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 ancestry.com’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.
Once again, Randy at Genea-Musings presents:
It’s Saturday Night again (I know, you just celebrated New Year’s Eve – are you home for the night?) — time for some Genealogy Fun (what else is there?)!!
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to:
1) Decide which of your (many?) genealogy research adventures was your “very best” (your definition).
2) Tell us about it in a blog post of your own, in a comment to this blog post, or in a Status report or comment on Facebook.
My best adventure to date has been my East Coast trip with my aunt and cousin. We traveled from Chicago to Boston to visit the final resting places of our ancestors, have a little fun and finally to meet my paternal Grandfathers first cousins.
The trip was fun and we found everyone we wanted to in each of the cemeteries we visited. But, the best part of the trip / adventure was stopping in Black River, NY to meet the cousins. We met two of Grandpa Larry’s first cousins who are not both 80+ years. They really did not have any information to add to the tree but were very interested in what I had found so far.
The reason is has been my best adventure so far is because many, many years ago I was told we still had family in NY and I did not believe it. How happy I was to actually find the family that is still there. A few other family members have tried to trace this line in our family and no one has been this successful. I am so glad I was able to trace the family as far as I have and hope to continue to find new family members there. Keeping my fingers crossed that they will all return the letters I send out (still waiting on one I sent out over a month ago)!
As 2010 comes to a close, it is time to take a look back at the resolutions made for this year and see how I did with my research and then I can decide what my resolutions will be for 2011.
Find out who the parents are of John O’Connell and Bridget (Curran) O’Connell.
For John, I actually found a death certificate. Through the death certificate I was able to have someone find his obituary for me. Read how my Brickwall Came Tumbling Down for more information.
John’s parents are Denis O’Connell and Helen Teahan.
For Bridget, I am still searching for more concrete evidence. At this point, I know she was a sponsor to Catherine (nee’ Curran) Berringer’s daughter. I was hoping to find proof that Bridget and Catherine are sisters, but no such luck. I do have an index from Tralee, County Kerry, Ireland that shows a Bridget Currane was baptized. This index shows parents as Patrick Currane and Mary McGill. According to research being completed on Catherine Curran Berringer, her parents are John Curran and Catherine McCarthy.
So I still have no absolute proof on Bridget’s parents. I have called the town and county where Bridget is buried to see if they have any death records on her, they do not. Our Lady of Mount Carmel has not further information on Bridget or Catherine.
Find out who Marie O’Connell that is buried in St Mary / St Paul’s cemetery is? Does she fit into the family. She is the last O’Connell there.
What I have found so far is that a John O’Connell married a Marie Goyette at St. Paul’s Church on 9 Apr 1915. John and Marie are found living in Nassau, Rensselaer, NY in 1920 and Fair Haven, Rutland, VT in 1930 (which is where John died in 1931). At this point, I have not found any mention of Marie in the Newspapers, no marriage notice or obituary. I can only assume that the Marie in St. Paul’s cemetery is John’s wife.
Visit the NY Cemeteries were my family members are buried. While in NY, meet the remaining family members that are there.
I completed this journey in June with a cousin and aunt. I have shared some of the photo’s already and have more to share.
Continue research into my Springer line.
The specific records I was looking for on this line were specific to Rose Springer. I was hoping to find her birth, marriage, divorce or even her second marriage records. I have not found one of them so far. To be honest though, I did not search very hard.
What I have been able to find out has come from a phone interview with a cousin in Az who told me that the Springer family is from Quebec and when they moved to the states, they changer their name from Fontaine to Springer. She also told me that Rose’s father died before 1900, he had been struck by lightening (I believe he was going from the house to the barn). I used this information to search ancestry.com message boards and I found another cousin out west. I was able to meet with one of Rose’s nieces over the summer, she took me to a family function where I was able to meet other family members who also remember Rose. It was a great privilege to spend the evening with the extended family.
Find a very nice person who is willing to translate Russian to English for me so I can continue research on my Mother-in-laws family.
Thanks to Thomas MacEntee at Geneabloggers, I found someone who translated a few sections of a Russian website.
My brother-in-law also started helping research this line and we have been able to find the family in ship records (which is what I have been trying to find for about 2 years now).
So, that is my year in review. I hope everyone else has had a good year as well and that you were able to meet some of your goals.
On 29 Oct, I wrote the post How my brick wall came tumbling down. Now I have to decide what is the next step for this line.
