• New York
  • Oct17

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    Not much to describe on these photos – my grandfather John Tierney is the fellow on the left and I would guess this photo is circa 1920 or so. The man in the middle appears in some other photos and I suspect might be the husband of one of my grandfather’s sisters.

    Fire One!

    Fire Two!

  • Sep30


    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…

  • Aug30

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    I have been making some inroads into my wife’s side of the family tree and I’m having great fun with the research. This is the outline of my most recent fun find, but if you find the details of this post too long, please scroll to the bottom for my question to genealogy folks. (And follow me on Twitter, where I’m strictly limited in my verbosity.)

    Several months ago, after floundering around with a completely incorrect surname for one of her paternal great-grandmothers, I finally found a record that led me to the right one. The simple change from searching for Josephine “Dreslen” to “Bernemann” opened a floodgate of records and others researching – as well as a 3rd cousin working on the same line who also knew my wife’s grandparents!

    Marriage Index Record, Duffy - Bernemann, Iowa 1914Using that new info, I began to rummage around Familysearch and found the info from the Iowa marriage record of her great grandparents Michael Duffy and Josephine Bernemann.

    Under the watchful eye of the god of documentation, I faithfully ordered the official certificate. (See my previous blog post for a small lesson learned on that topic.) Read More | Comments

  • Aug27

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    As we wait for Hurricane Irene to arrive, I thought I would take some time to peruse the Library of Congress Chronicling America historical newspaper collection. Unfortunately the site is down for hardware maintenance. Drats.

    But, for those who are in the midst of hurricane obsession, here is a very informative site on the Great Hurricane of 1938 – The Long Island Express.

    Best of luck to all of us awaiting the storm – and soon I hope we will all be singing Good Night Irene.

  • Aug16

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    Having run into a rather sturdy wall with my Tierneys in New York, I’ve decided to see if I might identify some possible relatives of my great-grandfather Michael Tierney. However, as he arrived around 1880 and we have only just discovered he died in 1913, that’s a tough nut to crack.

    So, for awhile I’ve been thinking of mapping out ALL of the Tierneys in New York over time using New York City Directories.

    To begin the project, I’ve downloaded the Tierney pages of every city directory I could get my hands on – I now have them for the years 1844 to 1934. I’ve then tried using OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software to turn directory images into text that I could massage into correctness.

    1913 NYC Directory Tierney Page Header

    1913 New York City Directory

    Some of these OCR programs worked decidedly better than others. Strangely, the beefy professional software I use at work did the worst job! But, most unfortunately, none of the OCR software did a good enough job to simplify the job of transcribing the names, addresses and professions into a usable format that I wouldn’t have to edit heavily anyway.

    So, I decided to bite the bullet and just transcribe them all by hand into a spreadsheet and go from there. With my *cough* years of computerificness I’m a pretty fast and reasonably accurate typist, and was able to transcribe the 116 Tierneys in the 1913 directory in about an hour and a half (with interruptions.)

    Once I get all of the data transcribed, I’m hoping that by mapping the names, addresses and professions I’ll be able to track not only the individuals over time, but find some patterns and clues for whom might be related to whom.

    For example, I have been trying to find where my great-grandmother Anna Tierney and sons Michael Edward and Thomas F have gone to post-1913. I have not found any of them listed in the 1920 census yet, which has been frustrating. However, by scanning the directories by eye I found an “Anna widow Michael” who appears uptown around 1914. I then noticed there are also men by the names of her sons at the same address. Later on, I find the same three names at a different address along with another Tierney or two.

    I may have found those addresses and the grouping of people sooner with a nice visual – and so may other Tierney searchers later.

    So, as a quick test I’ve taken the data from my 1913 transcription and have had it geocoded and mapped using Batchgeo – take a look below. You can also visit the map directly at this link. I will follow up with more information on techniques I find useful as time goes on.

    View Tierneys from 1913 NYC Directory in a full screen map

    Update: 15 Mar 2012: I’ve started testing out an alternate version using Google Fusion Tables. First run at the 1913 and 1914 data here. (Some bugs found already, and no search controls yet.)