Tuesday, December 25, 2012


This Nativity Set was owned by my grandmother Gertrude O'Rourke.   My father remembered it from when he was a child.   It was said it was from OBERAMMERGAU Germany.   The set is made of paper mache.  At one time there were angels, cows,sheep and a donkey, they are long since gone.   I have never seen a set to match for sale, or even on display.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Wednesday, December 19, 2012



O'Rourke  Ellen and Patrick

Newly found photo of my great grandparents Patrick and Ellen [Mortel] O’Rourke. 

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


After losing my blog list I have been adding them one by one.  It is a long and arduous process, there is probably a faster way but I haven't come across it yet.

I have been spending a long time on Ancestry and adding ancient information.   Barbara Sperl was a sister to Anton Sperl (great grandfather of my husband) and I had found some information on that couple and lot of information on the family.

There were four siblings who came to American.  Leonard Pschirer, who married Barbara and they had about eleven children.   There was also a brother John, Frank and sister Katherine and I have been adding their spouses and even their children.  Among the four of them  they had thirty seven children, give or take a few that I may have missed or did not find.

They have many descendants and most of them did not have the four siblings parents names, at least not cited.  I have been adding the spouses of the above and citing my information; now I am on to the children of the thirty seven.   For the most part they all stayed in the same community and although a few strayed they did not move far away.

This gives me a lot of research to do, I will be busy for a while.   The interesting thing is that I found that a niece  (Theresa A Rauscher) of Leonard and Barbara Sperl Pschirer had married Wentzel Pschirer who was a son of  Frank.   I am finding it confusing still.   Theresa A's father was Johann Rauscher, now I suspect he was the brother of Frank Rauscher.    All the repeating names and relationships are confusing.

Saturday, December 8, 2012


I was trying to update and add to my blog list when the really unfortunate thing happened.   Somehow, and I even tried Control + Z, I managed to delete my Blog List icon on my page.   How did this happen and where did they go?  

I suppose I need to go thru the posts one by one and recopy the URL's and see what I can do.  There is a list on my profile page that lists the blogs I follow and I suppose I have to see if there are still there, I suspect they might be, but who knows for sure.

Yesterday I spent a lot of time working on the genealogy of my husbands side of the family.   I  was working at the Archives on Thursday and came up some entries for Theresa Rauscher and Franz Schmidt.  It was an entry for her marriage and the priest, being the good German that he was , it listed both the bride and grooms parents.

Theresa's parents were the same names as his Great Grandmother, Katherine Rauscher.   I had long suspected they were sisters for a few years and now I had the proof.

I found a few more family entries and had a lot of enter.   The husband often said that everyone was related to everyone else in Millvale, PA.   I found out he was quite right, he also said you could not get away with anything because someone always would call your parents.   I love it, only in small town America in the 1950's would that happen .

Sunday, December 2, 2012


I have not posted in a while, that is because I have not been doing much research.  I seem to have taken a hiatus.   Perhaps it is the busy time of the year for all other things other than research.

I still have to go to Huntingdon County Court House to look for will, deed and what ever else one would find there.   It is a trip out and back but with the shorter days and wintery days it is not so easy planning a trip.  I would get there and before I know it it will be time to leave to start for home.

Perhaps after March will be a better time to plan a research trip, especially a driving one.

Saturday, November 24, 2012



NEW NATIONAL ARCHIVES OF IRELAND WEBSITE  I found this link and information.   I have not perused it in great depth but I think I will be spending a lot of time on it.

Thursday, November 22, 2012



How did our ancestors celebrate Thanksgiving.?   My father never mentioned the celebrations.  He grew up during the depression and perhaps there was not any celebration. What he did mention was in his childhood he ate a lot of “soupy potatoes”   His mother was widowed in her late twenties and remarried about ten years later.   She did housekeeping jobs to keep the family and I can not imagine there being much money doing that.   My dad also recalled her taking in ”boarders” to help with the expenses. 

My father had one biological brother and a few stepsiblings. The only one I remember was his stepbrother Bill. Bill was a police officer and he had died early from a heart attack. I have no ideas about Bill’s sisters, but, I think that they had also died young.

I only know back as far as my grandparents.   But when I was in grade school my mother took over the job.  What I can not remember is having the dinner with both of my grandparents at the same time.   I wonder if they did not get along to cause this and why did I not find it strange.   I will have to ask the siblings.

What I remember is the smell of roasting turkey when I awakened on Thanksgiving morning.   I suppose my mother got up early and started the process.   We always seemed to eat our meal about one o’clock in the afternoon.   She did the whole process herself.    On the menu was turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, cranberry sauce and pies with whipped cream for dessert.   

When dinner was done we would all help with the dishes.  My father washed them and one of the children would dry.  It was his was of saying Thank You to my mother for  preparing the meals.

Today we will meet at my brothers and the clan extends to about twenty one today.  Most will be there and along with new family members as the nieces and nephews start to marry.  No children yet.

Monday, November 19, 2012


I thought after I retired I would have a lot of time to spend doing Genealogy.  Somehow, I have not gotten done what I wanted to do.  I have to remedy my ways.

This morning, while I was reading my email on Hotmail I saw a tab for SKYDRIVE, which is from Microsoft.     It appeared to me at first to be a  place to store all your stuff.  Indeed it is,  Why had I never used this feature???

After clicking on the application it gave some information on MICROSOFT ONE NOTE which is on my Microsoft Office 2010.    I have used Word and starting to make a date base for Genealogy with Excell, but what in the world is One Note?  

I found this great tutorial HOW TO ORGANIZE STUFF IN ONE NOTE.  I was enthralled and amazed, why I never explored this item before?  I even had read where other sang their praises of this program.  This morning I am smitten and I can't wait to explore it.

