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Location: Arizona, United States

My name is Colleen and I find dead people.

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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.


Anonymous Ray said...

Thanks for the email telling me you'd moved your blog. Silly me, not knowing you even HAD one.

I've been at this for just about 18 months and it's been quite the outlet. Sometimes the electrical outlet with 110 volts going into my finger, but still.

I'm not especially happy with the current choices I have about linking non-LiveJournal journals to mine, so if I can't find a layout to do it I may be moving over here eventually.

Your format enables linking to other sites. Link me, baby:)

6:20 AM  

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