St Stephen’s church, North End Boston

Thanks to American Ancestors free access last week I decided to revisit their database looking for more documents for Richard McManus and his wife Catherine Bradley. The way one searches their site is not very intuitive, and could be quite frustrating, but after trying out few options, I was rewarded with their marriage record!

Richard and Catherine got married in St Stephen’s church, which according to Google is located on 401 Hanover Street. Beautiful church, and it is still there!

St Stephen’s church, 401 Hanover Street, Boston. Image source: Wikipedia

I was particularly interested in the witnesses listed as I was hoping they may be new relatives I could further research, but unfortunately the names do not sound familiar: John J Bench and Mary O’Neil(e).  I’m not sure if they are relatives or family friends, and haven’t been able to find anything further about them.

1873 Marriage of Richard McManus and Catherine Bradley, source: American Ancestors website

Richard and Catherine’s oldest child was born a year later, however I can’t find him in the church register in this church, or any other church in Boston. I also can’t find any other births, marriages and deaths listed for either the Bradley or McManus family.

The only other record I found, again in St Stephen’s is the baptism of Catherine’s youngest sister – Rachel Bradley in 1871. She was the only sibling born in Boston (older siblings were all born in Scotland)

1871 Baptism Rachel Bradley, source: American Ancestors

Unfortunately, again, I don’t recognise the names of the sponsors – Hugh Quigly and Margaret M’Kenna, so I’ll have to dig deeper.

I’m still trying to find out at which church did Richard and Catherine’s baptise their children, and at which church did her sisters marry in 1879.


When DNA proves your paper genealogy

I love DNA for genealogy research! And love when it all aligns and supports all the paper trail. Here is how I use it…

Let’s look at one of my favourite branches of the tree, the KEENANs. Favourite, because they’ve caused me so much headaches, I’ve grown to love them! I’m still missing many records, and there have been so many inconsistencies in the records I’ve found – I have people appearing in census after they died, people appearing in census in the same year once with their spouse and once with the family of a child, ancestor re-marrying while she was still married after abandonding her family, her sister’s husband completely changing his name out of the blue… then when his wife died, he re-married her cousin, just to give me extra headache trying to figure it out 🙂 It has truly been challenging but fun researching them, and I’m sure there are still many surprises to be uncovered there.

But thanks to DNA I’m now more comfortable that I’ve been on the right track. Here is a list of some of Owen Keenan and Ellen Mullen’s decendents (they had five children), the yellow boxes represent people who have done a DNA test and who match my husband and a known relative. There is obviously more work behind the scene, but visually you can see – there are a lot of cousins there, and everything seems to align as expected.

Now, only if I can figure out where in Ireland did Owen and Ellen come from…

DNA decendents of Owen Keenan and Ellen Mullen (click to see larger version)

On a side note – ancestry DNA tests are currently on offer – if you are interested in doing a test yourself, hurry up! (

Was Philip McManus buried with the stranger James Peter Flynn?

Philip McManus (1867-1936) was the youngest child of John McManus and Jane Hegarty and brother of Richard McManus Sr, who emigrated to Boston. Philip is my children’s 3rd great-uncle. John and Jane McManus had the following children:

  • John McManus (1842–1893) – married Mary Jane Henderson, lived in Derry.
  • Richard McManus (1845–1907) – married Catherine Bradley, lived in Boston, died in NY.
  • Catherine(1) McManus (1847–)
  • Mary Jane McManus (1852–)
  • Bridget McManus (1854–) – married Edward Doherty, lived in Derry.
  • Charles McManus (1858–)
  • Catherine(2) McManus (1861–)
  • Margaret McManus (1863–1925) – married Daniel McDaid/McDade, lived and died in NY.
  • Jane McManus (1866–)
  • Philip McManus (1867–1936) – lived and died in Derry, never married.

Philip never married, and in 1901 lived at Fulton Place, Derry with his sister Bridget Doherty and her family, and their mother Jane. Next year his mother Jane passed away, and in 1911 census he is again with the Doherty family but they all have moved to St Columb’s Wells. Philip was a slater, the same as his brother-in-law Edward Doherty and few of the the other McManus men.

Philip died in 1936 and was buried in Derry City Cemetery in plot NB223. He is the first one in the plot, and there are six other family members buried there, last one in 1980.

The puzzling thing was the proprietor of the plot was “Frank Flynn of 15 Marlboro Avenue”

Flynn wasn’t a surname I’ve come across before in the tree, so went digging through newspapers, etc. and using the street address built a tree for him.

I’m pretty sure Frank is Francis Flynn b. 1905 in Belfast. His father was James Peter Flynn, police constable who was born in Dublin, married Elizabeth Mary Murphy who was born in England and had few children born in Belfast. As indicated in his obituary, he seem to have moved to Derry sometime after 1911 census, both 1901 and 1911 census have him in Belfast.

