Wednesday, November 30, 2011



pictures I took  asst dates 224

Who are you?   You are someone on my fathers side, but what is your name.

Thursday, November 24, 2011



It was just a little time on this thought.  I am thankful that all of my sibs and I (six of us) and spouses,  are healthy and have no major health issues.   I am thankful that two are retired and four are employed.    I am thankful that our children are all employed or are in school studying things that will lead to their employment.

I am thankful that we were all thrifty and surprisingly everyone still lives in the first houses that we all purchased early in our lives.   I am thankful that my husband, brothers and brother in laws will help with home repairs and remodeling.

I am thankful that this afternoon we will be have dinner at my sisters and everyone will bring a dish to share in the feast.   I am thankful that there are no family feuds and we actually like each other.   I am thankful that everyone is a good cook and the meal will be great…

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


I have to talk to my sibs, but I do not remember having Thanksgiving at my grandmothers, either one of them.  I do remember having dinner at my Grandmother O’Rourkes but for the most part my father would pick her and her brother William O’Rourke, and bring them to our house.

The really strange thing that I just thought of is I do not ever remember having dinner at my mom’s mothers, Anna Bartels.  Was it because my father did not like his mother-in-law (that is a fact for sure)   What I can remember he said was someone asked him how the war (WWII) was going and he said it was going well and supposedly she said “Not for our side.”  Anna was born in Germany.  If this conversation did happen I will never know.

I also do not remember my grandmother Anna Bartels coming out to our house for dinner.   We would go to visit but not eat.   This needs to be investigated tomorrow when I talk to my brothers.

I talked to one brother and sister and they also had no memories of ever eating a meal at our grandmothers, Anna Bartels.   They also remembered going to visit but not eating.  Was this because my grandmother did not want to cook or because my father did not want to eat there?   I am thinking it was the later.

My brother did remember eating breakfast at Gertrude O'Rourkes house because he was eating pork chops for breakfast.  I can remember eating dinner and being fascinated by the tiny squares of carrots that she had cut, and also she made parsnips and turnips.  He said he had gone there after church and she cooked breakfast.  

Which leads me to another question.  My grandmother O'Rourke lived in East Pittsburgh and the local Catholic Church was St. Williams.  This the closest church, about a ten minutes walk, but most of it was uphill.   She always went to St. Colman's, which was in Turtle Creek.  Traveling to St. Colman's would be on two street car rides and take about thirty minutes.  I have her and my grandfather, Thomas Dowd marriage license and they were married in St. Colman's in 1917.   Perhaps this was the church she always attended and she would get to see her son and grandchildren every Sunday.   

My father would take my grandmother and her friend, who was also her cousins wife, home after church.  It is amazing what buried memories come back with a thought in your head.

Monday, November 21, 2011


pictures I took  asst dates 199

No family drives me more crazy that my paternal grandmother (Gertrude O’Rourke Dowd Graham)  parents, Patrick O’Rourke and Ellen Mortel (Martel/Martin??)    I was re-reviewing my fathers papers and came across the Delayed Birth Certificate for William and Gertrude O’Rourke.   

My theory is that they applied for them in order to get enlisted for that new thing Social Security.   On my Uncle Bills papers he had listed his birthday as May 1888, which coincided with the Record of Baptism of ST. Thomas RC Church in Braddock PA.  The interesting thing that caught my attention was the notation that there were nine children living in the household, including William.

My grandmother, Gertrude O’Rourke,  also applied and listed her birthday as October 5, 1892 which also is what the records of St. Thomas RC Church had listed.    The interesting thing to me is that in the four years between 1888 and 1892 are that the number of children now living, including Gertrude is six.  Which leaves me missing three children as of 1892.

Who is missing?   One I know of is Dennis O’Rourke, who my grandmother spoke of and said that he had died in the river (Monongahela River)   He had gone to swim and drowned.   I have his picture, courtesy of my cousin Joanne.   My grandmother spoke of her sister Loretta who also died “Because someone scared her at the window and she died.”  I did find a listing for Loretta in the Allegheny County death as of 1892.   The report said she is buried in Braddock Catholic Cemetery.

Who is the third child?  I check my fathers notes on the O’Rourke Family and he had listed a child Rebecca, who is Rebecca?   I know nothing about her.  

