Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Royal Connection! Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Are Cousins

The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) just issued a press release announcing the royal connection between actress Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. They are confirmed 17th cousins! The future Duchess of Sussex is a 24th generation descendant from from King Edward III. Meghan's gateway ancestor  is Rev. William Skipper, who came to New England in 1639 from England. William is Meghan's father's ancestor.

According to NEHGS, Meghan's cousins include the Queen and Princess Diana. Some of her American cousins include former U.S. presidents George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Gerald Ford, Richard Nixon, Herbert Hoover, Calvin Coolidge, Chester Alan Arthur and James A. Garfield. I might argue that Meghan is a part of American "royalty".

Are you related to the royal couple? Who is your gateway ancestor?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Counting Down to RootsTech - Cyber Monday and Photo Story Contest

RootsTech is ramping up - it's only a few months to go! I know I can't wait to do some research, attend some great lectures and of course hang out with my genealogy friends.

It is Cyber Monday so if you haven't already registered, check out the link here for a special promotional code good until 11:59 PM MST tonight! If you miss this offer, check out Conference Keeper for a list of contests giving away a free RootsTech pass. There are a few more left so don't delay! I get so excited to see so many new people coming this year!

Key note speakers for RootsTech include Scott Hamilton, Steve Rockwood and Brandon Stanton.

RootsTech is also hosting their first photo and story competition you can enter. There are 4 categories to enter - Connect, Belong, Family, and Heritage. More details can be found here. You can win some great prizes from Canon and Dell!

Disclaimer: I am an Ambassador for RootsTech 2018. I provide blog posts (in my own words), and social media coverage from now until after the conference. In return, I have free admission to RootsTech. 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

My Military Ancestor - Rev. Joseph Rooney

I'm continuing the Honor My Military Ancestor Challenge started by Patricia Greber. It's Day 9 and I'm highlighting my 1st cousin 3x removed. Rev. Joseph Rooney.

Joseph Rooney was born on March 5, 1887 in Iona, Prince Edward Island, Canada. His parents were Philip Rooney and Ellen McKenna. He was the second oldest son. He had 13 siblings. His father Phililp was a shoemaker and later became a farmer. His mother Ellen was a housewife. Many of Joseph's siblings were in the clergy as priests or nuns.

Joseph would join the clergy and was ordained as a priest on June 11, 1916. He was a professor at St Dunstan's University from 1918-1919 until he enlisted in the C.E.F as an Honorary Captain in the Canadian Chaplain Services from June 17, 1918 to September 7, 1919. During this time he served overseas in England and France. His C.E.F. file is digitized by the Library and Archives of Canada if you would like to read it.

After the war ended, he returned to St. Dunstan's to resume his duties there. His tenure at the university was short lived as he left to become a parish priest at Lawrence Church in Morell, PEI from 1920-1940 and at All Saints Church in Cardigan, PEI from 1940 until his death in 1942. Joseph was buried in the parish church's cemetery. You will see that his headstone provides a life history on Joseph, which I've summarized here. His memorial page is here if you would like to pay your respects.

Rest in peace cousin Joseph.

Monday, November 6, 2017

My Military Ancestor - Reubin Schild

I'm continuing the Honor My Military Ancestor Challenge started by Patricia Greber. It's Day 6 (at least when I wrote this) and I've decided to switch to my maternal side of the family. I'm highlighting my 2nd great uncle Reubin Schild.

Reubin was born on January 19, 1896 in Manhattan, NY to Abraham Schild and Eva Bodner. His parents were born in Austria and came to the U.S. in the 1880's. Rubin was the second oldest son. He had 3 siblings. His father Abraham was a book binder and his mother Eva was a housewife.

He was inducted into the U.S. army on August 5, 1918 in NY. He was a private assigned to Battery F, 26th Field Artillery Regiment. He was honorably discharged on February 6, 1919. According to his abstract of military service, he never served overseas. I don't have any additional details of his service at this time.

Following his honorable discharge, Reubin was a shipping clerk in the cloak & suits industry (1920 census). On June 20, 1926 he married Rayner Anna Chestner Chickerofsky. According to the 1930 census, he was a stock clerk in the shoes industry. In 1940, Reubin is recorded as being a shoe liner in a shoe factory. He had 3 children with Rayner, Alan, Paula, and Judith (all deceased).

Reubin died on December 8, 1973. If you would like to pay respects, here is his memorial page.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

My Military Ancestor - Dennis Rooney

I'm continuing the Honor My Military Ancestor Challenge started by Patricia Greber. It's Day 5 so I'm highlighting my 2nd cousin 2x removed, Dennis Rooney.