- Try to figure out when John came to the USA
- Try to find out more details on his parents, Dennis and Helen (Teahan) O’Connell
- Try to find a marriage record for either of John’s marriage (not just an index)
- Continue through census records to see if I can find him in 1880, 1870, and 1860 (or any other census)
- Research more of John and Bridget’s children (still need to research John, Daniel, Elizabeth and Harriet)
- Look into land records for John
- Search out John’s probate records
Since I spent this week catching up on my reading of Casefile Clues, by Michael John Neill. I have learned that I need to decide on one goal and then I should take the time and put together a spreadsheet with the available information. Once I have done that it might lead me to where I need to look next. With my goal on this family being to find more information on where we are from in Ireland, maybe I should set up a few different goals and then make a spreadsheet for each with all available information and see if they will bring me any closer.
Since I have baptismal information on John, I know the town he lived in at the time of his birth. But, that does not tell me that this is where his parents were necessarily from. My ramblings here only prove the fact that I cannot decide which route to take on the family. Since I have a nice three-day weekend ahead, it looks like I will be taking some time to move forward on this line.
If anyone has a suggestion on which route would be better to go, feel free to leave a comment here.
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 ancestry.com 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:
Ancestry.com, Vermont Death Records, 1909-2008 [database-online], Provo, UT, USA, Ancestry.com 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 ancestry.com or on NewspaperArchives.com either. I decided to post a few queries to see what that would bring. First I posted one on ancestry.com 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
“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 morning.at 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!
After spending yesterday with my family celebrating a birthday and my sons going off to college, I came home and went through all of my information I have on John O’Connell and his family. I also went through my brickwall problem that I laid out on GenealogyWise in September 2009, I reread all of the replies, searched for some of the tips I had received from others and even added a new reply. I also blogged about this previously, you can read more here at, My Brickwall Ancestor, John O’Connell. Though most information is posted in both of these links, I will still give you all the information I have gathered thus far, with all of the sources as well.
In 1892, John O’Connell and wife Bridget are living in Granville, Washington Co., NY. John is a Quarrysman and was listed as a citizen. Living with John and Bridget are their 6 children, Hattie, Lizzie, Dennis, John, Daniel and Kate.
In 1900, John is raising his 6 children (Elizabeth, Dennis, John W, Daniel, Kate and Mary) alone, in a rented house, in Kingsbury, Washington Co., NY. By this time, he is a widower and has not remarried. Here we learned that John was born in Nov 1857. John is now working at the Grinders Pulp Mill. Sons Dennis and John are also working as laborers. With all information John has given for this census, he also states he was born in NY, as were his parents.
In 1905, we find John living in Kingsbury, Washington Co., NY on River Street. John is still listed as a widow and is raising his children alone. Here he has 4 children with him and 1 grandchild; Daniel, Mary, Lizzie Cossy and her daughter Irene (?).
By 1910, John has moved his family to Mark (?) Street in Hudson Falls, Washington Co., NY were they still rent their home. Most of the children are gone, daughter Hattie has returned to live with her father, with her she brings her husband Fred Langdon. There is also a son, Dan living there. The record shows that Dan is a Langdon, and son of Hattie and Fred. But if you look at the ages of Hattie and Fred, Hattie would have been 8 at his birth. This fits more with her brother Dan, who was 5 when she was 12 in the 1892 NY State Census. John is now telling us the he and his parents were all born in Ireland. My how 10 years changes things.
For the longest time, this is where my census information stopped on John and his family. I had speculated that he remarried a woman named Marie who is buried in the same area of the cemetery John is in, but I had no real proof to support this theory.
On my recent trip east, I stopped at the New England Historic Genealogical Society, to look up whatever information they might have on my O’Connell line. In my research here, I found a marriage index for a John O’Connell. It states that on 9 Apr 1915, John O’Connell and Marie Goyette married at St Paul’s Catholic Church, in Hudson Falls, NY. Witnesses to this event were Rev. L. Guerin and Marie Louise Groulx. No other identifying information is listed and the church has no other records.
I also found a death index for St Paul’s Catholic Church, here I found a listing for Mary Herring (I knew she was a child of John and Bridget from Dennis’ obituary). In this death index, it states the residence of Mary Herring was “Chesapeake, MD; Edw. B. Cheney, son.”
So, I took the information and did some more research last night, because until now, John has escaped me in the 1920 and 1930 census records. When I went through my GenealogyWise discussion, GeneJ, advised that I should seek information from the 1920 census in Nassau, Rensselear, NY. Listed there is a John and Marie O’Connell, plus with them is daughter Mary Cheney and her son Bruce. Well none of this fit, until now. I have added this information to my tree on ancestry and I am happy to finally have found John in the 1920 census. Now, I just need to find him in 1930 and I will be happy.
The 1920 census also shows that John had become a farmer in his latter years and he finally owned his home. This record also states he had become a “naturalized” citizen, but no year was given.
John died 25 Sep 1931 and rests at St Paul’s Catholic Cemetery in Hudson Falls, NY.
