Tuesday, March 31, 2009


When I was a child my grandmother told me about her sister Loretta and how she died at an early age. The neighbor "scared her to death with a Halloween mask." Or so my grandmother Gertrude O'Rourke had told me.

Last Saturday I was at the Carnegie Library and perusing the deaths from 1885 to 1096. In the O section I came across a death for Loreto O'Rourke in 1894. I sent for the copy and sure enough it was the often spoken of Loretta. She died November 24, 1894 after an illness of fever for a duration of two weeks. She was buried November 25, 1894 in the Monongahela Cemetery, which is now All Saints Catholic Cemetery in North Braddock PA. I wonder if their other three children are buried there too?

My grandmother said Loretta was the youngest which would make her birth in 1892. My grandmother said her birthday was 1892, that makes me question did Gertrude remember her sister or was it something she was told? The records from the Diocese of Pittsburgh did not indicate a Loretta O'Rourke birth/Baptism. Also, another child my grandmother spoke of was Dennis, who had drowned in the river.

Will the cemetery have those records??? I have to see.

On another listing I had requested with the Bartel name was a death of a six day old infant names Henry Bartel. I do not know if he is a relative but the cause of death was lock jaw. Lock Jaw is the old name for blood poisoning or tetanus. People now are vaccinated for that and when we get an injury outside we can get a booster.

How would an infant get this infection?? The answer is easy, the umbilical cord was cut with a knife or scissors that were infected. Poor baby Henry he did not have a chance from the start. Lots of woman and children died from infection associated with childbirth. Things have changed since then.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

March Birthdays

I just occurred to me that this month of March was the birthdays of two of my great grandparents.

Thomas Dowd was born 14 March 1860, in Mayo County, Ireland. I know about him in PA, but nothing in Ireland. He also died on 18 March 1930, I have to find out what was the cause of death. He lived seventy years in an era when the life expectance was forty years. Thomas had a few siblings who came to the USA. Catherine, Norah, and Michael, I would like to find out more about them.

Bridget Naughton was born 25 March 1868, also in Mayo County, Ireland. She had an identical twin sister. This was told to me by my father, who could not tell them apart and verified by my cousin Ann. Bridget was my cousins grandmother. I found a listing on the LDS site for her with her exact date of birth and it listed her parents were Thomas Naughton and Catherine Ward. I am 99% certain that this was "my" Bridget. I wish they had a mechanism where you could contact people who have submitted information.

She died 15 January 1939. I know where they are buried but there is no stone. I have been thinking about buying one for their grave. It will seem a bit odd to have a gravestone purchased by a great grandchild who had never known them. Do other people do such a thing?

I did add their name to the data base at All Saints Braddock Catholic Cemetery. If other descendants were looking for them, now they would be found.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Randy’s Genealogy Fun

I have noticed that quite a few people were reading Randy Seavers Blog and answering these questions.  I feel like an orphan.

Provide a list of your paternal grandmother's patrilineal line. Answer these questions:
* What was your father's mother's maiden name?
* What was your father's mother's father's name?
* What is your father's mother's father's patrilineal line? That is, his father's father's father's ... back to the most distant male ancestor in that line?
* Can you identify male sibling(s) of your father's mother, and any living male descendants from those male sibling(s)? If so, you have a candidate to do a Y-DNA test on that patrilineal line. If not, you may have to find male siblings, and their descendants, of the next generation back, or even further.


1) What was your father’s mother’s maiden name.

I had been told that it was Martel, but I find out that name is French.  Since Ellen was Catholic I wonder if perhaps it could have been Mortel/Mortell???  Those names are listed as Irish names…

2) Her father’s name?

The only inkling or clue is on her death certificate is the name Patrick.  Location ???? Somewhere in Ireland.

3) Patrick’s patrilineal line?

I have no clue, I would love to find this information.

4) Male siblings?

I do not know that either…This information remains a mystery..

I feel sort of cheated and really out of the Genealogical Loop with this one.   I am jealous of people who can name their ancestors back so many time.  Sniff,sniff…..

Thursday, March 26, 2009

More Children

Dowd Boys 1958 001

Here are my brothers.   This picture was taken ca. 1956.    My brothers are Thomas, Richard and William.    William sometimes reads this blog and my niece Olivia will get a charge out of her dad and his brother picture.

This was taken in our yard.   The tree in the background was very small.   It grew to be quite large, forty feet or so tall.   We had about four of them lining the side yard.   One day I stopped to visit my dad and he had chopped the tops off of the pine tree, they really looked silly.

Gertrude O'Rourke Dowd 1960 001

This is my grandmother Gertrude O’Rourke Dowd Graham.   This was taken in 1960.   She was 58 years old  at that time.   She was younger then than I am now.   Gertrude had a hard life, widowed at 28 and had to eke out an existence with two children.  I can remember her doing housekeeping work for others and one day she took me and she was the cleaning lady in a finance company office.   I had to sit still in a chair and wait while she cleaned the office.

