Tuesday, January 29, 2019

52 Ancestors - AT THE LIBRARY: The Good and the Bad

Nothing beats conducting serious genealogy research in your jammies. Late at night or on a cold rainy day, I love to hunker down at my computer to see if the Library of Virginia has added anything new to its digital collections, especially the Chancery Causes from county courts throughout Virginia. Not all the cases have been digitized, but most of the counties where my ancestors lived have their chancery causes online for all to see. For free.

The search button allows visitors to search by plaintiff, by defendant, by any surname mentioned in a case, and by county. What a surprise when Madison County came online and there was a case involving a Jollett. Specifically, the case was William Tate vs James Jollett, dated 1821.

Since Madison County is so close to Culpeper County, Orange County, and Greene County where my known Jolletts were, surely this James Jollett had to be mine too. Maybe he was even my 4X great-grandfather. One look at his answer to the complaint, and I knew for sure I was correct. His signature is similar to the signature on a petition he signed requesting the state to create a new county for the convenience of citizens living too far from the Orange County seat.
Signature 1838 in petition to form Greene County
Signature 1821 in response to William Tate
So what had Grandpa James Jollett done to land him in chancery court? 

William Tate's side of the story

According to William Tate, James Jollett sold him some land in 1788 to which he did not have rights. Tate further elaborated that he was made aware of a problem with the deed when two men named Churchill Blakey and James Watson tried to obtain a patent on the same land. That led Tate to enter a caveat, a legal notice that certain actions cannot be taken without informing the caveator. Mounting a defense cost Tate about $25-$30, which equates to roughly $537-$644 today. And he wanted Jollett to pay.
from Tate's complaint dated 28 Sep 1820
Madison County, VA 1821-009
To the County Court of Madison sitting in Chancery. Your orator William Tate, humbly showeth to the Court that sometime in the year 1788 he purchased a tract of land of one James Jollett who assured your orator that he had a good title to the same, and being in possession of a deed which he called a title deed he assigned the same viz to your orator, & this was the only written conveyance which s[aid] Jollett made to your orator, & put him in possession of the land & for the purchase money thereof your orator executed his note to s[ai]d Jollett for the payment of the purchase money to the amt. of £11. Your orator further says that the s[ai]d Jollett has no title to the same, 

James Jollett's side of the story

James Jollett was not quick to respond - it took 8 months! - but finally he did respond. Jollett said that in fact, Tate never finished paying him but had taken possession of the land just the same. Because he was aware of Tate’s caveat and suit against Blakey and Watson, Jollett had delayed suing Tate for the balance. As he pointed out, Tate won that suit by proving he had a clear title. Shortly thereafter, Tate sold the land to Linn Banks and was paid four times what he himself had paid Jollett. Now all Jollett wanted was for the case to be dissolved and for Tate to pay his costs “most unjustly expended.” Jollett's lawyer argued most eloquently:

from Jollett's response dated 10 May 1821
Madison County, VA 1821-009
How is it possible then that this Court can pretend to arrest the judgment which this respondent has obtained against s[ai]d Tate? Is not the title of the land good which this respondent sold to s[ai]d Tate? Has not s[ai]d Tate sold this identical land? And has he not received the full amount of the purchase money for the same? All of these interrogations must be answered affirmatively. The complainant sets up a flimsy pretext in his Bill upon the subject of the costs, which he paid in the prosecution of his suit against Watson & Blakey, whatever he may of paid by argument or otherwise this respondent [continued on next page: cannot be responsible for the same]

It did not take long for the Court to find in favor of Jollett. Tate was required to pay James Jollett £22, plus 5% yearly from October 15, 1788, plus court costs and Sheriff’s commission until paid up. He was given credit for having paid £11 at the initial sale.

It took Tate four years to satisfy the Court at which time the injunction was dissolved on November 25, 1824, and finally dismissed with court costs February 24, 1825. Justice is not swift.

Nevertheless, it is good news that my ancestor was on the right side of the law. However, as interesting as chancery causes might be, it is not always good news to find a relative involved in a court case. Thanks to the Chancery Causes available through the digital collections at the Library of Virginia, I learned that a minister in my family was sued by a neighbor for selling him a horse that was no good, that my 3X great-grandfather was sued for non-payment of debt and later for fraud, and that the ugly details of a great-grandaunt’s divorce case are there for everyone to see.

As they say, “Be careful what you wish for!”

