Sunday, November 8, 2015

Early Genealogy Christmas Wish Granted-Pension File for Jerome VanBilliard

A couple of weeks ago on "Mondays with Myrt" we were talking about our Genealogy Christmas wishes. I mention I would love to get the pension file for my 2nd great grandfather, Jerome VanBilliard. Well that wish was granted early thanks to fellow Dear Myrtle community member, Susan Bleimehl. She sent me the access to the file in Google Docs. It was so great to see this record and I thank her so much for sending this to me.

Deposition of Claimant, 9 July 1884, Ellen VanBilliard, widow's pension application no. 317.526; service of Jerome VanBilliard (Pvt. A. 2 PA. H.A. & B 153 PA. Inf., Civil War); Case Files of Rejected Pension Applications Civil War and Later Pension Files; Department of Veterans Affairs, Requested by Susan Bleimehel, stack area 16w4, row 5, compartment 11, row 5 National Archives, Washington, D.C.
I am still going through this and trying to read it all. This page is the General Affidavit of a physician who had know them for a long time and was present at the births of the children listed, one being my great grand father, George. This listing has his middle name as Mcclellan. I have only seen this in one census record. Have not seen it anywhere else.

Ellen's application was not approved because his cause of death was Typhus, because this was not a result of his service. Jerome had been captured in September of 1864 and there were affidavits that his "health and constitution were ruined when he returned from the rebel prison and we know that he suffered continuously until he died." I was really hoping that there would be a mention of where he was a prisoner, because I have not been able to find out where that was, but I am very happy to have this now.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Naturalization of the Fitzpatricks

I am participating in Dear Myrtle's Tracing Immigrant Origins Study Group. This week we will be looking at Immigration and Naturalization records. This is my post for this subject.

My second great grandfather, James Fitzpatrick, along with 3 younger brothers, was born in Earltown, Colchester, Nova Scotia, Canada. James immigrated down to Pennsylvania in 1870. I have not found his naturalization records as yet but I do have his brothers. They left Canada before James and and settled in Massachusetts. I am using William Henry Fitzpatrick for this post.

"United States, New England Petitions for Naturalization Index, 1791-1906," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 9 July 2015), Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont E520 (Alexander) - F324 (Thomas) > image 4596 of 4635; citing NARA microfilm publication M1299 (Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.).
I had found William's index so I knew when he became a citizen. I found that Family Search had the Petitions for Naturalization but they are not indexed so I had to browse them to find it. It was very handy having the index because it gave me the information I needed to find the record quickly.

"United States, New England, Petitions for Naturalization, 1787-1906," images, FamilySearch (,1054679702,1054679703,1054735201 : accessed 9 July 2015), Massachusetts

The first page tells us that William is a Clergyman in the district of Stoneham and that he was born in Nova Scotia 21 September 1832 and is now 36 and he arrived in Boston on 4 April 1852.

The second page has his witness' saying they know him.Then his oath of allegiance and the statement that he became a citizen 2 July 1869.

I also have records for the brothers, Timothy and David, following the same process for them. I am still working on finding James' records. He was naturalized in Pennsylvania in Luzerne county. Hope to have them soon.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday-Sister Mary Patrick McCarry

Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament Cemetery (Bensalem, Bucks, Pennsylvania),  Sister Mary Patrick McCarry marker, St. Elizabeth's Convent, photo by Florence McCarry Hutton, 2015.

On Saturday, 3 Oct 2015, I had lunch with my mother's first cousin, Florence McCarry Hutton, along with her daughter in law and her granddaughter. We had a great time looking at photos and telling and listening to stories. In the process I talked about the information I had found for the sister of Florence's grandfather, my great grandfather, James Francis McCarry. Florence said she would like to visit the convent and see her grave. It turned out that her daughter took her the following week and I received this photo after their visit. I have now put this on her Find A Grave page. I was very happy to have it. I talked about how finding Mary's entry into the convent led me to some other information in this previous post, The Story of Miss Mary McCarry. I have since acquired Mary's death certificate:

Pennsylvania Department of Health, death certificate No73837 (1932), Mary McCarry (Sister Mary Patrick); Office of Vital Statistics, New Castle, Pennsylvania
I have the remembrances of my grandmother talking about going to visit Sister Mary at the convent and the written remembrances from another cousin of my mother's of them visiting "Aunt Mame" with the entire family. She said: " When we were children, many years ago, the families would rent cars (we had none) and go from South Philadelphia up to Cornwell Heights on many a 'visiting day'. ...The times we visited Aunt Mame the Nuns would take us to the Convent kitchen and give us milk (right from the cows) and cookies." citation: Catherine G. Selfridge-O'Connor (deceased) to Rita Selfridge Walker, family letter, 15 Mar 1987; privately held by Jennifer Selfridge Biggs, 2014. The late Mrs. O'Connor was a grand niece of Sister Mary Patrick McCarry. love having these stories.

Monday, October 26, 2015

the Patrick McCarry family in the census records

I am participating in Dear Myrtle's Tracing Immigrant Origins Study Group. This week we will be looking at census records or city directories that indicate a place of origin. This is my post for this subject.

I am looking at my 2nd great grandparents, Patrick McCarry and his wife, Margaret O'Connell. We see them in the New York State Census for 1875.

1875 New York State census, Montgomery, Orange County, population schedule, p. 15, dwelling 108, family 130, Patrick McCarry; digital image, ( : accessed 26 Oct 2015)
Patrick was born in Ireland, he is a Cutler. His wife Margaret was also born in Ireland. Their oldest son, Hugh was born in Pennsylvania. Mary and James were born in Connecticut.

