Friday, February 27, 2009


Today my requested death certificates arrived. They were not certificates like we know today but, rather, information written in a ledger.

First interesting fact. The great grandfather Anton Sperl, whom I had suspected his death was unexpected, it was indeed. He died at the age of 38 from Typhoid Fever. The length of his illness was three weeks. Typhoid is a strain of Salmonella.

It is spread by ingesting food or water contaminated with the feces of another infected person. The treatment today is a course of antibiotics, especially Ampicillin. It is said that more people die from infection (pre antibiotics) than any other cause. This is especially true in the Civil War and the World War I and II. Antibiotics came into use at the end of World War II. With the spread of antibiotic resistant bacteria we may be heading in that direction again.

Anton’s parents died with in a few years Christ, age 72 from asthma and Margaret, age 74, from pneumonia.

I found another for Thomas Naughton, 12 months, from fever. They lived in Dookers Hollow, in North Braddock PA. Could this be Bridget’s brother? The babies father is listed as Thomas Naughton and mother Nora Thornton, born in Ireland. Dookers Hollow was a small area and that is where Bridget Naughton Dowd lived. Thomas died in October 1893.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


I haven't written for awhile because I have had some GI upset and looking at the computer was far from my mind. Well, I have had TWO Kreativ Blogger nominations and I can say I am quite honored but how can I nominate 14 people. I can't decided, any of the people two the right of this blog are deserving. I just can't make a choice. I would nominate all of you.

Nothing going on in my genealogical search. I have not received the death certificates that I have requested. I feel much better after reading your comments about people whose ancestors were recent arrivals were having the same problems as to nothing in the records.....I will have to keep on searching.......Maybe I feel that things should come quickly, I have always been a person who likes and expects instant gratification.

I think there is a lot out there that we are missing. I have been searching for naturalization papers. I have THE ORIGINAL paper from my great grandfather Patrick O'Rourke, as well as his death certificate. But, when I was looking for the naturalization certificates of my great grandparents there was nothing in the records for them, as well as the State of PA telling my cousin that his death certificate did not exist.

We get answers telling us that what ever record does not exist. Why is that? I have the original copy, it must be recorded somewhere, so why is it not in the records? How many other records are we searching for and told there are no records. This just mystifies me. These things have to be somewhere...........Does anyone else have this problem?

Saturday, February 21, 2009


I have often said, of myself, that a lot of my computer troubles are caused by operator error.

This has morphed into Genealogical Problems as well.   I belong to many Roots Web Groups  and have left many messages on their boards.   I am subscribed to Ancestry and posted queries on the boards at that location.   I search the information on the LDS Site, I find a little but not a lot.

I am jealous of people who can trace their ancestors back to 1500, or even Adam and Eve, when I can get back no further than my great grandparents.  

Is this Operator Error again?   What am I doing wrong, and how can I correct it?     I am finding information in the USA, but when it comes to tracing people in Europe I am finding NOTHING.    I can understand the problems with trying to understand German, but I can not even find information in English. 

I am pretty frustrated with myself, but I shall continue.  I keep hoping that some information will become known to me and I will be able to continue my research.  Maybe it is because the earliest of my ancestors who arrived came over in 1872 and the latest in 1926.  I haven’t found the mother lode yet, but I am trying. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Thank you Marie...I did the calculation following the chart link you sent and the $5,000 in the 1920's that my great grandfather had left the children was equivalent to $115,000 in today's money. That was a lot of money in that era. Guess I got my frugal genes from my ancestors.

On a funny note my daughter tells me I am cheap. I think I am frugal, when your children are on their own they will realize that you can not have everything you want. Maybe the current economic situation will teach them that in this era.

Monday, February 16, 2009


picturesbyclaudia 001 I am not quite sure what I need to do for Smile For The Camera??   But, anyway this is a picture  c.1915-1918.    This is a picture of my great grandparents.    Heinrich Theodor Fredrick Schridde and my great grandmother Anna Meta Margarethe Hackmann.   The man standing in the back, in his WWI uniform   Willi Schridde, my grandfather.   Willi had five sisters.    Johanna, Dina, Mina, Una (Oona?) and Lily.  They were all from the Hamburg area of Germany.   My grandfather was born in Quickborn, Germany on 14 February 1898.    That is not where the family lived.   I got a birth certificate from the town and it said that the couple stayed their a short time and left after his birth. It did not give the birth place of the parents.     I know Lily married a man named Clausen.      I would love to find out who is who in the sisters pictures.  