She quit school in the fifth grade and the only thing I eve saw her read were the obituaries.   She would peruse them and then would usually take me with her and then she would go to pay her respects.

  One Saturday she got an idea to go to downtown Pittsburgh and go to  the morgue.   She took me too.   I have no idea who she was looking for but I remember how cold it was, and she looked at a few deceased.    They were covered with sheets and the attendant had to pull them out on rolling trays and uncover their faces.  She must have been looking for someone in particular because that is a really random thing to do on a Saturday afternoon.   It was the only time she did that to my knowledge.

My father wanted to send his three daughters to school.  He had stated that he did not want us to have to bear the life his mother had.   The three girls all went to school and become nurses.   I went first and then I had to pay back the tuition money so the next one could go.  


Lovely Children

Gerda and Claudia Dowd 1950 001

The picture above is one of my mother and I ca. 1950.   You can see that my hair is in pigtails too.

The picture below is of my sisters ca. 1960.    My mother always put our hair in braids.   I think that was to keep it neat.   When I was little and my mother would be in the hospital for childbirth my father would send me across the street to the neighbors who would braid my hair for school.   My grandmother would come out and stay for the week to watch us so Dad could go to work.

My sisters picture was taken on the ferry ride to one of the islands on North Carolinas Outer Banks.   I do not know where the brothers were at this time.  I actually do not know where I was either, probably looking for dolphins who would ride along the boat.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Monday, March 23, 2009


Anton, Katharina Sperl 056

Since the past two postings on Nosseck I decided to add the photo.   That is a massive stone.   What is the significance of the partially finished front section with the rough stone on the rest of the monument?    

I have to go back and go to the office and see who is all there..

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sundays Musings

Julie told me that she knew Joseph Nosseck was married twice before because of the 1900 census. He had indicated that he had been married twice. I was wrong the first wife was not a Catherine, at least not that I know of, I am now on the quest to find the name of the first wife. When I find young women who have died early I suspect that they most likely died in childirth. With the going C-Section rate at about 30% one can imagine that these woman could not deliver their babies and died. That is a staggering statistic, almost one third of the woman could have died. Then another group would have died from infection following the delivery. Those are very sobering numbers when you think about it.

The Library has many microfilms and the equipment is hard to manage. I think this is because of the age of the films and the readers as well. I tried to put on one roll but I could not get it to fit. The hole was round and the peg was square. I talked to a lady and she said I had to do everything reversal Turn the roll over, insert it where the receiving reel would go, and use the rewind button to get it to go forward. My supposition was that someone just moved it to the receiving reel and put it away on the wrong reel.

The death indexes are from 1893 to 1906. The more recent are in the PA Archives of Vital Statistics and have to be ordered. Where are the ones from before 1893, is the only place they are located at whatever church they had attended? The death index does not contain Katie Stross death. Was she buried under her maiden name, or did she die in a county other than Allegheny?

Where the three Nosseck men (Joseph, John and Edward) brothers?

Saturday, March 21, 2009



Today I went for a trip to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh   Genealogy Department

I was again perusing the microfilms looking for “my people.”  Katharina Sperl’s first husband Anton died of Typhoid Fever in 1899.   

In the 1900 census she was a widow and in 1910 she was married to Joseph Nosseck.   I was looking for Joseph and Katharine’s marriage date and any other information.    

My friend/cousin Julie told me that she had thought he was married two times before he married Katharina.  I have to write and ask her why she had thought that…..

The unusual thing was in the microfilmed records I found his marriage to Katie Stross in 1888 and again to Katie Stross in 1896.  When I looked for one of them it had a marriage of John Nosseck to another woman.   I am thinking that John might be Josephs brother.    I do not know if he married Katie, divorced and married her again or the records are in error.

What I did find was Joseph’s marriage to Katharine Sperl, 15 February 1904.   On another record I have from a death look up is the death of Edward Nosseck in 1901.   Edward was a baby who died from “brain fever.”   Meningitis???

In 1901 Katie was still alive and by 1904 Joseph had remarried, so her death was sometime in those three years.    I have to search Stross on Ancestry.   Each answer begets another question.

I should have named my blog,

Each Answer Begets Another Question.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009




picturesbyclaudia 213


Who are you?   This man is someone in the Sperl Family.  I have a suspicion that he  is Christof Sperl  b. ca. 1832 in Bohemia and d. 1902 in Millvale PA

Monday, March 16, 2009


This is the side of the tombstone below. This is Katharinas first husband and my husbands great grandfather Anton. Two of their children died in 1891 and one in 1892, I imagine she never thought that Anton would died at an early age.


