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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Irish Mutt? No, It's My Pedigree

In recent months, I've been thinking to myself that I am such an Irish mutt.  I've got McGuire, Flanagan, Hickey, Coughlin, McLaughlin, Maxwell, Shaffrey, Gartland, Bellew, Kirwan, O'Brien, and Maguire in my blood.  What a combination.  It would appear that I am also a McGrath, McMahon, and maybe a few more.  The further back that I go, the more Irish I become.  While Maxwell may, in fact, be Scottish, they were living in Ireland so that makes them Irish, right?

I have been thinking though.  I need to scratch that word "mutt" out of the picture here.  What I am referring to is my Irish "pedigree".  Yes, my pedigree includes all of those who came before me in Ireland.  It's looking like I am about 70% Irish.  Do I look like I fit in there?  Probably.  I do look like a cousin who lives there.  Her parents find it pretty uncanny.

Am I descendant of Irish Kings?  I'm not sure and, frankly, really don't care much about that.  I do descend from hardworking, educated, some middle class, farmers.  Everyone appears to be Catholic too.   It is amazing how that has remained true for so many years.

So, if you find yourself to be substanially Irish, remember, you're not just a mutt, that's your Irish Pedigree!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Napa, California History Revisited - Part 3

Ebb and flow.....Sometimes overflow and flood.......In 1986, the worst of 23 floods in all recorded history of Napa, California occurred, killing 3 people.  A few hundred homes were destroyed.  My own family in Napa at the time escaped any injury or damage. 

Yes, the Napa River runs north to south through Napa, California.  It certainly does flow and overflows sometimes.  Do uncontrolled waterways overflow their banks?  They do and Napa has flooded on a number of occasions as I mentioned above.  There is no levy system along these banks and no real intention of ever putting one in. 

At this point in the life of the Napa River, there are areas designated as "overflow" areas set in place as part of the Napa River Flood Project that was started in 2000 and will be completed in 2015.  Much of the project restores wetlands and, in turn, is intended to prevent major flooding in the downtown and populated areas of Napa.  Flooding along the Napa River is an important part of the city's history.

Earthquakes have impacted the City of Napa, California in its history but that is sometimes considered rather commonplace in this part of the country.  I did not see much of a mention about earthquakes in this book.  Actually, the book has lots of photos of some places that I have been and others that I haven't.  Lake Berryessa is mentioned under which the old town of Monticello rests.  I've waterskiied on that lake plenty.

What I miss is the mention of all of the cultures and people who helped form Napa.  There were plenty of Italian and German immigrants to this area who bascially started making wine by the 1860s or thereabouts.  There were also Chinese immgrants who settled in Napa, California.  These were people who for many years have been the forgotten in Napa history.  I did find them mentioned in this book.  They were in the valley until the Chinese Exclusion Act of the 1880s.  Chinatown in Napa was located in a sandy stretch of First and Second Streets near Soscol Avenue.

So...."Images of America, Napa"...It's an interesting photo book with some facts about the history of Napa.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Napa, California History Revisited - Part 2

I was trying to hunt down some photos of General Vallejo's home in Sonoma, California.  My fourth grade field trip was to Sonoma, California which included the mission, the barracks and General Vallejo's home.  That sounds like a quick trip....not exactly.  Let's just say that as a 4th grader I probably did not have the level of historical appreciation that I do now for these locations.

Today you can visit the well preserved Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma and the Sonoma Barracks located right off the town square of Sonoma.  Town square you say?  Yes, and it is probably just as you might envision.  It is rather Americana but with a Sonoma Valley slant.  There are specialty retail shops around the square, historic buildings, the cheese factory, and some lovely places to eat and drink.  It is sophisticated history with a beautiful park setting in the middle.  My young children love the playground and picnicking at the park.  It is a little piece of heaven in my opinion.  General Vallejo's house is located just a quick drive away from the town square.

So why do I bring Sonoma up at this juncture in Napa history?  Well, it is hard to separate the two from each other when you talk about he Mexican Government and their occupation of the area.  General Mariano Vallejo was sent by his government as a military enforcer and leader for the area.  Salvador Vallejo, Mariano's brother, led soilders in battle in the Napa area against the local Indians.  He eventually ran cattle in the area.

Some of what I've gleaned from reading this book about Napa is in reference to several prominent families and their homes.  While it is interesting, I am looking for something with more depth than just wealth and prestige.  What about those who were just living a normal everyday life or those who were forgotten yet helped make Napa what it is today?

To be continued.................

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Napa, California History Revisited - Part 1

My historical interest in Napa, California, lives very much in me.  I seek my family line but also find Napa's past quite interesting.  It's not all about wine but that does play a large role in the history of the Napa Valley.  Recently, I borrowed a book that my mom bought at Costco entitled "Images of Amercia, Napa".  You can find these books all over the place for various locations.  This book was essentially written by The Napa Valley Museum and Lin Weber.  It is very well written.  Does it include the history that I seek?  Maybe....I'm about to find out.  The following posts will include my notes from the book.

The original occupants of Napa came there about 6,000 years ago.  The group of Native Americans, who are known to the Napa Valley as the original occupants, were the Wappo Indians.  I must pause here to question if it is ok to refer to Native Americans as Indians in this day and age.  The answer that I have is "yes".  My husband has worked and works for two Indian tribes in California.  They do refer to themselves as Indians - Piaute and Wintun Indians.  They do have more formal names as sovereign nations.  California has many Indian reservations but I have not found any in the Napa Valley.

