Category Archives: Obituaries

Amanuensis Monday – The Obituary of Marie Jonas

Chicago Tribune 29 Aug 1944

Jonas – Marie Jonas of Morton Grove, Ill., beloved mother of Augusta Frieberg, Emma Felske, Minnie Seifert, Bertha Klopp, Otto, Ella Jaeger, Max, Margaret Voightlander, and Theodore. Funeral Wednesday, 1:30 p. m., from chapel , 6235 Lincoln avenue, Morton Grove, to Jerusalem Lutheran Church at 2 p. m. Interment St Matthew’s Cemetery.


Was John O’Connell Buried Twice

Last October I wrote about How My Brickwall Came Tumbling Down. I had finally found a death certificate for my great-great grandfather John O’Connell and with that I posted a query on’s message boards for help with an obituary. My facebook friend, Peter, was helpful and went to the library and looked it up for me.

As always with this line, there is another twist in John’s story. According to his obituary, John was buried in St. Mary’s Cemetery on Washington St., in Fair Haven, VT. Now, I had already visited John’s final resting place in Hudson Falls, NY (this has been verified through church records). But, I thought maybe he could have been buried originally in VT and then the family moved him home to Hudson Falls. Obviously, a phone call to St. Mary’s was in order.

I spent a few days searching for any cemetery information on St. Mary’s and found nothing. I reached out to Peter again to see if he could get me a phone number. Again, he was extremely helpful and sent me the number and told me that the church goes by Our Lady of  Seven Dolars.

Today, I knew I would be at work about an hour early with some time to myself. So, this was the day I was going to make my calls to the east cost cemeteries. I placed the first call to a CT cemetery for my MIL’s line, but that is a post for another day. I then called St. Mary’s/Our Lady of Seven Dolars and spoke with a very nice woman who pulled out her file on J. O’Connell. She said that there was no information in his file and she believed no one was buried there. She then asked if I could hold on for a minute and she would check the map of the cemetery to see if that would give us any information. When she got back on the phone, she advised that there are 2 lots and no one is buried there.

So, what happens to these 2 unused burial plots? That was my next question. She said that unless they were bequeathed to someone in a will, the lots will remain there, unused. As a family there is nothing we can do. Not that I am looking to be buried in VT, for gosh sake, I have never even visited the state! But, could we even donate them to a family in need, something? The short answer, NO – not unless it was left to someone in a will. Can you guess what my next step will be? That’s right, will and probate records! I need to see what became of John’s property after his death.

Here are the thoughts that crossed my mind since this phone call:

  • John died during the Depression in 1931
  • He had been living in Fair Haven, VT for six years
  • As far as my research goes, all his children were in NY and Canada
  • His half-sister Alice live in Fair Haven, VT as well

With the facts I have on John and his family, this is the scenereo I have come up with…

Alice started the planning for John’s service’s and must not have known that he had already purchased plots at St. Mary’s (though why his wife did not say anything I have no clue). His children arrive and decide they want to bury him at home in Hudson Falls, NY. Leaving behind the 2 plots at St. Mary’s in VT.

I also want to add that John’s first wife is buried at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cemetery in Granville, NY with no other family around her (and many empty spaces as well). Are there more family lots there? I sent an email to the church month’s ago asking this very question, I never received a reply.

This was a poor family (in 1930 John owned his home and it was valued at $1,200 in the 1930 census), I cannot see them wasting money by purchasing multiple burial plots and not using them.

What are your thoughts? Would love to hear from anyone on this.

How my brick wall came tumbling down

The past few weeks I have been back working on my brick wall ancestor, John O’Connell. Recently, I have been emailing with reader Dawn Glass who had sent me some baptismal information for John O’Connell and his wife Bridget Curran. Dawn was not 100% were the information came from because the research was completed by her father years before. Since I do not have a copy of the actual record or index, I did not want to put that information into my tree. No actual source, no actual evidence!

On Sunday 14 Oct 2010, after sitting on the information for a few weeks and not really knowing how to proceed with it. I decided to start a new tree on with brief information for John and wife Bridget. I only put in the baptismal information from Dawn and the dates of death that I had for both of them. After creating this tree, Currane Family Tree, I went to the profile of John O’Connell and clicked on search historical records. I was surprised that one of the first records that popped out at me was a death record from Vermont.