My only clue is the fact that Patrick purchased his cemetery lot in August, 1891.   Is this the time Dennis drowned?   I can not imagine anyone buying a lot unless it was needed.     The records from that time period are missing from the cemetery records.   Where does Rebecca fit in to this equation?   My theory is that Dennis had been the first to died because August was the time to go swimming.   So Rebecca died between 1891 and 1892, and Loretta died in 1892.

I have to go back to the cemetery and see if there is a listing of who’s who in the plots and search the Baptism records of St. Thomas.    The death records do not start until the 1940’s so that is out.   The records of death in Allegheny County Start in 1892 so Dennis and Rebecca would have died between 1888 and 1892.  

How sad was it to lose three children within four years….

Sunday, November 20, 2011


Fall is my favorite season, the hot days of summer are gone and the cool crispness has arrived, at least in Western Pennsylvania. School always started the Monday after Labor Day and that really signaled the start of autumn for me.   In grade school I went to a Catholic School. At the time, I and many other children, rode the city bus to school because it was not required to be provided by the school district.   The ride cost five cents, one way.  Can you imagine sending your five year old on the city bus to school by themselves today?

\On snowy days school was never cancelled; I suppose it was because the nuns lived nearby in the convent.    The buses would be equipped with chains that were held together with huge bungee straps and if one of them broke the chain would make a loud noise as it hit the inside of the wheel well.

It was also a very busy time at our house.   My father had a garden which provided most of the vegetables and fruit for the winter season.   My parents would also buy fruit by the bushels full and can them too.    I had to help with the canning, my main job was to remove the skin from tomatoes and peaches and then after my mother cut them I would place them in the jars.   Anything remotely dangerous was done by my mom and dad. 

The next big event in the fall was Thanksgiving.   My mother would cook the turkey and all the trimmings.  I really do not remember going to my grandmothers for the Holiday, although my grandmother and her brother would come to our house.  My dad would provide the car ride back and forth since no buses were running on that day.
We would have stuffing, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy,  two vegetables and the turkey.  For the dessert was the pumpkin pies, later years my mom would buy the pre prepared pie shells and just make the filling.

It was and still is my favorite holiday.

Saturday, November 19, 2011



I set off this morning to search for a record of Clara Nosseck.   It was brought to my attention to a woman who lives in the Pittsburgh area… She thought the story was of interest and did a Google search and found my blog.   I had wondered what had happened to Clara Nosseck who was the first wife of my husbands great grandmother Katharina Rauscher.

Clara Nosseck   Pgh Press 17 January 1889   Page 4

This was from the Pittsburgh Press, 17 February 1889 page 4.



The body of Mrs. Cara (sic) Nossack (sic), wife of Joseph Nossack, of Millvale, who left her home the evening of Jan 7, was found yesterday by two men who were cutting ice at the head of Herr’s Island.   Mrs. Nossack was mentally deranged.  Her husband had made every effort possible to find her.  She was last seen the evening she left home standing at the end of the Forty –third street bridge.  She had her little dog with her, and the next morning when her husband was looking for her, the dog was still waiting at the bridge.  It is supposed she plunges into the river there.  A verdict of suicide was rendered.

I check the records of the deaths of the City of Allegheny and found the entry.    She and Joseph had married in 1887 and she had two children.   My thought were that she quite possibly had  POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION   Which quite likely could happen with two children under the age of two at home.  She was buried in Shaler Township, but I have yet to find out if it was in the family plot at St. Anthony’s Cemetery.

I felt sort of depressed after reading the news article.

Thursday, November 17, 2011



The past two months have been busy and that left not left a lot of time to do research, but I think I am back to normal, whatever that is. 

Today I was at the archives and did research for three clients.  One was a surprise to me and probably even a bigger surprise to the client.

I was researching her great grandmother and I found her Baptismal record and to my surprise her great grandmother was a twin…there was no information that there was a twin birth.   I do not think the sister lived into adulthood because there was no record of her on Ancestry…

I did find the names of four of the great grandparents and where two of them  were born.  The interesting thing was in the space for the birthplace of the parents was ? in each space.   Why did the bride not know where her parents were born?    Did she emigrate by herself?   This shall remain a mystery.