Friday, November 9, 2012


If you have an ancestor or relative who died in the Vietnam War, here is a list of those who are listed on the Vietnam Memorial.   Just scroll down to you state.  VIETNAM WAR WALL

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I found this amazing article today in the Altoona Mirror Newspaper.
The family was reunited more than a century later.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


I love this, it applies to a lot of people.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


The trip went well, it turned out to be about a two and a half hour drive.  The drive from Pittsburgh to Altoona is about one and half and the rest was spent driving on Route  22., which was through small towns and much traffic which was heavy with school buses stopping at every railroad crossing.  The morning was mist or foggy, or perhaps it was the smoke of a wood burning fireplaces.
The Historical Society is a great place to research.   They have many books and where I found a lot of information is in their family files and folders.  They also have books or pamphlets on the towns and brochures from different towns from centennials and  such.   The records that I am looking for are in the time from of 1740-1830, most of the records in the folders are a little later.   Huntingdon County was part of Bedford and became a county in 1787.   I need to go to Bedford County.
What I found was a Coleman Chronology in a file.  It is a compilation from 1634 to about 1833.  A note states it is not complete,  and every possible source is not there.  It was an amazing list that gives a wealth of information, I have to peruse it closely.
I also found a copy of Thomas Colemans will, where he names six sons., John, James, Thomas, Absalom Gray, Michum and William.  [My though is that one of these sons is the father of my Michael Coleman 1809-1855]   I have to evaluate and come to a conclusion on which one, if it is indeed one of them. 
I am thinking it is Thomas, because that family lived in the area near the Saylor Family in Huntingdon County PA.  But, the information in the family bible given in the affidavit states that “father” was born in 1780, and the Thomas (one of the six sons) was born in 1788.
And lastly, information of Harlan and Elizabeth Saylor, who are potential siblings of Mary Ann Saylor (1814-1896)   I did not find a will for Thomas Saylor, but there was one for Thomas Sollars, who died about the same time as Thomas Saylor.   I need to go to the Courthouse, but it was 3:30 and I needed to drive home because I hate driving in the dark.   Too many deer frolicking about.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


I have been busy for the past half year or so searching for my husbands Revolutionary War Ancestors.   It is amazing what you learn about someone who your have known for forty five years.   Actually, he was clueless about them, and in his defense, no one else in the family  has even a hint that they might exist.  Isn’t that a surprise?
On Friday I went to a lecture of D. Joshua Taylor, it was sponsored by the DAR, and the topic was ways for finding them.   I have documented, thanks to his cousin Helen, back to their second great grandparents.   I have found two Revolution War Ancestors, complete with the documentation and information about their pensions and service.   I just need to find the links that connect them.  
I have found information and this week I will go and search for deeds, land records, wills and tax records.   The lecture on Friday night gave me some ideas.   I guess it is a road trip of sorts,   and I have made mental and written notes on what I need to do.   The most important will be to call and see if they will be open.   I hate to drive to central PA and find them closed, but the weather will be warm and leaves should be beautiful.
On Saturday I went to a conference sponsored by the NORTH HILLS GENEALOGIST and the speaker was D.Joshua Taylor again.   He spoke on four topics on “Bridging the Gap, Tracing Families in the United States between 1780 and 1830.”   Which is exactly what I am going to do, hopefully.
The other three topics were Discovering USGenWeb,  Mapping Your Success: Employing Maps for Genealogical Research, and an interesting case study of his own family using the topics above.
It was an excellent day.  Now, off to apply what I have learned. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


What, you might ask...I was reading my grandmothers Baptismal certificate posted earlier this month.  It dawned on me that I did not have my mothers Baptismal certificate nor did I have one from her father.   It seems unusual that my grandmother did not bring them on the trip to America.  If she brought one why not the others?

I suspect all three were brought to the USA and the other two were lost somehow.  Next, I wondered, where was my mother Baptized?   They were living in Altona, Germany, could I theorize it would have been a Lutheran Church in that city or somewhere else in Hamburg? 

Yesterday I searched for Lutheran Churches in the area but did not get a good picture of where any were.   I will have to search better today or go to the LDS and see what films are available.  I know that my grandfather was not born where they lived, another mystery, if I knew where his family lived I could search for a church there also.    There are a lot of unknowns for my family in Europe.

This goes as well for my Irish great grandparents.   All the documents state that he was from Limerick, Ireland.   But I can find no Irish documentation to back up what is written.   I read a little tidbit that states that the surname O'Rourke was common in County Leitrim, I will looks at the LDS for that film too.

I have more questions than answers.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Just in case you are having trouble with the writing of this era, here is a link from England


Friday, October 12, 2012


I have not been too busy on the trails of my ancestors.   I have been posting links to another one of my blogs. OAKMONT GENEALOGICAL STUDY GROUP,  I started this with the idea of helping others in our group find useful links and stories.  

There is a lot of information but I am now sorry I did not add tabs and categorize it that you could find things with a keyword.    I have to look into that before the blog gets too large and it would be overwhelming.
I was at my volunteer research job yesterday, and I was searching for a client and in this one old (1840’s) church records.   Honestly, I found the whole parish had a family census that was complete with the list of children.   The priest must have added to the list with every Baptism.   Each family had about a half of a page in a log book where the names were added.   What a bonus to report.

Saturday, September 29, 2012


Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result, which I am guilty of in my Coleman search.    I keep looking for trees and another information that would send me back another generation or two.

I finally decided, after many failures, to look at the last census closest to the year that Michael Coleman  (b. 23 December 1809) and Mary Ann Saylor  (b. 21 June 1814) were married, which was 4 April 1833.  I should have thought about this before.

I looked for the census in Huntingdon County PA because other records indicated that was where Mary Ann Saylor lived.   A few Colemans’ lived there too.  Since I had paid a visit to the HUNTINGDON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY and found a family group sheet of an application to the DAR from 1921.

This tidbit of information Lists Thomas Saylor, his wife Mary Kercher and eleven children.   One of which is Mary Jane Saylor, born 21 June 1814 and married to Henry Coleman.  Which is the exact date of birth Mary Ann in the Coleman Family Bible.

