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..

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


Yesterday I spent an inordinate amount of time searching the index..   My criteria for some has been the ten year period between 1910 and 1920 census.  I have found the death date for my grandmother in laws youngest brother.   His name was Leonard Stephens and he died 22 July 1919.   My sister in law said that she thought he was killed in WWI.    Leonard was born in 1903. Did he die in the war, my husband said that sometimes the guys lied to get in the Army.    Did he die in an epidemic?   I will have to search for an obit  and hope there is a record of the particulars.

Also two of my husbands great uncles.   Joseph Sperl died 16 February 1921 and Charles Sperl on 8 April 1918.   I think Charles would be a candidate for the Spanish Flu.    My great grandfathers sister Norah Finnerty 9 September 1916 is another ancestor.   I think this list can go on and on.  
My plan of action now is to search for the obituaries and send for the death certificates.   The PA Archives saw if the certificates are ordered it will take twelve to sixteen weeks to arrive.   I am seriously considering driving to Harrisburg, and do research at the Archives while I am there.  
The trip is about three and a half hours, really not a bad drive if you can tolerate the Pennsylvania turnpike.   That is another story in itself.

Monday, February 13, 2012



I have been so busy today perusing the PENNSYLVANIA DEATH INDEX.   I thought it would take a long time to get it online, but it appears that it was already indexed and it just had to show up.   I have found about four family people that I have been searching.  

There are a number of years in the twenties that are index by the Russell Index,   I think that Russell, whoever he was, was a sadist.   I tried to follow the instructions and it was difficult to grasp.   BUT,  I found SOUNDEX CALCULATOR from Eastman’s Genealogy Newsletter.    The calculator is great I no long have to pull out my hair, just put in the name and there it is.

The cost is now $3.00 as opposed to $10.00, but it now states that it will take fourteen to sixteen weeks to get your certificate.   If you are like me you will have forgotten what you have sent for and when you did it.

I am really excited about this index

Wednesday, February 8, 2012



Grandma does not look like she wants her picture taken.

ancestoroy information 212

Tuesday, February 7, 2012



Benjamin and Deborah Franklin   Philadelphia



Monday, February 6, 2012



Last week, my sister in law and I were talking about the things I had found on her husbands family.   She was interested that I had found information going back hundreds of years.

She said she would like to find information on her family and knew nothing about her fathers family.     I told her to send me the information and I would see what I could find.

A  quick search of Ancestry proved to be bountiful, and she is very lucky all of her ancestors settled in one little town in suburban Pittsburgh.

In her fathers side I was able to find her great grandfather and his family.  The census stated that he was born in Germany in 1865, Austria in another and Czechoslovakia in a third.   The family was Catholic so this led me to believe he was from Southern Germany and then the Austro-Hungarian Empire and lastly Bohemia.

My next search was the immigration records and then the records for his naturalization.   George and Mary were found in all census, still living in the same small town.  My next step was to check the records of the local Catholic Church where I first found the death records and about seven of the family.   The priest had recorded the death date, origin of the family (it was Bohemia), age at death, cause of death and cemetery where they were buried.    I have to give the kudos to the priest that kept excellent records.  It must have been the German influence on his record keeping.

Next to look for her maternal side.   The grandparents emigrated in the early 1900’s and I found the marriage record for them, and the priest had recorded the marriage with the names of the great grandparents,as well as the town, province and town where the came from.   More Kudos to the Polish priest.   Census and immigration records were found also.

I have my sister in law hooked.   She signed up for a subscription to Ancestry.    There is a lot of new information to be discovered.   We have not even gotten to the civil records.  We are both excited with anticipatory joy.