Discovering Our Family Through Newspapers – 1934

I’ve really been enjoying my recent subscription to a newspaper archive. While searching the New Jersey newspapers for any articles about our Doran Clan, I came across this one below. I realized instantly that it pertained to our family, because of the Rafferty and Doran surnames, and the location of East Newark, New Jersey. That town is across the river from Newark and right next to Harrison. What I really loved about it is that my great-uncle Bill Doran was so understanding. James Rafferty was his nephew, and James must have been very trusting of the police to approach them for help or gas money to get back home. James’ mother was Elizabeth Doran Rafferty, and Bill’s sister, and she had just died a little over a year before this incident.


James Rafferty was the second son of Tom and Elizabeth Rafferty, and he was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1912. He married Harriet Zimmerman in New Jersey. A few years back my brother and I visited two of Bill and Rosina Doran’s children, and their spouses, and they had said the two relatives that always came by when their mother, Rosina, was ill and dying, was Jim and Harriet Rafferty. I didn’t know about this stolen or “borrowed” car story then, but what strikes me now is how a kindness is almost always returned.

Old newspapers can turn up all sorts of headlines, and what a joy that more and more they are now available for browsing right from home. With you can email, save to your computer, and post on your family tree. What I also like is doing something my daughter taught me, which is taking a screen shot of the page, and saving it to my photos.

Jim Rafferty was my first cousin once removed, and I don’t remember him as well as his brother, John, who had a fascinating bike shop in Newark when I was a child. I do remember my father saying that he and his buddies would hot wire cars in Newark when they were teenagers, and as a lark move them to a different location. I think this incident was not hijinks, but perhaps there was an emergency and a valid reason for taking the car. Maybe Jim tried to reach his uncle and couldn’t, or someone didn’t give a message. We will never know, but it is wonderful that all ended well. Good job, Great Uncle Bill, for taking care of family! This photo is of Bill and Rosina Evans Doran on their 1920 wedding day in England, curtesy of their daughter.

William John Doran and Rosina Evens – 1920 – Canning Town, West Ham, England

This photo is of a young James Rafferty with his family. He is the handsome young lad standing in front of his father, Tom.

Thomas and Elizabeth Doran Rafferty family with children: Sarah, James, and John. Photo from Robin Rafferty Benesh.

I’m so happy we got to meet Jim’s youngest brother, Tom Rafferty, Jr., and hear about what his life was like growing up in the city when times were tough. What a delight to also meet some of his family. Later, meeting Bill and Rosina Doran’s family was also a wonderful day of sharing stories and photographs.

Good luck discovering your family through newspapers.

Copyright 2017 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

8 thoughts on “Discovering Our Family Through Newspapers – 1934

  1. What a sweet and revealing story. I love the newspaper archives also—they shed light on people in ways that birth, marriage, and death records and even census records never can.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great story and great pictures. I too enjoy looking through the newspaper archives…it’s such a thrill when you find a story that relates to a family member!


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