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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My Maxwell Research

I feel like I've hit a wall on my Maxwell line research.  Getting further back in time is a challenge for me right now.  I almost think that I need to hire someone to find my Maxwell roots in Ireland.  The farthest back that I've been able to get on this line is to the marriage of my 3rd Great Grandparents, Joseph Patrick Maxwell and Judith Shaffrey, on September 24, 1834.  Their parents are not indicated in the marriage record.  The witnesses to their marriage were Roggan McMahon and John Shaffrey.  The marriage took place at St. Mary's in Moynalty, Meath, Ireland.

The church records have other clues about the Maxwell's.  For example, the baptism of Catherine Maxwell indicates that Joseph Maxwell is from Shancarnan.   That is a townland right near Moynalty.  I do find others from Shancarnan.  In essence, it is a stone's throw from Moynalty and probably within walking distance to the church.  My Shaffrey ancestors definitely lived in Shancarnan.  I am not sure about my Maxwell's though.

I found Bill Maxwell expressing is "Profession of Faith" on 24 June 1831 at St. Mary's, Moynalty.  I just can't seem to go back further than Bill and Joseph Maxwell in Moynalty.  Were these two related?  Maybe they were brothers.  My records indicate that Joseph's father was James Maxwell born 1786 in Scotland.  That is an unsourced bit of information.  I want to prove this information but have been thinking that I might actually end up disproving it if I find the correct source documents.  That is not my goal, however.  I find it much more comforting to have a full name to associate with my 4th Great Grandfather.

My online hunt for Maxwell's in Meath near Moynalty does not turn up much.  What does crop up every time are results for the Maxwell's of Farnhan in County Cavan.  All of the various Maxwell earls of Farnham pop up in searches on the internet.  My issue is that my Maxwell's were not of wealth.  If they were of wealth, political leadership, or landowners, the history has escaped me.

I did find a link online to a sort of Maxwell genealogy:  Stirnet

The above link is information about all of the Maxwell's from the following locations and it is all run together.

Maxwell of Ballyrolly, Maxwell of Calderwood,
Maxwell of Farnham (co. Cavan), Maxwell of Finnnebrogue

I've debated on copying the information and probably should.  Right now, I've passed but did search though the names a bit.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Secret of Kells

Recently, my children were watching something on Netflix streaming.  There is a section of the service that they can access that has only children's movies and shows.  They can pick pretty much anything to watch out of this section as everything is rated "G" for general audience.  On this particular day they picked "The Secret of Kells".

I didn't realize that they were watching the movie until it was almost over.  I had viewed this animated movie a few years ago.  I felt is was well done.  It is a  reflection of Irish folklore and a representation of the priceless national treasure known at the Book of Kells.

When I found out what my girls were watching, I asked if they were enjoying it.  My eight year old indicated that the young boy in the story was the best character.  She really liked him.  Her most important point of the story was his creation and drawing of the pages within the book.  The main character also saved the book from destruction.

Once the movie ended, my daughter decided to draw.  This is one of her favorite things to do as she does want to be an artist someday.  Her drawing was of a young girl carrying the book that was saved by the boy in the story.  She said that her outfit was religious.  In just a minute or two, she drew her "take away" from the story.

As quickly as the movie ended and she drew her picture, she was off to play with her sister.  I did stop her briefly though to tell her and show her something important.

I reminded my daughter of our Irish heritage.  Then, I asked her if she understood that the Book of Kells are real.  I pulled up some photos of the books and pages online.  She was surprised to learn that I'd seen these books in person.  I told her that someday she too can view these books in person.

In the end, a little piece of Irish folklore and historical significance entered our house and left an impression on that day.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

National Geographic - Genographic Project and DNA Ancestry

Sometimes you've got to talk to long lost relatives in another country to truly wrap your mind around the desire people have to find their roots.  Last Fall, I had to privilege of Skype'ing with some distant O'Brien relatives in New Zealand.  They are descendants of one of Kate Flanagan's sisters.  Kate was my great great grandmother and born Catherine Mary O'Brien.  That's a long story and this post is actually about DNA.

In discussing our family tree and sharing anecdotal stories about the O'Brien's and Flanagan's, the topic of DNA came up.  They mentioned the National Geographic DNA project.  I am just now getting back to reviewing and researching what their version of DNA testing involves.

