might like to see it also, and now . .  I have a story to go with the recipe.

 Chocolate Cake (Auntie's)
Cream a 1/2 cup of Butter until it is plastic.  Measure 1 1/4 cups of Brown Sugar packed firmly into measuring cup & add it gradually to the butter, creaming together until the mixture is light & fluffy. Add 2 eggs unbeaten - one at a time beating well after each addition.  Melt 3 squares of bitter chocolate in a saucer on top of the teakettle.  Cool slightly & add to mixture & mix thoroughly.  Sift cake flour once and measure 2 cups & add one level teaspoon. soda to flour and sift 3 times.  Add the flour alternately with one cup of milk - add 1 t. vanilla.  Bake 25 min.

Note:  Recipe was written by Berenice Moldt Kennelly

Friday, February 18, 2011

Forlorn Friday

I am sitting in a hotel room tonight with only my emotions to keep me company.  Tomorrow I will go to the funeral of my wonderful double cousin who I mentioned before - here, and here, and who wrote a guest blog post for me here.  She had the same passion as I did for the family history, and since we were double cousins, we had twice as many ancestors in common to keep us searching.

While I know that her struggle with ALS is over, I am selfishly sad that I won't have her friendship any more.  I am too sad to write anything now, but needed to say this. Her obituary is in the Rockford Register.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tombstone Tuesday. . . John W. O'Connor. . . I think we might be related.

John W. O'Connor
Sgt. 7th Illinois Infantry
October 20, 1910

Long before I read the suggestion of other bloggers that you should photograph the headstones around your relative's, I found that I naturally look around at all of the cemetery neighbors of my ancestors.  I admire the style of their markers. I read their names and dates of birth and death. I read about their religious beliefs or military service.  That is why, this headstone grabbed my attention.  As you can see, I even had the caretaker dig around the stone that was being overtaken by grass for a better photo. His headstone is located a few steps away in the block of graves next to my aunt, Margel Kennelly, and gr-gr-grandmother, Margret Kennelly Logan.  I wrote about this adventure here. But what drew me in? What made me care enough to clear the grass for the photo?  It was the name O'Connor.  My gr-gr-grandmother's maiden name was O'Connor. Of course, I knew this could be a coincidence.  After all, Irish names in Chicago are as numerous as the blades of grass at the cemetery.  But just take a photo and check on it later, I told myself.

I assumed from the date that he was possibly in the Spanish American War so my first visit was to the online Illinois Archives database of Spanish-American War veterans . Well, I'll be gosh darned, there he is.  My great grandfather was a veteran of the Spanish-American War, so next I needed to check his files to see what unit he was in. . . Amazing, it was the same unit.  The coincidences are now mounting, but I still needed to sort out the relationships.  After all, what is the chance that a soldier with the same name as my gr-gr-grandmother, and in the same unit as her son, my great grandfather would be buried  next to her? He is buried with his father William (d. 12 Dec 1908 and his mother, Catherine (d. 13 Jan 1919) who survived him.

His death certificate was available on the Family Search website so from this I found out that he died at age thirty-one of tuberculosis.  He was never married , and he was in a hospital in Arizona when he died. I wonder why he was in Arizona?  His mother gave the information for the death certificate and so I learn that her maiden name was Morris.  Will this help me prove or disprove his relationship to my ancestors?  He was a very young man, younger than my grandfather,  to be made a sergeant. What skills or accomplishments did he have to recommend him for this elevated rank? Oh wait. . . I forgot this was Chicago. He might have had "connections".

Later when I was searching for information about my great grandfather, Edward P. Kennelly's war service, I found the Adjutant General's muster out rolls for Illinois volunteers 1898 &; 1899 on another of my favorite resources - Google Books.  Naturally, I looked up John W. O'Connor also.  According to the muster out rolls he was mustered in as a sergeant in April 1898 and reduced to a private June 1 per paragraph no. 1, per S.O. (standing order?) no.10." then July 1 appointed sergeant from private per SO no. 21 and then sick to quarters by July 31. Something tells me there is a story between standing order numbers 10 and 21. On Aug. 1 he was transferred to a hospital where he was on sick leave.  When he mustered out, he was overpaid by .90 and the record shows that he still owed the government seventy-three cents.  But. . . did he contract tuberculosis during his military service? 

