Friday, April 14, 2017

More photos~David O'Donnell & Elizabeth VanBilliard

David and Elizabeth O'Donnell, original in the possession of author

Back again with photos and stories about my family. This is a photo of my paternal grandparents, David O'Donnell and Elizabeth VanBilliard. We have very few photos of my grandfather and I knew there was a resemblance to my dad from the other photos, I did a real double-take when I saw this for the first time the other day. I thought it was my dad at first it looks just like him! I am not sure but I think my dad could be the baby my grandmother is holding. 

David William O'Donnell was born 8 March 1898 in Hazleton, Luzerne, Pennsylvania to Cornelius O'Donnell and Cecilia Fitzpatrick. He was baptized 13 March 1898 in St. Gabriel's Church. David was 19 in May of 1917 and I remember my grandmother saying that he had lied about his age to serve in WW1. The first indication of this was when I took a photo of his military headstone and noticed that his birth year was 1889 instead of 1898. Looked like they had a dyslexic engraver. I asked my dad about it and he said he had never noticed it. I even called the veterans association. They said they get the information from the death certificate, but the death certificate had the correct date! When the applications for military headstones and compensation files came on Ancestry I had my answer. He had lied about his age and it was different on all these forms. His age on entering the Army was anywhere from 21 to 28. But he did serve and he was discharged 28 Feb 1919. This photo always hung in my grandmother's living room.
David O'Donnell, original in possession of author
After the service he drove trucks for a living. On 6 November David married Elizabeth VanBilliard in Bethlehem, Northampton, Pennsylvania. In 1930 David and Elizabeth and their 4 children moved to Philadelphia.  Living in Philadelphia David drove truck for The Bulletin, a Philadelphia newspaper. The family had 2 more children after moving to Philadelphia, the last in 1941. David died 26 April 1947 and is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, Pennsylvania
Elizabeth VanBilliard, original in the possession of author
 This is Elizabeth VanBilliard. Elizabeth was born 1 November 1900, to George VanBilliard and Susan Haas. She was second to the youngest of 9 children with her sister Margaret born about 18 months after Elizabeth. Her brother Irwin was a couple years older than she was but he died the same month Margaret was born, he was 3 years old.

VanBilliard family, original in the possession of author
This is a photo of George VanBilliard with his daughters Elizabeth and Margaret. In this copy of the photo Elizabeth wanted all to know which one was her having put an arrow and"me" printed over her head.

When Elizabeth married David William O'Donnell it was in the rectory of Holy Infancy Church in Bethlehem. David was Catholic but Elizabeth was not and in those days the wedding could not take place in the church which is why it took place in the rectory. Elizabeth did convert to Catholicism and she was a very devout Catholic.  They moved to Philadelphia in the later part of 1930. While taking care of her family she did take on extra jobs. I have a ledger of her's where she kept track of Laundry she did for people. She also did house cleaning for people after David died. She later worked for Merkel Medical Supply, a store in Center City Philadelphia, cleaning the store. They loved her there and she worked there into her 70's. Another strong woman, like her mother-in-law, who took care of her family. Elizabeth died 15 May 1985, a little over 5 months from her 85th birthday. She is buried with her husband in Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, Pennsylvania. I would like to close this with a funny story my Aunt Marie told  a few years ago. We all heard the stories growing up that our grandfather made beer in the bathtub but Aunt Marie told of the time that Elizabeth was mad at David for something and she threatened to pull the plug in the tub! I just love that. She was little but mighty!

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Condy and Cecilia O'Donnell

Cornelius O'Donnell, original in possession of author
Hi everyone! I am back with more of the new stash of family photos. Today we have my  great grandparents, Cornelius O'Donnell and Cecilia Fitzpatrick. These two photo cards are side by side on a page from a "wonderful" magnetic album. I scanned the page and then cropped the photos down saving the original image. I now have each of their images as their profile on Ancestry. These photos were such a wonderful find and to have this labled right there as "Grandpop O'Donnell" was fantastic!

So lets get started with Condy. This seems to be what he liked to go by! Condy was born to Manus O'Donnell and Mary McGee, both Irish immigrants. He was born in Hazleton, Luzerne, Pennsylvania. He married Cecilia Fitzpatrick in St. Gabriel's Church, 24 July 1892. According to the marriage record Condy was a coal miner and his birthdate is 12 July 1870. Here is where I have conflicting information! I have a list of Condy and his siblings Baptism records from St. Gabriel's Church. On this record his birth date is 26 October 1871. The dates of his other siblings births match up with the date on their death certificates but I have a problem with his because of course his is the only one that does not have a birth date on it. Condy died 11 December 1909. His death certificate has his age as 37. If he was born 12 July 1870, the date on the marriage record, he would be 39. If he was born 26 October 1871, the date from the baptism record, he would be 38. So there is that dilemma, I have 3 records and each of them are different! So until I can find that miraculous record that matches one of the dates I have, His birth is an uncertainty!
Cecilia Fitzpatrick, original in possession of author

