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My name is Colleen and I find dead people.

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05 January, 2008

Research Goal #1: James O'ROURKE (1876-1944)

Pictured above is the family of my great-grandfather James O'ROURKE, including his wife Mary (KEARNS), and daughters Margaret (Nellie), Elizabeth (Betty), and Mary (Mae). There was a fourth daughter Lucille who was said to have some type of mental-health or cognitive disorder. There was also a son, James (1906-1963) who was my maternal grandfather.

Here is what is known about James. He was born 24 Oct 1876 in Pittston, Luzerne County, PA. He died 2 Oct 1944, also in Pittston. He is buried in the cemetary at St. Mary's Help of Christians Church. His wife Mary KEARNS was born 22 May 1879 in Pittston and she died 24 Jun 1957 in Pittston. She is buried alongside James. According to a Marriage Record Database at, the marriage occurred on 25 Apr 1900 in Pittston.

James registered for the WWI Draft on 17 Sep 1918 in Pittston. At this time he and his family lived on Chapel Street in Pittston. He worked for the Lehigh Valley Railroad. His first finger on his right hand was amputated at the middle joint and he was of medium height, medium build and had blue eyes and gray hair. The registration card was signed in by James F. LANGAN. Which is a surname associated with my other maternal great-grandfather John J. DOYLE (a LANGAN married John's brother Peter's daughter Gertrude).

This is about all that is known about this James O'ROURKE. I do have a few things in my "Speculations" file.

I have an 1880 U.S. Census from Pittston, PA listing a Michael O'ROURKE, age 27, his wife Margaret, age 24 and their children John (6) and Margaret (4). They were living at 260 Main Street. (623 N. Main Street is an important address for my O'ROURKE/DOYLE lines). Living next to them is the Thomas and Cicily FLYNN family (with children Mary Ann, Belinda, Catherine, Ellen and John as well as a Mary BOURKE as a mother-in-law). This could possibly be important because FLYNN is a name that is associated with Blanche (DOYLE) TIGHE on my mom's maternal line (O'ROURKE is my mom's paternal line). There's also a James FLYNN listed above the O'ROURKE family. As is a Michael LANGAN family (the name associated with the Peter DOYLE line, though I don't know that it's the same line).

A potentially stronger speculation also comes from the 1880 U.S. Census out of Pittston. There is a Christopher and Bridget ROURKE living on Union Street, which has housed some of my known O'ROURKE/DOYLE ancestors. Here is the information listsed for this family:

Christopher ROURKE 34, Mine Laborer, born Ireland as were his parents.
Bridget ROURKE, Keeping House, born PA, parents in Ireland
Children/ages: Mary (9), Catherine (7), William (5), James (3), John (2), Christopher (2 months). Important: My great-grandfather James O'ROURKE would have turned 4 in October of this same year. The census took place on 5 Jun 1880. So the age for James ROURKE listed here matches the age for my James OROURKE.

I then looked at neighbors of this family to see if any names jumped out at me. There's a Thomas WILLIAMS family next door to the ROURKE family; WILLIAMS is important to my DOYLE line as well as my TIGHE line. Living up the street a bit is a Thomas LYNCH, a surname that is connected to my great-grandfather James O'ROURKE's wife's KEARNS line.

Turning the Census page to the next page (Cliff Street) I find another FLYNN (John and Bridget) and a JORDAN family (James' daughter Mary(Mae) married a James JORDAN (not listed with this family, so may not be related). Turning the Census back to the page before the Christopher ROURKE family in question who do I find but my mother's maternal grandfather John J. DOYLE as a 15 year old living with his family, the William and Mary DOYLE family.

All of the above is circumstantial (except the known William and Mary DOYLE line), but it sure makes it worthwhile to maintain my speculation that it is *possible* that Christopher and Bridget ROURKE were my great-grandfather James O'ROURKE's parents. My next step here? Find and order a death record for my great-grandfather O'ROURKE.

Something I noticed in writing this post: I actually had the sources for all this information! The Maven should be proud (though she wouldn't be when I say that, judging by a review of my database, I do need to add "Cite Sources" to my list of resolutions).


Blogger Lee said...

That's what I need, a SPECULATIONS file! A fabulous idea. Thank you, you've been so much help this week!

8:51 PM  

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