Sunday, November 30, 2014



My great grandmother Bridget Naughton Dowd was an identical twin.  My father said he could not tell them apart.   My cousin, Erin O’Donnell send me this picture of them.


I do not know for certain, which is my great grandmother, Bridget Dowd.   The first mystery; I have a records of her birth on 25 March 1868 in Ireland with father of Thomas Naughton and mother Catherine Ward.  I have found no record for her twin, whom I have deduced with the name of Catherine.   I found a record of their older sister Mary Naughton, born 19 February 1865, with the same parents.    My question, one of many, where is Catherine’s birth listing and why is she not with Bridget.

After the Naughton girls I no longer find any other children with Catherine Ward as mother.   Did Catherine Ward die in childbirth?

On Bridget’s death certificate her father is Thomas Naughton and mother Nora Nee, is Nora Nee a stepmother?   There were a few other Naughton women who were sisters, Margaret and Norah with Thomas as their father.  

I have yet to find the twin Catherine, or have I?    While perusing the Death Certificates I came across a record for a married Katherine Naughton, which I had discarded before because she was married.   This Katherine had married a man named Patrick Naughton, Patrick had parents that were different than Katherine.

Naughton, Katherine DC

Her birth year is 1870, just off two years from Bridget, her father is Thomas Naughton but mother is Nora Mallay.  There seems to be a discrepancy of the mother all over records.  

What I need to do is send for the possible marriage record and records from the Baptism of their children.  That will be a start.

Saturday, November 29, 2014



I have been mulling over Denis O’Rourke for a long time.   My grandmother was the youngest and talked about her brother whom, she said, drowned in the river.

I found no record of him for the longest time and I found a Baptism Record in the Archives of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, St. Thomas RC Church Baptism book and I picture of him courtesy of my cousin Joanne Dougherty.


Denis O'Rourke picture


The interesting thing I found in the Baptism record was that his Baptism was records with date of birth 28 October 1875 and the names of his parents were my great grandparents Patrick O’Rourke and Ellen Mortel and sponsors were John O’Rourke and Marie ????

Denis O'Rourke Baptism

Now the mystery here is the following Baptism of Joanne O’Rourke, parents Patrick and Ellen O’Rourke with the sponsors Martin and Winifred Otter, and the date was on the same page as Denis and recorded birth as 8 November 1875.  

I did not find Denis living with Patrick and Ellen in the 1880 census.  My theory at this time is that Denis was the son of his brother John and perhaps John and the mother of Denis were not married at the time and Patrick and Ellen claimed him as their own in order to have the child Baptized. 

My only other clue to the drowning incident is the fact that in August 1892 Patrick purchased a cemetery lot in Braddock Catholic Cemetery.   Denis would have been about the age where he would be swimming in the river and it would have been summer at the time.    I do not think that Patrick, being poor, would not buy a cemetery plot if it was not needed.   

I checked with the cemetery and they are missing records for a ten year period occurring at the same time.   He is also not recorded in the Allegheny Death records for that period of time.

I never found a marriage for John O’Rourke and any woman but I did find his death certificate and he was listed as single.

John O'Rourke DC 25 May 1908

Another mystery I have found was a Baptism of Joseph Clarence O’Rourke in St. Colman RC Church, in Turtle Creek PA, which is the community next to East Pittsburgh, PA.   Patrick and Ellen (now in their late 50’s) were listed as parents to Joseph Clarence.

With the release of the Pennsylvania Death Certificates I found a Death Certificate for baby Joseph Clarence

Joseph Clarance O'Rourke DOD 14 Feb. 1908

Listed as his father was JR O’Rourke and Margaret Duffy of East Pittsburgh.  Is JR O’Rourke the same as John O'Rourke and the father of both Denis and Joseph?  I may never know the answer.

Sunday, November 2, 2014



Two weeks ago my daughter was on vacation and we took a two day trip to Central Pennsylvania; it was a genealogical fact finding mission.  The trip was only about 2 1/2 hours so it is an easy do again trip.  From the geological center of PA to any where else in the state is about that amount in driving time.

Not much was gleaned but we did have fun.   TYRONE HISTORICAL SOCIETY was the reason for the trip.   I have been searching for the Coleman and Saylor Families and the dates for them are the Colonial Era in Central PA. 

I did not find very much but we had about forty five minutes before the Historical Society opened so we went to see the land in which my daughters ancestors lived.   We took an exit east at Tyrone Pennsylvania and a few miles past the gap in the mountains we can up a vast valley that was essentially flat.   I regret not taking pictures but it was off and on rainy that day. 

