Thursday, March 3, 2016

Sepia Saturday: Holding Water

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



This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt shows men with wheelbarrows loaded with water jugs. While there is no wheelbarrow in this picture, the unidentified girl is carrying a bucket which undoubtedly must have held water at some time.

Girl with bucket from collection of Helen Killeen Parker  http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Unidentified girl
in photos from Helen Killeen Parker

In this terribly damaged and out-of-focus photo, my grandaunt Lillie Killeen and three unidentified women seem to be having a grand time at the water pump.

Lillie Killeen and others at water pump http://jollettetc.blogspot.com
3 unidentified women with Lillie (front right)

These photos and hundreds more are the story of my life: unidentified people and a bunch of theories; unlike the jugs and bucket, however, some of my theories just don’t hold water.

Death Certificate for Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh
Take this death certificate, for example. As the informant, Aunt Lillie supplied the information about my great grandmother. She said Mary Theresa’s father was Daniel Sheehan and her mother was Nora.

Daniel Sheehan and Nora SULLIVAN were the same names given by Josie Sheehan at her marriage to Charles/Carl Krause in 1897. Right time. Right place. Yep, this must be Mary Theresa’s sister Josie, the one pictured here.
Josie with John Jr. and "Bob"

What a find. Finally I knew Mary Theresa’s parents’ names, or so I thought, until I found a death record for her sister Delia Sheehan Christian. It names her mother “Bridget O’Gorman.” Hmm. Evidently Daniel married twice. Yeah, that explains it.

from FamilySearch.org

That theory made sense until a search for information about Mary Theresa’s niece Myra Sheehan led to a different conclusion. Having never worked with Irish records before, I sought the advice of fellow blogger Dara of Black Raven Genealogy. Instead of sending me a list of sources as she had offered, she sent a marriage date that preceded the birth of Mary Theresa. Daniel and Bridget married 21 January 1857.

Marriage register for Daniel Sheehan and Bridget Gorman
Witnesses: Thomas Gorman and Johanna Burns



Obviously Bridget was not a second wife as I had speculated. Nor could Nora be a second wife because Delia was born ten years after Mary Theresa. If the truth was not clear by now, it certainly came into focus with Dara’s list of birth and baptismal records for the children of Daniel Sheehan and Bridget Gorman.

At last I had names for Mary Theresa’s siblings. Most are different from what I had been told, but I suspect the names listed on an old family chart could be middle names. What about “Nora” on Mary Theresa’s death certificate? Was that a diminutive for a middle name, such as Bridget Honoria? Or was Lillie just mistaken? And what about the photo of Josie? Was Josie a nickname for Johanna? Could Margaret’s middle name be Josephine?

Johanna Sheehan 10 March 1861 Sponsors Thomas Gorman and Ellena Grady


John Sheehan 28 June 1863 Sponsors Michael and Elizabeth Sheehan



Denis Sheehan 20 May 1866 Sponsors Thomas Gorman and Honora O’Grady




Mary Theresa Sheehan 10 January 1869 Sponsors Michael O’Brien and Mary Grady



Margaret Sheehan 21 December 1873 Sponsors Patrick Gorman and Mary O’Shea



Bridget (Delia) Sheehan 26 January 1879 Sponsors Thomas Gorman and Honora O’Grady


With some clues in Mary Theresa’s collection of greeting cards and Dara’s amazing finds, I have been able to track a few of my great grandmother’s sisters and brothers. I will be sharing these discoveries in the coming weeks – after all, St. Patrick’s Day is a big day for the Irish, and what better time to focus on my Irish ancestors than the month of March.

Thirsty for some fun reads? Wheel your way over to Sepia Saturday.

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

30 comments:

  1. Holding water is a great take on the theme. I love reading about your Killeens.

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    1. Thanks -- I really had to stretch that prompt photo within an inch of its life.

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  2. Hurray for help from fellow blogger Dara. It's wonderful that she sent you information about your great grandmother's siblings!

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    1. I know! Dara was so generous to take the time to find all that for me.

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  3. Always fascinating to read what you come up in your detective work :)

    betty

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  4. Yikes...at least you are making ripples in ye ole muddied water bucket. Hope it all comes clear when you sort out the laundry list. So neat that you have so much new/old information to continue your research. I'm getting back to mine at least once a month with my 'Ancestor of the Month' theme. Hopefully there will be time for more than one a month. This year is turning out to be more JOB work than I expected.

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    1. Ripples and muddied water -- perfect analogy!
      I like your ancestors -- I hope you can sustain the effort, what with all the weaving and quilting going on.

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  5. Sometimes it's more family mystery than history. Deciphering old handwriting, especially with names, is like translating ancient hieroglyphics. I look forward to reading the next installment of this detective series.

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    1. Then look for it on Mystery Monday.

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  6. Your Irish family sounds a bit like mine, even some similar names there. I can't find a birth for my great grandfather, let alone his parents.

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    1. I didn't think I would find anything either. Between Dara and a free access at Find My Past, I feel I've come a long way.

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  7. I love that analogy of not holding water. I wish I didn't run into so many of examples of this in my family research!

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    1. Yeah, I hear ya and feel the same about ALL my research too.

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  8. The bucket & water pump fun were 'right-on' choices to match the prompt. Good luck with the ancestral sleuthing!

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    1. That pump photo is a mess. I wish I knew the other 3 women.

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  9. I have never done any genealogical research, but I do have research about my mother's Irish ancestors thanks to an aunt.

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    1. The bits of research I have from an aunt are not that good. I sense that everyone went by their middle name instead of their baptismal name causing all the confusion.

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  10. Genealogy is for me like wandering in a maze. Names swirl around and I do not dare to go to far into it. Great, old photo with the girls having fun at the water pump. Precious despite its damage.

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    1. It IS a maze, you are absolutely right. Sometimes a clue will send me in one direction only to come back to where I started.

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  11. Great post. Can't wait to hear more. Yes this detective work can be exhausting.

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    1. Thanks. Exhausting, yes. And like trying to scratch the itch in the middle of your back.

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  12. I'm amazed that you have photos of people with water, Wendy!

    And don't you just love the hunt, especially when it's so round-about. I think some of your ancestors are doing a nice job keeping you on your toes and on track for accuracy.

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    1. Yeah, none of my relatives needed a Witness Protection program because they did a good job staying hidden.

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  13. I wonder if that pump was like the modern office water cooler, where people gathered to gossip and share a joke or two.

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    1. Does the office water cooler even exist anymore? It seems everyone carries a water bottle these days.

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  14. I could have matched as I have photos with buckets! Was not thinking creatively over the weekend!

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    1. You sound like me almost every week. I struggle with some of the prompts and then read the creative takes others thought of, and then I get mad at myself for being so superficial.

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  15. Great sleuthing, Wendy. The unidentified girl sure had interesting pants, didn't she?

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    1. As if women didn't have enough trouble with dresses that needed ironing -- they had to deal with knee pants and tall socks too.

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