Now on to Cecilia Fitzpatrick. Cecilia was born in Ebervale, Luzerne, Pennsylvania on 10 January 1873. This date is on both her marriage record and her death certificate. I do not have a baptism record for her. Her parents were James Fitzpatrick and Ellen Tracy. Her parents were both born in Nova Scotia Canada with their parents being immigrants from Ireland and Scotland. Cecilia was the first of their children born in Pennsylvania. Her older siblings were born in Nova Scotia before they came to Pennsylvania. Cecilia and Condy had 10 children together. Three had died in infancy and after loosing her husband in 1909, her oldest son died in a mining accident in 1914. She also cared for her mother Ellen until her death in 1911. It seemed after her son Manus died in 1914 she took the rest of her children and left Hazleton and moved to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. I think she wanted to get them away from working in the mines. But between the census records in 1920 and 1930, she moved the family back and forth between Bethlehem and Hazleton. I know my grandparents met and were married in Bethlehem in 1920 but my father was born in 1922 in Hazleton. She kept all the family together until 1930. I mean everyone, single and married, along with the grandchildren! They all moved back and forth between the two towns.  They were still together in the 1930 census in April, but during that year my grandparents moved to Philadelphia and my grandfather's sister moved her family to York, Pennsylvania. Then the other boys got married and left and her other daughter lived with her in Allentown until Cecilia died 11 July 1936. Cecilia and Condy are buried in St. Gabriel's Cemetery in Hazleton along with many of the family.Cecilia was the true Matriarch of the O'Donnell Family! One of the memories my father had told me was that she smoked a corn cob pipe! I think she was a very strong woman and I wish I had known her!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Photo Treasures for O'Donnell Family!

John Taylor Fitzpatrick, original in possession of author
My cousin Sue came to visit yesterday bringing me some photos of our family. We went through them looking at them all. Some we still have to figure out who they are but we had fun working on them. Some are stuck on the "magnetic" pages so I will have to work with that. My cousin has started an "O'Donnell Cousin" page on FaceBook and we are getting this photos on that for all to see but I wanted to do some blog posts on them to talk about who they are and the excitement of the find! So starting with this handsome gent here. We had no idea who he could be until I was able to turn over the photo to find this....

Uncle John was my great grand uncle and brother to my great grandmother Cecilia Fitzpatrick O'Donnell. He was born in Nova Scotia 3 June 1870 and was a few months old when the Fitzpatrick's came to Pennsylvania. His father James had come a few months before so Ellen brought baby John and the rest of the children to Pennsylvania. She traveled with her in-laws, Stephen and Jane Fitzpatrick, leaving them in Boston to stay with another of their sons, William.

John never married and in the 1940 Census he had a farm in York County, Pennsylvania and the record showed this was where he was in 1935. Sometime before 1950 he came to be living in Philadelphia with my grandparents. He died in their house 30 April 1950. My grandmother was the informant on his death certificate. He is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery in Yeadon, Delaware County, Pennsylvania.

I want to continue to show the photos I was given with posts telling what I have found out about the people in the photos. So stay tuned for more!

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Your mission this week, should you decide to accept it, is to:

1)  A meme on Facebook has been circulating about what states, countries and other places you have visited.  The average for Americans is 8.

2)  Copy the list from this blog post and denote your places visited with an X, and add states or countries you've visited not on the list.  Then total it up at the end of your list.

3)  Put your responses in your own blog post, in a comment on this blog post, or in a status or comment on Facebook. 

British Virgin Islands
Canada X
Castaway Island
Cayman Islands  

Connecticut X
Costa Rica

Czech Republic
Delaware X
Dominican Republic
El Salvador

Hong Kong
Ireland X

Maryland X
Massachusetts X

New Hampshire X
New Jersey X
New Mexico
New York X
New Zealand
North Carolina X
North Dakota
Pennsylvania X

Puerto Rico
Rhode Island X

Saudi Arabia
South Africa
South Carolina
South Dakota
South Korea
St Marten
St Thomas
Tennessee X
The Netherlands
United Arab Emirates
US Virgin Islands
Virginia X
Washington DC X
West Virginia X

My score:   15

Sunday, December 11, 2016

The continuing story of Jerome VanBilliard, Civil War Soldier

Jerome VanBilliard, CMSR folder, National Archives, Washington, DC
This past spring I received the Civil War Service Record for Jerome VanBilliard's service in the 153rd  PA inf. Very much the surprise find was this Prisoner of War record at a parole camp in West Chester, PA. This would mean he was taken prisoner during the battle of Gettysburg. I knew Jerome had been taken prisoner 29 Sep 1864 but not at the time of Gettysburg. Then looking at this again recently I saw something I missed before. After VanBilliard the initial is not a J it is an M. This record was not for Jerome but for his brother Martin. It was filed in the wrong VanBilliard CMSR. Both Jerome and Martin served in the 153rd for a 9 month enlistment that ended the end of July 1863. Somehow this record went to wrong brother's file.

