WEEK 4 – 2015: Mary Ann CARNEY – The Lost Sister

Mary (Carney) O'Mara. 1881-1955.

Mary (Carney) O’Mara. 1881-1955.

This week’s theme for the 52 Ancestor challenge is “Closest to your birthday.” I actually share a birthday with my great grand aunt, Mary Ann Carney. And, she has an interesting story, so this blog is dedicated to her.

Mary Ann was born on February 20, 1863 in Dunmore, Pennsylvania to Patrick and Bridget (McDonald) Carney. She was baptized on February 22, 1863 at St. Mary of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Dunmore. Her sponsors were Michael and Marie Donovan.

Sadly, Mary never got to know her parents and her siblings, Margaret and James. Their mother became too ill to take care of them, and the children were placed in a home near Scranton sometime around 1864. Shortly afterwards, Margaret was taken from the home by her father’s uncle, Michael Murray, and was raised in his home in Scranton. James was taken 2 years later by the Peter Murray family, who were cousins of their mother.

A Caveney family had promised to take Mary when she was a little older. However, when they went to the home years later, they had discovered that she was already gone.

Mary had been taken from the home by a Joly family from Tunkhannock, PA. She remembered living with them and remembered the canal boats going up and down the nearby Susquehanna River. The Joly family had been told that Mary was baptized Catholic, and they were not Catholic. So, they gave her to William and Julia Collins of Lovelton, PA. The Collins family, who had 8 children of their own, were the only parents that Mary had known. She lived with them until adulthood.

On January 26, 1881, Mary married John O’Mara at Saint Basil’s Church in Dushore, PA. John and Mary settled down on a large farm in Stowell, PA and raised a large family of 16 children.

Although Mary was very busy with her large family and the farm, she still wondered if she had any other family and siblings. She vaguely remembered having a little brother. She tried to contact the Joly family once to see if they could give her more information. However, she discovered that they had moved out west and she did not know how to find them after that.

On October 31, 1924, her husband was reading the local newspaper, The Wyoming Democrat and saw this ad:

The ad that helped Margaret Carney Cone find her sister, Mary, after 60 years of being apart.

The ad that helped Margaret Carney Cone find her sister, Mary, after 60 years of being apart.

John O’Mara knew right away that it was Mary that they were looking for. Mary was surprised, because she never remembered having a sister. They immediately wrote to Margaret.

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After a few letters back and forth, Mary was finally reunited with her sister, Margaret. It was noted that they looked and even acted, very much alike. Afterwards, Margaret and her family would come up to visit with Mary every summer for the next 20 years. Mary and John traveled to Philadelphia once, to visit with Margaret.

Mary reunited with her brother James, in June 1925. He came to Stowell from his home in Lowell, Massachusetts, and stayed for 3 weeks.  However, his health was very poor and he died on February 18, 1927. Their 3 week reunion was the only time Mary got to see her brother.

Mary died on January 4, 1955 at the age of 91. She is buried in St. Anthony’s Church Cemetery in Stowell, PA.

WEEK 3 – 2015: Kate Healy – the toughest woman in my tree

This week’s theme for the 52 Ancestors challenge is “Tough Woman.”  I feel like I have many woman in my family who are considered, “tough”and “strong.” Some I have already written about, including my great, grand aunt, Catherine Logue, who was a World War I nurse.

However, I finally chose my 2nd great grand aunt, Catherine McDonald Healy. Not only did she seem like she was a tough and strong woman, she has also from a tough family to research. And I have hit some brick walls with her life as well.

“Kate” is the sister of my 2nd great grandmother, Bridget McDonald Carney. I knew very, very little about my 2nd great grandmother. She and my 2nd great grandfather, Patrick Carney, seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth after their 3 children were “placed in a home” in Scranton sometime around 1864. The children all became separated after different relatives took the children. According to a family history, that a distant cousin had typewritten back in 1960s, my great grandmother, Margaret Carney, lived first, with an uncle of her father. She later moved to Yonkers, NY to live with her aunt, Kate Haley, who was a sister of Bridget McDonald.

I have been unable to find out what became of Patrick and Bridget Carney after that time. The same family history had lots of names in there, that I used as clues. “The McCaul family from Yonkers also visited us several times. They are our nearest relatives next to the Cones. Mrs. McCaul’s mother, Kate Haley, and Mom’s mother were sisters.” So, I began looking at “Kate Haley” to see if I could find out anything about her that help with learning more about the McDonald family.

I found the “Haley” family living in Yonkers in the 1880 Federal census only a few doors down from where my great grandmother was living with her husband and newborn baby. However, the last name was listed as “Healy.” This made research a little tough, since the last name was either spelled as “Healy,”  “Healey,” or “Haley.” Kate Healy, age 50, was living on Vineyard Avenue with her 8 children. The eldest 5 children were employed by the nearby carpet mill, Alexander Smith & Sons. No husband for Kate was present. Her birthplace was listed as Ireland, however, all of her children were born in England.

I found some of children’s birth and baptism records within England, Select Births and Christenings, 1538-1975 on and Liverpool, England, Catholic Baptisms, 1802-1906 (also available on The father was listed as Andrew Healy.

I found a marriage record for Andrew Healey and Catherine McDonald. They were married on January 26, 1857 at St. Nicholas Catholic Chapel in Liverpool. Catherine’s father was listed as “Michael McDonald.”

