Year In Review – 2016 – Dedicated to Babcia and Nana

This year our research is dedicated to our grandmothers.

Sophia Szczerba Mirota (1879-1953) and Mary Margaret Mahoney Doran (1895-1961). AKA Bapcia and Nana.
Sophia Szczerba Mirota (1879-1953) and Mary Mahoney Doran (1895-1961). My grandmothers – Babcia and Nana.

This year in family research Genealogy Sisters had good luck with our grandmothers. I’ve been an advocate of DNA research since 2005 when I first had my mtDNA (Mitochondrial DNA) tested, to learn more about my heritage passed down from mothers to daughters. This tests back to your earliest maternal side, and gives a haplotype. My haplogroup is H. Later I added an autosomal Family Finder test with Family Tree DNA (FTDNA). This year I decided to also do an autosomal test with AncestryDNA. With the results I was able to confirm matches for both of my grandmothers lines.

My third great-grandmother, Mariana Filip, was born about 1823 in a remote village in south-west Poland. She married Tomasz Olszewski. Mariana was my Polish (Sophia or Zofia) grandmother’s grandmother. The nearby town is called Bobowa, and it has a cluster of smaller hamlets surrounding it. One of my 2nd to 4th cousin matches also had a Polish ancestor with the Filip surname, named Casimir, born about 1879. They would have been born about the very same time, possibly in the same house, or nearby homes. After corresponding with the daughter-in-law of the person I matched with, my sister and I discovered this other Filip also came from this area, and even from the same little village, Stróżna. Here in my sister, Veronica’s words:

By the way, all of the little towns that are part of Bobowa are listed online at under that town.  But our grandparents would have said their families lived in Berdechów, Brzana Dolna, Brzana Górna, Jankowa, Sędziszowa, Siedliska, Stróżna, or Wilczyska depending on where in Bobowa the houses were located. And the microfilm records are organized by those village names.”

It is possible that we share my 3rd grandmother, Mariana Filip. How precise to match to this tiny little corner of the world!

Another wonderful DNA discovery was a Mahoney match that confirmed a family that my sister and I had been researching. I sent a message on and quickly received a reply. This Irish Mahoney family had lived in Newark, New Jersey, right across the Passaic River from where my grandmother’s (Nana) Mahoney family lived in Harrison. My grandmother’s brothers had been named John, Timothy, James, Michael, and Peter. Her parents were John and Mary Mahoney or Mahony, both born in Ireland. This other Mahoney family had parents named Timothy and Mary Mahoney, both born in Ireland, and three of their sons were named John, Timothy, and Michael. Also, my grandmother’s godfather had been a Timothy Mahoney. Yippee! We match on second to fourth cousins, right where we should!

Since we now know when Timothy Mahoney, Sr., died, I have sent in a genealogy request for his death record from the New Jersey Archives. I’m hoping his death record will show where he was born. Most likely it will come back simply “born in Ireland”, but I’m hoping it will give an actually town. From my autosomal DNA tests, most likely our Mahoney clan came from County Cork. That confirms what our family said, that the Mahoneys and Carters came from County Cork and Dublin.

I also have many matches from Belfast, Northern Ireland, where my grandfather, Barney Doran, was born in 1890. It seems I match more closely with his mother’s side, the Hall family. I’m hoping some recent family DNA tests will help with the Irish side. It was nice to know that I match closely with a first cousin on my Irish side. Now with two more of my siblings testing, we hope to find out more and break down some brick walls. Each child inherits random gene recombination from each parent, and only identical twins have identical profiles. I’m also really excited that one of my second cousins has recently sent his DNA test in! Thanks, Bob! I’m hoping we will find out more about our Doran side.

If you start looking into DNA research and become confused by the language, here is a link from Family Tree Magazine, called Learn the DNA Lingo:

My sister and I continue to receive wonderful emails and letters from kinfolks and genealogy friends. I was very happy to send a packet of photographs back to a childhood friend of my mother, named Mary. This delightful lady is in her 90s now and she enjoyed seeing the photos that brought back happy memories of her youth. My sister has continued work compiling family records from a few other Polish villages our family came from, along with a Polish researcher that could be related to us. He shares one of our surnames and this summer he went back to one of our ancestral villages. The photos are lovely.

I have so many fond memories of looking over scanned in records at archives and LDS centers with my sissy, and also visiting cemeteries and courthouses. I’m so thankful she shares my addiction to genealogy. This year she handed over a few more boxes of old family photographs, so thanks, Sis!

In this photo below Nana is seated on the left. On a very sad note, one of our beloved family members died just before Christmas. Harry Peck, standing and wearing a white shirt, was twenty-two years old in this picture. Uncle Harry was very interested in genealogy and was often seen jotting down family information from his wife’s Doran side. I would say he was one of the first people that got me interested in keeping family records.

Copyright Genealogy Sisters 2016
1952 – Readington Township, New Jersey. Copyright Genealogy Sisters 2016

Good luck researching your family in the year ahead. Happy New Year!

Copyright 2016 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

11 thoughts on “Year In Review – 2016 – Dedicated to Babcia and Nana

  1. I had no idea how sophisticated the research methods have become. I don’t think I have patience or time for the amount of effort involved but it’s incredible how much you’ve unearthed. Wishing you a joyful new year. 🙂


  2. I decided to look up my grandparents, Harry and Elizabeth (Doran) Peck, after my recent Grandpa’s passing, and have been very pleasantly surprised to see pictures of them, some I have never seen before, along with information about my family tree and ancestors. My father was Steven Peck, their fourth child. Thank you for your blog, I enjoy seeing the pictures and learning about my family history!


    1. Sandra, I’m so glad you have enjoyed reading what my sister and I post about our family! You are my first cousin once removed, and I hope you continue to learn more about your roots! 💕


      1. I just want to join Maryann in saying I am glad to hear from you too Sandra. I spent many happy hours at your grandparents farm in Long Valley on Schooley Mountain and miss them both. Veronica


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