Back to Napa........The Wintun Indians were in Napa also.  In fact, they pushed the Wappo's to the northern part of the valley while they took the southern part of the valley.  The tides turned when the Mexican government (newly formed by Spanish dessenters) came to the area in 1823.  The Wintun occupied the area that Mexico claimed in the southern part of Napa and Sonoma Vallies.  While the Wintun and Wappo's were forcibly removed from the land in certain areas, their real enemy was the disease that came with these Europeans.

I've been to the museum in Yountville, California, next to the Veterans Home.  At the time and maybe even now, they have exhibits of Indian relics on exhibition.  I need to venture back to the Napa Valley Museum soon located at 55 Presidents Circle, Yountville, California.  Maybe I'll stop for a taste of bubbly at Domaine Chandon and take in the picturesque view of the Veterans Home against the back drop of rolling hills and vineyards.  You can trust that place is not your typical Veterans Home.  Many people live there, enjoy it, and the food is apparently quite wonderful.  Isn't that what you'd expect from the Napa Valley?  Of course, you've got to be a veteran to live there though. 

Take a peek at the photo gallery on their site:

Veterans Home Yountville, CA

To be continued...........

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Maguire McGuire Surname Origins

The surname Maguire/McGuire and County Fermanagh are generally considered synonymous.  Fermanagh, known to many as "Maguire's Country", appears to be the best location to place the origins of this surname or Sept.  The name comes from the Irish Maguidhir, a derivative of Udhir and odhar which means dun-colored.  Mag is a form of Mac meaning son of.  The first instance of the name is in the Annals in 956 A.D.  By the 14th century, the Maguire's were the leading stronghold in Fermanagh, specifically in Enniskillen.  From 1300 to 1589, the Maguire's ruled Fermanagh and dominated the Ulster Province.

Donn Maguire was the first king who died in 1302.  By 1600, the Maguire's controlled County Fermanagh.  The English put a stop to the Maguire's expansion by 1600.  Hugh Maguire was the last to lead the Sept.  He initially went along with the English rule but later had no choice but to fight the English.  By the 1600s, many Maguire's had left Fermanagh because of the defeat by the English.

Now, from a personal standpoint, I am a Maguire and a McGuire.  Based on what I can discern about my Maguire's, they were in County Louth by the 1600s.  Were they escaping Fermanagh because of the English occupation there?  I would assume that the English occupied Louth by this time but maybe things there were a little more peaceful.  Let's not forget the Battle of the Boyne in 1690 in Louth though.  Anyway, from my own personal Flanagan/Maguire history, it is known that the Flanagan's left Roscommon for Louth around 1690 or so.  It is thought too that their Maguire neighbors' in Louth were there before that.  So the 1600s is an emigration timeframe for my Flanagan's and Maguire's in Ireland to County Louth, where they are still located today in Termonfechin. 

I recently had a distant Maguire relative in Termonfechin indicate that the old spelling for their surname was McGuire.  When and why the name changed is not clear to me.  Also, being that my maiden name is McGuire, I am intrigued as to the origins of the McGuire surname as a derivative of the Maguire name.  It would appear that the Maguire name came first.

If I trace back my McGuire name on my father's side of the family, will I find the Maguire name in Fermanagh?  If I trace my Maguire name on my mother's side of the family, will I find the McGuire name first and then Maguire?  At this point, I'd like to find the history and theory behind the two different modern day versions of the name Maguidhir.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Hickey Coughlin Research - Part 3

In my quest to find my Hickey's and Coughlin's, I recently placed some details on an message board in hopes of finding more connections to this family tree.  Below are my posts.....Sometimes I think my blog gets more attention than the message board at!