As far as I knew, the family was never really in VT, I know that the borders changed here and there, but I never had any clue to search there. Well, I decided to click into this record anyway because the name and date of death matched. I am so glad I clicked because this is what I found:, Vermont Death Records, 1909-2008 [database-online], Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2010

Here is the problem with this record, it list’s John’s mother as Helen Seymour. According to the baptismal information from Dawn, her name was Helen Teahan. Plus, no where on this document does it tell us who provided the information for the record. At this point, I cannot 100% say if this is my John O’Connell or not. I then decided to seek out the obituary for this John O’Connell.

Searching for the obituary was not easy for me either. I could not find it on or on either. I decided to post a few queries to see what that would bring. First I posted one on under Rutland County, VT, hoping this would bring me a quick response. I then posted another one on Genealogywise in the group Look-Up Angels (I have had success here before).

Within 24 hours, I received a reply on Ancestry. The reply stated that they had went to the library to look it up and could not get to the index. I sent a quick reply thanking the person for such a quick turn-a-round. A reply was also posted on Genealogywise to search through google news archives. I did that and again found nothing!

Was I not supposed to know if this was my John. I have been searching for information on this family for 10 years without being able to get beyond him. I just hopped and prayed this was it, the one I had been searching for.

To my surprise, within two days there was another response on Ancestry, here is what they said:

Fair Haven Era
October 1931
“Funeral services for Mr. John O’Connell who died last Friday evening at his home on Pine St., after a five week illness were held at St. Mary’s church Monday 8 o’clock. Rev. PJ Long and JJ Dwyer officiated at the mass of requie. Mr. O’Connell was born in Canada.and has resided in town for the past six years on Pine St. Besides his wife is is survived by three daughters, Mrs. Coulman of Schenectady NY, Mrs. Daha and Mrs William Pratt of Hudson Falls NY, three sons, Dennis of Canada, Dan and John O’Connell of Hudson Falls NY, one half sister, Mrs. J. Gilrain of Fair Haven.”
The internment was in St. Marys Cemetery on Washington St. and the pall bearers were Fred Moore, James Hickey, George Eaton, James Laramie, John Dutelle and Frank McDermott.

I was so exited to read this. This obituary was for certain my John O’Connell. I had finally found a death record and obituary for him. The obituary tells us he is survived by a half-sister. How exciting, another branch to add to the family. The sons I already had information on, as for the daughters, two of the families I knew of. As for Mrs. Coulman, I can only assume that this is (Mary O’Connell) Cheney, Herring. Mr. Coulman most be husband number two for Mary, as she was buried under Mary O’Connell – Herring. I only wish they listed the name of his wife. Now this obit states he was born in Canada and the death record shows he was born in Ireland, ughh again nothing can be consistent with this family. At this point,  I am going to assume that Ireland is correct because the baptismal information is from County Kerry, Ireland, the month he was born.

After all this information, I was also able to find John and Marie in the 1930 census in Fair Haven, Rutland, Vermont. I now have him in 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930, not to mention a few of the state census’ as well.

I want to say a special thanks to Dawn Glass for leading me in the right direction and then to my new facebook friend Peter who happened to be the kind man who did the VT research for me and then pushed me in the direction of a family tree for Alice O’Connell (who turned out to be John’s half-sister). Because of these wonderful people, I have been able to expand my tree and have been in contact with another new cousin and have also seen a picture of Dennis O’Connell (John’s dad). I truly appreciate all the help I have received crumbling the brick wall of John O’Connell!


Tombstone Tuesday – James E Richmand

Growing up, we always heard stories of Uncle Jimmy. He was my maternal Grandpa’s younger brother. Uncle Jimmy was in the service and when he would visit the family in West Virginia, he would come and spend time with his big brother Bill and his family. My Grandma would tell us stories about how when he arrived she would offer to make him a sandwich, and he would ask for 6 bologna sandwiches. He would eat all of them.
I do not know really much about Uncle Jimmy, except for that he was loved by his family. Uncle Jimmy died at the age of 19 in a terrible car accident.

Here are clips from a newspaper article that my Grandmother kept, I do not know what paper it came out of at this point.












