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26 December 2010

Sunday's Obituary: Mryta Gapen Finnegan

It is barely the day after Christmas and I have been on such a winning streak with obituaries and family records that I cannot go to sleep.  Ever since I got the results back from FamilyTreeDNA I have been trying to fill in the blanks so I can figure out how all the matches are related to me.  I started this past week climbing down the tree of Peter Finnegan and Margaret Hanlon who were living in Stone City, Jones County, Iowa in 1870.

Thanks to my online subscription with the Mid-Continent Public Library I have been able to dig into Newspaper Archives as well as NewsBanks' America's Obituaries.

My journey began with Peter Finnegan & Margaret Hanlon who had a son William.  William married Augusta Ethel Pickering and they had a son Charles Leo Finnegan.  Charles married Myrta Gapen and it is her obituary I found in Wisconsin, listing she had died in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin. in 2006 with a memorial back in Stone City, Iowa.  The striking item to me is that she had been living in Menomonee Falls, which is in Waukesha County, Wisconsin near a daughter.  

Waukesha County, Wisconsin is where Margaret Hanlon's brother John started his family (which eventually produced me after a couple of generations).  Was it a serendipity event that led that branch of the Finnegan family to Waukesha County or do I have more branches to discover of my Irish ancestors? .  

I wonder if her children are aware of their family history?  A letter to that family will be on my to-do list when I am more awake!

25 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

Another genealogist's Christmas poem ( Oh and by the way, A shout out to cousin Eve who has the misfortune to have a birthday on Christmas Day!)

All I Want For Christmas Is A New Surname (author unknown)

Dear Santa: Don't bring me new dishes,
I don't need a new kind of game.
Genealogists have peculiar wishes
For Christmas I just want a surname.

A new washing machine would be great,
But it's not the desire of my life.
I've just found an ancestor's birth date;
What I need now is the name of his wife.

My heart doesn't yearn for a ring
That would put a real diamond to shame.
What I want is a much cheaper thing;
Please give me Mary's last name.

To see my heart singing with joy,
Don't bring me a read leather suitcase,
Bring me a genealogist's toy;
a surname with dates and a place.

(seen in Illinois State Gen Soc newsletter 1984)

Surname Saturday: Edward Dwyer Maloney

Yes, Merry Christmas to everyone!  Baby Jesus' birthday has been celebrated, Santa has delivered presents, and massive amounts of food have been consumed in celebration. 

Now...back to genealogy research!  :-)  As you can imagine, I'm just a whole lot of fun at family get togethers!

Well, today's surname issue is really a question.  Who was Joseph Maloney's son?
Joseph Maloney is my 2nd cousin once removed, descended from Susan Brady who was my great grandmother's niece. Susan married Andrew Maloney and left Jones County, Iowa for the big city of Chicago, Illinois. 

Joseph's 1952 obituary states:  "Joseph F. Maloney of 2723 W. 66th street, husband of the late Bessie [Payton? Paxton?] Maloney, father of Edward Dwyer, son of Susan Maloney, brother of Bessie Schultz and Cele Long...."

In the 1920 Census, Bessie is listed as Elizabeth C and is living with Joseph, his mother along with his sisters and uncle.  No mention of a child.

In the 1930 census, it is just Bessie and Joseph.  This census shows Age at First Marriage, but it appears Bessie and Joseph are each other's first marriage and they have only been married 9 years.  By this time Joseph is 45 and Bessie is 40.  Could they have add Edward after 1930?  yes, I know it is possible, but did they?  Oh HURRY UP 1940 Census!!!

And with this big IRISH family you would think someone besides me might be interested in them?  Where are you Chicago Irish?  Where are you hiding your family history research?

24 December 2010

Merry Christmas Eve

 Here is a favorite spin on an old classic.....I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas!
Genealogist's Christmas Eve
'Twas the night before Christmas
When all through the house
Not a creature was stirring,
Not even my spouse.

   The dining room table with clutter was spread
With pedigree charts and with letters which said...
"Too bad about the data for which you wrote;
Sank in a storm on an ill-fated boat."

   Stacks of old copies of wills and such
Were proof that my work had become too much.
Our children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugarplums danced in their heads.

   And I at my table was ready to drop
From work on my album with photos to crop.
Christmas was here, and such was my lot
That presents and goodies and toys I'd forgot.

   Had I not been busy with grandparents' wills,
I'd not have forgotten to shop for such thrills,
While others bought gifts to bring Christmas cheers,
I'd spent time researching those birth dates and years.

   While I was thus musing about my sad plight,
A strange noise on the lawn gave me such a great fright.
Away to the window I flew in a flash,
Tore open the drapes and yanked up the sash.

   When what with my wondering eyes should appear,
But an overstuffed sleigh and eight small reindeer.
Up to the house top the reindeer they flew,
With a sleigh full of toys and 'ole Santa Claus, too.

   And then in a twinkle, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of thirty-two hoofs.
As I drew in my head, and bumped it on the sash,
Down the cold chimney fell Santa--KER-RASH!

