My Photo
Location: Arizona, United States

My name is Colleen and I find dead people.

[ View Guestbook ] [ Sign Guestbook ]

27 October, 2005

Verify, Verify, Verify

When I began my ancestral journey almost a year and a half ago, I was amazed at all the information I found. I had NO IDEA that you could view U.S. Census Records at or (I also didn't know that you can access HeritageQuest [HQ] free from many public libraries, many of which offer it to cardholders from their own homes). I never thought to seek information from the Social Security Death Index (available for free at Rootsweb). And the message boards and mailing lists available at Rootsweb? WOW.

As I trudged through the information highway I came to appreciate the relatively uncommon surname of Hodick (my father's mother's family). I didn't expect so many hits for O'Rourke, McHugh, and Doyle in Pennsylvania! Sheesh, there's even a Doylestown in PA (I'm so glad mine weren't from there. At least not that I've found as of yet!). It wasn't long before I learned that scrutinizing every bit of given information on a person was vital in order to ensure I had the right ancestor! Especially given that Census Records aren't always very accurate: Names are often misspelled (did I mispell misspell?); Places of birth are often confusing, given political boundary changes of other countries, such as areas of Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Slovakia; ages aren't always correct. Census records, while invaluable, are only as accurate as the provider of the information, which might have been a child. Finding census records online is only as easy as the transcribers who index them find it to read the forms.

I've gained a pretty secure feeling that the people I've entered into my genealogy program are members of my family tree. But now it's time for me to begin ordering copies of vital records, land records, and other publicly filed documents so that I can include documentation of my findings and, hopefully, learn new things about these people I proudly call "family".

This picture of a floral arrangement was found in my father's mother's scrapbook. There was no writing or label to identify to whom it was dedicated. I am guessing that it was for either my great grandfather Edward Hodick or his wife, Justina (NAHADIL sp?) Hodick. More than likely, the location of the grave is in Luzerne County, PA. Something in the back of my mind is telling me Sugar Loaf. Time will tell.

25 October, 2005

The One That Started It All

When I was organizing and scanning the family photos last year, I had no thought of, let alone desire to, tracing my family tree. I simply wanted to prevent further deterioration of the family pictures that were given to my niece and get copies for my oldest brother and myself. Then I stumbled across this picture of a grave marker for a John J. Doyle, a staff sergeant in the Army who was killed in WWII in Chenkung, China on November 18, 1943. Knowing this could not have been my great grandfather John J. Doyle (who would have been near/in his 70's in 1943), I set out to find out who this person was and what his relationship to me was. Little did I know what a chase that search would start me on, nor what a great hobby and hopefully future career I would find in genealogy.

I can't remember the exact order of my search for Sgt Doyle, but I wound up at and signed up for a free 14 day trial. I entered his name in the search engine and the rest is history (literally!). I found many Doyles in US Census Records, the Social Security Death Index, and other databases included in the site. I'd put one name in, find an ancestor with siblings I didn't know or forgot existed, and turn around and enter the newly found people in the search engine. Which, of course, led to further discoveries. I was hooked long before the 2 week trial ended (note: if you sign on for a free trial at, be sure to CALL them on the phone to cancel before the trial expires or your credit card will automatically be charged). Anyway, I didn't find Sgt. Doyle, but somehow was led to Google Chenkung China + WWII. From there I was steered towards researching the Flying Tigers. I didn't find any evidence that John was with them, but that he may have been in the troups that took over after the Tigers left. To end the story before getting too much further along, I wound up finding John's name on the WWII Memorial Site. Clicking on his name on this site, I found that a brother and sister had posted honor certificates for John. I then plugged in the brother's name at and VOILA! I found him. He was the oldest son of my Great-Grandfather John J. Doyle's oldest son. Sgt. Doyle's parents were William (Leo?) Doyle and Nellie (?). The lesson to be learned from this: I had seen William an Nellie's family on the census records several times but dismissed them as the connection simply because I never heard anyone talk about a Nellie. Turns out, there were several Nellie's in my Doyle/O'Rourke line!

