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, Mary (Kelly) Meincke, was the administratix.  She refiled for a new probate in 1907 as the estate had not been settled before the earthquake wiped out the records.

According to law, an announcement had to be posted in Boston, MA newspapers where Patrick Dolan once lived and had some family relations.  What happens next is how I learned I had a whole line of my tree in Massachusetts.

The cousins on the East Coast came forward and disputed the Meincke, McSwegan, and Jones descendants right to Patrick Dolan’s estate.  This battle raged on until 1916 with testimony in San Francisco, Boston, and Ireland.

Everyone but one relation got a chunk of Patrick’s money.  That was his niece, Mary Collis.  In the court proceedings it was learned that Mary was an illegitimate child of Patrick’s sister, Bridget Dolan.  Therefore, she was due nothing.

Since finding the probate records about 10 years ago, I’ve tried to track down everyone listed.  I’ve been able to find bits and pieces about everyone except Mary Collis.  I haven’t found her in the census, city directories, or vital records.  It makes me wonder if I’m barking up the wrong family tree, so to speak.

Some things I don’t have the answer to:

1.  Did her mother ever marry?  She is listed as Bridget Dolan, deceased, in the probate file.  Does this mean she never married or that the people giving information didn’t offer her married name?

2.  According to other records, the Dolan’s were from Cam, County Roscommon, Ireland.  Bridget’s father’s name was Michael Dolan.  Can this help me search out Bridget and Mary?

3.  Did Bridget Dolan come to America like her siblings?  If not, then I’m looking for a Mary Collis born in the wrong country.

4.  Is Collis Mary’s maiden name or married name?  Since I don’t know what her surname was at birth, I’m not sure how this surname fits in.

5.  Since I’m having rotten luck finding Mary Collis, is it possible “Collis” is a typo?  Could her surname really be Collins or some other variation?

I’m really not even sure where to start with this one.  I thought if I worked in Roxbury and Boston where the rest of the family lived I would happen upon her.  But, the name Mary Collis is a common one.

I would like to throw this out there.  If all you knew about someone is there name, their mother’s name, that they were from Massachusetts, and that they existed in adult form from 1907 to 1916, how would you go about the search?

I’m hoping that some day I can give Mary back her history.  Legitimate or not, she is my relative, and she deserves to have her story told just like everyone else.  And, by finding Mary, I may be able to find Bridget.  Wouldn’t it be nice to put them both back in the tree where they belong?




Bridget (Coyne) Wall’s Individual Summary

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 COYNE-8520 (1820-    )
Mother:    Margaret DOLAN-8517 (1820-1880)

Individual Facts
Birth    Mar 1854    Milford, Worcester Co., MA
Residence    1870 (about age 16)    Milford, Worcester Co., MA
Residence    1880 (about age 26)    Boston, Suffolk Co., MA
Residence    1900 (about age 46)    48 Granger Street; Boston, Suffolk Co., MA
Residence    1910 (about age 56)    180 Westville; Boston, Suffolk Co., MA
Residence    bet 1918 and 1927 (between about age 64 and about 73)  Tonawanda; Boston, Suffolk Co., MA
Alt. Name    12 Sep 1918 (about age 64)    Mrs. M.J. WALL-85215
Death    13 May 1927 (about age 73)    Boston, Suffolk Co., MA
Burial        Calvary Cemetery, MA
Cause of Death        Cerebral Hemorrhage

1. Michael J. WALL-8524 (1851-    )
Marriage    21 Oct 1874 (about age 20)    Boston, Suffolk Co., MA2
Children    Patrick H. WALL-8589 (1876-    )
Mary A. WALL-8590 (1878-1947)
George Joseph WALL-8588 (1880-1947)
William R. WALL-8591 (1883-    )
Margaret L. WALL-8592 (1889-    )
Frances WALL-8853 (1889-    )
Joseph Albert WALL-8854 (1892-1970)
??? WALL-8855 (1900-    )
??? WALL-8856 (1900-    )
??? WALL-8857 (1900-1910)


This Just Might Be What My Kelly Line Needs

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 Deeds at tonight.  Around 1890, I began seeing entries for a Martin Kelly.  There wasn’t anything to say it was my Martin Kelly, and one was definitely not mine (wrong middle initial).

Then I came across this page:

The last entry has Kelly, Mathew (Grantor), then Martin Kelly (Grantee).  I found a few entries like this with the names reversed, too.

Mathew Kelly was the name of Martin and Catherine’s son.  I am fairly sure these are my people because there were only a couple Martin Kelly’s living in this area at the time–and only one, mine, had a son name Mathew.

The reason I was focusing on this area is because of information in the San Francisco City Directories and Voter Register logs.  Martin’s address for his “mile houses” are consistently on Mission Road.  He owned the 6 Mile House on that road.  Newspaper research shows at least one of his boardinghouse/saloons on Mission road (there was plenty of trouble out that way!)

In 1890, the address changes slightly to “Ws Mission Road near 6 Mile House”.  He wasn’t living at the 6 Mile House, but near it.  There is family legend that he owned more than one “mile house”.  His daughter, Mary (Kelly) Meincke) and her husband owned the 5 Mile House.  I believe the family stories lead to Martin owning the 7 and 8 Mile Houses.

In 1891, the address changes completely to County Road/Nagle.  In one record it is noted as County Line.  There is also another reference of him living near Ocean View. This leads me to believe that Martin Kelly owned property outside of the County of San Francisco and inside the County of San Mateo.  These entries in the San Mateo County index make me wonder if one of these pieces of property could be the 7 or 8 Mile House.

There’s more!  Martin Kelly died 25 Sep 1899.  In 1901, I found several entries labeled “Kelly, Martin, Estate of”.  Could this be my Martin Kelly?  If so, then it begs another question.  Was Martin Kelly’s death recorded in San Francisco County or San Mateo County?  It may make a big difference to my research!  The San Francisco records are lost.  There was a reconstructed probate file, but I did not find Martin’s name in it.  If his death was recorded in San Mateo County, there may still be hope that records survived the 1906 earthquake and fire–a death record, probate file, land transfers?  It is certainly worth pursuing!

Maybe this is the bit of genealogy luck that I need.  I know Martin Kelly owned multiple boardinghouse/saloons.  It is not unreasonable to think that he might have owned them in San Francisco and in the outlying areas.

I’ve never worked with property records, so this is a whole new area for me.  Time will certainly tell!