Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Return of the Blogger

It's been quite some time (almost five months) since I last posted on the blog.  It's been a busy time, adjusting to a new infant and managing a rambunctious toddler, but we're finally settling into what will have to pass for a routine under the circumstances. 

A major reorganization project in my basement has left my genealogy files in quite a shambles.  On the plus side, when the project is done, I will have a better space overall, and I won't have to haul my files and laptop to the kitchen table to work, only to have to hurry to put everything away when my work time is over, so as to keep my files from the clutches of my toddler son. That's progress.

I haven't been completely idle in this intervening time.  I've managed to sort a few boxes of loose papers into folders by family so that they are accessible at the appropriate time.  And I've continued to integrate the work my wife has done over the past ten or so years into my database, citing sources, organizing the files and figuring out what other documents might be available to tell those stories.  I know that there are some interesting stories to be told about her family from helping her with her research over the years, but those stories require information, organiization and documentation to become anything more than just a family legend, so it might take some time before I get them told. 

I've also kicked my Twitter usage up a notch, following (with some reciprocity) all manner of interesting genealogy-related people.  It's interesting to hear what the genealogical community has to say on all manner of topics.  Dick Eastman's feed is particularly illuminating, as it generally links back to articles on his blog.  If you are on Twitter, he's worth a follow (@dickeastman). 

Updates will be coming more frequently now.  Until next time, stay safe and keep climbing those (family) trees.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A brief note

There hasn't been much activity on the blog the past few weeks and there likely won't be for the next few, probably not until mid-June or so. It would be safe to say that the blog is on a bit of a hiatus. The primary reason is that in the next few weeks, I will be otherwise engaged - first preparing for, then welcoming my new son into our home. He hasn't been born yet, but is due very soon, and adding a second child to the mix is simultaneously exciting and scary. More genealogy stories about the past after I make a story for the future. 

Monday, April 23, 2012

Military Monday - William J. Miller

I have at least three direct ancestors that served in the Civil War (all Union), and my wife has at least two that fought for the Union and one that fought for the Confederacy.  A few weeks ago, I relayed the story of Isaac Edward Wentz, laid low by poor sanitation conditions in a Confederate POW facility and the runs.  Today, I continue the tales of ancestral military woe with William J. Miller.

Willam J. Miller is my third great grandfather, on my paternal grandmother's maternal line. He was born 12 September 1826 in Franklin County, Pennsylvania and died 24 January 1901 in Blair County, Pennsylvania.  He married Mary Jane Sneath on 10 July 1850 in Blair County.

In early March of 1865, he enrolled and mustered in to the Pennsylvania, B - 6 Cavalry, and in the few short months before the end of the war, he was transferred to Company F and the Pennsylvania Provisional Cavalry.  He saw action in this time, as he suffered injuries that compromised both his health and his hearing.  And in July 1865 after the end of the war, he went home, back to Blair County to be with his family, where he lived until January of 1901.

In November 1911, his widow filed for a Widow's Pension under the terms of the 1908 Act, and filed the following Declaration:

Here's a link to a copy of the document you can enlarge.

In December of that year, Mary Jane Miller received a reply

 According to the Army, William was a deserter as of 14 July, 1865, and as such, neither he nor his spouse were eligible for a pension.

This prompted some back and forth between the Millers and the Pension's Division, including this letter from the Millers.

It does not appear anywhere in the record that the charge of desertion was ever removed or that Mary Jane ever received a pension. 

I'm sure that there are countless other soldiers who suffered the same fate, who simply went home when they thought the war was over and never received a proper discharge and were then denied an invalid's or widow's pension.  I sometimes wonder if there is any action I could take to clear the charge of desertion from William Miller's record, or if anyone other than me would even care.  For what it's worth, I don't think of William as some sort of criminal or scoundrel, just a man broken by the war and, when hearing it was over, just wanted to go home.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Christopher and Rosanna McNally

I've got a pair of tombstones to share today - Christopher McNally, who has been discussed at length, and his wife Rosanna (Pearson) McNally.



I don't have a picture of them together - poor planning on my part, as it would have taken an extra fifteen seconds to line up the shot.

