Thursday, December 31, 2009

Death of Kathryn Murphy Keane, 16 May 1937

From the Tuesday 18 May 1937 issue of the Brooklyn Eagle, via Fulton History:Kathryn Murphy Keane was - I'm fairly certain - the daughter of Mary Ann Toner and Thomas Murphy. Her siblings were Annie Murphy Dowd (at whose house Kathryn died), Thomas Murphy (who appears to have died prior to 1937, since he's not listed as a survivor here), and John Murphy. She married William R. Keane, and they had 1 daughter, Margaret Keane, who, according to Betty and John, became an Ursuline nun and died of cancer in the 1990s.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Shameless Plug

Not genealogy, but still family: My cousin, Gina, is an amazing musician. You can sample her band, Gina's Picture Show, at, or, I think, I can embed one of my favorites here through Lala (still figuring out exactly what this "Lala" is):

Don't they rock?!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Nicola Lanzillotto's WWI Draft Registration Card

Sometimes, technological errors are a blessing in disguise. kept offering me Grandpa Lanzillotto's WWI Draft Registration Card as a "hint." However, the image wasn't correctly linked, and clicking the hint always brought me to some other guy instead. I'd seen the correct image before, but had failed to save it, and was always too daunted by the search process to go looking for it. But this evening, I started paging through the series to look for it. I found it, and in the process, I happened upon this draft registration card, too:

At first, it struck my interest for a couple reasons: he's an iceman named Lanzillotta! his name is Nicola! (Grandma has a brother Nick . . . )

Then I looked closer. Oh yeah, he also lives in the same house as Grandpa Lanz, who was presumably his brother. When I asked my mom, she said she remembered Grandpa Lanzillotto having a brother named Nicola, but couldn't volunteer the name until I mentioned it. I'm going to have to talk to Grandma to confirm that.

Like his brother Carmine, Nicola's address was 281 E 155th St., in the Bronx. He was born 9 May 1884, and was 34 in 1918, when he registered with the draft. He was white, Italian-born, alien, of medium height and build, and with brown hair and brown eyes. He was an iceman at 890 Morris Ave, which appears to be about a 20-minute walk from his home. He's married to Maria Lanzillotto.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Grandpa Lanzillotto WWI Draft Registration Card

Here's the image of Grandpa Lanzillotto's WWI draft registration card. He registered in Precinct 63 of The Bronx on 5 June 1917. His name is given as Carmine Lanzillotta. He was 23, and his birthday was 16 July 1894. You can see that he ended up skipping the first line, and cramming his name and address onto to the second line. His address was 281 E. 155th St. He was not yet a citizen, and had been born in Bitetto, Bari, Italy. He owned his own business (which was in ice, though he doesn't say so here), though I'm having a difficult time reading the address of the business.

He listed his parents as dependents, as he was single at the time. He was Caucasian, of medium build and complexion, with brown eyes, black hair, and no identifying marks.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

1911 Census of the Mulcahy and O'Brien Families

Michael Mulcahy, my great-great-grandfather, was from Pallas Grean, Limerick, Ireland. He immigrated some time before 1892, by which point he was already married to Mary Ann Madigan and had two children. His parents were James Mulcahy and Margaret Ryan, and they remained in Ireland. His siblings - as far as I know - were brothers Patrick, John, and James, and sisters Catherine, Johanna, and Ellen.

This 1911 Irish Census is of the O'Brien family; that is, Ellen's family. Living with William O'Brien, 40, and his wife Ellen O'Brien, 42, are Ellen's family: Margaret Mulcahy, 84; Johanna Mulcahy, 51; and Thomas Mulcahy, 17. I don't know who Thomas is. Probably a nephew or a cousin?

According to these dates, William O'Brien was born in 1871; Ellen Mulcahy O'Brien was born in 1869; Ellen's mother Margaret Ryan Mulcahy was born in 1827; Johanna Mulcahy was born in 1860; "visitor" Thomas Mulcahy was born in 1894.

This is the Mulcahy family gravestone in Kilduff, Pallas Grean, Limerick. It marks the burial of James Mulcahy in 1896 (funny, I'll have to ask Betty and John about that; I've been told that when Papa and his father Michael went to Ireland, it was right after the death of Michael's father - but that was in 1905, a solid 9 years after James Mulcahy died). Also listed on the headstone are Ellen Mulcahy O'Brien, d. 1923, aged 54; William O'Brien, d. 1946, aged 77; Johanna Mulcahy, d. 1932, aged 72; and Margaret Ryan Mulcahy, whose death date isn't listed. The stone also gives the death dates of Margaret O'Brien McMahon (18 April 1988), Ellen and William's daughter, and her husband Michael McMahon (7 May 1999). In the 1911 Census, Margaret isn't listed, and Ellen hasn't given birth to any children. That means that she couldn't have been older than 77 when she died in 1988.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dear Genea-Santa, I'm broke