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Sepia Saturday: Jelly Beans and Kidney Beans

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt shows a man standing beside one of those 1930s-1940s cars that my family refers to as “jelly bean” or “kidney bean” cars because of the bulbous shape.

Anyone who is obsessed with family history and challenged by trying to identify people in unmarked photos has surely heard of Maureen Taylor, the Photo Detective. She is everyone’s go-to expert on finding clues in old photos. With her instruction, even the casual family historian has learned to pay attention to details like styles of clothing, use of props, and what the photo is printed on.

In my best imitation of the Photo Detective, I decided to try my hand (and eye) at dating photos by studying jellybean cars.

Photo 1

Wendy about 1952 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Wendy and a Nash Statesman Custom
Can you date a photo with just a partial view of a car, specifically the wheel? Why, yes, you can. When I zoomed in, I could read “Statesman Custom.” Hmm, not familiar. With the aid of Dr. Google, I learned it was a Nash, an American car manufactured between 1916 and 1954, and then until 1957 after the creation of the American Motors Corporation. Since I know that adorable child, I used those sturdy walking shoes and balancing fists to narrow down the years the photo was taken to 1952 or 1953. Therefore, the car had to be older than that. 

Even someone who doesn’t know the child can date this photo if they pay close attention. As I studied wheel after wheel, I noticed that in early Statesman Customs, the model name appeared closer to the door, not over the wheel like in my photo. Then look what happened in 1952.

1952 Nash Statesman Custom

The folks at Nash moved the model name over the wheel.

MY GUESS - 1952 (early 1953 at the latest)

Photo 2 

Fred and Julia Slade https://jollettetc.blogspot.com

The deckle edge is a sure sign that this next photo dates between the 1930s and 50s, but the car will surely point you to the later years of that range. Knowing these people made it easy to guess the make of this car and year. My father was a Ford man, so I guessed his father was too. The grill, the hill-shaped hood, the vented door window all cry FORD. My grandparents never had much money, so I could not imagine they bought a new car very often. Therefore, I started with 1949. However, from 1949 through 1951, the shape and placement of the fog lights or signal lights did not match my photo. The 1952 Ford however introduced the propeller-looking light mounted on the edge of the grill in a direct line below the headlights. But was it the Mainline, Crestline, or Customline Ford? The answer probably lies INSIDE the car, but I will guess the Mainline, certainly not Customline as my grandparents’ finances probably would not have allowed it.
1952 Ford Crestline looks similar
to my grandparents' car

MY GUESS - 1952 or later

Photo 3

Glenn Davis on Orvin Davis's Buick https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Glenn on Granddaddy's Buick
The ultimate “jelly bean” was my grandfather Orvin Davis’s Buick. I do not know how many cars he owned in his lifetime, but I know this Buick with its iconic VentiPorts and gunsight hood ornament was his last. It was the car he chauffeured me and the neighborhood kids in to buy penny candy at the drugstore. It was the car that carried us across the state every summer to visit my cousins. As a child, I thought it was the biggest, heaviest, and ugliest machine ever imagined. I was probably right. 

But I digress - back to my detective work. I tried zooming in to read the name of the model etched across the grill. The best I can decipher is that the word is 5 letters, so that eliminates the Roadmaster. It could say Super. It could say Eight. From what I can tell, they were the same thing, but I find more photos showing “Eight,” so I will go with that.

Cropped  - small image from a large photo
Granddaddy's Buick
Since the 1948 Buick Super Eight had more of that jelly bean shape with a semi-fastback style than Granddaddy’s car which had more definition, his car probably dates after 1948. The metal strip on the windshield seems to have been eliminated from the 1950 models. Therefore, it seems likely the car was a 1949 model, and because I know the car was still around in 1963, dating this photo more accurately will require studying the little boy and his clothes.
MY GUESS - 1949 model but photo around 1953

Photo 4

Violetta Davis and Dick Ryan before 1941 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Violetta Davis and Dick Ryan
between 1935 and 1941
One last jelly bean car is this one. I confess it has given me a fit. Knowing the people, I can say for sure the car dates before 1941 which is the year Violetta’s husband Dick Ryan died. The object of most of my research was this wing-like rear fender. I compared cars from 1935 (they married in 1936). Apparently that wing fender was popular among car manufacturers.

The Chevrolet, Lincoln, and Buick had a rear fender most like the one on Dick Ryan’s car.

Next I tried comparing the small rear window and exterior spare tire holder. The search was hampered by the fact that most of the pictures I found were of cars that have been restored by auto enthusiasts who might have altered the exterior. But for the most part, most cars did not have the same slope as Dick’s car.