These photographs were taken in October of 2011, during a very brief trip to Altoona last fall.  Their graves are at the St. Patrick's Catholic cemetery in Newry, Blair County, Pennsylvania.

In looking at the markers, it appears that Rosanna's marker is original, and in pretty good shape for its age and material, whereas it appears that Christopher's marker is newer and looks like it might be a replacement.  I've thought this for years (I first found the graves about ten years ago), but have never bothered to investigate.  Perhaps I'll contact the church and find out who would have those records.

Here's a little about what I know about Rosanna.  She was born Rosanna Pearson, on 13 February 1831, daughter of Edward and Maria Pearson.  The Liebgott Collection (I believe that is spelled correctly, please correct me if it is not) at the Martinsburg Public Library has Edward's wife as one Margaret Bookhammer.  I have not confirmed or refuted that name at this time.  Rosanna and Christopher married on 6 February, 1861, with Rosanna converting to the Catholic Church for the marriage.  She and Christopher raised their six children in a house on Ore Hill Road and were known in the community for their generosity and kindness.  As she aged, she lost her hearing, and on 25 March, 1896, while walking along a rail line, she was struck and killed by an ore car from the Duncan mines. 

I know that this is just a brief sketch, and expect to see more about the Pearson family in the future.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Christopher McNally, Part III

A number of years ago, on 7 April 2008 to be exact, I posted a query on the McNally message board at Rootsweb. (link here) Here's the content of the post

Looking for informatin concerning Christopher McNally.
Birth: 25 Dec 1819, Dublin, Ireland
Death: 1903, Bedford County, PA
Married: 1851 - Rosanna Pearson, Blair County, PA

According to his naturalization papers, Christopher arrived in the U.S. in September 1844. The date of birth is from his obituary and is not confirmed by any other source at this time. I've got him well documented once he is in the U.S., but lack any info about his parents, actual date of birth, etc. Possible names for his parenst would be Thomas or his father and Mary or Lavin for his mother (These names are inferred from tradfitional Irish naming patterns - the second son and first daugter match the pattern of being named for wifes parents, and i have no reason to believe that they would have deviated for the first son and the second daughter). Any help or insight would be appreciated. Thanks.

That post might well represent the most important genealogical action I have ever taken, as it allowed me to connect with quite a few other of Christopher's descendants,  many of whom I regularly correspond with to this day.   Besides the odd typo, still present in the post, I made at least one mistake with my query.  Quite simply, I feel like I didn't make clear in a strong enough fashion that with respect to the names of Christopher's parents, my comments were pure and utter speculation, designed to facilitate a potential line of research and not intended to be taken as fact.

Fast forward to last week.   I recently reactivated my membership, and was taking a look at some of the user generated content, when I came upon Christopher McNally in a tree, listed with "Thomas" as his father and "Mary or Lavina" as his mother.  Five minutes investigation revealed five or six trees, all containing similar information.  I contacted the various tree owners to see if any of them had documentation confirming Christopher's parentage.  A few wrote back, saying that they had taken the information from one of the other trees, some didn't respond, so I couldn't determine the originator or originators of the information, but I have a pretty good idea how it started. 

That said, and my feelings about user trees on Ancestry aside (there are some really great, sourced public trees, and there are also quite a few that are rubbish), last week I came upon some information that I thought might be of interest to Christopher McNally researchers. 

One of the podcasts I listen to mentioned that the Irish National Archives was actively digitizing and posting Irish church records (both Roman Catholic and Church of Ireland) at  the Irish Genealogy web site.  I surfed over to the site, and just for fun, put in Christopher McNally into the search box.  There was one result in particular that I found interesting - an 1816 Roman Catholic baptismal for a "Christopherium McNally" in the St. Andrew Parish of Dublin, baptised in 1816 with parents listed as "Lavi McNally" for the father and "Mara" as the mother.  There was just an abstract, no image or transcription, no further granularity in the date, listing Christopher, his parents and his sponsors (Pat McNally and Joanna McNally). 

