The other day I was trying out the pilot site for FamilySearch.org’s record search web site. It has been there for a while now, but new features and databases are periodically being added, so I figured I’d give it another try. I’m glad I did!
I used one of my “brick wall” names- Michael F. Sheehan. I believe Michael was Grandfather Sheehan’s brother, based on the fact that a Michael F. Sheehan lived in Mechanicville at the same time as our Grandfather, and, much more convincingly, the fact that a Michael Sheehan lived in the same (or possibly adjacent) house as Grandfather in Worcester in 1904. The two facts are certainly suggestive, but by no means conclusive.
I wasn’t expecting to find definitive proof of Michael’s relationship to Grandfather, but I just might have- and that’s not all.
One very handy feature of the FamilySearch pilot site is a mouseover function. After you’ve entered your search terms, FamilySearch displays a list of records it thinks match your search. Mousing over an entry displays additional details of the record, which makes it easy to scan a list without opening all of the actual records. This led me to an Ellis Island immigration record dated June 1, 1902, for a “Michl Sheehan”, last residence “Waterford”. And just like Grandfather Sheehan’s immigration record, Michael’s indicates that he is going to Mechanicville in Saratoga County, to his sister Maggie!
But it gets better- Michael, 22 years old, is not alone- he’s accompanied by his 14 year old sister, Annie. Michael and Annie had embarked at Queenstown (Cobh) on May 24, on board RMS Celtic, at the time the largest passenger vessel ever built, which could hold almost three thousand passengers.
Also similar to Grandfather’s record from the year before, the form indicates that Michael and Annie’s passage was paid for by their sister. While I found a Michael F. Sheehan listed in the 1903 Mechanicville directory as a knitting mill worker, I haven’t located any further information about Annie. As a minor, she probably wouldn’t have been listed in the 1903 directory, and by the time of the next census, in 1910, she would have been 22, and likely to have married. There are no “Annie’s” born in Ireland listed in 1910 as living in Saratoga County (although there are hundreds in New York City), so it’s going to take some research to track her down.