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


  1. Great work, Dara... they do like to challenge us at times. I wonder why the constant name changes..was she just tired of her own persona, or was she hiding something? Oh, for a time machine, to see what they were really up to...

    1. She certainly helped me become a little more familiar with U.S. records, Chris. I'm not sure about the changes in her name, they were all variations of her given name - Anne Mary - maybe she alternatively used the various pet names given to her by the prominent people in her life.

  2. I wonder, too, if Mary's mis-attributed birth in Aurora may have been on purpose to avoid backlash against Irish immigrants at the time?

    1. Perhaps, I've certainly seen that on other branches. With a surname like Coughlin I'm not sure she could hide her Irish heritage. Was it enough to have been first generation American?

  3. Dara, thanks for writing about One Step Web Pages. I never heard of that page before but it looks very handy!

    1. You're welcome, Colleen, I hope it brings you some success. Often it helps to use different search engines.

  4. Great find. I wonder if the incorrect birthplace was just a result of not knowing. Sometimes people just didn't talk about the past. As a child, I once reported on a school form that my dad was born in North Carolina, but he was actually born in Virginia, in the same city we lived in then. But I assumed since my grandparents lived in NC, he was from there. I didn't know they had moved there. So now there is a very minor official record with incorrect information on it.

    1. You're right Wendy, that could be it. Though in 1910 she was still living with her mother, and a mother would hardly forget where she was when she had her first-born.

  5. What a lucky break finding that new website- congratulations!

  6. I forgot to add my name is Patricia (Eble) Reilly
    Looking forward to hearing from you.


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

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