Friday, May 19, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Snakes Alive! or Heavens to Betty!

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



This week’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt is one I can hardly look at without getting chills. Snakes – hate ‘em, even the supposedly “good” ones. My aunt Betty (my father’s sister) shares my fear. Actually, she exceeds it. The day she started hating snakes is permanently etched in her mind.

This picture was taken on that very day.
 
Beverly Slade Anderson 1939 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Beverly Ann Slade about 5 years old 1939

Aunt Betty had been sent to live with Richetta Moss, a family friend, since her mother (my grandmother) was in no emotional or physical shape to take care of a baby due to alcoholism. Mrs. Moss’s family owned a beach cottage at Ocean View. On that fateful day in 1939, the family was constructing a walkway from the cottage to the road using bricks that were piled up in the back yard.

As anyone who has ever done a major home project knows, keeping the youngins busy and out of trouble is key to making progress. Assigning Betty and Jackie (another child in Mrs. Moss’s care) the job of gathering bricks and hauling them in their little wagon was the logical thing to do. Surely it was both work and fun for two little girls to fill the wagon and pull with all their might through the bumpy yard.

However, on one trip with the wagon, Betty picked up a brick, unaware that danger lurked beneath. But there it was – a snake. As if just seeing it were not bad enough, she accidentally stepped on the thing. With that, she dropped the brick and just ran.

When it comes to those limbless reptiles, Aunt Betty has been running ever since.

Be like Aunt Betty and run, run, run to Sepia Saturday.

Wendy
© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Sepia Saturday: You Say Tomato - I Say McDonald

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


This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt shows a number of people focusing their attention on one dapper gentleman with hat and cane in hand. His expression is seemingly one of annoyance. But isn’t he well-dressed? Among my old photos is one of my maternal grandfather’s cousin Lee McDonald dressed similarly in light pants and dark sport coat.

Lee McDaniel or McDonald 1891-1973 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Lee Roy McDaniel or McDonald
15 Nov 1871 Virginia - 30 Jan 1973 Indiana

The timing of the prompt photo inspired me to go ahead and update Lee’s line in the “Genealogy Do-Over” way, complete with proper citations and all that. Unfortunately, this Do-Over is Not-Done, thanks to absence in census records, conflicting records, and confusing names. In the state of Virginia, the family was known as McDaniel. Lee’s parents were Grattan McDaniel and Melvina Davis, sister of my great-grandfather Walter Davis. In both 1880 and 1900, they were McDaniel. But in 1920 Indiana, they were the McDonalds. Why, I don’t know. And why Indiana, I don’t know. But all the living children had relocated to Indiana as early as 1907, judging by a marriage record for Lee’s brother Thomas.

As adults, three of the McDaniel brothers – er, uh McDonald brothers – were professional painters: Lee, Grover, and Bernard. Lee was employed at the Polk Sanitary Milk Company. (Sanitary? Isn't all milk "sanitary"? I didn't know a company needed to make a point of saying it.)

Polk Sanitary Milk Company  https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
The Polk Sanitary Milk Company 1925
courtesy Indiana Historical Society
I don’t know how a milk company kept a full-time painter busy unless they needed those oversized milk bottles kept clean with fresh paint. The company was a large enterprise, frequently expanding, so there’s that too. 

Lee retired from Polk’s in 1956, right about the time the company fell on hard times and closed. No use in crying over  - well, you know. 
 
(posted on Findagrave)

To see how others were inspired by hats and canes and well-dressed folk, please visit Sepia Saturday

Wendy
© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Dollar Steaks, Kilroy, and Love

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



Valley Diner 1940s menu Toms Brook VA https://jollettetc.blogspot.com

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt featuring a vintage menu from Milan & Dan’s CafĂ© in San Francisco brings to mind an old menu that was among my mother’s possessions. Dating from about the early to mid-1940s, the menu came from the Valley Diner. This menu has all the earmarks of a low-budget operation. Two plastic pockets allow the proprietor to swap out a list of offerings without having to order all new menus. The name of the restaurant is even handwritten on the cover. 