Dennis was born on August 7, 1899 in Kings County, NY to John Rooney and Mary Ann Reilly. He was the oldest son. He had 6 siblings. His father was a blacksmith and owned his own shop.

When he was 18 years old Dennis enlisted on June 25, 1916 in the New York State Guard in the 71st Infantry, Supply Company. His rank was horseshoer (no surprise there given his father's occupation). You may recall that during WWI, horses were involved to transport supplies so a horseshoer was an occupation that was in need.

Dennis was awarded a Purple Heart for his service in WWI in 1935. According to a newspaper article, Dennis was wounded while serving with the 105th Infantry, 27th division on the Belgian front on August 8, 1918. He was in hospital there for seven weeks. I found a separate article that mentioned that Dennis was gassed while serving in Company G, 105th Infantry. He was gassed on October 1, 1918. His father received a letter that he was recovering in November 1918.  He was honorably discharged on April 1, 1919. According to the 1930 census, Dennis was listed as married but no wife was listed. I also haven't located him on the 1920 census yet. He died on on May 6, 1960 and was buried at the Long Island National Cemetery in East Farmingdale, NY.

I learned that Dennis' father John served in the military as well. He enlisted the same day as his son Dennis in the 71st Infantry. He also was a horseshoer in the Supply Company. He was later transferred to Company B, 12th NY Infantry. Following his military service, he returned to his shop. He died on May 19, 1934 and was buried at Calvary Cemetery in Maspeth, Long Island, NY.

If you would like to pay respects to Dennis Rooney and his father John Rooney, I have included their memorial pages:

Dennis - Find A Grave Memorial 
John - Find A Grave Memorial 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Day 4 - Honoring Michael Connolly

I'm continuing the Honor My Military Ancestor Challenge started by Patricia Greber. It's Day 4 so I'm highlighting my 1st cousin 2x removed, Michael Vincent Connolly. 

Michael was born on February 28, 1915 in Iona, Prince Edward Island, Canada to John Connolly and Catherine Daley. He was the 3rd oldest son. He had 9 siblings. He attended St Dunstan's College in Charlottetown, PEI as well as taking courses in carpentry and leadership. He was a school teacher from 1934 to 1935, leaving to go back to college. He liked to play sports in college: football, baseball, handball and softball. 

Michael enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force on June 6, 1940. His WWII service file is full of interesting tid bits about his health and training. His interview report described him as follows: "Good type. Polite, pleasant -clean cut, frank, honest, ambitious, keen-clear eye-steady nerves-strong physique, intelligent. Should absorb instruction easily". He moved up the ranks to flight sergeant (air observer). 

On September 27, 1941 he died in a flying accident overseas. I don't have the particulars on what happened. He was buried at El Alamein War Cemetery in Egypt. If you would like to pay his respects, here's his memorial page

Friday, November 3, 2017

Day 3 - Honoring My Military Ancestor - Bernard Corcoran

11/4: Update: I received information from a Corcoran cousin that confirms that I had some incorrect information on Bernard below. I have updated his biographical information below.

I'm continuing the Honor My Military Ancestor Challenge started by Patricia Greber. It's Day 3 so I'm highlighting my 2nd cousin 3x removed Bernard Corcoran.

Bernard Joseph Corcoran was born on May 31, 1891 in the small town of Dillonstown, located in County Louth, Ireland. He was the 3rd oldest son of John Corcoran and Katherine Conlon. He had 6 siblings. He sailed from Liverpool, England heading toward the U.S. in 1911. He became a house painter. He lived in Long Island City, Queens from 1911 to 1920. He became a U.S. citizen in 1919. Most of these details came from his U.S. passport application. What caught my eye was his occupation was listed as "disabled war veteran".  In his physical description, Bernard was listed as being blind in both eyes.

I started completing some research on his military service and with the assistance of my friend David Lambert and my cousin Ciaran McDonnell, I found Bernard described in Father Duffy's diary "Duffy's War". One story discussed how Bernard accidentally killed one of his own men, Oscar Ammon in March 1918. Bernard was exonerated and not charged. 

I completed some newspaper research and was able to confirm a family story about how Bernard was injured during WWI. Bernard enlisted in Company F, 165th Infantry. His rank was corporal. On July 28, 1918, he was blinded by a machine gun bullet at Chateau Thierry.  Following his injury he returned home to join his cousin and my great grandfather, Thomas James Corcoran, in Long Island City, Queens, NY. 

There was a charity event held in 1919 in Bernard's honor to raise the funds to help send him back home to his parents in Dillonstown. I learned from my aunt that he never moved back to Ireland and lived out his days in the U.S., ultimately dying in Maryland.