After seeing the area I was amazed and thought no wonder they settled here because it was absolutely beautiful.   We then had a little side trip to SPRUCE CREEK PA which was on a  poorly maintained, windy, and very narrow road.  Somehow I think we did not go far enough to see where the actual settlement and there was no GPS access in this valley.  Emily thought it looked like a good place to have a horror movie.

It seems that the Coleman line settled here initially in their western migration.   I have read a few articles here and the trout fishing is suppose to be the best in the state.

After that failed mission the town of Warriors Mark was on our radar. We now had to climb Tussey or Bald Eagle Mountain (I am never sure about the names because it seems to be which old map you reading as to which mountain you are on)  Anyway, it is in the Allegheny Mountains which is part of the Appalachian chain.

Warriors Mark is a small town on the escarpment of the mountain.  The sign stated that the town was founded in 1768, that is a long time ago, while it was still the wilderness and part of William Pens' colony.  We did not really find anything here since I did not research the particulars and just took a spontaneous drive to get there.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014



I am convinced or at least I theorize, that James Coleman is the father of Thomas “father”  Coleman, they would be the ancestors of my husbands 2x great grandfather Michael Coleman.

He is now listed on FIND A GRAVE.   In the Civil War Pension, of his son William Thomas, the  deposition lists him as “father 1780-1847.”    He meets all the criteria, no other Thomas Coleman was found with the age in those years.   Another thing about him in the census is he was about eleven years older than his wife “mother 1789-1831.”  The second Thomas Coleman I found had a wife closer in age to him.

Georgie Kratzer Allen had written a book: The  Coleman Brothers Revolutionary War Militiamen of Pennsylvania and (West) Virginia.  He lists in great detail the lines of the brothers Thomas Coleman and Michael Coleman, and also James who is just an after thought with his name and blank spots where his descendants are listed.

I wondered about that for a long time since none of my Coleman Family fit into either lines.  James is looking good as the grandfather, the reason there was no information, as I found out, is there is virtually no documentation  about him.

James has a Revolutionary War Pension file, but it is empty.  My theory is he died young, but why did his wife not file for one?  I have not found land records, he rented, nor have I found a will.

In the same deposition mentioned above it states that the older children of Michael were Baptized by a circuit rider preacher, Reverend Lee.   So on to see if those Methodist records could be found, what I gleaned was that  records of the early church could be stored at Lycoming College, Williamsport PA.  

I heard from the Archivist and found that the circuit riders did not have a home nor kept records of the marriages and baptisms.  He said that they just rode around the territory and stayed where they could including sleeping in the cold outdoors and weathering the seasons and predators. So, I am still back at the beginning on finding James Coleman.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


Has this happened to you?  At our local Gene meeting this morning, one of the people asked this question; have you ever had someone found out what you were researching and then say  "Give me everything you have?"

That really takes a lot of nerve to expect someone to send them all of your research.   How would you handle this demand?

We all know that some of our research is incomplete and not proven and we do not want anything erroneous to go out because in a short period of time it will appear on the WWW, errors and all, and at some point in time it will come back to bite you.

My husband suggested to research is not done yet.  Another person said to ask what exactly they were looking for.

 I have shared some of my information with distant cousins or people searching the same lines.  So far they have all wanted to know where I got the information (I love those people) and sometimes what are my thoughts on the same family lines and I will willing share because they are also descendants of the same lines.
But I have no intention on sending you a GEDCOM to give you all I have.

Friday, July 25, 2014


The week I attended the  GRIP meeting, it was held at LAROCHE COLLEGE which is located in the Northern Suburbs of Pittsburgh.    I was enrolled in Josh Taylor's class:


This was a great and intense class; we received so much instruction and hand outs with so many categories and links.  The very first was how to use Keywords in your searches, this was so valuable because he talked about the Boolean system on finding things.  What I was not familiar with was using the work NOT in your search,  this was like an epiphany moment and I think it will be very useful.

The example was if you were searching Washington then you would put:  NOT George NOT D.C. NOT state.   That should eliminate all those sites in your search.  I have to play with my newly acquired knowledge and see what I may find.  Josh was a great teacher and now my brain is full.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


With the release of the PA Death Certificates on, I found some things I had never considered.  I was looking for information on my husbands  2x Great grandparents.  They just seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth.   With the possibility they may have lived to an advanced as I entered their names, Charles Stephens and Hannah Lonsdale Stephens.

