While scanning my family’s photo albums I have found there are a fair number of mystery folks to us. But, the process of going through all of our albums has at least given me some clues to groups of people that go together and thus some educated guesses of who they might be.

However, the best help I’ve had was last year when was able to go through photos with a cousin from Ireland I’d met for the first time. We decided that a few of the photos were probably of my grandmother May Egan’s daughter Elizabeth, whom she had before she left Ireland.

Elizabeth remained in Ireland when my grandmother emigrated, presumably somewhere near Creggan, Endrim or Ferbane, Ireland.

We know very little of Elizabeth, but do know she came to New York at some point because we have some later photos of her with her baby son, my grandmother and my toddler father in New York circa 1930. (In fact, I’ve just found a cache of photos that weren’t used in albums and include more photos of Elizabeth – including her in what look like group outings with friends. I will post more about those at a later date.)

Now, while cleaning up some damaged photos in Photoshop a possibility occurred to me – a girl in a photo at Coney Island (center above) resembles the girl we believe is a young Elizabeth in Ireland. Is it her?

Photo Comparison Elizabeth Egan

There is a “Lizzie” Egan immigrating with my grandmother’s sister Bridget around 1924 that I suspect may be Elizabeth, but since I believe this photo is about 1920 (based on the Tierney children’s ages) that would mean she couldn’t be the girl in the middle photo. (Unless she traveled back and forth between Ireland and NY a couple of times, which I think unlikely.)

With no more info than this it has been fairly impossible to track her down so far. I hope one day to be able to find some record of her – she was my Aunt, after all. Maybe there’s even a cousin or two descended from her that might one day find this while doing their own researching.

I remain, as always, confused. But curious. and tenacious. Also, a little hungry.

Update (June 13, 2013): I have a long post to write on the search for my Aunt Elizabeth – quick version here is I believe I have found her emigrating to New York in 1921 under the name of “Lizzie Jennings”. Stay Tuned…


  • avatar

    Comment by Anne Tierney — October 1, 2011 @ 3:47 pm

    certainly all LOOK like the same girl. I had a few French folks who did a surprising amount of back and forth travel, so maybe she DID make a return trip or 2?

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    Comment by Diane B — October 14, 2011 @ 12:31 am

    they say ears are distinctive so it’s too bad the crack is in just the wrong spot on that middle picture. It does look like her, though. Note the way the hair is pulled back … pretty identical especially if she was at a breezy amusement park.
    Nice blog, just found it today!

  • avatar

    Comment by John — October 14, 2011 @ 1:27 pm

    I know – I’ve tried to use the ear trick in other mysterious family photos as well! With possible Elizabeth photos and records, there just seem to be pieces of the puzzle missing making the conflicts in the ones I found confusing.

    Hoping one day I can track down something definitive on her. I’ve recently found some more photos of her later in NY that are absolutely her – and she looks somewhat different. But as she’s several years older then and wearing glasses it’s just another Hmm at this point.

    I will have to look again for her ears in those photos. (Now, that’s a sentence I don’t often use.)

    Thanks for the blog compliment!

  • avatar

    Comment by pconroy — November 1, 2011 @ 10:05 pm

    I’d say it’s the same person in all 3 photos. I’m generally very good at identifying people, and the chin eyebrows and forehead are make 2 and 3 seem about 95% identical, while 1 and 3 are about 100% identical.

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    Comment by John — November 2, 2011 @ 10:09 am

    Hey Paul,
    Good to hear from you! I agree she does look to be the same girl.

    If so and she was here about 1920, I’m wondering where she lived – she would have been at most 14 years old, but she’s not with my grandmother in any census. I tried looking for her in Brooklyn where some other Egans landed, but they’ve been elusive so far.

    I think I need to look for more possible emigration records for her – perhaps the one I’ve thought might be her is another Egan cousin. (Also, I suppose she may not use Egan as a last name because of the circumstances of her birth in Ireland. I have a feeling she did, but should probably expand my search to reflect the possibility.)

    Another kink in the chain: In those later photos of Elizabeth in NY she has glasses and a distinctive face – enough that I’m unsure if both sets of photos are the same person. [Grumble]

    To add to that, I’ve got another photo from Ireland where someone wrote “Bessie Egan” on the back, but looks like might be another girl.

    Guess I need to put up another post with all of them for comparison (and as cousin-bait!)

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