Then I remembered I have another picture showing the front of the car.

Violetta Davis and Velma Davis Woodring and friends https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
First two women are unknown
Violetta and her sister Velma Davis Woodring 
Once again, like Dick’s car, the front fenders on the Chevrolet, Lincoln, and Buick had the same gentle slope like a sliding board. The other cars’ front fenders were more like a hill with a definite stop where it met the running board.

Furthermore, the shorter length and VERY pronounced vent on Dick’s car eliminated most of the contenders which had narrow vents and long front ends.

But I could find no car with a vent like this one. The very pronounced vent on the Buick seemed somehow related but not an exact match. I was beginning to think the car rehab artists of today may have substituted the vents. I put my research aside for another day.

Then BOOM - just like that, this picture popped up:
1935 Ford Slantback
Look at the side vents. Look at that slope and spare tire. This has to be the car.

And that led to this YouTube video. 

It’s long with a lot of talking. But I sat through it because my grandaunt and uncle had that car: a 1935 Ford Slantback which had NO TRUNK, by the way. The car in the video has not only the very large vent but also the same molded lines around the window and along the slanted back. One of the interesting features of this car shown in the video is the ashtray that spins around like a revolving door. Violetta was a smoker, so she probably liked that.
MY GUESS - 1935 or 1936

I am no Maureen Taylor, but studying the details of old cars has been a fun little exercise for me. Admittedly, there was no new revelation, no new connections to anyone, just little factoids to add to my family history.

Hop in your car and enjoy the ride to Sepia Saturday.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

52 Ancestors - LIKE TO MEET: Poodle Woman

This week’s 52 Ancestors challenge is just a cruel joke: someone we would like to meet. Seriously, Amy? Can I just say "the whole fam damily"?

While I certainly would like to meet my oldest known ancestors just to ask, “Who’s your daddy,” I have no way to expand on it. Instead I think I would like to meet this woman:
Sheehan woman 1915  https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Sheehan sister 1915 and probably Cutey

The human mother of this poodle named Cutey and whoever that other poodle was.
Cutey the poodle and unknown poodle https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
One poodle was named Cutey; the other is unknown.
This photo dates at the time John Jr. was born in 1917.

The mother or grandmother of these two children, John Jr. and “Bob” who was definitely a girl.
Sheehan woman with John Jr and Bob about 1921 beach in New York https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
John Jr and "Bob" with their grandmother (?) AND Cutey
at a beach in New York, possibly Rockaway Beach
Sheehan sister with Bob and John Jr  https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Woman AND Cutey, "Bob," and John Jr.
Dated March 1922
Back of photo says "while they had whooping cough"

This little family constellation DRIVES. ME. CRAZY.

Why? Because these photos are from a more recent time - 1917-1920ish. Surely I SHOULD be able to identify them.

But I can’t.

All I know is that they are related SOMEHOW to my great-grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh and that they PROBABLY lived in New York City.
Sheehan women, Cutey, John Jr. and Bob 1921 New York City https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
1921 New York
Two older women might be sisters of Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh.
Younger woman in the center is possibly mother to "Bob" and John Jr.

Poodle Woman, who are you?

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.”

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Sepia Saturday: Look What Is In Store

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt features a corner store with the side wall boasting a large advertisement for cigarettes. My great-great grandfather Franklin Rucker opened a butcher shop in Shenandoah, Virginia sometime between 1870 and 1880.
Rucker Meat Store about 1900 Shenandoah, Virginia https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Side of the Rucker Meat Shop, Shenandoah, Virginia
photo from Shenandoah: A History of Our Town and Its People
In 1900 when this photo was taken, the thriving business advertised smoking tobacco “Standard of the World” alongside a picture of a cow. It is difficult to discern whether the cow represented the butchering business or the tobacco company, most likely the former although who can forget that a camel was a popular mascot for its namesake brand.

The Rucker Meat Shop was not the only store in the family. My great-grandfather Walter Davis opened a store at the corner of Sixth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in the same little town of Shenandoah.
Davis Store 1920s Shenandoah, Virginia https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Davis Store 1920s
The Davis store was just one empty lot over from where my mother grew up, so she spent many an hour there while her mother waited on customers.
Mary E. Davis and friend at the Davis Store Shenandoah, Virginia https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Mary E. Davis and dog Fritz with a friend
outside the Davis Store about 1939
The quality of my old photos is too poor to get a good read on what was advertised in the windows or on the exterior walls. One sign says “LEM-N BLENND.” At the time this photo was taken, Lem-n Blennd was either a non-carbonated fountain drink, syrup, or candy. Apparently the concoction went through various lives from its inception to its final sale to Heinz.