The last time I found the couple is in the 1880 census living in Allegheny City, Allegheny County in Pennsylvania.   In 1882 was the last time Charles was in the City Directory in the same city.  Where did they go?  But I feel that in the eighteen years between 1882 and 1900 they have probably have died.

I did  not found Charles and Hannah but I did find the death certificates of four out of five siblings of Robert Stephens.   The surprising thing was that three were his sisters.   They woman had married and all stayed in the Pittsburgh area, and two of them in the same neighborhood when they had been born.  I am working on their lines and so far have the names of the husbands.   I think I will go as far as the sisters children in working down the lines.  

How far do you research a line that is not a direct ancestor?   I am thinking that it will be far enough in case someone finds it and discovers that I have researched in England or perhaps someone who knew the married names and had no clue about their maiden names.

There are also a few people that I know died,  but can not find the death record,  the only thing I can imagine is that they went on a trip and died while away.  I need to find a good web site that has newspapers, but very few have the Pittsburgh newspapers in great number, or perhaps I really do not know how to search the papers very, probably the latter.

Monday, May 26, 2014



Thomas Dowd c. 1944

Thomas Dowd WWII   My father


Richard Regis Dowd

Richard R Dowd WWII my dads brother.



William Graham WW II  step rother Thomas A Dowd

William Graham WWII—my fathers step brother—he had his ear shot off in the Battle of the Bulge.

Richard B Dowd

Richard B Dowd KIA—my dads cousin


Michael J ORourke Headstone

My fathers cousin  KIA WWII

Michael O'Donnell obit PPG 3 September 1948

My fathers cousin WWII

Owen Mulroy  WWI My fathers Uncle

Robert Stephens—Civil War—My husbands great grandfather.

Darius Anthony-My husbands great grandfather-  POW Civil War

James Coleman—probable—husbands 3x great grandfather—Revolutionary War

Jacob Saylor—probably—husbands 3x great grandfather—Revolutionary War

Probably more ancestors that I have not found yet.

Monday, April 28, 2014



I has a mini brick wall concerning my husbands 2x great grandparents.   On their son’s (Robert Stephens)  Civil War information records it stated he was born in 1845 Doncaster England and came to this country in the early 1850’s.  

Checking the British BMD data base I found a couple that fit the ages, and names of Charles Stephens (1818--    ) and Hannah Lonsdale (1823-    ) marriage. The marriage occurred in the parish church in the county of York and town of Leeds, on 27 November 1842.   Charles’s father was James, a farmer and Hannah Lonsdale’s father was, John Lonsdale, also a farmer.  I felt this was the right couple as the marriage record but did not have the proof.

Charles was a florist  at the time.   I first found Charles and Hannah in Allegheny City (now Pittsburgh) in the 1870 census and his occupation was a gardener. They still lived there in the 1880 census and after that time Charles and Hannah disappeared of the face of the earth, or so it seems.  I have been searching for them in the local cemeteries but have not found them.

Robert was not living with the family at that time, he was living in Allegheny County with his first wife Sarah.  There was documentation about Sarah and their marriage in the Civil War Pension file.   When Robert Stephens died his wife did not know the names of his parents.

What I did was search the Pennsylvania Death Certificates 1906-1924 and tried to find his siblings.  After a search I came upon the death of his brother James H Stephens and it did indeed list the parents as Charles Stephens and Anna Lonsdale.   Mission accomplished..Seems that James was named after Charles’s father.

Sunday, April 20, 2014



I have been waiting, and not too patiently, for the release of the Death Certificates from the State of Pennsylvania.   That time has come and I have been busy perusing them and adding them to my tree.

I have found a few surprises too.  In the Baptism records of St. Thomas Church I found a Baptism record for Joseph Clarence O’Rourke, with my great grandparents listed as parents, Patrick O’Rourke and  Ellen Mortel.  Since they were in their late 50’s at that time I was very suspicious about the parentage.

Joseph Clarence O'Rourke 1908

Source Information:

[ Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1924 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.]


Is JR O’Rourke my great grandfathers brother?   I know that according to my fathers notes that Patrick had a brother John and James living close by.   The two brothers were sponsors at many of Patrick and Ellen’s children Baptisms.