Thomas Saylor
[Copy from the  Huntingdon County Historical Society, Saylor file—DAR application 1921.]
I searched the 1830 census and found Thomas Sailor, living in Franklin Township, Huntingdon County,PA.   The ages and dates all fit in with the Family Group Sheet above.   The only person missing is a  second daughter listed  in the under five slot.

Next I did a search for a Coleman Family and found one in Warriors Mark Township, Huntingdon County PA, and I found a few but one for Thomas Coleman seemed to hit the spot.   It listed one  male from 50-59, one woman 40-49, and one male 20-29.

As well as one male and one female under five, one male and two females ages  5-9, one female 10-14, and one female 15-19.   The date of birth for Michael's unnamed father was 1780 and his unnamed mother was 1789.   Michael himself was born in 1809.   All these dates correlated with the 1830 census.

I checked the census of the other Coleman Families and this was the only one that the three ages and dates I had that matched.  Plus Warriors Mark Township and Franklin Township are adjacent.   There is a gap in the mountain and Spruce Creek Flows between the townships.    I have more research to do but I feel pretty comfortable about this match.  

I had an epiphany this morning and decided in 1830 people would most likely marry someone in their community or just down the stream.   More research to be done.  I am wondering if Michael's middle name is Henry.

After spending time perusing and searching on Ancestry I found the other under five female.   Her name was Nancy Saylor, born in 1830 and then married Samuel Wallace [1823-1866.]   Now I will search for the other siblings of Mary Ann/Jane Saylor.

Thursday, September 27, 2012


A few years ago, actually it was 2008, I had sent for some of the Sacramental records from my dads Irish Ancestors.  The request was sent to the Archives of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

I spent a lot of time on the births and marriages of my grandmothers siblings.  But I did a great disservice to them and myself.   I suppose it was my novice ways and inexperience but now I know better and I have to mend them.

I found a obituary for Mary O’Rourke Rogan of New Castle PA.  She was married to Daniel Rogan and listed was Patrick O’Rourke (my great grandfather) of Pittsburgh.   It listed her parents as Denis and Mary O’Rourke (deceased) of Limerick and and a sister Mrs. William Collins of Limerick.  

When reading the  Word document I re-discovered for the 1880 Baptism of James O’Rourke was listed a sponsor by the name of John O’Rourke.    In 1885 for the Baptism of Thomas O’Rourke was listed James and Bridget O’Rourke.   In 1890 for the Baptism of Gertrude (aka Loretta) was John and Joanna O’Rourke.    This leads me to believe that there were at least four O’Rourke siblings in the East Pittsburgh/Braddock area in the 1880’s.

Today I was doing a bit of research and discovered a Baptism of John Rogan on 15 November 1885 who was the son of Daniel Rogan and Mary O’Rourke.    Then on 27 November 1887 a Baptism of Daniel Rogan with the parents of Daniel Rogan and Mary O’Rourke and one of the sponsors was Bridget O’Rourke.   They were living in Braddock PA.  

I also found a Joseph and Thomas O’Rourke the father of children Baptized in the 1880’s and 1890’s in the same parish.   My theory is that John and James are Patrick’s brothers, but are Thomas and Joseph too?    They could also be cousins,  I wish this parish had death records but they are missing until 1948 and the cemetery records are incomplete.

I have to give this theory a lot of thought and research.

I have to write some later thoughts on this subject.  Mary emigrated in 1871 and married in 1876.   Could she have married at St. Thomas RC Church in Braddock, which is where her children John and Daniel were Baptized?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012



I found this link today on the NORTH HILLS GENEALOGIST PA  Facebook page, of which I am a member.  You will spend a lot of time here searching for US research.

Monday, September 24, 2012


Library seeks help to digitise collection    I can't wait to see this collection of Irish RC Records from Ireland

Sunday, September 23, 2012


My grandmother’s Baptismal Certificate dated  3 June 1900.   Private collection of Claudia Sperl, granddaughter.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I spent a lot of time in April, when the 1940 census was released, searching for my father, Thomas A Dowd. I could not find him even when I went page by page.  I knew he had lived on Electric Avenue, East Pittsburgh PA.

Yesterday I was searching for Allegheny County Marriage Records (Family Search) and decided to do a blanket search for my grandmother, Gertrude Graham.  POOF, she was where I had been searching.  What was I missing, it was a transcription error of the first letter of her last name from a G to a B.   So it was indexed as Braham and my father was there also but he was also listed as Braham and not Dowd. 

My grandmother has remarried to Peter Graham after the death of her first husband Thomas Dowd.   It also had listed William Zentner as her son (really nephew, son of Gertrude’s sister Ann who died in 1937.)   Also was listed was Clara Graham, as daughter, who was really the daughter of her now deceased second husband Peter.

Moral of the story is not to give up and the information is only as good as the information was given and recorded.  The enumerator probably asked about children and not the names or biological relationships.
I did write a correction to Ancestry, so if anyone else searches years from now, the correction will be documented.

Friday, September 14, 2012


If you are wondering when your ancestor photo was taken try this link.


You could spend a lot of time perusing these images.

Saturday, September 8, 2012


I seem to get lost with my research.  I have been able to trace the mysterious Downs Family.   It all started with the 1940 census (Newark NJ) which Ancestry found for me.   Which led me to the 1920 census (Newark NJ) and eventually the 1930 (Newark NJ) and finally the 1910 census in East Pittsburgh.  
One would thing finding the name Downs would be easy, but it was not because of the handwriting and indexing.   Next question is when did Michael die?   Michael was considerable older than Mary Naughton, fifteen to twenty years.   The last knowledge of Michael was in 1896 with the birth of Josephine Downs.  By 1910  Mary was living in East Pittsburgh PA, head of household, age 47 and widowed  according to the 1910 census.

Living with her was her daughter, Mary Malloy age 25, her husband Dominick age 34, daughter Mary I (Ida??) age 3 and brother one month old.  Also living there were her daughters, Margaret, Sadie (Sarah?) and Josephine.