The strange thing is James Peter Flynn died on 26 Aug 1936, a day after Philip McManus, and Philip was the first person buried in the plot owned by his son!

So far I haven’t found any connection between the Flynn and the McManus families. The fact that both men died a day apart is very puzzling! Could they have buried Philip McManus, and his relatives later in the grave of a stranger, both first men buried in the same grave?? Or is it a mixup of cemetery records? I don’t know the answer yet.


Prefab houses come to Derry in 1946

I stumbled across this lovely photo of Annie (McManus) Warren – it’s from 1946 when Derry got their first pre-fabricated bungalowes (her initial is wrongly listed as E).

She was the first one to be handed the keys – look at that beaming smile 🙂

Will have to follow up and find out more…

Edited: very insightful comment below from my husband Arnie, her grandson – on her right is indeed her husband William Edward Warren. And the fact that he was in the military is probably relevant to them being one of the first to be accommodated.

Source: Londonderry Sentinel, 17th Oct 1946, p.4



Kavanagh – Sharkey connection?

This post is about another puzzle we haven’t been able to solve yet, but putting it out here, somebody from Derry may know the answer!

It started with the newspaper death notice below. Mike Campbell was researching his Sharkey ansestors when he came across it, and he messaged me about it as he saw this blog, and that I had Kavanagh ancestors.


You can see Mike’s own blog and post about it here:

He was wondering if I knew what the connection was – Charles Kavanagh is listed as Catherine Sharkey’s nephew, and he is also my husband’s 3x-great uncle. Both Charles and his brother Patrick lived on Bridge street for a while (Charles is listed living on Foyle street by 1901 and Miller street in 1911, while Patrick stayed on Bridge street for many years).

The death certificate for Catherine Sharkey shows she is 56 years old and never been married. So Sharkey must be her father’s name.

1889 death certificate for Catherine Sharkey, age 56, Bridge Street. Source: Website

And here is the problem – Patrick and Charles parents were Charles Kavanagh and Mary Ann Begley.

The Sharkey name does appear few other times too –

  • Sara Ann Charkey is  the godmother of Patrick Kavanagh in 1860,
  • Francis Sharkey and Catherine Sharkey are the godparents of Charles Kavanagh in 1863 and
  • Catherine Sharky is the godmother of John Kavanagh in 1864.

And finally, another member of the Sharkey family, Francis Sharkey, who died 1912 is buried in plot MC642 in Derry City Cemetery owned by Charles Kavanagh. This also suggests a close relationship between the Kavanagh and the Sharkey families.

However, we still don’t know how exactly do they relate!

(I’m also not 100% sure about the informant on Catherine’s death certificate – Bridget Fahan maybe? I can’t find anybody by that name around that time

Edited: There is a Bridget Graham living on Bridge street in 1901, maybe it’s her, not a relation so far.)

What happened to Neil McNulty, Nellie Bradley’s husband?

First of all, Happy New Year – wishing you all and your families the very best for 2018! Thank you for following and reading, and for the encouragement and advice along the way!

The first post of the year is about a mystery. Unfortunately I still don’t have the answer, but hope by writing it all out here somebody may spot a clue I’ve missed, or even better – somebody who knows what happened, one of this couple’s descendents maybe, may come across this post.

I used to joke that the family of John Bradley and Mary Ann Keenan must have been in the witness protection program when they moved to Boston – there are so many inconsistencies with the available records, and so many records missing. It’s a real muddle. I’ve written about their daughter Catherine (Bradley) McManus and the sad fate of her children.

Nellie (Ellen) Bradley is Catherine’s sister, born about 1859 in Scotland and moved with her family to Boston as a child. Nellie married Neil McNulty on 25 Dec 1879, same day as her other sister Mary married Francis Sullivan.


1879 marriage of Nellie Bradley and Neil McNulty, source:


Neil’s parents are James and Mary, and he is 22 years old, born in Boston and a shoemaker. 

In 1880 census Neil McNulty, as well as the other sister’s husband – Francis Sullivan, are listed as boarders in the same household as John and Mary Ann Bradley and their children at 5 Foster Street. Neil is 23 years old and a shoemaker.

Nellie and Neil had three boys:

  • Frank McNulty – b. 6 Oct 1880 (5 Foster)
  • James McNulty – b. 14 Aug 1882 (19 1/2 Fliesbon?) and
  • Henry McNulty – b. 2 Dec 1886 (32 Hull)

The last mention of the father Neil, or Nellie and the boys is the birth record for Henry in 1886. I have not been able to find Neil McNulty after that.

