Surnames Researched In This Blog

Allen (11) Armstrong (1) Chope (1) Compean (12) Conn (1) Coon (1) Darnley (23) Dorris (6) Fields (4) Flanagan (27) Gann (4) Grasley (1) Green (1) Greene (11) Haley (3) Harless (10) Hayes (12) Hemphill (4) Jimenez (11) Kennedy (27) Lyman (1) Lynch (16) Mara (12) McNamara (5) Nieto (13) Pace (7) Preiss (4) Price (1) Race (3) Robledo (13) Salas (10) Sanches (14) Sanford (1) Shippee (1) Ward (7) Webster (1) Worsham (3)

Friday, March 30, 2012

Family Photos Friday: Roy D. Pace, 1930s

Roy Pace, 1930s.
This post is part of my new "Family Photos Friday", which consists of quick easy posts that showcase snapshots from our family history.  Since I've spent much of the last couple weeks chatting about my Grandpa Flanagan, I thought I'd share a bit about my husband's grandfather, Roy D. Pace, in this week's featured Family Photo.

I am just starting my research on the Pace line, so I don't have many confirmed details about him, but secondary sources indicate that Roy D. Pace might have been born October 19, 1913 in Bartlett, Texas. He is deceased, although I don't have a confirmed death date -- it was during my husband's youth.  Roy eventually moved out to the Bakersfield, California area, and my husband says that his grandfather worked for the Civilian Conservation Corps as a young man.

I look forward to discovering more about Roy D. Pace and his ancestors!

Why this particular photo? Just because I think it's really cool; I love the 1930s era.

embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Genealogical Inspirations: That Very First Kind Look-Up Volunteer

This is part of my "Genealogical Inspirations" series highlighting some of my key milestones, to commemorate the release on Monday of the 1940 US Census.

In 2002, I was able to beat down a big brick wall that I'd faced the first year I started researching my own family history -- trying to find any clues about my Grandpa Flanagan, who was orphaned as a toddler. And it was thanks to the index of the newly released 1930 US Census, which allowed me to locate my grandfather and his four brothers living in the German Roman Catholic Orphan Home in Buffalo, New York.  But, I was frustrated to learn that the orphanage no longer existed.

When I started posting inquiries on various Ancestry and RootsWeb listservs, everyone replied back telling me not to hold out hope searching for the families of orphans from the pre-World War II period. They said older orphan records were rarely preserved.

But I did hope. So, I contacted the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, who promptly informed me they no longer held the records for that orphanage, that the records had been transferred to Catholic Charities of Buffalo. My next call was to Catholic Charities. I didn't keep a record of the date of that first call, but I was transferred to a very nice lady who confirmed they did have the orphanage records. She took down the dates and names I had discovered in the census, and told me that they would look through their records, when someone there had the time. She too told me not to get my hopes up, that not all records from the orphanage were intact. She said that they'd mail me copies if they found anything. And when I asked if I could send payment for a look-up fee and photocopies, she told me that wasn't necessary.

So, I waited. And I tried not to get my hopes up.

But, I kept checking my mailbox.

Then, finally, months later, during a routine look in the mailbox, there it was. A big manila envelope, stuffed about a 1/4 inch thick, from Catholic Charities of Buffalo. I ran into my house, ripped it open, and spent the entire evening pouring over the documents. Lisa Barkley (I knew her name now!), had sent me a big stack of records on all five boys, for the short time they resided at the orphanage.

My letter from Catholic Charities. Click the image to view a bigger copy.

From this stack of orphan records, I was able to finally learn the names of my Grandpa Flanagan's parents, as well as their dates and causes of death. It opened up a whole new world of hope for me.

I really have no idea if Lisa Barkley was, or still is, an employee, or "just" a volunteer.  But, I am forever grateful for her kind heart and willingness to help.  And I specifically refer to "look-up volunteers" in my blog post title because this incident introduced me to the world (literally, all around the world) of genealogy volunteers who simply want to help. They are willing to spend time (and often money) helping other family historians -- searching proprietary databases, visiting physical archives or localities, pursuing leads, taking photos, making and mailing/emailing photocopies -- all for never more than maybe the cost of postage or copies. Why? Because they've been there. Because they know that they too will someday, yet once again, need the help of another genealogist.

