Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Wordless Wednesday-Day in the Park, Bethlehem, PA

David W. O'Donnell (my grandfather) in a park in Bethlehem, PA in 1920

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Blog Caroling

Christmas music is my favorite music. When I was growing up and going to Catholic School, my favorite time was when we started singing the Christmas Carols. I think my favorite was " Come all ye Fathful" or the Latin, "Adeste Fideles". the best part was singing the chorus and getting louder with each verse.
This is from Google:The text to the Carol O Come All Ye Faithful was originally written in Latin (Adeste Fideles) and was intended to be a hymn, it is attributed to John Wade, an Englishman. The music to O Come All Ye Faithful was composed by fellow Englishman John Reading in the early 1700s. The tune was first published in a collection known as "Cantus Diversi" in 1751. In 1841 Rev. Frederick Oakley is reputed to have worked on the familiar translation of O Come All Ye Faithful which replaced the older Latin lyrics "Adeste Fideles".
O Come All Ye FaithfulJoyful and triumphant,
O come ye, O come ye to Bethlehem.
Come and behold Him,Born the King of Angels;
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,
O come, let us adore Him,Christ the Lord.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Advent Calendar of Memories-the Christmas Tree

The Memory of the Christmas Tree
When I was little, every year one corner of the living room was taken over by "the platform". My dad would bring up the saw horses to hold the large piece of plywood that fit into the corner. The "skirting" around the outside was "brick" coragated paper. Then the top of the plywood was covered with the green sand paper for the giant Lionel Trains to go on. And we had the giant buildings to make up the town and the farm. In the middle of it all was the tree that Santa brought. the big memory I have was on Christmas morning, sitting at the top of the steps waiting for my parents to come home from 6 AM Mass. My Uncle had guard duty. He had to keep my sister and I at the top of the steps until they came home. I can still remember sitting up there and the wonderful smell of the tree coming up the stairs. It just added to the excitement and anticipation of it all!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

52 Weeks To Better Genealogy - Challenge #47 - Genealogy Gifts

My Genealogy Gift Wish List

This week for our challenge we should list what Genealogy gifts we would like to receive. I have been making a few wish lists recently. Part of current ProGen assignment is a Wish List for our Genealogy Library. So I am working on that. And doing that has had me begin a Wish List on Amazon. So some of those will show up here. I think I will start out with Electronics.

It would be great if Santa would bring me a new Desk Top computer. The other electronics item would be the Magic Wand-Portable Scanner. Since we have been hearing about these in our community I have only found where you have to order these, but in this week's Bed Bath & Beyond ad I see they have the same item for the same price and you don't have to wait for it come (except waiting for Christmas). I am sorry, I do have another electronics Wish item. Would love an iPod.

On to some books. I need to replace my copy of "The Surnames of Ireland" by Edward MacLysaght. Also would like "Tracing Your Irish Ancestors" by John Grenham, the "German-English Genealogical Dictionary" by Ernest Thode, "In Search of Your German Roots" by Angus Baxter, and Hans Barlow's "Book of German Names"

Then I guess we come to Society Memberships. The two main ones I am looking for right now are New England Historic Genealogical Society and Connecticut Society of Genealogists.
It is always fun to dream and this has been fun. Wishing you all a Merry Genealogy Christmas!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Military Monday-WWII Church Certificate

This was among my Dad's treasures from his time in the Army. This is from his home parish. I thought it was great that he had such support from home.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Surname Saturday-Gunther/McCarron

Breaking Down Brick Walls

This has been a Bounty Genealogy Week for me and some more brick walls have come down.
I have written before about Emil Gunther and how hard it is to find information about him and his second wife, Catherine McCarron. On Tuesday night I found their Marriage license in the Philadelphia Index. Then I started to look for Catherine's death certificate. I thought it must be before 1915 because my grandmother had always said that she died when she was a little girl. And I found it. She died 17 Sep 1914. And this gave me her parents names and that they came from Ireland and where she Emil and their daughters were living when she died. It also told me the cemetery where she was buried. The same one where her daughter is. So I went there today hoping to also find Emil and his death information. Well I found him, he died 1924. I also found there is a baby there. He is the baby of my grandparents who died when he was only 10 months old. So wow what I week I have had. I have to move these bricks out of the way and continue on.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Treasure Chest Thursday-Patriotic Parade

Undated newspaper clipping my Grandmother kept. My father, George O'Donnell is the second drummer from the right. I think this is about 1936.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sunday's Obituary-George C. VanBilliard

George is my Great Granfather. I found this on Roots Web on Friday night. I have been looking for his death information for 3 years, after I had discovered that I had the incorrect date. He has been found!

