Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Genealogy Photo a Day 9: Brick Wall

Genealogy Photo a Day is a month-long challenge coordinated by Genealogy Girl Talks.

The sisters and brothers of my great-grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh have constructed a brick wall that would make Donald Trump drool.
Unknown man and baby New York City 1918
Is this John Sheehan in 1918?
Who is this man standing APPROPRIATELY in front of a BRICK WALL? The baby has been identified in other photos sometimes as “Bob” and sometimes as “Barbie.” Yes, it’s a girl. I THINK this man is the grandfather. But is he Mary Theresa’s brother John Sheehan? Or is he the husband of one of her sisters?

Since the man is dressed in some sort of uniform, I can easily rule out a couple of the husbands.
  • Not Patrick Hederman, Johanna’s husband. He was a porter in a grocery store and a coffee roaster.
  • Not William Christian, Delia’s husband. He ran a dry cleaners.
  • Possibly Patrick Byrnes, Elizabeth’s husband. He was a chauffeur. Is this the uniform of a chauffeur?
  • Possibly John Nagle, Margaret’s husband. He was a bank guard. This uniform bears some resemblance to a police uniform. 

Narrowing down the possibilities is further aided by another clue: Bob/Barbie’s brother John JR. Clearly there must be a John SR. I was excited to discover that Elizabeth and Patrick Byrnes had a son John. However, he was born in 1903, making him too young to be father of John Jr. in 1917. Margaret and John Nagle also had a son John, but he was born in 1911, again far too young to be John Jr’s father.

Perhaps John SR was husband to one of Mary Theresa’s nieces. 

Mary Theresa Walsh in New York 1921
New York City 1921
Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh with "Bob" and John Jr.
and probably their mother. Is this woman her niece?
Could she be the daughter of John Sheehan?

However, only Johanna had children old enough to be parents in 1917. Her son John never married. Her daughter Catherine married a man named Charles Fraundorf and they had only one daughter.

So I think the man must be Mary Theresa’s brother John Sheehan. Do you know how many John Sheehans lived in New York City in the early 1900s? Attempts to pinpoint the correct John Sheehan have been frustrating with nothing to show for my efforts.  

The Brick Wall stands.

Look for me on Instagram (@Wendymath27) and Twitter (@Wendymath).

© 2016, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.


  1. How interesting, to my English way of thinking Sheehan would be an unusual name.

  2. My husband's family includes a Mary Shehan (or Shehen), daughter of Mary & John Shehen, born "somewhere in Ireland" and died in England. So I feel your genealogical pain in trying to trace your Sheehan line!

  3. I hope you can start tearing down bits and pieces of the wall and solve the mystery you want to solve :)


  4. Hey, he could have been dressed up for Halloween. ;-)