Nearly ten years later, I never cease to tout to others just how reciprocal and helpful the genealogy community is, and I try to serve as a free "look-up volunteer" any opportunity I can.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Just Found: Marriage Record For My Kennedy Great-Grandmother And Her First Husband

This past Sunday afternoon and evening proved to be an extremely productive one for my genealogical journey. In addition to the wedding record that I found for my great-grandparents Patrick Thomas Flanagan, Jr. (c. 1897-1928), and Sarah Kennedy (c. 1898-1930), I also found the wedding record for Sarah's first marriage.

Orphanage records for their son Michael John Flanagan (1927-1997), my grandfather, indicate that the five orphaned boys had an older sister named Catherine, and correspondence over the past decade with cousins, confirms that Sarah had a daughter named Catherine (Ward) Reinacher, now deceased. Neither I, nor my cousins, knew the name of Catherine's father.

Until now.

After striking gold with the marriage record for Sarah and Patrick, which lists the name of her parents -- Joseph Kennedy and Catherine Darnley -- I continued to search for records referencing Sarah and her parents. Which is how I discovered the record for the June 25, 1913, Mahoning County, Ohio, marriage between Sarah Kennedy and Frank J. Ward (of Bellaire, Ohio).

Marriage record courtesy of Click the image to view a larger copy.

Although I need a birth record for my great-aunt Catherine (Ward) Reinacher to confirm that Frank J. Ward is indeed her father, I feel pretty good about this assumption.

This find doesn't come without frustration though. In the 1925 marriage to Patrick Flanagan, Sarah noted her birth date as November 27, 1898. But, in her earlier marriage to Frank J. Ward, Sarah lists it as November 19, 1894. And so the mystery continues. But, at last both marriage records are consistent in listing Cumberland, Maryland as her place of birth.

embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

Monday, March 26, 2012

Just Found: Marriage Record For My Flanagan And Kennedy Great-Grandparents

I am so excited! Yesterday afternoon, I found a copy of the wedding record for my great-grandparents -- Patrick Thomas Flanagan, Jr. (c. 1897-1928), and Sarah Kennedy (c. 1898-1930) -- who were married on April 10, 1925, in Steubenville (Jefferson), Ohio.

I just learned of their wedding date last week, from a distant Flanagan cousin (we've never actually met) that I've been corresponding with on Facebook for about a year.  During an hour long phone call with her yesterday, this cousin informed me that she'd found the record listing on So, I hopped online right after we hung up the phone, and was thrilled to discover that FamilySearch doesn't just have the record index listing, they provide a free copy of the digitized record.

This record gives me new clues about their respective families and a first look at their actual signatures! It is also the first record I've come across that tells me the names of Sarah's great-great-grand parents!

Marriage record courtesy of Click on the image to view a larger copy.
This lead from my cousin Linda is a really big deal in my research. If you've been following my posts about my grandfather Michael John Flanagan (1927-1997), you know that he was orphaned as a toddler and grew up knowing almost nothing about his parents and his family history. Which has left me with very few clues to pursue. Other than their children's orphan records, and the birth record for Grandpa's older brother Patrick Joseph Flanagan (1925-1981), I've had no real documentation for Patrick and Sarah. Until now.

My initial analysis of this record raises one big question, though. Based on clues that Cousin Linda and I are coming cross in our research, Patrick, and quite possibly Sarah, was married at least once before this union. Yet, both noted "none" for number of times previously married. So, I guess that's one more mystery to solve.

embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Flanagan: A Virtual Tour Of The German Roman Catholic Orphan Home In Buffalo, New York

An old sketch of the GRCOH, that I came across a bout a decade ago on the web. I  failed to keep the source citation, but will gladly attribute (or remove, if contested) as soon as I find the source again.
I mentioned in a post last week about the break-through I had, as a novice genealogist back in 2002, when the 1930 US Census was released, which allowed me to strike gold identifying the Buffalo, New York  orphanage my grandfather Michael John Flanagan and his brothers lived in when the US Census was enumerated in April 1930.