Inside the store, packaging and signs are even more difficult to read. Fortunately, Duke’s mayonnaise, Hershey’s candy and Kellogg’s cereal are easy to recognize.
Davis Store Shenandoah, Virginia https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
My grandmother Lucille Rucker Davis behind the counter

What else was for sale in the Davis store? Why, cigars and smoking tobacco, of course. Cremo was an American-made cigar made popular in the 1930s as the best 5¢ cigar.

A better view of the Stud logo.
Stud was a smoking tobacco produced by the R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company in North Carolina. That fuzzy white figure in the logo was a white horse rearing up on its hind legs. Stud promoted itself as being for the smokers “who like to roll their own.”

There seems no easy or logical way to wrap up this blog post, so I will leave you with something my mother always used to say: “Put that in your pipe and smoke it.”

Please visit Sepia Saturday to read how others interpreted the prompt.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Free Book Offer

Have I mentioned before how much I LOVE the Morton Farrier genealogy crime mysteries by Nathan Dylan Goodwin? Of course, I have - HERE and HERE.

The bad thing about having read ALL of the books in the series is that I have read ALL the books in the series and am impatiently waiting for more.

If you haven’t read any of Nathan’s books, what is stopping you? Right now you can go to Amazon and for a mere 99¢ buy the Kindle version of The Asylum, a short prequel to book #1, Hiding the Past.

Too steep for you? If you visit Nathan’s website, you can get a FREE digital copy. Can’t beat that!

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

52 Ancestors - UNUSUAL NAME: Cabell Slade

According to census records in Florida, Cabel or Cabell Slade is either my second great grandaunt or second great granduncle. 


In the 1850 Madison County census and 1870 Lafayette County census, Cabel is listed as a male. 
1850 Federal Census Madison County, Florida  

1870 Federal Census Lafayette County, Florida

However, in 1874, there is a marriage record in Lafayette County for Miss Cabel Slade and Charles A. Ross. 

State of Florida
Lafayette County
To a legal authorized minister of the Gospel, Justis of the Peace or Judge of account.
These are therefor to authorize and permit you to solemnize the writes of matrimony between Charles A. Ross and Miss Cabel Slade and make a return to my office within 10 days Then bering no seal of office I have hereunto set my hand & [Privat?] seal this December 23rd AD 1874.
R. P. Langston
Clerk of Court

State of Florida
Lafayette County
I hereby cerify that I have this day executed the above License this December 25th AD 1874.
Z Bees
M [Minister] Gospel
Recorded December 28th 1874
Lafayette County, Florida, Circuit Court, Marriage Record Book A: 1857-1874, Cabel Slade, Marriage License; Florida State Archives, Tallahassee; microfilm 152-MF002
When the census taker came around, did Stephen and his wife SAY Cabell was a male or did the census taker just assume so? 

And what about 1860?  No Cabell is mentioned.  However, there is a Louiza who is the same age as Cabell would have been, but no Louiza in 1850 or 1870.  Was Cabell really Cabell Louiza Slade or Louiza Cabell Slade?  

It’s possible.

Or so I thought until the sale of Stephen Slade’s land in Lafayette County in 1885. The sellers were Julia Slade and Emma C. Ross. It seems probable that the “C” stood for Cabell.

Whatever Cabell’s story is, she seems doomed to obscurity. What I have said here is ALL I know. One would think with a marriage in 1874, there would be census records at the very least to add. Alas, not even in 1880.

With a common, NORMAL, acceptable and sensible name like “Emma,” how did the Slades come up with a name like “Cabell” for a sweet baby girl born in 1848? I do not have an answer, but I did a little research on the name. Several sources say it was a French name meaning “rope.” Historically it was a boy’s name that reached its popularity around 1915 and has been declining ever since - no blips, no short resurgence of popularity, just a straight line to its new low.

I had to click on A LOT of baby name websites even to find “Cabell” as a girl’s name. There is very little information except a speculation that it is a variation of “Campbell,” a fine Scottish name. Hmm - maybe there is a clue to the Slade family heritage. Slades were supposedly Welsh, but without a maiden name for Stephen’s wife Margaret, I do not know the full story.