If you scroll down to my third post ("The Origin of OMcHodoy") and look at the picture of the Doyle and Tighe families, the future Sgt. John Doyle is in the third row from the bottom, the first person on the left (in white t-shirt). This picture was sent to me by my mom's first cousin, who found me through another cousin who found my website from the Luzerne County PA webpage.

My next post will give some tips on verifying data. I learned very quickly to do some intensive research when finding new ancestors. The cardinal sin of genealogical research is assuming a relationship betweeen people based on ... circumstantial evidence, if you will. Verification of data is vital to those who wish to have an accurate picture of their family tree.

24 October, 2005

The Origin of OMcHodoy

No, this isn't going to be a lengthy post about my family's origins. The entire blog put together may add up to that eventually, but this post is simply an introduction to how I came up with the name OMcHodoy. When I began my genealogy research I decided I wanted to create a name that represented the four grandparents and their families. Taking letters from each surname, I came up with OMcHodoy. Here's the breakdown.

The "O" stands for O'Rourke, my mother's maiden name. Pictured at left are my great grandparents James and Mary (KEARNS) O'ROURKE & their daughters Margaret/Nelly, Betty, & Mary/Mae. They lived in Pittston, Luzerne County, PA and are buried in St. Mary's Help of Christians Cemetery. My grandfather James O'Rourke and his wife Regina moved to Niagara Falls, NY in 1934 with their son, Jimmie.

The "Mc" is for McHugh, my dad's surname. Pictured at right are my grandparents, Joseph Dennis and Mary (HODICK) McHUGH. They hailed from Nanticoke, Luzerne County, PA prior to moving to Niagara Falls, NY in the early 1940's.

The "Hod" is for HODICK, my dad's mother's family. Pictured in here, among others yet identified, are my great grandparents Edward and Justina (NAHADIL sp?) (in the center standing up) along with an assortment of their children William, Joseph, Anthony, Thomas, John, Susan, Mary, Edward, and Sylvestina, along with spouses. According to census records, Edward was born in Bohemia, immigrating in 1885-ish (I'm looking into a ship manifest with a Hodick line, including an Edward whose listed age is consistent with my gr-gfathers). Justina was listed on Census records as being born in Czechoslavakia. Family lore has her birthplace as Fuenfkirchen, Austria (now known as Pecs, Hungary). With territorial changes of the region, anything's possible.

The "Doy" represents the Doyle family. My maternal grandmother was Regina Doyle O'Rourke. Pictured here are a number of Doyle family members along with their collaterals, the Tighe family. In the second seated row are my great grandparents John J. and Jennie/Jane (McCUE) DOYLE. John and Jane's daughter Blanche married William B. TIGHE. This picture was taken in front of the Doyle family home in Pittston, PA in 1934.

So there you have the origins of my online personna. The entries that follow will either highlight one of my ancestors and the information I have on them, or on my progress in my research.

23 October, 2005

Here I Am

I love digital photography programs. One of these days I'm going to take a class to learn how to do a really good job on restoring and/or enhancing photos.

Why bother blogging?

I began my ancestral journey in the summer of 2004 after re-organizing family photos and putting them into archival quality albums. It started as a quest to identify people in pictures and ended up being an all-encompassing hobby!

In my research, I found many ways to discover people in my family's past. One of those methods was to join genealogically based mailing lists. I used the Rootsweb site to do this, since they have an extensive collection of email lists, from surnames to locations. I've been skimming through postings to these lists and making my own posts for almost a year now. Since January of this year, I have had several cousins of varying degrees contact me via email (most are second cousins to me; a few are first or second cousins once or twice removed). As a result, I not only have information on my ancestors that would have taken me years to find on my own, I also have developed friendships with these cousins. I have current pictures of them, communicate with them via email and/or Instant Messaging, and exchange information.

To sum it all up, I know how valuable the internet can be to one's genealogical pursuits. While internet databases provide me with the means to find information, message boards, email groups, personal webpages, and blogs provide me with the means to connect with people. So that is why I decided to create a blog.

The link above will take you to my webpage on AOL and provide you with an outline of the people for whom I am searching (and some pretty great pictures!). I intend to use this blog to post about individual members of my family. Hopefully I will find even more information and connect with even more cousins!


Who links to me?