That orphanage was the German Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum, also known as the German Roman Catholic Orphan Home. I'm piecing together its history, but thought I'd share a contemporary look back into its past in the meantime -- particularly since I hear that the ruins were demolished last year.

These are a series of 2009 video produced by YouTube user DrEggm4n.
This is a 2008 video produced by Damian Tetkowski.
This is a 2007 video produced by Sean Galbraith.
This is a slideshow of exterior photos shot by fixBuffalo between June 10-22, 2005.
 These are interior photos shot by fixBuffalo on October 28, 2005.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Family Photos Friday: Grams On Horseback

Elsie Charlotte Hayes (1926-1992), Michigan, probably early 1940s.
I don't do "Wordless Wednesdays", particularly since I can't ever remain "wordless" on those posts. So, I've picked "Family Photos Friday" to serve as my version to these quick easy posts that showcase snapshots from our family history.

The inaugural photo is one of my grandmother, Elsie Charlotte Hayes (1926-1992), on horseback. I don't know the date, or the exact place. Best guess is early 1940s, somewhere near her home in Southfield Township, Michigan -- before she moved out to California during the war.

Why did I pick this photo to kick off my Family Photos Friday? Because as a child, this was always one of my very favorite pictures of Grandma, since Grandma wasn't exactly active. A lifetime of smoking, severe asthma, and an obsessive love of reading kept Grandma pretty sedentary.

I was shocked the first time I came across this photo and questioned my mom. Mom told me Grandma used to love to ride horses as a child and young adult, and that a family at a neighboring farm used to allow Grandma to exercise their horses whenever she wanted -- it gave her a sense of freedom. I used to gaze at this photo every time I went through Mom's albums.

Although I never got to see it for myself, Mom says Grandma was an excellent rider, even into older age. Mom kept us kids away from horses because she had a terrifying experience, when I was already a young child, during a horseback riding day trip with Grandma and my uncle (who still rides).  Mom, who did not ride, was given a beginner's horse, but the horse spooked during the ride and took off with her on its back. My calm grandma kicked her horse into a sprint, went after Mom, pulled up alongside of her, and took the reigns of Mom's horse to get it to stop. Mom never rode a horse again. And she never quit sharing how impressed she was by Grandma's equestrian skills.

I would give anything to have Grandma still with us, and to enjoy a day of horseback riding with her.

Like Grandmother, Like Granddaughter.

embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Genealogical Inspirations: Busting Down A Brick Wall With The 1930 US Census

The 1930 U.S. Census. Enumeration District 15-173, Sheet No. 2A. Buffalo (Erie) New York. (Source:
This post is a part of a "Genealogical Inspirations" series I am writing -- sharing my own early personal genealogy milestones -- to commemorate the public release of the 1940 U.S. Census on April 2nd.

In my last post, I mentioned how my grandfather, Michael John Flangan, was orphaned at a very young age (never adopted), separated from his brothers, and spent much of his adult life trying to find answers about his family history. Grandpa died in 1997; I didn't take up family research until 2001.

Because my grandfather knew so little about his family, he didn't leave behind the documents and clues so many children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren benefit from when researching their family history. He also didn't have a lot of pertinent family stories, names, and places verbally passed down to his children. And my grandmother - who kept the family records -- passed away well before Grandpa. None of Michael's kids knew where a copy of Michael's birth certificate might be.

All my mother could tell me was that Grandpa was born in Buffalo, and that she thought his father was named John or Patrick (not an unusual first name among Flanagans...needle in a haystack). We knew he had an older brother named Patrick, because Uncle Pat moved out to the Los Angeles area later in life to be near his newly re-found brother Mike.

