Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday's Obituary: Sadie Byrnes

Sunday’s Obituary is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that encourages bloggers to post obituaries along with other information about that person.

Throughout March I have been celebrating my Irish roots with stories and photos about the family of my great grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh.

My dad’s side of the family had always been proud to say we had a nun in the family, but Daddy did not know who it was, let alone a name or how she was related. Fortunately, among the photos passed down to me from Mary Theresa and her daughter Helen Killeen Parker was a photo of a nun. “Sadie Burns” was the caption.
Sr. Vincent Carmel "Sadie" Byrnes Aug 1969 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Sadie Byrnes Aug. 1969
16 Feb 1907 Manhattan, NY -
21 Jul 1973 Nyack, NY


Julia Walsh and Sadie Byrnes  https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
My granny Julia Walsh Slade on the left
Sadie Byrnes on the right
Sadie! She was my granny’s cousin. I knew that from a photo of the two of them as children. I also knew she was the daughter of Mary Theresa’s sister Elizabeth and her husband Patrick Byrnes. Sadie had 6 brothers but no sisters.

Ever since I saw the photo, I have been curious about Sadie’s life as a nun. With only a photo of Sadie in her habit, I scrolled through Google images to determine her order and guessed she was a Dominican. But now what? I was at a loss as to how to find more information about her. One of my devout Catholic friends on Facebook gave me some direction, but the convent I contacted could do nothing without knowing her religious name.

A year ago my aunt gave me scrapbooks filled with greeting cards that had belonged to Mary Theresa. I was excited to open one of the Christmas cards to discover Sadie’s religious name: “Sr. Vincent Carmel Byrnes.”
Card from Sadie Byrnes

inside of a Christmas card sent by Sadie to her aunt Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh


I thought for sure I would be able to learn more about her now that I had her religious name. However, searches for newspaper articles in GenealogyBank and Newspaper Archive came up empty, not that I expected much anyway, but I had hoped for an obituary. Newspapers.com actually gave me a sneak peek that included little more than a death date and location, but I would have to upgrade my subscription to learn more. I was not about to pay $60 to have access to the Journal News of White Plains, New York.

What’s a family historian to do but turn to social media? I posted a polite question in the New York City Genealogy group on Facebook asking where else I might look to obtain Sadie’s obituary. Within minutes, the thing that I secretly hoped would happen actually happened. A genie angel posted the obituary.

Courtesy Susan McNamee
 Sr. Vincent
Carmel Byrnes

Sister Vincent Carmel Byrnes, OP, 66, died Saturday at Nyack Hospital. She had been a member of St. Dominic’s Convent, Blauvelt, and had entered the order in 1928.

Born in New York City, Sr. Byrnes taught mathematics and English in parochial schools in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Yonkers. She served as principal and mother superior at St. Pius School, Bronx, St. Joseph’s School, Millbrook, and St. Catherine’s School, Blauvelt. She had retired from the principalship of St. Catherine’s this summer because of her health.

Surviving are two nieces and two nephews.

The Office of the Dead and Mass will be said tonight at 5:30 at St. Dominic’s Convent.

There will be a Mass of the Resurrection Tuesday at 11 a.m. at St. Dominic’s Chapel. Burial will be at the convent cemetery.

Friends may call at the convent today.

Funeral arrangements were by the Higgins Funeral Home of Haverstraw.
(Journal News, White Plains, NY 23 Jul 1973 on Newspapers.com)

The obituary confirms that I was right in my guess that she was a Dominican, Order of Preachers. It also confirms that she outlived all her brothers since the only survivors mentioned were nieces and nephews. In my database are the two girls, daughters of Sadie’s brother John who died at age 22 shortly after the second child was born. However, I do not have any boys. Another mystery to solve!

Wendy
© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Sign of Summer

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.


My mother never drilled a dive bomber like the woman in this week’s Sepia Saturday photo challenge. However, she was known to wrap up her hair similarly from time to time, especially at the beach to control that thick hair of hers.
 
Mary Eleanor Davis Slade and friends about 1948  https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
My mother on the left
at Virginia Beach probably about 1948

And she owned a drill. Yes, a drill, as well as a belt sander, jig saw, and a host of smaller tools like screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches, chisels, saws, and hammers.

These tools were HERS, not my dad’s. Daddy was NOT “Mr. Fixit”; Momma was. She could even repair the fill valve in the back of the toilet. But most often Momma used her tools for refinishing furniture, one of her many creative outlets.

Our neighbor once said, “It wasn’t officially summer until the garage door was open, old furniture was in the driveway, and Mary E. was in her white work shorts.” Those shorts were so covered in paint and wood stain that they probably could have stood on their own. They were legend. Too bad we have no picture.

