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Location: Arizona, United States

My name is Colleen and I find dead people.

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27 May, 2006 The Great Debate is a genealogy website that houses a plethora of databases containing genealogical information. On this subscription based site, one can view U.S. Census Records, WWI Draft Registration Cards, Social Security Death Index, Newspaper articles, Immigration information, and much, much more. It is an invaluable site for researchers.

It also is not free. It can be rather expensive if one opts for the World Collection, which includes foreign Census Records (England, Wales and Ireland, I believe) and other foreign information. Many people think it's unethical and inappropriate for (owned by to charge people to view records they could get themselves if they'd go to the proper repositories.

I couldn't disagree more. is not just a website with information thrown all over it. It is a collection of searchable databases complete with incredible indices that allow you to plug in someone's name and see what records might be available with that name. You can usually then view the actual image of the record. These records (and the indices to these records) did not come to be on for free. They had to pay people to scan all the images. They had to pay people to read each record, transcribe the information on them, and then create an index for each database.Thousands of records, probably millions of names. This isn't to mention the cost of the website itself, the tech support they need to make it work and to maintain it, and administering the subscriptions. None of that came free to, and it doesn't come free to us.

I just purchased a year's subscription to, The U.S. Collection, for under $160 a year. It would cost me 10 - 20 times more to travel across country to Pennsylvania, paying for transportation, hotels, and food on top of the cost of research: Copying costs, parking feees, etc. Not to mention the time I save. The World Deluxe collection is quite a bit more expensive. Again, not as expensive as traveling to Ireland and Czech Republic would be.

A few nights ago I discovered a new database at WWII Draft Registration cards from 1942. I believe that only people who were born in certain time frames are included in this particular addion to the databases. I found two of my HODICK ancestors' cards right away

A welcome addition to the collection. I hope they plan on getting other groups' WWII cards online soon!

21 May, 2006

Who's Who in American McHugh History

One of the most interesting tidbits my parents had told us about our ancestors is that my mother's grandmother shared the same surname as my father: McHugh. She said people once tried to connect the two families but have not been able to do so. With technology making genealogical research so much easier, I still haven't been able to make a connection. There's a good chance there isn't one to find. Both families settled in Luzerne County, PA. My father's line lived in Nanticoke and Wilkes-Barre and my mom's in Pittston, less than 20 miles from Nanticoke.

My mothers' mother, as mentioned several times on this blog, was Jane McHUGH DOYLE(alternate names/spellings: Jennie or Genevieve, and McCUE for surname). My mother's father was James O'ROURKE. His parents were James O'ROURKE and Mary KEARNS. Her parents were John and Bridget (DONAHUE) KEARNS.

I was going through some of my research lately; specifically, I was browsing through my speculations folder on my mom's Doyle/O'Rourke line. There are some interesting things to be found in that folder. Such as an obituary from the Times-Leader for a Thomas McHUGH, age 73, who died in July of 1999. He was the son of a William F. and Mary KEARNS McHUGH. He had a brother named William. Thomas was born and died in Pittston, PA, was a member of St. Mary's Help of Christians Church, and lived on North Main Street. He was buried at St. John the Evangelist Cemetery.

The KEARNS-McHUGH relationship naturally caught my eye. But it also didn't escape me that many of my DOYLE, KEARNS, and O'ROURKE ancestors are buried in the cemetery at St. Mary's Help of Christians Church, and many of them lived on North Main Street in Pittston.

As is often the case with ancestral lines from the 19th century, my mom's line is s fraught with same-surname ancestors. McHUGH married DOYLE who married O'ROURKE who married McHUGH. There are two TIGHE lines intermingled with the DOYLE family in two separate generations (with a generation in between them). There are two WILLIAMS' families in the same generation, also in the DOYLE line. And, while the information in the obituary for Thomas provides me only with circumstantial information, there is enough to provide probable cause for further investigation.
I'll start by researching John KEARNS Sr, my 2nd great-grandfather on my mom's father's side. John is the one who married Bridget DONAHUE. I'll be looking for a Mary KEARNS (but not John and Bridget's Mary who married O'ROURKE). Perhaps John had a brother who had a child named Mary who married Thomas McHUGH. I could also research Thomas McHUGH to see if there is any connection to either Jane/Jennie on my maternal line or a Joseph or Dennis McHUGH on my dad's line. This is getting confusing!

10 May, 2006

All In All It's Just Another Brick In The Wall (Taken Out)

Well, well, well. Whaddaya know. Asking the right questions of the right people is always important, but tonight I'm thinking never so much as it is in genealogy.

Remember these pictures of my grandmother Mary (HODICK) McHugh and her sisters Sue and Vesta? If not, you might want to click here for a little refresher :). The mystery behind this picture was the storefront. I've been going just a wee bit crazy trying to figure out if my great-grandparents Edward and Justina (NAHODIL; sp?) HODICK owned a store. I haven't been able to find any listings for it anywhere. Well, last night I called my cousin Tom, to whom I had sent copies of the Hodick pictures I have. We were working on identifying some people. We were talking about how "styling" the women were when he'd mentioned the ones of the girls in front of a window with the words "Roi Tan" on it. I practically yelled at him "You mean the one where they're standing in front of a window with the Hodick name on it?". He said, "Yes that was Edward and Justina's bar that they owned for a bit". It's a good thing there was a phone line and about 2,300 miles between us or I'd have slapped him! He identified that business with such casualness while I've been pulling my hair out trying to figure them out! It all goes to show you have to ask the right people the right questions.

Oh, and remember this picture? If not, click here for the story behind it.
The writing on the back of the original picture said "In Detroit". I couldn't find a reference to anything other than a race horse with a search of Sans-Souci + Detroit. A maternal cousin had mentioned there was an amusement park in Luzerne Cty by this name and perhaps it was a picture of the entrance. My cousin Tom also suggested this possibility, and was not able to identify any of the people. I was thinking the woman in the middle was his mother, but I thought wrong! So it's still a mystery, though we do have a speculation.

07 May, 2006

Another Great Top Ten

Checking in at The Genealogue, I came across another of Mr. Dunham's Top Ten Signs lists. It's another winner :). Check it out HERE.

05 May, 2006

Doyle's Heroes

This is the honor certificate posted at the WWII Memorial Website for my mother's first cousin, John J. Doyle. John enlisted in the U.S. Army on 10 July 1941 as a Private. He enlisted in Wilkes-Barre, PA and was assigned to the Regular Army. He was single and had no children. John was killed in Chingkung/Chenkung/Chun King China on November 18, 1943. He was the sole crew member (and a staff sergeant at this point) aboard a C-46-A aircraft piloted by a John A Visk. Their plane dove into the ground on that fateful November day. In the picture below, John is the first one on the left in the first row standing up, earing dark pants and a light t-shirt (next to the child in the baseball jersey).

The honor certificate below is posted on the same Memorial website and it is in honor of Paul M. Doyle, a brother of John. Paul enlisted in Wilkes-Barre PA on 16 Dec 1942. His civilian occupation was listed as a special effects supervisor. He was single with no children and was listed as a Selectee/Enlisted Men.

And Thomas "Frank" Doyle who served in WWI.

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