I also have a possible birth record for him – Cornelius McNulty b. 10 April 1858, Boston to James and Mary McNulty. Unfortunately there are quite few McNulty families so I haven’t been able to confirm 100% this is him, but it’s quite likely.

Imagine my surprise when I was researching another Keenan line in Boston, one of the brothers of Mary Ann who also moved from Scotland, and I came across Nellie Raymond in 1900 and after with three Raymond children with exact same first names and same dates of birth but living in Lynn, Essex, MA. Their father is listed as Frank Raymond, and parents as married c.1879 accoring to 1900 census.

In 1900 the family lived at 91 Chestnut Street:

  • Frank Raymond is 42, b. Apr 1858 and his occupation is Agent, lasting machines (“lasting” according to Google is the process of attaching the leather top of a shoe to the sole)
  • Nellie is 41, born in Sept 1858 (I’m yet to find a birth certificate for her in Scotland) and immigrated in 1862
  • James b. Aug 1882
  • Harry b. Dec 1886

The eldest son Frank (Francis) has married on 17 Dec 1899 to Nellie T McQuillian, his parents listed as Francis + Ellen J Bradley. In 1900 was living on 33 Parrot Street. They had one son – James (1900-1954) Frank died on 13 Jan 1945 in Lynn, however I don’t have a death certificate for him yet. He is buried in Saint Joseph Cemetery.

The second son, James Raymond, married Claire Mary LeMont on 30th Jan 1907 (parents listed as Frank Raymond and Nellie Bradley) and sadly died by suicide a month later on 5th March. His age is listed as 24y 6m 19d which would make his date of birth around 14th Aug 1882.

The youngest son, Harry Wheeler Raymond was born on 2nd Dec 1886 according to his WW1 draft registration card and married Alice L Keenan on 4th Jan 1914.

WW1 draft registration for Harry Wheeler Raymond, source:

They had two sons – Frank (b. 1915) and Fred (b.1918). Harry seem to have sustained war injuries and in 1930 is listed living at the National home for disabled volunteer soldiers in Chelsea, Main. He died on 14th Mar 1932.

Their mother, Nellie (Bradley) Raymond died on 18th Feb 1912 in Lynn from paralysis with exhaustion as contributing disease.

1912 death Nellie J Raymond, source:

Her date of birth is listed as 29th Sep 1858, however I’ve been unable to find her birth certificate in Glasgow or anywhere in Scotland. I’ve had no luck with the birth certificates of any of her siblings either, apart from Rachel (Bradley) Molloy who was born in Boston.

As for her husband Frank Raymond- he remarried in 1913 Mary Ann Conway (his parents listed as James and Mary – same as Neil McNulty’s parents first names) According to some trees on ancestry he had died on 20th Oct 1939 but I haven’t been able to confirm this. The only record I’ve found that lists Frank Raymond who died on that date is a mason membership card – not that the date of birth is listed the same as the suspected DOB for Neil McNulty – 10th Apr 1858, and his occupation – an Agent. I have no other information about Neil McNulty or Frank Raymond being masons.

Mason membership card for Frank Raymond, source: Massachusetts, Mason Membership Cards, 1733-1990 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2013.
So, this is all I have found so far. I’m seriously leaning towards the theory of Neil McNulty changing his name to Frank Raymond, even though it sounds really far-fetched. Was it done in 1890s and what sort of paper trail would there be?

It’s also possible that Neil had died or left the family, and Nellie re-married Frank Raymond who adopted the boys very young, they may not have even known he wasn’t their father. However, the same possible date of birth of both men, same occupation and same first name of the parents are a bit too much of a coincidence for me.

While this mystery is for now unsolved, I’m planning on renewing my newspaper subscription to see if there is anything in the papers, and tracking living Raymond descendents – hopefully one day we’ll figure it out.

The forgotten village of Grahamston

I often find it interesting to research the locations of where ancestors lived – sometimes with a bit of luck some of the original buildings from those times may have survived and one can see them in Google street view! It often pays off to research their neighbours too, especially if they stayed at the same address for a long time.

Two of my children’s ancestors – Thomas and Catherine (Sweeney) Cooper were listed at living at 42 Alston street in Glasgow in 1871 census, their daughter Mary was also born at that address. When I went trying to find where Alston street was though, it turned out it wasn’t so easy. Alston street does not exist any more!

Where Alston street once was, now is the Glasgow Central Station, right on top of what used to be Grahamston village. Alston street used to run the lenght of the village and was the home of the first permanent theather in Glasgow – the Alston Street Playhouse built in 1764. There doesn’t seem to be any survivng photographs of Alston street, however there are some of the near-by streets.

Some claim that the whole village of Grahamston is still there, under the Central station, and that there may be a treasure buried there too!

Demolishing Grahamston to make way for Central Station, around 1876. Image linked from:

Read more about the history of Grahamston: