Friday, 27 March 2015

A trip across the pond

Yahoo! - Celebrations - Yahoo!

I discovered the names of two of my maternal fourth great-grandparents this week – William and Hannah Daly - something that does not happen often.  Actually, to put it in perspective, prior to Tuesday, after all these years of research, I knew the names of only six of my sixty-four, fourth great-grandparents. So, this is huge!

Previously, I had located their daughter, Jane Byrne, nĂ© Daly, in the New York State Census, dated February 1892. She was going by the name of ‘Jane Burns’, having emigrated to live with her daughter, Hannah (Byrne) Comiskey. This was one of the few occasions I'd found a direct ancestor outside of Dublin, Ireland, so it was unfamiliar territory, genealogically speaking.

First, here's how my maternal grandmother connected to Jane, and William and Hannah:

Our lineage to William and Hannah Daly

In this 1892 census, Jane Burns was described as ‘an alien’, (a thought I've had about many of my elusive ancestors). She was living with her daughter and son-in-law, John and Hannah Comiskey, and their family. They were located in Brooklyn city, Kings County, New York. Jane's son-in-law, John had already obtained citizenship and the younger Comiskey children were born in the United States, including nine year old John J. So, the Comiskey family must have arrived in the U.S. no later than about 1883. 

Comiskey family, 1892 New York State Census (FamilySearch)

Jane's year of birth was recorded as about 1831, though she was likely born earlier than this; she had married Francis Byrne, in St Mary's Pro-Cathedral, Dublin on 11 October 1846.

In June 1900, when the next U.S. Federal Census was enumerated, the Comiskey family, including the widow Jane, were still living in Brooklyn, New York. Jane's surname was transcribed as Bums, in error (with an ‘m’- hehe). Here, she was said to have been born in May 1835 - apparently having only aged four years over the nine birthdays since 1892 - again calling into question her true birth-year.

Jane was recorded as only ever having had one child, with only one child still living in 1900.  This contradicts other evidence showing she had at least five children, including my great-great-grandfather, Francis Byrne, who was still very much alive and living in Dublin, in 1900. I wonder, did she lose touch with home?

Comiskey Family, 1900 U.S. Federal Census, New York, (FamilySearch)

The 1900 census shows that Jane immigrated to New York in 1886, six years after the Comiskeys.

Interestingly, they were living in some kind of institution in 1900, near Jamaica Ave. / Nichols Ave., although I do not know what this was.

So why do I believe this was our Jane?

My great-great-grandaunt, Hannah Byrne, daughter of Francis Byrne and Jane Daly, married John Comiskey, on 5 December 1869, in St Lawrence O'Toole's parish, Dublin. The baptisms of five of their children were also recorded in O'Toole's registers: Rosanna in 1870; Jane in 1871; Hannah in 1874; Michael in 1877 and Francis Thomas in 1879. 

Their ages are a little off (what's new), but three of these children, Rose, Jane and Michael, listed in the correct order of baptism, were living with John and Hannah Comiskey, in New York, in 1892, as well as Hannah's mother Jane Burns [Byrne]. Our Jane, widowed at the time, had also shared an address with the Comiskeys, in Jane Place, Dublin, in 1878, when her son Charles got married.  So, is it just a coincidence to find a family with these same names in New York?  I don't think so.

Hannah and John Comiskey and their family were later found in the 1910 Census, living in Hempstead, Nassau County, New York. Jane was not with them, so it is likely she died and was buried somewhere in New York between 1900 and 1910, either in Kings County or Nassau County. But, searching for her death or burial, in the completely unfamiliar New York records, proved too much for me. Until this week, that is.

Last Tuesday, Randy Seaver's tip, about FamilySearch adding more New York City records to their collection, caught my eye. The first thing I did was search for Jane Byrne's death, between 1900 and 1910, and there she was, at last, her address still showing as Jamaica Ave., and her maiden name confirmed as Daly. It's just an index entry, with no image attached, but still, now there is very little doubt in my mind, but this was our family in New York.  (Thank you again, Randy)

And, to cap it all off, her parents were named as William and Hannah Daly - my fourth great-grandparents!

Death of Jane (Daly) Byrne, Brooklyn, New York, 1901 (FamilySearch)

Now, to see if I can find William and Hannah back in Dublin...

Yahoo! - Celebrations - Yahoo!

  • Church baptism and marriage records,
  • Jane Burns, 'New York, State Census, 1892', index and images, FamilySearch.
  • Jane BumsNew York, 'United States Census, 1900', index and imagesFamilySearch.
  • Jane Byrne, 1901, 'New York, New York City Municipal Deaths, 1795-1949,' index, FamilySearch.

© 2015 Black Raven Genealogy


  1. Dara, congratulations on crossing to our side of the Atlantic! Great detective work!

  2. Celebrating with you! That's great!

  3. Thank you, Colleen and Dana :-)

  4. Don't you just love it when someone hands you a key (you hear about an as yet unknown database), you try it out and find yourself opening the door to your brick wall! Congratulations and happy hunting on the other side of the pond. ~ Cathy

  5. Thanks Cathy, I really do get a buzz out of it!

  6. Oh, Dara, I'm celebrating with you! Randy's post on those NYC records has brought a lot of joy to the genealogy community.

    Although New York is a challenging place to research (it seems individuals get swallowed up in the mass of humanity), there are several other free-access sites available. Brooklyn had their own newspaper during that era (the Eagle) where you might find some mentions of family members...perhaps even an obit. Also, about that truant home entry: did you check the column on occupation in that federal census? It seems odd that the man and his entire family would live there--unless he was working there and was paid in room and board (plus stipend).

    Best wishes on your continued searching, across the pond. Oh, how I wish some of our Irish cousins would come looking for me :)


I look forward to reading your comments, even more especially if you're related to someone mentioned in this post.

Comments are visible publicly. You may also contact me privately by email - blackraven.genealogy [at] gmail [dot] com.