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Location: Arizona, United States

My name is Colleen and I find dead people.

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29 January, 2006

May It Be?

As I sit here listening to my Celtic Woman CD, I decided the title of the first track made a good post title, given the current status of my search for my great-grandfather James O'Rourke. Today I hit the census records again, this time using the Soundex utility. Soundex is a method of searching for names that sound like the one(s) that you are seeking. For an explanation of how this works, click here.

I didn't have much luck with Soundex while searching the 1880 census (I have him in every succeeding census record available). However, I did revert to the "old-fashioned" method of searching online Census Records (is that an oxymoronic statement or what??): I browsed through the 1880 Census for Pittston, Luzerne County, PA (Enumeration District 135) page by page. Thank goodness there were only 41 pages!

On page 8 I found this record for a Christopher and Bridget Rourke on Union Street in Pittston. It identifies Christopher's birthplace as Ireland and Bridget's as PA. This information is consistent with what the 1920 and 1930 Census shows for James' parents (the 1900 lists both of his parents born in Pa; the 1910 has his mother in Ireland). The children of Christopher and Bridget, according to the 1880 Census, were: Mary, age 9; Catherine, age 7; William, age 5; James, age 3; John, age 2, and Christopher age 2 months. My great-grandfather's birthdate was 2 Oct. 1876. This 1880 Census was taken on the fifth day of June 1880. Which means that age of James Rourke on this Census record is consistent with the age of my great-grandfather James O'Rourke at this time.

Another interesting thing to note about this Census page showing the Rourke family is that it is succeeding the page containing the William and Mary Doyle family, into which my great-grandfather's son married. It is also preceding pages showing other known collateral names to my O'Rourke line, such Jordan, Flynn, Tighe, Kearns, and Donahue. Therefore, I am saving this census page as a speculation while I await a copy of my great grandfather James O'Rourke's death certificate.

23 January, 2006

Oh Where Oh Where Have My O'Rourkes Gone?

Over the past few weeks I'd been contacted by a few more Doyle cousins, both grandchildren of two of my great-grandfathers siblings. One of these cousins was directed to me by another Doyle cousin, and she provided me with an email address for the other. Connecting with people sharing blood lines is so exciting! Meanwhile, I think I might be ready to tackle the O'Rourke line. I must emphasize the word "THINK", though. This is because I really have little to go on. Here's what I do know:

James O'ROURKE b. 24 Oct 1876. d. 2 Oct 1944.
m. Mary KEARNS b. 22 May 1879 d. 24 Jun 1957. Daughter of John and Bridget (DONAHUE/OE) KEARNS.
Children: Margaret/Nellie O'Rourke. b. 1902. m. Frank McCARTHY b. 1900.
James O'Rourke b.1902 d. 1963. m. Regina DOYLE 1905-1979. This is my grandfather.
Mary/Mae O'Rourke b. 1904. d. 1993. m. James JORDAN 1903-1980.
Lucille O'Rourke b. 1906 d. 1991.
Elizabeth O'Rourke b. 1912. m. George ROCHE

As of 12 Sept 1918 James Sr. was living at 47 Chapel Street in Pittston, Luzerne County, PA. He was a natuaral-born citizen and he worked as a trainman for the Lehigh Valley Railroad. He was of medium height and build and had blue eyes and gray hair. The first finger of his right hand was amputated at the first joint. All of this information is from a WWI Draft Registration Card for James. I do not know who his parents were, or if he had any siblings.

I do have a picture of James Sr.'s gravestone (and his wife Mary's), thanks to Pat, who visits Pittston at times. They are buried in St. Mary's Help Of Christians Cemetery in Pittston. Perhaps someone out there reading this recognizes these names and can shed some light. Perhaps not. At any rate, I do think it's time to break down some walls here.

15 January, 2006

In Search of Margaret Doyle Conroy

The search for those disappearing Doyles continues. Since my post of 5 January 2006 pondering the "who-abouts" and "whereabouts" of the William and Mary (Dever) Doyle children, I have found two:

1) I've confirmed that Mary Ann Doyle and Mame Doyle are the same person, after finding numerous obituaries for her children out of Chicago.

2) I found Alice Doyle Lovett in the 1920 US Census in New Jersey. If her age was correct on this report, she was born in 1880. She was married to James Lovett (known from her brother Peter's 1945 obituary) and had a son named John (listed on the family outline sent to me by a cousin). They were married in about 1903 (indicated on the 1920 Census).

Today I decided I was going to find Margaret Doyle if it was the last thing I do on earth. And I believe I did (now I just have to hope this ISN'T the last thing on earth I do!). I found this 1900 US Census Record out of Manhattan listing J. Thos. and Margaret Conroy with sons Albert and (illegible; begins with the letter F or T).

These boys were listed as being 5 years and 4 months old respectively. Margaret is listed as being born in May of 1870; her birth record from England shows May of 1867. Not a discount-able difference. Census records often have incorrect ages/birth years. Also, people have been known to {GASP} lie about their ages.