That was it.

That's all I had to start with for research leads.

Do a search in any genealogy database for Michael Flanagan, Patrick Flanagan, or John Flanagan in Buffalo, New York, and you'll see what I was up against.

I vividly remember when the 1930 U.S. Census came out back in April 2002, because I lived and breathed on Ancestry when they first published a digitized indexed version. I'd done the math and realized that the 1930 Census was the first one taken after Grandpa was born. I spent many nights digging through more needles in a haystack -- far too many young Michael and Patrick Flanagans in the Buffalo area still. So then I started cross-referencing both Michael (Mike) and Patrick (Pat) in my searches, and reviewing ages for families that had sons with each name, because I knew that Grandpa and Uncle Pat couldn't be more than maybe 5 or 6 years apart.

This approach definitely helped filter in on a smaller set of results. But, one very odd search result kept coming up near the top of the list every single time I tried it, and I kept dismissing it because the census entry for Michael and Patrick showed their relationship to the head of household as "Inmate". Inmate? I'd never heard of Grandpa serving time in jail, especially as a child.  I noticed that every name on that particular census sheet was listed as an Inmate. And every single name entered was a minor.

Then it hit me.


I remembered from my History studies that orphans, at this time, were frequently referred to as inmates. So, I scrolled to the top of that particular census sheet where it lists the Institution name (if applicable). And there it was -- the German Roman Catholic Orphan Asylum. Every single enumerated individual on this sheet was a resident of an orphanage.

I scrolled back down to the entry for Michael Flanagan (line 34), 3 years and 10 months old. Right underneath was a Patrick Flanagan, 4 years and 9 months old. And when I looked more closely at the family grouping, I noticed three more youth males: Joseph (age 13), Leonard (age 12), and Harry (age 9).

More brothers?

Grandpa had THREE older brothers, in addition to Uncle Pat.

The 1930 US Census listing for Grandpa Mike and his brothers (click the image to view a larger version). Source:
I distinctly recall it being past 10:00pm (when Mom used to go to bed), but I called her anyways and woke her up -- I knew how much this discovery would mean to her. She immediately started crying when I told her what I'd found -- my decision to wake her up had been the right one. Mom, too, was surprised to hear about three more brothers. She said she was never really sure if Grandpa had siblings in addition to Uncle Pat, because Grandpa had so few memories of his early childhood.

While corresponding via email with my mom's oldest sister a few years later, my aunt told me that she had been aware of the other boys' names; but she wasn't sure if they were all full brothers, half-brothers, or step-brothers.

One brick wall busted down.

The 1930 U.S. Census was the very first genealogical document that put me on the right path to tracking down Grandpa's family history.  It gave me names and ages of my grandfather's brothers, and it gave me the name and address of his orphanage. That was enough to inspire me to keep digging.

I eagerly and anxiously await the April 2nd release of the 1940 Census so that I can find out where all five boys were living in April 1940, because I do know now that they were no longer all together by that date. So, until the 1940 Census gets fully indexed, I'll have to focus on the Enumeration Districts for Buffalo, and for the nearby farm town in which my grandfather's foster family lived.
embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Genealogical Inspirations: St. Patrick's Day And Michael John Flanagan

My grandparents (on the left), in Little John's, the bar they owned in Pico Rivera, California, 1970s. Grandpa lived for St. Paddy's Day every year. And I still miss my Grandpa and Grandma every day.
For my entire life, I have associated St. Paddy's Day with my grandfather, Michael John Flanagan. The surname "Flanagan" ought to clue you into this association.

Every St. Paddy's Day, during my childhood, I remember Grandpa dressing up as a leprechaun, green tights and all. He had no problem walking out in public in his leprechaun attire -- Grandpa relished the shock factor. The tradition started when he owned a a bar, but Gramps kept up the gig long after he left the bar business -- I'm pretty sure just to annoy Grandma. While Grandma didn't mind Grandpa donning Irish attire for the bar, she wasn't as amused as his kids and grandkids were when he kept the gig up for the long-term (Grandpa had no shame, and loved to embarrass his loved ones).
Gramps (left) and one of his Little John's employees making corned beef and cabbage.