This piqued my curiosity, and I performed some more searches. I started with McNally as the surname with "Lavi" as the father with no results.  I switched to "Mara" as the mother and an additional record fell out, an 1826 baptismal (Roman Catholic, St. Andrew parish, Dublin) for a "Mariam McNally", parents listed as "Laurentii McNally", mother as "Mara Dillon", with "Thoma McNally" and "Rosa Dillon" the sponsors. I feel pretty strongly that the Christopher and Mariam listed are siblings - I think that Laurentii McNally and Lavi McNally are one in the same.  These records are in Latin, and in Latin "u" and "v" are represented by the same character ("v"), so it is likely that "Lavi" is really "Laui" - that particular priests Latinized abbreviation for Laurence (the marriage record for Laurence and Mara is for "Laurentium McNally").  

So what I have is a Christopher McNally, Catholic from Dublin Ireland, born in approximately the right time frame with a sister Mary, which matches the note in one background document about Christopher that he emigrated with a sister named Mary who ended up in California.  I could not locate either marriage or burial record for either Christopher or Mary in the database, but that doesn't mean they don't exist, only that no such record has been abstracted.  That gives me a few pieces of circumstantial evidence in support of the possibility that the Christopher I found might be my ancestor.

This circumstantial evidence does not, by any stretch of the imagination, constitute proof that the two individuals are the same, so please don't quote me on this.  I have no evidence linking my Christopher in Bedford County, Pennsylvania to the Christopher McNally in Dublin, Ireland.  At best, I have a new avenue of research to follow to confirm or refute this conjecture. 

I'm going to hold on to these records, keep checking the Irish Genealogy database and gather more information - see if I can unearth any other siblings (another son with an unbroken line of McNally son's would be ideal, as Y-Chromosome testing could be used to confirm or refute a common ancestor).  And I'll continue to dig on this side of the Atlantic to see what I can uncover. Because, ultimately, that's what's important - the act of seeking.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tech Tuesday - Dropbox, or How the Cloud Saved My Netbook from Obsolesence

A while back, I was listening to a back episode of Geneabloggers Blog Talk Radio and Thomas MacEntee mentioned this Cloud Computing service he uses called Dropbox for sharing data amongst his various computing devices.  I remembered reading an article in a genealogy magazine that mentioned it, so I surfed over to the website, and gave it a look.  I reviewed the site, saw I could use it to share data between my laptop and my Apple devices (iPad and iPhone) more conveniently than iCloud (which is great for sharing among Apple devices but not so much with my Windows PC), so I installed it on my PC and i-devices and it worked as advertised.  It didn't hurt that 2GB of storage is free - I'm not sure I would have paid for the service at the time.

Shortly after getting my iPad back in December, I purchased the Families app, designed to work with Legacy Family Tree genealogy software.  It was nice to be able to share my family tree data from my PC to my iPad and iPhone, but if I made any edits to the data, it was a pain in the rear to sync the data back up so all of my devices were working with the same data.  Plus, data entry in Families is something of a chore and not nearly as robust as in Legacy.  The iPad is a wonderful device, with many incredible applications, but it was coming up short in one way I wanted to use it - as an extension of my laptop for genealogy.

Fast forward a few weeks.  I had just recently completed the first phase of reorganizing my laptop - cleaning up the desktop, rearranging and organizing files on the hard drive, getting rid of unneeded applications and so on.  It's a worthwhile endeavour if you are anything like I am and basically did no maintenance or organization in the three or so years since I originally bought the laptop.

Then, inspiration struck.  I looked at my poor, lonely netbook, nearly forgotten in the wake of my new devices.  The netbook was slow and underpowered, used primarily for travel and when I rode the train when I lived in D.C.  I'd even thought about selling it to get a little value back out.  I fired it up and started the process of cleaning it up, jettisoning all sorts of unnecessary and unneeded programs and data, dumping pretty much everything except OpenOffice and a few games.  I downloaded Legacy and DropBox, then moved my Legacy files to Dropbox.  Now, I had a light-weight device with great battery life that could seamlessly share by genealogy database with my laptop.  And after getting rid of the various toolbars that had accumulated on my browser, I could actually surf the web at a reasonable speed.  Although the iPad is nice for web browsing, the netbook is better for both HeritageQuest and FamilySearch, both crucial stops on your average genealogical quest.