The Genographic Project

The Genographic Project helps find out where humankind originated.  By providing one's DNA, they can place you on the overall tree of humankind.  It can help everyone discover the migration paths of our ancestors, learn what percentage of you DNA relates to certain parts of the world, and much more.

What I didn't really catch is if this particular DNA test connects you to closer relatives and helps you determine your own personal family line.  The database in which each DNA sample is submitted, is a broad, big picture collection.

I'm not sure if this option is for me.  Any comments on this topic are welcome here!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

DNA - 23 and Me

Ever since my husband submitted his DNA to, my interest in DNA testing for genealogy purposes has increased.  While I have decided to forego the submission of my own DNA to at this point in time, I have not eliminated the desire to pursue testing of this sort to find out more about my heritage and family origins.

Recently, I caught up with a former co-worker and friend at a party.  For as long as I've known him, he has been big into researching his family tree.  He has even traveled to various locations to "find his roots" and walk in the footprints of his ancestors.  Now, he has ventured into DNA testing.

The topic of our conversation turned quickly to family tree research.  He indicated that the latest and most beneficial DNA test that he pursued was via "23 and Me".  It is much more comprehensive than the test and gives you health information about your own genetic makeup.

Well, this peaked my interest.  I came home and read about it.  Then, life got busy and I set it aside.  Again, I decided to pick up this torch and truly review the DNA options out there.

What I do know so far is that 23 and Me gives you health and ancestry information.  The website is  I also found various YouTube videos that either describe 23 and Me or give you an overview of human history and genetics.

Here are the links:

23 and Me's Channel

Human Prehistory 101: Prologue
Human Prehistory 101 Part 1: Out Of (Eastern) Africa
Human Prehistory 101 Part 2: Weathering The Storm
Human Prehistory 101 Part 3: Agriculture Rocks Our World
Human Prehistory 101: Epilogue

Genetics 101 Part 1: What Are Genes?
Genetics 101 Part 2: What are SNPs?
Genetics 101 Part 3: Where Do Get Your Genes From?
Genetics 101 Part 4: What Are Phenotypes?
Genetics 101 Part 5: Why No Y?

Lately, I have really considered submitting my DNA to 23 and Me but have also started looking over other options too.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Who Do You Think You Are? on TLC

I am very excited to see that TLC picked one of my favorite shows that was cancelled by NBC.  "Who Do You Think You Are?" starts with new episodes on TLC starting July 23rd.  I can't wait.

This coming season will including Christina Applegate, Cindy Crawford, Zooey Deschanel, Kelly Clarkson, Chelsea Handler, Chris O'Donnell, Jim Parsons, and Trisha Yearwood.  It should be a great season.

Also, whether you are interested in these celebrities or not, this show is often unpredictable in who's family history is the most compelling with the most surprising discovery process.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Gartlan: How Common?

I recently dabbled a bit in trying to get further back in time on my Gartlan Family Line.  It is not easy.  I noticed that the LDS have things on film but I am not sure spending $7.50 to look over the potential church record for County Monaghan will prove anything.

One thing is certain, Gartlan is probably the single most common surname in Carrickmacross, or it was.  I'm sure there are many with this surname there today too.  Outside of County Monaghan, the name is not quite as common.  Stateside in the U.S., it really is not common plus the name has a variation of Gartland with a "d" on the end.  There could be other variations too like Gartlin, Gartle, or the like.

I may have to be satisfied with knowing that my 4th great grandfather, James Gartlan, arrived in update New York in the 1820s at the Irish Settlement.  He was already married to Hannah Fox and they had three living children (Hugh, Frank, and Mary Ellen) who were born in Ireland and immigrated with them.  Mary Ellen married James McLaughlin of Newport, New York, on January 6, 1838.  Moving forward in time, I find Mary McLaughlin with her father (James Gartlan) living with she and her family when he was elderly in 1870 at the age of 93 years.

So, I have a lot of information and "proof" of my James Gartlan.  I even have the birth record of his son, Hugh, for Ireland.

HUGH Gartland b 1822 Dec 3 Ballyfery, Co Monaghan

Will more information show itself for my Gartlan line?  I hope to someday retrieve it myself but for now, I wait a while. 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013 Renewal

I recently renewed my subscription to  At least for another year, I will continue to utilize this research tool.  This will be my 4th year with a active subscription.  This year will bring some changes to my approach to maintaining my family tree.