This is another tombstone of the Sperl Family. These are some of Katharinas children. Anton, Johann, and Margaretha. There are also children buried in St. Mary's Cemetery in Lawrenceville, which is a section of Pittsburgh. They also had a daughter Barbara who was married and died in her twenties.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Anton, Katharina Sperl 176 

This picture was taken Easter 1915.   The title Easter 1915 was written on the back, in German.  I like the minister in the middle with the Elizabethan type collar and the black robe.    

My grandmother is sitting, first girl, second row on the right.   I recognized her picture because I have many pictures of her as a child.  

She was born in 1900, that would be a good year, you would always know how old you were.  She does appear to be about fifteen years old.   What I thought was interesting is in the Catholic Church   they all wear white for their  Confirmation.  Was it not the fashion, were the Germans more practical to wear a nice dress that could be used again.  Or was it the fact that they were in the midst of WWI?   

That is something I will probably never know.  I think it is amazing that even during a war, the religious celebrations went on.

If I can find the Church records I could find out more about my family in Germany.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Anton, Katharina Sperl 042

I finally downloaded my tombstone pictures from my backup CD. It is a good thing I have things backed up two or three times.

Katharina Rauscher Sperl Nosseck was my husband great grandmother. She is buried in St. Anthony Catholic Cemetery in Allegheny County PA. Joseph Nosseck was her second husband. According to the census records Joseph had been married two times before, all three of the women were named Catherine/Katharina. I have to find out more about them.

Can anyone out there translate the inscription? I know it starts out Here in this rose garden, and mentions wife and children.

Katharina lost many children. I think the only Sperl child that lived was Chucks grandfather John. She had two other children by Joseph Nosseck and they had two daughters who also lived to adulthood.

I have a lot of questions yet to be answered.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


After reading some of the other blogs I have decided that the Celebrating Your Name is a good idea, and a little fun.

My name is Claudia. In my research I think I am the only one, unless some German relative that I have not discovered yet has that name.

My mother was born in Germany and came to the USA in 1926. She had told me that she had always liked that name. And so it was to be…..

Claudia is a name that has been used for thousands of years. It is Roman and was used during the Roman Empire. It is quite popular is Austria, Germany and Italy, but not so popular in the USA. WHY, I do not know.

All I know is that when someone calls out Claudia, I can be sure 99.9% of the time they are calling me. I have know about two other Claudia’s in grade school.

My Grandmother, Gertrude O’Rourke was angry that my parents did not name me Gertrude or Anna. I am glad she stuck to her guns on that one.

My brothers names are Thomas, Richard and William. Thomas was named after his father, grandfather and great grandfather. Although I have not found the documentation I suspect that the great great grandfathers name will be Thomas too. Also I suspect that my great grandmother Bridget Naughton father was named Thomas Naughton. I need the documentation but I found a file on the LDS site that leads me to believe that.

Richard was named for my fathers brother, who had died when my brother was born. Also a great uncle was named Richard.

William was probably named for my mothers father, Willi Schridde, on his tombstone he is listed as William. There are also a few Wilhelms on the German side.

Kathleen, there are no Kathleen’s, but a few Catherines on the Dowd side. Shawnna, no Shawnna’s were found in the research yet either.

What names I have found are Catherine, Nora, Mary, Theresa, Agnes, Barbara, Elizabeth, Katharine, Anna, Johanna, Ellen, Gertrude and Maria. That is a nice selection.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


Yesterday I did some research of little Thomas Naughton. He was born in 1892 and died in 1893. I found the family still living in North Braddock PA. Although the mothers name listed on the death certificate entry was listed as Norah Thornton, on the 1900 census it was listed as Katie. At that time she had listed five children and one deceased. They were Maggie, Bartley, Matt, Marie and possible Eduora (?) The parents are 36 and 35 at that time.

In the 1910 mothers name is Katharine, then Margaret, Bartley, Matthew, Marie, Helen and John. John is the youngest and 9 years old. Appears that Eduora is Helen.

I have not found them in the 1920 census, as of this time. I did do a search in 1930 for Bartley, being an unusual name and found him married and living with his wife an children in Michigan. The parents and all children were born in PA. More research to be done. I have to get up my butt and send for the documents of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

I found them in the 1920 census. The girl name in that one is Helinora, I suspect it is Ellenora.....just a thought. Bartley is married with one child and living in Wilkinsburg PA, which is near North Braddock. In the 1930 census it appears that the father Patrick has died and Katie and a few of the adult children are living still in North Braddock.

North Braddock is a economically depressed town now, I have not found any Historical Society and the local library does not seem to have any information. They have old newspapers but their microfilm reader is broken and they do not have the money to repair it. That is really sad.