There's a lot of great technology out there that can make life easier for the genealogist.  The Cloud, through Dropbox, has certainly improved mine.  

Monday, February 27, 2012

Military Monday - Isaac E. Wentz

I think that most people, when researching their family tree, secretly (or not so secretly) hope that when they give their family tree a good shake, a war hero will fall out.  It's understandable, hoping for a little excitement and deeds of daring-do amongst the dry recitation of names, dates and places that are, by necessity, the staples of genealogical research.  And, "Would you like to hear the story of how your great-great-great uncle Hezekiah won the battle of Nobbled Ridge?" is a much better icebreaker to family not familiar with your research than an introduction to pedigree charts and family group sheets.  (The battle of Nobbled Ridge never really happened, but Hezekiah would have been magnificent there if it did).

The reality of the situation is that this scenario is almost never the case, and most "war hero" stories suffer from significant embellishment, often growing in magnitude as the story is passed down through the generations. You won't get that here - no embellishment, just the truth as I know and learn it.  The truth is that most soldiers that go off to war are lucky (and happy) to get home under their own power with most of their limbs and major organs in

One of my favorite sources of genealogical information are Civil War pension application files, particularly if the application is being made by a widow. Depending on how soon after the War the application was filed, there can be a huge wealth of information, as marriages have to be proved and dates of birth of minor children have to be established.  The right application file can crush a brick wall and give you leads to research that can move a live generations back in time.  Not all application files are this fruitful, but some are, and they almost all contain some parcel of information worth having (although some might not be worth the $75 that NARA currently charges for the file by mail).

One thing I really like that is often found in these files are bits and pieces of correspondence - letters and notes that add some real depth to the people involved in the process, and that is where the tale of two soldiers begins.  On my father's side of the family, I have two known, confirmed civil war veterans, Isaac Edward Wentz and William J. Miller, and I have pension files for both soldiers.  Today's discussion is about Isaac Wentz.  William Miller's story will have to wait for another day

Isaac Edward Wentz is my great x 3 grandfather (through my father's paternal grandmother). He was born in 1831 in Bedford County, Pennsylvania and married Susanna Fickes in 1857. They had four children - John H. (my great x 2 grandfather), Leah, Rebecca, and Elizabeth. He enlisted in Company E of the Pennsylvania Cavalry and mustered in in early 1864.  He saw action, and by his own account was taken prisoner in early 1865.  A letter to his wife dated May 4, 1865, posted from Raleigh, North Carolina states:

Dear Wife,
  Availing myself of the services of our Chaplin, I hereby inform you that at present I am here in the 1st Division Hospital, 23rd Army Corps, suffering from chronic diarrhea.  I came here on the last day of April, and I can not say that I any better yet, though I am able to go about.  The weather is very fine & health-inspiring, and I hope by careful attention & medicine soon to recover & return to my ? ?. On the 13th day of April when our cavalry were making a charge on the rebels near Raleigh, I was taken prisoner & I remained in their hands at Greensboro until the 30th of April, when they discharged me, after the surrender of the rebel Gen. Johnston, and sent me down here, where I am now in hospital.  The war being now about over, the general impression prevails that we will all soon go home and out of the service. Hoping that you and the children are well, I am ever
  Your faithful husband Isaac Wentz

(The images are scans of photocopies and quality-wise, are the best I can do with the materials I have available to me.)

So at the beginning of May, Isaac was laid low with diarrhea, but hopeful that he would be home soon to see his wife and children.  This, however, was not to be.

On June 29th, 1865, a Mr. M. H. Hadley posted a short letter to an unidentified "Sir" of Union Township, Bedford County, Pennsylvania from the Sick Soldiers Rest in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Dear Sir:

Isaac Wentz of 13th Regt. Penn Cavalry Co. E is nearly dead with chronic diarrhea at this "Rest". He was brought here at 3 o'clock this morning.  If he has any friend who can attend to him, he had better come here at once.  I do not believe he can live a week, perhaps not three days.  He says he has a wife and other friends in your township.  Can you notify them?