First, I have privatized almost every single one of my family tree lines that I have on  What this means to others who come upon my tree is that they will need to email me for full clarification on what I do have my tree.   I have found that many people aren't that interested in knowing the whole story or the facts behind the research that demonstrates real proof.  For those who are wanting the complete story, they can email me.   I can authorize a connection from their tree to mine.  The site will show people my email address.

Second, I am in the process of cleaning up my trees.  I do a little bit of cleanup everyday.  My goal with this clean up is to limit my tree to more direct line relatives and collateral relatives with whom I have a real connection.  My main lines that I plan to continue and not limit are Borchers, Flanagan, Gartlan, Maxwell, McLaughlin, O'Brien, Shaffrey, and Vienop on my mother's side.  On my father's side, the list is much more limited but includes Coughlin, Hickey, McGuire, and Rohman (Roman).  I can always expand my trees but must start limiting them to closer relatives.  When I trail off on a collateral line which produces some very distant relatives, I lose site of my real goal which is to discover my origins further back in time.

My third change this year comes in the form of the subscription itself.  I have nixed the world portion of the subscription.  I found that most documents outside of the U.S. have no substance to them.  A tithe applotment  reference online may say Patrick Flanagan but it does not indicate enough information for anyone to truly know which Patrick Flanagan is being referred to.  It is a bit of a shot in the dark.  I find that the only online documents that have value in the world view for my research are in England on their census and other marriage/birth records going back to 1790.  Well, I just don't have English ancestors that I know of in the timeframe except one.  Richard Flanagan who went to London from Ireland is the only person I have found in those records.  I don't have anyone else to look up there.  Too bad, as those records are amazingly complete.

A final thought on my family trees is that I will need to somehow "pull them down" off the site.  While will maintain my trees in their database for an infinite amount of time, I need a copy of them for myself.  I need to be able to add source documents not found on and manipulate my tree as a living document.  It needs to be something that I can truly pass onto my children. 

Will actually exist in 50 years?  Who knows.  In the meantime, I must preserve this information online, in my blog, on my computer, and, yes I'm going to say it, in paper form.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Occupations of my Newport, New York Relations

I recently completed a new search for Newport, New York and came upon the following with excerpts of my relatives found on my family tree.  Copy and paste does not always work so well but the information below is a nice add to my online diary.

James McLaughlin is my 3rd great grandfather.

Dennis Maxwell is my great great grandmother's (Ellen Maxwell McLaughlin) brother.

Hugh Gartlan is my 3rd great grandmother's (Mary Ellen Gartlan McLaughlin) brother.

Frank Gartlan is another of my 3rd great grandmother's (Mary Ellen Garltan McLaughlin) brother.

John Fox is most certainly a Fox relative related to James Gartlan and Hannah Fox Gartlan, my 4th great grandparents.

The number at the end of their occupation appears to reflect the number of acres they owned and farmed.



McLaughlin, James(Newport)dairyman and farmer 265

Maxwell, Dennis(Newport)dairyman and farmer 173


Gartlan, Hugh(Poland)dairyman and farmer 265

Gartlan, Frank(Newport)farmer 200

Fox, John(Newport)farmer 3

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

My Shaffrey Line - Part 3

As I finished perusing some of the printed document/scans that I made of pages from the register on the LDS film, I found that the memorabilia section is virtually illegible and undecipherable to me.  Another person may have better luck at reading the information.  This section is only a few pages.  My copies are terrible.  One note that is clearly placed across the page is "To be sent to Monsignor McCullen Kells".  So, does this ledger now exists down the road in Kells or is it still in Moynalty?

The final section is deaths.  This section is very unclear.  I could only make out 6 possible people who might be related to my family tree.  I see an entry for Catherine Shaffrey of Dunsikin (last word is very hard to read) on 12 Jan 1841.  On 7 Nov 1847, John Maxwell of Shancarnan passed away.  In Jan 1850, Philip Shaffrey of Druminsiken passed away.  In Oct 1857, Phil Shaffrey of Rathburn passed away.  On 15 Jun 1860, John Shaffry of Carickgar (rather illegible) passed away.  On January 18 or 28, 1872, Peter Shaffrey of Dryralla (illegible) passed.

