Thursday, September 3, 2015

Findings in Ancestry's Wills and Probate files

I was not having much luck with Ancestry's new collection of Wills and Probate files, so today I started looking at my Fitzpatrick's and go lucky! First I found Thomas J. Fitzpatrick. He was the older brother of my great grandmother, Cecilia Fitzpatrick O'Donnell. Thomas had a photo studio if Bessemer, Alabama. I thought I might find something for him and what I found was he didn't leave a will. So I found that it was filed 3 March 1927 with his wife Mary C. Fitzpatrick as Administratrix. The actual settlement did not happen until 24 September of 1928.
The citation for this is: ancestry,com "Alabama, Wills and Probate Records, 1753-1999", File no. 1028, Thomas J. Fitzpatrick, 3 March 1927, accessed 3 Sep 2015 [online digital image]. Citing: The State of Alabama, Jefferson County, Probate Court, Bessemer Division.

The second one I found was for Rev. William H. Fitzpatrick. He was the uncle of Cecilia Fitzpatrick O'Donnell. He was a Catholic Priest in Boston, Massachusetts. I knew he had a will from the letters I had received scans of from my Fitzpatrick cousin. The letters were written by James Fitzpatrick, the son of Thomas J. Fitzpatrick. James had mentioned the will in one letter talking about Father Fitz's nieces that he left money to in the will. It sounded like James had gotten a copy of the will to have seen that, but that was really all he mention about it. But one other item that was mentioned in the will answered another question. We did not know from the letters where Stephen Fitzpatrick, 3x great grandfather, died and was buried. We knew that Stephen's wife died and was buried in Boston, not sure about Stephen. William had bought a plot with 4 graves, in St. Mary's Cemetery in Dorchester, Massachusetts. I had called the cemetery a couple of months ago. They could tell me that William's mother was buried in the cemetery but could not tell me where. She could tell me that William was in the plot that he bought and another person, George McNeil, is buried there. Do not know who he was. the office told me she was unable to tell me who was in the other 2 graves because the old records were not kept very well. She said the William's mother could be there but she is not sure about the other one. But the will does state that William was to be buried "in my own lot in the old Dorchester Catholic Cemetery, Bernard Street, between the graves of my father and mother." So hopefully that was the case. William made this will 26 June 1913, he died 12 December 1913 and the will was allowed 1 January 1914.  The citation for this "Massachusetts, Wills and Probate Records, 1635-1991" William H. Fitzpatrick, will filed 18 Dec 1913, [online digital image], accessed 3 Sep 2015. Citing: Probate Record Books (1900-1916), and Probate Docket Books (1901-1916), Suffolk County, Massachusetts; Probate Court (Suffolk County), Probate Place: Suffolk, Massachusetts.

So all in all is was a good genealogy day!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Sunday's Obituary- Stephen R. Davis

Stephen R. Davis, Obituary, Martins Ferry Obituary File; Martins Ferry Public Library, Card file of obituary clippings, death; 7 Jun 2000, accessed; 27 Aug 2015
Stephen is my 2nd cousin once removed. His grandfather, Stephen Henry Fitzpatrick, was the older brother of my Great grandmother, Cecilia Fitzpatrick O'Donnell.

Stephen Fitzpatrick had been born in Nova Scotia Canada and he did not remain in Hazleton, Pennsylvania which is where some of the Fitzpatrick family settled when coming to the United States in 1870. Stephen married Isabell "Nappy" Dougherty at St. Gabriel Church in Hazleton, 2 Jan 1882. After about a year they went to Ohio and then eventually went to West Virginia. It does seem that the family kept some attachment to Ohio, as I have found that a few of them ended up back there as was the case of Stephen R. Davis. Stephen's mother was Stephen and Nappy's first child born 14 Mar 1883. She was born in Hazleton before they left for Ohio. And it was in Ohio that Margaret married Thomas Davis 19 Sep 1903. Stephen was their youngest child.

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.