I am hoping some day that I will find some relative or they will find me.     The new picture is of me and my brothers and sisters.    Look at the sibs and you can defiantly see a resemblance to the German side of that family.

If the top picture does not have everyone in the picture, maximize it to see the entire family.


picturesbyclaudia 179 


Sunday, February 15, 2009


After writing in my Geneblog for a few months I had been adding links  to my favorites on AOL.   I was getting a bit out of hand.  I checked in the “Edit Your Blog” section on Blogger  I had another Eureka Moment and saw the section for editing and added them all.   It is quite a lengthy list, and that is just what I have discovered in six weeks.

My newest project is to write a tutorial for our local Genealogical Group and let them publish it, if it is accepted.  I am among the “youngsters” in the group so it will have to be very simple so the “oldsters” can set one up too.  I think I will start on Microsoft Office.  This is the Standard for the word processing software.   There are other free software downloads but I do not know if you get a Word Document sent to you will they download it for you.    I have had my Office program for five years and it has been worth the cost.  

So I have to start on my paper soon.   Maybe I will publish it on here…..That remains to be seen.

Looking at the pictures of my Father and Uncle I have decided that they must look like the Dowd side of the family.   I do not have any pictures of them yet.


Saturday, February 14, 2009



Today I went to a lecture sponsored by the   Western Pennslvania Genealogical Society of which I am a member.    The lecture was given by Charles McCollestar and entitled Point of Pittsburgh.    This was the title of the book written by Mr. McCollestar and is about Pittsburgh from the beginning to 1960.  The beginning starting with the end of the Ice Age.

The lecture was free and I learned a lot that I had not known, even thought I have lived here for decades. 

What even piqued my interest was a brief mention of the Homestead Steel Strike.    My great grandfather, Patrick O’Rourke was involved in this event.    My father had said that after this strike he lost his job with the steel company and the only work he could find after than was working as a street sweeper.    There has to be archives with some information.   This was the same year my grandmother, Gertrude O’Rourke was born.  

I can not imagine the anguish they must have felt with the strike and then losing his job.   Patrick had many children to raise,  and then to spend the rest of his life sweeping streets.  I hope I can find more information on this event.   

I need to find an equivalency chart on what would be the same money today as in an earlier period of time.   He died in 1929 and at that time had about $5,000 in his will.    I will search and see what that would be in today's dollars.picturesbyclaudia 002

Patrick and Ellen (Mortel/Martel) O’Rourke c. 1920

Thursday, February 12, 2009


picturesbyclaudia 265 picturesbyclaudia 272

After writing about my father and his brother I decided to show pictures of when they were in grade school.   The boy with his hair askew is my Uncle Richard and the neat, tidy lad is my father Thomas Dowd.    My grandmother Gertrude held Thomas back two years so he could start school with Richard.   They would walk about two miles from the community where Gertrude lived with her parents.   She was a widow at that time.   My father said Richard would stall and they would always be late for school.   Thomas would not hit Richard because Richard would tattle and tell him mother.    

One time Thomas did not wait while Richard was dallied behind and was late.   Thomas said that he was sitting in the classroom when the late Richard arrived,   Richard walked up to Thomas and smacked him on the head.

The Sister told Gertrude “Thomas has the patience of a saint.”  I think Thomas might have gotten even later.

Thoughts On My Father.

Richard Regis Dowd 1920-1951

This is a picture of my father and his dog. I do not know what the dogs name was. Thomas said that he had an Irish Terrier, but it does not look like one to me, perhaps it was another dog.

My fathers only brother, Richard Regis Dowd died c. 1951. He had arthritis and went to Phoenix AZ for the better weather. He died out there (?????) and his body was shipped back to East Pittsburgh PA. Richard was only in his 30's and when I read the death certificate it said he had emplysemia of one lung. That makes no sense at all, I wonder what the real cause was. Did he take his own life? Was he murdered? His body was found lying in the street. My father had written to the owner of the building where he had lived and Thomas had kept the letters. Nothing makes sense about that death.

Richard had never married and my father was the only other sibling, and my mother had no brothers and sisters. I never had any cousins. But, in doing this research I found out I have plenty of cousins. They are the children and grandchildren of my Grandparents other children. I honestly think my father had some "social anxiety disorder" I do not know if that is in the DSM 4, which is the book about mental health disorders. He never wanted to visit anyone, including his own children. I think he had depression, anxiety and anger management. issues. Today a person with those problems would go for counseling, but as with others of his generation it was not done at all.

