Friday, December 31, 2010

A Visit to the NYPL

Tuesday, I took a somewhat impromptu trip to the New York Public Library's Milstein Division of U.S. History, Local History, and Genealogy. This had been one of my goals for the upcoming year, but I wasn't quite as well-prepared as I should have been. I had been heading into Manhattan for a job interview, but, having both forgotten my cell phone and left very early in anticipation of blizzard-induced mass transit delays, I did not know that the interview was cancelled (thanks, blizzard!) until after I was most of the way there. (I had to stop and use a pay phone to call home and have my sister check my messages. Come to think of it, there must be a way to check my voicemail remotely. But I don't know what it is.) I was already most of the way to the city, so I decided to keep going and stop at the library. (I entertained the idea of going all the way to Brooklyn for research, instead, but luckily decided against it. I later learned that that borough hadn't been plowed yet.)

An early start on my New Year's goals! Go me! However, I was armed only with a copy of my resume, and a list of references - none of my genealogy notes, nor my notebooks for taking genealogy notes. I worked primarily from memory, and wasted some time on extra research, like using City Directories to look up addresses I already knew.

I primarily looked at the 1875 New York State Census, but I wasn't able to locate the family I had most wanted to find. One of my goals for the coming year is to find out where Matthew Madigan came from, so I had hoped to find the Madigan family. Finding them living at 85 Luqueer St. would also have provided a clue as to when the house was built. I didn't find them, though, so I suspect they may not have yet moved from Manhattan (where they lived in 1870) to Brooklyn (where they lived in 1880). Unfortunately, the Manhattan returns were destroyed before they could be filmed, and the information no longer exists. (Matthew Madigan did not show up in the 1875 NYC Directory for either Manhattan or Brooklyn.) However, I found a couple of Mulvaney families and the Toners. I was glad to find the Toners, as I haven't been able to find them in either 1880 or 1892.

Spending all day poring over microfilm made me feel like a real live genealogist.

Pay phones and microfilm, all in one day. How very retro of me!

Monday, December 27, 2010

2011 Family History Goals

I'm not nearly as organized in my research as I should be. For 2010, I'm trying to come up with a few specific research questions to answer, and I intend to devote much of my research time to those questions. I know I'm supposed to focus on one line at a time, but frankly, for me, that's a recipe for getting bored and giving up, so I'm trying to come up with one primary question for each of a few different lines.

1. Who were Matthew Madigan's parents?
2. Who built the house at 85 Luqueer Street?
3. When did Richard Toner die?
4. What killed Patricia Mary Gillan Chase Marra and her daughters, Patricia and Michele Elizabeth Chase, on New Year's Eve, 1947?
5. What happened to Mary Mulvany?
6. Where was Mary D'Ingeo Gatto born?
7. Who were Hugh Quinn's parents?

To answer these questions, I would like to:

Finally visit my local Family History Center
Visit the Brooklyn Historical Society
Visit the NYPL's Milstein Division
Visit the various research rooms in the downtown Brooklyn county government complex
Devote some time to browsing the Brazil Catholic Church Records and the Brazil, Sao Paolo Burial Records at
Familiarize myself with Florida genealogy

Family History Related Personal Goals:

Get a job, so I can once again afford to order the records I need
Create vital records for my descendants to find! (namely, a marriage license and marriage record, this coming April!)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

The genealogy of Christ: he is conceived and born of a virgin

In honor of today's feast, I reproduce here the beginning of the first chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew.

The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac. And Isaac begot Jacob. And Jacob begot Judas and his brethren. And Judas begot Phares and Zara of Thamar. And Phares begot Esron. And Esron begot Aram. And Aram begot Aminadab. And Aminadab begot Naasson. And Naasson begot Salmon. And Salmon begot Booz of Rahab. And Booz begot Obed of Ruth. And Obed begot Jesse.
And Jesse begot David the king. And David the king begot Solomon, of her that had been the wife of Urias. And Solomon begot Roboam. And Roboam begot Abia. And Abia begot Asa. And Asa begot Josaphat. And Josaphat begot Joram. And Joram begot Ozias. And Ozias begot Joatham. And Joatham begot Achaz. And Achaz begot Ezechias. And Ezechias begot Manasses. And Manasses begot Amon. And Amon begot Josias.
And Josias begot Jechonias and his brethren in the transmigration of Babylon. And after the transmigration of Babylon, Jechonias begot Salathiel. And Salathiel begot Zorobabel. And Zorobabel begot Abiud. And Abiud begot Eliacim. And Eliacim begot Azor. And Azor begot Sadoc. And Sadoc begot Achim. And Achim begot Eliud. And Eliud begot Eleazar. And Eleazar begot Mathan. And Mathan begot Jacob.
And Jacob begot Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ. So all the generations, from Abraham to David, are fourteen generations. And from David to the transmigration of Babylon, are fourteen generations: and from the transmigration of Babylon to Christ are fourteen generations.
Matthew 1:1-17

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

Dear Genea-Santa, I've got some ideas for you

Dear Genea-Santa,

Everyone else wrote to you last week, but I've got a letter of a different sort. No requests, just a suggestion. Maybe you could get some institutions to work on it with you for next year.