The name “Cabell” was strange-sounding to me, a new name I had never heard of. How did the writers of the television show “Bull” come up with the name “Cabel” for the character Cabel McCrory, the resident computer expert played by Annabelle Attanasio? Despite being written out of the show, will her popularity spark a new wave of little Cabells dressed in pink?

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Sepia Saturday: The Incorrigible Mr. Bowers

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

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt focusing on trains and railroad tracks was at first discouraging. After all, I have already written numerous blogs about my family members who worked for the railroad as brakemen, engineers, conductors, machinists, car repairers, firemen, flagmen, and store clerks. I even wrote about several who died while working on the railroad, mostly by falling off a trestle or sustaining head injuries by stumbling over the tracks.

But just this week I stumbled into a NEW story. (Did you see what I just did there? Clever segue, eh?) It’s the short life of a second cousin twice removed named Emanuel Blakey Roach of Port Republic in Rockingham County, Virginia.

Emanuel married Lucy Ann Morris around 1914, and the two settled into the Port Republic neighborhood where he grew up. At least by 1917 he was employed by the Norfolk & Western Railroad. According to the 1920 census, he was a brakeman; in 1930 he was a railroad laborer.

Five years later, Emanuel was dead. His death certificate reports that he fell from a train about 2.5 miles from Charles Town (not to be confused with Charleston), West Virginia. The first report of his death appeared in the Charleston Daily Mail on March 20, 1935.
Charleston Daily Mail, 20 Mar 1935
Within a week, the story changed significantly.

The Bluefield Daily Telegraph reported on March 28, that a couple was arrested for questioning in the MURDER of Emanuel Roach. They were taken into custody while on a train in Front Royal, Virginia.
Bluefield Daily Telegraph 28 Mar 1935
More was added to the story the next day. The couple were Richard and Lillie Bowers, alias Austin. Alias? Mrs. Bowers or Mrs. Austin, whoever, said that Emanuel’s death was due “indirectly to her presence in the camp car.” So did he fall accidently? Was he thrown from the car? What did her presence have to do with Emanuel’s death?

A reporter for the Daily News Record in Harrisonburg, Virginia, learned that the initial investigation could not determine whether Emanuel’s death was due to accident or murder. However, Lillie Bowers (or was it Austin?) said that he fell or maybe was pushed when he attempted to attack her. Foul play was not suspected until it was discovered that a watch and money were missing from Emanuel’s belongings.
Daily News Record 28 Mar 1935
Whether Emanuel actually “attacked” the woman or whether he was protecting his belongings, one must wonder what a nice couple was doing in a camp car in the first place. Were they robbing him or were they just taking advantage of the opportunity to grab a little cash from a man who had fallen off the train?

Reports in the Daily News Record suggest the Bowers-Austins were up to no good all along. It seems Richard Bowers had quite the rap sheet. He had served time in Chattanooga, Tennessee; Washington DC; Louisville, Kentucky; and Harrisonburg, Virginia. Most recently in 1934 he had escaped from Western State Hospital (a psychiatric hospital, earlier known as a lunatic asylum). According to Dr. Joseph Dejarnette, director of Western State, Richard Bowers “is incorrigible.”

An interesting side note to this story is that Dr. Dejarnette was director during the heyday of lobotomies and sterilization of the mentally ill. Maybe Bowers had a good reason to escape. Still, he looks rather guilty in the death of Emanuel Roach.

Daily News Record 29 Mar 1935
Stay on track for more old photos and stories aboard the Sepia Saturday train.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

52 Ancestors - CHALLENGE: In Search of Nephews

Speaking of CHALLENGE - How much time do you have? Nothing kicks my genealogy derriere harder or longer than my Irish ancestors. I plodded along unsuccessfully for years before Dara of Black Raven Genealogy handed me my first breakthrough: birth records for all of my great-grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh’s sisters and brothers, some of whom I had never heard of, PLUS a marriage record for their parents.

Those records certainly provided the traction needed to get out of my rut.

Christmas card from Sister Vincent Carmel aka Sadie Byrnes https://jollettetc.blogspot.comA second breakthrough occurred when my aunt gave me my great-grandmother’s scrapbooks in which she had glued greeting cards from friends and family. A Christmas card signed by her niece Sadie Byrnes revealed her religious name: Sister Vincent Carmel. That enabled me to find an obituary.

And that brings me to my current challenge.

