Tuesday, June 25, 2013



I have not posted more about my father because, frankly, I did not know where to go with this topic.    There are just some things I really do not know.

I mentioned that in 1938 my grandmothers second husband had died and my father quit high school in his Junior year to help support the family.

My father was born in 1918 and he would have been twenty at the time.   WHY, my grandmother held him back for two years so he and his brother Richard could start together.   What was she thinking?  Was it easier for her to keep them together, did she have trouble with her parents who would have been her main support?   I think this will remain a mystery.

At some point in time he met my mother.  She was five years younger than him and initially he though she was too young and just a “kid”   His buddy Bill, was dating Mary.   Mary and my mom were best friends and classmates who graduated from Duquesne City High School in 1940, she was seventeen at the time. 

What I can surmise is that they met a second time and were bridesmaid and best man at Mary and Bills wedding.  They started dating again after that.  Funny, I had never asked for the who, what, where, when and how about this. 

December 7, 1941 was a warm and sunny day and Thomas was outside washing his car, when over the radio came an announcement stating that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor.  He said at the time he knew right then and there that we would be going to war. 

Tom was working as a machinist for the railroad and I can only surmise that his job perhaps had given him a type of deferment.  On 3 May 1943 he was drafted and shipped out to the south of the USA.   They were short of equipment and  once it was mentioned that the men were learning how to shoot with broomsticks instead of rifles.  It sounds like the USA was ill prepared for this war.

After the New Year he received his orders and called my mother and they were married 4 February 1944 and spent five days together before he had to leave. 

Some of his relative were angry that he married, he was the sole support of his mother.   The allotment he received was divided between his mother and his wife. But, he said he wanted to get married.

Sunday, June 16, 2013



My dad, Thomas Dowd, was born in July 1918.   He was the first child of Thomas Dowd and Gertrude O’Rourke.  My grandfather was a railroad engineer and my grandmother was a housekeeper, as 99% of the women of that time.

In 1920 another child, Richard Regis, was born.  My grandmother said that her husband drank too much alcohol and she had to meet him at the gate to get his paycheck or he would have spent the money at one of the local bars.  Finances were very tight for the new family. 

Tragedy struck one day in October, my grandmother had reported, my grandfather was intoxicated and fell down a flight of steps and then went to bed.   He was dead by the next morning, October 16 1921.   The death certificate listed a cerebral hemorrhage as the cause of death.

I think my dad always was angry about his father.  He said he spent his life living first with his O’Rourke grandparents and then with a step family after Gertrude remarried in 1928. 

Thomas talked about the poverty and everyone had to survive on their own because there was no assistance for widows.  She worked to bring in money as a winder at Westinghouse Electric in East Pittsburgh PA, and her parents took care of the children.  

One of his activities was to pick up the coal that had fallen from the freight trains that rolled by across the street from his grandparents home.   I suppose every bit of coal that he and his brother gleaned helped the family.  He spoke of eating soupy potatoes and how he hated apple butter because it was all they had to put on their bread.

His grandfather, Patrick O’Rourke,  worked as a street sweeper for the Borough, he had lost his job in the Homestead Steel Mill after the HOMESTEAD STRIKE in about 1892.  From what everyone said at the time the men who struck were blackballed from working in any steel mill again.

In 1928 Gertrude married again, it was the only option at the time and a lot of women married to have someone to support them and the new wife would take care of the children from any previous marriage.   My dad hated the situation, he and his step father never got along.  Thomas felt he was too strict and treated the step children different because HE was supporting them.  Her second husband, Peter Paul Graham died in 1938.   After that my dad had to drop out of high school in the 11th grade to support the family.  I think he always regretted that he never had the opportunity to graduated from High School, he told me that he had wanted to be a surgeon.

In 1938 jobs were hard to come by because of the depression but he found a job at the Union Railroad with help from some friend of the family.  Initially the company did not want to hire him because of the legacy passed on from his father (I think he might have had a slight mishap with a train.)    A woman spoke up for him and said “You are hiring the son, not his father.”  He got the job and continued to work there for forty two years.

This is getting to be a long post, I will have to divide the tale into sections and continue it in installments.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013



Thankfully, the tasks associated with selling our daughters house, packing and moving, are now over and done.   This will leave me with things I want to do related to Genealogy.

In an idea from  A PATIENT GENEALOGIST Devon Lee suggests using EVERNOTE to save your genealogy related emails.  This struck me as a great, better than great idea.    I have a lot of emails stuck in my inbox and did not know what to do with them.

I love Evernote, I use it only for Genealogy to write my thoughts as a research tool and also to store clickable  links from web sites, posts from my blog and notes from Sacramental Records that I have found.  I started with Evernote before I got my copy of MS Office 2010 and One Note is also an option but I am too lazy to move everything at this time. One Note also appears to be a good option for note keeping.

My favorite part is that is “portable”  I can check facts and my note when I am not at home.  So, with that lead up I will be copying and pasting emails this summer. 

I want to go to HUNTINGDON COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY, and BEDFORD COUNTY HISTORICAL SOCIETY to search for my husbands ancestors of the Coleman and Saylor families.   I need to get into the Courthouse records.

I also need to find more about a unknown Sperl person whose marriage record I found at the Archives. 

Writing with regularity in my blog is now high on my agenda, since it was virtually neglected since the winter time.  I have now set these goals in writing for the world to see and I suppose I will have to act upon them, it gives me a good push to get going.