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:

Using DNA to add branches to the family tree

I’ve talked about DNA before, and this post is an example of how I use DNA to extend the family tree. I’ve had some pretty cool discoveries – this is an example of one of them!

Sometime ago a match appeared, will call her “Mary” to keep her anonymous.

Screenshot from Ancestry DNA

What caught my eye about this match was that she was a “High” confidence 4-6th cousin match (so likely to find the connection in the last 4-5 generations) and her surname was one of the prominent surnames in my tree.

Ancestry allows you to link a tree to your DNA results, and you can then use that tree to look for common ancestors. In this case “Mary” had a small tree with her mother only – Anna Theresa [surname] but in also included birth and death dates for her mother. Anna Theresa was born and died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA. Thankfully Philadelphia BMD are available online on ancestry and familysearch, so I set to work. I wasn’t aware of any cousins in Philadelphia, but there were some in NY and in Boston, so it was possible somebody moved to a nearby state.

I quickly realised that my match’s surname was her married name, so not relevant to my family tree. However, her grandmother’s name was a nice surprise –  she was a Gallagher! The Gallaghers are a very early brick wall for me but there are so many of them, I have been unsuccessful so far to link anybody to the tree. I hit a brick wall again with Mary’s Gallagher line –  Bernard Gallagher b. 1832 in Ireland and moved to Pennsylvania, no indication where in Ireland or who his parents were. It is still possible there may be a connection there but if so, I haven’t found it yet.

His wife, however, was the breakthrough – Anna Theresa SWEENEY, born 1835 Ireland and died 21 Jun 1912 in Philadelphia. I have seen few Sweeney matches in Philadelphia but never seen any connection. Anna Theresa’s death certificate held the clue:

Death certificate for Anna Theresa (Sweeney) Gallagher, 1912, Philadephlia. Source: (click to see a larger version)


Anna Theresa’s parents were Miles Sweeney and Ann Gorman, who were my husband’s 4x great-grandparents! It still doesn’t list the place of birth, but with a match at this level (3rd cousins on paper) I’m pretty confident that this is correct and I’ve added her to the tree, and hopefully in future this will help linking the other Philadelphia Sweeney DNA matches to my tree.

Unfortunately so far I haven’t been able to get in contact with “Mary” (she is eldery, so may not use the computer much) but I will continue searching for more evidence.

Looking for DNA testers!

I have been a bit absent lately with the blog as life has been busy, but I’ll try to keep on track and post one new post every two weeks, as there is still so much information to share.

Meanwhile, I’ve also been working on my own Bulgarian ancestors, and part of this has been using DNA to support the paper records. I’ve tested over 20 close family members and cousins so far and it has been really interesting – I’ve confirmed relatives and found new and sometimes unexpected connection! Thank you all!

So, I’m hoping to expand and do the same on the Irish lines – apart from confirming the paper trail, it will hopefully help breaking through the brick walls I’ve hit. For example, despite building trees for many Gallagher and McLaughlin families in Derry, I’m still not sure where did William Gallagher and Jane McLaughlin came from! And all experienced researchers I’ve asked have hit a wall too. Another line is the Keenans (all McManus cousins are also descendents from them) who moved to Scotland sometime around 1840s – have no idea where they came from in Ireland. I have built extensive trees in both Glasgow, and then Boston, yet they are still a mystery.

I hope DNA will help! So I’m asking anybody who is interested in testing – to please get in touch. I’m looking for:

  • testing oldest living relatives on any of the lines – Warren, McManus, Kavanagh, Gallagher, as well as any known 1st/2nd cousins to these.  The reason I’m looking for the eldest is because every child only inherits half of the DNA from their parents, so with every generation half of the DNA is lost. Testing any living 85-90 year old relatives is like having access to a golden mine!
  • testing any male cousins (age doesn’t matter) with the surnames Warren, McManus, Kavanagh, Gallagher, McLaughlin, Bradley, Cooper, White, or any of the other direct ancestral surnames. This test is a Y-chromosome test and follows the direct male line, and will show where the family came from and who else with that surname are they related. There is also a big Y-DNA Irish project, so you get the bonus to be part of a very interesting country-wide edge-cutting research! 🙂


(see Irish DNA Atlas project:

The tests are with ancestry and FamilyTree DNA and are saliva tests – either spit (ancestry) or swab (FTDNA). It takes few minutes and results come back couple of months later!