He was reassigned to the Evergreen Hospital for the Blind where he stayed until he was discharged and moved to Cantonsville, Maryland in 1932. At Evergreen he received musical training from the government and even led an orchestra of blinded World War I veterans in 1924. I learned that he married twice, once to Mary Komenda (who died young) and then again to Ethel Murphy and had two children, Catherine and Margaret (who are both deceased). He is buried in New Cathedral Cemetery in Baltimore, MD. I submitted a request this afternoon for a photo of his headstone. 

Here is a picture of Bernard from his U.S. passport application:

Rest in peace cousin Bernard.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

My Military Ancestor - Michael Doherty

I'm a day late on posting about my ancestors My Military Ancestor challenge hosted by Patricia Greber at My Genealogy Life.

Today I will highlight my paternal grandfather, Michael Joseph Doherty. Here is a picture of Michael that was on his Declaration of Intention paperwork:

Let's start with a brief family history before I talk about his military service:

Michael was born on June 12, 1910 in Queens County, Prince Edward Island, Canada to Joseph Doherty and Rose Rooney. He was one of 6 children. He was the second oldest son. He came to the United States in September 1927 on the SS Calvin Austin to join his sister Catherine in Dedham, Massachusetts. He moved to NYC and was naturalized in 1939. He then married my grandmother, Rose Corcoran in 1941 at St Mary's Roman Catholic Church in Long Island City, Queens, NY.

He served in WWII from September 1 1943 until October 20, 1945. The story goes that he was originally going to be a cook for a general in the army but instead was handed a gun and went into the infantry. He served in the 7th Army, 45th "Thunderbird" Division of the U.S. Army. His rank on his tombstone is noted as Tec 4.

During his time in WWII, he was awarded the Silver Star award for his bravery. He was on the front in France when his group were pinned down under enemy fire by the Germans. My grandfather took out a Germany Jerry gun by shooting a rifle grenade at it and took out the gun. Also, during his service my grandfather liberated a concentration camp. I was told that he never spoke of what he saw when came back home.

If you would like pay your respects to my grandfather, here is his tombstone.

Rest in peace grandpa Michael.

Congratulations Sheri!

I am proud to announce that we have a winner of my RootsTech pass giveaway.

Please give a rounding applause to Sheri Fenley from Califonia! Can't wait to meet you Sheri at RootsTech!

Thank you to everyone that entered! I can't wait to share additional contests in the future with my readers.

Opting Out - Should You?

If you have visited your AncestryDNA settings page today, you may have noticed a new section entitled "Privacy". Below is a screen shot from my page.

At first glance it looks like standard options you would expect to see on your DNA page. However, these settings need to be examined further. The Ancestry team posted a blog post today regarding the new changes to DNA settings. One important change sticks out (emphasis mine): "Customers can now decide if they want to have access to the list of people they may be related to and be shown as a potential family member for other customers with whom they share DNA." This statement refers to the first setting in my picture "You have chosen to see and be seen by DNA matches" (which thankfully is the default for existing users). I can understand if a tester doesn't want to see their own list of matches. Perhaps they tested and a family member is managing their kit or maybe they're not interested in genealogy. Or maybe they're brand new and are just starting a tree and just aren't ready to jump in and start reviewing matches.

However, to hide yourself from others' matches list may be doing a disservice to your DNA cousins. I know this may seem like a sweeping statement but let me explain. I am involved in a number of genealogy groups and have personally worked on a few cases where I was helping an adoptee or someone with an unknown parent locate their biological family. They typically just wanted to know their roots or want to reach out for medical reasons due to the inheritance of many diseases and conditions. By opting out, you're potentially denying someone that you're related to an opportunity to know their roots.

I'll give a recent example. I was approached by a young woman who was helping an older gentleman find his biological roots. He was adopted in Canada and wants to know who  his biological family is. He has no intention of disrupting any lives, he just wants to know about the people he came from. Had I opted out as well as several other cousins he's been in touch with, he would not have any leads to pursue to find his family. I was able to provide some details on my family to help narrow down a family line that could be pursued further.

It may seem like a small act but I urge everyone to keep "opted in" to see your matches and be seen by matches. I view it similar to the public vs. private tree argument. I would rather you see everything I have and approach me with questions or even challenge me when I'm wrong (I've been wrong before and I will do my best to quickly fix my mistakes and learn from your documentation). I welcome all of my DNA cousins - I may not know how we're related but you are still family to me. You have a right to know about your roots and I will do what I can to help you.