Cemetery Photo

img021Inscription reads:

James E Richmond

West Virginia


US Navy

February 9 1938

May 10 1957 Continue reading →

Treasures of mine

It is that time again, Saturday night. Time for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun. Tonight’s request is to look into the treasures we have found in our research, no matter where the find occurred. Thanks to Randy Seaver at Genea Musings  for reminding us to have fun with our research!

Within my family, the finds have been minimal, but none the less, very exciting. Just after I started my research, my Dad was getting ready to sell his house. He told me that there was a photo album in the basement that had belonged to my Grandpa, Larry O’Connell. Larry died on 28 Feb 1975, I was almost 4 years old. The album had been in flood water about 12 years prior. Luckily, no real damage had occurred. I had looked through the album and did not really know who most of the people were in the photo’s. The album stayed with my Dad for many more years, until I asked to go through it again around 2000, I told him I wanted to put everything together in a new scrap book. This is when I found the most important piece of information for my research. Inside the photo album was a full Canadian newspaper. The St. Catherines Standard, dated 18  Nov 1950. I scoured the paper for over an hour before I found why this specific paper was saved. Inside was the obituary for my Great Grandfather, Dennis O’Connell, (d. 17 Nov 1950). Because of the Newspaper listing all of Dennis’ siblings and where they were located, I was able to trace his sister Catherine’s family. I have found  a niece and nephew of Dennis’ in NY. Neither of them met Dennis, but were excited to hear from me and know that there is more family out there. I hope to get to meet them sometime in the near future. Also, because of Dennis’ obituary, I knew what city in NY he was buried in. I just had to find the cemetery, and I did. That brings me to the next treasure, within the same cemetery is Dennis’ father John O’Connell and I believe a brother and his wife and a sister. There is one more O’Connell buried there, I assume she will end up being a relation, but I have not proven that yet.

This image is from my treasured photo’s from Grandpa Larry.

img004L to R

Dennis, Larry (Ambrose), Joe (Linus) O’Connell

Photo taken in Canada

The day my Dad showed me the album, he also showed me a metal lock box the size of a legal folder. Inside the lock box was everything important from my Grandma, Ida (Jaeger) O’Connell, she died 15 Apr 1980, I was 8 years old. I stood in the basement, going through this box carefully. I was amazed at the things I found.  Their marriage certificate. My Great Grandpa, Fred Jaeger’s, naturalization papers. Sympathy cards from when my Grandfather died. Grandpa’s wallet, which had been on him the day he died, it still had all the pictures he was carrying at that time. I took whatever would go through the fax machine and made copies and left the rest, I told my Dad that I wanted this box if anything was to happen to him. 

The photo album and the locked box mean a lot to me. Unfortunately, I believe the locked box is missing (last I heard). As for the album, I have that. Since, the album itself was ruined in the flood, I have taken all of the photo’s out and have them in a photo box. I still have not decided what to do with them. I have read that they should not be set into a scrapbook because they are too fragile. I spoke with someone at a scrapbooking store and they said to put them in an album.  The one thing I do know is, with the help of my Aunt Terri, I have placed most of the people in the pictures. Slowly, I am scanning them so I have a digital copy as well. 

Let me know your thoughts on the older photo’s that have already been through so much, should the be put into a scrap book or not? Will the glues/adhesives hurt them anymore?

Genealogy Technology, Weekly Prompt # 14

Prompt #14 asks us to talk about  what different types of technology we use in our genealogy research and how it is working for us. At this point, I have never replied to a weekly prompt, I figured this would be a good one to start with. Thanks to Thomas at Genea Bloggers for keeping us updated with each weekly prompt. Also thanks to Amy at We Tree for her many ideas to blog about this week.

When it comes to technology, that is where the majority of my research is done. I use many different websites.,, and Newspaper Ancestry has helped me connect with many distant cousins, find many census and other records I was looking for. The only issue I have with this site is that the search function could be more efficient. There are a few things that I have had to have someone else look up, give me specifics as to where the records is, so then I can search on Ancestry for it by State and County.I have finally uploaded two family trees, after a few years of membership. With this I have been able to take one line of my tree back even further. Though, the main line I have been working on is still at its brickwall. Ancestry seems to be making changes to their site all the time from adding new sources to now adding the help of proffesional genealogists in the near future (though it is unclear as to how this is going to work at the moment). Geni is a great site for your family to come together and work on the tree collectively. Though, some of us are protective of the work that we have done, you wonder about what is being placed. For our family, the Geni site has brought forward our next generation Genealogist. We have also had luck with relatives that I personally have never met, logging on and sharing things that I did not know. Overall, it is successful for sharing and networking with your family. The Family Search site is not used as often as the other sites for myself. Not to put others off, but I have not had much success finding things on this site. Newspaper Archives on the other hand, has added so much to my family tree this year. Through searching old obituaries, I have been able to find relatives back in NY that I did not know where there. I have made contact with them and hope to be able to meet them this summer. 

