Saturday 29 April 2017

Update on Andrew (Byrne) Burn’s descendants in Chicago

Before my holidays, I admitted not being able to locate Anne Mary Byrne, my first cousin three times removed, who was born in Dublin city in September 1886, and ‘went missing’ in Chicago. I’d hoped to identify her descendants to see if any of them were listed among Dad’s DNA matches.

She’d last been located as a fourteen-year-old, in 1900, living with her parent’s, Andrew and Annie Burns, at 3402 (all other records suggest they lived at number 3400) Irving Avenue, Chicago.

Now, I’ve found her.

In fairness, she hadn’t moved. Ten years later, she still lived with her widowed mother in the family home, at 3400 Irving Avenue. Admittedly, Anne Mary was easy to miss. Whereas, in 1900, she had been listed as Annie Burns, born in Ireland in September 1886 - by 1910, she had married and was going by the name Mary Coughlin, born in Illinois about 1888. Still, there’s little doubt this was the same woman.

For some reason, I didn’t spot her mother in the 1910 census either. Then, while reading Marian’s ‘Tuesday’s Tips’ at Climbing My Family Tree, I found a new-to-me website – One-Step Webpages by Stephen P. Morse. I entered Annie’s details in the census search engine and she showed up in the results, bringing her daughter with her. Granted, Annie Burns had knocked seven years off her age since the 1900 census, possibly explaining the difficulties tracing her.  

Burns Household, 1910 Census, Chicago 

Mary Coughlin, who during her lifetime was also known as Anna, May and Anna May, married James Ellsworth Coughlin. The couple went on to have at least eight children in Chicago.  When their daughters later married, they added the surnames Gough, Alston, Eble and Blake to my list of Coughlin cousins. Any one of them may one day turn up among our DNA matches, though it seems that day has not yet arrived.

Interestingly, the birth records for some of James and Mary’s children claim Mary was born in Aurora, another city in Illinois. This is clearly incorrect. Irish birth and baptism records place her birth firmly in Dublin city. But, she was taken to America within the first few months of her life. Perhaps, she desperately wished to be 'more American' and her earliest memories were of Aurora?

Birth of Marguerite Coughlin, 1926, Chicago

In 1892, as soon as ‘Andrew Byrnes’ was granted citizenship of the United States, he registered to vote. This was probably Mary’s father, my great-great-granduncle. And, although other records confirm he didn’t go to America until 1887, the voting register says he’d lived in Illinois for seven years, and moved to Cook County four years previously. So where did he live when he first arrived in Illinois?  Aurora, in Kane County, perhaps.

Andrew Byrnes in the Voter Register, Chicago, 1892*

When people emigrate, they often go where they’ll have support, i.e. where their older siblings, or their aunts and uncles, have already set up home. So, while I found no record of any earlier generations of my family in Chicago, maybe that’s because my great-great-granduncle initially followed his family to Aurora.  

And, that’s where I’m going to look next. 

Chicago, Illinois, Voter Registration, 1892, accessed by subscription at (click on image to enlarge).

Update in August 2018 - a Descendant of Andrew Burns was discovered: Third great-grandparents, confirmed with DNA.

© Black Raven Genealogy

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. [Annie married James Ellsworth Coughlin - see update here]

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