Plus innumerable boarders, ten of them in fact.  I am wondering how many of them were relatives?
What happened to Michael, where is he buried?   It lists Mary as the mother of eight with four living.  I know two of the four Catherine and Annie but who are the other two.  I suppose I have to search the records of St. Thomas, but if they were stillborn or died at birth they would not have a Baptism records and the deaths do not start until the 1940’s.

Why did they move to Newark New Jersey?   With most of your family living in Allegheny County PA why would they go there??? 

I have a lot of blank spots to fill in…..

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Rogan, BabyMary death
Baby Mary Rogan was the daughter of my great grandfather’s sister Mary O’Rourke.   She is buried in ST MARY'S CEMETERY, LAWRENCEVILLE, PITTSBURGH   The couple later moved to New Castle, PA.    Daniel and Mary had eight other children, possibly more.

Forgot to add:
"Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh City Deaths, 1870-1905," index and images, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/XZ7S-R5P : accessed 25 Aug 2012), Mary Rogan, 1881.

Another Downes/Downs/Dowens/Dormes Update

I was puzzled wondering where the Downes Family was in the 1930 census; they were living in Newark NJ in 1920 and 1940. I found them when I entered Ida Molloy in the 1930 census.   Ida is the daughter of Mary Molly, the elder Marys’ daughter, married to Dominick Malloy.

In the 1930 census the Downes woman were indexed as DORMES, guess it was the bad penmanship of the census taker.    Another mystery solved for the time being.   I then searched for the family in the 1900 census in East Pittsburgh, PA.    The unusual thing is the fact that in that town in the other census it was listed as having three wards, but in 1900 only one came up.   It was a large community, I am wondering if there were three and two are missing.  

1930Downes,Mary, daughters, Ida and Emmet Malloy Newark.

Source Citation: Year: 1930; Census Place: Newark, Essex, New Jersey; Roll: 1336; Page: 7A; Enumeration District: 119; Image: 389.0; FHL microfilm: 2341071.
From Ancestry.com

Monday, August 20, 2012


This family has been a road block for me.    From my last post, which Ancestry had found some of them in the 1940 census,  I have been clicking on every link they gave me and found some more information.

SSDI for Margaret Downes,  born 18 March 1889 (coincides with the date on her Baptismal record at St. Thomas RC Church,  braddock PA, Allegheny, USA, Archives of the Diocese of Pittsburgh).   Died May 1963 in New Jersey.

SSDI for Josephine Downs, born 22 May 1896, it also coincides with the date of her Baptismal entry.  Josephine died 13 February, 1991, also in New Jersey.   Josephine almost lived to be one hundred years old.

1910 census, Mary Naughton Dowens, is living in East Pittsburgh, PA.  I checked the address on the map and it is a short distance to the home of her sister Bridget.    It lists Mary as 47 years old and widowed.   Her husband has died somewhere between 1896 (when Josephine was born and 1910)    Her names is spelled Dowens instead of Downs,   she is listed as the head of the household.   Living with her is her daughter Mary (b.21 November 1884) and her husband Dominick Malloy and two children,  Mary I age 2 and Patrick, age 1 month.    I am thinking Mary I is the granddaughter Ida Molly in the 1940 census.

Also living there is  Margaret, Sadie and Josephine, plus a ten others listed as boarders.   The O'Donnells interest me because that name is also in the extended family.  I do not know who they are yet and if they are related.    Also Mary has stated that she was the mother of eight with four still living.   Annie b. 1887 and Catherine b.1891 appear to have died as well as two others.

Another mystery to investigate.

1920 census finds Mary, Margaret, Sadie and Josephine living in Newark, Essex County, New Jersey.   The biggest mystery is why did they move to New Jersey?   I have to investigate the SS applications to see what they have to say.   No SSDI records was found for Sadie or mother Mary.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


Last December ,quite by happenstance, I found Mary Naughton Downs.   Mary was the sister of my great grandmother Bridget Naughton Dowd.   I found the “Nokton” name while working on research for a client at the Archives.

Turns out that Mary came to the USA before Bridget and on 23 July 1882 at St. Thomas RC Church in Braddock PA, she married Michael Downs.  .  The following children were born; Mary –1884, Annie –1887, Margaret- 1889, Catherine-1891, Sarah-1892 and Josephine 1896.

The family disappeared off the face of the earth after that.   UNTIL,  Ancestry.com sent me the shaky leaf, for the 1940 census.  Who did they find for me?    Mary Downs, age 78, widowed and head of the house, born in Erie (Ireland).   Three daughters; Margaret Downs age 51, Sadie Downs age 47, Josephine Downs age42 and a granddaughter named  Ida Molley age 32.    They all lived in the same house in 1935.    Ida was employed as a school teacher. 

Where have they been since 1900, and who is Ida’s mother, Mary, Annie or Catherine?   I checked the SSDI list and Josephine Downs, died in New Jersey in 1991,it  has the exact birthday that I found in St. Thomas Baptism records.

I know nothing about New Jersey records, but I feel that I will in the not too distant future.

1940 United States Federal Census for Margaret Downs

Monday, August 13, 2012


Today I did a little housekeeping on my Blog.   Everything was jammed on the right side and now I have tried to improve it to not looks so cramped.   I also got tired of the color and tried to change the color to green but it go lost in cyberspace.

I wanted to add some resource links.    I started a blog for our local group OAKMONT GENEALOGICAL STUDY GROUP  and I have a lot of links on there so I thought I would migrate some of them here.

I was quite saddened about hearing of the sudden death of  JOHN T HUMPHREY  I had taken a weekend class with him and had chatted with him at the GRIP meeting in Pittsburgh.   What a great person and so knowledgeable on German and Pennsylvania Genealogy.   He will really be missed.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


CharlesMichael Coleman and Lois Elizabeth Coleman
Lois Coleman Sperl and Charles Michael Coleman.
My mother in law and her brother.