One could hope that the parents' names or other information would be indicated with the deaths but that is not the case for deaths.  The only indicator of use besides the name and date of death is the location of where they lived.  In some cases, the location is illegible.  I made an attempt to transcribe the locations.

My spreadsheet is now as complete as I can make it.  I have my transcribed raw data preserved and saved as read-only.  I can copy this data to another spreadsheet to sort the information.  The data needs some finessing, however.  I will probably get to that next.

For now, the data contains 17 marriages, 1 profession of faith (convert), 63 baptisms, and 6 deaths.  The data includes Maxwells and Shaffreys where they appear as the primary person for the life event or as a sponsor/witness, and in the case of baptisms, as the parent.

I was hopeful for more but I have this.  I can probably pick out two to three distinct families fairly easily including my own Maxwell family unit headed by Joseph and Judy "Shaffrey" Maxwell.

Gleaning more information from this data may be challenging.  Like I said, it needs finessing.  Any instance of the Shaffrey name needs a standardized agreed upon spelling rather than the variations (Shaffrey, Shaffy, Shaffry, Shaffery).  I will need to run through the entire batch of data and convert the spelling.  My choice is Shaffrey for the spelling.  First names also need some help along with locations.  I will get to that.

Basic Shaffrey Life Event Data:
Shaffrey Thos. Baptism 1831
Shaffrey Michl Baptism 1831
Shaffrey Simon Baptism 1831
Shaffrey Mary Marriage 1831
Shaffrey  Thos. Baptism 1833
Shaffrey Mary Baptism 1833
Shaffrey   Judy Marriage    1834
Shaffrey Catherine Marriage 1834
Shaffrey John Baptism 1834
Shaffrey Hugh Baptism 1834
Shaffrey Hugh Marriage 1836
Shaffrey Cathern Marriage 1838
Shaffrey Catherine Baptism 1839
Shaffrey Brigt Marriage 1839
Shaffrey Catherine Baptism 1839
Shaffrey Michl Baptism 1840
Shaffrey Betty Marriage 1841
Shaffrey Catherine Death 1841
Shaffrey Betty Baptism 1842
Shaffrey Cathn Baptism 1843
Shaffrey May Baptism 1843
Shaffrey Owen Marriage 1845
Shaffrey Philip Baptism 1846
Shaffrey Cathrine Baptism 1846
Shaffrey Andrew Baptism 1846
Shaffrey Anne Baptism 1847
Shaffrey  Philip Baptism 1850
Shaffrey Philip Death 1850
Shaffrey John Baptism 1853
Shaffrey John Marriage 1856
Shaffrey Phil  Death 1857
Shaffrey John  Death 1860
Shaffrey John Marriage 1861
Shaffrey  John Baptism 1870
Shaffrey Peter Death 1872
Shaffrey Philip Baptism 1874
Shaffrey Ellen Jane  Baptism 1876
Shaffrey Bridget Marriage 1880
Shaffrey Thomas Marriage 1882

Drawing some quick conclusions is possible.   I clearly found my Shaffreys.  I found my 3rd great grandfather, Joseph Patrick Maxwell, as being from Shancarnan.  That location rings true even today for the Shaffrey name but the Maxwells do not seem to truly orignate from there.  It seems as though Joseph's wife, Judy Shaffrey, has origins in Shancarnan.  I spotted other Maxwells, but were they all Joseph and Judy's children?  Bill Maxwell was clearly an adult in 1831 before Joseph and Judy were married and had children.  I wonder if the John Maxwell who died on 7 Nov 1847 was a child or an adult.  He was from Shancarnan.

Basic Maxwell Life Event Data:
Maxwell Denis Baptism 1836
Maxwell James Baptism 1841
Maxwell Ellen Baptism 1846
Maxwell Cath Baptism 1849
Maxwell Judith Baptism 1851
Maxwell Joseph Marriage 1834  
Maxwell Bill Profession of Faith 1831
Maxwell John Death 1847

The 1834 marriage of Joseph Maxwell was to Judith Shaffrey.

I will hopefully be able to sort this data to filter out some answers.  For now, I offer this basic version of the data in this public post.  If anyone finds this, reach me at