   "Dear" Santa had come from the roof in a wreck,
And tracked soot on the carpet, (I could wring his short neck!)
Spotting my face, good 'ole Santa could see
I had no Christmas spirit you'd have to agree.

   He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
And filled all the stockings, (I felt like a jerk).
Here was Santa, who'd brought us such gladness and joy:
When I'd been too busy for even one toy.

   He spied my research on the table all spread
"A genealogist!" He cried!  (My face was all red!)
"Tonight I've met many like you," Santa grinned,
As he pulled from his sack a large book he had penned.

   I gazed with amusement--the cover it read
Genealogy Lines for Which You Have Plead.
"I know what it's like as a genealogy bug."
He said as he gave me a great Santa hug.

   "While the elves make the sleighful of toys I now carry,
I do some research in the North Pole Library!
A special treat I am thus able to bring,
To genealogy folk who can't find a thing."

   "Now off you go to your bed for a rest,
I'll clean up the house from this genealogy mess."
As I climbed up the stairs full of gladness and glee,
I looked back at Santa who'd brought much to me.

   While settling in bed, I heard Santa's clear whistle,
To his team, which then rose like the down of a thistle.
And I heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,
"Family history is Fun!  Merry Christmas!  Goodnight!"
--Author Unknown
-- The earliest attribution found for this particular poem is for Gibbs Publishing House of Toledo, Ohio, which published it as a Christmas Card. Some Web sites attribute the poem to Dora Mills c. 2001, but it has been around since at least 1988. Dora Mills does appear to have written at least one poem based on Clement Moore's poem, titled A Christmas Incident which appeared in the Ash Tree Echo in January 1983.

20 December 2010

Matrilineal Monday: Finding Clarinda Ockerman Awalt (1826-1897)

Clarinda holds a special fondness for me in my genealogy research.  She was the first ancestor I tried to track down when I first started researching my family history.  My mother could only remember her name as 'Carlindia, or something like that'.  It didn't help that no one on mother's side knew anything of their German heritage...instead insisting we were part French.  For a few months I even thought we might be Italian!  Finding her gravestone in the Philadelphia Cemetery in Plano, Appanoose County, Iowa,  was not much of a help:   "Clearrinda, Wife of J. Awalt".

I've settled on one spelling of my great great grandparents names:  John Awalt and Clarinda Ockerman, but as you will see, there are some alternatives:

"John Arvalt, one of the original thirteen who organized Johns Township, was born in Bartholomew County, Indiana, January 23, 1824....He remained with his mother until twenty-four years old, when he was married to Clarinda Ackerman, a native of Ohio."  This quote was from the Biographical and Historical Record of Wayne and Appanoose Counties, Iowa.

The next hint I received was from The King-Scott Heritage Foundation, Salt Lake City, UT,  Mar 1988 'Summary of Research Completed" on the Michael Awalt, Jr. Family.  It lists John as a child of Sarah Tipps and Michael Awalt and shows John's marriage to "Clarinda Ockerman" as 5 Mar 1848 in Bartholomew County, Indiana. 

Next came a note, and here I must beg forgiveness from Elizabeth Shown Mills, who's book "Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian" is the bible for citing sources....I was sooooooooo ignorant about writing down where things came from (and to tell you the truth, that is still my weakest link!)  I was so enthusiastic when I began my research!  I wrote letters (yes, hand written letters!) to anyone I thought could help me.  This one page remains after 20 years:
It lists Clarinda Ockerman as the daughter of David Ockerman and Celinda Adams.  It mentions that Clarinda lived in Iowa and was born the 31st of Jan 1926.  I still have no hard evidence backing up any of these assumptions. 

"Someday" I hope to find my way east of Illinois and do some research into this family.  In the I have any cousins out there?

18 December 2010

Surname Saturday: Morlan

One of the reasons I chose Family Tree DNA's 'family finder' DNA test was to hopefully find some answers on the Morlan side of the family.  Rumors have persisted for years that there was Native American blood in our branch of southern Iowa Morlans.  And, this rumor, at least, appears not to be true.  Here is what I do think I know about my Morlans:

William Morlan and Louisa Jane Jones were my great-great-grandparents.   Although the tree above lists Elijah as his father, I have not been able to really prove this. William was born 17 Mar 1821 somewhere in Tennessee.  He married Louisa Jane Jones 16 Sep 1841 in Putnam County, Indiana.  By 1850 they had moved on to Appanoose County, Iowa, where they resided the remainder of their lives.  Their names can be found in the census records spelled Morlan, Moreland, Morland, and just about every other variation.

 This is the gravestone of Louisa Jane (Jones) Morlan.  I have not been able to find William's grave.  This gravestone is located in Jones Cemetery, Wayne County, Iowa.

Where in Tennessee did William come from?  What nationality is he?  Where is William's gravestone?  Is Elijah his father?  Is William related to the other Morlans in southern Iowa?

So many questions....

Do any of you have answers?

