My First Experience Researching the Irish Catholic Church Parish Registers


You may have heard.  The National Library of Ireland website now has the Catholic Church Parish Register records online and available to research for free.  The records are available to research for free.  I’ve been waiting a long time to get my hands dirty with Irish research.  To say I am eager to begin this … Continued

I am so tired of you, Margaret Dolan Coyne!

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Do you have that one ancestor or relative who drives you nuts?  I don’t mean those who are still living.  You know, the one who no matter how many databases you search, microfilms you roll through, and indexes you go through, they managed to slip through the cracks.  It appears they went through life and … Continued

How can I solve the mystery of Mary Collis?


Last week, I finished off my Individual Summary project with Mary Collis.  Looking over the little information that I had for her made me want to find out more. This story starts with Patrick Dolan, my 3rd great uncle.  He died in 1905, but his probate records were lost in the 1906 earthquake.  His niece, … Continued

Bridget (Coyne) Wall’s Individual Summary

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I would have never known about Bridget Coyne if she had not contested the reopening probate in 1907 of Patrick Dolan.  Before I found that file I had no idea that the Dolan’s had cousins in Massachusetts.  It was a whole new branch of the tree for me. Name:    Bridget COYNE-8521 Sex:    Female Father:    Patrick … Continued

This Just Might Be What My Kelly Line Needs

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My Gr Gr Gr Grandparents, Martin and Catherine (Dolan) Kelly, had the nerve to die before 1906.  Beyond obituaries in San Francisco newspapers, I haven’t been able to locate a will or death certificate because they don’t exist. But, this document might change things.  I spent sometime going through the San Mateo County Index to … Continued

Mystery Monday: Just Who Are the Coyne’s?


Patrick Dolan didn’t know it but he left me one of the biggest genealogy gifts a researcher could ever ask for.  He died in San Francisco two years before the earthquake and fire. Patrick owned property and had some money saved up when he passed away.  His niece, Mary (Kelly) Meincke, was designated as adminstratix.  … Continued

My Biggest Genealogy Discovery in 2010

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I’m borrowing this for Randy’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun since I wrote it only two days ago.  This is by far my best research adventure of the year.  I located obituaries that were out of my reach and I uncovered a new line of my Kelly family tree.  None of this would have been possible … Continued

Meet My New Ancestor, Michael Dolan


Finally! At long last I get to add a generation to my Dolan family tree. I found a possible entry for my ancestor’s brother, Patrick Dolan, in the Massachusetts Vital Records index at The date, 1855, seemed a little late. Patrick would be in his 30s by the time he was married, but the … Continued

Tombstones Have Errors, Too: Part Three

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In the first post in this series, I told of Michael Kelly who committed suicide in 1881 and how that date differed from the tombstone.  In the second post in this series, I used city directories to see if I could establish connections between Michael, John, and Martin Kelly.  In this post, I’m going back … Continued

Tombstones Have Errors, Too: Part Two

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In my previous post, Tombstone Have Errors Too: Part One, I showed how my skepticism about the date on Michael Kelly’s tombstone lead me to search further for information on his death.  I found a newspaper article in the Daily Alta that told of a Michael Kelly who had committed suicide on the same day, … Continued

Martin Kelly, My Family’s First Business Owner?

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Much of what my Grandma Shellabarger told me about her family turned out to be myth or exaggeration. She got one thing right.  One of her ancestors owned boarding houses in San Francisco.  That ancestor was my Great Great Great Grandfather, Martin Kelly. Martin was born sometime around 1820 in County Roscommon, Ireland.  I’m not … Continued

Religious Newspaper Comes to the Rescue

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I knew that the city of San Francisco did not have a copy of the marriage record for my Great Great Grandparents, Thomas A. Jones and Margaret Kelly because the records were destroyed in 1906. I also knew that the state of California did not begin recording vital records until after 1905. I didn’t know … Continued

Newspapers Provide Proof When Disasters Destroy Records

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MARRIED JONES–KELLY–In this city, February 7, by the Rev. Father Scanlon, Thomas A. Jones to Miss Margaret Kelly, both of this city. [San Francisco Call, San Francisco, CA, 9 Feb 1869, page 3] It doesn’t look like much, does it?  A groom, a bride, a priest, and a date.  To the untrained eye, it’s just … Continued