Patrick Hickey and Johanna Coughlin NYC
Post #1:
I am starting a new thread in hopes of pulling together more information about my great grandparents, Patrick and Johanna "Coughlin" Hickey. I would also like to try and push further back in time to Ireland before they immigrated to the USA. I plan to attach my research as replies to this message board post. My Hickey family tree on is under my sign-on, zelsersk as "Romaine McGuire Hickey Family Tree". My email address is My blog in which you can find a couple of entries about the Hickey's, is located at, entitled "Mine, Yours, and the Other Guys Genealogy". I am hoping to connect with some of my father's cousins who may know more about Patrick and Johanna. They had eight children, 6 of which were girls. The ladies went on to marry and that means that their Hickey maiden name changed to one of the following: McGuire, Fiztpatrick, Daily, Ford, Martini, and Kennedy. While my father knew all of his cousins, I have never meet them. I live in California and would like to connect some of the dots for my Hickey family tree. Any Coughlin information would be a great surprise and very welcome.
Post #2:
Patrick and Johanna's children were Anna Mary Hickey Kennedy, Eleanor Hickey Fitzpatrick, Josephine R Hickey McGuire, William Hickey, Margaret Hickey Ford, Kathleen Hickey Daily, Martin Hickey, and a Living Hickey/Martini. I will refrain from listing the final persons' full name out of respect and privacy for the living person. I do have more information. William Hickey was a postal worker who was killed in NYC around 1970. I do not have any information about his wife and/or children. I have Anna's husband and children's names. I have Eleanor's husband and children's names. I have the same for Margaret and Kathleen. Since my grandmother is Josephine Hickey McGuire, I of course have extensive information and photos. I have Martin's children's names but do not have his wife's name. As for the Martini's, I know that Michael Martini was my father's cousin who died on 9/11 at the towers in NYC. He was a firefighter. Any additional information would be great to have about this family. My own father, Brian E. McGuire, passed away in 2004 of cancer. He knew and could recall each and everyone of his Hickey cousins. I wish that I had written down all of the information.
Post #3:
The State of New York cannot find Patrick and Johanna "Coughlin" Hickey's marriage certificate. They were married in Rye, New York. Rye's website says that the state of NY has this information. I am disappointed to not be able to retrieve the marriage certificate. However, the Church of the Resurrection in Rye, New York, provided me with the following church marriage record for Patrick and Johanna.
"The date of the marriage was November 26, 1911. Priest was Fr. Meehan; witnesses were Michael Hickey and Margaret Coughlin. Patrick Hickey was baptized on November 20, 1884 in White Gate, County Clare, Ireland. Johanna Coughalin was baptized on February 9th, 1889 in County Clare, Ireland. At the time of the marriage, Patrick was living in NYC and Johanna in Rye."
So the baptismal dates are not necessarily their birthdates but are probably within a couple of weeks of their births at least.
Post #4:
Below is my research for the Coughlin and Hickey family line. I am placing it out here with hopes that someone knows more about them. 1. A Coughlin married a McManus in Ireland. 2. The Coughlin's had 16 children – Anna, Bridget, Daniel, Edward, James, John, Kathleen, Lena, Margaret, Mary Ann, Michael, Patrick, Stephen, Thomas, Timothy, and Johanna. 3. I know that Johanna Coughlin married Patrick Hickey in Rye, New York, on November 26, 1911. 4. Johanna Coughlin was born around 1889 in County Clare, Ireland and passed away sometime in 1971-1972 in Brooklyn, NY. I have found two different potential pieces of information for her year of death. I have seen Johanna’s name written in census information as Josephine T. Hickey. It is her in the census because all Patrick's and Johanna’s children are listed including my grandmother, Josephine Hickey. I am not sure if this is just the transcriber making it easier to write it or a misinterpretation of her name on the part of the census person. She is listed as Johanna on other years' census. I have found information that she immigrated to the U.S. in 1905 and that Patrick Hickey did in 1904. 5. I have been told that Margaret Coughlin, Johanna’s sister, immigrated to the U.S. before her and was a housekeeper in Rye, NY, for different families. I think that I found her on a census but am not sure if it is her. I do have her as a witness to Patrick and Johanna Hickey's wedding in Rye, New York. 6. Other information: I have a possible match on information for a Coughlin Family living in Co. Wexford, Ireland in the 1901 Irish Census. I am not sure if it is them. A lot of the names look like nicknames and the parents names are John and Bridget. 7. I do know that while Patrick Hickey was baptized in Whitegate, County Clare, Ireland, he may have actually been from Tipperary or lived there. Tipperary is indicated on what appears to be his WWI draft registration. His origins and locating his family in Ireland really evade me. 8. Michael Hickey was a witness to Patrick and Johanna's wedding in Rye, New York in 1911. My uncle advised me that Patrick did have a brother who lived in Woodside, NY. He may have been an NYC fireman. I also have have a sister by the name of Mary Hickey for Patrick. 9. I have my own handwritten notes from 1990. My Grandparents, Francis Robert McGuire and Josephine Hickey provided the following information:
-Patrick Hickey - b. Clare, Ireland, married Rye, NY; d. 1965 at the age of 81
-Johanna Coughlin - b. 1890, Clare, Ireland, d. 1972
-Children of Patrick and Johanna Hickey - Anna, Eleanor, Josephine, William, Margaret, Kathleen, Mary, Martin Hickey
Coughlin Family Children circa 1870-1890:
-16 children
-They were all from County Clare, Ireland.
-Children's names: Anna, Bridget, Daniel, Edward, James, John, Kathleen, Lena, Margaret, Mary Ann, Michael, Patrick, Stephen, Thomas, Timothy, and Johanna.
-The following are the children who ended up in Rye, New York: John, James, Stephen, Thomas, Anna, Bridget, Margaret, Kathleen, and Edward.
-The following are the children who ended up in New York City: Johanna and Lena
-The following children stayed in Ireland: Timothy and Mary Ann
-It is unknown what happened to the following: Daniel, Michael, and Patrick
10. Margaret Coughlin was known as Aunt Peg to my father's family. She worked as a domestic in Rye.
11. Stephen Coughlin - My uncle indicated that a Coughlin brother worked on a farm in Rye. I believe that I located Stephen Coughlin working as a gardener in a U.S. Census for this location.
12. A Martin Hickey was a sponsor for my grandmother’s (Josephine Hickey) baptism on November 15, 1915, at St. Anthony’s Church (153 Sullivan Street, New York). This may have been another of Patrick Hickey's brothers.
So do I have more information about the Hickey's and Coughlin's? Not really. I do have information about my own grandmother, Josephine Hickey McGuire. I have a copy of her baptismal certificate. She was baptized at an Italian Catholic Church in the Village (Greenwich Village). The original copy has the church named in Italian. A more current version of the certificate is in English. I have a copy of each. I have many photos of my grandmother also.
Post #5 - Whitegate, Ireland:
When I tried to find any information about Whitegate, County Clare, Ireland, I found that there are two Whitegates in this area of Ireland. Confusing? You bet. Now, Patrick Hickey was specific that he was baptized in Whitegate, Clare, Ireland as opposed to Whitegate, County Galway, Ireland. I suppose all of this remains to be seen someday. Here's my notes about the two Whitegates...........
I am making some quick notes here about Whitegate. It is the location where my great-grandfather, Patrick Hickey, was baptized. He is indicated as being from County Clare. I don't doubt that nor that he was baptized in Whitegate. This information is in his RC marriage record in Rye, New York at the Church of the Resurrection. What I have found is that Whitegate, County Clare, and Whitegate, Galway get confused for each other. Whitegate, County Clare is located 2 miles east by northeast of Mountshannon and about 7 miles east by northeast of Scarriff. Whitegate, County Galway is located 1 mile from Killimor (bologue) and about 6 miles from Portumna. The Whitegate in County Galway is about 20 miles from the Clare border. Another thing to make note of here is that Whitegate, County Clare should be in the Clonrush civil parish. Because I have found information that my Patrick Hickey was from County Clare, baptized in Whitegate but have found other references to Galway and Tipperary on his supposed WWI and WWII draft registration cards, I can only imagine that either he was not sure of what county he was from, and/or moved around and lived in several, or the transcribers thought that they knew it all and wrote it down their way. Patrick Hickey did have a thick Irish brogue so misinterpretation of what he said may have been likely. At this point, as I find information that could help me in the future, I write it down.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hickey Coughlin Research - Part 2