In the 1930 U.S. census the information changes. This is the census record for their son Patrick who was born after the 1875 census.

I knew that beginning with the 1930 census the place of birth could not be just Ireland given that the country was now divided. So I looked up the instructions for the 1930 Enumerators and it reads as follows:169. Do not return a person as born in Great Britain but indicate the particular country, as England, Scotland, Wales, etc. Di.stinction must be made between Northern Ireland and Irish Free State. It is not sufficient to report that a person was born in Ireland.
1930 U. S. census, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, population schedule, Philadelphia, p. 8B, dwelling 90, family 108, Patrick McCary; digital image, ( : accessed 26 Oct 2015) ; citing NARA microfilm roll 2103.

This says that Patrick was born in Pennsylvania, ( he was actually born in Connecticut), and his parents were born in Northern Ireland. Living with Patrick and his wife Frances are her three sisters. Frances and her sisters were all born in Northern Ireland. So without giving a specific location in Ireland, it does narrow it down a little. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Checking the Townlands

After my post on Saturday about searching Irish Catholic Parish Records, I had a comment from Bob Cumberbatch giving me a link to This took me to the page for Aghamore Downland, Co. Mayo. The first thing I looked for was the link to Mountaincommon. I opened the link for the 1901 Irish Census looking for Niland or Nyland. On page 3 I found Catherine Nyland. Opening this I find she is the wife of Pat Nyland. looking at the family I find Austin Nyland, son, Roman Catholic, can read and write, age 9. I know this is the Austin Nyland that I first found Naturalization papers for leading me to this area for the family. I was not sure if he was a brother for the other Nylands but this tells me that his mother is Catherine not Sarah and this family is younger than the family of Pat and Sarah, so cousins!
1901 census of Ireland, Aghamore, Mayo, Mountaincommon, Form A, Pat Nyland, The National Archives of Ireland ( accessed 19 Oct 25015.
So next I wanted to search the Griffith's Valuation(1847-1864) for Mountaincommon. This gave no results. I went back to the Aghamore page. Going down the list I had to find the Townland of Mountaincommon, found it and clicked on the "Occupants" button. Going down I am looking for Nyland or Niland and I see Thomas Niland. Thomas was the father of Pat Niland married to Sarah.
So I opened up the details page:

"Griffith's Valuation Record Information in Ireland." Union of Swineherd, County of Mayo, (printing date 1856), 22A, for Thomas Niland, Tenant, Barony of Costello, Parish of Aghamore, Downland of Mountaincommon; "Griffith's Valuation," digital images, "Ask about Ireland" ( accessed 19 Oct 2015

looking at the list I see John Walsh above and below Thomas Niland. This shows Thomas Niland has a house and land on 22a, but John Walsh has land on 21 and a house on 22b.

"Griffith's Valuation Record Information in Ireland. Union of Swineherd, County of Mayo, (printing date 1856), 21 & 22b, for John Walsh, Tenant, Barony of Costello, Parish of Aghamore, Downland of Mountaincommon: "Griffith's Valuation," digital images, "Ask about Ireland" ( accessed 19 Oct 2015
What does this mean? My 2nd great grandfather was John Welsh/Walsh, and his father was also John Walsh and his mother was Catherine Niland. They were neighbors! While looking for the Niland family, I found the Walsh family in the same place! Don't you love it when a plan comes together!

Keep looking, you never know what you will find!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Irish Catholic Parish Records

Today I thought I would look at the Catholic Parish records on the National Library of Ireland site. I know it has taken me awhile to do this. I don't know where any of my people come from let alone what parish they were in. But then today I remembered with the research I had done on the free weekend of Find My Past, I had found that the Nilands had been married in the Parish of Aghamore. So into the records I went. First I tried to find the marriage record for Pat Niland and Sarah Caulfield. They were married 19 January 1864 and found that the records started in December of 1864. So I was not able to find that. The Baptism records were good for the years the children were born. So I gathered up the birth records for them on Family Search and got into it.
Catholic Parish Records at the NLI, Aghamore Parish/Microfilm 04217/03, page 6; Nov. 1864-Jan. 1865, entry for Dec. 4, Thos. Nyland

I found records for all 6 children. The records went back and forth with the spelling some were Niland, others Nyland, and Sara would be Sally a couple of times. First I found Thomas, on the Family Search record his birth date was 4 Dec 1964 and place was Kilkelly, Mayo, Ireland. The Church record has the same date but it is not identified as the birth or baptism date. The Church record has a column heading of Village, this entry said Mountain.
Catholic Parish Records at the NLI, Aghamore Parish/Microfilm 04217/03, page 82, May 1876 -Aug. 1876, entry for Mary Nyland

All of the children are the same with Family Search saying Kilkelly except for the youngest, Mary. Family Search has Mountain, Mayo, Ireland. I have not been able to find anything about this village of Mountain but I had seen the reference to it before.

"Pennsylvania, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1800-1962", [online database], (, accessed 17 Oct 2015), entry for Austin Niland, age 18, arrived Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 17 April 1910 on S.S. Merion.
I saw this on the ship manifest for Austin Niland's arrival. In the column for name and address of relative in country you came from, he listed his father in Mountain, Aghamore.

I am finding that my Niland or Nyland family seem to be in this area of Aghamore. So I have to keep looking and maybe I will get them connected with my 3rd great grandmother, Catherine Nyland Welsh. I so wish I could get back to Ireland with this information I have now that I didn't know 11 years ago when I was there! Maybe some day?

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!