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My name is Colleen and I find dead people.

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05 January, 2006

The Disappearing Doyles

A first cousin of my mother's had emailed me this past year after he learned of my researching the Doyle line from one of my second cousins. Through him, I was able to confirm my speculation that the parents of my maternal great-grandfather were William and Mary Doyle of Pittston, PA. This cousin was able and willing to send me copies of my great-grandfather John J. Doyle's birth certificate, as well as his parents' marriage certificate, all from Birkenhead, County of Chester, England. Included in the mail with these certificates was a birth certificate for John J.'s sister, Margaret Doyle, born 20 May 1867, also in Birkenhead.

There was also an outline of the Doyle line from William and Mary Dever Doyle and their children, given to my cousin from another relative. The outline is dated 1978. This outline indicates that William and Mary's children were:

John (married Jane/Jennie McCue/McHugh)
Margaret (married Conroy)
Peter (married Agnes McAndrew and had 7 children)
William (married Ellen Regan and had 7 children)
Alice (married Lovett, had one son, John)
Jim (had some children)
Johanna (married Thomas Horan and had 3 children)
Francis (had children)
Mame (married Tighe, had 4 children)

I do have the 1880 U.S. Census from Pittston, PA showing William and Mary with the following children:


John, Peter, James and William all match the outline that was given to my mom's first cousin. However, there is no Margaret listed in the census records (she obviously existed, and she'd have been 13 in 1880). WHERE'D SHE GO? I have found Johanna and her family with the Doyles in subsequent census records, and it's highly possible that Alice was born post-1880. But what about Mame? WHERE'D SHE GO? Could that be a nickname for Mary Ann? Or Margaret? Or Anastasia? WHO WAS WHO AND WHERE'D THEY GO? There is no birthdate on the outline that listed Mame, but it did say she married a Tighe. Which only muddies the water that much more, since one of my gr-grandfather's daughters, Blanche, also married into a Tighe family from Pittston, PA.

The Mystery of the Disappearing Doyles is likely a very good example of how tragic the loss of the 1890 census records was to today's genealogists. I'd bet a number of these questions would have been answered in those pages.

I do have the names of many of the children of William and Mary Doyle's children, so if any of the above information sounds familiar to anyone in genealogy land, send me an email and I'll give them up ;).


Blogger Janice said...

It was not unusual for younger children to be sent to a grandparent's home, or even to an aunt or uncles to either learn a skill, or to obtain education in a different place.

Also realize SOME census records were completed with the help of NEIGHBORS who might not have remembered all of the children's names...

Good luck in finding your missing Doyles. I enjoyed reading your article.


10:12 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Hi there, I know exactly how you feel as I too are researching the Doyles, My greatgrandfather was married to a Margaret Doyle in 1876in Dundalk Ireland. His name was John and was drowned at sea in 1918.Just thought I would drop you a line in case there may be any connections ?
Regards Theresa

4:42 AM  
Blogger Colleen said...



Thanks for your post to my blog. I don’t know if there’s a connection or not. If so, it would be a collateral line to me. My great-grandfather was John J. Doyle, b. 1864 in Birkenhead England. He has a sister named Margaret who was born in 1867, also in Birkenhead. Their parents were William and Mary (Dever) Doyle., both supposedly born somewhere in Ireland, but I do not know where. “My” Margaret was married in the US (PA) to a Conroy, I believe his first name was Thomas.

At any rate, Doyle is a common surname, and it can take the patience of a saint to figure them out!

11:31 AM  

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