Valley Diner 1940s menu spread Toms Brook VA https://jollettetc.blogspot.com










The day’s specials filled a page that was painstakingly handwritten and inserted over the regular menu page. It appears to be original, and since this menu predated quick copy services like Kinkos and Office Max, it is likely someone wrote a page for every menu at the Valley Diner. And now because someone in my family apparently took a menu as a souvenir, an employee had one less menu to fill.

Valley Diner 1940s menu Specials Toms Brook VA https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Valley Diner 1940s menu under the Specials Toms Brook VA https://jollettetc.blogspot.com










Valley Diner 1940s menu Toms Brook VA https://jollettetc.blogspot.com

With a common name like “Valley Diner,” one would expect to find a number of same-named restaurants throughout the valley of Virginia, but there was only one “Valley Diner.” It was located near Toms Brook, a very small town of about 250 people in Shenandoah County. Its location along route 11 made it a popular eatery for travelers heading north toward Washington DC and Maryland or south toward Harrisonburg and Roanoke. That is the same road my grandaunt Velma Davis Woodring would have taken from Martinsburg, West Virginia to visit her family in Harrisonburg and Shenandoah. Maybe she was the culprit who stole the menu!
 
Valley Diner Toms Brook VA 1960s postcard https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
1960s postcard of the Valley Diner, Toms Brook, VA
(from Shenandoah Co Library Archives)
Whatever was so special about the Valley Diner to make a person walk off with a menu has been lost to time. Maybe it was a special occasion to be celebrated with a $1.00 steak or oyster plate. Or maybe it was just a convenient lunch spot offering a hamburger for 15 cents and crab meat sandwich for 40. Most sandwiches were under 45 cents, so the $1.00 “Kilroy Was Here” sandwich must have come with everything on it.
 
What was on this sandwich to make it so expensive?
Valley Diner Toms Brook VA 1960s postcard https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
1960s postcard of the Valley Diner, Toms Brook, VA
(from Shenandoah Co Library Archives)

I was hoping to make THAT the story, but I could find no references to such a thing, only a song “Kilroy Was Here” by the Leather Sandwich band of Australia. So I went looking for the history of the diner. The National Park Service published a document in 1995 about diners in Virginia. According to the NPS, the Valley Diner was a wood-frame building with a barrel-vault roof built sometime between 1925 and 1930. The exterior walls have been covered with stucco. A glass block counter and knotty pine paneling were added in the 1940s and 1950s updates. The diner operated under the name “Bud & Yanks” throughout the 1930s.

An obituary – yes, an obituary, of all things – told more of the story. When Mary Sue Rakes graduated from high school in Franklin County, Virginia, she worked for Naomi and Eddie Wilkerson and then followed them to the Valley where they opened the Valley Diner in the mid-1940s. (I wonder if Naomi is the one who wrote the menu.) But that is not the end. The Valley Diner is where Mary Sue found love. Yes, love. Eugene Hottle Crabill worked at the Woodstock Locker Plant (a frozen food locker) and delivered meats to the Valley Diner. I suppose he was the one carrying those delicious dollar steaks and oysters. He and Mary Sue married in 1952 and together they opened a retail meat business, Crabill’s Meats, which is still going strong.

Valley Diner Toms Brook VA today https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
The Valley Diner today
(from Flickr)
In the late 1960s when I-81 was constructed bypassing small towns, Valley Diner took a hit, as did many businesses. Today the Valley Diner is just an empty shell, a decaying relic of days gone by when Mom ‘n’ Pops could make a good living along a main corridor. Nevertheless, the building is listed in the survey of historic resources of Shenandoah County.

Valley Diner Toms Brook VA today https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
The Valley Diner 2011
(used by permission of Diner Hunter Spencer Stewart)


Valley Diner Toms Brook VA interior today https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
The interior of the Valley Diner 2011
shot through a window
(used by permission of Diner Hunter Spencer Stewart)

It looks like this five-finger discounted menu holds some historic significance after all.

To see what others are serving up, check the Today’s Specials at Sepia Saturday. Tell them Kilroy sent you.