George C. Van Billiard

George C. Van Billiard, of North Brookfield, NY, a former resident of Bethlehem, died at his home.

He was born in Freemansburg, on 16th July, 1864, a son of the late Jerome & Ellen Van Billiard, he was 66 years old.

There survive 3 sons, Luther, of Bethlehem, Robert & Raymond, both of Philadelphia; 4 daughters, Mrs. Edward Leidig & Mrs. W.A. Martin, both of Bethlehem, Mrs. David O'Donnell & Mrs. Walter Fellman, both of Philadelphia; Mrs. Newton Bast and Mrs. John Acker, both of Bethlehem; 14 grandchildren & 1 great-grandchild.

Easton Express
Easton, PA
Wednesday, 12th November, 1930
page 5
respository: Name: personal Papers/RGW

I do not know who the last two women, Mrs. Newton Bast and Mrs. John Acker, are since the relationship is not given. But I will try to find out.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thriller Thursday-Sad Case of Poisoning

This is a story about the family of my 2nd Great Grand Uncle, Oliver VanBilliard. The Daily Times of Bethlehem, PA reported on 18 May 1868 that the family had recently moved to another part of Freemansburg. And that the groceries were still mixed up from the move. When Mrs. VanBilliard decided to bake on the Saturday before the 18th, she accidently used rat poison instead of baking soda, "using a good teaspoonful" when baking a cake. When one of the children was hungry she gave them some cake and then had some herself and then fed the baby and all three bacame "violently attacked with nausea". After being treated with "powerful emetics" they were recovering. It was rumored that Mr VanBilliard had purchased a package of soda in a drug store at Bethlehem and had received the poison by mistake. He said this was untrue and he would certify it.

The next day, in "Recovering", the Daily Times said that "the unfortunate ones" were doing much better thanks to their physicians. They said it "may take several months until Mrs. VanBilliard is perfectly restored, she having been attacked the most violently".

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Fall and Indian Summer

This all started when I was going to make a comment about the beautiful weather today. I wanted to say that it feels like Fall is really here but there is still Indian Summer to watch out for.
I stopped at that point and thought about these days of "Political Correctness" and not wanting to offend anyone, thought I would look up the phrase and its origin. While I have no Native American ancestors that I have found as yet, my first husband, the father of my children, always claimed that there was an Indian Princess in his direct line. I have not been able to find this in my search of his line. I know if he were still with us he would be as upset with me as his mother was when my daughter told her. When I told one of my sons about this discovery, or lack of discovery, he said that the Native American Heritage was so much a part of his father that he would be upset that I cannot find it. I know this is so true.
Well I have gone off on my side rant. I was talking a couple of weeks ago to this same son. I was telling him some family history and stories that I thought, as always that he already knew, but he said he had never knew. He started to laugh and said that I can take a conversation into so many directions. I never thought about how I do that and the vision of diagraming sentences in grade school suddenly came to me. Now that I have thought about that I blame my Irish/British Isles heritage,have you ever seen "Ducky" on "NCIS"?
End another side rant and now getting to what I found out about the origin of "Indian Summer". I found this on It is first recorded in "Letters from an American Farmer" in 1778. "It began to be used figuratively to refer to any late flowering following a period of decline" The official meaning is "an unseasonably warm, dry and calm weather, usually following a period of colder weather or frost in the late Autumn" They give a few of the commonly repeated guesses as to why it is call Indian Summer. The one I like is "When European settlers first came across the phenomenon in America it bacame know as the Indian's Summer."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Surname Saturday-Gunther

Thomas Emil Gunther

Thomas is one of my maternal Great Grandfathers. Growing up hearing the stories about him my Nana only called him Emil,. I did not find out until much later that his name was Thomas Emil. I found this from my cousin who also had his birth date of 3 September 1861. I always knew that he had come from Germany. that he had come alone as a young man. I know that he married Catherine McCarron and had three daughters, Helen, 5 June 1895, 25 April 1899 and Theresa, 31 May 1905. All born in Philadelphia, PA. Then a few years ago a friend of my mother's made a comment that Helen was my grandmother's half sister. I know nothing of this. So I requested Aunt Helen's death certificate. She lived in New York so I had a new learning experience in getting this information. I needed to know exactly were she died in order to get this. Thank goodness my family has kept prayer cards from just about everyone's death. On Aunt Helen's I found the name and address of the funeral home and went from there. After a few letters back and forth I received the death certificate for Helen (Gunther) Natale. With her husband, Louis, as informant, it listed her mother's maiden name as Catherine Gunther and her father as Emil Carrigan and her birthplace as U.S.A. New York. So another lesson in information from Death Certificates, Uncle Louie had reversed the last names. But who is Catherine Carrigan? Just some more mystery added to Emil Gunther. I hope to have more information soon. I will keep you posted!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