Hickey and Coughlin are names that I am very familiar with.  Minogue, McMahon, Browne, Hayes, Gooney, and McNamara are all names that I stumbled upon a few weeks back.  I found them on a blood relatives' family tree on  Yes, this relative is my father's first cousin for sure.  Those names are just that right now for me.  I need to digest them.  This is all new information. 

I guess I need to scratch the McManus name and replace it with McMahon.   Has that been a typo all of these years on my part?   Maybe it was a misunderstanding on the part of my grandparents and/or myself.  What if I misinterpreted that name to be associated with my Hickey's and Coughlin's when it is actually associated with my McGuire line?  Anything is possible at the moment.  I'm only back to my McGuire/McGrath generation on my McGuire side.  As for my Hickey/Coughlin family line, it would appear that my "waiting a while" might just have paid off.
Patrick Hickey was my great grandfather who immigrated from Ireland.  He was baptized in Whitegate, Clare, Ireland, in 1884.  That is what he provided to the Church of the Resurrection, Rye, New York at the time of his marriage to Johanna Coughlin.  His parents names are not indicated in the church record.  The New York marriage certificate cannot be located.  It would appear though that my father's cousin pursued the information from the Clare Heritage Center.  Patrick's parents are indicated as William Hickey and Bridget Minogue.  William's parents are indicated as Patrick Hickey and Ellenora Hayes.  Bridget's parents are indicated as Thady Minogue and Mary Browne.  Wow, what a discovery!  I don't have much more about them than that at the moment.  The locations, dates, and other source document information has not been included on

Johanna Coughlin was Patrick's wife who immigrated from Ireland.  She once told my aunt that she left Ireland because all of the men were leaving.  She must have been an interesting person.  I wonder what she was like.  Her parents were Daniel Coughlin and Ann Mary McMahon.  Daniel's parents were James Coughlin and Anne Gooney.  Ann Mary's parents were Patrick McMahon and Mary McNamara.  The only information that Johanna provided to the Church of the Resurrection at the time of her marriage to Patrick, was that she was baptized in 1889 in Clare.
So where do I go from here?  Well, my Dad's cousin has indicated that she would send me her information via "snail" mail.  Apparently, her health is not the best right now and she cannot really pursue anything else.  I wish her improved health for sure.  I wonder if she fully understands just how much she has done for me by posting what she did on  Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Hickey Coughlin Research - Part 1

Hello to my Hickey and Coughlin relatives who are researching our line.  You are out there!  I found a few of you.  I can understand any hesitation in creating a full blown interaction with me about this line.   That side of my father's family was not entirely the most connected to one another later in life.  Also, there could be some extra added family "baggage" that I don't fully know or understand.

As Johanna Coughlin Hickey aged in the late 1960s after Patrick Hickey, her husband, passed away, she appears to have gotten rather forgetful.  Of her eight children, all of them were in contact with her it sounds like up until her death.  William Hickey, one of her sons, had been killed in NYC around 1970.  He was a postal worker and was apparently killed while working in the Wall Street area of NYC.
So far, I know of one remaining living Hickey daughter of Patrick and Johanna.  I'm not sure that she checks her email or even fully knows who I am.  My uncle knows her and still keeps in touch with her.  I think that I finally have the names of all of my father's Hickey cousins.  My mother had indicated that my Dad knew all of them.  Before my Dad passed away in 2004, it had only briefly occurred to me to ask him about his own grandparents - Patrick and Johanna.  He knew them well and spent a lot of time around them when he was a child.  My father could mimic his grandfather's Irish brogue oh so well.
I wonder how well everyone on the Hickey side of my family got along.  They were all New Yorker's living anywhere from Yonkers to Long Island.  I think one may have ended up in New Jersey too along the Shore.  I could be off ever so slightly on the locations but I've been hoping for more and may have just stumbled upon some very probable Hickey and Coughlin information.

To Be Continued.......................

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Photos, Photos, Photos, and more Photos!

What do you do with a pile of loose photos?  My mom recently lent me a 8 1/2 X 11 sized manilla envelop with loose photos.  The title on the outside of the envelop says "Flanagan Pictures".  Many of the photos are unlabeled.  Some have the name of my grandfather on the back.  Other photos have an "x", yes an "x" on them indicating where Jack Flanagan (my great grandfather) is in the photo. 

You might think that "x" ruins the photo as it is on the front.  It kind of does but on the otherhand, I would not have known which person was Jack in the photo.  Who knows who some of the other people are in the photos?  The photos are of Jack hunting and fishing with his friends.  My mom does not think that any of the the other men are family members, except a few with my grandfather.

I'm not exactly sure how to present the photos.  I am contemplating my website but then I'm not able to easily reproduce them or allow others to download them.  Maybe a site is my answer.  I have done that for other purposes.  I will contemplate that and probably make the site semi-private or membership driven.  The membership would be free, of course, but at least I'd control the access to the photos.

Below are a few photos that I am sharing here. 

The first is of John "Jack" Francis Flanagan (his mother Kate called him Frank).  He's fishing, of course.  That was one of is favorite pasttimes.  His father was Patrick Flanagan (b.1834) Termonfechin, Louth, Ireland.  In all of the photos that I've found of Jack, he looks tall and rather skinny.  He seems to be taller than everyone else he was around.  His nose rather stands out on his slender face.  I found that nose with other Flanagan's of my lineage.  Jack's sitting at the bow of the boat in this photo.  I do not know who the two gentlemen are in the foreground.  I can guess that they are on the Napa River somewhere.

The next photo is of Ellen Maxwell Flanagan and her mother, Mary "Minnie" Elizabeth McLaughlin Flanagan.  The photo actually says on the back "Ellen Flanagan and Grandma Flanagan".  There is no year on the back side.  The photo does have "Fox Photos 942 Market Street, S.F." stamped on the back.  I must say that Ellen was quite striking in appearance.  She looks tall also.  It is hard to see Minnie's face in this photo but she was getting up there in years by this photo.

So, I will soon settle on a plan for my photos.........

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Some Field Work and Gary Flanagan

The recent months have taken me away from my seat at the computer in the office at our home.  I still find time late at night to complete some searching on and to write my blog for the next morning's 8am scheduled post.  That scheduled queue posting option does come in handy.

What has taken me away from my seat?  Well, in addition to my normal duties as a "stay-at-home mommie", I have been doing some "field work".  My first venture was in the closet at my mom's house.  She has a box full of her parents information.  It includes yearbooks, photos, momentos, and other documents.  When I started looking through the box, I was not prepared for the overwhelming amount of information.

I also spotted a stack of unmarked photos of my grandparents with a little boy.  It was their son, Gary Flanagan.  He died when he was a toddler of a bowel obstruction.  That is, in fact, a fairly common birth defect and successfully remedied nowadays.  In the early 1940s, it was not so easy.  There was apparently a bit of a logistics snafu as to where he would have surgery.  He passed away on the operating table.  I believe that he was under two years old at the time.  I'll have to double check my family tree.

In the past, Gary's photos were no where to be found.  His death was just too upsetting for my grandparents, especia1ly for my grandma.  In recent months, I found a photo of Gary in my mom's photo album.  Again, it was unmarked with my grandpa holding him.  To find a stack of photos was pretty amazing.  In looking at various photos of Gary, I realize just how much he looked like my mom as a child.  My mom never knew her brother, he died before she was born.

My decision a few weeks back was to leave my grandparents and Gary's information at my mom's place.  There is so much in her huge box that I only grabbed the information that really belongs in the "box of treasures" that I do have on loan from my mom.  To my pleasant surprise and suspicion, there were photos of Jack Flanagan in the box at my mom's house.  There are also a few newspaper articles about his exploits in hunting and fishing.  I will post those soon.

So I grabbed what I could find in the box about my great-grandparents.  This includes a transcribed diary written by Herbert Borchers, Sr.  I can't wait to read through those entries.  I actually knew him.  He passed away just before I turned eight years old.

Is there more field work in my future?  Maybe over the summer.  I just found a whole lot of information to go through.  Yet again, treasures abound.


I did get to look up Gary's information on my tree:

Gary Richard Flanagan, b. 28 Dec 1941, Napa, California; d. 9 Feb 1943, Napa, California
Source:  California Birth and Death Indexes

---He is buried with his parents, Richard Joseph Flanagan and Dorothy Marie Borchers Flanagan at Tulocay Cemetery in Napa, California.  This Flanagan Family Plot is known to me to include John "Jack" Francis Flanagan and Mary "Minnie" Elizabeth McLaughlin Flanagan; Catherine "Kay" Veronica Flanagan Fratessa and Joseph Bertram Fratessa; Ellen Maxwell Flanagan; and Anne Fratessa Scoville.  I haven't visited the site since my grandfather's burial in 2000.  I will need to venture there soon.  At least with this Flanagan Family Plot, I know exactly where it is located at Tulocay.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Irish Genealogy and A Theory

So, I have this theory about finding your Irish Family roots in Ireland.  It is probably not earth shattering but it does involve the people who live there.  Let me see if I can present my thoughts well enough to post this to my blog.

It all started with my Flanagan's.  They found their relatives in California after a bit of a break in communication lines a few generations back.  That's a story in and of itself as is the extent of information and documents that exists to form a very complete 300 years worth of family tree and history.  Now, the Flanagan's are an example of what can be done and happen when people come together to search out their family tree.

Does it start in Ireland with the people there looking for those who left over hundred years ago?  Yes.  That also means that the people living there must have a desire to seek out those who left.  It certainly is not that one sided, however.  Those who left need to have a desire to find their lineage in Ireland.  The only way to connect the dots is to have both sides looking.  Is there success available for everyone?  Possibly not.