Wendy
© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Mystery Monday: Chasing John Sheehan Part 4 - John and Katie

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.

Unidentified man with John Jr. 1918  https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Man with John Jr. 1918
My efforts to identify the mystery man in uniform and the mystery children known as “John Jr.” and “Bob” (or Bobie) led me to another possible couple of couples, this time all named John and Katie/Catherine/Kathryn.

Unidentified man with John Jr. 1921 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
John Jr. and Unknown
1921
I eliminated John and Katie of 514 18th Street in Brooklyn because John was born in the United States. Then John and Kate of Court Street in Brooklyn were eliminated when the 1905 census revealed John was actually born in London; the nail in the coffin was the fact that they lived next door to Jerry Sheehan – likely a brother – who was also from London.

That left John and Katie who were living at 559 W. 48th Street in Manhattan. John’s birthdate of May 1862 is not far off from the expected 1863 date as noted in the Catholic Parish records. He was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States in 1880. Katie, too, was born in Ireland and immigrated in 1882. John worked as a teamster while Katie kept house and cared for their children. She reported 5 of 7 living: Daniel (1886), John J. (1888), Thomas (1890), Patrick (1894) and Louis (1896).
 
1900 Manhattan, NY federal census
In following the children, I found a birth record at FamilySearch for Thomas Oliver Sheehan born 1890. His mother’s name was given as Katie Cleary. The excitement of finding a maiden name was short-lived as a later census showed one Patrick Cleary boarding with John and Katie, both of whom were born in the United States. As if this were not enough proof that I had not found the right family, little Thomas Oliver Sheehan’s death in 1891 included the fact that his mother was a widow. There went that family!

But when one door closes, another one opens. Up popped more birth records, this time for Thomas M. in 1890, Dennis in 1892, Patrick in 1894, and Mary in 1896. The record for “Thomas M.” came with a new maiden name: Kate Ryan. That same maiden name appeared in marriage records for Thomas and for Louis. Perhaps Dennis and Mary were the two children that Katie reported did not survive; the years fit. Or maybe they were Nora 1884-85 and Edward (1900-1900).

In 1905, Kate was the head of household at 559 W. 48th Street in Manhattan. John Sr was not there, but the 5 sons were. The 3 oldest were fully employed while the 2 younger attended school.
 
1905 Manhattan, NY state census
Any suspicion that John had died was resolved in the 1910 census when Katherine declared herself a widow.
 
1910 Manhattan, NY federal census
Shucks! And with that I knew the man in the photo could not be John Sheehan – that is, IF this is the right family. I wallowed in self-doubt for a while wondering what the heck I am doing, why I am even bothering going through New York census records for someone that might not even have lived in New York. He might have never emigrated from Ireland to begin with. Even if he did, he might not have elected to go to New York. Maybe he went to Massachusetts or to Canada. But I can’t stand to leave a task unfinished, so I gritted my teeth and moved on to 1920.

Ho Hum. Nothing too surprising. In 1920, Catherine was head of household and three of her sons were there: John, Patrick, and Lewis. Daniel and Thomas were married and on their own. The Sheehans were no longer living on West 48th Street. They had moved a couple streets away to 506 West 50th. Wait – what? 506?  506! 

1920 Manhattan, NY federal census
That’s the house number I have been wanting to find: 506. Just like the number in my mystery man’s photo.


 

1925 Manhaattan, NY state census










The moment I saw that oh-so-familiar number, “O-M-G” could be heard from Virginia to Manhattan. There was nothing left to do but figure out who the man could be and how he was related to the mystery children John Jr. and “Bob.”

Obviously, the man in uniform was not John J. Sheehan, Sr. since he had died before 1910. Could the man be one of the sons?

It is logical to start with John Joseph since the man in the photo was holding “John Jr.” However, John J. was still single and living at home in 1920. John Jr. was born in 1917 and sister “Bob” followed about 1919 or 1920.

I moved on to the brothers thinking maybe one of them named a son John and added the “Jr” to distinguish him from “Uncle John.” Daniel is out. According to his World War I draft registration card, he was married and had three children by 1917. This does not fit the timeline of photos. Furthermore, Daniel had no child named John.

Thomas and his wife Rose look like possibilities. They had a son John, but he was born in 1914 and could not be the infant in the 1917 photos.

Patrick is unlikely the father. He was still single in 1920. In 1930, he was head of household that included a wife and his mother but no children at all.

1930 Queens, NY federal census


Louis married in 1921 but was divorced by 1925. It is not likely that he was the father of John Jr. and “Bob” either.

CONCLUSIONS:
  1. If this is MY John Sheehan and family, then the photo of man with baby is NOT John Sheehan. Nor does the photo seem to be of any of the sons.
  2. If I have found the right family, maybe I just don’t have the right clues. I’m missing something.
  3. It is possible that some other family member was visiting Sheehan relatives at 506 W. 50th St.
  4. I’m beginning to think the 506 address is just a coincidence.
Wendy
© 2017, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Mystery Monday: Chasing John Sheehan Part 3 - John and Lizzie

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.

Unknown man in 1918 with "John Jr." https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Is this John Sheehan?


The 1892 New York City census for Brooklyn included the household of John and Lizzie Sheehan, both born in Ireland about 1862. John was a fireman, which made me think the mystery man in several photos might have been wearing a fireman’s uniform. The couple had three daughters: Mary – 7, Margaret – 4, and Annie – 6.

John and Lizzie Sheehan 1892 Brooklyn, NY census https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
1892 Brooklyn, NY census
So let’s look at this family through the years as recorded in the census records.

In 1900, there was no John and Lizzie to be found. I even tried Eliza and Elizabeth, but no couples matched the family of 1892. FamilySearch offered up a death record for one Annie Sheehan, age 11, with parents John and Lizzie Sheehan. However, her age is not consistent with the Annie of 1892.

There is something peculiar about that census that makes me suspect the enumerator made an error. Usually children are listed chronologically, but in 1892 Annie was listed as the third child but was older than the second child. If the enumerator entered the names and ages incorrectly, this could be the Annie of 1892.

In 1905, the only John and Lizzie were parents of 4 children: John Jr. - 14, Nellie - 7, James – 5, and William - 2. If this is the right John and Lizzie, why was John Jr. not enumerated in 1892 and where were Mary and Margaret? Possibly they were married by then and out on their own.  Or maybe this is a different family.
John and Lizzie Sheehan 1905 Brooklyn, NY census https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
1905 Brooklyn, NY census


Yet this same family appeared in the 1910 Queens, New York census. John’s date of birth was 1866, not the expected 1862 or 63. He had changed careers from a laborer at the brick yard to longshoreman. Lizzie reported 4 of 6 children living. However, if this was the same John and Lizzie from 1892, she should have reported 4 of 7 children living. The gap between the ages of John Jr. and Ellen (Nellie) suggests the missing children were from that period. If so, then this is definitely a different John and Lizzie from the 1892 couple.
John and Lizzie Sheehan 1910 Queens, NY census https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
1910 Queens, NY census


Another John and Lizzie family appeared in Manhattan along with their 5 children. Four of the five were born in Ireland, and the family had been in the United States only since 1904, so this is definitely NOT the family I am trying to track.

New York 1918 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Trip to New York 1918
My grandaunt Lillie Killeen in the backseat with "John Jr."
In 1915, John and Lizzie of Queens and their 4 children had moved from High Street to Nurge Street. John was no longer a longshoreman; instead he worked as a laborer with cement. Son John was a chauffeur and son James was a messenger boy. Nellie was a nurse girl, which probably meant she took care of other people’s children. This census made me sit up and take notice because of John Jr’s job as a chauffeur. Among the photos passed down to me from my great-grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh are photos of family in a car with a chauffeur. That might mean nothing, but it could be something.

