Monday, December 24, 2012

Matrilineal Monday: Mary Ellen Brennan

Mary Brennan was my maternal grandmother's mother. She has proven to be a bit difficult to research. She immigrated to the United States from Ireland1, but no one in my family was quite sure when. The only information my grandmother was able to tell me was:

1. She came by herself, so was likely a teen or an adult at the time;
2. She was here by 1938, as my grandmother was born in New York in January 1939;
3. She was from County Roscommon.

To make matters worse, my grandmother is not quite sure what year her mother was born. My grandmother's only brother passed away in 2002, and there was allegedly a family Bible, but it's not in my grandmother's possession so that's no help. My grandmother knew her mother was "old" at the time of her birth, so I took that to me at least 30 years old. That puts Mary's birth at latest around 1908, but it could also have been earlier. There were several siblings, which could help identify our particular Brennan family in a census, but a preliminary search for a family with the known siblings name on the Irish census came up with bupkis.

I knew it was a long shot, but I began combing through Ancestry's naturalization records. I was searching for Mary Ellen Brennan's born between 1895-1905, from County Roscommon, applying for citizenship in NY--where I knew she was living at the time of my grandmother's birth.

To my surprise, I think I've found her!

Celtic Manifest, Arrival: May 8, 19202

Declaration of Intention, 19273

Petition for Citizenship, 19303

By the time Mary appears on the 1940 census with her husband and daughter, she is listed as naturalized4. So the time line fits. I am not accepting this as absolute fact yet, but I feel pretty confident that this is my great grandmother.
1M. Barbara Pisanello and Stacy McConnell. Oral interview, 11 October 2012, by Stacy McConnell at Barbara's home in Media, Pennsylvania. Audio recording in the possession of Stacy McConnell, Azusa, California.
2Manifest, S.S. Celtic, 28 Apr 1920, stamped p. 42, line 13, Mary Ellen Brennan, age 20; “List or Manifest of Alien Passengers,” digital images,, ( :accessed 24 Dec 2012).
3“New York, Naturalization Records, 1897-1944,” database and images, ( : accessed 24 Dec 2012); Mary Ellen Brennan, no. 158912, sworn 2 Jun 1930; citing Petitions for Naturalization from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, 1897-1944; NARA Series: M1972; Roll #: 682.); Records of District Courts of the United States, Record Group 21. National Archives, Washington, D.C.
41940 U.S. census, New York County, New York, population schedule, Manhattan, enumeration district (ED) 31-1241, sheet 6A, dwelling 140, Martin Hannigan household; digital images, (; citing National Archives and Records Administration, microfilm roll Roll: T627_2653.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Weekly Goals

Well, I said if I didn't finish last week's goals, I would know I had put too much on my list. I guess I bit off more than I could chew because the following goals were left unfinished:

1. Call Grandmother, discuss blanks I need filled in.

2. Compose list of questions I need to ask cousin Helen.

3. Review entries for grandparents' siblings and ensure proper citations.

Rather than biting off more than I can chew again, I think I'll focus on #1 and #3. At this point I can't call my cousin and pick her brain as it's getting too close to the holidays. But I can eliminate the other two. And I'll make one additional:

4. Complete two entries for the blog.

I have a post I began about my great grandmother, Mary Brennan. So I need to finish that one. It's going to be a busy week, finishing up for the holidays, but I hope I can get a bit of work done!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Weekly Goals

I didn't quite finish everything from last week's list. I have a bit of carryover. I finished some important goals last week though. Most importantly, I spoke to my grandfather for about an hour, filling in some missing information. He seemed more receptive this time to talking about his life than he had in the past.

For the coming week, here's what I need to accomplish:

1. Review Great Grandmom Sellers's entry, add/reformat citations for all facts.

2. Call the Radisson, formerly the Warwick Hotel, to inquire about the existence of employment records (Frederick Gledhill, second great grandfather).--Currently waiting on a call back.

3. Review Great Grandfather Gledhill's entry, add/reformat citations for all facts.

4. Call Grandmother, discuss blanks I need filled in.

5. Compose list of questions I need to ask cousin Helen.

6. Review entries for grandparents' siblings and ensure proper citations.

If I don't complete all the goals this week, I'll know I'm setting the bar too high for a week. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday: Sadie Davis

My great grandmother, Sadie Davis, has been one of my main focuses as of late. I was quite fortunate to discover her buried next to her daughter when I went to visit Upland Baptist Church Cemetery in October. There was a huge shrub planted right in front of her stone, so I had to take my picture at kind of a strange angle. Fortunately I had my mom there to help hold it back so I could get a photo.