My Little Sister, Terry

Terry was born 12 August 1955 and I was 4 that December, so when we were growing up she could be the little tag along pain that little sisters can be. But she was always, my sister. Because of the age difference, I was graduated high school the June before she started. She was the type of personality the did anything she set her mind to do. She played the Base in the school orchestra all 4 years. When she graduated she joined the Air Force and went on to great things there. She was stationed in Berlin for 3 years. had a story written about her in Stars and Stripes because she was one of the first women in her field. She left the Air Force when she married and was starting a family. She continued to work first on ships at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and then with private corporations with military contracts. She had 4 children, 3 girls and 1 boy. When my husband died in 2001 she kind of took me on as a project and I guess we became closer than we had ever been as adults. then she was having some problems and then it was found that she had cancer. she took that on like she did everything else. And she was doing all the things she wanted to get done. She did a bit of traveling and she and I did lots together, including some of the traveling. This picture was taken on our trip to Ireland in Oct 2004. This was on top of Blarney Castle. She walked to the top but because of her condition she could not go through the chore of kissing the stone. But the people at the stone were kind enough to let her bear"Bruce" kiss the stone for her. She died 1 Sept 2005, just after her 50th birthday and just after she found out that she was going to be a grandmother for the first time. I was going to put a picture of her stone, but I wanted to show how much life she had and when she was having fun! Happy Birthday to my Little Sister

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wordless Wednesday-the boat ride

James and Theresa (Gunther) McCarry out for a ride on the lake

Saturday, July 31, 2010

SNGF-Brick Wall Ancestors

Randy Seaver at Genea Musings states:
“Awake and arise, you wonderful Genea-Musings blog-readers, and know that it is Saturday Night – time again for more Genealogy Fun!
We all have “brick wall ancestors” – those for whom we cannot find a complete name, or identify a set of parents. By posting information about a “brick wall ancestor,” someone mght find your post and be able to contribute to your knowledge about that ancestor.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it (and I sincerely hope that you do) – is to check your files and sources, advance to your keyboard, and:
1) Identify one of your “brick wall ancestors,” and tell us about him or her. What do you know? What would you like to know?
2) Tell us about this person in a blog post of your own, a comment on this blog post, or a Facebook comment or note. Be sure to leave a way for readers to contact you.”

Here is my SNGF reply,
I have written about one of my brick wall ancestors a couple of times, my GGF, George VanBilliard, a few times already. but tonight I am going to talk about another GGF, Thomas Emil Gunther. I have that Thomas was born, 3 Sept 1861 in the Black Woods area of Germany. He had three daughters, Helen (Gunther) Natale, 5 June 1895-15 Dec 1953, Catherine (Gunther) Kelly, 25 April 1899-5 Jan 1961 and Theresa (Gunther) McCarry, 31 May 1905-23 Feb 1974. Theresa was my Mother's Mother. My Nana talked about her father many times. She would say that he came to this country from Germany alone when he was a young boy. but I never found exactly when that happened. One of those, " why did I not ask more questions" moments! I cannot find anything on him. I know that His wife was Catherine McCarron born 8 Mar 1869. I am not sure where because I was told it was Ireland but in the 1930 census it has Theresa's mother born in Pennsylvania. Nana only said that her mother died when she was little. To ad to the puzzle that is Thomas Gunther, according to Helen (Gunther) Natale's death certificate, her mother's name was Catherine Carrigan. Actually, the last names were put down incorrect because it has her mother's name as Catherine Gunther and her father's as Emil Carrigan. So it looks like Thomas Emil Gunther had another wife? so, I send out to request to our community, if there is anyone out there that could have any help for me on this, I would just be so so so HAPPY! please contact me if you do. thank you!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sentemental Sunday-Christmas in July

Merry Christmas in July
I guess my parents were in the spirit of things using this photo of me taken in summer for their Christmas Card Stay cool everyone!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Surname Saturday-FITZPATRICK

