• History
  • Dec13


    While researching my grandmother’s family, I thought it would be interesting (and important) to learn more about the religious order her sister Kathleen had joined in Ireland.

    Sister Attracta (the name she chose when taking her vows) is recalled fondly in our home via her letters to my parents and a New York visit in the 1960’s.

    Sister Attracta Photo CollageLast year I posted a photo collage of Sister Attracta , and over the last year I’ve learned a bit more about her from a cousin in Ireland as we compared research.

    After many years of service in China and Hong Kong, she retired to the Columban Sisters home in County Wicklow Ireland.

    I found a bit of history on the Columban Sisters site that begins…

    “The first group of Sisters set sail on September 13, 1926 from Cobh Harbour in County Cork. The 13,000 mile journey ahead of them would eventually take them to China. After many weeks travelling the Sisters finally arrived in China at a place called Hanyang.”

    The small family stories I’ve heard of her mention the sisters being taken captive during the war, and their status as doctors and nurses was the one thing that saved them from certain terrible experiences.

    Maybe a Second Spring - book coverThe history page references a book entitled “Maybe A Second Spring: The Story of the Missionary Sisters of St. Columban in China”, which they will send you for free if you pay shipping. (I purchased mine at Kennys.ie)

    I received the book last night and am looking forward to start reading it tonight – but I couldn’t resist a flip through right away. Near the beginning it describes “…dozens of (missionary) women would, in time, go to the heart of China. They would face a civil war, bandits, war lords, Communist Geurillas, and Japanese invaders, to say nothing of opium addicts, lepers, floods, famine, and plague.”

    Photo: Sister Mary Attracta with patient in NanchegAnd what do I find in the center section of the book? A cache of photos, including one of Sister Attracta! Quite exciting – I also see her mentioned in at least one section where the sisters are heading off to found the mission at Nancheng.

    Once again, reading is good.

  • Nov21

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    In a previous post entitled WWI Army Pay Card I spoke about using the veteran burial record for my great uncle to find his Army Serial Number (ASN). I used that info to finally successfully order his WWI records from the National Archives.

    The source I used was the U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962 database on Ancestry.com. Great uncle Michael died in 1936, so I was very glad when that database went online- I had every other piece of information on Michael short of his ASN and his shoe size, but NARA kept replying to my records requests with “not enough info.”

    Just a month or so later, a researcher in Ireland contacted me about my grandfather’s first wife, Sabina Gilroy, whom he found in my tree. This cousin of my cousins has shared a great deal on a part of our tree that was bereft, which has been wonderful.

    It turns out Sabina’s brother Michael was also a WWI veteran, but he died in service a few weeks before the war ended.

    So, you’d think the Interment Control Forms database would be out since he died 10 years before 1928, no?

    No. It turns out that groups of veterans were disinterred from their original burial places overseas and reburied back in the US.

    Michael Gilroy was moved from a cemetery near the battle in Meuse-Argonne back to Cypress Hills Cemetery in Brooklyn some time after 1928.

    So, now we have his interment card, his ASN and a way to now find his records at NARA.

    National Veteran's Cemetery Interment Card for Michael Gilroy

  • Nov9

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    During this interlude of post-Hurricane Sandy getting back to normal and trying to find gas without running out of gas and school JUST re-opened 11 days later and many neighbors still have no electricity and then we had a Nor’easter and 7 inches of snow and I can’t stop typing here is an interesting post from the New York Public Library entitled Blizzard! The March Snowstorm of 1888.

    (Don’t forget to read the comments – some interesting info about the rivers freezing.)

    By the way, we fared very well in the storm and got our power back after 6 days. So many people on the south shore of Long Island and other places nearby were absolutely hammered by the storm and lost everything. Absolutely everything.

    You can donate to the Red Cross effort for Hurricane Sandy here.

  • Nov11

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    For Veteran’s Day, I thought I’d post a WWII Navy photo of my Dad with a group of fellows (and a few lucky ladies) from his post in the Personnel Accounting Office’s Machine Records Installation located at 90 Church Street, Manhattan.

    Until recently I thought this photo was taken down in Washington, DC, where he was assigned at the beginning of his service. But recently I found a few alternate copies of this group photo, one of which has the NYC information written on the back.

    Thanks to all who have served our country.

    US Navy, Machine Records Installation, Church Street, NYC, Group Photo

    My father, Michael Tierney is in the rear row, right in front of the door.

  • Sep6

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    In my previous post Comforts Committee of the Navy League I spoke briefly of my grandmother May’s involvement in knitting sweaters and such for submariners in World War I.

    Recently I’ve found there are some terrific images and resources online relating to the Comforts Committee and just wanted to share a few favorites here.

    First, to whet your appetite, I suggest this  short series of articles written by David Vergun for the Navy League’s SeaPower magazine written in celebration of their centennial anniversary. (I’ve linked to a Google search as they link to the articles on an older version of the web site. I have been unable to locate them on the newest version of their site.)

    Mr Verdun includes the following poem and description from the time:

    During World War I, Navy Leaguers enthusiastically answered the call to duty by either signing up in the armed forces or volunteering for duty on the homefront. Leaguers in cities and towns across the country recruited shipworkers for the war effort. Others assisted armed forces recruiters. Thousands of women worked with the Navy League’s Comforts Committee to make hand-woven garments for U.S. forces and their allies. The Navy League became so well known for its work that the Hempstead Inquirer of Long Island, N.Y., published a poem of tribute:

    The Navy League

    Baa, baa, black sheep,
    Have you any wool?
    Yes, sir; yes, sir!
    Three bags full!

    When you want a sweater
    What do you do?
    Go to the Navy League
    And they’ll give you two!

    When you want a helmet
    And no one else has any
    Just ask the Navy League
    And they’ll say “How many?”

    If the boys are freezing
    And need 60 mufflers more,
    Go ask the Navy League
    And they’ll give you sixty-four!

    When the cry goes up for help–
    “Have you any wool?”
    “Sure!” says the Navy League
    “Three bags full!”

    –Mary Youngs

    Comforts Committee of Navy League - Ladies Knitting

    At left is a photograph of some ladies volunteering their time to the cause. There are many wonderful images on the Library of Congress site that are both historical and more personal – I suggest you make it a regular destination when working on your own family history research.