Sunday, April 26, 2020


The parents of Michael Coleman (1808-1855) has long been hiding.   His parents were listed in the Family Bible (Parts unknown) were listed as Father 1780-1847 and Mother 1789-1831.

There Coleman Brothers were highlighted in a book by Georgie Kratzer Allen,  "The Coleman Brothers: Revolutionary War Militiamen, Pennsylvania and (West) Virginia pioneers and their descendants."  The family was located in Huntingdon County Pennsylvania.

It describes and gives the descendants of Thomas and Michael.   John died early in an Indian attack and as the story goes, was boiled alive in a vat of maple syrup.    James is just an entry citing the 1800 census with 1 son and 4 or 5 daughter.     Everyone who is descended from the Coleman's line has children named, Thomas, John, Michael and James.

After studying the descendants of Thomas and Michael and perusing the records in central Pennsylvania,  I decided he really does not fit into to either tree.    I am thinking that his father is James.   James Coleman is in the 1800 census and by 1810 he is gone off the records.   The year that my husbands Thomas Coleman is indicated. possibly, in one of the tick marks of the 1800 census.

James is not on the tax records for land,  he is in some of the head tax but as far as the land goes he appears to be renting.   I wanted to go back to Huntingdon County Historical Society but due to everything being closed I have no idea when I can make the trip.

My husbands ancestor (Michael Coleman) had a supposed brother James and also a sister Rachel.  There is a DNA connection from my husband to the descendants of Rachel.   I think I have to keep working this angle.  In the 1800 census their are the parents over 45.   One Male 16-25 ( this would be Thomas b. 1780, two females under ten, two females under fifteen, and two females sixteen thru twenty five.   Giving us six females and one male. 

How do I find those females sisters?

Sunday, July 29, 2018


As luck would have it I have found the details of the marriage record.   It lists my Aunt and her husband.  The parents fit the information I have already researched and am sure it is correct.  The only things I did not know was that Nora was a dressmaker and Thomas indicated that he was born in Pennsylvania.   I wonder why he gave that place as a place of birth when it was Ireland?  They were indeed married in Lackawanna NY, but why?

On to the next mystery..


Monday, May 28, 2018


For a number of years I have searched for the marriage of my Great Aunt Nora Dowd and her husband Thomas J O'Donnell.  Norah Dowd lived in North Braddock as well has her husband Thomas .    Their first son Thomas J O'Donnell was born in November of 1916 and that gave me a place to start my search.

I initially searched the marriage license application for Allegheny County Pennsylvania for the years 1915-1916,    Nothing was there, so the next place was the Archives of the Diocese of Pittsburgh, still nothing but in the year 1916 but the records were incomplete for St. Thomas RC Church in Braddock PA

My search led me to West Virginia and Ohio for possibly an elopement, none found.   Where in the world had they gotten married?  Nora was born in North Braddock Pennsylvania and Thomas was born in Ireland so I had surmised that they got married in the United States.

Much to my recent surprise a shaking leaf appears on Nora's name on my Ancestry Family Tree.  On 13 January 1916, in Lackawanna NY and the spouse was Thomas J O'Donnell

The next her husband,

There was no other information about this marriage that I had found so far.  I need to find more records.   At the time I was wondering if this was my couple and what were the chances they got married in New York.  Initially I didn't think this would be my Aunt and Uncle.   I have yet to find where the application is kept and what information it contains.

I remembered that I had found Nora Dowd's  Aunt Margaret in the 1915 New York Census and they were living Lackawanna NY.   Now my theory is that Nora and Thomas went to visit her Aunt Margaret and got married there.   I have to search NY records and see if the marriage records are available from the nearest Catholic Church.

Hopefully the mystery will be solved.  It looks like the marriage date was 13 January 1915 and the birth of their first child was ten months later.

Saturday, January 20, 2018


From the Irish Catholic Baptism records I knew my great grandmother, Bridget Naughton Dowd, had quite a few siblings.  Their names and information has been a long time coming after a lot of research and serendipitous  findings. 

I found a sister, Ann Naughton, who was Baptized 4 July 1862.  Her parents were Thomas Naughton and Norah Molloy. None of the cousins, of which  I have come in contact, ever mentioned Ann.

Until a new cousin contacted me, via DNA match on Ancestry.   We live in the same county and share about 45 cm.   She had just begun researching and since her mother was adopted I focused on her dad's line.   None of the names were familiar to me so I went to her female ancestors.

I came across a woman Mary O'Donnell with father named Coleman, O'Donnell and mother unknown.   I was then back to my usual search sites and on Family Search I came across a marriage for Coleman O'Donnell and Anne Norton.

They both lived in the same town as the rest of the Naughton siblings and Norton is an AKA for Naughton.      In a  search of the PITTSBURGH POST GAZETTE ARCHIVES  I found an news story that Coleman O'Donnell had died in a railway accident in July 1895.

Next, I searched for Anne O'Donnell in the 1900 and 1910 census, but could not find her anywhere.  But after searching I came across what I believe to be her Death Certificate.

Although the father listed was Patrick Naughton, I believe this to be the sister of my great grandmother Bridget.   Patrick Naughton was a brother of Anne and by this time he had moved back to Ireland to claim the family farm.  He was the oldest son,

She died at the Allegheny County Home, which also was a mental hospital and TB sanitarium known as Woodville.   Cause of death appears to be a stroke.

 I found an obit from the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, which I believe is hers.   Mrs Frances McCague was her cousin Margaret Naughton, daughter of her Uncle Coleman Naughton, her fathers brother.    Why are not the names of her children or siblings listed?  Was she estranged because of her time in the "Home."