  Yours truly
   M. H. Hadley
   Supt S.S. Rest, Harrisburg 

Isaac Edward Wentz died on 29 June 1865, the day the letter was posted, never making it home to see his wife and children. 

The Pension Application file is full of great information, lots of proof of relationship, name and date.  But those two letters breathe some life into the story, make Isaac a person, not just a collection of facts.

I have a Pension Application file for William Miller and will be tracking down some others (from my mother's side of the family and my wife's ancestors) the next time I make it to DC and can go to NARA. More stories to be told. 

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Busy week, Busy week

The past week has been busy, mostly with matters non-genealogical.  So much to do with a little one set to arrive at the end of May, and add in taking care of a one year old, working and the day to day routine, and that doesn't leave much time for genealogy (or much of anything else).

That's not to say that I haven't taken the odd moment here and there and tried to take care of some family history research.  Most interestingly, I spent some time looking at the indexes for Pennsylvania deaths at the Pennsylvania Department of Health Public Records  page.  Pennsylvania has finally began to unclench the iron claw it held around birth and death records with the passage of Senate Bill 361, which makes public death and birth records after a specified time (105 years for birth and 50 years for death), so birth records from 1906 (the first year Pennsylvania maintained vital statistics at the state level) and death records from 1906 through 1961 are available as public records. 

The biggest issue right now are the indexes. For each year, the index consists of 4-6 PDF files which appear to be scans of a paper index the department maintained.  They are not electronically searchable, but are in either alphabetical or Soundex order, depending on the year.  In most cases, for most people, this should work out fine, but I have one ancestor, my great x 2 grandmother Anna Martha McNally nee Myers (date of death 11 Apr 1915), that I have been unable to locate in the index.  Here's her obit:

Of course, Pennsylvania couldn't find her any of the times I requested her death certificate over the past few years.  I'm hoping that some organization (Ancestry or Familysearch) will digitize the records and create their own index from the digitization, and her death record will come out from hiding.  The main reason I want her death certificate, apart from completing the record, is that it will verify where she is buried.  I've been told she is buried at the cemetery next to the Albright Church of the Brethren in Roaring Spring, but that her grave is unmarked.  I've walked the cemetery quite a few times (it's not very big) and have never found a stone.  And the church has not been very helpful - I have two or three requests for information outstanding, sent some number of years ago and never even acknowledged. 

In the very near future, I'm going to make a list of all the death certificates I currently do not have from Pennsylvania that fall within the time span and queue up the requests - a bargain at $3.00 a pop, particularly when I've been told that copies cost $.50 at the archives (where the originals are held) and it's a good six hour drive from my present location to Harrisburg (farther than a day trip).  Maybe I can make a deal with one of the good folks from the Blair County Genealogy Facebook group who are much closer to the archives.

I'm slowly but surely integrating my wife's family history into my tree.  It's not a fast process, as I need to take the time to really learn about these people who helped to make my son and unborn son the people they are.  But it's going forward, and giving me research and blogging ideas along the way.  I'm already making plans to build some time to go to NARA on my next trip to Washington D.C. to obtain Civil War pension applications - much easier to go to NARA when I'm going to be in D.C. than fork over $75 per application and get them in the mail. 

Keep on searching.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday - Rand J. McNally

I decided that I would give some of the daily prompts from Geneabloggers a try.  I like collecting tombstone photographs, so Tombstone Tuesday seemed to be a natural fit.

Rand McNally was my uncle, a few years younger than my father.  Not a direct ancestor, but a branch on my tree and one that I knew when I was a child.  When he got out of the Army, after serving in Vietnam, he came to live with us for a while.  I think he slept on the living room couch.  I would have only been four or five years old at the time, maybe six, so I don't have many linear memories, rather, sporadic images without much in the way of context or sequence.  I remember having a lot of fun when he came - he bought water guns and he, my sister, and I battled out in the yard.  After a month or two, I think, he headed out to Iowa where my grandfather and a few of my aunts lived and opened a radiator repair shop

I got to see him at least one more time before he died, on a family trip to Iowa a few years later.  He and my dad competed in a demoltion derby at a county fair (which I did not get to see because I got sick on that trip), but that was only for a week or so.