Wouldn't it be fabulous if records repositories offered gift certificates?! I'm sure I'm not the only family historian to have the experience I've had this season. You're asked, "What do you want for Christmas?" And you simply can't think of anything you need. "But isn't there anything you'd like?" Well, there's great-great-grandma Mary King's death certificate, available at the NYC Department of Health . . . or Aunt Agnes's death certificate, which has to be ordered from Albany . . . or any of a dozen other records you know the location of, but haven't gotten your hands on yet. It's not quite the same as asking for a pair of boots from Nordstrom, or a jacket that has to be ordered from L.L.Bean. And you kind of get funny looks when you ask for them. (I know, because I tried it this year!)

But if there were a way to make hundred-year-old birth certificates available as gifts that lay people (you know, non-genealogists) could understand, maybe they'd take advantage of it, to our advantage! Genea-Santa, you're a genealogist. You understand the kind of excitement that would greet, say, a gift certificate good for 2 birth certificates and a death certificate from your local archives. What genealogist wouldn't love to pull out of his stocking a gift certificate for $50 towards marriage records from an ancestral village?

So work on that, Genea-Santa, because I know what I'd love to find under the tree next year!

Merry Christmas!



Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Help me do a good deed this holiday season

This is not about family history. But it is about family - about finding a beautiful little boy a family for the future.

I've recently become aware of a wonderful charity called Reece's Rainbow. A 501(c)3 non-profit, Reece's Rainbow raises grant money for the international adoption of children with Down Syndrome. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, babies with any physical or mental disability are often abandoned to orphanages soon after birth. Facing almost no possibility of being adopted in their own countries, they are sent to mental institutions at age 4, 5, or 6. Conditions in these institutions are terrible (here is a Human Rights Watch report on Russian institutions; conditions are similar throughout Eastern Europe), and many children do not survive. Many of these children with special needs have only one chance for a long, healthy, and productive life - or any life at all - and that one chance is international adoption.

There are many, many families out there who would love to adopt one of these little children, but the high price tag of adoption - it can cost $20K or more - makes it impossible. This holiday season, I have signed up to raise money for one specific little boy on Reece's Rainbow - Colby. You can see his picture in the icon on the right sidebar. He is a beautiful blond-haired, four-year-old boy with Down Syndrome who, because of his age, is at significant risk of being transferred to an institution soon. Having a grant fund of any size significantly increases the chances that Colby will be adopted, and will not spend the rest of his life languishing in a mental institution.

I don't do things like this often, but this is important. Colby's life depends on it. This holiday season, can you find it in your heart to make a donation to his grant fund?

If you click on the icon in the sidebar, it will take you to the Reece's Rainbow site, where you can follow the "click here" link and scroll down to find Colby's name and picture. Click "add," and a donation to Colby's grant fund will be added to your cart, seen on the upper right side of the page. (The default donation is $35, but you should be able to increase or decrease this amount on the next page.) All donations are tax deductible.

"I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do."
~Helen Keller

Update: Because I have neither the experience nor the ability to convey the desperate need these children face, I'm linking to a post by a woman who recently adopted a son from an Eastern European institution. The heart-wrenching conditions she describes are what face these orphans if they are transferred out of the baby houses. May I suggest you read The Sad Reality by Julia at Micah Six Eight

Monday, December 20, 2010

Wedding Photos

This post goes out primarily to my cousins - distant and not-so-distant - who may read this blog. Ben and I have decided that we'd like to include our* family history obsession in our wedding celebration, and so we're collecting the wedding pictures of our direct antecedents to incorporate into our decor. We have most pictures of our parents, grandparents, and some great-grandparents, but we'd like to collect as many as possible.

Some pictures we're looking for, if they exist - (some of these predate the widespread availability of photography, but it can't hurt to ask) :

Marilyn Mulcahy & William O'Hara
Veronica Mulvaney & Joseph Mulcahy
Mary Madigan & Michael Mulcahy
Margaret Sullivan & Matthew Madigan
Johanna Roche & Matthew Madigan (Johanna's not a direct antecedent, but I'll take what I can get)
Margaret Ryan & James Mulcahy
Julia Toner & Patrick Mulvaney
Bridget Rothwell & James Mulvaney
Mary Cullen & Richard Toner
Mary Quinn & John O'Hara
Mary King & John O'Hara
Bridget Hopkins & Michael King
Margaret C---- & Nicholas King
Bridget Kearney & Patrick O'Hara
Mary Gillen & Hugh Quinn
Mary Nora Grimes & Martin Gillen 

If you happen to have photos - preferably wedding photos, but other photos of the couples named would be appreciated, too - please contact me at kathleen.scarlett.ohara AT gmail DOT com.

*we're getting married. I can start saying "we" are obsessed with genealogy now, right?

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories - Christmas Stockings

My family had a variety of different stockings growing up. My dad's was the one he had as a boy; my mom's was a traditional looking red stocking; mine was white with a print, and Laura's, similarly, was red with a print; Anna's was a traditional red and white, like mom's.

