Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Brick Wall Within

Shalimar Club California 1945
Recently, I was looking for a record relating to my father, Robert McCoy Walker, and after checking post after post and not finding what I wanted, I finally had the brilliant idea of just checking my tags.  I knew there wouldn't be many so that should make it easy.

What????  Nothing showed up.  In over two year of blogging, there is not one single tag for my father.  I have his father and his father's father, even two of his uncles, but no tags for him.  But I remember writing a blog post about my experience searching for his military files.  Found it!  "Government Efficiency at Its Best"  That's interesting . . . I did not tag him and, in fact, even removed his name from the letter.  As I read over it, I realized that the main point of the post was to document the process I went through to get his military and medical file rather than my father and, although I finally have the file, I still have not read it . . . hmmmmm.

Then there is the issue of what do I call him.  I had a great stepfather who I called by his first name, but for my whole life (the part I remember at least), I introduced him as my father, because . . . to me, he was.  I know I could choose to refer to one as my father and the other as my dad, but both terms seem to indicate a more familiar relationship than I had, and they are terms I have always associated with my stepfather - a term I rarely use.  The term biological father sounds like I started life in a petri dish.  Nothing seems right.  

What do I know about my father? I have found a few tidbits about him.  I know he had two brothers and one sister and grew up in Frankfort, Kansas. I know he was a 1942 graduate from the Columbus School of Law in Washington D.C. I know he was in the Seabees during WWII.  I know my parents married in California and moved back to D.C. after the war. I know he was an alcoholic for his entire life - the kind that can disappear for days or weeks at a time.

What would I like to know about my father? I would like to find my father before he became addicted to drink.  Where did he go to high school?  Where did he go to college?  Are there family photos when he was young?  Did he play football like his father?  I have researched a little, but then I find a letter that mentions his drinking or a photo of him with a drink in his hand, and I shut down.  I am way too old, and it has been way too long for me to still feel this way . . . but I do.  I now appreciate that my parent's divorce, gave me a wonderfully normal life.  It also separated me from half of my family - a grandmother and cousins my same age. Did they even miss my brother and I after we were gone? I recounted my first serious search for my Walker cousins in an early blog post, "52 Weeks to Better Genealogy - Challenge #23".  It was extremely emotional, as you can tell from my post, but more satisfying that I could ever have imagined, yet a lifetime of separation cannot be mended in a weekend.  So I reach out and then pull back.

I realize that this brick wall is within me.

Friday, June 22, 2012

And Now Back to the Photograph Album . . .

Mollie (Mary) Regan McCarty

In my previous post, Which is Which, I determined that the photograph on the left is Mollie Reagan, the oldest daughter of Michael Regan and Mary O'Callahan, sister of my gg-grandmother, Bridget O'Callahan.  To determine this, I used the names that were written on the empty album pages, the last name written on the back of the photograph and information about the dates the photographer was doing business in Cincinnati.  I am still undecided as to which sister is in the other photo.

I am taking the easy way here for my next one.  In the album, on the page opposite Mollie was written: Tom McCarthy ( aka McCarty).  Sorting through the photos, I find one of a young man that when I look at the back is identified as Leon McCarthy's father.  As I searched through the list of Bridget O'Callahan's sisters, brothers, spouses and families,  I have not been able to find a Leon McCarthy, but there IS a record of a Lane McCarty as the son of Mary and Thomas McCarty. Since I have discovered that one sister, Abigail, was not Albie as listed but rather Abbie, I am guessing that the names written on the pages were written later and might be "off" a bit.  Lane seems to be the most likely choice in this case.  The census records from 1900 and 1910 confirm that the family did not have a child named Leon.  So now this "Leon McCarthy's father" becomes, more accurately, Thomas McCarty husband of Mary (Mollie) Regan.

Thomas McCarty was from Covington, Kentucky which is right across the river from Cincinnati.  The photographer is a Covington photographer, but I did not need to track this photographer since I had enough information to identify the photo with that.

I do have one question about Thomas' photo. . .  what is that pin he is wearing on his tie?  It shows up on two different men in the album photos.  A fraternal organization perhaps???

According to his death certificate, Thomas, son of Irish immigrants John McCarty and Catherine Dermody, was a master plummer and died in 1940 at the age of 82, a widower.

I am working on the easy ones first so that I can narrow down the list of the "I have absolutely no idea ." individuals.  Of course, I am also hoping that descendants of the identified photos will find my post, and they will have information/photos that we can cross check . . . Hello, anyone out there?

