I have been playing with genealogy and some of the stuff I have found out is actually fun.
I joined Ancestry and put my tree on there – you can do that for free without joining. Doing it as non-paying limits what you can see, but you can still learn a lot of valuable information. There was a hint about my one great grandmother Julia being married in Fayette County, Pennsylvania. When I went to look for the marriage, I was surprised to learn that the marriage was not to my great grandfather Martin, but another man, John. Julia and John were married in 1886. My mother didn’t know anything about John.
About the same time I found the marriage license, my brother noticed that there was a step-daughter listed on the 1900 census with Martin. My mother asked my aunt right before she died in March and my aunt knew that Julia had been married to someone that was killed in an accident. The step-daughter turned out to be my mother’s Aunt Edna. She was listed as Mary E on the 1900 census and later started using her middle name Edna. My mother did not know that Edna was not Martin’s daughter and was 80 when she finally learned that information.
I also discovered a family curse! Julia’s first husband John died within a couple years of when they first married – I have not been able to find the exact date for that, but from the best that I can figure out, John died about 3 years after they were married. Edna’s first husband also died within a couple years and left her with a small boy. Edna also remarried and only had one daughter – Mary Margaret. I found the obituary for Mary Margaret and guess what? Her first husband died too! I am of course curious if one of Mary Margaret daughters lost their husband – she had two daughters, one of which is still living.
The “dead husband” problem only happened to the first daughters. Since Julia had several older sisters, the problem apparently started with her and not her mother. I guess it also could have been on John’s side of the family that descended down thru him – sorry guys!
I joined a couple genealogy groups and when I asked a question about getting naturalization records, someone looked at my tree on Ancestry. I had Martin’s obituary linked to him and she actually called the funeral home that took care of his funeral and they still had the records. He died in 1931 – 81 years ago and they still had those records! I never would have thought to call them. Those records listed Martin’s father’s name as James. They had a question mark for his mother. When the death certificate showed up, that also had James as his father and the mother was left blank.
There was a naming pattern that the Irish generally followed. The first son was named after the father’s father – Martin’s first son was named James. The first daughter was named after the father’s mother. Martin’s first daughter was named Nora but I don’t know if that is his mother’s name. Nora can also be Honora in Ireland. I found a James and Honora living in the county Martin came from in Ireland, but I don’t know if that is his parents. Hopefully, I will be able to find them.
I wish I had started this sooner while some of aunts and uncles were around – my mother was 14 years younger than her oldest brother and never met some of her grandparents. She keeps telling me that I should have started this when my Uncle Jimmy was alive because he would know the answers to my questions. It has also starting me realizing that I would love to go to Ireland and see the areas my great grandparent’s came from. I definitely need to get over my fear of flying!
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