Information I am looking to gather on John:
- Who are John O’Connell’s parents?
- When did he arrive in the USA?
- Where in Ireland is he from?
- Where did John and Bridget marry?
- Where did John die?
- Besides the index of the marriage record for John and Marie, will I be able to find the actual?
Places and items I still need to do some research on:
- land Records, now that I know John owned some land, it is time to start looking at these records
- city directories to fill in none census years
- vital records, see what I can find for each member of his family
- probate records
- hopefully ship records (if I ever get enough information to find it)
John O’Connell household, 1892 New York State Census, Washington County, population schedule, town of Granville, page 1, line 5; (familysearch.org) 23 Sep 2009.
John O’Connell household, 1905 New York State Census, Washington County, population schedule, Kingsbury township, page 18, line 9; (familysearch.org) 10 Mar 2010.
John O’Connell household, 1900 U.S. Census, Washington County, New York, population schedule, town of Kingsbury, enumeration district 138, supervisor’s district 5, sheet 10, dwelling 7, family 179, National Archives, (ancestry.com) 16 Dec 2008.
John O’Connell household, 1910 U.S. Census, Washington County, New York, population schedule, town of Hudson Falls, enumeration district 109, supervisor’s district 6, sheet 9A, dwelling 299, family 169, National Archives, (ancestry.com) 16 Dec 2008.
John O’Connell household, 1920 U.S. Census, Rensselear County, New York, population schedule, town of Nassau, enumeration district 16, supervisor’s district 10, sheet 3, dwelling 64, family 64, National Archives, (ancestry.com) 31 Jul 2010.
O’Connell-Goyette marriage, 9 Apr 1915, arranged by date, St. Paul’s Catholic Church, New York, American-Canadian Genealogy Society (index), New England Historic Genealogical Society, 25 Jun 2010
John O’Connell burial, St. Paul’s Catholic Cemetery, New York, American-Canadian Genealogy Society (index), New England Historic Genealogical Society, 25 Jun 2010
Mary O’Connell – Herring burial, St. Paul’s Catholic Cemetery, New York, American-Canadian Genealogy Society (index), New England Historic Genealogical Society, 25 Jun 2010
Marie is buried in St. Paul’s Cemetery in Hudson Falls, NY. She rests on the right side of John O’Connell (my great-great grandfather). The mystery is who is she and how is she related. All of the O’Connell’s are buried in the same area of the cemetery and I have been told this was a French cemetery, a bit odd to find all of my Irish ancestors here. At the New England Historic Genealogy Society, I found an index for the church records of St. Paul’s Church. In the index, there is a marriage of John O’Connell and Marie Goyette. Only information given was the witnesses. None of the names looked familiar, so at this point I have not researched them yet.
Here are my questions:
- Is this Marie, Marie Goyette?
- Was John O’Connell her husband?
I have called the St. Mary’s Church, (St. Paul’s became part of St. Mary’s after their church fire, St. Mary’s houses all of the remaining records) and they have no other information on this marriage.
I have been searching for any newspaper article announcing the marriage and have found nothing so far. Obviously, more work to be done on my mysterious Marie!
John O’Connell is my great-great-grandfather, finding his place happened to be a lucky find for me when I was at Newberry Library about 1 year ago. I was searching through a folio of cemetery transcriptions for Washington County, NY, I was looking for my great-grandfather Dennis O’Connell, because I knew from his obituary in the St. Catherine’s Standard that he had been sent home to Hudson Falls for burial. When I found Dennis in the book, he was listed with 5 other O’Connell’s buried in St. Paul’s Cemetery in Hudson Falls, NY. I called the church the next day and confirmed that Dennis and John were both related to me (I did this through the wives they both had listed in their cemetery books). It took me about a year, but I finally made it to the cemetery and the surrounding area.
John O’Connell b.1858 m.(date unknown) Bridget Curran b. 1862 d. 1895
they had 7 children:
Harriet (Hattie) O’Connell b.1880 m. Fred Langdon/Langevin
Elizabeth O’Connell b. 1881 m. Frederick Daha
Dennis O’Connell b. 1883 m. Rose Springer
John O’Connell b. 1885 m. Beatrice (unknown last name)
Daniel O’Connell b. 1886 (not 100% on his line yet)
Catherine O’Connell b. 12 Dec 1887 m. William Pratt
Mary O’Connell b. 1893 m. WC Herring
Sitting in front: (L to R) Betty Fischer, Terri, Ida, Ella Jeager and Dan
Terri, Ida and Dan are all O’Connell’s
My aunt recently sent me this picture via email and I could not wait to share it here. I love to look at the older pictures and look at the family resemblances. Ella is my Great Grandmother whom I never met. When I see her in this picture, I see the face of my Grandmother, Ida O’Connell