Thursday, July 16, 2015

My mother always wondered . . . about Mary Lucy Hall

    My mother’s father died two weeks before she was born, having contracted pneumonia at his father’s funeral a month before. Her paternal grandmother had died a year earlier. The only surviving member of her father's family was thought (erroneously) to be Mary Lucy Hall, her grandmother’s sister.
Indian Hill Cemetery, 1986
     My grandmother and her new-born daughter went to live with her parents in New Jersey and lost touch with Mary Lucy. By the time my mother was old enough to ask questions about her father’s family, no one knew what had become of her. She wasn't buried in the family plot in Indian Hill Cemetery in Middletown, Connecticut, although her name was on the Hall monument.
    My grandmother had vaguely remembered that a nursing home in New York City notified her of Mary Lucy's death sometime in the 1920s. And she recalled sending money to this long forgotten facility for a gravestone.
Woodlawn Cemetery, May 2014
    It wasn’t until several years after my mother’s death that I searched New York City’s death records on microfilm at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and found Mary Lucy’s death certificate. She had died in 1924 in a home for the aged in New York City and had been buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. 
    Bronx Aquarian, a Find A Grave volunteer, responded to my request for a photograph of the gravestone and also took one of the monument on the plot.1
    Wouldn’t my mother have been interested to know what became of Mary Lucy?

    1.  “Mary Lucy Hall,” memorial 113305249, Find A Grave.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Timothy & Jeremiah Kiley

    My grandmother was interested in her family’s history and often told me about her parents and their siblings. I listened politely to what she said, but never asked her any insightful questions. She died when I was in high school and not at all interested in genealogy. How I wish I had been more curious!
     I was intrigued, and horrified, to hear that her mother’s two brothers, sons of Timothy and Margaret (Donovan) Kiley, died as teenagers or in their early twenties, supposedly during or after service in the Civil War. Neither was found in the 1870 census, in New York City where the family lived, or elsewhere, and I’ve found no death or burial records for either. I wonder if my grandmother really knew what happened to them.
    Timothy Kiley, who was born in New York circa 1841, according to the 1850 census, was more likely born in Clonakilty, County Cork, Ireland, in 1839. He was not living with his parents in 1855 or 1860 and his whereabouts at those census times are unknown. Timothy Kiely enlisted in New York as a Union soldier in May 1861, but deserted in August 1861, as did a future brother-in-law in the same unit. He allegedly died, unmarried, from the effects of a long imprisonment during the Civil War. Did his imprisonment have anything to do with his desertion, or had he re-enlisted and been captured.
    Jeremiah Kiley, who was born in New York circa 1845, enlisted in 1861 as a drummer and was honorably discharged and mustered out in June 1862. According to my grandmother, he died during the Civil War, so he must have re-enlisted.
    One of the difficulties in tracing the surname Kiley is that alternative spellings are many (i.e., Keily, Kieley, Kiely, Kileigh, Killey, Killy, Kyle, etc.) and it is often mistaken for Kelly and Riley, or some variations thereof. While I have never found in records after 1861 anyone named Timothy Kiley who definitely could be my great-grandmother’s brother, it is conceivable that Timothy did not die (perhaps was disowned in disgrace?) and took up life apart from his family.
    As for Jeremiah, I have no ideas about what became of him.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

John W. Combs of New York City, circa 1830-1874

Gravestone of Anne (Kiley) Thilemann
    John W. Combs was born in New York circa 1829 or 1830. He had an unknown first wife, by whom he had two children, Charles M. Combs (born 21 January1857) and Caroline May Combs (born May 1862). His second wife was Anne C. Kiley, born in New York circa 1841, daughter of Timothy and Margaret (Donovan) Kiley, by whom he had one surviving child, Elizabeth F. Combs (born 19 December 1873).
    John’s death date is unknown, unless he is the John W. Combs who was buried in The Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn on 13 March 1874. Others in the same lot were Capt. Elias Combs, buried 1866; Matilda J. Combs; and Jennie Combs, both buried 21 April 1870. Matilda was Elias’ first wife (died in July 1868) and Jennie was his daughter. To date, no link between this John W. and Elias has been found.
    Anne was listed as “widow of John” in the 1874 New York City directory. She married, second, Frederic Thilemann Jr. (1843-1904) and died in 1898. Anne's daughter used her stepfather's surname as her maiden name.
    Charles M. Combs married Alice M. Green, and the couple had at least eleven children between 1877 and 1899. Charles died on 6 September 1936 and Alice died on 14 November 1936. Both were buried in Old St. Raymonds Cemetery in the Bronx. Charles’ death certificate lists his parents as John Combs and Anna Kiely [his stepmother].   
    Charles and Alice had three grandchildren: Eugene Randolph Murray-Aaron (1896-1974), Gerard Pulver (1915-1977), and Geraldine Pulver (c1917-?). Only five great-grandchildren have been found.
    Caroline May Combs, almost always called Carrie, married first John Cottrell, with whom she had three children. In 1883 she married Michael Francis Sheridan, with whom she had at least seven children. Michael Sheridan died in the Bronx in March 1900. His widow was enumerated in the 1900, 1910, and 1920 censuses. No record of her death has been found.
    Caroline had four known grandchildren: Gerard Grady (c1904-?), Thomas F. Grady (c1905-1966), Walter Grady (c1911-?), and Fred Sheridan (c1937-?). Four great-grandchildren have been found.
    Elizabeth F. Combs/Thilemann married Robert Bartley; she died in 1936 and he died in 1943. Elizabeth had one surviving child (a daughter who always thought her maternal grandfather was Frederic Thilemann), one grandson, and no great-grandchildren.
    Who was John W. Combs and who was his first wife? One hint is given in the record of a short-lived marriage of Caroline May (Combs) Cottrell Sheridan that gave her mother’s name as Carrie Sanders. Unfortunately, this record said her father was Charles Combs, which suggests that Carrie was not sure of her birth parents’ names.

     Photograph by Bronx Cop for Find A Grave (November 2013) and used with permission. Gravestone is in Old St. Raymonds Cemetery, Bronx, New York.