Reality is that people left Ireland with the intention of never returning or looking back.  The famine hit the west coast of Ireland much worse than the east coast.  Also, the British provided more assistance to those on the east coast and close to Dublin for the hundreds of years of occupation in Ireland.  As you can imagine, despite some violence in Dublin here and there, much of the east coast did not suffer as much as the west coast.  Is that hard to believe?  Ask the Irish about their history and they will tell you.

When I have sought information about my east coast ancestors, I have found, in many cases, what I am looking for.  The lack of information found online is what has slowed me down.  For whatever reason, indicates that Irish records are the hardest to come by and are limited.  I think just does not want to deal with the variation of available information.  Anyway, when I seek information in a west coast location like County Clare, I find virtually nothing.

So what is my theory?  Part of it involved that heraldry information that we all can find about our Irish surname, crest and coat of arms.  Buyer beware.....The heraldry information for sale tends to indicate the origins of a surname going back before the 15th century Ireland.  The location of a surname then may not be where one's ancestors were living before they left Ireland.  The British did transplant people all over Ireland to breakup family septs and strongholds.

Let me give you an example.  The Flanagan name comes from 13th Century County Roscommon, the Kings of Connaught.  The specific location is identified as Elphin.  So what are the Flanagan's doing in the Termonfechin area of County Louth starting around 1690 and continuing on to present day?  Well, the Battle of the Boyne or a transplantation by the British might be the explanation.  If I looked for my Flanagan's in Roscommon, I never would have found them.  They are in Louth.

The same goes for my Maguire's.  County Fermanagh you say?  Ok, I'd agree in the 13th Century in Ireland or even a bit later on than that.  Enniskillen and the Maguire's go hand and hand.  Wait a minute!  My Maguire line is in Louth.  It would appear that maybe the Maguire's were in Louth before the Flanagan's even got there.  That's the 1600s by they way.  Again, I might find my McGuire's someday in Fermanagh but those Maguire's are in Louth.  Yes, I am a Maguire and a McGuire, both.  I must visit Fermanagh someday without a doubt.  Will I be able to trace those lines successfully?  And will they intersect and unite at some point?  Who knows?  All I know is that if I were looking for my Maguire's in Fermanagh, again, I would never have found them.

Heraldry information may be a comfort when you don't know where to find your ancestors.  I find that with several of my Irish surnames.  You just can't put a whole lot of stock in it when you are seriously looking for your ancestors in Ireland circa 1800.

How in the world do you find people who can help you and are potentially of your lineage?  My luck as been on message boards where people who live in the location are monitoring and fulfilling the requests to look information up at cemeteries and graveyards all over Ireland.  It can still be hit or miss but at least you've found someone living in the specific location.

Finding the specific location of one's ancestors can be challenging and is the first step to success.  That requires some ingenuity and usually marriage certificates.  I am still challenged with determining the parents names of my Patrick Hickey.  Maybe someone in Ireland has access to information.  If they are looking for it.......

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Unmarked Graves

The "unmarked grave" has a literal and metaphorical meaning.  As a figure of speech, it generally means that it is a grave marked by disgrace or shame.  In reality, it can mean that the cost of the headstone or marker was just more than the family could afford or wanted to spend.  I recently spoke with Tulocay Cemetery in Napa, California, and was advised very nicely that sometimes the death was just too upsetting and the family never got back to the task of ordering the headstone.

I know for a fact that Thomas Michael McLaughlin and Ellen Maxwell McLaughlin (a pair of my great great grandparents) have unmarked graves at Tulocay Cemetery in Napa, California.  I know that by the time of their passing, they did not have much money.  Their graves are located behind a Lorenz headstone.  That makes me sad but did not really surprise me after I had discovered that something happened to Thomas by 1904 that prevented him from working his farmland.  Thomas and Ellen appear to have hit on hard times in their older years.

What really hit me a few weeks back was a discovery about my Flanagan's.  While my great grandparents and grandparents who are Flanagan's and all buried in a family plot area at Tulocay under a beautiful tree have headstones, I have a list of Flanagan's who don't.  Wow, I am almost in a bit of confusion over that.  It's hard to digest.

I have many relatives buried at Tulocay Cemetery in Napa, California including but not limited to Vienop's, Borchers', McLaughlin's, Flanagan's and cousin's including Ruffino's, Reidenbach's, Fratessa's, and Gruenhagen's.  It would appear that the older generation of Flanagan's and McLaughlin's have unmarked graves.  They are, however, located in the family plot section of the cemetery.  My Mom refers to it as the old section at Tulocay.

As I write this, I still am questioning why Patrick, Kate, Agnes, Ignatius, Edward and Leo Flanagan have unmarked graves.  Pat's and Kate's other children appear to be nearby.  Mary Catherine and Louis Flanagan might have grave markers.  I won't know until I get there.  Is their son, Richard Flanagan, also buried near Mary and Louis?  I wonder if Richard and his wife, Mary Towey Flanagan, are buried with the Flanagan's or maybe with the Towey's somewhere else.  Richard's descendants may know.  One of their other sons', my great grandfather, Jack Flanagan, is buried in his own family plot at this cemetery.

So when Anges Flanagan died at the age of 23-24 in 1895 followed by her father, Patrick Flanagan, in 1896, was Kate Flanagan just too upset to deal with the burial arrangements to put a marker?  I know that she was an "interesting" person but I don't think the markers are missing for lack of affordability at the time.  It was the 1890s and maybe she just never got back to attending to the family plot.  What about Ignatius and Leo though?  They passed away in the 1910s.  Leo was a married medical doctor, yet, no headstone.  What about Edward?  I am not even exactly sure what year he passed away.   I have to wonder.   Even Kate's grave is unmarked.  She passed away in 1928.