In the 1970s and 80s, antiques were very popular but very expensive. On weekends Momma, my sister, and I scoured many a thrift store and antique shop in search of a bargain. Trunks and wash stands were high on our list, and we found quite a few treasures.
Leo Slade and trunk 1974 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Uncle Leo loved the trunk my mother refinished for him in 1974
(Note the new leather handles and metal caps)

Over the course of several years just about everyone in the family received a trunk which Momma had refinished and lined with fabric. Sometimes she had to replace runners or wheels; often she had to patch bad spots with wood filler. She even had to craft new covers for the leather straps which she had cut at a local horse tack shop. Where else could you get strips of leather back then?

Momma gave Barry and me a trunk the first Christmas we were married. In the trunk she placed a complete 7-piece Victorian wash set, another antique store find. Can you identify the pieces? The pitcher was for water; the bowl or basin was for washing face and hands; the smaller pitcher was for hot water; the small bowl with lid held a cake of soap; a shaving mug; a toothbrush holder; and a chamber pot.
Trunk and Victorian wash set 1973 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
The background of the fabric looks red
but it is blue



Trunk 1973 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com












Wash stands were a favorite item to grab and redo. Momma gave new life to an array of stands from the primitive to the more refined, although none with marble tops as those were too expensive.

Wash stand  https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
This simple wash stand works as a tv stand in our den.

Wash stand  https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
This fancier wash stand is in the dining room
holding serving pieces and junk.
Wash stand  https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
This one is in a guest room.
It has certainly paid for itself!
The one that is currently in one of our guest rooms was in pieces when she found it. The top was separated from the rest and the doors were stacked inside. The towel rack was in pieces as well, and the rod for holding a towel was missing. The cost - $4. Since this project required quite a bit of gluing, Momma went to Sears to buy some clamps. The clerk was surprised that a woman was clamping anything. He obviously had not met my mother!

Whatever we bought was always “a deal,” but our smartest purchase was a china press. In the 1970s and 80s, china presses were highly desirable with a price tag to match, so we never hoped to find one we could afford. The stars aligned that day when Momma and my sister walked into a thrift shop in search of a small bookcase. With her eagle eye Momma spied something that looked like a china press. It was black with coal dust, so she could not tell what the wood was, or even what condition it was in. But it had claw feet, a good sign. The owner of the shop had no idea what he had, so he phoned a friend who was in the antiques business. Since he could not see it to determine its value, the friend suggested he sell it for at least $100. SOLD!

China Press https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
When I inherited my mother's china press,
I moved my dishes and crystal into that one.
Now my $100 bargain holds my girls'
doll collections.
Momma was prepared to pay $250 without even knowing what she had. It turned out to be a steal!

We had feared it was some kind of cheap veneer with cardboard shelves, but it is beautiful oak, and the oak shelves are both substantial and in perfect condition, no warping or cracks. The curved glass is original.

Oh, how clearly I remember those summer days as Momma’s assistant, both of us in rubber gloves with putty knives, a wire brush, and paint remover scraping through layers of paint to find that beautiful oak or poplar. My clearest memory, though, is that flicks of paint and chemicals STING, my friend.






Please visit Sepia Saturday for more riveting stories and photos.

Wendy
© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Women on the Go

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

During the month of March I am focusing on the family of my father’s maternal grandmother. Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh and her sisters emigrated from Ireland to New York between 1883 and 1896. After Mary Theresa moved to Portsmouth, Virginia about 1905, she made many trips to New York to visit her sisters, and I have the pictures to prove it; however, very few photos are identified. Like this one:

Two women with suitcase probably sister or sisters of Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh https://jollettetc.blogspot.com


Who are these women? Where are they going? What is this place with all the steps?

Wendy
© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Mystery Monday: Mystery Photo Still a Mystery

Mystery Monday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks us to share mystery ancestors or mystery records – anything in our family history research which is currently unsolved.  With any luck fellow genealogy bloggers will lend their eyes to what has been found so far and possibly help solve the mystery.

During the month of March I like to devote extra research time to my Irish aunties in New York. Unlike the photos posted the past two weeks, this one leaves me scratching my head.

Relatives of Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh 1910-1920 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com


I have NO clue whatsoever.

Two women. Three young girls. And a baby whose gender is not determined.

Possible sister of Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh taken 1920 Richmond Hill, New York https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
"Bob" and John Jr. 1920 in Richmond Hill
In the photos taken by my great-grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh during her trips to New York, most of the women had very dark hair. These two have light hair, much like the woman flanked by the children I’ve come to know as “Bob” and John Jr. in this 1920 photo.

The woman on the right in the previous photo appears younger than the woman in the 1920 photo. Could they be the same person? What year do you suppose this photo was taken? My guess is between 1910 and 1920.