Everyone's has their names on it. I had never loved the way the name on mine looked, so, at maybe 12 or so, I tried to rewrite it on the opposite side. That side came out worse. While I like my stocking, of course, it never 100% lived up to my ideals of what a stocking could be.

This is supposed to be the Advent Calendar of Christmas Memories, but I've got the ghost of Christmas future hanging around me these days, what with the wedding and the rest of my life coming up.

Ben and I recently discussed what to do about Christmas stockings next year, for our first married Christmas. Do we take our stockings from our parents' houses? Buy new ones? Neither one seemed right. Just buying new stockings seemed so . . . callous. How could you just replace your Christmas stocking? But taking our childhood stockings from our parents' houses seemed a little bit like, I don't know, tearing our childhood families apart. It made me sad to imagine just four stockings hanging on my parents' mantle. The stocking family would look like it had lost a child.

We came up with another option. Replacing our childhood stockings at Target seemed soulless, but I thought we could invest new stockings with lots of soul if they were homemade. I'm going to spend some portion of the next year crocheting us stockings! I may pick up some Christmas colored yarn at some after Christmas sales, or I may just use the red and white yarn I happen to have at home. At the moment, I'm leaning towards using this pattern from Crochet Today magazine. The beauty part of it is that if I vary the orders of the colors, the stockings can match without being identical, plus I can always make additional matching-but-not-identical stockings in the future, should our stocking family ever need to expand!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Brooklyn House History

I've long had it in the back of my mind that I really should research the history of 85 Luquer Street in Brooklyn, the house where my great-grandfather, Joseph Mulcahy, was born. I've been told that it, along with 89 Luquer Street next door, was built by his grandfather, Matthew Madigan, but I cannot yet prove it. The family was living there as early as 1880; census records don't indicate whether they owned or rented until the 1920 census indicates that Mary Madigan Mulcahy, Matthew's daughter and Joesph's mother, owned it.
85 Luquer Street, at the far left

Now that my interest regarding the property has been peaked yet again (by our friendly family ghost, perhaps?), I'm getting interested in seeing what I can learn about it.

I've used the NYC Department of Buildings and Department of Finance websites to determine the BBL, or Borough, Block, and Lot number, necessary for finding any information about a NYC building. (It's 3/373/52.) Each of these websites allows you to search for different documents relating to a property; however, the documents available online date to well after my family's occupancy of the house. Deeds and mortgages prior to 1966 should be available at the Brooklyn City Register's Office, so that's one step in my journey towards the history of 85 Luquer St.

Another step is going to be to go to the Brooklyn Historical Society to look at their Brooklyn Land Conveyance Collection.

Now, to get to Brooklyn one of these days!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Search Terms - "85 luquer"

I was just glancing over the search terms that led people to this blog over the past month, and a curious string of them caught my eye:

tragic "85 luquer" street brooklyn ny
death "85 luquer" street brooklyn ny
ghost "85 luquer" street
obituary "85 luquer" street brooklyn ny

Clearly all entered by the same searcher, but Google doesn't tell me any more than that. I know of several 85 Luquer Street deaths - either deaths that happened there, or residents thereof who died elsewhere - but I don't know of any particular tragedies. 85 Luquer Street was the ancestral home of my Madigan and Mulcahy lines, rumored to have been built by my great-great-great-grandfather Matthew Madigan.

A list of death:
-Margaret (Sullivan) Madigan, 1880-1888  - died while a resident, location unknown
-Matthew Madigan, 1892 - died while a resident, location unknown
-Matthew Madigan, Jr., 1892-3 - died while a resident, location unknown
-Josephine Madigan, 1892-3 - died while a resident, location unknown
-unknown Madigan - possibly died a resident, location unknown
(That's probably the most tragic string of deaths I know of at 85 Luquer. Margaret died between 1880 and 1888, and Matthew remarried and had 3-4 more children. In the 1892 NYS Census (enumerated 16 Feb. 1892), he's listed with the children from his first marriage, his second wife, and 3 young children from his second marriage. In September, he died. By the time his estate was administered in April 1893, 2 of those young children, Matthew Jr. and Josephine, weren't listed among his heirs. 1892 was certainly a tragic year for Matthew's wife, Johanna Roche Madigan. But I never suspected anything more tragic than low life expectancy and high infant mortality.)
-Stillborn Baby Mulcahy, c.  - I've been told that one of the Mulcahy children had a twin who was stillborn and/or died at birth
-Michael Mulcahy, 1917 - died at French Hospital while a resident of 85 Luquer St.
-Mary Madigan Mulcahy, 1927 - died at Holy Family Hospital while a resident of 85 Luquer St.

Of course, 85 Luquer St. had several other apartments, as well, and there could have been tragedies happening around the Madigan and Mulcahy families that I am not yet aware of. I'd love to know what led the searcher to know or suspect that there were tragedies or ghosts at 85 Luquer!

I don't believe in ghosts, but I admit I did get very excited by the possibility that one of my ancestors is still hanging around the old Brooklyn homestead!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010