With the few minutes left I searched the records of ST. Thomas parish in Braddock, PA.   I was looking for the marriage of my great grandfather Patrick O’Rourke and Ellen Mortel.   According  to the 1900 census it stated that they were married in 1874.   I found the records of their first child, Anna O’Rourke in 1875.   

I poured over the records from 1854 till 1879 and the book that had the early records was Spartan.   From its appearance I think that the original record book was lost and what I found was sort of a reconstruction from some of the people who were married.   Some of the years were missing records and the year 1874 there were only about seven marriages recorded.   I have searched the Vital Records in Massachusetts , Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia to no avail.  

I think they were married in Braddock PA and the record does not exist.   What lead me to this conclusion is the fact that the first daughter was born the next year, no record in other states and I do not think they would travel with Ellen heavily pregnant and set up housekeeping,   Also, I have searched every Irish Catholic Church in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and did not find anyone in my family,   Both sides of ancestors attended St. Thomas and had the sacraments administered at that parish.

I will keep on searching, but I think by deductive reasoning that the records are lost.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011



Sperl Family

A collage done by me of the people of my husbands ancestors.   Some of them have yet to be identified.   Collage done by program COLLAGE IT    I really like this program, but have not done very much work on it, I have to get busy creating.

Monday, November 7, 2011



Today I spent the day at the Archives and was perusing the records of St. Mary Catholic Church in Allegheny City.  I was looking for a death for a client.

I came to a page in the handwritten index and I noted that five people of the Fuchs Family had died on 26 July, 1874.  I made a note because I thought that was so interesting because they had died from aqua submersion,  or drowned.  

After I found the information for the client I went back to read it again and below and above I found families that all had died from drowning.    My co-researcher said that she remembered that there was a terrible flood one year.

When I got home I Goggled the date and Pittsburgh Flood:


“As evening fell on 26 July 1874, "a storm of unprecedented violence closed over this vicinity, and continued for upwards of an hour, during which the fall of water was something enormous, and the display of electricity unparalleled within the memory of any living citizens," reported an almanac of local history in 1876. Butcher's Run, Spring Garden Run, Pleasant Valley, and Woods Run injected flood waters into the city of Allegheny, Pennsylvania. All four streams coursed down from the northern hillsides, spilling over their banks into lower urban areas. Butcher's Run and Spring Garden Run flooded from their confluence a half mile to the river, pouring water into a heavily populated section of the city. [1] Steep hillsides focused the swollen streams. An observer declared that the flooded valleys

each contained a roaring river, carrying everything before it, -- buildings and their contents, corpses of human beings, dead animals of every description, horses, cattle, hogs, sheep, and mules, household furniture, mountains of clay, sand, and gravel, street lamps, fences, etc., etc., all borne upon its raging bosom toward the river below. [2]

Residents caught in the storm that Sunday evening had no warning. Property lost in the Butcher's Run flood could not be accurately tallied, but contemporaneous sources estimated several million dollars of material damage. About seventy Allegheny residents died, with up to eighty more perishing outside of the city. The greatest devastation centered on the Butcher's Run and Spring Garden Run watersheds, although Woods Run, in what was to become Riverview Park, also left destruction its path. "It was a terrible visitation, and should be a most solemn warning to the people, teaching them not to neglect the necessary precautions, and to never disregard the possible power of the elements," summarized the 1876 almanac. [3]

In 1896, another inundation revived memories of the 1874 Butcher's Run flood, burying railways under debris and forcing Allegheny residents to evacuate from many of the same areas. "Within minutes after the storm broke, Woods Run avenue was covered with several feet of water and much damage was done between the cemeteries and Washington avenue," reported the Pittsburg Post. A particularly steep sewer along Woods Run Avenue carried so much water.”


FATAL FLOOD 1876   It seemed to be about  126 people who lost their lives.   In one article I read was that the event was considered “an act of God” and no one was held responsible.

Friday, November 4, 2011


Just an Android find, but it is the Beta of Ancestry.   If you go to your apps and search Genealogy then Ancestry app comes up.   It says "read only"  You can download it and then log into Ancestry and download your information.  There is a link for comments on how you like the app.

It was easy and what I feel is great is the fact that you can access the info from the smart phone.  I have to use it and check the features but it will be good when I am out and need to access the account.