Saturday, 22 April 2017

On Holidays…

In case you wondered at my recent absence from the blogosphere, for the past couple of weeks, instead of hunting dead people and telling their stories, I’ve been away on holidays. And not in a part of the world where my ancestors likely visited much either, but in Jordan, a spectacular Arab kingdom in Western Asia. 

That’s not to say none of my progenitors ever visited the region. Chances are some did. Remember Isha, my ‘clan mother’ – well, 21,000 years ago, give or take, research suggests she probably lived in the Near East. So, perhaps I did walk in the footsteps of my (distant) forefathers. 

Here’s a taste of where I’ve been:

Discovering the lost city of Petra (Jordan)

Horse-riding through the Wadi Rum desert, for six days

Sight-seeing in Amman and floating in the Dead Sea

What an amazing trip! 

And, next week, hopefully, I’ll be back on the trail of my ancestors…

© Black Raven Genealogy

Saturday, 8 April 2017

A new approach to our DNA results

This is the beginning of a new approach to my genetic genealogy research.  The aim is to trace forward the lives of known ancestral relatives, who emigrated to America and Australia during the nineteenth century. Presumably, it’s their descendants who account for most of our ‘third cousin’ DNA matches at Family Tree DNA. So, if I can figure out the names of their children and grandchildren, I may be better able to recognise them among the list of matches, or so the theory goes. 

DNA Diary, Black Raven Genelaogy

Starting with my paternal lineage and the children of my third great-grandparents, Andrew Byrne and Anne Clynch - their youngest son Andrew was born in Athgarvan, Co. Kildare, in March 1855. He grew up to become a carpenter and married Anne Cunningham in Kingstown, Co. Dublin, on 21 July 1884. Their daughter Anne Mary Byrne was born in Townsend Street, in Dublin city, on 26 September 1886, before the whole family promptly vanished from the Irish record.[1]

It wasn’t long before I picked up their trail in Chicago, Illinois. A global search on the FamilySearch web-site revealed their son, John Patrick Burns, was born in that city, just a few years later, on 8 March 1889. The name change didn’t concern me much, as several of my proven Byrne relatives, on both sides of the family tree, morphed into ‘Burns’ following a brief spell in the U.S. But, my Irish relatives typically moved to New York, and it’s not clear yet what brought Andrew to Chicago. 
Death of John Patrick Burns, 1943, Chicago
Death of John Patrick Burns, 1943, Chicago

Still, at the time of the U.S. Federal Census in 1900, the family were found all living together at 3402 Irving Avenue, Chicago. There was Andrew Burns, a house carpenter by trade, along with his wife Annie, their daughter Annie, born in Ireland in September 1886, and their son John, born in Illinois in March 1889. It certainly looks like my great-great-granduncle’s family.

Andrew Burns family, 1900 Census, Chicago
Burns family, 1900 Census, Chicago

Sadly, however, Andrew Byrnes died shortly after the census was taken. He was said to have been forty-three years old when he passed away on 19 December 1900. He was really forty-five, though the cause of his untimely death is not apparent.

Death of Andrew Byrnes, 1900, Chicago
Death of Andrew Byrnes, 1900, Chicago

It's easy to conclude this death relates to the same Andrew Burns found in the census. On 22 December 1900, the Chicago Tribune published details of burial permits issued the previous day, and they included one for Andrew Byrnes of 3400 Irving Avenue, who died on 19 December, aged forty-three years.[2] And, on 21 January 1901, Annie Byrnes was appointed the administrator of his estate, which was valued at not more than $1,950.[3]

Annie survived her husband by more than twenty years. She died on 25 September 1922. She was buried in Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery in Chicago, same as her husband.[4] I searched for Andrew's and Annie's obituaries in the Chicago Tribune, to see if they would shed a light on what brought them to Chicago, but there was nothing doing.

My resolve to trace forward Andrew’s children fell short at the first hurdle too - I found no further mention of his daughter Annie, after the census record in 1900. She may have died, unmarried, or her descendants may continue to form part of our numerous unknown cousin matches.

The search for her brother, John Patrick Burns, was more successful.  He married twice. His first wife was Katie Bauer, who he married in 1913, and after Katie died, he married Sigrid Wisten. John died on 10 October 1943, and according to a notice of his death, he left three surviving daughters. One may still be living, so suffice to say two of his daughters married – their husbands' surnames being Lee and Naughton.[5]
Death of John P Burns, Chicago, 10 Oct. 1943.
Death of John P Burns, Chicago Daily Tribune, 11 Oct. 1943, p. 22

None of these names are jumping out at me from our list of DNA matches!

© Black Raven Genealogy  

[1] Catholic Parish Registers at the NLI.
[2] Chicago Tribune Archives.
[3] Andrew Byrnes in the Illinois, wills and probate records, 1772-1999 on
[4] Anna Burns in the Illinois, Cook County Deaths, 1878-1994, database, on FamilySearch.
[5] Various records at FamilySearch

Sunday, 26 March 2017

What happened to the Leahys?

This week, I continued the search for my third-great-grandparents, Michael and Bridget Leahy, the known parents of Alicia (Leahy) Byrne and her sister Mary. I discovered a likely couple living in Dublin city, and am now attempting to trace them forward via a son Michael, born in January 1835.

As mentioned last week, Michael married Ellen Hyland in 1854. He worked as a servant, just like his father. There is no indication my third great-grandfather was a servant, but it cannot be ruled out. He was once said to have been a clerk, except two other records indicate he had ‘no trade’. So, there’s confusion surrounding his occupation, and in most other respects this Leahy family closely matches mine.

The trouble is, the very last record discovered relating to Michael and Ellen was the baptism of their son Michael, in 1865. And, even though BMD (birth, marriage, death) registration commenced in Ireland in 1864, no further mention of them was found anywhere, not in Ireland, not abroad. They seem to have just vanished, without leaving any trace!

I may have found another record of Michael Leahy, the father - my would-be third great-grandfather. But, the news is not good. He was admitted and discharged from the South Dublin Union Workhouse – twice - once in 1867 and again in 1868. Then, he too vanished without a trace.

Map of Dublin City 1863, Thom's Directory

Here’s the information gleaned from the Workhouse Admission and Discharge Registers[1]:

Pauper number:
Pauper’s name and surname:
Michael Leahy
Michael Leahy
60 [born c. 1807]
60 [born c. 1807]
Religious denomination:
Electoral division / townland:
Union/123 Francis St.
Union/25 Meath St.
Date admitted:
9 Nov 1867
1 Jan 1868
Date discharged:
16 Dec 1867
19 May 1868

So, if this was my ancestor, his wife Bridget, my third great-grandmother, was already dead by November 1867.

Michael’s stay in the workhouse came not long after his son’s apparent ‘disappearance’. And came just after my relatives married their husbands - Alicia Leahy married John Byrne in January 1867 and moved to Kingstown (now Dun Laoghaire) in south Co. Dublin. Their son Michael Byrne was born there on 2 December 1867. Mary Leahy married Christopher Radcliffe in May 1866 and moved to Malahide in north Co. Dublin. Was Michael Leahy left alone in the city, leading to his spell in the workhouse?

And what happened to him after he was released the second time? Did he move to Co. Meath, where another source dated 1873 indicates he lived (or once lived)?  No likely death record has yet been found.

This search may be better left until the General Register Office release the rest of the copy BMD registers, for free, online. Those with an inside source suggest they’ll be available ‘in a couple of months’, but I’m not holding my breath.

See previous posts: Homing in on Alicia and More Leahy Family Research.

[1] Accessed on Findmypast.

© Black Raven Genealogy