Living with this family is Alice Doyle, who was identified on the record as being a daughter-in-law to Thomas. This cannot be correct given the age of Thomas on this same record (32), so it's pretty obvious that the relationship is mis-recorded; it should say Sister-In-Law. Unless the age of Thomas was drastically mis-recorded. Not likely in this case.

So now, having found Margaret in 1900, I have cleared up a third mystery of the Disappearing Doyles. I still have two left. Or do I? I think not! I do believe that the above census record from 1900 has solved a third mystery: that of Who was Anastasia? Alice Doyle is listed above as having the birth year of 1880. The 1880 Census shows Anastasia as having the birthdate of February 1880. My first thought was that either Alice's birthday was incorrect on the 1900 Record or that she was born in Nov or Dec of 1880. But wait. The 1900 Census states her birth month was March. This is very close to what the 1880 Census has for Anastasia! Is it possible that Alice = Anastasia? I so wish that the 1890 Census Records hadn't burned up. They more than likely would have answered this question. For now, I am going on the idea that these two people are one and the same, but making a note of the still-speculative nature of this finding.

Now, the biggest mystery I have left is this: WHERE WAS MARGARET DOYLE in 1880?

10 January, 2006


In re: the same William Doyle that was the father of my great-grandfather John J. Doyle, b. 1864: Please scroll down and refer to the post of 5 Jan 2006 entitled "The Disappearing Doyles". I had written about the confusion I've been feeling in regards to just who the William and Mary (Dever) Doyle children were, particularly in regards to Mary Ann, Margaret, Alice, Mame, and Anastasia, since I've never been able to find any reference to a Margaret, Mame or Alice in the census records.

Tonight I pulled out the outline that my mom's first cousin had sent to me again and looked under that listing of Mame. This had Mame being married to a Tighe, with children Francis, John, Harold, and Marie (who'd married Emerson, and whose daughter married Donald Murphy). It also mentioned that Francis lived in Chicago. Now, I had searched the Godfrey Memorial Library's Obituary Database before for both a Mame and a Mary Ann Tighe, in both PA and ILL, and came up empty-handed. Tonight it finally dawned on me to search for the children listed on the outline as Mame's. So I plugged in "Marie Emerson" and narrowed my search to Chicago newspapers. Lo and behold, there was an obit listing in the Chicago Tribune, October 26, 196 edition for a Marie C. Emerson. The obit identified her parents as Mary and the late Edward Tighe, and her siblings as Francis, John, and Harold Tighe.

Hmmmmm. Could Mary have been still alive in 1961? If this was indeed Mary Ann Doyle, she'd have been 86. So I plugged in "Mary Tighe" and got an obit for a Mary Doyle Tighe, listing all the same people as Marie Emerson's obit had (and identifying her as Marie's mother). This obit was dated January 18, 1969 and was also out of Chicago. It stated she was 93 years old, which would put her birth year at 1875. Which is the same year the 1880 Census had for the birth of Mary Ann Doyle, daughter of William and Mary Doyle in Pittston, PA.

I was so excited that I IMmed a cousin in NJ with ALL CAPS jumping for joy. Then I yelled at her in the IM for not being at the keyboard when I had torn down another piece of a major brick wall! So I emailed my other cousin (my mom's first cousin) and told HIM of a few of the finds!

This brings us to another lesson for us to learn for our children's children's sake: IDENTIFY OUR AND OUR CHILDREN'S BIRTH NAMES WHEN NICKNAMES ARE USED IN EVERYDAY LIFE! And yes, I DID intend to yell :).

07 January, 2006

The William and Nellie Effect

Naming patterns can be a godsend to genealogists; they can also cause a genealogical state of confusion that I call the William and Nellie effect.

My great-grandfather John J. Doyle, born in 1864, had a brother named William Doyle, born in 1877. This William married a Nellie, born abt. 1879.

My great-grandfather also had a son named William, born in 1888. This William also married a Nellie, born abt. 1895. This William was known by his middle name, Leo, but often was listed on Census records and other documents as William. (This is also the William Doyle that fathered John J. Doyle, the WWII staff sergeant that got me started in genealogy).

There was only an 11 year age difference between John Doyle's brother William and John Doyle's son William. As a result, there had been several times that I had found Census records or other documents for a William Doyle or a William and Nellie Doyle and hadn't paid enough attention to the ages. Thus I'd end up filing the record under the wrong William and Nellie. Or checking off the census checklist under the older William when it was the younger one, or vice versa.

Last week I was searching the Godfrey Library databases. Specifically I was searching the NewsBank Obituary Database for any Doyle obits that I could find. I found one for a few of William and Nellie SR.'s children. Low and behold, these obituaries listed the parents as the late William and Ellen (Regan) Doyle. HOT DOG! I was then able to change the name of this Nellie to Ellen, with a notation of her "common" name, and add her maiden name. This has made tracking of the William and Nellies so much easier!

We aren't always so lucky as to find an easy way to differentiate ancestors of the same name. The William and Nellie Effect is another great example of how important it is to scrutinize all the information we get on our ancestors.

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 ;).

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