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. Continue reading “Another Sheehan in 1940 (and some newly discovered cousins in Florida)”
Back in April I came across an old Rootsweb posting that led me to Grandmother Sheehan’s parents. I later found an earlier posting by the same individual that showed three marriages that had taken place between the Casey and Powers families in Stradbally. In addition to those marriages, one of the Powers siblings, Patrick, married Maggie Sheehan, and one of the Casey daughters, Mary, went on to marry Grandfather Nicholas Sheehan.
I’ve confirmed much of the information in the rootsweb postings, but discovered an apparent error when it came to Maggie Sheehan’s husband, Patrick Powers. Patrick died in 1962, and his obituary gives his parents’ names as Maurice and Margaret Scanlon Powers. The rootsweb post has Catherine McGrath as Patrick’s mother. I haven’t come up with a definite solution to the discrepancy- it’s possible that Catherine McGrath is an error, or that there were actually two Powers families involved. The person who posted the original messages told me by email that he no longer had any of the information he relied on for the posts.
I decided to try working backwards in time from the earliest record I had found of Patrick and Maggie, the 1910 census record. I eventually came across a 1900 census form that showed Patrick living with Maurice (Frank) Casey, and his wife Nora (Powers) Casey. Although the census form gives Patrick’s relationship to the head of household as “boarder”, I’m pretty sure he was Frank’s brother-in-law, and Nora’s brother.
Scanning up a few rows from Patrick I found none other than his future wife, Maggie Sheehan. And Maggie is said to be living in the household of a Michael J. Green and his wife Bridget. Maggie’s relationship to Michael? Sister-in-law! Which means that Bridget is Maggie’s (and Grandfather Sheehan’s) sister! The census gives Bridget’s birth date as July, 1872, which would make her, so far, the eldest of Grandfather’s siblings.
Needless to say, that changed the course of my research- I headed off in search of what happened to Bridget after 1900. I found her and Michael in 1910, not in Mechanicville, but, where else, Worcester. The 1911 Worcester City Directory lists a Michael J. Green living at 75 East Worcester St. Working back through the earlier directories, though, I came up with a Michael J. Green, wireworker, living at 2 Milton Place in 1905, the same address Nicholas F. Sheehan had occupied the year before!
Bridget and her husband Michael Green(e) had actually lived in Worcester prior to that date, and were married in Worcester in 1893. The two sons shown on the 1900 census were both born in Worcester, and the family was back in Worcester within a couple of years of 1900. So far, it looks like Bridget was probably the first Sheehan to settle in Worcester, followed by “Uncle Ned”, and then Grandfather Nicholas and his brother Michael.
Michael and Bridget Greene died in 1936, just a few months apart from each other. Bridget’s obituary in the Telegram says that she was very active in the Catholic Church and the Democratic Party, and had been a member of the Worcester Democratic City Committee. Mom has said that Grandfather had a sister that was very active in politics, and I had assumed that she was talking about Maggie in Mechanicville. After reading Bridget’s obituary, it seems more likely that she was the politically active sister Mom had heard about.
The obituary also added two more sisters for Grandfather- it says that among Bridget’s survivors were her sisters “the Misses Nellie and Julia Sheehan of Ireland”. Bridget’s two sons aren’t mentioned in the
obituary. At least one of Bridget’s sons served in the military in World War I (one of the organizations she belonged to was the “War Mothers”, which was formed during that war), so it’s possible that one
or both may have died in the war.
Bridget’s daughter Julia became a kindergarten teacher, and taught in the Worcester schools for 40 years. She died in 1999 at the age of 92. Daughter Nellie worked for the telephone company, and died in 1991.
Neither Julia or Nellie had any children. There was also a daughter named Margaret, born in 1901. She married Timothy Hally, but I haven’t found any information on her after the 1920 census.
One mystery is that while both Bridget and Michael’s obituaries say they were to be buried in St. John’s Cemetery, when I called the cemetery office to check the location, they said there was no record of either of them being interred there. Bridget’s obituary also says that she left three grand-children, so there may be some of her descendants around still, descended from Margaret, or one of the sons. Bridget’s obituary and marriage record both give her mother’s maiden name as Bridget Doody, which sounds more likely than the Marguerite Doody given in Uncle Ned’s obituary in 1960.
I couldn’t find an Annie Sheehan in the 1910 census to match the Annie who emigrated with her brother Michael in 1902, but I did find an “Anna”- and then the pieces started falling into place pretty quickly!
Anna Sheehan is listed as the sister in law of the head of household, Patrick Powers, residing at 237 South Main St., Mechanicville NY. Since Anna is single, and she and Patrick have different surnames, it’s safe to assume that Anna is the sister of Patrick’s wife rather than the wife of one of Patrick’s brothers. Which leads to the assumption that Patrick’s wife, Margaret, is none other than “Maggie Sheehan”, the “sister in Mechanicville” listed on the immigration records of Grandfather Sheehan, and his brother Michael and sister Anna.