Andrew and Kate had 8 children: Margaret, James, Ellen, Andrew, Martin, William and Francis. In the 1871 England census, they were living in Northowram, Halifax, England. But, I have been unable to discover what became of Kate’s husband, Andrew. For on September 25, 1872, Catherine Healey arrived in New York on the boat The Holland, which sailed from Liverpool. She came with her 5 youngest children: Ellen, Andrew, Martin, William and Francis. Her 2 eldest children and her husband were not listed on the passenger record.

I can only assume that perhaps Andrew Healy had passed away, leaving Kate with 8 children. So, she decided to start over again with her children in America. Regardless, she had to be one tough lady to make that long trip with all those children in tow. Can you imagine hearing “Are we there yet?  Are we there yet? Are we there yet?” for days and days?

I’m assuming the family settled in Yonkers, so they could get jobs at the carpet mill. Some of the children were employed by the carpet mill in Halifax, England. I found Kate last alive in the 1910 Federal Census. She was living on Ashburton Avenue with her son Francis, and her daughter, Margaret. Her age was listed as 74. I can only assume she died after 1910. However, I have been unable to find out when she died. St. Joseph’s Catholic Church is located nearby and I knew from other marriages, baptisms and burials, that the family was affliated with that church. However, they had no funeral record for kate. And the cemetery had no burial information for her either. Although, all of her children are buried there. I have been unable to find any obituary for her either.

I have been hoping to find a death certificate and/or an obituary that might be able to shed more light on her McDonald family. But, as the theme states, she has been “tough” as far as research on her goes.

10. Bridget Walsh Murray

It’s National Women’s Month AND it’s Saint Patrick’s Day. So, I have decided to write about one of my many female ancestor’s from Ireland for this week’s 52 Ancestors Challenge.

Bridget is actually a very distant relative for me: my 3rd cousin 3 times removed. But I thought her story was the most interesting.

Bridget was born around 1821 in County  Galway, Ireland. She was the daughter of Michael Walsh and Mary Caveney. In 1840, she married Peter Murray of County Sligo. Peter and Bridget lived on a farm and had 5 children, including sons Anthony Joseph and Michael.

In 1850 Peter left his family and sailed to America to establish a new home and life for his family. He settled in Dunmore, Pennsylvania and began working for the Pennsylvania Coal Company. He sent his earnings to Bridget, back in Ireland, so she could save up so she and their children could join him.

In 1853, Bridget and her young children were ready to sail to America. They boarded the ship, “Western World” in Liverpool and endured the six week trip across the Atlantic to their new home with 300 other passengers.

However, on the morning of October 26th, the “Western World” sailed into thick fog as it was nearing its final destination in New York. The ship ran aground outside of Sandy Hook, New Jersey, and was nearly torn apart. I can’t imagine how terrifying that must have been for the young Bridget and her children. For three days, she had to be strong and reassuring for her children as they and the rest of the passengers remained on board until another ship could come rescue them. Finally, they taken on rowboats to that other ship, and then taken safely to New York. No lives were lost.

Bridget lived in Dunmore until her death in 1892. She was blessed to have been able to see two of her sons, Anthony and Michael, start their own coal company in Dunmore and become successful businessmen. No doubt, her strength from that harrowing ship voyage, was a contributing factor in their success.

1. Margaret Carney Cone – #52Ancestors

Margaret Carney Cone, her sister, Mary Carney O'Mara. Some of Mary's daughters standing behind them.

Margaret Carney Cone, her sister, Mary Carney O’Mara. Some of Mary’s daughters standing behind them.

I am not the first genealogist in my family. It turns out my great grandmother had to do some digging in order to find her sister.

Margaret “Maggie” Carney, was born April 2, 1859 in Scranton, PA to Patrick and Bridget (McDonald) Carney. Her younger siblings, Mary Ann and James Patrick, were born in 1863 and 1864, respectively.

Shortly after James birth, it was said that the parents became unable to care for the children, and they were placed in a home, called the Scranton Asylum. It is not known what became of their parents after this time.

Margaret was taken from the home by an uncle of her father shortly afterwards. The baby, James, was taken by a cousin of their mother. Margaret and James were fortunate enough to have grown up near each other and knew each other. However, Mary was taken from a family not related, and lived in nearby Wyoming County. She did not have any contact with her siblings at all while growing up.

Margaret eventually moved to Yonkers, New York to live with her aunt. She met Patrick Cone while living there, and married him on April 12, 1879. Patrick and Margaret had 10 children. They also moved to Philadelphia, where Patrick had a job working at the Dobson Carpet Mill. Patrick died of a brain tumor September 15, 1912.

Margaret had tried searching for her lost sister for years. After Patrick’s death, the need to find her grew stronger. She had discovered that Mary had been taken by a Joly family and went to live with them in Wyoming County. At the suggestion of a cousin, Margaret placed an ad in the local paper in that area, The Wyoming Democrat. The ad ran on October 31, 1924.

The ad that helped Margaret Carney Cone find her sister, Mary, after 40 years of being apart.

The ad that helped Margaret Carney Cone find her sister, Mary, after 40 years of being apart.

It turns out that Mary was living in Wyoming County on a farm in Stowell. She was married to John O’Mara and had 16 children. Mary’s husband, John, was the one who spotted the ad in the paper. After an exchange of letters, Margaret went to meet Mary in Stowell. After almost 40 years of diligent searching, Margaret was finally reunited with her lost sister.

They were able to visit each other several times a year, with their families for many years afterwards. Margaret died August 27, 1944 in Philadelphia. Mary died January 5, 1955 in Stowell. However, their spirit of learning more about the family still lives on.