Sunday, August 5, 2012


I have been pondering my husbands great grandmother, Mary Ann Saylor Coleman.   I have been searching for her parents and I found two likely candidates when I visited the Huntingdon County Historical Society.    In a DAR file a woman lists a Mary Jane Saylor, b. 21 June 1813 and married a Henry Coleman.      My ancestor is Mary Ann Saylor, born 21 June 1813 and married to Michael A Coleman.

Is this the same woman or are the women twins, both married to a Coleman man?

The copy of the family group sheet was submitted in 1921 and no citation of the sheet?   If she had the information it is out there somewhere.   But where,  I have to find it.


Things to see in do in PITTSBURGH

Sunday, July 29, 2012



I have been so busy the past two weeks, I had hardly anytime to breathe.  GIRLS WEEK OUT, me, my daughter and my sisters had a road trip and a good time.

Last week I attended the GENEALOGICAL RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF PITTSBURGH.   The biggest thing I learned is how much I have to learn.    I took the class INTERMEDIATE  GENEALOGY: TOOLS FOR DIGGING DEEPER.  Paula Stuart Warren and D. Joshua Taylor both gave excellent lectures, and now my brain is full.  

I have been sitting here going over my notes, highlighting links I wrote and books I may want to purchase that  were mentioned in the lectures.   I was successful in an attempt to follow their advice.   Paula said to search all in your tree.   One of my goals is to find the parents of my great grandfather Patrick O’Rourke.   He has a sister Mary who married Daniel Rogan in about 1876.  Sometime closer to 1890-1900 they moved to New Castle PA.  

I found two  of their children's Baptisms and one death on the Family Search site.   My theory is that they were married in Pittsburgh and some of their children were Baptized there.   The death was a infant daughter, Mary Rogan who died from diarrhea and is buried in ST. Mary's Cemetery.  There were many St. Mary’s cemeteries and now I have to find which one it was.   If I find the marriage record, perhaps, it will name the parents.   Irish Catholic records are sort of minimalistic but I do have a bit of hope for that. 

If not there I will send for Mary’s death certificate. 

Saturday, July 21, 2012



For the past few months I have not made much progress in my ancestor searching.   Today I was perusing Family Search and who knows why, but I entered my great grandmother, Anna Meta Margarethe name and came up with SIX siblings.

I knew her date of birth (8 April 1868) from a hand written note that I found among my fathers paper after he had died.  The rest of those listed is her husband and their children and spouses.



Willis Family Tree

The second line says “Mutter 8 April 1868”  So when I came to her information I knew I had the  correct parents.   As it develops she had six brothers, and I have not found any sisters. Her fathers name was Ernst Frederich Wilhelm Hackmann and her mother was Elsie Marie Rittel

Hermann August Karl Hackmann         22 September 1865

Ernst Frederich Wilhelm Hackmann     24 February 1867  

Friedrich Wilhelm Hackmann                5 March 1871

Michael Friedrich Hackmann                 21 July 1872 

Heinrich Wilhelm Hackmann                 23 July 1873

Friedrich  Jacob Heinrich Hackmann    24 December 1874

Now I was really excited and I searched for Elsie Marie Rittel, my great great grandmother, and what did I find was a list of Elsie’s siblings. Her  father’s name was Karl Friedrich Bermandi Rittel and her mother was Anna Meta Margarethe Lurssen.    That was my great grandmothers name.

Michael Friedrich Bermandi Rittel          26 December 1842

Elsie Marie Johanne Rittel                      13 July 1844

Karl Friedrich Rittel                                 27 October 1845

Jacob Friedrich Heinrich Rittel               10 March 1848

Johann Friedrich Lucie Rittel                  14 March 1850

Adelheide Henriette Rittel                        25 December 1853

Johanne Friedrika Louise Rittel               1 June 1856

Johann Gottfried Rittel                             25 May 1859

Johann Bernhard Rittel                            2 September 1861.

Where do I go from here?   That was certainly a lot of family to find for one day.   My hat is off for the person who indexed this list.   The list was updated recently and I am extremely glad to find it.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012




This is another photo from my cousin Erin O’Donnell.    From the style of her dress I would estimate that the date of this pictures is in the late 1890’s.   Bridget would have been about thirty to thirty five at that time.   To me she appears to be pregnant.

I am thinking that the children in the photo are top left to right, Catherine born 1893,  Thomas  born 1891 or John born 1896, Norah born1896 and Mary born 1898.   If she were pregnant that would be her son Richard born 1900.

My grandfather Thomas would have been about eight at the time the photo was taken and John would have been three to four.   I think it is Thomas my grandfather.  Mary looks like she is about to escape.  

Erin told me that the Dowd’s  did not take very many pictures,   I am glad that trait escaped me.

Sunday, June 17, 2012



Thomas/Gerda/Claludia/Tommy Dowd c. 1950  Monroeville PA

My dad circa 1959, with me, my mother and brother.  He must have said something funny to get us to look at him.

Thomas Dowd b. 1891  d.1921

My grandfather and my father circa 1918.

pictures I took  asst dates 254

My grandfather circa 1935.

Anna Bartels, Maria Korbach Bartels, Daniel Mathias Bartels c 1910

My great grandmother, grandmother and great  grandfather, circa 1910.

Anna Hackmann and Frederick Schridde circa 1890

My great grandparents (Schridde) circa 1890?

Claudia Dowd Sperl and Charles Sperl

My husband and I.   Not the best picture…

Volant Family picnic August162008 022


Volant Family picnic August162008 021



Patrick and Ellen MARTEL O'Rourke



Thursday, June 14, 2012




Is it Bridget and Catherine or Catherine and Bridget?   After a long time searching I have found a picture of my great grandmother and her twin sister.    My father was correct when he said he could not tell them apart.   Bridget is my great grandmother and I had heard rumor of a  twin but I discovered the rumor was true a few months ago.  

The only great grandparent I need a picture of now is Bridget’s husband Thomas Dowd.


Picture from the collection of my newly found cousin Erin O’Donnell, Bridget was her great grandmother too.   Thank you Erin.

