Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Margaret Donahue Maher Bench Uncovered

Did I say, "Uncovered"?

Well, almost.

I truly did not have much when I began researching my paternal great grandmother several years ago. I had her first name from Massachusetts census records along with her married name: Margaret Bench.

I cannot even say that I received a 'free bonus' from these records as they conflicted with each other. Her first name and birth years were different on the census records. I know that's part of genealogy; but honestly, this is the silly stuff that makes me bang my head several times over.

I was very happy when my grandmother's birth certificate provided Margaret's maiden name as Donahue. Correct spelling??? Not so sure about that fact. The same birth certificate states that my great grandfather was from Biminham. Where??? LOL

He was originally from Birmingham, England. A little off on that fact they were and places the accuracy of the maiden name in serious doubt (spelling wise).

The Cambridge Library came in handy as I located her death announcement. This gave me her death date which lead me to the Cambridge Cemetary and death certificate. These little beauties provided the following information: death date, age at death, burial information, and father's name. My great great grandfather's name was a treasure to me and also confirmed the Donahue name. One small difference was the spelling of Donahue. It was listed as Donaghue.

Margaret's wedding certificate provided a different name. Out of St. Elizabeth's in Chicago, IL, came the fact that her name at the time of her marriage was Margaret Maher. So, this was her second marriage. She was approaching 40 at that time (1913) and it wouldn't surprise me if she were widowed as my great grandfather had been. It must have been a shocker to both when my grandmother happened along in May of 1914. She was their only child together. I still haven't uncovered her first marriage or any children from that marriage. My great grandfather did have children from his previous marriage and we are still quite friendly with those family members.

My great grandfather's naturalization records provided me with my remaining details. Of course, he was elderly at the time of his naturalization and most details were left unanswered. One important detail for me was my great grandmother's place of birth. He listed it as County Mayo, Ireland. Thank you for that gold nugget great grandpa.

Prior to Christmas 2009, I began to search through the County Mayo records. I lucked out. There were not a lot of Donahue's to look through. There were even less to go through when I plugged the father's name into the mix.

Margaret Donohoe
born 11/24/1867 Kilmaine RC Parish
Cong, County Mayo, Ireland

Father: John Donohoe
Mother: Julia Cullinane
Sponsor: Malachy Donahue

What was awesome about discovering this information was that the Civil and Baptism records misspelled the names also. The Civil record used Donahue and the Baptism record used Donohoe. The Civil record shows the mother's maiden name as Cullinan and the Baptism record uses Cullinane.

Several things add up to make this my record. Of course, not without a question or two. I'm still not a 100% sure but I'm 95% positive.

The names do add up. Father and daughter names check out. I cannot go by the birth year as her age changed throughout history. The fluctuation fits with my paternal great grandmother. It appears that my grandmother, Julia, was named after her grandmother, Julia Cullinane. It's in County Mayo and it's a Roman Catholic Parish.

In the search for my great grandmother, I not only received her info but have gained a County, great great grandparents and a great great grand uncle. What also tickled my funny bone? Cong, Co. Mayo is where my favorite movie was filmed: The Quiet Man. Good stuff.

Colleen Degnan Johnson

Sunday, January 17, 2010

New Discovery

Just before the holidays I had a major discovery regarding my paternal great grandmother. She's been a missing link. With some tweaking of the last name, I believe that I finally uncovered her past.

Of course, I am still not a 100% sure of this discovery; however, I am about 95% dancing a jig.

I will unveil her in my next post. Stay tuned.

Colleen Degnan Johnson