Tulocay Cemetery told me that burials after 1912 are in their computer database and they have precise locations of burial plots.  Anything before that date is not as specific and must be looked up in their archive books.  

Suffice it to say John "Jack" Francis Flanagan and Mary "Minnie" Elizabeth McLaughlin Flanagan are buried in a separate Flanagan Family plot with a few of their children and a couple of grandchildren.  It's a beautiful spot with grave markers!

I guess at this point it is all a "wait and see".  While I've been to Jack's and Minnie's graves more than once, I have not yet visited where Patrick and Kate Flanagan are buried.  I need to make my way there soon.  It should be an interesting experience.  I did ask Tulocay how much a basic headstone/marker costs nowadays.  The minimum cost for a marker made of bronze is $1600.  Here's wishing that the grave markers were already there.......

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Anne T. Gray Glover's Letter to Owen Duffy - 1978

Yet again, I am reviewing the information that I already have at hand about my Maxwell's.  It would appear that the Maxwell's were and still are very interested in their family tree.  Regardless of which of the Maxwell/Shaffrey children's descendants that I review, I usually find that at some point, there is a descendant who researched the line. 

In this case, I have a letter that Anne T. Gray Glover wrote to Owen Duffy about the line.  She appears to have written it with Ellen Maxwell Flanagan's prompting and possibly in her presence.  Ellen Maxwell Flanagan is a descendent of Ellen Maxwell McLaughlin.  Anne T. Gray Glover is a descendant of Mary Maxwell Gray, and Owen Duffy is a descendant of Catherine "Katie" Maxwell Duffy.  Ellen, Catherine, and Mary were sisters who's parents were Joseph Patrick Maxwell and Judith Shaffrey Maxwell.  Now, that is a mouthful.

I also know of descendants down the line of Dennis and James Maxwell who are researching this family line.  Dennis and James were brothers of the ladies mentioned above.  I do wonder if the other sisters in the family have anyone researching their lines.  Just last week I came upon someone of Bedelia's line.  The other sisters were Judith (Julia), and Anna. 

There is also Joseph Patrick Maxwell's two other children from his second marriage.  After Judith Shaffrey Maxwell passed away, Joseph remarried to Rebecca O'Harriet.  They had two children - Sarah and John.  Sarah passed away and may have never married or had children.  John did marry and have children.  I have found someone down his line researching our family tree.  It definitely runs in the family!

Here is Anne Gray Glover's letter:

Monday, April 11, 2011

Ellen Flanagan's Letter to Philip Duffy 1978

I continue to review the documents that I already have on hand.  I have research that was gathered by Ellen Maxwell Flanagan (my grandfather's sister), some Duffy's, and Thomas Malloy, Jr.  Who started the process of seeking our family tree on the Maxwell side of things, is still a bit of a question.  From what it sounds like Ellen and her sister, Kay, were very much into looking for their family tree at different times.  That story, even if anecdotal, would be interesting to know too.

Below, I have a letter that Ellen Maxwell Flanagan wrote to Philip Duffy.  Which Philip Duffy?  That is a good question.  I don't have a lot of the 1900s Napa Duffy's on my tree.  Maybe he was one of Owen Duffy's children.  That's a guess but a somewhat educated one.  My mom has indicated that she went to high school with a few Duffy's from Big Ranch Road and some Malloy's.   They all went to Napa High School from the sounds of it.  It amazes me that she never really fully understand her familial connection to them, until now.  They are all Maxwell descendants just like me.  Of course, we still have some blanks to fill in on the family tree.

Here's Ellen's letter:

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Through The Eyes of A Child - Napa, CA - Part 2

As a child, I could not wait to get to the playground.  That should surprise no one.  While there was that pretty great playground down the street from my great grandparents house on Willow Avenue (at Evans and Plaza Avenue), the playground that I always desired to visit was at Fuller Park.  My aunt and uncle lived right across the street on Oak Street for a number of years.  The crooked (kruk-kid) metal slide at Fuller Park was my absolute favorite park slide.  It does go down in my own personal history as such.

Where else might you find me as a child in Napa, California?  Well, we spent a whole lot of time at 2131 Spencer Street.  My sister and I loved to blow bubbles and play with squirt guns in the front and backyard of my Grandparents' house.  We'd also help a little in the vegetable garden.  My Grandpa had a huge vegetable garden.  That was his pride and joy.  He grew tomatoes, string beans, squash, and more.  We did get to help pick the veggies as kids and sample them as we went. 

From a young age I can also remember having a "Big Wheel" at my grandparents house.  I'd get to ride out on the sidewalk and, with supervision, go around the block.  I remember some of the old houses looking so spooky.  My grandparents own house was from the 1940s but right next to them were much older homes.  Some of them had overgrown trees and shrubs.  Let's just say you could use your imagination and dream up a haunt or two.  When I drive through that neighborhood now, some of the old homes still strike me that way.

Christmastime was always spent in Napa.  Christmas Eve was my Mom's Christmas.  It was the tradition of she and her parents for more years than I can count.  From the time that I was a child until around 1999, Christmas Eve was spent on Spencer Street in Napa.  I hold so many wonderful memories of each and every year.  The entire day was pretty much dedicated to visiting my family in Napa.  We'd also go to my great grandparents house (Borchers) on Willow Avenue.  Christmas Day was no exception either.  My aunt hosted Christmas Day at her home in Napa for more years than I can count.  I think that the last year she hosted was in 2004.  Times do change as do traditions but memories are so dear.