How does a person become friends with distant cousins? Can this be done or do they see you as an interloper and a stranger? I would like to perhaps meet them and share stories and pictures with them. How do other people searching and finding long lost or unknown relatives deal with this issue?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What Did My Ancestors Eat

When I was young we did not have a car. To get to either of my grandmothers it was a ride on several trolleys. I really do not remember going to my Grandmother Gertrude Dowd house for a dinner as a family. I do remember going home with her after church and my father would pick me up later. We attended the same church, St. Colman in Turtle Creek PA. We would be at the same mass and then I would go with her.

Sometimes she would take me to the movies. The nearest community was Braddock, PA. They had two movie theaters and shops lining both sides of the street. The street was about two miles long. Sometimes we would go shopping for clothes, but that would not have been on a Sunday. Since the steel mills closed in the 1980's the town is just a shell of what it had been before. I do not think any stores are open, with the exception of bars.

My grandmother would cook a meat entree, mashed potatoes and two vegetables. She would cook carrots, turnips, and parsnips. She was not a good cook, at least as far a the meat was concerned. Gertrude did make good pies, the crust was made from scratch. She made apple, berry, and cream pies, but she never made cakes. During the summer lemonade was on the menu and it was delicious. My father did say that during the war she worked in a shop and would eat pork chops and fried potatoes for breakfast.

To get to Anna house we had to take three trolleys. I can not remember going there for dinner either. I would go and stay at her home for a week in the summer. She made German type meals, I can remember the Red Cabbage, which I make myself around the holidays.

I suppose the lack of creativity in the cooking department stemmed from the lack of money during the depression and the lack of foods during World War II. Or maybe it was the time where foods were not available year round like they are now.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I reading some of the other gene blogs, and some asked if you have ever done The Happy Dance.   I didn’t dance but yesterday I had a Eureka moment.

A few days ago I was searching for my grandmothers brother August.  I found that he arrived in c. 1921 which was long before my grandparents.    I knew he had died, but did not see any mention of his wife my Tante Lottie.  I can remember visiting her as a child and she lived in the same town as my grandparents, Duquesne PA.  

So on a whim I decided to check the cemetery where Willi and Anna were buried.   I knew they were there because I had been there one Memorial Day with my parents.

They have a search engine.   I entered Willis name, no results, then I entered August name, no results.   Then I switched to last name only.  Willi was listed as William Schridde and August Bartels was also found.   His name was listed as Emil August.  Lottie was Charlotte Bartels, and now the mystery is who are the other Bartels lying in their plot.    No one had mentioned any other Bartels, I know they are some relation.    I will have to call and make a trip to the McKeesport and Versailles Cemetery.

Each discovery begets more questions.picturesbyclaudia 288

Tante Lottie (Charlotte Bartels) and my grandmother Anna Bartels Schridde.

Tante is Aunt in German.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

This picture was taken sometime about 1960. I had made a point of mentioning that when I took one of my first pictures I did not cut off my parents heads. Well, this was taken by my father (Thomas Anthony Dowd) and he cut off a portion of my head. My dad had planted those pine trees, they were all aligned on the side of the house. They had gotten so tall that he cut the tops off of them. That was a sight. After the house was sold the new owners took them down. Probably thought they look crazy topped.

He loved to garden. He said one time that his grandfather (Thomas Dowd) had a large garden all the time. He said he was a nice old man. He would take his wagon to his grandfathers house and he would give his grandson vegetables. This was during the Depression and I could just imagine what a godsend they would have been.

My father had a garden every year I could remember as a child. He had the garden up until the time of my mother death (1995) I suppose he felt he did not need it anymore, or he was depressed and didn't want to do it any more. He did put in a few tomato plants, not the garden.

When I was a child I had to help with the canning. We would dunk and then peel the tomatoes, peaches, pears and snap the green beans. He also did cabbage, applesauce, yellow beans and one year tried meat. I guess that did not work out to well because I only remember it one year. He also made sauerkraut, the cabbages were shredded and stored in a crock in the basement. It had the most putrid smell, like something had crawled in the crock and died. The procedure was that the scum on the top had to be scraped off and thrown away. The sauerkraut was canned. That was the only time they made sauerkraut, seemed like the smell lingered all summer.

My sisters still both can their harvest. I will have to ask them if they ever had to help with my parents canning project. Honestly, I could not be bothered to do it myself. Maybe that is because I have already done that.