Sunday, May 20, 2012



This week will be a busy one.    My daughters birthday is this week and I am going to drive to see her.   On the way home my road trip will involve stopping at the HUNTINGDON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY  

I am on the prowl to find my daughters and her fathers Coleman ancestors.   I have lived in Pennsylvania most of my life, but never have I been to Huntingdon PA.    The Coleman's lived in the area and are known as Revolutionary War Militiamen and also Indian Fighters. 

There were four brothers and I hope to find the  connection between his 5x great grandfather and one of the Coleman Brothers.   The families all lived in close proximity so I know they are related.  The Coleman brother, whoever he turns out to be, will he his 7x great grandfather.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Sunday, May 13, 2012



Happy Mothers Day to my sisters and I

Volant Family picnic August162008 028 (2)


Our mother

Thomas and Gerda Wedding


Our Grandmothers,    Gertrude O’Rourke Dowd

, Gertrude and Skippy

Our grandmother Anna Bartels Schridde, and our Great Grandmother Maria Korbach Bartels

Anna Bartels and mutti Maria Korbach Bartels

Our Great Grandmother, Meta Margaretha Hackmann Schridde

picturesbyclaudia 001

Our Great Grandmother Ellen Mortel O’RourkePatrick O'Rourke and Ellen Mortel

Wednesday, May 9, 2012



9-14-2011 1;57;57 PM

The second from the left looks like trouble…..

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Mary Ellen O'Rourke

Mary O’Rourke was my grandmothers( Gertrude O’Rourke) sister.  She would have been eleven at the time of Gertrudes birth.    Mary never married, my father said that she had gone to the Church to make arrangements for her wedding, but called it off.    

The mystery is, was that rumor true?   If it was, who was the intended and why did she call the wedding off.


William F O'Rourke

This is another O’Rourke sibling.   Uncle Bill also never married.   What I had heard was “he stayed home to take care of his mother”   William and Mary shared a home, Uncle Bill and Aunt Mary took care of the home and cooking.

My dad said that Aunt Mary was kind and gentle and never lost her temper, she would have made a good mother.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012




Dads friends circa 1940

Friday, April 20, 2012


In more than a few ways.   What started as a routine month turned out to be very exciting.   The most exciting to me was two cousins found me.  They were both descendants of two different great grandfathers.   One woman, Erin, lives in the USA and the other, Laura, lives in Germany.

How did they find me,  on Google search on this Blog.  Both women were searching for information on their great grandparents and  found the names here.    We have been sharing information, which is great.   They are able to fill in  information on collateral lines. I was able to send Laura photos, complete with names and I was able to send Erin information and she also gave information and some great photos. 

In both cases both of my grandfathers had died untimely, accidental deaths.  I suppose with time, and the sons not being around the information and connection was lost.  On my German line, I have information on three of the six siblings.  I hope in the future one of them will find the names of Frederick Schridde and Meta Hackmann siblings and perhaps a further back with great great grandparents.

On the Irish side, my quest for Bridgets twin sister has been confirmed, I have been searching for her since 2007.   This was rumored and now confirmed, along with four other of Bridgets siblings that also lived in the mill town of  North Braddock PA.  Some of the "mystery" sponsors of Thomas and Bridgets children Baptism are the siblings.     So, the adage of check the sponsors, because they are probably relatives is true.   I just need to find the twin, Katherine Naughton, marriage name.

My Mary Downs, that I found at the Archives, is indeed Bridgets sister.   But, what happened to the six daughters?   I thought the couple May/Michael, disappeared from the face of the earth.  But Erin had found  a couple in Sioux City Iowa, with the same names and fifteen years difference in ago, on the census.   It stated that she was the mother of six with none living.

I had contacted the Diocese of Sioux City and they had no burial record of the Downs daughters.   The Catholic cemetery, All Saints, in North Braddock, had no internments for them between 1896 (when last daughter was born) and 1900, when they were found in Iowa.  More things to ponder.

Friday, April 13, 2012



Yesterday was my day at the Archives and the request pile is getting larger.   There are seven volunteers and yesterday I found out that there are 78 requests. We all routinely go in one day a week, when you volunteer you make your own hours. I, and some of the others, also put in another day of research  I think the deluge of requests is because of the recent interest in Genealogy and the shows on TV. 

I was speaking to a librarian and they said that about three hundred fifty hours of research goes into the making of one of the shows.  The problem with  the shows is that it seems like you can call the library and ask them to get all of your information, put it in a folder and all you have to do it pick it up.

Yesterday I did work for three clients, so I guess it is now down to 75 and then I have to add in the number of request that arrived yesterday. 

People complain that they are charged for the search,  well  I will tell all and let others know that the money you send goes to maintaining the Archives and the old books that are falling apart.   They need to be restored and rebound and the cost is not cheap.    Why is it that people want everything for nothing? 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012


In the past week two cousins have found me.   One was a surprise but two was really a surprise.One is related to my fathers line and one to my mothers.   It is amazing that with the availability of email, blogs and internet searches that you can come up with your unknown family.

I think the reason why they were unknown had to do with the death of both my grandfathers.  Both of them from accidents and with their passing the communication between families just ceased to be after a short period of time.   I am glad they both found me because their knowledge will fill in the blanks.   Both of the woman have just recently begun their searches, and I can help them along their way. 

First thing I found is that Bridget Naughton Dowd really did have a twin, her name was Catherine/Katherine and  there were more Naughton siblings.   I have to get started on the death certificate search and send for them.

With my mystery of Michael and Maria  Dowd Downes and the disappearance of them and the six daughters has gotten interesting.  I found them in the 1900 Iowa census living in Sioux City, but just the parents and the chilling thing was that it was listed as parents of six and zero children living.   Michael and Maria were about fifteen years apart in age and the Iowa couple fits age wise.   Thanks to my cousin to point this couple out. 

I contacted the cemetery where most the family is buried and none of the girls are buried there.  My theory that something tragic happened is proving to be true.   Now, I contacted the Diocese of Sioux City and they are going to do a search for me.     Next I need to check the resources from Iowa and see what I can find.