I remember going to the grocery store with them as a child on St. Paddy's Day, with Grandpa in regular clothes (Grandma insisted). Grams and I went into the store, leaving Grandpa in the car. Big mistake. While the two of us were shopping, Grandpa stripped off his street clothes in the car (apparently, he had his leprechaun costume on under his street clothes), walked into the store, and snuck up behind me and Grandma, dressed as a leprechaun. Everyone in the store, including me, got a really good laugh -- Grandma didn't find it quite so funny.

Grandpa lived and breathed anything Irish, and I'm pretty sure that St. Paddy's day trumped even Thanksgiving and Christmas as his favorite holiday. You see, Grandpa was orphaned at a very young age, was split up from his siblings, grew up poor, and spent his entire adult life making up for this lack of family. He didn't know much about his parents -- just that they were Irish. So Grandpa clung fiercely to that heritage with pride.

One of the only real regrets in my life is that I did not take an interest in genealogy while Grandpa was still alive. How ironic that Michael John Flanagan would have a granddaughter who could help answer some of the questions that plagued his life, but not until after his death. Each time I find a clue in my grandpa's past, I wish that I had taken the time while he was still alive to interview him and help him find his answers.

This regret is part of what drives me to research and piece together the pieces of my family history. I wasn't able to help Grandpa, but I can still help his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren discover their Flanagan ancestry.
embeddable family tree updated live from WikiTree

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Genealogical Inspirations: The Professor Who Taught Me That Family History IS Real History

Dr. Wendy Elliott-Scheinberg (bottom row, far left) with her students -- current recipients of the national award for the best student journal in history (25th year in a row!). Photo courtesy of California State University, Fullerton.
One of the big time major milestones that genealogists who research U.S. ancestors look forward to each ddecade is the public release of another U.S. Census. I, like every other such genealogist, have been eagerly awaiting the upcoming April 2nd release of the 1940 U.S. Census -- less than one month away now!

To commemorate this significant event, I thought I'd share some of my own early personal genealogy milestones over these next 22 days.

My first genealogy milestone? Embarking on the genealogical journey, of course.

 I was a history major in college and am still active in researching and promoting local history. But, in my undergraduate years, I didn't consider things like family history and local history to be "real" history. To me, history had to be something that impacted state, regional, national or international events. Then I took my first class with Dr. Wendy Elliott-Scheinberg, PhD, a history professor at Cal State Fullerton -- where I completed my B.A. in 2001, and where I now work as a librarian at the Pollak Library.

Dr. Elliott-Scheinberg ("Wendy" to her students, at her own request) encouraged me to focus on community history -- you know, the stuff that happened in my own Orange County, California backyard -- for some of my assignments, which spawned my still active passion for local history. It was through these conversations and coursework that I started learning more about the wealth of records waiting to be investigated at the city and county level and in public library local history rooms. And I can still remember a specific conversation in which Wendy mentioned to me that I was fortunate -- as a history student -- to have a particularly significant source of historical records just a few miles from my own home...the Pacific Region of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). I immediately ventured down to NARA on one of their then Tuesdays night extended research hours. I felt like a kid in a candy store!

It was through one of these conversations that I found out Wendy is a genealogist, and during which she started teaching me that family history IS real history. She made me realize that genealogy utilizes the same records, the same investigative research skills, and the same critical thinking and analytical skills as the more traditional scholarly-sanctioned types of history.

It wasn't until a couple years later, when I mentioned Wendy's name to a few members of my local genealogical society, that I found out Wendy is an internationally known genealogical instructor and presenter, and a former president of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. In typical Wendy fashion, she never touted her own professional status with her students. Today, I am happy to call Wendy my colleague and friend.

But, I am even more grateful to have studied under her, because it was through her tutelage that I first started venturing into the world of genealogy.