Sadie's Find a Grave memorial is here.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Matrilineal Monday: Sadie Davis

I recently began digging in to the Delaware County (PA) digital archives and combing the old newspapers for mentions of my DelCo relatives. Of particular interest to me was my great grandmother, Sadie Davis. Sadie was born in 1894, in Upland, PA1. She died in 1964 (a good 20 years before my birth!)2, and her daughter, my grandmother, has also passed. Piecing together this side of my family has been challenging. I lack the personal information I have on my mother's family. It's hard to imagine these people and what their lives were like.

Fortunately, it seems news was slim in Chester back at the turn of the century (19th to 20th, that is). I found multiple mentions of Sadie in the Chester Times. Here are a few of them:

May 5, 1903: Hand Injury3

May 23, 1903: Ninth birthday Party4

May 4, 1937: '30 Years Ago'5

I also found Sadie in The Delaware County Daily Times.

April 16, 1962: Helping with local historic discovery6

There are several others. It was so interesting being able to read about her in the news. They're small tidbits, but together they give me a rough sketch. She seems interesting. She was an active member of her community. She was intelligent. What a wonderful discovery to make.
1Chester Birth Records 1889-1906, Archives, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, online , Davis data downloaded 20 November 2012.
2"Winnberg [obituary]," Delaware County Daily Times, 17 Feb 1964, p. 4.
3"Hand Lacerated," Chester Times, 5 May 1903, p. 2.
4"Young Girl's Birthday," Chester Times, 23 May 1903, p. 11.
5"Thirty Years Ago," Chester Times, 4 May 1937, p. 6.
6"Caleb Pusey House Day Observed," Delaware County Daily Times, 16 Apr 1962, p. 2.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Cemetery Walking: Fairmount Cemetery in Glendora, CA

It was raining today, so what better way to spend the day than traipsing through a muddy cemetery? I wanted to make some additions to Find a Grave, so we checked for local cemeteries that had few interments listed. Fairmount Cemetery stood out, because the cemetery page had instructions on how to find the cemetery, as it's a bit off the beaten path.

Even with the directions, we struggled to find the place. I think you can see why...

We parked outside, pulling right up to the gate so we wouldn't get stuck in the mud.

About three seconds after we climbed from the car, a clatter of howling began from the area behind us. Then an answering howl sounded from inside the cemetery. My girlfriend tried to convince me it was dogs howling at firetruck sirens we had heard, but I knew the truth. Coyotes. As a native Philadelphian, I find coyotes petrifying. We crept to the gate, and spotted the howler, a lone coyote, clearly in the process of napping. We watched him for a few moments, before he hopped over a fence bordering the cemetery and disappeared, not in the mood to tango with us.

Inside, many of the stones were broken/unreadable, but I was surprised that so many were in good condition. There was a section of un-labeled wooden crosses that were in a bit of disrepair. It was a small cemetery, so I think we photographed every stone there that was still legible. In all, we ended up adding 19 records with photos on Find a Grave. This was my favorite:

I was intrigued by the two missing names at the top. Thankfully, most of the graves have been transcribed to a cemetery survey on US Gen Web, and I was able to place these missing two people. All in all a really successful trip, and it was neat to get to such a hidden little cemetery.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Goals for the upcoming week!

I have a friend who loves to make lists. She has so many lists that she has a master list of her lists. I'm going to take a page out of her book and start some lists of my own this week. I'm floundering a bit lately, looking at my tree and picking a person, searching for information, occasionally adding citations... I need to get organized. So, with this in mind, this will be my 'To Do' list for the upcoming week:

1. Review maternal grandfather's information in FTM, create list of blanks I need him to fill in.

2. Review Great Grandmom Sellers's entry, add/reformat citations for all facts.

3. Send a follow-up email regarding the records from the Church Home for Children, where my great grandmother was raised.

4. Call the Radisson, formerly the Warwick Hotel, to inquire about the existence of employment records (Frederick Gledhill, second great grandfather).

5. Review Great Grandfather Gledhill's entry, add/reformat citations for all facts.

6. Review maternal grandmother's information in FTM, create list of blanks I need her to fill in.

7. Call maternal grandfather on Friday to discuss questions.

8. Make list of records to be ordered, prioritized.

9. Research cemeteries in my area, find one to adopt.

10. Add sources to completed blog entries.

This should keep me relatively busy! Good thing I'm off from work on Friday.
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