So next  time you find yourself wandering around the tombstones, look for familiar names and click a few extra photos for later research.  Thank goodness for digital photographs because I take a lot of photos.

This could still be a coincidence.  John's last name, the location of his grave next to my gr-gr grandmother's, and his military service in the same unit as my grandfather might be stacked together by the fates to mislead me.  But for the present, I think of him as family.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Marriage Monday

The beautiful bride - Anna Marie Kennelly - date approx. 1922-1924

This is the wedding of my grand aunt Anna Marie Kennelly, my grandfather's sister. 
Front left to right: Mary Kennelly (sister), Margaret aka Peg Kennelly (sister), Anna Marie (bride), Berenice Moldt Kennelly (my grandmother and sister-in-law), unknown girl
Back left to right: Jimmy Fox (cousin), Dr.Leon Farley (groom), Owen Kennelly (brother), Edward P. Kennelly, Jr. (my grandfather)

A few photos sit on your heart and won't leave.  For me, this is one of those photos.  My grandparents must have been newly married, and my great grandmother in all likelihood made the dresses since before her marriage, she had been a personal seamstress for Mrs. Potter Palmer.  She knew her way around a needle! Since I usually examine the clothing in old photographs before I look at the faces this was a feast. My grandmother looks so beautiful and my grandfather so young. . . was this photo before or after their daughter Margel died in 1922?  And Anna Marie did not know that she would have a short marriage, her husband would die, then she and her infant daughter would move back with her mother and Auntie  permanently - at 2338 W. Washington Blvd. - a house filled with family.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Where Do I Go From Here?

Abbey House B&B across from Jerpoint Abbey taken last summer
And now for a brief continuation of yesterday's frustration. . .

This morning I re-found the Ask about Ireland website with their searchable Griffith's Valuation.  I found it from a link at the Cork Ireland GenWeb site that led to a link, that in turn led to a link, and so on. But as soon as I saw the website I had a "aha" moment.  I'm sure that I must have bookmarked it either on my laptop or my desktop, and either in Internet Explorer or Firefox, but regardless, it isn't on the combination I have in front of me now.  One issue is that from their main webpage, I cannot figure out how to navigate to the Griffith's Valuation so if I revisited earlier I might not have realized the Griffith's information was there.  My fantasy dream hope is to find the four brothers living in close proximity on Griffith's since they were adults at the time, and Owen did not immigrate until approximately 1852. It might just catch them before their immigration. Of course, Owen might be still living with his mother.  

Did you feel my heart stop?

Informational note: I am searching the Ask Ireland Griffith's records intermittently while writing this post.  I tried and re-tried using the various brother's first names paired with McDonnell, dutifully checking the similar names box, but, after several attempts, I noticed that  the variation McDonald never showed up in the results.  So with a loud sigh and no expectation of success I entered McDonald for the surname, left the first name blank, and for the barony, I selected Barrett's since I had a vague recollection of a notation to that effect on family information given to me by my double cousin Mary.  Why not?  What was one more dead end?  When the results came up, I gasped.

Except for two, all of the results were in Grenagh - the location listed in Owen William's (my g-g-grandfather) obituary.  The name Denis is shouting at me because, Owen William also had a son named Denis, and I wondered who his name came from.  Could it be Owen had a brother Denis?  Grenagh is the parish name and as such, is a much larger property than just the town of Grenagh - which I presumed earlier to be the Irish home of Owen William.

I needed to see the original.  Wow, there is a lot to sort out to be able to decide if this is in fact my g-g-g grandfather's family - my family and the family of my cousins known and unknown.

  Below I have listed the record information for two of the individuals - Owen and Julia.  Julia would have been a widow at this point.  As you can see, the townland is Rathduff rather than Grenagh.  Now I have some new search parameters for the Irish Family History Foundation.  I wonder if it will make a difference in the birth record results.  I wish I had a large paper map of Griffith's to spread in front of me to find the locations referenced on the records to see if they are anywhere near each other.  I have tried it using the pop up map that is linked to the records but by the time I zoom in enough to see the numbers of the parcels, I lose track of where I am.  The information on the website did say that the order of the list does not necessarily indicate proximity or adjoining properties. In looking at the original page above, it appears as though Julia sublet a few acres to two other individuals - interesting.

Please notice that the year of these records is 1851.