Mary Theresa herself was the only one of the family who had a number of daughters – 7 to be exact. The three girls do not look like any of them, but the poor quality of the photo makes it impossible to say for sure. I am fairly certain the girls are not daughters of the other sisters. Perhaps they were cousins, not sisters.


Wendy
© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wordless Wednesday: Woman and a Poodle

Wordless Wednesday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks family historians to create a post in which the main focus is a photograph or image.

Several times I have written about my inability to learn more about my Irish aunties in New York. In particular there are numerous photos of a woman with a poodle. She is probably one of the sisters of my great grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh, but which one is the question. This is the oldest photo of them, dated 1915.

Woman and Poodle 1915 relative of Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh  https://jollettetc.blogspot.com






What does the back say? Is her name Salma Moss? Or is this a place, Salma, Massachusetts? Is it supposed to be Salem, not Salma?

Back of 1915 photo Salem, Massachusetts woman and a poodle maybe sister of Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh  https://jollettetc.blogspot.com


Wendy
© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Mystery Monday: Have I Found the Fraundorfs?

Mystery Monday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks us to share mystery ancestors or mystery records – anything in our family history research which is currently unsolved.  With any luck fellow genealogy bloggers will lend their eyes to what has been found so far and possibly help solve the mystery.

Each March, I like to focus on my Irish ancestors. While I have been successful in identifying the names of my great-grandmother’s sisters in New York and their children, the photos taken during trips to New York go unidentified for the most part. Since the women in the photos bear some resemblance to each other, it is likely they are her sisters Johanna, Elizabeth, Margaret, and Delia, but I cannot determine which is which.

Last week, I presented a photo of one sister that I THINK I have identified as Johanna Sheehan Hederman. The most prominent clue in the photo was the wide gap between the ages of the two children.

Today’s photo just might be Johanna’s daughter Catherine all grown up, a married lady. What is the prominent clue? An only child.
 
Possibly Catherine Hederman Fraundorf and Gertrude https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Is this Catherine Hederman Fraundorf and Gertrude?

Catherine Hederman married Charles Fraundorf in 1908, and they made their home in the Bronx until shortly after 1930 when they moved to Long Beach in Nassau County. They were childless until 1916 when Catherine gave birth to little Gertrude. Gertrude remained an only child.

Possibly Catherine Hederman https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Is this Catherine Hederman?

Admittedly, this could be any woman and any child. If the woman were looking up instead of down and so proudly at the young girl, I might be able to compare her to this child to see if they were the same person.

The features of the young girl at the beach look similar to those of the girl that I think was her mother. Or am I imagining it? Is this just wishful thinking?





Wendy
© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Kiss Me, I'm Irish

Sepia Saturday challenges bloggers to share family history through old photographs.



What struck a chord with me in this week’s Sepia Saturday photo is the simple act of affection displayed by the woman’s arm draped across the man’s shoulders. Maybe they were listening to some sweet melody on the radio or maybe breaking news that was about to change the world and their lives. Whatever it was, they were in it together.

In March, I like to celebrate my Irish roots. So here are my affectionate Irish family with arms wrapped around each other.

Mary Theresa Walsh and Catherine Barany about 1937 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
My great grandmother Mary Theresa
Sheehan Killeen Walsh
with her daughter
Catherine Walsh Barany
about 1937

Mae Killeen, Cliff Holland, Helen Killeen about 1920 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Mae Killeen Holland and husband Cliff, with Helen Killeen
 (two of my great-grandmother's daughters from her first marriage to John Joseph Killeen)
1920ish
Steve Barany and Catherine Walsh Barany and Jimmy Crews and Tate Walsh Crews about 1936 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
two of Mary Theresa's daughters by her second husband John Walsh
Steve and Catherine Walsh Barany
and Jimmy and Tate Walsh Crews
in the Barany home about 1936
Nice stockings, Cat!

Unknown with John Jr and Bob in Richmond Hill 1920 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Poor man -  got his head chopped off.
I bet he is the grandfather of these mystery children
John Jr. and his sister "Bob"
Photo was labeled Richmond Hill 1920

Julia Walsh and Fred Slade 1940 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
My paternal grandparents
Julia Walsh and Fred Slade about 1940
Even when they were older, Granny and Granddaddy sat just like that.

Julia Walsh and Fred Slade late 1970s https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
My Granny and Granddaddy Julia and Fred

I love these pictures of Granny with her sisters. The Killeen and Walsh sisters remained close throughout their lives.
Catherine Walsh and Julia Walsh about 1919
Catherine Walsh (later Barany)
and my granny Julia Walsh (later Slade)
Julia Walsh and Tate Walsh mid 1920s https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
My granny Julia Walsh with her sister
Tate Walsh probably mid 1920s



















“I-rish” you would visit my friends at Sepia Saturday. Give them all a hug for me!

Wendy
© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.