After that, the next time I saw him was at his funeral. On the evening of September 28, 1978, Rand fell asleep in the trailer he lived in while smoking a cigarette, and died in the fire that followed, a horrible, horrible, senseless way to die.  His is the first funeral I remember attending.  I remember looking at his body in the coffin and not really fully accepting what was going on - I was eight years old at the time.  Funerals are tough at that age, the normal eight year old urge to run wild like a barbarian is strong and difficult to restrain, even when the mood suggests it would be a bad idea.  So I mostly sat there very quiet and more than a little sad.  He is buried at the cemetery at the Albright Church of the Brethren in Roaring Spring, Pennsylvania.

Rand never got to meet my brothers, one was a year old and the other not yet born when he died.  He never married, never had children of his own.

A life too short.  We miss you.  Rest in peace.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A quick follow up on Christopher McNally

I had a request to post the complete picture from which I cropped the photo of Christopher.

Back Row: Hilda Kennedy; Maggie Kennedy (Kyler); Lavina McNally Kennedy (daughter of Christopher)
Front Row: Collie Kennedy; Christopher McNally; Bessie Kennedy (Reed)

I cannot vouch for the names, but they look reasonable based on what I know about the Kennedys.  Thanks again to Deb Pfieffer for sending me this photo, along with a few others of some of Christopher's descendants through his son Edward.  I'll post those at an appropriate time.

More soon.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Introducing Christopher McNally

It's been a busy week, genealogically speaking. The RootsWeb Blair County mailing list had its annual "Roll Call" and listing of surnames and I spent a few hours corresponding with distant cousins I didn't know existed about ancestors we share.  The folks on the Blair County list are some of the nicest people you would ever want to meet and its a real pleasure making connections with them.  And, as an added bonus, for the first time ever, someone actually responded about my McNally surname. 

Of all my ancestors, I've invested the most time and effort in researching Christopher McNally and his descendants. He is my McNally immigrant ancestor, my great x 3 grandfather and the patriarch of the initial line I started researching all those many years ago.  Over the years, I have corresponded with a few other researchers about Christopher, most of whom I met as the result of queries placed on various genealogical message boards. Every once in a while, I get an e-mail from someone who is just seeing the posts for the first time, asking me what I know about Christopher.

First a picture:

Deb Pfeiffer provided me with this photograph (actually a group photo that I cropped this from), and a few others.  She's one of the nice people I've shared information with as a result of the message board queries. 

Christoper McNally's obituary in the 26 September 1902 Bedford Gazette lists his date of birth as 25 December 1819 and his place of birth as Dublin, Ireland.  The place of birth is consistent with his Delcaration from his naturalization papers.  His date of birth, however, varies between 1818 and 1822 depending on which document you look at (census records and the naturaliztion records, as well as his obituary).  The 25 December 1819 date was also repeated in the article "McNally Family Active In Cove Iron Industry", the details of which seemed to be repeated from his obituary.  Absent finding a birth record from Ireland, at best I think the 1818-1822 range is best that can be said about his date of birth. (The Cove mentioned in the article is Morrison's Cove, a region of south-central Pennsylvania that straddles the Blair County/Bedford County border)

What is not in question, however, is when Christopher arrived in the United States.  His Declaration and Petition for Naturalization both state that he arrived in the United States on 23 September 1844 at the port of New York. Neither document lists the name of the ship on which he sailed, only that it originated in Liverpool.  I have personally reviewed the microfilm avaialable at the National Archives for the entire month of September of 1844 for ships arriving at the port of New York and could not locate any entry that might remotly correspond to Christopher. I do know that prior to 1850, there is not a complete record of arrivals and some passenger lists have been lost, so it is likely that the ship he arrived on might never be known.   His obituary states that he arrived in the United States in 1848, but I believ that to be an error, as his Declaration for naturalization was filed on 28 August 1849 and gives the 1844 arrival date.