I can post a test, so no cost to you (apart from possibly return postage). Let me know, results are really interesting!

Here is an old post how I used DNA to crack through a brick wall:

Leopold Rossine Warren

Leopold Rossine Warren was mychildren’s Great-Great-Grandfather. He was born on 16 Feb 1890 in Sunderland, Durham, the eldest son of Edward Albert Warren and Elizabeth Jane White.

Leopold was a seaman (cook steward) and comes from a line of seamen – same as his father and his grandfather. I don’t know much about his early years – sadly his parents divorced in 1900  as his mother fell in love and had a child with another man.

Leopold and his two younger sisters Ruth Elizabeth Mary (b. 1891) and Eva (b. 1894) were living with the family of John and Fanny Guest in Thornaby, Yorkshire in 1901 – I believe John and Fanny were friends of the family. Their mother Elizabeth Jane has moved with her own mother together with her two youngest daughters from Joseph Robinson – Beatrice Mabel Warren Robinson (b.1899) and Violet Robinson (b.1900).

Edward Albert and Elizabeth Jane also had two other boys who died infants – Edward Saint Leonard Warren (1893-1893), Albert Edward Warren (1896-1898) and Osmond Warren (1897-1898). It must have been very hard on the family!

Leopold married Josephine Gallagher on 9 Feb 1914 in St Columba, Derry.


The family seem to have lived in both Derry (183 Foster/Lecky rd) as well as Glasgow, and had several children:

  • Leopold John Warren (1913–1984)

  • William Edward Warren (1914–1969)

  • Walter Columbia Warren (1916–1917)

  • Henry Warren (1917– )

  • John Warren (1918– )

  • Eva Warren (m. Toye and emigrated to Canada)

If you have more information on any of the siblings, please let me know and I’ll update!

Leopold died tragically on 17 March 1931 only 41 years old , when the steamer Citrine he was working on as a cook crashed off Bradda Head, Isle of Man. The accident was widely covered in the press at the time as 10 out of the 11 crew drowned. The only survivors were Hugh Morrison and the 17 year old Leo Warren Jr – the oldest son on Leopold, who was the only passanger, and who said his father called him to join them shortly before they took sail to help on the trip.



Source: Northern Daily Mail, 18 Mar 1931

The story, as it happened on the night and told by the young Leo below:

A dramatic story of the sinking of the ship was given a Press Association reporter today by Leo Warren, one of the two survivors.

“My dad,” he said, “was ship’s cook, and I was simply making a trip with him, helping him whenever I could.

“Last night we ran into a howling wind, and were going slowly because of a thick haze which hung over the sea.

“Suddenly, soon after nine o’clock, there wasa midhtly crash, which shook the ship as though it were a matchbox. We had stuck the rocks at Bradda Head.

“The skipper, by wonderful skill managed to get us off the rocks again, but water was pouring in through a gaping hole in the port bows.

“Everyone rushed on deck and we thought we had about five minutes to launch the small boat.

“In the darkness we could feel the ship sinking under us, and people were shouting for help! It was devilish.

“Our hopes went West altogether a few seconds later, for the ship suddently heaved and turned turtle. Then she dived and there wre horrible noises. I think she musht have blown up.

“All of us were scrambling in the water, shouting. It was so terrible! My father was gone, and so have nine other men.

Only Morrison and I got to the rocks. One of us clun on to an oar, and the other got a lifebolt. The water was freezing, and how we reached the rocks I shall never know.

“When we got there we stayed the night, hoping to see the other men come ashore, but it was hopeless and no one came. All are gone, and now the lifeboat has come back with a body.


Brada Head, Isle of Man. Source: Wikipedia, Gregory J Kingsley