And with that, John and Lizzie sightings come to an end. There are a few records worth mentioning, however. Italiangen and Ancestry both list a marriage for John Sheehan and Lizzie Latts on 29 August 1886. That date fits well with the John and Lizzie of 1905-15 but less so with the couple of 1892 with the daughter born in 1885, assuming the age and date were accurate. BUT – and it’s a BIG BUT – FamilySearch shows a marriage on the same date between John Sheehan and Lizzie PATTS. John’s parents were John Sheehan and Bridget Russell. MY John Sheehan was son of Daniel Sheehan and Bridget Gorman.

FamilySearch has some birth records for children born to John Sheehan and Lizzie Patts:
  • Margaret 1889 Manhattan (mother listed as Elizabeth Patts)
  • Lizzie 1891 Manhattan
  • May 1894 Mahattan

However, these names and dates do not resemble the families in any of these census records. Furthermore, they also do not appear in any other census records with parents named John and Lizzie.

FamilySearch has death records for several children whose parents were named John and Lizzie Sheehan:
  • John born 1887 and died 1887; no mention of a cemetery
  • William born 1888 and died 1888; buried at Calvary
  • Agnes born 1894 and died 1895; buried at Calvary
  • Annie who died in 1899 was buried at Holy Cross.

FamilySearch also has death records for a Lizzie Sheehan who died a widow in 1906. That is obviously not the Lizzie who was alive and well in 1915.

CONCLUSIONS:
1.       Of the two couples named John and Lizzie Sheehan who closely fit my research parameters, the one from 1892 is not the one from 1905-1915.
2.       John and Lizzie Patts/Latts Sheehan are not my family as proven by the marriage record which provided the names of John’s parents.
3.       If Lizzie Patts/Latts was the widow who died in 1906, I can eliminate the 1892 family altogether and perhaps pursue the children of the 1905-15 couple for more clues.
4.       John Sheehan of 1905-1915 did not work in jobs that required a uniform, so even if he is MY John Sheehan, he is not the unidentified man in the photo.

Wendy
© 2017, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Sepia Saturday: Pep and Go

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


This week’s Sepia Saturday photo is of some girls on Sports Day at their school in 1907 although I have no idea what umbrellas had to do with Sports Day. It certainly looks like it was sunny. That aside, the sports theme gives me the perfect opportunity to write about a certain photo from the scrapbook that my grandaunt Velma Davis Woodring created during her two years at Harrisonburg Teachers College (now James Madison University - GO DUKES!).

Bernice Marshall Jenkins Giles 1925 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Bernice Marshall Jenkins
March 1925



This is not my grandaunt Velma. It is a girl who likely lived in Velma’s dorm, Wellington Hall pictured here. Everything about this photo intrigues me from that smart tie to the neatly pressed and creased knickers to those shoes which look completely inappropriate for tennis. The way she is holding the tennis racket makes me think she might play a tune on the strings.

But it’s the expression on her face that I keep going back to. Was she sad? Was she just serious?
Yearbook photo 1926










So who was she? Using the 1926 HTC yearbook, called The Schoolma’am, I studied the faces of every girl who parted her hair on the left and played on a tennis team. My conclusion: Bernice Marshall Jenkins. Had she worn glasses for her yearbook photo, I would feel more confident, but the curly hair, the mouth, the chin, and even the general shape of her face resemble the sad or pensive face in the snapshot.


The group photo of the Pinquet Tennis Team provides another look at Bernice that bolsters my confidence that I found the right one. So for now, Bernice Jenkins it is – that is, until some family member stumbles into my blog and tells me I’m wrong.

Pinquet Tennis Club Harrisonburg Teachers College 1925 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Bernice is seated last right 

The quote attached to Bernice’s yearbook photo strikes me as ironic.

“Quite the jolliest girl we know,
Full of pep and lots of go.”

Jolly? Really? Whodathunk? Her activities likewise depict a kind of energy and school spirit completely absent from any of her photos in either Velma’s scrapbook or the school yearbook.

Delving into Bernice’s past – which is what I do! – I found little to explain either the serious countenance or the jovial reputation. She was the youngest of nine children born to James and Minnie Jenkins of South Boston, Virginia. Her father was a tobacco buyer. Of course he was! South Boston is in the heart of tobacco country in Southside Virginia.