He became an American citizen with the completion of the naturalization process on 29 September 1851.   His father and brother-in-law Edward and William Pearson both signed the petition as his character witnesses.  Also of interest from his naturalization documents is that Christopher McNally, as least in 1851, could not write as he signed with a mark.

He married Rosanna Pearson (1831-1896), daugther of Edward Perason, on 6 February 1851, at St. Patrick's Catholic Church in Newry, Blair County, Pennsylvania.  Rosanna converted to the Catholic Church and was baptised on that same day.  The Blair County Genealogical Society  has transcribed the records of St. Patrick's Church for the time period 1828-1907 and has made those records available in two volumes.  I have not seen the original church records, only the BCGS transcriptions.

Christopher and Rosanna had six children -
  1. Thomas Christopher McNally (1852-1912) m. Anna Martha Myers
  2. Edward McNally (1853-1932) m. Atalanda Martha Hainsey
  3. Margaret McNally (1859 - ?) m. Herman Goettleman
  4. Mary Lavina McNally (1860-1942) m. John Kennedy
  5. Richard McNally (1860 - 1934) m. Emma Hengst
  6. James McNally (1866 - ?) m. Alice Sullivan
Details about various of Christopher and Rosanna's children will likely be the subjects of future blog posts.
Rosanna Pearson died on 25 March 1896 after being struck by an ore train operated by the Duncan Mines in Bedford County, Pennsylvania.  She was hard of hearing and likely did not hear the train coming from around a bend in the line.  She was buried at the Catholic cemetery at St. Patrick's Church in Newry.
Christopher's daughter Mary Lavina and her familiy came to live with Christopher after Rosanna's death, and lived with him until his death on 17 September 1902.  It is said in his obituary that he left work at the mines on 11 September 1902, complaining of not feeling well and passed a few days later.

His obituary states "He was every man's friend and had a kind word for all he met, no matter when or where.  He was always cheerful, generous and obliging."  Admirable traits, and I hope that people speak that nicely of me.

There are a few open issues with regard to Christopher-

First - I know nothing about his parents.  I've ran across no documents that name or even hint at his parents, and all I know about his origin is that he was born in Dublin County, Ireland.  From what I understand about Irish research, you really need to know the parish to make reasonable progress.  The wholesale destruction of the Irish censuses prior to 1900 don't make finding this information any easier.

Second - In a document I received from the above-mentioned Deb Pfeiffer (that was compiled by an unnamed great-grandchild of Christopher McNally through Edward McNally), it states that Christopher has a known sister by the name of Mary with some kind of tie to California.  It also states she immigrated with him.  This document is the only place I have ever seen this sister mentioned.  I would love to see additional documentation of this sister.

Third - The St. Patrick's baptismal records show a baptism for a "Georgius Guielmus McAnally" with no listed date of birth and a baptism date of 28 July 1875, with Cristopher and Rosanna listed as the parents and Thomas as the sponsor.   Is this a seventh child, one who perhaps died young and did not live long enough to be reflected in a census, or a delayed baptism for one of Edward or James?  My belief is that this is likely James's baptism and not a seventh child, as there is no burial record for an additional child and Christopher's obituary states that Rosanna bore him six children, all still alive at the time of Christopher's death.

Note - a less narrative version of this account, along with additional citations and such will show up in the near future as a separate page. 

Anyone have anything to add or can shed any light on the open issues?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Confessions (of a Genealogical Nature)

Many of my ancestors were members of a religious organization that believes that confession is not only good for the soul, but is, in fact, required. In that spirit, I'd like to offer up a few genealogical confessions, to lighten the load on my genealogical spirit.

First, I will admit that I haven't always been the best correspondant.  I've let e-mail languish for embarssingly long periods of time before dashing off a sheepish reply, full of apologies and promises of better behavior in the future, along with at least some information that had been requested.  Most of my correspondents have been understanding, but I'm sure there are a few potential relationships that I have dealt near-irreparable damage by this behavior. I've gotten better with age, and strive to respond to e-mails, letters and the like in a reasonable amount of time.

