Thursday, July 16, 2015

Happy Birthday George C. McClellan VanBilliard

My Great-grandfather, George C. McClellan VanBilliard, was born on 16 Jul 1864. Son of Jerome VanBilliard and Ellen Shick, he was born in Freemansburg, Northampton, Pennsylvania. He was the middle child of 7 children. It was only in the 1870 census that the middle name of McClellan is found. 

On 19 Sep 1885 George married Susan Haas in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  They had 9 children and the next to youngest, Elizabeth, was my paternal grandmother. My father, George Charles O'Donnell Sr, was named for his maternal grandfather.

In the 1930 census George was living in New Hope,Bucks,Pennsylvania. He was work as a foreman for the Postal Telegraph-Cable Company, at the time the biggest competitor of Western Union, who later took them over. I have this letter that he sent to my father. I never saw this letter until after my father died so I don't know if he ever saw his grandfather in June of 1930. George VanBilliard died a few months later on 10 Nov 1930 in Brookfield, Madison, New York.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Obituary find

Last week I found an online index for a Pennsylvania newspaper that I didn't know about. It is the Allentown Morning Call and the index is at the Allentown Public Library. I was really excited about this. I knew that my great grandmother, Cecilia Fitzpatrick O'Donnell was living in Allentown when she died so I gave it a look. I found one for her in the index and for 5 other people. So I ordered them and asked for them to be emailed. And there they were this morning. I was so excited with this. With information that I didn't have and was able to verify that I had the right info on other things. It said that "she was the mother of 10 with 4 preceded her in death". That verified that I had not missed any, I had figured using the census records that she had two children before 1900 that had been born and died. then I know about the other 2 that had died. A little girl that was under a year old I had found when the death certificates came on line at Ancestry and her 21 year old son, Manus that died in a mining accident.
Something that was new was the married name of her sister Jane. I had not been able to find anything about her because I did not know who she married, so I had nothing after the 1880 census. But there she was, Mrs. Jeannie VanWert. so I was able to find more about her. I had found her other sister, Elizabeth, before and also her two brothers that were mentioned, Robert and John. There is still another sister and brother that I have not found anything after that 1880 census. So I will just have to keep on looking. But this was a great find!!!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Van Billiard's in the Pennsylvania Civil War Muster Rolls

Last night I found that Ancestry had put Pennsylvania Civil War Muster Rolls on site. So I had to check them out. This image is of the "Muster-Out Roll of Captain Joseph A. Frey, Company, B, in the 153rd Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, commanded by Colonel Charles Glanz called into the service of the United States by the President at Bethlehem, (the place of general rendezvous,) on the Twelfth day of September, 1862, to serve for the term of Nine Months, from the date of enrollment, unless sooner discharged; from the Seventh day of October, 1862, (when Mustered in, ) to the Twenty fourth day of July, 1863, when Mustered out. The company was organized by Captain Joseph A. Frey at Bethlehem, in the month of September, 1862, and marched thence to Harrisburg, where it arrived the 25th of September, a distance of One Hundred and Eight miles." The second page of this document shows my second great grandfather, Jerome Van Bilyard, (one of the many ways I have found the spelling of VanBilliard),and his brother, Martin.

This gives the information of when they mustered in, 12 Sept 1862, and Jerome was 25, Martin 23. When they were last paid, February 28th, and this is July? so I guess this is what they are being paid as they are leaving, Jerome received $33.70 and Martin $28.28.

I would give the citation for this record using Evidence Explained as: Muster-out roll of Co. B, 153rd Regiment of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 12 Sept 1862-July 1863, Recruits, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania,, "Pennsylvania, Civil War Muster Rolls, 1860-1869", 2015, digital image, citing PA State Archives, Record Group 19, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg.

The citation information on Ancestry makes no mention of the Pennsylvania State Archives. When you bring up the image the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission information comes up at the bottom of the screen. I went to the web site and found what record group the microfilm is in.

I did find more on Jerome and his brothers in the muster rolls, but I will save those for another day!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun-Newspaper Headline on My Father's Birthday

For this week's mission (should you decide to accept it), I challenge you to:

1)  What was your father's birth date?

