Friday, January 29, 2010

James Mulvaney Promoted to Battalion Chief, 1938

17 years after rescuing fellow firefighter John Flynn from a burning building, James J. Mulvaney was promoted to Battalion Chief in the NYFD.

James J Mulvaney NYFD Battalion Chief Certificate 1938

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

James Mulvaney, Hero

Maureen has an amazing amount of information about her grandfather. Some time ago, I came across the description of James Mulvaney's heroism as a firefighter, rescuing a comrade from a burning building. Among the documents I received from Maureen was a letter from his chief commending his actions on that occasion. She tells me that he received the Henry Bookman Medal of Heroism, the second firefighter to be a recipient.

James Mulvaney NYFD Letter of Heroism 1921

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Wish

This music video stars my cousin Gina Cimmelli of Gina's Picture Show, and was produced and directed by my sister Laura O'Hara. Watch, enjoy, share with your friends!

Monday, January 25, 2010

James Mulvaney's WWI Army Discharge Papers, 1919

Among the documents Maureen sent me were her grandfather James J. Mulvaney's discharge papers from the Army.

James J Mulvaney WWI Discharge - page 1

James J Mulvaney WWI Discharge - 2

These show that he entered the Army 28 September 1917, and was honorably discharged 1 July 1919. He was blue-eyed, brown-haired, fair-skinned, and 6 feet 1/2 inches tall. He was, as we know, a Brooklyn-born fireman, and in 1919, he was not yet married to Florence Goggin. He was never an officer, was not qualified as a marksman, was not mounted calvary, and apparently was not involved in any battles, skirmishes, engagements, or expeditions. He had excellent character, and in very faint ink underneath that, his service is described as honest and faithful, with no AWOL and no absences under GO [illegible]. He was entitled to travel pay back to Brooklyn, as well as a $60 bonus as authorized by an Act of Congress, 24 February 1919. He also had 1 silver/bronze victory button issued.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Marriage of James Mulvaney and Florence Goggin, 3 September 1922

Another of the documents Maureen sent me was this marriage certificate of her grandparents, James J. Mulvaney and Florence M. Goggin. They were married at St. Stephen's Church on 3 September 1922. The officiant was Fr. William A. Fogarty, and their witnesses were Thomas P. Mulvaney, James's brother, and Helen M. Goggin, likely a relative of Florence's. This certificate was dated 28 January 1927.

Update: I heard from Maureen today. She confirms that Helen was in fact her grandmother Florence's sister. Florence and Helen also had sisters named Edna and Violet. What beautiful names for sisters!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

James Mulvaney's Baptismal Certificate

A few months ago, my long-lost cousin Maureen sent me a number of scanned photographs and documents from her branch of the Mulvaney family. Her grandfather James Mulvaney was the brother of my great-grandmother Veronica Mulvaney Mulcahy Hopkins. I've posted some of the pictures in the past, but am just getting around to posting the documents she sent me. (Read: I'm too busy with school to do any research, and it embarrasses me to see my blog lagging. So I'm posting Maureen's stuff instead!) I'd glanced at these, but since they just seemed pretty consistent with what I already knew, I didn't examine them closely. (Although some of the documents that will be posted in the coming days have some really cool information.) (Now if she's had Nana's birth certificate . . . if she had any idea when Nana was born . . . a different story entirely.) But, you know. Visitation Church, James Mulvaney, parents Julia Toner and Patrick. No news. (No news is not good news in genealogy, but documentation is always good news.)

What particularly caught my attention when I looked at this were the godparents. Patrick Harrington and Catherine Higgins? Sound familiar? I still haven't scanned Patrick and Julia's wedding certificate, which Betty and John sent me a copy of right when I first began to get interested in genealogy, but the transcription is here. The witnesses at their wedding were also the godparents of their first-born! I wish I knew who these Patrick Harrington and Catherine Higgins were!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Mark Gillan Naturalization 1894

Mark Gillan was my great-great-grandmother Mary Gillen's brother. (The family used both spellings, but apparently more used Gillan than Gillen.) He's pictured as an older man in yesterday's post. I found this in's Index to Naturalizations. Uncle Mark was naturalized in the Kings County Court on 9 October 1894. He was living at 332 Bergen Street, which is where he was living with the Quinns in 1900, as well. His witness is Hugh J. Quinn, his brother-in-law and Mary Gillen's husband, who also lives at 332 Bergen Street. Considering that the Quinns have been at a different address in each census I've found them in, just this little bit of information is a boon, since it means that they lived in the same place for at least 6 years - the 6 years that include the births of Aunt Agnes, Grandma Molly, and Aunt Helen! It will be very helpful for me to be able to figure out which local churches to contact to hopefully find baptismal records. Considering, too, that Mary and Hugh married in the year or two before Mark was naturalized, it may even lead to a marriage record! I wonder whether Uncle Mark's actual Declaration of Intent and Petition for Naturalization would include information about the Quinns he was living with? Should I order them?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

(Not quite) Wordless Wednesday: Christmas fun

This is a goofy picture of, I believe, some Quinn relatives. But I couldn't tell you who. It's probably from the late '20s or early '30s. I've requested identification from my more knowledgeable relatives-who-lived-through-this-holiday, and will update if I hear from them.