Monday, April 9, 2012



2-19-2011 3;27;35 PM
Lily Clausen, husband and child
Pictures of The Claasen and Schridde Family.   From the Collection of Anna Bartels now owned by Claudia Sperl.
For my newly found cousin Laura.

Sunday, April 8, 2012



pictures I took  asst dates 234

On the Easter in Germany in 1915, my grandmother, Anna Bartels, made her confirmation.   She is in the second row from the bottom, last sear on the right.



I checked my email on Friday and found a pleasant surprise.   I had an email from a cousin who found me by reading this very blog.   That was a  fantastic surprise.   Her grandmother was a sibling of my grandfather Thomas Dowd.

We have corresponded and are exchanging pictures and information.  The best so far is the fact that another  cousin of hers had sent her information of our Great Grandmother Bridget Naughton.   It appears that Bridget did indeed have an identical twin,  name of Katherine.  I found Irish records of Mary and Bridget but not Katherine.   I am now supposing that it was an error in recording.   On Bridget's death certificate it had listed Norah Nee as mother, but I had the Baptismal Record stating Thomas Naughton and Catherine Ward.    Did Catherine died in childbirth or shortly thereafter the birth?   I had a theory that Catherine had died and perhaps it will be proved true.

I had been searching for confirmation of a twin birth  since I have heard about it from my dad and another descendant of the original Dowd Siblings (my grandfathers brother John).     So off to the races with that one.

Also listed was a sister, Maria Downs, Norah Connelly, Margaret Naughton, and brothers Dudley and Joseph.  I had  found and researched Mary Downs in the records of the Archives of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.   Mary and her husband Michael are still an enigma.

Norah Connelly, Margaret Naughton and Dudley Naughton were listed as sponsors for the Dowd and Downs children in the records of St. Thomas RC Church in Braddock PA.   More research to be done to gather the information on the other five siblings.

Thursday, April 5, 2012


This morning, as I was recounting everyone's adventures with the 1940 census, I decided that I needed more color on my blog and I chose a new template.   I like a lot of color.   I have been searching for instruction on how to add your own picture, but even with a few tips from others I have not been able to do that.
It is operator error as usual.

My past month or so I have been searching for the father of  my husbands 3xgreat grandfather, Michael A Coleman.   My cousin has it narrowed down to a few choices.   It seems that there were four brothers, Thomas, John, James and Michael Coleman.  They lived in Blair County PA in the middle to late 1700's.

The Coleman Brothers were feared Indian Fighters.  This seems to have stemmed from the fact that the youngest brother(John) was tending the boiling of maple syrup while the other went hunting..  Upon their return the found that the local tribe had killed John by boiling him in the vat of maple syrup.   That was a very horrific death, and according to the printed readings the remaining brother waged war on the natives.   They were also Revolutionary War Militiamen.

Some sources stated that the natives would not even enter the valley where the Coleman brother lived, because of their fear of them.  My cousin and I are thinking that they are descended from either Thomas or James.   In the early census it is difficult to plot with just the names of the head of the household.  My goal is to eventually figured who is Michael A's father and which of the three Coleman brothers are his grandfather.  

Old Thomas Coleman lived to the age of eighty five,  Michael was killed on the Ohio River opposite Ohio, while chasing the natives who had stolen four horses.  I have yet to determine what happened to James.  A trip to a Historical Society and Altoona, Blair County PA to look for documents is in order.

Monday, April 2, 2012


It is not what everyone else is doing.    Today I went to do research at the Archives and kept busy looking for information of clients.    It seems every time a Genealogy related show is on the TV we can expect a huge influx of people requesting information.

That time is now.   With Who Do You Think You Are and the program on PBS with Dr Gates the envelopes are coming fast and furious. The hardest part of the job is I imagine that everyone thinks we have everything digitized and we do not have anything digitized.  

We pour over records that can be up to one hundred and fifty years old.  A lot of records are missing due to a calamity or who knows why. The paper is old and ink can be very faded.

A lot of people do not do their preliminary research.  They will send a request stating their ancestor lived in XYZ County and can we find their records.  

You really have to know where they lived and than perhaps we can narrow down the church they attended.  Like in real estate you have to know the location.

I missed the hoopla and frustration of  searching the 1940 census.  Searching every page line by line is not my ideas of fun,  in fact, I find it frustrating.   I will wait a bit and then see if I can tackle searching.   I have volunteered to do indexing and perhaps this week I will download a batch and get started.  Doing one page at a time is do-able.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012




I have been examining some photos that were in my dad’s collection.   These seem to be from my grandmothers sister Anna O’Rourke.    They are related but who are they?

Thursday, March 22, 2012


And I am so excited for I have found the marriage date of my great great grandparents,  Thomas Naughton and Catherine Ward.   They were married 12 February 1861, and I have searched and only found two children of this marriage.   First was Mary Naughton born 16 February 1865 and he sister, my great grandmother Bridget, born 23 March 1868.   The sisters emigrated to North Braddock, Pennsylvania in the 1880's and are buried in All Saints Catholic Cemetery in North Braddock PA.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012



Philadelphia Aug 2008 170

This how Al Capone’s cell was furnished at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia.

I am sure the walls looked better at the time he was incarcerated.

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Obit Charles Anthony Sperl    6 April 1918  Pittsbrugh PostGazette
The Pittsburgh Press,   6 April 1918

picturesbyclaudia 222
Charles Anthony Sperl and Margaret Thomas Sperl, probable wedding photo.  The  couple were married 12 April 1915 in St. Anthony Roman Catholic Church in Millvale,PA.

Charles died at work in a Railroad accident, both of his legs were traumatically amputated.  This accident occurred five days before the wedding of his brother John Christ Sperl and Mary Irene Stephens.

They had one daughter, Margaret Sperl.   Margaret Thomas Sperl died in1920, cause unknown at this time. I found their daughters name on a deed paper of Charles mother and it had listed the daughter as married to Harry Sumner.  