2)  Find a newspaper from his hometown, or a nearby larger town or city, that was published on that date.  What was the major headline on page 1 of that issue of the newspaper?

3)  Share your headline with us in your own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a Facebook or Google+ post.

Here is my answer to the challenge.

 My father's birth date was 28 July 1922, in Hazleton, Luzerne County, Pennsylvania.

I searched Chronicling America ( and found the Philadelphia paper, Evening Public Ledger, There are two major headlines and both about strikes. "President Proposes Three Plans to End Rail Strike" and "Harding Would Curb Dictation by Mine Unions". So it seems that there was a Railroad and Coal Miner strike going on at that time.

So I looked further with Hazleton being a keyword and found, The Topeka State Journal. They had two headlines about both strikes, "THREE WAYS TO END THE TIE-UP" and "MINERS TO TALK". 

What was even more interesting was in the eighth column was that Hazleton had its own dateline titled, "Pennsylvania Ready to Settle."

I guess these headlines were fitting for the day of my father's birth as his father was the last in his line to work in the coal mines and when he left the mines he became a delivery truck driver. My father was a driver in Public Transportation for most of his adult life.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Finding McCarron's using PA Birth Records

My maternal grandmother's parents are a continuing mystery. They somehow avoided leaving a paper trail for themselves. The earliest record I have found for either of them is their marriage records. Emil Gunther and Catherine McCarron were married in Philadelphia, PA on 23 Sep 1897. The marriage records at that time did not give much information. I always knew that Emil came from Germany and this told me that Catherine was born in Philadelphia. But the first record I ever found on Catherine was her death certificate.This did give her parents names, John McCarron and Alice Carberry. It also sent me to the cemetery and gave me some other great information, but that is a story for another day. "Pennsylvania, Philadelphia City Death Certificates, 1803-1915," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 21 March 2015), 004009384 > image 350 of 580; Philadelphia City Archives and Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

So while her marriage record had her born and living in Philadelphia, the newspaper notice said she was from Norristown, PA. So when the index for the birth records first came out I was looking for births that could be in all my lines. I came across an Alice McCarron born in Norristown I was hoping when the records were available I would find a connection. With the baby having the same first name as Catherine's mother, this could be her brother's child. But I didn't know if she had a brother because I never found any census records for her parents. Well looking in the birth records I found Alice McCarron. Unfortunately it did not give much information, only her mother's name, Laura Pennsylvania, Birth Records, 1906-1908 [database on-line]. No. 22525 (stamped), Alice McCarron entry, born 4 Jan 1906, accessed 17 Mar 2015.

Citing: Pennsylvania (State). Birth certificates, 1906–1908. Series 11.89 (50 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Sorry to say that baby Alice only lived 5 days. But the death certificate did give her father's name, William McCarron. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. No. 2502(stamped). Alice McCarron entry, died 9 Jan 1906, accessed 18 Mar 2015.

Citing: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

I continued to search and found death certificates for 5 more children, 3 stillborn and 2 only living a few years. This covered from 1906 to 1921, when the last child was stillborn and Laura died a couple of weeks after that child. William then died in 1929. Finding his death certificate told me that he was Catherine's brother as the same parents were listed. Pennsylvania, Death Certificates, 1906-1963 [database on-line]. No. 94035 (stamped). William McCarron entry, died 3 Sep 1929, accessed 18 Mar 2015.

Citing: Pennsylvania (State). Death certificates, 1906–1963. Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

I was glad to find a brother of Catherine's but so sad to watch William's tragic story unfold.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Fitzpatrick's and O'Donnell's in the PA Birth Records

I have been going through the newly released Pennsylvania Birth Records on Ancestry. I had three that I knew of to look for in 1906. The first one I found was for my Grandfather's youngest brother, Charles O'Donnell. The citation for this is: Pennsylvania, Birth Records, 1906-1908 [database on-line]. No. 63480 (stamped), Charles O’Donnell entry, born 4 Jan 1906, accessed 17 Mar 2015.
Citing: Pennsylvania (State). Birth certificates, 1906–1908. Series 11.89 (50 cartons). Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

