Never Give Up!

Family history research is both solving mysteries and putting together a gigantic zigsaw puzzle.  You need to be part detective and part puzzle solver, and be very, very patient.  My Dad’s family is 100% Irish (at least as far back as I can currently trace), so it has been very trying at times to get any “hard” information about the families before they came to Chicago in the mid-to-late 19th century.

One of my great-grandmothers was Ellen Jones, born in Ireland, somewhere.  Isn’t that a wonderful rare surname!  Ellen married Andrew John McDonough in Chicago in 1867 and I have been able to trace many of their descendants.  But Ellen’s family has always been one of my research “brick walls”.  Her death certificate identified her parents as Richard Jones and Margaret Anglim, but I was never able to find any US record of them and the name is too common, even in Ireland.

But patience is rewarded.  About two years ago, the FamilySearch website updated their index of Chicago death records.  I tried a parent search and found two siblings for Ellen, and discovered that they both were born in New York State!  I never considered the possibility that Ellen’s family had lived anywhere other than Ireland and Illinois.

This also taught me another important lesson.  Census records are only very general clues, especially to ages.  As I located additional records, I found that the ages reported in the various US census enumerations, for all of Ellen’s siblings, were at least five years too young, some as many as eight years.  Lesson learned — the further in time you get from a birth or baptism, the more likely the age is “off” in the record.

I found Ellen’s family living in Rome, Oneida, New York in 1850, 1855 and 1860.  Most had moved to Chicago before 1870.  Tracing back, I found the arrival at Castle Garden, New York, for most of the family, in 1849, at the height of the Great Irish Famine.  But, where was their Irish home?

Using two websites, and, I found the baptismal records for Ellen and all of her Irish born siblings in the register for the Catholic Church in Newmarket, County Cork, Ireland. I also found that Margaret’s surname in Ireland is spelled ANGLAND.   However, the entries did not identify the townland where the family lived.

Ireland’s land divisions are quite different from other countries, with the townland being the most important land division to identify.  So, I now knew the Catholic parish, but where within that fairly large area did the Jones family live?  Back to being patient.

Last week, I attended a two-day Irish records workshop sponsored by the Fountaindale Public Library (Bolingbrook, IL) and the Plainfield (IL) Public Library.  The presenters were from the Ulster Historical Foundation ( and they presented two information packed days.  Among other research ideas, we were informed that the National Archives of Ireland had recently released the Valuation Office house, field, tenure and quarto books for the 1824-1856 period.  These books contain the field notes taken during various valuations of Ireland’s land holdings, many of which are before the Great Famine.  So, on the off chance I could locate Richard Jones in Newmarket, I checked the website (  AND THERE WAS RICHARD JONES — the only Richard Jones in Newmarket.  So, my patience was rewarded and I can now note that, in 1846, Richard Jones and his family lived in Scarteen Upper Townland, Parish of Clonfert, Barony of Duhallow, County Cork, Ireland!

Time to finally think about booking a trip to Ireland.

Speaking Engagements in April:

Saturday, Apr. 8th, Wheaton Public Library (Wheaton IL), FamilySearch website

Tuesday, Apr. 11th, Elburn Public Library (Elburn IL), Scottish research

Saturday, Apr. 15th, Wheaton Public Library (Wheaton, IL), FamilySearch’s Family Tree

Wednesday, Apr. 19th, Dupage Genealgical Society (Wheaton, IL), Research in the British Isles

Speaking of patience, Spring will come.


Random Thoughts

As always, RootsTech was amazing and it was fun and informative to be able to watch some of it from the comfort of my own home.  If you haven’t yet checked out what is available, you can see the list at  Dick Eastman’s newsletter this week ( noted one particularly interesting session which compared four of the main websites for online research.  I also recommend Sunny Morton’s Friday session, “Big 4:  Comparing Ancestry, Findmypast, FamilySearch and MyHeritage.  If you enjoy watching the Property Brothers (Jonathan and Drew Scott), you will also enjoy their Thursday morning keynote presentation.

One of my favorite “goto” sites is Cyndi’s List (  For over 20 years, Cyndi Ingle has assisted us with our family history research by offering a free website which organizes myriad websites into research oriented categories.  She has recently added a new category which focuses on the various laws which have affected our ancestors over the centuries. Trying to identify property and marriage laws in a particular time frame has always been a challenge for me, so I know Cyndi’s new category will be very helpful.

