Another Sheehan in 1940 (and some newly discovered cousins in Florida)

When Ancestry announced recently that they had completed indexing the 1940 census returns for New York State, I immediately checked to see if I could find Grandfather Sheehan’s sister Margaret, who had emigrated to Mechanicville in the 1890’s, and who paid Grandfather’s passage when he came over in 1901. Margaret married Patrick Powers sometime before 1910- but I couldn’t find Patrick or Margaret in the 1940 returns.

There was a Margaret Powers, with a husband named Patrick in Maine with similar ages, but a completely different family. Finally I tried looking for Margaret’s daughter Catherine, and her husband Gerald Flynn, on the possibility that they might live in the same neighborhood. As it turned out, they actually lived in the same house!

Looking at the image of the census form, “Patrick Powers” seems pretty clear. So why didn’t he show up in my searches? Because the person who transcribed the image for Ancestry read Patrick’s last name as “Panero”! It’s plausible, I guess. Fortunately, Ancestry allows users to submit corrections and “alternate information”, so I added “Powers” as the correct surname for Patrick and Margaret, and “Sheehan” as Margaret’s maiden name, so in the future they’ll be easier to find.

But the story doesn’t end there- as often happens in genealogical research, finding one new piece of information leads to another, and another. While I knew that Margaret passed away in 1952, and Catherine in 1955, I didn’t have any further information on Catherine and Gerald’s daughter Margaret, born in 1937, who would be my second cousin. Did she marry and have children? Was she still alive?

The answer to the first question turned up in a Troy NY newspaper, which carried the announcement of Margaret’s engagement in 1958 to a Frank Spinosa. And Margaret did have children- three of them. That piece of information, unfortunately, came from the record of Margaret and Frank’s 1971 divorce. I also learned, sadly, that Margaret died in 2010 at the age of 72 in Hollywood, Florida. Based on the list of her survivors in this obituary, it’s safe to say that there are still some descendants of Margaret Sheehan Powers in Florida:

Margaret Mary Spinosa, 72, of Hollywood, Fla., died Friday, Aug. 13, 2010, at Hospice by the Sea at Memorial Regional-South in Hollywood. Mrs. Spinosa was born Dec. 13, 1937, in Mechanicville, N.Y. She lived at Schalamar Creek Golf & Country Club Community in Lakeland for 10 years. She was an LPN and worked at Florida Presbyterian Home in Lakeland. Survivors include her son, Frank Spinosa of Fort Lauderdale; two daughters, Margaret Axford of New Port Richey ,and Cathy Lavoie; and five grandchildren, Christian Spinosa, Patrick Spinosa, Alex Spinosa, Casandra Axford, Samantha Axford, Matthew Lavoie and Mark Lavoie. Funeral: Friday, Aug. 20, at 10 a.m., at Whidden-McLean Funeral Home. Interment will be at Oak Hill Burial Park in Lakeland. Condolences may be made to the family at www.whiddenmcleanfuneralhome.com .

Fort Meade (FL) Leader – August 18, 2010

Update: it looks like there may be cousins in Connecticut as well. That’s where Margaret and Frank Spinosa were living when they divorced, and that’s where one of Margaret’s daughters was married in 1980.

  • Margaret Spinosa Axford

    Hi Brian, I was amazed when I read the information you had about my mom. I guess we are related. I miss my mom very much and I wish you got to met this wonderful person.

    It was very interesting to know the names of my grant grandparents.

    Thank you!