So we know that Martin was at Gettysburg, but was captured. How about Jerome? Was he at the battle of Gettysburg? Well this question was answered by the records I recently received, Jerome's Carded Medical Records.

Jerome VanBilliard, Carded Medical Records, National Archives, Washington, DC
This card shows that Jerome was admitted to J.S.A. General Hospital at Camp Curtin, near Harrisburg, PA on 27 Jun 1863 and ret'd to duty 17 Jul 1863. So Jerome was in the hospital at the time of the battle suffering from Chronic Hepatitis. About 10 days after his return to duty he was mustered out at the end of the 9 month enlistment. A year later he re-enlisted into the 112th PA HA. In Feb of 1864 Martin re-enlisted to 47th PA inf.

So I have to make sure I check and double check ALL the information when looking at documents and not take for granted that all the records in a file are for the same person!

Thanks again Susan!!!

Everyone keep looking, you never know what you will find!

Monday, November 7, 2016

George O'Donnell WWII Radio Operator

With Veterans Day this week I thought I would talk about my Dad's service in WWII. It was strange how I came about going through his military stuff. Last Friday I received my Ancestry DNA kit. I know, Finally, right! Well I activated the kit and did what I had to do and sent it off on Saturday. Well yesterday I received an email from Ancestry telling me what I should do while I wait for my results. I ended up going to the DNA page and up in the right corner it showed I had 5 new messages. I opened it up and some were ones I knew about and had taken care of but a couple of them were old and I had never seen them before. One was from 2014 and the other from 2015. When I opened them they both were about my Dad. They had seen the military page I had set up on the tree my son started. That account is no longer active so when they sent a message I never received them. Most likely my son received them and never sent them on to me or said anything about it. So anyway I sent them back a message telling them how sorry I was for not answering before but I had just found them. I know I just hate when I try to contact someone on Ancestry and I never hear back from them! They both gave me the name of the person, in one case it is his grandfather and the other it is her husband's grandfather. They wanted to know if my father had ever talked about them or if I had any photos.

1st Reporting Platoon, Co. B 574 Sig. AW. BN, Hattisburg A.A. Field, Hattisburg, Miss, Dec 1943

Well I had this group photo with the names written on the back. Someone really took a lot of time with this. Each row is listed with the place in the row next to the name. This must have been their training unit because when he was overseas he was in Co. B 595 Sig Air Warn Bn. And this was the unit mentioned in my messages. When I looked at the names on the back of the photo I did find one of the grandfathers and then found him in the photo. Then, because the message was sent to my son's tree, I had to find this person on my tree to contact him because I was thinking that maybe the answers I sent to their messages might not have gotten to them. But I told him about finding his grandfather if he would email me  I would try to email him the photo. I do hope I hear from him, he said that his grandfather had died in 1965 and he was never able to talk to him about his service. I was not able to find the other grandfather. His name was not on the list. It sounded like they may have served together in the 595 Sig Bn. but must not have been in the same training class.

75th Birthday, George O'Donnell, 28 Jul 1997, Aston, PA, photo privately held by author
.My Dad was proud of his service. My brother in law worked for a company that made hats and that. He had this hat made for my Dad and he wore it the most out of his hat collection.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

We're Related App - Dale Earnhardt

So I have been working on this all morning. I started a tree on Family Tree Maker for Dale Earnhardt and was able to take it back to our common ancestor, Anna Christina Walborn. It turns out that I also have this common ancestor with FB friend, Angie Bush.  Three of the daughters of Anna Christina Walborn and Johann George Lesch is how we are connected. I have not done the same with Angie as with Dale as yet. I have just spent most of the day working on this. Have to love the Pennsylvania Germans for keeping such great records!!!!

I have more to look at, but so far my app is giving me:

Lou Gehrig (baseball player) 8th cousin 2x removed

President Lyndon B. Johnson 9th cousin

Chace Crowford (actor) 8th cousin

Newt Gingrich (Newton Leroy McPherson) 7th cousin 1x removed

Christina Aguilera (singer) 8th cousin 2x removed

President Harry S. Truman 7th cousin 4x removed

President Dwight D. Eisenhower 7th cousin 3x removed

There is also Bruce Lee, actor and martial artist. But the tree that was shown for him had the wrong information for his father so I did not look into that anymore. I guess I could be related to Benjamin Franklin Lee 1909-1975, the person that is shone as the father of Bruce Lee. Tomorrow is another day and there are so many cousins to find.

I wonder if I'll be invited to Dale Jr.'s wedding now? LOL