• Mar11

    I’ve just finished watching the documentary One Million Dubliners, which at it’s simplest is a study of Dublin’s Glasnevin Cemetery, the “home” to 1.5 million people of all sorts, including people like Michael Collins and Daniel O’Connell.

    One Million Dubliners PosterWhile I am sure some may find the delivery of the film to be slow, I found the the pace of the film and the multifaceted approach to telling the story were very well done, incorporating both historical and everyday figures, the creation and restoration of the cemetery itself, and perhaps most importantly the inclusion of the more mundane aspects of running a cemetery and the thoughts of those involved.

    While this latter information may fare only slightly higher on many peoples’ lists than watching paint dry, the people interviewed in these daily roles of the cemetery each show a different angle of the goings-on and in sum provide an almost surprisingly philosophical treatise on the process of death and the power surrounding one’s final resting place.

    However, the thread that holds this film together, without question, are the stories and perspectives of the cemetery’s historian Shane MacThomáis. His love of the historical subject matter and of Glasnevin itself is apparent. His wonderful interactions leading cemetery tours for both young people and adults truly draw us in with humor and pathos.

    As you are reading this review on my genealogy blog, it is highly likely at least part of many a day’s thoughts are taken up by the interaction of history, family, lost stories, loss itself, and the task of trying to find meaning in their conjunction. If so, I highly suggest your taking the time to find and watch this film.

    A word of warning: I began watching without any prior knowledge of the film beyond a recent mention online. When soon after I found it available on Hoopla Digital (streaming offered free via my local library), I thought that I had to give it a shot.

    As I got to the end of the film, I truly was more than a bit M. Night Shyamalan-ed. I do not want to say more.

    I would suggest if you know no more than I did, Do Not research the cemetery and names I mention here – just watch. You can always go online later and learn more.

  • Mar10

    Yesterday during lunch I was perusing the New York City Municipal Deaths index (as one does) and happened upon a pair of records that appear to be relevant to a particularly elusive branch of my wife’s Irish Duffy family. Of course, as is usual for this branch these records are not only conflict with each other, they also conflict in a few other ways. So, that will be the subject of a future post as I try to hammer out the dents in my timeline.

    To help me clear things up, I immediately ordered the death certificate. But, as any genealogist knows, one can not easily sit still after ordering a record. Especially when afflicted with a bad case of conflictionitis. Luckily, the death index noted the person of record was buried at Calvary cemetery in Queens. It also included a burial date, which is needed to inquire about the plot at Calvary’s office.

    So, a quick lunch time field trip to the cemetery was in order. While at Calvary, I always like to wander a bit and investigate any interesting grave markers. I also always seem to find an unrelated Tierney grave when I visit. (I assume unrelated, as my Tierneys are somewhat mysterious in their own right.)

    Calvary Cemetery with Manhattan Background
    Today was no different. I photographed a grave of Jeremiah and Mary Tierney and added them to Findagrave in an effort to pay it forward for other Tierney folk. I also happened upon a very interesting, but heavily damaged statue at a grave marked only SCOTILLO. I am not sure, but it appears to have been a man in uniform, perhaps World War I era?

    It is a shame to see the many broken monuments at Calvary. This one is especially eye-catching in its ruinous state as Mr. Scotillo takes a well-deserved breather behind his stone.

    <br />
Scotillo Grave Statue BottomScotillo Grave Statue Reclining Torso

    The only name I saw on the stone next to it was the surname SCOTILLO.

    I wonder if it is for a Private Paul Scotillo who appears in a list of New Yorkers who died in WWI?

    Here’s a related Draft Card: familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:K6JZ-GVK
    …and likely that same Paul Scotillo in the 1910 census: familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:M57M-5NT
    …and his 1896 NYC birth record in the index: familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:2WSJ-HG8

  • Mar3

    Using my patented (it’s not really patented) process of scanning the Interwebs to find things hidden in dark corners (but nothing too scary), I recently found the confirmation of a story a cousin of my wife had passed on regarding the brother of their great-grandparents. The neat thing is the story goes back to the 1880s – a boy named Angus Keigan had begun working in the mines when about 14, as many did. But, sadly he was killed within a few weeks of starting.

    Report of the Department of Mines, Nova Scotia, 1883

     

    I had made a note in the family tree of the story, but Google Books filled in the story with terrible clarity via two books “Report of the Department of Mines, Nova Scotia, 1883” and “Journal and Proceedings of the House of Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia, 1884.”

    Apparently Angus was rolling a coal tub in the mines and decided to walk in front of it, lost control, and was crushed.

    It is often the case that family and historical research can have very sad things to tell us. But truth can also help clear up many things, and at the very least help us understand a little bit more of the hardships of our ancestors, and often feel very much for them.

    Don’t forget to look for books on all sorts of topics – the trade in which your family worked, the local, state and federal government reporting, and of course old newspapers. It is something I try to remember – but wouldn’t have thought of looking for a mining report.

    By casting a wide net using a blanket Google Books search for “keigan sydney mines” uncovered another bit of the past for my wife’s family.

  • Feb10

    The real surprise in John McCain’s family tree: His grandfather was his own father!

    John McCain's Tree
    I suppose the Finding Your Roots team may have done this for clarity when using photos along with the need to pan across the screen, but it made my brain vibrate as it did. Click on the image for a larger view.

  • Feb3

    Update February 3, 2016: On a recent trip to Manhattan, I decided to take a walk over from midtown to see St. Stephen church myself… and found that it had been closed. (A quick Google finds that I am late to this party, as it had closed in 2014.)

    In relation to this older post below, I am unsure where the records for the church and St. Gabriel now reside, so I suppose I need to send another letter to the archdiocese. It is a sad thing to see such a beautiful church close. You can see some of the wonderful art work, including paintings by Constantino Brumidi at this link.

    In a previous post St. Gabriel Has Left The Building I outlined my search for the Manhattan church where my grandfather and siblings were baptized and hopefully the one where my great-grandparents were married.

    Glow of the City, Martin Lewis, 1929

    Martin Lewis, “Glow of the City” (1929)

    With some effort and a nice amount of luck I discovered information on the now dismantled St. Gabriel’s Church on East 37th Street.

    I then found through the Archdiocese of NY that the Church of St. Stephen now held those parish records and was able to obtain my grandfather’s baptism. (Still looking for the marriage record.)

    As is my wont, I posted the images I use here on this blog on The Flickr as it makes a fine scannable archive and doesn’t fill up my hosting quota here on this domain. A few days ago someone found that image and commented on it:

    This is the church whose steeple is seen in the famous print by artist Martin Lewis, “Glow of the City” (1929). I’ve looked a long time for the location of this church.

    I was not aware of the artist nor the print, but it has a wonderful feel of the time, don’t you think? I’ve since learned that while Australian born, he was a contemporary of Edward Hopper who is a favorite artist of mine.

    From Williamsburg Bridge, Edward Hopper, 1928

    Edward Hopper, “From Williamsburg Bridge”, 1928 Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art

    In the days when I delivered construction materials and spent mornings sitting in a truck on the congested Brooklyn-Queens Expressway, I whiled away the time imagining Hopper making his studies of the buildings visible from my vantage point. A fine example is Hopper’s From Williamsburg Bridge, 1928 at right.

    I suggest that anyone who has an interest in the history and architecture of New York City just after the turn of the 20th century seek out the work of both of these artists.

    The Brooklyn Museum holds quite a few Lewis pieces in its collection. Visit the Metropolitan Museum for its collection of Edward Hopper’s work.

    The Glow of the City image above is courtesy of Smithsonian American Art Museum.