I am so tired of you, Margaret Dolan Coyne!

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 left no trail.

Such is the case with my third great aunt, Margaret (Dolan) Coyne.  I would not have known about Margaret had it not been for her brother’s probate file.  I’ve mentioned it many times on this blog.  Patrick Dolan died in 1905, but his probate was not completed before the earthquake.  When his niece, Mary (Kelly) Meincke, refiled the papers after the disaster, relatives from back East came forward claiming their were the one and only true heir.

Margaret’s three children, Bridget Wall, Patrick Coyne, and Thomas Coynecame forward.  I’ve been able to research Thomas and Bridget a little.  I have found them living together at the time of Thomas’ death.  I’ve found Bridget’s marriage index entry listing her parents.  I can follow Bridget’s family all the way through the present.

What I can’t find is the existence of their parents.  A researcher who helped me years ago, thought Bridget might have been living with another Coyne family in 1860 and 1870.  So far, I can’t connect anything to that family.  But, I cannot find Patrick and Margaret (Dolan) Coyne or anyone that reasonably matches them within the census records or vital records.  I’ve checked Milford, Roxbury, Boston, and even Dorchester (all locations given in various records on Bridget and Thomas) There is no couple that fits the bill.  There isn’t even a couple with the wrong names who has the three named children.  I’ve use Soundex, wildcards, and thought up any which way to spell Coyne.  Nothing has rooted them out.

So, I’m left with a problem.  The court records confirmed the relationship.  They even contacted someone in Ireland for proof.  Unfortunately, the testimony for the witnesses is not in the probate file.  I’ve got the questions but no answers!  How annoying is that?

Now I am left to wonder…

Were records forged to prove a relationship that wasn’t there?  Have I been chasing these Coyne’s who may not really be related to me?

Is it possible the Margaret and Patrick never came to America, but their children did?  Or, were they living in another state?  Bridget claims to be born in Boston, MA, and Thomas in Dorchester, MA.  But, I have no birth records to prove this.

Maybe they were dumped in Massachusetts by fairies.  That seems to be the most plausible explanation at this point.

I have a friend searching for Patrick Dolan’s naturalization records.  I am hoping that he continues to be the gift that keeps on giving and leaves me a clue that I can follow.  At this point, I do not know if the Dolan siblings came to America married or unmarried, together, or one by one.  Perhaps Patrick’s naturalization records will give me a puzzle piece I can lock into place.

Right now, I’m left with a family attached to my tree, but I’m really not sure they are who they say they are.  I hope they are.  Otherwise, I’ve wasted a heck of a lot of time researching someone else’s people.



Getting Closer to the Dolan’s of Massachusetts

About 10 years ago, I got the surprise of my life when I read Patrick Dolan’s reinstated probate file.  Patrick Dolan died in 1905, but his estate was not settled before the 1906 earthquake.  In 1907, the administratix, Mary (Kelly) Meincke, reopened the probate–and a can of worms.  Cousins from Boston came forward to claim their were Patrick’s one and only true heir.  These were cousins I had never heard of.

It’s been a painstaking process.  I’ve started with Patrick’s sister, Margaret (Dolan) Coyne.  I’ve found very little on her beyond name in Patrick’s probate file.

I’ve worked on her children.  The probate file listed Bridget (Coyne) Wall, Thomas Coyne, and Patrick Coyne Jr.  Thomas and Patrick seem to disappear from the records, so my focus has been on Bridget.

Slowly, but surely I’ve pieced together her family.  I’ve used the census and city directories to figure out where they lived.  I’ve used the Massachusetts vital records at www.familysearch.org to find birth, marriage, and death records.  Each time there is an update I search again.

The family is now slowly taking shape. Last night, I found this marriage record at familysearch.org:

josephwall marr1xjosephwall marr2

The third entry is for Joseph A. Wall and Margaret T. Glavin.  Joseph is the son of Bridget (Coyne) Wall.  My next step was do so some google searches on Joseph and Margaret.  By searching for Margaret Glavin Wall, I found one of their daughter, Margaret’s, obituary.   Using one of the odd surnames in the obituary I found, I found the obituary of Margaret’s brother, Maurice.  For the first time, I am able to see a photograph of one of the Boston Dolan’s.  This is my  cousin, Maurice.

Unfortunately, I located Margaret and her brother, Maurice, a year too late.  Both passed away within the last year or so.  But, there are others listed in the obituaries.  My focus now turns to finding the living.

I am not sure what I hope to learn from descendants of this tree.  I doubt they know about their cousins on the West Coast or the wealthy relative, Patrick Dolan, who left the bread crumbs that lead to them.  I am hoping that they’ll be willing to share their family details with this stranger cousin in California.  Maybe they can fill in the details of Margaret (Dolan) Coyne’s life, those of her children, and maybe produce a photograph or two that will make them seem more real.  It’s worth a shot anyway!


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?