Second, over the past fifteen years I've made virtually every mistake that an amateur genealogist can make, in terms of research and recording. I don't think I cited any sources for the first five years, I've made photocopies out of books without noting the source. I've found records in courthouses without noting any of the citation data, including, for a few documents floating around my files, the courthouse where found. If there's a mistake that can be made, I've made it. I'd like to believe I've learned something from all my miscues.  Heck, someday I might even be able to figure out where I found a particulary vexing photocopy that includes a marriage for one of my ancestors with a cryptic cross-reference to the original. 

Finally, and related in part to my first confession, I haven't really done my part to be a good member of the genealogial community and shared the work I have done (as good as some of it is and as suspect as some other parts).  But that's where this blog comes in, to help in the sharing.  I've already shared some surnames and locality information, and my next post is going to be all about sharing, as I am planning on talking about my immigrant McNally ancestor, Christopher McNally.  That's all for now.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Some Actual Genealogical Content

To add a little genealogy to this blog, I have created a page where I list all of the surnames I am currently working.  Appropriately enough, it is called Surnames and you can get to it through the link in this entry or from the sidebar link.  That page will grow as surnames get added, and eventually the names will turn into links leading to pages for the individual names.  But it's just the names for now.  Feel free to contact me if any of the names and locations mean anything to you.

Friday, January 13, 2012

A brief note

Please don't be alarmed if the look and feel of the blog changes over the next few weeks or if the placement of page elements changes.  I'm new to blogging and am still sorting out the technical part of the process.  Thanks.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

First Post, or How I Got Here

I've been doing genealogy for quite some time - at least 15 years, maybe more. I started with my paternal line. At the time, my mother was activly researching her roots, so there was no urgent need for me to do so; no need to duplicate the research, and I didn't have the same fire in my belly to learn about her side of the family.

If I had to hazard a guess as to the roots of my apathy, I'd have to say that my relative familiarity with my maternal family was the cause. My grandparents lived nearby (still do, to tell the truth), and I was close with my cousins on this side.  We even went to family reunions for both my grandfather's and grandmother's families most summers.  The Farleys, Currys, Queens and Napiers that populate the landscape of my maternal line just felt well known.

Not so my paternal lines. My father's family lived far enough away that we didn't see them very often. We might see them every few years, enough to maintain family ties but not much more. Also, I never had the opportunity to meet my paternal grandmother, as she died nearly a decade before I was born.

These McNally's were the unknown, a mystery, and I decided that like all mysteries, they needed unravelling.

By this time, my grandfather had also passed away, and the only of my great-aunts that I knew at all was in poor health, mentally as well as physically. Fortunately, a few years earlier, my sister had contemplated doing this research and had sent my great-aunt a letter requesting some basic genealogical information. My great-aunt's response ended up with my mother, who passed it on to me, along with a pedigree chart compiled by my mother from the information in that letter and anything else she happened to know. From there I was hooked.

And that was some 15-odd years ago. Since then, I've had my fair share of life changes - I met a wonderful young lady who also got interested in genealogy, and, who for reasons I might never understand, agreed to marry me. We lived in wedded bliss for nearly a decade, then almost a year ago, were blessed with the birth of our first child, my son.

This single momentous event forced me to reflect on why I participated in this curious pastime known as genealogy, what I hoped to gain from the pursuit of this knowledge about my roots. I knew in that moment that limiting my research to my paternal lines going forward would be insufficient. I took possession of my mother's files (which had sat dormant for some time) and asked my wife if she minded if I took over her files as well (she didn't). Like that, I went from one line (the German-Irish McNally/Miller/Wentz/Myers of my father's family, to four (my father's, plus my mother's Farleys and Queens, the Bones and Pruetts of my wife's father and the Kinders and Reegs of my wife's mother). Four times the work, but oh so worth it so my son would know where he comes from.

Then a few months ago, we found out that my son will be getting a brother or sister later this year.....

That's enough about how I got here, writing this blog. I hope to use this as a platform for sharing my research into the various lines I'm working on, as well as sharing stories and items of interest about those families.  I'll also be creating static pages for sharing more traditional information such as pedigrees, family sheets and biographies of various personages of note.  I'll probably also have a page dedicated to listing all of the surnames for each line. 

Welcome to my genealogical world.