Dear Genea-Santa,

I'm broke. I'd appreciate some cash to use for genealogy. If a small influx of cash from you, earmarked for genealogy purposes, were to find its way to me this Christmas, I suppose I'd have to use it for genealogy. Not do responsible things like buying textbooks, work clothes, utilities, or that neti pot I've wanted. ("Dear Sinus Santa" is a different letter altogether)

I mean, there are lots of less mercenary things I could ask you for, but they're all things I could probably find myself if I had the resources. I'm not far enough along in my research yet to have hit brick walls. If I were, this letter wouldn't sound quite so crass. Even while I content myself with what's available online, I know there's so much more out there! Things I need! I even know exactly where to find some of them! Things like

-Matthew Madigan's death certificate (d. 11 September 1892, but not recorded in the NYC Death Index; I'm afraid to request and pay for the certificate if it might not be there)
-Honor/Mary Nora Gillen and Martin Gillen's death certificates (indexed on FamilySearch, but £10 is like $15!)
-Nana's (Veronica Mulvaney Mulcahy's) birth certificate. Or a baptismal certificate. Something. We have no idea how old she was!
-A birth certificate for Grandma Gatto. (That's less a money issue. I'm not sure whether I should be looking in Italy, or Brazil!)

There's also the small question of genealogy software, which I don't have. Makes me feel like a rank amateur. Plus it would be helpful for, you know, keeping track of genealogical records.

Of course, you could always get me the software, the records, and the money. Maybe I'd buy myself a nice top or something.

Merry Christmas!


(Published as part of the Carnival of Genealogy #86)

Monday, December 14, 2009

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories: Fruitcake

Alright, with all finals in and while firmly committed to NOT looking at my grades 'cause I just don't wanna know, I think I'll (quite belatedly) start contributing to the Geneabloggers Advent Calendar.

First up, Dec. 14: Fruitcake

What do I know about fruitcake? Not much I'd never even seen a fruitcake, much less tasted one, until I was in college. In college I worked at a student-run, on-campus grocery store (Vital Vittles), and my junior year, I believe, we sold fruitcake. Or, rather, we tried to. Despite the display case right next to the register, they just wouldn't sell. Apparently fruitcakes are not a hot commodity among the 18-22 year old "cramming for finals" set. Any time I noticed that any at all had sold I was surprised, and the hopes we'd once cherished of actually selling them all diminished as Christmas break grew nearer.

My roommate and I bought one, partly as a joke, to serve at our Christmas party. It didn't sell there, either. It seems our friends prefer cheese and crackers with their booze. I tasted a piece, but it seems I prefer cheese and crackers, too.

I have no family connection to fruitcake, but apparently a friend of mine does. Two years later, I came home to find that a different roommate, in a different apartment, had made a fruitcake and was apologizing for having used some of my ingredients or something (I didn't mind). But really, Em, a fruitcake? Why? Her family had a recipe, and their fruitcake was a much-loved holiday tradition. There was something about sitting in beer for a month, or being soaked in beer and then sitting for a month. . . I dunno. She was making it then, at our house, because it had to sit for quite some time before being served, and she'd only be back at her parents' house a few days before Christmas. I tried a piece. It wasn't chocolate, so it's not exactly my preferred holiday (or any time) dessert, but it was quite good. I do think I could be enticed to eat fruitcake if it were that kind of fruitcake, rather than the plastic-wrapped bricks of ickiness that were my first experience therewith.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

What's going on with the Murphys?

I've started looking into the Murphy family recently. I'd always more or less avoided them, since I had scant information on their names and relationships and, well, because their name was Murphy. I'm don't have those mad skillz yet. But earlier this week (yes, when I still had finals to write - don't judge!), I thought I'd do some searching.

Two Murphy boys - John and Thomas - lived with the Mulvaneys in 1905 and 1910, listed as their nephews. Betty and John told me that they were the children of one of Julia's sisters, but they didn't know which sister.

Some time ago, I found a Brooklyn Eagle notice of the "Verona Coterie," which a Mary Toner and a Thomas Murphy attended together in 1877:


Last evening the Verona Coterie held another
of their select reunions at the residence of
their President, Mr. William Gregg, corner of Van
Brunt and Verona streets. It was in every respect
an enjoyable affair, and, reflected 'great
credit upon the management. Among those present,
were Mr. John Curran, Mr. Thomas Sheridan
Mr. Michael Coffey, Mr. Thomas Converry and Miss
Mary Hayes, Mr. James Bond and .Miss Mary Idston,
Mr. James Ennls and Miss Bella Sweeney, Mr.
John McAuliffe and Miss Elizabeth Curran, Mr.
Thomas Murphy and Miss Mary Toner, Mr. Frank
Woods and Miss Jenny Briordy, Mr. James Downey
and wife. Captain Harris and Wife and Mr. James
Roche and lady. The officers of the Association
are; President, Mr. William Gregg; Vice President,
Mr. John Devoy; Recording Secretary, Mr.. James
Bona.; Treasurer, Mr. Thomas Converry.