Bernice shows up faithfully in the 1910 and 1920 census, but she is noticeably absent in 1930 and 1940. However, in 1940 she and her HUSBAND Jesse Giles appear on a passenger list arriving in Tampa, Florida from Havana, Cuba. Honeymoon trip?
 
Jesse and Bernice Giles Passenger List from Cuba to Tampa 1940 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Passenger List 1940
from Havana, Cuba to Tampa, Florida

Jesse Giles was a native of North Carolina. Born in 1900, he registered for the draft in 1917. His job at the time was Assistant Clerk of the Court. At 17??? In 1930, age 30, he was still unmarried and living at home with his widowed mother. His job – sculptor. Sculptor??

The two next appear in Florida’s 1945 census. She was a teacher and he worked for the government. (I guess that sculpturing gig didn’t work out.)
 
1945 Florida Census, Hillsborough County
A contributor on Ancestry.com reported that Bernice taught in Tampa, Florida for 20 years and served as secretary of the Hillsborough County Education Association for 8 years. She also was an editor of “The Teacher” magazine.

Bernice outlived her husband by 25 years. “Home” was still Tampa, Florida. However, as she got older, she must have returned to Virginia to be nearer family. She died in a nursing home in Richmond in 1985, just shy of her 80th birthday.

Be a sport and visit Sepia Saturday for more stories full of pep and go.

Wendy
© 2017, Wendy Mathias.  All rights reserved.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mystery Monday: Chasing John Sheehan Part 2 - John and Bridget

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.

John Jr. held by unknown man New York 1918  https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Is this John Sheehan
with John Jr?

Last summer I took three online courses through DAR in preparation for my upcoming role as Registrar of my local DAR chapter. One of our assignments was to distinguish four men with the same name in order to determine which one or ones could be credited with patriotic service. We were given an assortment of documents to analyze and apply as our evidence. It occurred to me that maybe I could apply the same process to finding John Sheehan, oldest brother of my great-grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh.


In this case, it is not going to be easy. First of all, I do not know whether John even left Ireland. For now, I am going on the assumption that he did, and since all of his sisters immigrated to New York, I will assume he did the same. For now anyway. I am sure people smarter than I am could suggest a more logical approach to this exercise. I don’t have one, so I am just jumping in with the hopes that I will find my way and not merely hop around looking at this John Sheehan and that one without good reason.

The 1892 census in New York offered a couple candidates all living in Brooklyn. I recall my own grandmother and grand aunts talking about visiting family in Brooklyn. Maybe one of these John Sheehans was one of them.

John and Lizzie Sheehan 1892

#1 – John and Lizzie, both born in Ireland. While this John is 30 years of age, it is a year older than expected if he truly remembered his birthday was June 1863. However, his occupation as a fireman makes me wonder if the uniform on my mystery man was that of a fireman. Also, the girls are of the right age to be married and a mother by 1917 IF my mystery man was indeed John Sheehan and grandfather to my mystery children, John Jr. and Bob/Bobie.

John and Ellen Sheehan 1892
#2 – John and Ellen, both born in Ireland. This John is only 27, suggesting a birth year of 1865, which seems too far off the mark if John knew his birthdate as clearly as his sisters did. His occupation as a laborer is contrary to the photo of my mystery man; of course, that is assuming the photo is of John Sheehan. My main objection to this family is the name following this family: “James Sheehan.” My guess is he was John’s brother, based on their ages and the fact that there was a child also named James in John and Ellen’s family. My John Sheehan had no such brother, so I will ignore this family.

John and Bridget Sheehan 1892
#3 – John and Bridget, both born in Ireland. This John Sheehan was 29, suggesting a birth year of 1863, matching that of my John Sheehan exactly. While I usually allow a fuzzy birthdate and age for most people, my Irish great-grandmother and her sisters seemed always to know exactly the month and year they were born, so I hope John was equally aware. What I like about this record is that first of all, John and his wife Bridget were living in Brooklyn, the same place two of Mary Theresa’s sisters lived. Second, this John Sheehan was a driver, which I take to mean either a chauffeur or perhaps a cable car driver. Does the uniform worn by this unknown man - who I hope is John Sheehan - be that of a driver?


