Genealogy Sisters – 2012 Year in Review

2012 was a good year for us. We have much to be thankful for. About a year ago my sister and I started writing this blog together. In reviewing the past year I noticed that Maryann has published nearly one blog a week! I am woefully lagging behind. Regardless, we never imagined we’d write more than 70 posts in our first year!

This past year Maryann and I also created our own website to publish our family research, So far we have pages for Barnes, Doran, Horn, Mahoney, and Mirota. We co-write all of the pages of our website, Maryann provides most of the photography and I have learned how to use Adobe Dreamweaver software to create and update our website. Thank you to for hosting our site and for coming to my aid when I need programming advice.

One of the big events (genealogical speaking) of the year was the release of the 1940 U. S. Federal Census. We jumped right in letting our fingers do the walking street by street looking through the census records for family and friends. By some miracle we found everyone we were looking for, except for our mother. If you haven’t delved into the 1940 census you are really missing some good information to help you with your research.

Highlights of 2012:

We began to unravel two murder mysteries of the late 1890s when we found archived newspaper articles online about both events.

  • The first mystery was finding out more about how Olive Stewart (Nee Albert) died in August of 1897.  We had wondered if she was murdered as some members of the family maintain or was it just an awful accident? We had looked for information about her death for several years before finally locating the coroner’s report while on a trip to York Haven. We found that the coroner had ruled it an accidental drowning. This year we found our more about the circumstances of her death through several archived newspaper articles. At least one reporter suggested she might have been murdered based on the physical evidence. We may never know the whole truth, but we were fascinated to learn more about that day.
  • The second mystery we have been trying to discover the truth about was whether John Mahoney actually did kill a man in 1898 and if so who was the man and what really happened? The family legend was that John was a street car driver and he accidentally ran over a man in Brooklyn. He was told he could avoid prosecution if he moved his family out of New York, which he did in 1898.  We have searched all kinds of records, again to no avail, for years compounded by the fact that John Mahoney was a fairly common name in Brooklyn at the time. In 2012 we finally found out more about our John Mahoney in the online archives of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. However, initially we had been investigating the wrong angle to the story because we believed John Mahoney was a street car driver or conductor. According to a newspaper article we found there WAS a John Mahoney who accidentally ran over a man with a street car. But that John Mahoney was the wrong age, the timing didn’t fit, and his address didn’t seem to be in the right neighborhood.  Then we came across some other newspaper articles about a John Mahoney who was arrested as a witness and possible suspect of the murder of a man named Patrick Gilligan. This John Mahoney was taken in for questioning as he was the last person seen on the street corner with Gilligan. Two other men were also questioned and released. Not sure how the story changed along the way. Maybe the other John Mahoney was a relative of his with the same name and the stories got mixed up in the telling.

The upside of researching the Mahoney story was that the newspaper printed John Mahoney’s address. From that information we were finally able to determine which parish the family attended. I wrote to the parish priest asking him to search the church records. The parish priest sent me copies of the baptism records for two of the children, Mary and Timothy Mahoney. Now we have the sponsor names to wonder about. Were they relatives? More work to do (yeah).

The other big highlight of 2012 was that Maryann received the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) records for Bernard, James, and John Doran. Each set of records cost a small fortune but for my genealogical obsessed sister this was not a stone (or three stones) she was going to leave unturned. Thank you again Maryann! It was so interesting to know more about the CCC experience that so radically changed the direction of James’ life (for the better).

So many other pieces of the family history puzzles were discovered in a variety of places over the past year. Really too much to mention. A few random “finds” that come to mind are:

  • John Henry Horn’s passport application of 18xx when he went back to Hesse Darmstadt Germany to visit family a few weeks after his brother Adam Horn died.
  • School newspaper articles about Cornelia Dakin that explain when and why she dropped out of Barnyard College despite having excellent grades and enjoying many extracurricular activities (to get married).
  • Figuring out who many of the women were who contributed to Cornelia Dakin’s recipe journal. I’m determined to figure out who each contributor was but some of the clues are almost impossible to follow.  I’m slowly transcribing her recipes into digital form to distribute to the family.
  • We found out a little more about what happened to the Pearson children after their parents Amos and Ellen (Doran) Pearson died in the early 1930s. And  we were happy to learn that they had inherited the Doran gene for perennial optimism that seems to carry this clan through any crisis.
  • Maryann sent for and received the marriage certificate for William J. Doran and Rosina Evans that took place in Canning Town, London, in 1920. This record also enabled us to put a time frame around Bernard Doran, Sr.’s death as he was reported as already deceased by his son.
  • We may have found online the County Cork, Ireland baptism records for the children of John Mahoney, Sr. and Bridget Buckley. If it is truly them then we obviously have to travel to Ireland to search the parish records (hint, hint to my dear husband … I promise we can play golf while we are there!)

Mostly, we have really enjoyed sharing our research, family stories, and old photos with our readers this year. We love getting comments and email from you and we always enjoy reading your blogs too. Wishing you all a prosperous, healthy, and interesting new year and much luck with your genealogy research in 2013!

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