She had four children Sarah, Mary, Joseph Leo and Thomas, all who would have been adults at the time.   Mental illness has a huge stigma now as well as then.   I am 99% sure of this relationship because of a DNA match of a MS, who had a 45 cm. match with me.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017


I have been doing some housekeeping on my tree.   Things like finding new hits and filling in spaces that are blank.  When I find an empty date or other information I research again.

I was working on my father (Thomas Dowd) side and I noticed that one of my grandmothers (Gertrude O'Rourke Dowd Graham) step daughters had no information except her year of birth.   My grandmother had told me about them, who they had married and children...but, she never mentioned Rose.

Gertrude's first husband (my grandfather) had died in 1921; leaving her with two small boys.    She moved back with her family and helped at home and did some house cleaning.    I do not know when, where or how she met Peter Patrick Graham but they got married 8 May 1929, in St. Coleman RC Church in Turtle Creek, PA.

I was updating and I saw Rose C Graham born in 1911.   I checked the 1920 census and did a search but could not find anything other than that census.     I saw Rose on the census and she was 9 years old and not attending school.    Buy the 1930 census the other siblings were living with my grandmother, Catherine, Dorothy, William and Clara Louise.   I thought Rose probably married, but no records, no Family Trees no Social Security Index either.

So I searched for the Death Certificate and here is what I found

Rose had been institutionalized at Polk State School in Venango County PA.   It was a school for people with intellectual disabilities.  There was no information of relatives but the place of burial was listed as Allegheny County PA.   That is where she had been born and lived.   Her date of death was 14 January 1928 and burial was 18 January 1928.

Her mother, Catherine Burke had died in 1925 and I am thinking that the husband could not take care of her and her siblings would have been too small, so she was admitted to Polk School.    I will see if I can find some records, but in Pennsylvania I know those records are sealed.

Now I must search for where she is buried.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


 One day, while perusing, I came upon a possible link for a Mary Dornnes, in the New Jersey 1930 census.   Along with the mother Mary age 67, were her daughters Margaret age 40,  Sadie age 37 and Josephine age 30.  Then came a surprise, also listed were Mary's grandchildren, Ida 22, and Emmett age 20.  The address was 14 Wakeman Avenue, Newark, New Jersey.

I then looked in the 1920 census and eventually in the 1940 census.  In 1920 there was Mary Naughton Downs and her three daughters living on 12 Wakeman Avenue Newark New Jersey.  In the 1940 census, Mary Downes, was living at 150-152 Broad Street, Newark, New Jersey  and her granddaughter Ida, who was a school teacher, was living there also.

My unanswered question was, why did they move to New Jersey?   My research had stalled to a snails pace.  This spring I was research on Family Search and I found another person researching this line.  I contacted her and from there I met a cousin who is descended from my great grandmother's sister Mary Naughton.

Soon we were in touch and exchanging information.   As the story goes Dominick Molloy moved the family to New Jersey to start a Tavern business in Newark with his brother Martin.   Mary Naughton moved to help take care of the children and said that living above a tavern was no place to raise children.   Business was good until 1920 and the Era of Prohibition, they lost everything and at some point in time moved in with Mary Naughton and her daughters.  I found that tidbit of information in the Newark City Directories.

Mary and Dominick had a son, Brendan, who was quite sickly and died at a young age. Shortly thereafter Dominick Molloy died in 1925 and his wife Mary Molloy the next year. in 1926.   I have yet to discover the cause of their deaths.  But I do know that they are buried in Holy Cross Cemetery. Bergen County New Jersey.

The place of burial for Mary Naughton, who died 9 March 1944 is in St. Mary Cemetery, Pittsburgh.   Also buried there is her husband Michael Downs, and daughters Margaret, Hannah and Sadie.  Rebecca, who died as an infant may be buried there too.

Michael Downs and Mary Naughton Downs had the following children;  Mary Downs Molloy 1884-1926, Hannah 1885-1901, Annie 1887- before 1906,  Margaret 1889-1963,  Catherine 1891- before 1906,  Sarah (Sadie) 1892-1965, Rebecca 1895-1895, and Josephine 1896-1991,

The burial place for Catherine, Annie and Josephine are unknown at this time.   I would surmise that the deaths of Catherine and Annie as children would indicate they are buried in Allegheny County PA and Josephine in New Jersey.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


For quite a few years I have tried to figure out what happened to my great grandmother's  (Bridget Naughton Dowd) sister (Mary Naughton Downs).   Mary was a bit of an enigma.  I know she was married in 1882 and she and her husband Michael Downs had six daughters.

I learned this information from the church records from the Diocese of Pittsburgh Archives, Saint Thomas RC Church in Braddock PA.   Then the couple disappeared, and left me in a lurch.   Ancestry published the PA Death Certificates and none of them were there.  But, Pennsylvania did not start recording deaths until 1906.   Therefore, the missing must have been gone before then, or so I had surmised.  The last child of Michael and Mary Downs was born in 1896, so that gave me a window of 10  to search for a death.

By chance I found a will for Michael written in 1898, and it gave the date of death as 26 March 1898, in North Braddock PA.    In his will he mentioned his five children, not named.  It is interesting that Allegheny County had death records but not any of the Downs family was listed in them.

I have not found Mary in the 1900 census, but she was a sponsor for the Baptism of her nephew, Richard Dowd on 23 December 1900.   An interesting side note is there was a Marie McCoskey who served as sponsor for a niece, Theresa on 7 October 1906.   I have everyone of the sponsors identified,  could this Maria be a remarried Maria Naughton Downes?

In the 1910 census she is listed as Mary Downes, and living with her four daughters in North Braddock PA. Her oldest daughter Mary, her son in law Dominick Molloy and two grandchildren, and daughters Margaret, Josephine and Sadie.  There were  also ten boarders, none of which I have yet found to be relatives.  She took in boarders to make ends meet.

Then, again, the family disappears....