Saturday, September 28, 2013

Michael Downs

For the past year, or perhaps two, I have been searching for information on my great grandmothers sister, Mary Naughton Downs.  I had heard of the name when she was a sponsor for my great uncle Richard Dowd on 23 December 1900.

I initially found her in the Baptism records of St. Thomas RC Church, Braddock, PA.  I finally found her in Newark NJ in the 1930 census, and with a bit of sleuthing also in the 1920 and 1940 census in the same place.

Who would have thought that the name Downs could have been misspelled in so many names.  A few months ago I found her in the 1910 census [Dowens] living in East Pittsburgh PA.  Mary was widowed at the time and had four children alive with four who had died.

I was finally able to find the date of Michaels death.  The date of death was 26 March 1898.  This was found on a probate record.  The will was written and signed on 22 March, 1898.  He must have been injured or gravely ill and not expected to survive. 

I had checked the deaths of Allegheny County and did not find any of his children or Michael listed.   I had also called the nearest two Catholic Cemeteries and they did not have anyone of that family listed.   I will have to go back and see the original list of Allegheny County death, if one exists.  One would think it would but stranger things have happened. 

Since she is in East Pittsburgh in 1910 and living there, or the nearby community of North Braddock since her arrival in the USA, where in the world is she in the 1900 census?  
This is still one part of the mystery to go.

Monday, September 9, 2013


I went to the DMV to get my picture taken for my drivers license renewal.   I had to answer about ten computerized questions before they would take my picture.   Just sort of generic about organ donation and changing your political party.

I asked the woman if a lot of people had trouble with renewals, I was thinking that if you had never used a computer it might be difficult.   She answered that the elderly have trouble with answering the questions with the key pad and a lot of teenagers could not write their names.

WHAT,  she said that when they get there a signature is required for your drivers license and a lot of them do not know how to write their names.   Can we print it, NO a signature is required.  Then the next is can my mom sign for me?   NO, just do your best.   The woman also said she doubted that they can read the written word at all.

This is one of the saddest things I have heard in a while.   I knew that cursive was being eliminated in the schools but it astonished me that they were never taught to write their own names.   Something is missing in the Education Department in the USA.

Which brings me back to Genealogy, or any type of off line research.  As we all know there are millions of records that have not been transcribed.   Does this mean that in fifty years or so they will be obsolete?   It is even worse when you think someone would want to read the documents written in the old penmanship styles.

I guess a person could make a lot of money transcribing the written word...

Friday, September 6, 2013


I have to start on a research plan to find the parents of Michael Coleman and the connection to the parents of Mary Ann Saylor Coleman.
My first step will be to find every Coleman and Saylor in the census in Pennsylvania 1790, 1800, 1820, 1830, 1840 and 1850.  Then I will narrow them down to Eastern and Central Pennsylvania.
Michael Coleman was born circa 1809 and Mary Saylor in 1814.   According to the Civil War deposition of Michaels oldest son (William Thomas), the parents were born 1780-1847 for his father and his mother 1789-1831.
His dad would have been 67 at the time of his death and his mother 42 at the time of her death.  So I need to peruse the census looking for a couple with the difference in age of about 10 years. 

This was a great idea…I decided to look in the 1840 census for a man who would have been sixty years old living with his son, my theory was he had been a widower for about nine years.  I came up with this idea since I did not find the Thomas Coleman who Is my suspect for “father.”
I looked through all the Coleman names in the Huntingdon County area and found nothing.  In a flash of inspiration and now I wonder what I was thinking?   He was probably living with a daughter and since I have no idea about any names of Michael Coleman siblings I am back where I started.
I guess it was fantasy thinking on my part.  I have to come up with a new plan of action.