Friday, April 29, 2011

Irish Genealogy Database

     The search for the birthplace in Ireland of my Gunn ancestors has finally been successful thanks to my new favorite internet database .  From her marriage record, I knew the names of my great grandmother Mary Gunn's parents and that she was born in Ireland, but that was all I knew.  The clues have been few and far between, but they've finally come together.  The first came in a small Catholic cemetery located in Palmyra, NY.  There, next to the maintenance shed stood the badly weathered gravestone of my presumed great, great uncle George Gunn.  It bore what looked like the inscription, "Native of Listo, County Kerry, Ireland".  George, I later discovered, is next to the shed because at the time of his death, he was deemed undeserving of a Catholic burial and was placed in non-sacred ground.  The joke was on them though, the cemetery has grown to such an extent that George is now surrounded on all sides by holy ground.
     The second clue was his death certificate.  It named his birthplace as County Kerry, and his parents as John Gunn and Margaret Browne, the very same parents listed in Mary's marriage record.  Mary's name also appeared on the death certificate as the informant.  Taken together I concluded they were almost certainly siblings.  Clue three was finding George's name on the passenger list of a ship arriving in America in 1890, his address --  Listowel, now the partial word Listo on his stone made sense.  Listowel is a town, but also a parish so I knew the family's home wasn't necessarily in the town of Listowel.
     The breakthrough came from the Irish Genealogy site. There I found the baptismal records of not just George Gunn, but his sister Mary, brother Francis and a previously unknown sister Seragh.  The information included names of parents and godparents, and more remarkably, those transcriptions contained a townland, Ballygologue, County Kerry!  The site has records from Roman Catholic parishes in Kerry, Dublin and Cork.  Church of Ireland records are available from Carlow and Kerry along with Presbyterian records from Dublin.  The site is easy to navigate, and although there are as yet no images of my records, they promise they are coming, along with new records.  If only there were more sites like this one, and did I mention, it’s free!

Friday, April 22, 2011

What I Found on Ebay

These are a few of the more interesting items I've bought on Ebay.  Somehow, though purchased at different times, they're all from the Worden line on my father's side.  Below is Inez Worden (1908-2001) holding her baby sister Gladys (1914-1937), they were children of Arthur Worden and Edna Warner of Shortsville, NY.  Inez never married and Gladys never got the chance.  She died at age 22 almost two weeks after an operation for appendicitis.

The next item is a post card written by Flora Worden Post of Manchester, NY to Frank Mull who was hospitalized at St. Mary's in Rochester, NY.  Flora was the half sister of the girl's father Arthur Worden.  She was a Sunday school teacher at the local Methodist church.  On the front is written, June-14-08  Children's Day  Decorations Of Mrs. Post's Class, Manchester M.E. Church.


April 30 -10
Dear Friend Frank, Will has just come home this morning, all tired out, is lying down, he stayed with Gilbert last night, am so glad he went up to see you - he is so glad he went for he said you were so pleased to see him.  I have been sick for two weeks, when you get able you must come down and stay awhile with us - it is beautiful down here now. I have sat on the porch most all morning and enjoyed nature for I am not able to work.  Mrs. W.H. Post Manchester N. York 

Last is a fuel ration card from 1945 issued to Arthur Worden

And the hunt goes on...

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Census and the Cemetery or There's More Than One Way to Skin a Census Taker

     Hello all!  It's been some time since I posted anything here.  My dear mother's illness and recent passing have kept me occupied.  I'm slowly getting back to my research which often means trips to various cemeteries, which is where I learned the tip I'd like to share today.  Awhile ago I was having difficulty reading the handwriting of an 1870 census taker; to call it chicken scratching would be an insult to the fowl.  To make matters worse he had thrown in bizarre, never before seen abbreviations for first names and sometimes substituted the word child for names of young family members.

     A few days later I found myself in a cemetery in the very town that maddening enumerator had canvassed.  As I strolled among the graves I noticed some vaguely familiar names and then it hit me!  Those unreadable names in the census were right before me carved in granite.  I added several, correctly spelled I might add, to my tree that day and I've used it successfully in several other instances.  Some of the stones even identified their owner as a child of the person buried nearby.  I've also used old newspapers for hard to decipher names in census records, and even phone books, as families sometimes remain in one location for generations.