Were JR and Margaret unwed, I have not found a marriage for them in the church records.   Were they married but to distraught to take little Joseph to be Baptized because it states that the birth was premature. Did Patrick and Ellen take him to be Baptized because of his frail condition?  Baby Joseph lived only four days

The next item I found was really serendipitous.  While searching all the O'Rourke's in Allegheny County PA, I came across a death for John O’Rourke; upon closer inspection I found he was born in 1843, in Ireland and his parents were Denis O’Rourke and Mary Griffith.  The person giving the information was my great grandfather Patrick O’Rourke.  Patrick and Ellen were the only O’Rourke Family in East Pittsburgh at that time.

I knew that Denis and Mary were the names of Patrick’s parents and now I am 99.9% sure that they are my 2x great grandparents.    I have been looking for her name since 2008.

John O'Rourke DC 25 May 1908

[ Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1924 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2014.

Original data: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.]


What I need to find out is John  O’Rourke and JR O’Rourke the same person? 

Every find precipitates more questions.

Friday, March 21, 2014


Yesterday I went to the Archives for my volunteer job.  I was at a point where I could do a little research on my own family.   I was looking for Richard Fitzmorris, I assume that he was a cousin of my great grandfather because my great grandfather, Thomas Dowd, mother was Catherine Fitzmorris.

Richard Fitzmorris was the sponsor for the Baptism of my grandfather, also named Thomas Dowd.   I found a few Baptisms for of Richards children between 1900 and 1913, but I can not find the family on the 1910 census.    Where do these people go?    I also can not find a 1900 census for Mary Naughton Downs, who was my great grandmother, Bridget Naughton Dowd, sister.   I find her in the 1910 census and up.  I have church records and a probate record listing she was in town, before and after 1900,  but not on the census.

Did these people hide from the census takers?   If so, they are doing a great job in hiding. This is one of the most frustrating things for me. I know they were there but why can't I find them?

Thursday, February 27, 2014



By luck I found a link to the Bohemian Census records from 1869.

BOHEMIAN RECORDS it takes a bit of time to figure out where you want to go and then the next problem is trying to read the writing.  The form seems to be set up with each little house in each village and in Rosshaupt/Rozavadov there are about twenty.  

In 1869 my husband’s second great grandfather left Bohemia headed for the land where streets were paved with gold.  They first settled in Baltimore and then on to Millvale, Allegheny County, PA, USA  Millvale is a borough bordering on the city of Pittsburgh.

I found a Johannes Sperl, who was born in the 1820’s.  Is this Christof Sperl’s brother?   I have to check the years of birth of both but if Johannes was older and inherited the land that could possibly why Christof left the old country.

Christof’s wife, Catherine Rauscher, also said she was from the same town but I initially did not find her family’s name.   It is quite possible she came from a village close to that town.   I will need a tiny town map and how  to read Kurrent script.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014



This is a link for the blog AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors by Miriam J Robbins.  There are many links in the various counties of Pennsylvania and most of them were written in the late 1800's.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Norah Naughton Connolly

I haven't been finding much lately, but the other day I was following the Shaky Leaves on Ancestry and came upon a Find A Grave for my great grandmother's (Bridget Naughton Dowd) sister, Margaret Naughton Stanton.

A descendant of hers had transcribed her obituary to the site; and behold, it mentioned a surviving sister Mrs. John Connolly (Nora).  There were a few Connolly men married with a wife named Nora in Allegheny County and I was quite excited to find her husband was John.   That bit of information had been a mystery for about two years.

I found a few census and the name of some of their children, the interesting thing was when I searched for their addresses I found they live close to each on adjacent streets.   I was very excited, as with many of my other ancestors, Margaret's house is now a vacant lot.  Now I will have to search the church records and see what else I can find ab out the sisters that I do not know.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014


Today, would have been my parents seventy first Wedding Anniversary. They married in Goldsboro, North Carolina, on 4 February 1943.  My father was in the Army and due to be shipped to Europe. 

He called her and told her if she wanted to get married to catch the train and and they would do it before he left.   They were together five days and would not see each other until January, 1946

Tom and Gerda Wedding 1943 001
I have often wondered when this picture was taken.  My mother said it was their wedding picture.

Monday, February 3, 2014


Nancy of MY ANCESTORS AND ME made a suggestion that I should Google the Pittsburgh newspapers to find the death day of Nora O'Donnell Avington nee Dowd to see if I could find her Obit.

I find searching newspapers a daunting and difficult task.   So I tried the collection one by one; what I found something I did not know.   I found her name connected to the death of her son Michael Richard.   I had him listed on my tree as Richard and he was a person that I was unable to find any information about him.