Update: I heard from Uncle Jack, who ID's the people in the picture as follows:

First row: John J. O'Hara [partially obscured] (his father/my great-grandfather); Harry Kunze (husband of Helen Quinn Kunze); Charles Kunze (Harry's brother); Bobbie --- Quinn (wife of Martin Quinn); Lillian Kunze --- (Harry's sister)

Second row: "old Uncle Mark" aka Mark Gillen (brother of "Nanny" aka Mary Gillen Quinn, who was my great-great-grandmother); Mark is holding Lillian's daughter; "Aunt Annie" aka Annie Gillen (Nanny's sister); Helen Quinn Kunze

Third row: "little Harry Kunze" (Helen and Harry's son); Terry Quinn

The family that ties all of these people together are the Quinns. Mary Gillen (sister of Mark and Annie, among others) married Hugh Quinn. Their children were Agnes Quinn (m. Bill Maines), Mary Quinn (m. John O'Hara), Helen Quinn (m. Harry Kunze), Martin Quinn (m. Bobbie) and Terrence Quinn (m. Alice, I believe). Some of these Quinns are pictured above, as are members of Mary Gillen Quinn's natal family and Harry Kunze's family.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

When Real Life meets Research

When I headed back home to my parents' house for winter break, I had grandiose plans for time spent in cemeteries and courthouses. I'd have a month off, and lots of free time, right?


I brought home all my physical records. (Remember, I've only been at this a year, so they pretty much all fit in a nice-sized tote bag.) I day-dreamed about days in Brooklyn repositories. Then, when I ended up having to do a major closet reorganization and drive my sister to Rhode Island to catch a plane, I started to get discouraged. I'd never have time to get to the courthouse! Why had I even bothered to haul all that stuff up here?

Fate. That's why. Small blessings and silver linings.

On Monday, while I was in RI with my sister, I got a phone call from my roommates. Pipes burst. Apartment flooded. Ceiling falling. Mold growing. (Not our pipes, the upstairs neighbors' pipes. In our apartment, we don't turn the heat off in freezing weather!)

One of the first things I realized was that, by some accident of fate - or some blessing, if God cares about genealogy, which I think He might - my irreplaceable original documents (my grandparents' baptismal certificates, engagement ring appraisal, school papers, etc.) and my replaceable copies of documents (birth, marriage, and death certificates ordered from archives) were safe in my parents' house, hundreds of miles from the scene of the disaster. (Oh yeah, most of my other important stuff wasn't there, either.) We had some other lucky breaks - the only bed that got hit was my air mattress, so no one should need to throw out a water-logged mattress - but all in all, it's a mess. I'll probably have to head back down there earlier than expected, so my last few days of hoped-for research time are probably a lost cause (though, not having a bed to call my own, if there's nothing I can do to help, it might not be worth it . . . I really don't know what to do when the clean-up is so beyond my skill level).

I'm telling myself, "See? This close call is proof that you should have all your original documents, at least, stored in archival-quality boxes," but then I hear me and I respond, "Who are you kidding? Archival storage offers some protection from the elements, and will offer a bit of a buffer zone before documents inside the boxes are reached by water, but we are not talking about a leaky faucet here. We're talking about a quantity of water that cascaded through the ceiling onto the first floor, then again through the floor/ceiling into the basement. We're talking about so much water that it brought parts of the ceiling down with it! You expect me to believe that cardboard would have withstood the deluge?" Not to knock archival-quality storage boxes, of course, but the fact is that nothing would have saved my records save not being in my apartment in the first place - which, thankfully, they weren't.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Death of John J Dowd, 26 July 1946

From the Brooklyn Eagle, via Fulton History:

John J. Dowd was the husband of Anne Murphy Dowd, and thus the son-in-law of Mary Ann Toner Murphy. His brothers-in-law, John and Thomas Murphy, had lived for a time with their aunt and my great-great-grandmother, Julia Mulvaney. He died on Friday 26 July 1946 - either "at his residence" or at "Madison Park Hospital"; the two news items, from the same page of the same day's paper, disagree on that point.

He was survived by his widow, Anne Murphy Dowd, and I have yet to discover evidence of her death.