So let’s follow this family through the census records.

John and Bridget, Brooklyn 1900
1900 – The John and Bridget at 416 Grove Street in Brooklyn may or may not be the same family. John’s birthdate appeared as June (good sign!) 1861 (grr – bad sign), not 1863. Worse than that though is that Bridget was 7 years younger than her husband rather than only 2 as in 1892. They had been married 11 years. She claimed 0 of 1 child living. That means probably the time is up for this John to be a grandfather to John Jr. in 1917. I still have hope because John’s occupation was railroad conductor which seems a reasonable career move from “Driver.”

John and Bridget, Brooklyn 1905
1905 – John and Bridget closed the gap in their age difference with him 45 and her 43. Still, that puts his birth year at 1860, not 1863. BUT he was a “motorman,” suggesting this is the same family as the one from 1900.


But wait! Here is another John and Bridget. This pair lived in Manhattan where John worked as a
John and Bridget #2, Manhattan 1905
Groom, evidently taking care of horses used in transportation or hauling of goods. They had 5 children between the ages of 3 and 19, all born in the United States. Now I wonder why they did not show up in the 1892 or 1900 census.

1910 – John and Bridget were enumerated with the fancy spelling “Scheehan.” John was a streetcar
John and Bridget, Brooklyn 1910
conductor, and once again Bridget reported 0 of 1 child living, assuring me I am tracking the same family, whether or not they are mine. In the household were a nephew, John J. Fogarty, probably from her side of the family (that is, IF this is my family), and two boarders. Agewise, John was closer to matching the 1863 birth year as he was listed as 48, but he aged only three years since the previous census five years before.

The John and Bridget of Manhattan along with their five children moved to Queens. John was retired from the stables. The three oldest children were working.

Bridget Sheehan, Brooklyn 1920
I could not find either John and Bridget couple in 1915, but in 1920, the first Bridget was a widow. In her household were her nephews, the Fogarty boys, James and John.
John Jr. and Unknown man
Photo was captioned
New York 1921

Conclusion: The John Sheehan with a wife named Bridget is NOT the man in the photo because he appears in photos dated after 1920. The man in the photo is either a different John Sheehan or someone else altogether.

Wendy
© 2017, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Mystery Monday: Chasing John Sheehan

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.

Over the past couple of years, I have done just about all the online research I can do on the siblings of my father’s maternal grandmother and my great grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh. There is one brother left to tackle: John Sheehan. I have put him off far too long. Isn’t the reason obvious? That name! Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is named John Sheehan.

This is what I know: John Sheehan was born June 1863 in Croom, County Limerick, Ireland. He was the second child and first son of Daniel Sheehan and Bridget Gorman. On 28 June, 1863, he was baptized. Witnesses were Michael and Elizabeth Sheehan.

John Sheehan Baptism record 1863 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
From Catholic Parish Registers 


This is what I DON’T know: Just about everything. However, just to narrow that down a bit, I don’t know if John even left Ireland. His brother Denis remained in the motherland while all the girls immigrated to New York. So if John did, in fact, precede or follow his sisters, did he live in New York or somewhere else?

This is what I WANT to know: Just about everything. However, just to narrow that down a bit, is this John Sheehan? 

John Jr 1918 and unknown man New York https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
John Jr 1918 New York
John Jr in the basin about 1917; man unknown https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
John Jr. in the basin 1917 New York

John Jr about 1921 with unknown man  New York  https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
John Jr about 1921
If so, how is he related to the children identified in photos as John Jr. (born about 1917) and “Bob” (a girl, born about 1919)? There are a few pictures of him with them, but more often the children are pictured with a woman who could be a wife or sister.


My plan in the coming weeks is to examine census records and whatever else might be available to help answer these burning questions. Even if I don’t come to a logical conclusion, maybe I will at least eliminate some of the possibilities.

Wendy
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