I am looking forward to the 1940 census to see if I can find information on Margaret and Harry.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012




Thomas Dowd

The expression on his face is priceless.

Monday, March 12, 2012



As usual, I have many things going on about what I want and need to do    My search for the parents for Michael A Coleman and Mary Ann Saylor is still ongoing.   I have enlisted help on this project.   I belong to the NORTH HILLS GENEALOGIST and before each meeting they have a “tiptime” feature.   The moderator puts a second set of eyes on your problem and does a little research of his own.  The meeting is next Tuesday and I am hoping he came up with some ideas or information.  I will get him a gas card because it may involve some travel.   He said he will present this case, so I hope he finds more than I have.

My mystery about my great grandmother’s (Bridget Naughton Dowd) sister,  Mary Naughton Downes is still in my thinking process.    I found her marriage record (Michael Downes)  and Baptism of  six daughters in the Archives of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.   BUT, I can not find them in the 1900 census, it is like the family disappeared off the face of the earth.  

Yesterday I started to sort out my genealogy papers and I came across the Document from the Diocese of Pittsburgh from 2008.    As sponsor from  my grandfather’s brother, Richard Dowd, born in  December 1900 was  Maria Downes.   The census had already been taken at that time, but where was the Downes Family?     Then again, in 1906 I find a sponsor, Maria McCoskey,  who is this Maria??  I searched for the McCoskey Family in the 1910 census but have not found them either.   I have all the other sponsors accounted for,   is she Maria Downes?    My next step will be to contact the cemetery where the families are buried and search for the Downes Family.  

I have started on my organization and put everything in a folder related to each family name.   I will then go and organize each family name folder into Family Groups.    I need more hanging file folders,  I will check to see if anyone has them on sale this week.  I have my email correspondence in another separate binder.  I will leave them in there for now and perhaps forever.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Ancestor collage\

I have been working on creating collages,  I am trying to find the best program to do this.  There set of my great grandparents.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Do I have a thriller??   I know I have somewhat of a mystery.  No, I have a real mystery yet to be solved.  I have often thought of my great grandmother, Bridget Naughton Dowd,  she has a sister Mary.   

My father and recently I found his cousin via his nephew, both men stated that Bridget was a twin.   I have not found any evidence that supports that nugget.   I did find Mary, who was three years younger.

According to my father, the sisters looked alike and he could not tell them apart. 

While at my volunteer job and checking church records I found Mary's name.   This let to a search to find more about the family.  Mary became the wife of Michael Downs on 23 July 1882.  This was documented in the marriage records of St. Thomas RC Church, Braddock, PA.  Over the next twelve years Michael and Mary had six daughters,  Mary, Annie, Margaret, Catherine, Sarah, and Josephine. 

My problem is that I cannot find them in any census.   It seems that after 1900 they have disappeared from the census rolls.   Where did they go?   I have not found the daughters in any of the later Church Marriage records .I checked the Irish census in 1901 thinking they may have gone back to Ireland.

Did they change to another Catholic Church?  Did they change religions?   I did a search for the whole USA census and have not found them. Did a great misfortune befall this family?   I  have to put my thinking cap on for this one, I have no address to search tax records.   

My only clue is that my father, Thomas Dowd born in 1918, said Bridget and her sister were twins.

Sunday, February 26, 2012


After the past few months I have recovered with my quest to find the parents of Olive Bowser. It took me over a year but I was successful with Olive.   So, now I am on the trail of finding the parents of Michael A Coleman and his wife Mary Ann Saylor.    Michael is my husbands 3x great grandfather and Mary Ann was his wife.  
Michael A was born 23 December 1809 in South Central Pennsylvania.  I am thinking Bedford, Blair, Huntingdon, or Centre County.   Mary Ann Was born in Huntingdon County 21 June 1814.  They were married  in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania, 4 April 1833. 

This is where the trail ends……as far as the names of Michaels parents are concerned.   The information is from the Coleman family bible and was cited in the Civil War Pension application of their oldest son, William Thomas Coleman. 

It gives the date of “Father  1780-1847” and “Mother   1789-1831.”   I do not know the names and numbers of Michael A’s siblings.    I have perused many online trees for an inkling of this family.   I have a visit or two to a few of those counties listed above when the weather gets warmer so I can examine their records.   I am glad I live in Western Pennsylvania because the drive is an hour or two at the most.
I should start gather my notes, make a plan and get started…..

Wednesday, February 22, 2012



Lois Coleman Wedding Dec1941

Lois Coleman Sperl, married 30 December 1941.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012



I seem to have a way of not getting things done.  I guess it is the procrastinator in me.   I had promised by brother in law and sister in law that I would get some pictures of him scanned from his mothers album that I found in a box when I cleaned the basement.

Gary Len and Chuck2

The three boys circa1951


Charles Hawthorn Coleman and Martha Hauser, Verona1934

Charles Hawthorn Coleman and Martha Hauser Coleman, Verona PA, 1934

This is a never seen before picture of my husbands grandparents.

CharlesMichael Coleman and Lois Elizabeth Coleman

Charles Michael Coleman and Lois Elizabeth Coleman Sperl c. 1924


Lois Coleman age 13

Lois Coleman Sperl, age13, that would be about 1938.

Thursday, February 16, 2012



Clara Nosseck   Pgh Press 17 January 1889   Page 4

Pittsburgh Press 17 January 1889

Jumped in the River.  The body of Mrs. Cara Nossack, 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 plunged into the river there.   A verdict of suicide was rendered.

Joseph Nosseck was married three times,   the last to my husbands great grandmother Katharina Rauscher Sperl.    Clara, the first wife left two small children, the youngest less than one year.   I am wondering if she had post partum depression.

The second wife Katherine Stross died in 1899 from tuberculosis and  Joseph died in 1914 also from tuberculosis.   His third wife Katharina Rauscher Sperl lived until 1947.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012



German girls names unknown

German girls, names unknown.  From the collection of my grandmother Anna Bartels Schridde Krah..