Sunday, January 8, 2017

2016: The Genealogical Recap

Whatever else happened over the past year, 2016 was a great year in genealogy for me.  Here are some of my 2016 genealogical breakthroughs:

  • I finally got the line of my grandmother's mother's line, the Philbin family, straitened out. This was only possible because Ireland recently released civil records from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. These records are particularly valuable because they contain much more information than previously available through church records. The inclusion of the town names and parents's names in wedding records allowed me to zero in on the correct Philbins. These records have also bulked up my tree by allowing me to add more extended family members that I can prove a connection to through the civil records of Ireland.
  • One of the biggest mysteries to me was the death dates of my grandmother's parents, Patrick Cosgrove and Bridget Philbin of Tullinahoo, county Mayo. With these records I was able to determine their death dates. The death records list the person who reported the death as well as the cause of death, which was more-or-less guessed at by the person reporting the death. In other words, they offer a clue, but aren't necessarily conclusive. What struck me in an emotional way, as few genealogical records have, was the discovery that my grandmother reported her mother's death and provided asthma as the cause of death. My grandmother suffered from chronic asthma, which was passed down to her son, my uncle, who had a really bad case of it. My grandmother's coughing fits were one of the distinctive sounds of my childhood. 
  • One of the frustrating things about genealogy is that you can learn about a person's life from the records, such as their profession, age, cause of death, etc., but not about their personality. One cannot determine from the census record if the individual was a good parent, liked by neighbors, friendly, introverted or extroverted, interested in hobbies, etc. One of the truly best moments of 2016 (not just genealogy) occurred when a distant cousin who's mother knew my great grandparents (the aforementioned Patrick Cosgrove and Bridget Philbin) provided some details about them, including his nickname of "Cog" and her's of "Beezie." What a gift to know this! My grandmother shared little about her parents. She wanted to leave her impoverished childhood behind when she came to the United States after a brief stay in England. 
  • I finally solved a longstanding mystery on the Dehler side. There is a crypt with the name Dehler on it not far from where my parents and grandparents are buried in St. John's Cemetery in Middle Village, Queens, New York. It was long a part of family lore that these people were
    related to us, but no-one  seemed to know how the connection. In April I discovered that they crypt belonged to family of Clemens Dehler, brother to my great-grandfather Aureus Dehler. I have never located Aureus's immigration record, but he consistently stated across multiple records that he immigrated to the United States from Hessen, Germany in 1872. Clemens came to the United States before his younger brother, but he was very inconsistent in stating when he did so. 
  • Over the course of the year I found two connections to World War I, although not direct ones. Through the Ireland civil records, I determined that two of my great-grandmother's (again Bridget Philbin) cousins died on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916. Brothers William and John Philbin served in two different regiments, but met the same sad fate. What an unimaginably horrible day for their parents. On my father's side, his mother's father's brother, Robert F. Warmers, served in the 307th regiment, 154th brigade, 77th division. He was in the same brigade as the famous "Lost Battalion" but was not in that unit. He was in the unit that relieved them (I will post more about the 77th division in the future). Better still, I met his great-grandson who shared a copy of a letter that R.F. Warmers wrote his mother, my great-grandmother, Emily Christine Petry. 
  • This summer I visited Lutheran All Faith cemetery in Middle Village (not far from St. John's)
    and found the gravesite of my great-great-grandparents, Louis Warmers and Anna Marie Stroebel (R.F. Warmers's grandparents). The cemetery is not in good shape and I could not navigate it. Thankfully, one of the landscaping crew helped me locate their stone (to the right). Next time I visit Long Island, I will try to find time to take some pictures for Find-A-Grave. 
  • Although not a direct ancestor of mine, I got some more information about John Kilgallon, an American student of Patrick Pearse at St. Enda's who participated in the 1916 Easter Rising.  
I hope to build on these discoveries in 2017. 

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