17 December 2010

Family Recipe Friday: Pecan Shorts

Since this is Christmas, Family Recipe Friday should definitely include the recipe for our family's traditional Christmas cookie:  Pecan Shorts.  Every year I would always call back home and say 'mom, how do you make those cookies?' and every year I would scribble the recipe down and then lose it.  Finally I typed it up and now here it will remain for posterity:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter (this has to be REAL butter)
3 and 3/4 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar
1/2 teaspoon cold water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans

Cream butter, sift and add flour and sugar. Mix well.  Add water and vanilla, lastly the nut meats.  Mold the cookies in your hand to a size you like.  Bake about 1/2 hour at 325 degrees or until they are getting pink.

Put some powdered sugar in a baggie.  Put the warm cookies (NOT straight from the oven or the powdered sugar will melt) a few at a time, in the baggie and shake until covered with powdered sugar.


16 December 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday: World War I Mementos

Every time I do a genealogy presentation or class, I get to the part about my father having served in World War I and someone will say 'you mean World War II'.  No, I have to explain, my birth was quite the surprise to a 55 year old man and his 40 year old wife, who thought for months she'd just had a really bad stomach ache!  (And of course, the 'joke' is I was a headache for the rest of her life).

So, yes, my father, James Francis Hanlon, born in 1898 in Polk County, Iowa, WAS in World War I; he enlisted at Camp Dodge, Iowa and served in a platoon of black soldiers picking up armaments in the fileds of France that had not discharged during battle.  Being Irish, he was grouped in with those soldiers, in what I can only imagine, must have been a very dangerous job.

I have kept very few mementos  from my family, feeling they should go to my sister's children instead.  I did hold on to this little cup, however.  The story goes dad fashioned it from a bullet casing.  Has anyone else ever seen anything like this?  What war memento does your family hang on to?

15 December 2010

Wednesday's Child: Murder in Des Moines

The year was 1966 and I was in 8th grade at St. John's Catholic School in Des Moines, Iowa.  We had a little candy store at the school, and since I didn't like candy, I got to be in charge.  There were 2 little boys who would often help me: Gregory and Joseph Richards.  My father was retired and working at St. John's as well. Greg and Joe had a sister who was in my class.

It was spring and my father was helping me deliver my Girl Scout cookies.  We turned onto the 23rd Street from Carpenter, where Greg and Joe's family lived.  Police cars were everywhere.  My father recognized a priest from St. John's in the crowd of people who had gathered.  He told me to stay put while he ran over to speak with him.  When he came back he took me home; we walked in silence.  When dad could talk again, and I don't know if his silence was from grief or anger or both, he told me Greg and Joe were dead.  Their father, Henry Bubendorfer, had murdered his wife and the two boys, before killing himself.  The daughter had not been at home and was safe.

After my own son's death in 2006 I found some peace taking photos for Iowa Gravestones in Glendale Cemetery in Des Moines.  As I turned to start  photographing a new row the site of this grave took my breath away:
I'm not sure if it was all the memories flooding back that stole my breath, or the fact that the murdered were buried with the murderer.  Over the years I have remembered them in my prayers, the boys' smiles forever burned in my memory.  May the rest in peace.

14 December 2010

Tuesday’s Tip: Family History Classes for 2011 in Colorado Springs

I just put the finishing touches on the 2011 schedule for the family history classes I teach here in Colorado Springs.  We are starting with a kickoff class on Saturday, January 8th, followed by a field trip to historic Evergreen Cemetery (weather permitting).  In preparation for these classes I have been reviewing my own research and have been disappointed to find I have not always followed my own advice about documentation (for shame, for shame!)  My new year's resolution is to make a to-do list of documents I still need to obtain on my direct ancestral lines.

Speaking of New Year's Resolutions....have you begun to think about yours?  My technical skills need some jump starting with all the new opportunities available.  Education is my 2nd resolution.  What about you?

13 December 2010

Getting Back in the Groove

My son, Nicholas Webb, playing his patron saint in a high school Christmas play, 1997.
 Several months have passed since my last posting and I apologize.  An accident at work has left me in constant pain, not serious, but annoying & distracting.  A huge layoff at my company will also leave me as the only employee in this city (home office is in another state).  I thank God for the continued employment. 

The anniversaries of my son’s death, his birthday and ‘name day’ have passed.  Christmas is upon us and his memory is filling my heart.  Time to get back to researching family history!

So...biggest news in the past months is that I submitted my dna to Family Tree DNA for the Family Finder test, also called the 'Autosomal' test.  I just got my results back this week and have already broken down one of my brick walls.  Of course, it is not on the IRISH side, but that's ok...I'll take what I can get!  If only more people from each of the surnames in my family tree would get tested so we could get more matches!  I actually had a dream that I won the lotto and went to Ireland and said 'if you're last name is Hanlon, Brady, O'Connell, Ross or Clancy I'll pay you $500 to get your dna tested!'  How disturbing is that!  ha ha  I AM obsessed with family history!!

I have promised so many of my relatives family trees for Christmas...thank goodness I didn't tell them in which YEAR this Christmas present would be!