I can definitely remember downtown Napa circa 1970s.  Mervyn's department store was a favorite place to visit.  It was really the only place to go shopping for kids clothes at the time.  Mervyn's is no longer in existence.  In many respects, downtown Napa still looks the same depending on what street you drive down.  For the most part, it still resembles the past.

My final memory to share is about the Napa County Courthouse.  I'm talking about the old historic courthouse building on Brown Street between 2nd and 3rd.  I don't actually remember being inside the building.  On occasion, we'd meet my Grandpa on the front steps to say "hi".  I think that was probably one of his favorite places to greet people who came to visit him for personal business.  I remember him giving my sister and I silver dollars on those steps.  He was the Treasurer of Napa County for about 20 years until he retired in 1979/80.  I will need to write about him soon.

I have more memories of Napa as a teenager and a young adult but these are my memories of Napa through my eyes as a child.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Through The Eyes of A Child - Napa, CA - Part 1

When people think of or mention Napa, California, in this day and age, most people automatically think of the wine country.  I don't disagree with appreciating the wine now that I'm an adult.  Let me tell you, I love my wine, especially red wine.  As a child, wine never entered my mind or thoughts in reference to Napa.  Through a child's eyes (inasmuch as I can remember from my childhood), I will present my memories of Napa, California.

Napa, California carries a lot of my family history.   For many, it might seem rather mundane.  That is ok, I am still writing this information down to share with everyone who wants to read it.  I also write it down for the future.  I would love it if my own children have the opportunity to read this someday.

Three weeks after I was born in Sacramento, California, I was baptized at St. John The Baptist Catholic Church in Napa, California, located at 960 Caymus Street right off Main Street and up from Soscol Avenue.  I was christened in the "new" church which was built in the 1960s.  About six months later when my Dad got out of the military, we moved back to Ohio so that he could get his MBA.  I do believe that those four years saw my Mom very homesick for her hometown of Napa.

My father graduated from the University of Dayton (UD) with his Masters in Business Administration.  He had achieved his Bachelors Degree from UD years earlier and then spent just over four years in the Air Force during the Vietnam War.  After all of this, it was time for all of us to "move home".  We arrived back in Napa, California in time for summer.

The house that my grandparents lived in at 2131 Spencer Street was a very small house.  There were six of us living there for about six months.  I do think that my parents would have liked to live in Napa but that was not meant to be.  They bought a house in Fairfield, California near my Dad's new job.   During the six months that we lived in Napa, I started Kindergarten.

Just as my mother and grandma before me, I attended the "Old" Lincoln School.  From what I remember of the old school, it was an old stone two-story building.  Talk about a school with some history!  I'm sure that it had it's fair share.  Sometime in the late 1970s, early 1980s, the old school was torn down completely and a new school facility was built to replace it.  The old school was probably not real safe considering earthquake standards.

I tried to find photos of the old school online but only came across a 1916 group photo of students at the school.  Nowadays, the current Lincoln School is known as the New Technology High School in Napa, California.

Another school that I recall in Napa, California, is Silverado Junior High.  I never attended school there but I took swimming lessons there.  My Mom actually attended 9th grade there.  I believe at the time she also attended 10th grade at Silverado.  This leads me to Napa High School.  I can't tell you how many hundreds, probably thousands, of times I passed by the school on Lincoln Avenue on my way to my grandparents house.  I watched it get a paint job one summer.  It went from being an all cream colored reinforced concrete building to a golden wheat color with cream trim.

Both of my grandparents attended Napa High School in the old historic building.  My Grandparents and my Mom all graduated from Napa High along with several other relatives from Flanagan's to Mueller's to Vienop's, Borchers' and more.  I may have been to the swimming pool there myself at least once.

Near the corner of Lincoln Avenue and Jefferson, stands a pink and white striped building.  It looks kind of like a cake.  I suppose it should since it is Butter Cream Bakery.  As a child, we'd walk over to Butter Cream to buy fresh baked bread and donuts.  On special occasions my Grandma would buy a champagne cake.  Butter Cream makes the best champagne cakes.  Sometimes, we'd get the opportunity to watch cake decorating through the front window. 

Another spot near the intersection of Lincoln and Jefferson is a liquor store.  So what was I doing in a liquor store as a child?  Lawler's sells some of the best ravioli's around.  You could even bring your own pot or container for them to fill.  Between the sauce, the ravioli, and those malfaties, no one can beat the taste, expect maybe the Depot.  I'm not sure if the Depot is still open.  It was an Italian food restaurant in Napa.  I think that I only ate there once or twice.  I do remember that the tables and chairs were so close together that it made it tough to get into your seat.  If I remember correctly, Lawler's actually uses the Depot's recipies.

Many of my memories of Napa do revolve around food.  I can remember going to Swenson's ice creamery, the ice cream shop at Vintage, and Partric's Candy.  My Grandparents would buy my sister and I each a one pound box of Partric's Candy every Christmas.  The cream filled chocolates were the best.  I also remember Ruffino's.  We ate there every once in a while.  Eleanor "Riedenbach" Ruffino was my grandma's (Dorothy Borchers Flanagan) first cousin.  They are all from my Vienop Family Line and from Napa, of course.

I'm trying to remember other places that I've been in Napa.  Remember, these are all through the eyes of me as a child.

To be continued......