Combined with the fact that I already knew the destinies of all of Julia's other sisters (except for the perhaps apocryphal Judith), I became increasingly convinced of the possibility that Thomas and John's mother was Julia's sister Mary Ann and that their father was Thomas Murphy.

Good, uncommon, easy to find names, those. Mary and Thomas Murphy! Argh.

But I thought I'd try. First I looked for a Mary (Ann) and Thomas Murphy in the 1892 NYS Census. I'd looked briefly in 1900 before, with no luck, but I hadn't tried systematically searching. In 1892, the most promising result was the one I posted last week. The family was Thomas and Mary A. Murphy, and their children Kate, Any, and John.

I took that information and looked for the family again in the 1900 Census. Looking for Mary (Ann) and Thomas Murphy had no results, until I started looking for their kids, putting in only one of their parents names at a time. I finally got a hit when looking for Thomas Murphy, with mother Mary. It seemed Thomas Murphy Sr. had died in the previous 8 years.

The family is Mary, a widow, aged 45, born in March of 1855 (Mary Ann Toner was actually born 3 March 1852); Catherine, 19, born in April of 1881; Annie, 13, born in September 1887; John, 11, born in April 1889; and, this time, Thomas, 6, born in March of 1894. Mary has given birth to either 4 or 5 other children who are no longer living; the column "mother of how many children" has either an 8 or a 9 in it. No one in the family appears to be employed. This is incorrect, as we'll soon see. The family lives at 306 Van Brunt St.

Yes, that's right. Just a block from the Mulvaneys at 270 Van Brunt! (I'm having a difficult time embedding a Google map, but if you try
this link, you'll see just how close the two really are.)

After finding the address of the Mulvaneys, I searched through the Brooklyn Eagle at the Fulton History website. I was hoping to find a death notice for Thomas, and maybe one for Mary as well, but I found something else entirely. Well, not quite something else entirely. I still found death notices, but they belonged to other people! Thomas Murphy at 306 Van Brunt Street was an undertaker! (Some of those news items about deaths and funerals were quite interesting. I'd like to feature some of them here, soon, but the specifics of those cases aren't particularly relevant to finding out about the Murphys.)

What I did next was to search the NYTimes archive for "306 Van Brunt" and I found Thomas Murphy, in the 1 June 1898 death notices. His death had been reported 31 May (that's my birthday!) and he'd died 28 May.

Then I Googled for "306 Van Brunt" and "undertaker," hoping I'd find some information about the business or about Thomas Murphy. After all, part of the reason I'd thought it credible that these Murphys were our Murphys was that in the original 1892 NYS Census, Thomas Murphy had been listed as a coachman, and Mary Ann's brother William had been a "stableman" when he died and had, some years earlier, been involved in an accident while driving a coach that was "the property of Mr. Murphy of South Brooklyn." I was hoping to find a reference to the undertaker "who used to be a coachman" or some such, though I knew it was unlikely.

What I found was not at all what I'd expected. The 1899 edition of Trow's Business Directory for Brooklyn lists an undertaker at 306 Van Brunt Street, sure, but it's not Thomas. Thomas has been dead for a year. Mary is the undertaker.

How cool is that? I did a little googling, and found that, while female undertakers weren't common in the 19th century, it was one of few of the professions that didn't actively exclude women.

And wait a sec. . .

Hadn't I already written off the possibility of female undertakers somewhere?

On William Toner's death certificate, my first impulse had been that the undertaker listed as "Mrs. Thomas Murphy," but I had written that off as being improbable. It appears I was wrong.

And when I went back to check, I realized that the "Mrs. Thomas Murphy" who was the undertaker when he died gave an address of 306 Van Brunt Street! In addition, I found reference to the idea that, at least early on, female undertakers were only allowed to handle the bodies of women and children. I don't know whether that was still applicable around the turn of the century, but the fact is that William Toner wasn't a woman or a child. He was a grown man. How could Mrs. Thomas Murphy be in charge of the body . . . unless they were related? I've been assuming all along that they were, but I think this is further evidence.

Sometime between this 1900 US Census and the 1905 NYS Census, the Murphy boys went to live with their Aunt Julia and Uncle Patrick Mulvaney. I don't know whether Mary died - I haven't found any evidence that she did, but I also haven't looked very hard. Mary Murphys are a dime a dozen, and several dozen of them died between 1900 and 1905, and many more dozen of them appeared in the Eagle in that time period. It's possible, of course, that the Murphys went to live with the Mulvaneys for some reason other than the death of their mother.