The obituary noted that Sr. Vincent Carmel, known affectionately to family as Sadie, was survived by two nieces and two nephews. Hmm. I knew of the nieces already. Her brother John and wife Madeline had two daughters, so that accounts for the two nieces. However, they were not the parents of two boys. Poor ol’ John died at the young age of 22 in 1925, the same year his second daughter was born.
John Byrnes New York City 1919 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
John Byrnes
New York City 1919

Madeline remarried to a man who was a chauffeur, just as her husband John Byrnes had been. In the 1930 census, husband #2 appeared as Joseph MOLENEY. The Byrnes girls Madeline and Patricia were there in the household, but there were no little boys. The family was not to be found in 1940. In my grandaunt Helen’s wedding book is recorded a gift of silver candlesticks from “Mr. & Mrs. J. J.
Wedding Gifts Book Helen Killeen Parker 1927 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Helen Killeen's wedding gifts book 1927
MAHONEY” of New York City. So I looked for Mahoney, Maloney, Moleney - nada. I looked for Madeline Byrnes and Patricia Byrnes. Nada. I looked for them with the Mahoney / Maloney / Moleney surnames. Nada.

So maybe the boys belonged to a different member of the Byrnes family. Mary Theresa’s sister Elizabeth and her husband Patrick Byrnes had six boys and one girl, Sadie. Let’s examine each one. We will skip Sadie since it was HER obituary that alerted me to the nephews.

Richard A. Byrnes was born in 1899 and died in 1932. His death record says he was single. Unless there is a family secret to uncover, he is off the list.

John Byrnes has already been eliminated.

William Byrnes died as an infant, living only 2 days in 1905.

Joseph Byrnes seemed to be a likely candidate, especially considering the wedding gift of six teaspoons to Aunt Helen from “Mr. & Mrs. J. Byrnes” of New York City. Helen married in 1927, so that “J” did not belong to John who died in 1925. In 1940 Joseph Byrnes supposedly was a credit man at a silk house. He and wife Elizabeth, a dental assistant, were boarding with Anna Kraft and others in the Bronx. Just when I thought I was making progress, along came a death record for Joseph Byrnes in 1935 with parents identified as Patrick Byrnes and Elizabeth Sheehan. As if to laugh in my face over the mistaken identity, this Joseph was also SINGLE. So the 1940 census record could not be for MY Joseph. I suppose it is possible Joseph married SOMEBODY and divorced before 1935, but no records have been found to support that.

Patrick and Sadie Byrnes 1919 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
Patrick and Sadie Byrnes
New York City 1919
Patrick Byrnes Jr. was the baby of the family having been born in 1911. He married Margaret Cook in 1937 but died in 1940. It is possible they had two children before his early death, but no records have been found yet.

Robert Byrnes and Helen Killeen New York City 1919 https://jollettetc.blogspot.com
"Atop the roof, New York. Cousin Bob & I"
Helen Killeen and cousin Robert Byrnes
New York City 1919
Then there’s Robert, actually child #2 whom I skipped on purpose. I knew a name like “Robert Byrnes” was going to be a challenge, especially since “Byrnes” was often spelled “Burns” or “Byrne.” Surprisingly it was not too difficult. I found him in Miami, Florida in 1935. I found a marriage record dated 1936 in Henderson, North Carolina for Robert Byrnes and Lorraine Garfunkel of Miami. They were in the Miami, Florida census in 1940. Lorraine was in the newspaper often because of her position as principal of an elementary school in Florida. She was an innovator in the school system and was often called on to speak at education conferences.

While Robert did not make the paper often, he sometimes was mentioned in the social columns, especially when they hosted a fund-raising event or a party for Lorraine’s niece upon her marriage. It turns out he was a boat captain and a Navy veteran.

I do not know what made me expand my search by using Lorraine’s maiden name, but I did, and that is when my little Byrnes family of Florida disintegrated. Lorraine’s wedding announcement made the news. It was one of those lengthy wedding announcements complete with portrait and detailed description of her gown, her flowers, and her traveling attire. The little mention of the groom noted that Robert, a native of Connecticut, was the son of THOMAS and MARY Byrnes. WHAT????

The next sound you hear is the swoosh of the folder of newspaper clippings being deleted from my database.

Back to the research drawing board. Maybe Robert married and had two boys. I surely hope so. Of course, it’s possible that Madeline Moleney/Maloney/Mahoney and Joseph had children. If I could just find them!

Amy Johnson Crow continues to challenge genealogy bloggers and non-bloggers alike to think about our ancestors and share a story or photo about them. The challenge is “52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks.

© 2019, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.