William John Doran (1893 – 1961)

William John Doran (1893 - 1961) - taken with my iPad of an original belonging to his children.
William John Doran (1893 – 1961) – taken with my iPad of an original belonging to his children.

This last August my brother, John, and I had the great good fortune of meeting two of William John Doran’s children, and their spouses, in New Jersey. William John’s brother, Bernard, was our grandfather. This is one of the photographs they had saved of their father. William John Doran was born in Belfast, County Antrim, Ireland on 21 July 1893, and died in New Jersey on 11 August 1961.

When looking for military records it is very helpful to have the exact birth-date, to sort through the many records available. Since William John looks rather young in this picture, I think it could have been taken while he served with the New Jersey National Guard. There are a few British military records that look like a close match, but they only show the year of birth as 1893, and that the William Doran was born in Belfast. Doran is a very common Irish name, so the British search results are still inclusive.

This record of William Doran’s World War One Draft Registration is definitely his. You can click on any of the images to enlarge them.

Source: New Jersey Archives. World War One Draft Cards. Registration County: Hudson; Roll: 1712199; Draft Board: 4.
Source: New Jersey Archives. World War One Draft Cards. Registration County: Hudson; Roll: 1712199; Draft Board: 4.

What was so interesting to my sister and I when we found this, was that we found another WWI draft registration card belonging to another great-uncle of ours, John Mahoney, with the same exact address, 11 Hamilton Street, Harrison, New Jersey, from June 1917. Perhaps the two men met each other when Bernard Doran married Mary Mahoney in Harrison in January of 1917, and decided to live together together. During the 1920 Federal Census of Harrison, Hudson County, NJ, taken on the 5th of January, the residents of 11 Hamilton Street, were my great-grandmother, Mary Carter Mahoney, her three sons – John, Timothy, and Peter, and also a young male Irish-American boarder named Francis Riely [Source: Year: 1920; Census Place: Harrison Ward 1, Hudson, New Jersey; Roll: T625_1041; Page: 4B; Enumeration District: 54; Image: 594, accessed at ancestry.com].

William John Doran served one year in the 1st Regiment of the New Jersey National Guard. On his 1930 New Jersey Federal Census return he put down that he wasn’t a veteran, so I don’t think he served in the United States Armed Forces, except for his time in the National Guard.

His brother, Bernard Doran, served for four years in the First Infantry, Company M, National Guard of New Jersey, from his enlistment date of 15 October 1914, so it is possible that the two brothers served together for that one year.

Here’s a picture from August of my brother with William John Doran’s son. Ted and his sister, and their spouses, filled us in on lots of stories about their parents, William John and Rosina Evans Doran, and our grandparents, and family. They repeated what I had heard from my father, and other relatives, that William John and Bernard Doran looked so closely alike that people thought they were twins. I think there is also a resemblance between my brother and Ted Doran. We are so grateful we had this opportunity to meet our new cousins!

Doran Cousins - August 2015. Copyright 2015 - Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.
Doran Cousins – Copyright 2015 – Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

3 thoughts on “William John Doran (1893 – 1961)

  1. Hi Maryann – great post. I thought I’d take a quick look into the William Dornan British Military record for you, see if it might be your man. I took a look on the 1911 Irish census – found William John Dornan aged 18 living at 77B Upper Meadow Street, Belfast with his father William John – a Blacksmith aged 40 and his wife Harriet aged 38, a sister Annie Lorna aged 16, brother Benjamin aged 14, brother James aged 12, brother Herbert aged 10, sister Harriet aged 7, sister Jane aged 5 and a relative named William Benjamin Garbutt aged 62 born Scotland. It shows that William John snr and Harriett had been married for 19 years and had 7 children of which none had died in infancy. William John jnr was an Apprentice Iron Moulder. The British WWI Military record for William Dornan gives an address of 15 Cheltenham Street, Barrow (this is Barrow in Furness in Cumbria, England) and his occupation as Iron and Steel Moulder. His next of kin is his father William Dornan of 77B Upper Meadow St, Belfast. Later pages in the record give his full name as William John Dornan and date of birth as 12th May 1893 son of William John & Harriett. So the date of birth doesn’t match up with yours, and it looks like there is a death in 1948 in Fylde district in Lancashire (not far from Barrow) for a William J Dornan born around 1893 which could relate to this guy. There are two births in the Belfast district for a William John Dornan – one in Apr/May/June Q 1892 and one in Apr/May/June Q 1893. It looks unlikely that he served over here before going to New Jersey. Hope that information helps!


    1. Alex, I thank you for your excellent detective work! I’m thinking that since William John spent so much time on ships as a fireman during the World War One years that he didn’t serve with the British Forces. We have seen variations of our last name with the most common being Dorran, also Dorian or Dorien, and Dornan. Interesting I have never seen O’Doran, but have seen misspelling of Moran. It’s always good to check for variations. We know William John Doran’s parents were Bernard and Mary Hall Doran, and that his mother died when he was a young child, and his father remarried a Mary Kane. Thanks for your help. I just took a look at your excellent blog!


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