Here is why:

Michael Richard was killed at Normandy on 8 June 1944.   The date of this Obituary was 3 September 1948.    I thought that the troops were buried in Normandy, and how did Nora get him back to the states for burial?   Four years seems a long time to wait  to bury your child.  Michael O'Donnell was my father,Thomas Dowd, first cousin.   His father, also Thomas Dowd, was Nora's brother.

Further research told me he was a medic.  Honor Role 507 Division   You have to scroll down to the bottom of the list.

Sunday, February 2, 2014


Like a lot of newbies I took the date given for my grand Aunt as correct.  I had not searched for the death dates for my grandfathers siblings because I (erroneously) thought they were correct.  All but one was correct and that is my mystery.

I was looking for the obits of my grand aunts and uncles to get my papers in order when I discovered that two of the death dates were the same.  That would be correct if there had been a violent accident.  I did a search and found that the date given was good for Nora's sister Mary Cole was correct and she was buried in St. Petersburg, FL.   In Mary's obit it did not mention Nora or an accident. On a brighter note I did find Mary's Obit, she died 27 July 1983, there was no mention about parents, husband or siblings.

Next I re-read the obit for her sister, Agnes Dowd Hendershot, she died 10 November 1980 and it mention her siblings as Richard Dowd and Mary Dowd Cole, of Florida.   So, Nora died before 1980.   I looked for an obit for Richard and did not find one, but he died 6 February, 1981.

On Family Search I found a marriage license application for Nora's son, and it listed her as alive and living in Pittsburgh, this was 1948.  So somewhere between 1948-1980 Nora died, I did not find her in Find A Grave, or Ancestry.  It is like she disappeared from the face of the earth, she is not in the SSDI.  Where in the world has she gone and how to find her?   I could order her death certificate if I knew when she died and that is the problem...

Nora died 25 April 1964 and is buried in All Saints Catholic Cemetery (Braddock Catholic) in North Braddock PA

Tuesday, January 28, 2014


From the PA Historical Records Access Facebook page; Ancestry will begin to post the death records starting in April.   They will be posted about twenty years at a time.  The second batch in June and the last in November.  All birth records should be on by September.

I am so excited about this because I have a list about three feet long...

Thursday, January 16, 2014


I had been looking for my great grandparents, Patrick O'Rourke and Ellen Mortel, wedding date as well as his sister Mary O'Rourke and her husband Daniel Rogan.

Today I was searching for a client and came up the marriage of Daniel Rogan and Mary O'Rourke.  The marriage took place on 5 September 1878 at Sacred Heart RC Church in the Shadyside section of Pittsburgh PA.

Here is a picture of the inside from the Archives of the Diocese of Pittsburgh.  It listed his parents, John and Margaret Rogan and her parents Denis and Mary O'Rourke.  But sadly it did not give the last name of the mothers.    Patrick and Ellen were not married there.  

But I did learn Daniel Rogan parents name and I did learn the date of their marriage.  John Rogan and Ellen Dugan were the witnesses.  So it appears that perhaps Daniels brother or cousin was also here in town.
I was really sad that my great great grandmother's maiden name was not listed.  That has been evading me for years.

Another picture of the outside, also from the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Happy Birthday Mom

It is difficult to believe that she has been gone for nineteen years.  I suppose I am lucky that I was the oldest and knew her the longest.   I still wish I could call her and talk to her.  I suppose that never goes away.

Mom and Claudia

Monday, January 13, 2014

Baltzer Reinwald

I had not worked on anything for a while.   I was examining my husbands ancestors, his Bowser line to be exact.   This line is from his paternal grandmother, Mary Sperl.   Her mother was Olive Bowser and from ARMSTRONG COUNTY PA. I had a long search for Olive and had not done too much work on this line for about a year or so.
I decided to check them on my Ancesstry tree and found a lot of leaves and realized that I knew nothing about Baltzer/Balthasar Reinwald.
Seems that he belonged to a group called the Schwenkfelders who left Silesia, Germany in 1733 because of religious persecution and finally settled in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania.  I even found him on BALTZER REINWALD on Find a Grave.    It has Anders as his last name, but searching as I might I believe that is not true.
I found two woman listed as his wife, one being Anna Anders and on a tree a woman Elizabeth Yeakel as his wife.   This requires some searching on my part.
I still think his ancestors are more interesting than mine.  This is an interesting thing to pursue .  More on them later, but Baltzer appears to be his 6th great grandfather.

I have been unable to connect Baltzer and his family to the Bowser Family, still does not prove or disprove, I just need more information.