I have been spending a lot of time with the digitized images which are available at FamilySearch, particularly the Archdiocese of Chicago cemetery interment records.  These are individual file cards which were made for each burial in the Catholic Cemeteries in Lake and Cook Counties.  Since my Dad’s side is Chicago Irish, I have a lot of interment records to locate and record.

I have also been learning some Danish, at least enough to glean the pertinent information from the church registers of what was once the Duchy of Slesvig (now southern most Denmark).  One of my sister-in-law’s ancestors was born in Slesvig in 1862 and FamilySearch has the parish registers in digital format.  Finding the records has been fairly easy; the challenge has been interpreting the handwriting and then translating the document.  Lots of fun work ahead!

Until next time,


Stories of Dad

My father, William James Brady, Sr. passed away 51 years ago this month.  Since he has been especially on my mind these last few weeks, I thought I would share some stories about him.

Dad was very proud of his service in the U. S. Navy during World War I.  Since he was not old enough to enlist, he used his brother’s baptismal certificate and enlisted at age 15 soon after the United States entered the war.  He had a thought that by joining the Navy he might see something of the world.  But that dream was not to be.  He trained at the Great Lakes Naval Station, just north of Chicago, where he was proud to say he marched behind the Navy Band led by John Philip Sousa.  He spent the remainder of his enlistment on the U. S. S. Gloucester, stationed at the Brooklyn Naval Yard.  The Gloucester was the former yacht of J. P. Morgan, which had been donated to the Navy during the Spanish-American War of 1898.  From 1917 to 1919, the Gloucester conducted harbor patrols in the New York City area.  According to Dad, he may have been the youngest enlistee from Illinois during World War I.  I remember his name was one of those listed on a WWI service plaque which at one time was displayed on one of the main streets in Downers Grove, Illinois.

brady-william-james-sr-uss-gloucesterOne of Dad’s passions was the Chicago White Sox.  Though he was born on Chicago’s West Side, both of his parents had their roots on the South Side.  Dad told the story about trying out for the White Sox in 1920, as a catcher.  He claimed that he had been offered a contract, but turned it down for two reasons:  his best friend, a pitcher, had not been offered a contract, and it was the year after the Black Sox Scandal of 1919, when various members of the team supposedly threw the World Series.

Dad was a very good bowler.  At one time during the 1950s, he was a member of three leagues.  The league he was in the longest was the Moose Lodge #3 League, which bowled on Tuesday evenings at the old Lawrence-Western Lanes in Chicago.  I would sometimes go with him just to watch the bowlers and enjoy the York Peppermint Patty that Dad would always get for me from the vending machine.  His team served as pallbearers at his funeral.

Fishing was the other sport which interested Dad.  As he worked in highway construction, there were not many opportunities to head to the family cabin on Malby Lake, near Minocqua, Wisconsin.  But when he could, he would take the rowboat out to his favorite lily pads, put a worm on his hook and just spend a peaceful day on the lake.  He would spend several hours fishing and usually came back with enough perch, bluegills and crappies for our supper.  I think he may have been at his happiest on those trips as he always had a smile on his face and a chuckle on his lips.

brady-william-james-maureen-elizabeth-brady-and-gertrude-hunter-malby-lake-early-1950sDad, Mom and me at Malby Lake.

Dad was not polished or urbane, just an Irishman who loved life and the people around him.  I still miss him every day.

My First Blog Post!

Hello, everyone.  I have finally jumped on to the blog bandwagon where I plan to keep you up to date on my upcoming speaking engagements as well as any new find in my family history.  I may also comment on any new exciting news from the online family history world.  I do not know how frequent my posts may appear, but often enough to keep you interested.

RootsTech 2017 is happening right now in Salt Lake City.  It has been interesting to see the Facebook posts of my friend, Amie Bowser Tennant, who is working at the Genealogy Pod Cast booth as well as giving several presentations during the conference.  She seems to be having a lot of fun.

If you have not checked out the schedule of live streaming presentations, the list is at  If you are not able to catch the live stream, those same presentations are available the next day as recorded sessions.  Yesterday’s keynote with the Property Brothers (Jonathan and Drew Scott) was particularly fun and interesting.

Looking ahead to March, and local to the Chicago area, the Fountaindale Public Library in Bolingbrook still has a few spaces for their 2-day Irish research workshop.  The event will also be streamed.  You can get the details at

Until next time, Maureen



11 March 2017 — Fox Lake (Illinois) Public Library, 10am, Using FamilySearch.