Monday, June 18, 2012

New Irish Magazine

This morning as I was going through the blog posts in my Google Reader, one in particular caught my eye.  It was Lynn Palermo of The Armchair Genealogist and as usual I skimmed through her Monday Morning Mentions to see which ones intrigued me enough to follow her link.  I love the way she has categories for her suggestions with an emphasis on family history writing.  But today, the one that I thought deserved an extra shout was in her category of  "Books that Move and Matter".

 Today, rather than a book, she introduced her readers to a new magazine called Irish Lives Remembered.  I followed her link and found a wonderful website devoted to Irish genealogy.  I instantly signed up for future notifications, then clicked on the magazine tab near the top of the page, and spent a considerable amount of time reading through this extremely well done online magazine.  Did I mention it is free?  It will also let me download it as a PDF so I assume I can transfer it to my Nook for reading off line - like in the car on an upcoming road trip. 

An added bonus is that this inaugural issue has a focus on Cork, which is where my McDonnells and O'Callahans are from.  While I was there, I also signed up for groups related to ancestor research in Counties Kerry and Meath.

Thank you Lynn, for introducing me to this great new resource.

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Mystery of Grandpa Kennelly's Death Certificate

I'm taking a brief break from the photo album, because I was going through some files to send to a cousin when I noticed something unusual about the death certificate of my great grandfather, Edward P. Kennelly who lived at 2338 W. Washington Blvd and who stands proudly behind his children in my first blog post.

I have mentioned that on their wedding certificate my great grandparents were listed as the same age, but as their death certificates, and several census records show, Grandma Kennelly was really 10 years older than her husband.  Edward worked as a meat salesman at the Fulton St. Market - a commission man Grandma Kennelly called him.

As I quickly re-read the death certificate, before  intending to attach it to an email, something seemed odd so I read it again, but this time more slowly. The death certificate states that he died of "organic heart disease" on February 27, 1928, and his death occurred at  858 Fulton St., in Chicago's 3rd ward.  Is that the location of Fulton Market?  I assume that meant he had a heart attack. . . at work?  As I had remembered, it lists his father as Edward Kennelly from County Kerry, Ireland and his mother as Margaret O'Connor, also from County Kerry.   But, wait a minute . . .where is the 2338 W. Washington St. address???   The fact that his son, John was the informant was not unexpected, but it lists Edward's "usual place of abode" as 29 N. Pine Ave., and that is the same address listed for his son John.  He was living with his son, John when he died?

Maybe they purchased the house after his death, you say.  Oh, but the 1923 Chicago city directory lists his address as 2328 W. Washington, however, his son John is listed as living at 2338 W. Washington so his father's similar, but not quite correct address, is a typo.  What happened between 1923 and 1928 to make him move in with his son?  OR . . . was John so distraught at his father's sudden and unexpected death at age 53 that he gave them his own address by mistake?  I have NEVER heard any family gossip about Grandpa Kennelly moving out.  He still had teenagers at home who needed him.  When was the last city directory printed?   If there was one as late as 1927, maybe I could check his address on that?

Lastly, why would there have been an inquest, and  is it possible for me to get a copy of the inquest file?  With all of the family birth and death certificates with the 2338 address, it is a bit sad that it isn't on Grandpa Kennelly's.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Which is Which?. . . More Photos From the Album

Now. . . to continue with the project I have started, which is the unidentified photos from the album.  You don't know how hard it is for me to not get sidetracked.  I have been corresponding with a new cousin who found my tree on and so my thoughts have been flying all over the place.  

But I will store those ideas and try to bring my mind back to the album and the photos which I have always hoped to reconnect with the names.  I think that the project seems so big and so difficult that I wonder if I am up to the task.  That is why I decided to blog about it.  Blogging forces me to organize my thoughts and lay out the pertinent details so I can see them.  Like today, I have spent the entire afternoon trying to put together the background information for this post.  That research has resulted in partial answers.

Now I am asking you to help, correct or suggest where I should go from here.

In a past post I mentioned the Reagan girls. On the album pages the names written include "Beany" Regan and Mollie Regan.  However on the back of two loose photos is only written "Regan".  The back side of the photos do give me information about the photographer, and it was the tracking of the photographer that took much of my time today.

My stumbling, bumbling, haphazard internet searches painstaking research discovered that Kelly's photography business was only in existence in Cincinnati from 1876 - 1880.  At some point my Google searches turned up a promising record in the the Cincinnati city directories on Fold3.  For some reason I always forget to check Fold3, and they have a great collection of city directories.  I love city directories because they let you track, in this case businesses, year by year.  By changing the years and changing the names from Kelly to Brownell, I was able to narrow down the time period.  The 1880 city directory shows James Kelly operating a "Photograph and Ferreotype Gallery" at 196 W. 5th  which is the same as the back of the card.  That same year C.A. Brownell, photographer, is located at 403 W. 3rd.