Cecila Fitzpatrick was one of my great grandmothers. She was the 5th child born to James Fitzpatrick and Ellen Tracy. Cecilia was born 10 Jan 1873 in Ebervale, PA. She was the first of James and Ellen's children to be born in the United States. James was born about 1831 in Nova Scotia and Ellen Tracy was born in December of 1831. According to the Nova Scotia Historical Vitals, they were married 7 July 1856 in New Glasgow. Their other children were David, Jane, Margaret Ellen, John Taylor, Robert Patrick, and Elizabeth. In the Nova Scotia Historical Vitals I was able to find the birth records for only Margaret Ellen, born 23 June 1868 in Albion Mines where James is a Miner. And I found John Taylor's record also. He was born 3 June 1870 in Acadia Mines with James being a Miner there.
Cecilia married Cornelius (Condy) O'Donnell in Hazleton, PA on 24 July 1892, in St Gabriel Roman Catholic Church. Cornelius was a miner and died of "Miner's Lung" 12 July 1909 at age 39. Cecilia died 11 July 1936 at age 63. They are both buried at St Gabriel Cemetery in Hazleton, PA

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sentimental Sunday-Mom and Dad

My Dad and Mom, George C. O'Donnell, Sr and Catherine M. McCarry. In the late 1940's they both worked for the Yellow Cab Company in Philadelphia, PA. George was a cab driver and Cass was a dispatcher, but they did not know each other at work. They were introduced by my Mom's best friend, Jean Rose, who also knew Dad. Another friend was getting married and Jean asked Cass to help put up the decorations for the shower. She knew that George was also helping. Dad always told the story that he was putting up the decorations and Mom was going behind him taking them down because she did not like how he was doing it. She was always a perfectionist. It was a little while after that they started dating and later became engaged. This is their engagement picture. Once she broke off the engagement, the week before Easter. They had a date to go with two other couples to Valley Forge on Easter Sunday. Cass called George on Good Friday to ask if their date was still on and he said "I guess so". So the engagement was also back on. They were married, October 14, 1950.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Graveyard Rabbits Carnival-A Scavenger Hunt 3

Four-legged animal found at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Broomall, PA
Photo found at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Broomall, PA

Angel found at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Broomall. PA

Graveyard Rabbits Carnival-A Scavenger Hunt 2

Hand and Bird found at Sts Peter and Paul Cemetery, Broomall, PA

Obelisk found at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Aston, PA
Flower found at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Aston, PA

Tree found at Mt Hope Cemetery, Aston, PA

Fraternal symbol and Star found at Mt. Hope Cemetery, Aston, PA

The Graveyard Rabbits Carnival-A Scavenger Hunt

Monument found at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Broomall, PA

Military Gravestone found at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Broomall, PA

Cross found at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Broomall, PA

Heart found in Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Broomall, PA

Mausoleum, found at Sts. Peter and Paul Cemetery, Broomall, PA

Tombstone Tuesday-Matched Set

I came across this pair yesterday. I just thought they were so beautiful. How Mary Hudson has the extra flowers on her stone and I am not sure what the symbol means on Andrew's stone. If anyone has ever seen that before and has any idea what it is, I would love to know. I also like the words on Andrew's "We shall meet to part no more"

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun-A Prolific Dad

Randy Seaver's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun for this week-A Prolific Dad

Your mission for Father's Day, if you decide to accept it, is to:1) Determine who is one of the most prolific fathers in your genealogy database or in your ancestry. By prolific, I mean the one who fathered the most children.

My winner for this is Johann Jacob Arner-my 5th Great Grandfather with 12 children with his wife, Magrete Kern.

the children were Nicholas(my 4th Great Grandfather), Michael Peter, Eva, Johannes Abraham, Johann George, Susanna, Margaretha, Elizabeth, Henry John, Johann Jacob, there was Catherine born in 1775. It looks like she did not live and they had another Catherine born in 1784. All of these children were born in Northampton County, Pennsylvania

Surname Saturday-Van Billiard

The Van Billiard Family has a long and interesting history in Lehigh/Northampton counties in Pennsylvania. According to the book"Lower Saucon Township: Images of America, the patriarch of the family, Henry Van Billiard/Verbilger, "reportedly one of the first settlers on Lehigh Mountain." I am writing today about George Charles McClellen Van Billiard. Henry was his 2nd Great Grandfather and George was my Great Grandfather.

George was born 16 July 1865 in Freemansburg, Pennsylvania. He was the 4th of seven children born to Jerome and Ellen(Shick) Van Billiard.

The 1870 Census has 5 year old George and his family still living in Freemansburg, but they will move before the 1880 census because George's Father, Jerome, died on 7 April 1877. This was one day before Jerome's 40th birthday. So the family moved to South Bethlehem, PA. And the 1880 Census has 15 year old George working in the Iron Mill along with his older brothers Albert, 22 and William, 17.