I still have to find out what happened to Mary Ann, and hopefully what happened to the Murphy children as they grew up. But this is a pretty good start, with my only bone of contention being the pesky change from coachman to undertaker during the mid-1890s.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Advent Calendar

One of these years, when I don't have finals during Advent, and particularly when I don't have the evil Apple Corporation conspiring to make me fail my classes due to technological problems of a magnitude that never affected me when I was using a PC, no matter what people tell you about which has fewer problems and is more user-friendly. . .one of these days, I'll participate in the Geneabloggers Advent Calendar posting series.

Until then, go check out what other bloggers (presumably those without term papers) have to say about their Christmas memories at Geneabloggers!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Family of Mary Ann and Thomas Murphy in the 1892 NYS Census

In the second column of this 1892 NYS Census, you'll find a Murphy family that I suspect -might- be the family of Mary Ann Toner, sister of Julia Toner Mulvaney and potentially the mother of John and Thomas Murphy, who were partially raised by the Mulvaneys. The head of the family is listed as Thomas Murphy, 37, Irish-born but a US citizen, and a coachman. If you recall, a young Mary Ann Toner attended a party with a Thomas Murphy in 1877. His wife, Mary A(nn), is 34, and US-born. According to this she was born around 1858; Mary Ann Toner was born around 1852. Their children are Kate, age 10; Any, age 5; and John, age 3.

John is exactly the right age for the John Murphy who was raised by the Mulvaneys.

According to Betty and John, the Murphy brothers had two older sisters, one of them named Annie. I'm hoping that Any is Annie and not Amy, or else this is probably the wrong family. Amy, while it sounds to my ear like a very modern name, was actually the 120th most popular name in America in 1887, the year this "Any" would have been born. (The supposed modernity of Amy comes from its extreme popularity in the 1970s, when it was the #2 most popular name for 4 years running.) Annie, of course, was at #12 in 1887, and Ann and Anne were also very popular, at 124 and 121, respectively - the real popularity of the name is disguised by the fact that the two variant spellings were almost equally popular, making the name that sounds like "Ann" twice as popular as the rankings would suggest. Though the ranking of Amy is similar to those of both Ann and Anne, there were 251 babies named Amy in 1887, and 488 named either Ann or Anne, which is more in line with the numbers one would expect of a name ranked in the 70s in that year. Add in Anna at #2 (4,227 births) and Annie at #12 (1,844 births) means Ann- names were much more popular than Amy, and more likely to be encountered when looking at this sort of demographic data.* But "Any" could still be Amy, and, as much as I want this to be the right family, I do think that "Any" is more likely to be a "typo" for Amy than for Annie.

So on the name count, I'm not committed. Is "Any" Murphy our Annie Murphy Dowd? Dunno.

Something I do find particularly interesting, and potentially indicative of this being the right family, is Thomas Murphy's occupation. He's listed as being a coachman. As you'll recall, William Toner's death certificate listed him as a stableman, and in 1889, a news item referred to a William Toner driving a coach that was "the property of Mr. Murphy, of South Brooklyn." More than anything, the occupation - and the right birthdate for John - makes me think that these are our Murphys, that Mary A. is Mary Ann Toner Murphy, and that William Toner was working for his brother-in-law when he was involved in that accident.

*Source for name data: The Social Security Administration:

Friday, December 4, 2009

Elizabeth Toner m. Thomas Loughlin

Some time ago, I met - via Ancestry - my third cousin once-removed, Elaine, who's related through the Toner side of the family. She sent me this marriage certificate of Elizabeth Toner and Thomas Loughlin. (Elizabeth is Julia Toner Mulvaney's older sister.) They were married 23 August, 1874 at St. Stephen's Church, Brooklyn. Their witnesses were James B. McCaulay and Mary Lynam, and the ceremony was performed by the Rev. EJ O'Reilly. This particular certificate was filled out in October, 1892.

Interestingly, the wedding took place not 10 days after the death of Elizabeth's paternal grandmother, Judith/Julia Toner, who died 14 August 1874.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, Pop

Today marks the birthday of my grandfather, William James O'Hara - the second since he died, or or what would have been his 79th. He was born 2 December 1930, at St. Mary's Hospital in Brooklyn, to John O'Hara and Mary Quinn O'Hara. They lived at 505 6th St. at the time. He was the third of their four sons.

St. Mary's Hospital was in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn until it closed in 2005, after 123 years in operation.

Pop was baptized at St. Saviour's Church in Brooklyn, on 21 December 1930, when he was 19 days old. His sponsors were Joseph O'Hara - his father's youngest brother - and Elizabeth Quinn, who was presumably related to his mother, though I'm unsure of who she was. Molly's sisters were Agnes and Helen, and her brothers married women named Alice and Bobbie.