Of course, I am on a few of the social networks as well. I started out on Facebook looking for friend that I lost contact with. After I found her and before I could delete the profile, many friends over the years have popped up. So I continued with this site. Which now I use more to network with others that love Genealogy as much as I do. I am also on Twitter, which I am not 100% with. But, I am there and will continue for now. 

I started my blog Climbing the O’Connell Family Tree on Blogger and recently moved it to WordPress. As stated in my last post, WordPress has a crisp, more elegant look, which is why I moved the blog. I started the blog to help track my research, now I use the blog and many of the sites listed to network with others. I feel that through this I have made friends and people I can trust to help me along when needed. 

The one other site that I truly have utilized in my search is the USGenWeb project. With the obituaries I found, this project has helped me find the final resting place for many of my ancestors. I am grateful to all those invested in these volunteer projects that help the rest of us with our research.

To keep everything organized, I have used a few different programs. I started with Family Tree Maker in 1999, which I loved, it searched the internet for me, helped create a web site, and had the ability to put together books. Was there anything not to like for someone just starting in their research. Currently, I am running on a MAC, so Family Tree Maker is no longer an option. I currently use Reunion, which organizes my information and has the ability to input the sources as well. It is user friendly, I have had no real problems or learning curve with it. Also, I love that the company stands behind their product and is great with the support they give their users.

The only thing that I would like to see is more products for the MAC, most genealogy based products are for the PC. Any correspondence I have had with multiple companies advises that it is not in the near future do to economic conditions. As always, we are putting everything on the economy!

Lacey Family

From the clues I have received from my email I mentioned a few days ago. I searched the Watertown Daily news and found the obits for Elizabeth Pratt Lacey and her husband Alton V Lacey. I also found the obit for Alton’s brother,  Orville. With these I have been able to add quite a few names to the tree. Though they are not of blood relation, it does extend our tree even more. I have updated my personal tree on my computer and will hopefully update soon. Hope everyone is doing well.

The start of my climb, Dennis O’Connell

In December of 2003, I found the obituary of my paternal great grandfather, Dennis O’Connell. Dennis was born in NY and died in Thorold, Alberta, Canada (1950). His obituary listed his living relatives in NY and also stated that his body would be returned to Hudson Falls, NY for burial. At this time, I got on the internet to get a list of cemeteries in that area so I could call them. Of course, I never got around to making any of those calls. I could not figure out how to really make that call. “Can you tell me if my dead relatives are buried there.” Anyhow, I had narrowed this list down because I knew that Dennis was divorced so he could not have been buried in the Catholic cemeteries. From here I did nothing with this information for many years.

Now it is Aug. 7, 2008 and I went to the Newberry Library with my sister in law to kick start my research yet again. I found a pholio of Washington County, Town of Kingston. This pholio is a transcription of all the local Cemeteries. I believed that I had found Dennis and maybe his father as well. There are 6 O’Connell’s buried in the same area of St Paul’s Cemetery. 
On Aug 8, I called St Paul’s and spoke with Dorothy, who did confirm that this is the Dennis I was looking for. She confirmed this by giving me Dennis’ wife name. I was so excited that I actually cried. She told me once I calmed down, she would give me all the info she had. This information did include that John O’Connell buried there as well is his father. This was confirmed through his wife’s name, Bridget Curran. Dorothy did find it odd that my Irish ancestor’s are buried in their French cemetery. I did tell her we believe that Bridget is of French decent, but have no proof at this point. 
I did find it odd that Bridget was not buried here with her husband.
For me,  this was a huge find. Though, the one thing I learned is do not go with what you know to be right. Because this was the one cemetery I would never have called. It is a Catholic Cemetery. Again, Dennis and Rose were divorced! I will need to find proof of this though. 
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