George married Susan Haas in September of 1885. According to announcement in Bethlehem Daily paper, "George Van Billiard of South Bethlehem MARRIED Miss. Susan Haas of Bethlehem, September 19, 1885 in Bethlehem by Reverend Isaac K. Loos.

Next we see the family in the 1900 Census, George is 34 years old and they are living in Easton, PA. they have been married 14 years with 7 Children. The children were Robert, Matilda, William, Mabel, Luther, Raymond and Irwin. November 1st of that year Elizabeth was born. She was my Grandmother. In 1902 Irwin died but Margaret, their last child, was born 14 June. In 1900 George was working as a Telephone Inspector. The 1910 Census has the family back in South Bethlehem and 44 year old George working as an electrican for Electric Light Co.

The 1920 Census was done just days before Susan died on 10 Jan so she was still listed and George was working as a laborer in Bethlehem. In November George,a German Lutheran, would sign for 20 year old Elizabeth to marry Irish Catholic, David William O'Donnell.

I had a death date of 5 Nov 1929 for George, but that went out the window when I found a letter that he wrote to my 7 year old father, also George. The letter was dated Feb 17-30 from New Hope, PA. I found him in the 1930 Census living as a lodger in New Hope working as a Foreman for the Telegraph Line.

So the end of the story is that there is not end because I have not been able to close the books on George Charles McClellan Van Billiard! So the research goes on!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday-Family Military History

Johann Jacob Arner-

Zionsville Lutheran Cemetery, Lehigh, PA

Jacob was my 5th great grandfather on my father's side. His original stone is all in German but as you can see by the newer stone, he fought
in the Revolutionary War. This was the beginning
of the Military History in this part of my family.

Jacob's Granddaughter, Hannah Arner, married
Captain John Van Billiard. I am still researching him, But
his obituary has him connected to the tenth Company,
97th Regiment of the Pennsylvania Militia.

John and Hannah's son Jerome, along with his brothers
Martin and Oliver, were Union solders in the Civil War.

John and Hannah's Granddaughter, Elizabeth Van Billiard,
married David O'Donnell. David served in WWI.

David and Elizabeth's son, George(my Dad), along with his brother Charles, served in WWII. David Jr served in Korea. A few of David and Elizabeth's grandchildren and great grandchildren have also served.

So this was what Johan Jacob Arner began and was carried through the Arner-Van Billiard-O'Donnell family.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Surname Saturday:McCarry

The McCarry Family

James J. McCarry was born in Philadelphia, PA on 19 May 1901. He was the son of James F. McCarry and Bridget Welsh. He married Theresa Gunther, in Philadelphia, on 20 October 1920. They went on to have three children, Theresa, Catherine and James J. Junior. The name James was very common in the family.

James, Sr, was a breakman on the trains for the Pennsylvania RR until contracting TB from the coal dust. He spent some time in Saranac Lake, NY for treatment. He died 5 July 1959.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Wordless Wednesday-Ladies Day

"THE AUNTS"this was the wedding of my father's youngest sister(my aunt)the woman to the left of the groom(how did a guy get in this?) anyway, this is my grandmother, the two women to her left are my grandfather's sisters(more aunts), the woman seated and the two on the groom's right are my grandmother's sisters(more aunts)


my mother (first one in front on the left)and the neighbors on the street had a "club", getting together each week at one house and they collected dues and then once a year they would take that money and have a night out, this year it was the Latin Casino Night Club(the Sixties)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Tombstone Tuesday-David and Elizabeth O'Donnell

David O'Donnell born inHazelton, PA and Elizabeth Van Billiard born in Bethlehem, PA

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Wordless Wednesday-May Procession

All ready for May Procession in the early 30's Sisters, Theresa and Catherine McCarry

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Wordless Wednesday-Jim and Tess McCarry

This is James McCarry and Theresa"Tess" Gunther. We always told this was their Wedding Picture so it is from 20 October 1920

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Sentimental Sunday-Easter Days Gone By

Well this is my first blog. well here goes.

On this Easter I am remembering my family and past Easters. It is great looking at the pictures with the memories they bring. This is my Nana with my little sister and me. They are both gone now and my Nana told so may stories that I have been using to find our family's big story. But there were so many things I should have asked or wrote down what she said. I know we all say that. Could we just ask a few more questions? Well I am working on getting the answers and tell our story to honor my Nana, Theresa Gunther McCarry, and all my ancestors. An hopefully use this blog and improve at blogging also.

till next time,

Pat O'Donnell Kuhn