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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.)

Fast-forward to yesterday: As I cleaned up a few loose ends on my Ancestry tree during lunch and caught up on the message boards I watch there, I realized I had never looked at the Duffy surname forum. There’s still quite a bit of mystery for us on the Duffy front; just about all I know of them comes from that marriage record, a couple of census documents and some tidbits from the previously mentioned cousin.

So, armed with the information that Michael Duffy’s parents were Anthony Duffy and Annie O’Harra (sic) on his marriage certificate, I searched the Duffy forum for “Anthony” as it is the least common name I have.

Lo and behold, up popped this 1999 post from a user named Sandy:

“Searching for information on Anthony Duffy, he was the Ambassador to Australia from Ireland in the 1800’s, He was married to Ann O’hara in Ireland.”

Seeing both names of my wife’s G-G-Grandparents in that message was certainly intriguing – but I thought, in my best internal New Yorker voice “What’s the chances?”

Unfortunately, the Ancestry user profile for the poster is either from the olden days or has been locked down by the user – there is no link for direct contact.

But, who can help but Google around for more? Not me, I says.

So, further up and further in I wielded a search for “Anthony Duffy” & ambassador and Australia, the results of which included another of Sandy’s posts on the Duffey forum in 2001:

“Hi! I’m searching for a Michael Duffy who was from New York City. He was in the Merchant Marines. While in Finland he died in 1947. His father was Anthony Duffy, as family tells it he was an Ambassador to Australia from Ireland. If anyone has any information that they think would be helpful I would appreciate it.
Thank you,

Putting both of these posts together, they mention the names of my wife’s great-great-grandparents as well as specific information about her great-grandfather that I had heard both from her cousin and my wife’s mother: their Michael Duffy was a Merchant Marine AND they believe died in Finland.

It is clear to me that Sandy is searching for the same Duffy family. You gotta love The Googles.

I have left responses to both of those forum posts and have my fingers crossed. (A direct message to the email address on the forum profile bounced, so that addy is kaput.)

St. Patrick's Day Parade, NY, 1907

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, (reproduction number, e.g., LC-B2-1234)

I have found several articles about someone with the name Anthony Duffy in Brooklyn in the 1890s who was the grand marshal of the Hibernian St. Pat’s Parade. (Interestingly, there appear to be two feuding factions of Hibernians at the time, and they even held dual parades until things were smoothed over. I smell some further research to be had.)

More specific searches for Anthony Duffy as an Irish Ambassador to Ireland has turned up virtually nothing so far.

So I pose a question to genealogy folks: Is anyone aware of any applicable resources that might point me to more info on him or at least ambassadors from Ireland in the 19th century?

UPDATE: 30  Aug 2011: At the suggestion of someone on Google+, where I also asked this question I sent an inquiry into the Irish Embassy in Australia. They responded within a few hours with the following:

“The first Irish Ambassador to represent Ireland in Australia was Dr T J Kiernan from September 1946 to December 1954”

That seems to put the Ambassador story to rest pretty soundly. So, my next job is to find the person who posted the original story and see if the references to the Anthony Duffy in the Hibernians might be the right one. Perhaps the story of his position in that organization could have morphed over time into his being an ambassador?

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