I was really happy to see this. I was looking for the name of the Midwife and there it was Mrs. James Fitzpatrick, my 2nd great grandmother. Ellen Fitzpatrick is listed as a registered physician on page 420 of the "History of Lucerne County, Pennsylvania", H.C. Bradsby, Editor, Published in 1893 by L.B. Nelson & Co., Publishers, accessed 20 Mar 2015, I tried to find Marguerite who was born in 1908 but was not able to. I am sure it is something with the spelling. Still looking.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Finding the Niland's on Find My Past

So this weekend was a free weekend on Find My Past, so I thought maybe I could work on find out more on my Niland line and maybe get the connection to link them up with my 3rd great grandmother, Catherine Niland Welsh.
I thought I would zero in on brothers Patrick and James since I have their death certificates so I am sure they were brothers because I have their parents names from the death certificates. I also found records for both of them on Family Search's Ireland Births and Baptisms, 1620-1881". they also had their parents listed and all matched up.

citations for these are: death certificates, 1906-1963, No. 1055 (stamped) James Niland entry, died 13 Jan 1934, (digital image accessed 17 Aug 2014) citing Pennsylvania (State) Death Certificates 1906-1963 Series 11.90(1,905 cartons), Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. death certificates, 1906-1963, No. 52523 (stamped) Patrick Niland entry, died 10 May 1929, (digital image accessed 17 Aug 2014) citing Pennsylvania (State) Death Certificates 1906-1963 Series 11.90 (1,905 cartons), Records of the Pennsylvania Department of Health Record Group 11. Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Well the first record I found was a Passenger list leaving the UK from 1912. This was Patrick, his wife Margaret and their daughter, Sarah coming home from a visit to Ireland. So this tells me that I am going to have to look for passports for them very soon.

Then I found a Passenger list leaving the UK from 1890. This was Patrick and James coming to the US. If only the passenger lists back then gave the information that we get on the later ones.
citation: "Passenger List," digital images, (, accessed, 7 Mar 2015), manifest, British Prince, 3 July 1890, ticket no. 4571, Pat Niland, age 18 and Jas Niland, age 16

So I went looking for information on the parents. I found what I think are their death records. Sarah Niland died in 1878, the registration district is Swineford, Mayo, Ireland. Patrick Niland died in 1913, also Swineherd, Mayo, Ireland is the registration district. So I went looking for a marriage record for Patrick and Sarah. The death certificates had Sarah's maiden name as Coffield so that was what I was looking for, nothing came back! Then I looked again at Patrick and James' passenger list. the next on the list was a John Cahill but then there were two young girls with the last name of Caulfield and I wondered if this was the correct way to spell Sarah's name, possibly these two were family traveling together. Well that did the trick! In 1864 in the registration district of Swineherd, Sarah Caulfield married one of 4 men listed and one of them was Pat Niland! So there are more records to see if I can get. After I found this I looked again at the Birth and Baptism records for Patrick and James and saw that Sarah Caulfield was the spelling on them. And getting back to those records, the birth and baptisms took place in Kilkelly, Mayo, Ireland
So for the last piece of this I went looking for Austin Michael Niland. I do not have proof that he was another brother, but Patrick along with my great grandfather, James McCarry, were Austin's witness on his 1922 naturalization petition. On his petition and his passenger list, he said that he was born in Ballyhaunis, Mayo, Ireland. He said his last residence was Aghamore, Mayo and his father, Patrick is there. So I looked up his birth record and found him born in 1892 the registration district was Swineford.
citation: Point of entry record, ship: Merion, 17 Apr 1910, No. 453, Austin Niland, age 17.

So I went on Google Maps, found Kilkelly, to the northwest is Swineford, to the southeast is Ballyhaunis and Aghamore is halfway between Kilkelly and Ballyhaunis. So they all line up and to top it off, a little south west of Kilkelly is the town of Knock and my sister and I were in Knock when we were in Ireland in 2004. I knew nothing of the Nilands at that time, but we were so close to where they were, maybe some still there!
So my thoughts on the connection are this, the death record for Patrick Niland, Sr. has his birth in 1833. that would put him around the same age as my 2nd great grandfather, John Welsh. He was born in 1835, that could make them 1st cousins, so I am thinking John's mother, Catherine and Patrick's father were brother and sister. So now I have to see if I can find those Irish records and prove it!