Margaret and Patrick are said to have been married for nine years at the time of the 1910 census, and have one child, a daughter named Katherine. Patrick is, what else? a fireman, like his brothers Nicholas and Edward in Worcester. Patrick works at the local power station. Anna, now 23, is a shirt maker at a local factory.
The family also appears on the 1920 census, still on South Main St. Anna is no longer with them, but they now have a son, Patrick Jr., born in about 1913. In 1930 they are still on South Main St. (And still no sign of Anna!)
With that information, I was able to track down obituaries for Patrick and Margaret. Margaret’s confirms her relationship to our family- it says she was the “sister of Nicholas Sheehan of Jacksonville, Fla., and Edmund Sheehan of Worcester, Mass.” The Edmund Sheehan must refer to Edward (Uncle Ned) Sheehan. There’s no mention of Anna or Michael, so they’ve probably pre-deceased Margaret.
Patrick Powers lived another ten years, and passed away on December 21, 1962. Patrick’s obituary says he leaves a son, Patrick J. Powers of Cohoes, three grand-children, and three great-grandchildren. His daughter, Katherine Powers Flynn, had died in 1955.
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.
Thanks to a volunteer researcher in Florida, I’ve gotten a copy of the obituary for Dad’s eldest brother, our Uncle Frank. The obituary answers some questions, but raises others. The obituary is from the July 8, 1971 edition of the Florida Times Union. The first surprise is that Franks birtplace is given as “Mechanicsville” New York. That should be Mechanicville. I had thought that Frank was born in Worcester in 1903, but apparently not. The 1910 census gives his birthplace as Massachusetts, but in 1920 it’s New York.
The next surprise is that the obit says Frank had lived in Jacksonville “since 1917”, when he would have been just 14. Mom said she believed Frank had gone to Florida at a young age, but since he appears on the 1920 census living with the family in Worcester, I thought it was sometime after that. It could be that he was just visiting home when the census taker showed up in 1920?
The birthplace information, and the mention of his longtime employer, Felchgott’s, a Jacksonville department store, would seem to confirm that the Frank P Sheehan living in Jacksonville in the 1930 census is our uncle. The age is right, birthplace is New York, and occupation is salesman in a department store. I noticed when I revisited the 1920 census record that Frank’s occupation appears to be “shipper”- it’s not a very good image, but the place of work is pretty clear: “Department Store”. It doesn’t say which department store, and it might well have been Furchgott’s. Seventeen was by no means a young age to be employed full time, and Furchgott’s employed boys as young as nine as “cash boys” and “wrappers” in 1913, when this picture was taken, just four years before Uncle Frank arrived in Jacksonville.
Grandfather Sheehan was the last of our ancestors to emigrate to the US, arriving at Ellis Island on St. Patricks Day, 1901. Ironically, he and Grandmother Sheehan, who arrived a few years before him, have been the most difficult to find records of. It’s not just that we don’t know much about his origins, save for the assumption that he was originally from Dungarvan in County Waterford. We also don’t know much about how he got from Ellis Island to Worcester.
The passenger manifest from the Campania, which records his arrival at Ellis Island, lists his destination as Mechanicville NY. It says that his passage was paid by his sister. The form then asks whether the immigrant is “going to join a relative, and if so, what relative, their name and address.” There seems to have been some confusion on the part of whoever filled in Grandfather Sheehan’s information. “Brother Nicholas” is crossed out, then “Sister Maggie”, and finally “Sister Mag Sheehan Mechanicville” remains. Mom remembers Grandfather having relatives, and specifically a sister Maggie, in Mechanicville.
This week, I was able to examine a 1903 directory from Mechanicville. It lists a Nicholas Sheehan living at 65 North Main St., occupation “Fireman”. Grandfather’s occupation in the earliest Worcester City directories is also given as “Fireman”. (There is a Nicholas Sheehan in the 1903 Worcester City Directory, living at 26 Ward St. This seems to be a different Nicholas, however. In the 1904 Directory, he’s still there, but there is also a new listing, for a Nicholas F. Sheehan, occupation fireman, residing at 2 Milton Place. Milton Place doesn’t show up on Google maps, but the Worcester City Street Listing says it is a one hundred foot long private road running southwest from 9 Milton St. Milton St. runs from North St. near Grove to Millbrook St.)
Grandfather and Grandmother Sheehan must have arrived in Worcester some time prior to March 13, 1903, the date that Uncle Frank was born there. That birth-date would presumably place their marriage sometime before June 13, 1902. Given that he appears in the 1903 Mechanicville directory, it seems likely that the marriage took place in Mechanicville rather than Worcester.
There are a number of Sheehans resident in Mechanicville around this time, though I haven’t been able to track down if (or how) they might be related to us. The most intriguing possibility is the family of John Sheehan, described as a “Mason and Contractor” in the 1903 directory. Their address is 58 Round Lake Ave., which just happens to a couple hundred feet from the Rail Road St. address where Maggie Sheehan lives, as servant, in the 1900 census. And the street that connects Rail Road St. and Round Lake Ave? Sheehan Street!