Yes, I noticed that the eldest son, Michael, is missing. I tried to do a search for him using both McDonnell and McDonald but there were too many results in the county of Cork - none in the Barony of Barretts.  Could Michael have already immigrated?  Bartholomew would also have been young - could he be the one doing the farming for Julia?

This has been a satisfying morning.  I found (or re-found if you are being picky) a new resource, I corroborated the Grenagh information, and while I have not broken down any brick walls, I feel as though I have chipped a peephole in this one.  This is the best information I have to date, and after all my blog is not wikipedia, it is a chronicle of my family history adventure.

To go back to my opening statement . . . Where do I go from here? Suggestions are always appreciated.

I need another cup of coffee. . . . and to savor the moment.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Round and Round in Circles I Go

Ladies View - Lakes of Killarney

A recent email from cousin Karen in California gave me the impetus I needed to relook at my "Is it Owen or is it John" research.  I am, of course, referring to my g-g-g-grandfather who, according to the family legend, was bayoneted by a British soldier and died of pertonitis two weeks later. While the descendants of his son Owen William McDonnell believe his name to be Sean (John), I discovered that some of the descendants of his son Michael, believe his name to be Owen.  Oh dear!  Records from the birth index of the Irish Family History Foundation add to my confusion as I mentioned before in this post. If only I could narrow it down to a fairly reasonable certainty, I would gladly purchase the records available on the Irish Family History Foundation website. So far nothing lines up.  What seemed promising, remains elusive.

 The Owen possibility came to light when cousin Don, a descendant of Michael McDonnell, followed a path from a GenWeb post to my blog.  Our Christmas holiday vacation was a whir of email exchanges full of, wonderful old photos, but to our surprise. . . Don told us that his mother always understood that Michael McDonnell's father was named Owen, and his mother was Julia. In a flash I was back to the Irish Family History Foundation but again the results were mixed. This is where I became discouraged.  It feels like it is barely a fingertip out of reach.  This post sets out what I have uncovered  so far and hope that someone might see what I have missed or know of a resource that I do not.

The four brothers in order of birth and the birth range for each  as determined from census records. Conveniently, the 1860 census for Elk River, Iowa lists John, Michael and Bartholomew living together.  The family story is that Owen met his wife, Bridget O'Callahan, a bond servant, in Cinncinnati so it is possible they were both in Ohio for the 1860 census, but I have not found a definitive record yet.  They married in 1864.  A family tree scribbled long ago on a piece of scrap paper mentions a brother James with a question mark, but does not say whether he immigrated to America or not.  I am using the 1860 census because even if the ages are not exactly correct, the order of birth should be. So . . . . from oldest to youngest:

Michael  b.1826
John b. 1830
Owen  if b. 1833
Bartholomew b. 1834
Owen  if b. 1837

On the Ireland GenWeb site I found the following naming pattern tradition.
1st son was named after the father's father
2nd son was named after the mother's father
3rd son was named after the father
4th son was named after the father's eldest brother
1st daughter was named after the mother's mother
2nd daughter was named after the father's mother
3rd daughter was named after the mother
4th daughter was named after the mother's eldest sister

 Could my ancestors have adhered to this tradition?  If this were true, then both Owen William and Michael McDonnell should have named their oldest son after their father.  There are too many John McDonnell's in Iowa to know which is the correct one at the present time so we can't check his family, if he had one.  I have not been able to find Bartholomew in a census after 1860.  Possibly he went by Bart, possibly he spelled his surname McDonald, possibly he died . . . all currently unknown.  So the only two we can check are Michael and Owen William.  Michael did not name any of his children John and his youngest and third son was named Owen - so it doesn't fit for either name. It looks like Michael didn't follow the tradition.  He did have a daughter Julia, however.

Next Owen William.   His oldest son is named John (one of the choices for his father's father), his oldest daughter is named Mary (this is the mother's mother), his second son is Simon (this is the mother's father), the third son is Michael (this is his eldest brother), the fourth son was named Owen Jerome (this is the father's name),  There was a daughter Julia who died but I have no date of death for her.  Other children followed, including Bartholomew. So with the exception of reversing the order for Michael and Owen Jerome, it seems as though my g-g-grandparents did follow the traditional naming.  For this very superficial reason, I believe my family had the correct name for my g-g-g-grandfather . . . Sean (John) McDonnell!

Tomorrow, I will try to sort out some of the searches on the Irish Family History Foundation website.