1880 Cincinnati city directory listing
1880 Cincinnati city directory listing

Next I checked the 1881 city directory and discovered that C.A. Brownell was doing business at the 196 W. 5th street address.  Not only that but the directory does not list James Kelly at all.  Did he sell, die or move?  Since it was not relevant to my issue I merely wondered and moved on.
1881 Cincinnati city directory listing
My task now was to discover when Kelly began his photographic gallery at 196 W. 5th.  I started going backwards, 1879. . 1878. . .1877. . .1876 . . .1875 - whoops, no Kelly.  The earliest listing appeared in the  1876 city directory,
1876 Cincinnati city directory listing
My reasoning is that Brownell's would not have included the information that the photographic gallery was formerly Kelly's for more than 2 years. . . possibly less.  So that should date the second photo to 1881-1882.  The top photo has to be between 1876 and 1880 because he was only in business at the address listed between those dates.

Now to pin down the ages of the Regan girls who were the daughters of Mary O'Callahan Regan and her husband Michael Reagan.  Mary was the sister of my gg grandmother, Bridget O'Callahan McDonnell.  Using several census records along with the written note I mentioned in this blog post, I have figured out their correct names and tentatively a birth year for each.  Unknown to me before today, I have learned that Mollie is a nickname for Mary and the census show her birth year  to be 1861.  Bridget was born in 1862 and the Albie listed in the note turned out to be Abigail, also called Abbey in the 1870 census, who was born in 1867.

I know from the album that one is Mollie, but who is the other sister - Abigail or Bridget?

Abigail would be only 13 at most in the top photo and the girl does look young and not . . . not fully developed.  If it is Abigail in the second photo, she would be 14 or 15.  The girl looks young but I don't think she that young?

Let's now look at Bridget.  In the top photo, Bridget would be at most 18 but at the least 14.  It's a possibility if this photo was taken in 1876 rather than 1880.  Is it possible to tell?  In the bottom photo, Bridget would be 19 or 20 and the age looks about right, but don't forget her sister Mollie is only a year older than her.

I think the bottom one is Mollie since it was on the page in the album opposite her husband.  I don't think they would have put a photo of her as a child opposite her husband's photo, but this is just an assumption on my part. I also enlarged the photograph and it looks like she has a ring on her right hand - a reversal perhaps?

If my assumptions are correct, that means the top photograph is either Bridget or Abigail.  Any ideas?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Another Photo from the Family Album . . . Opinions Please!

Well, I should have put this photo of the album in with the first post I made about the unidentified photos that were stuck in it.  I have never made any claims to be organized, and this is further proof that I am not.  I have nothing but a gut feeling to tell me it is 1880's or 1890's vintage.  Cousin June sent me a list of the names that were written on the pages, but why in the world they would have removed the pictures in the first place is beyond my comprehension.  I console myself with the knowledge that at least they kept them in the album. The problem is that they don't all match up, so either there were other photos that are missing, or they slipped in a few that weren't original to the album.  I think I have a lead on the photo from my previous posting.  When I looked at the list of names again, I found that there is only one couple listed . . . Lane McCarty's parents.  And if I read her email correctly, the name Mollie was also on the same page.  This seemed to suggest that there should be two photos on this page, but when I searched high and low through my messy files located the list of Bridget O'Callahan's siblings, I discovered the name Lane McCarty as one more generation was squeezed into the list. His parents? Mollie Reagan and Thomas McCarty (McCarthy).  Now my mission is to locate some records for them and see if the time period  and location matches.  I will let you know.

Today, I want to share the photo that I forgot to take to the NGS conference with me.  It is also a tintype and I have poured over it, enlarged it, compared it to other photos and wondered about the wild, colorful neck bow.  I know the photo is in black and white, but I can see the color . . . can't you? 

From the dropped sleeve and full skirt, I estimate it is about 1850's or1860's. Someone wiser that me could pinpoint the clothing more closely.  The bow seems unusual, but maybe she was just a girl who liked a little flash.  She is wearing a ring on her right hand. . . or is this in reverse, and it's really on her left?  Could it be a wedding ring?  If I am correct then the time period fits, but I want need your opinion. After all you can't base an identification on a time period alone, and wishing it were true won't make it so.  I ask you, is this a young version of the woman below??

The woman below is Bridget O'Callahan, my gg grandmother.