When we first started this research several years ago we were generously provided a document mixed with facts and assumptions about Rebecca’s ancestors. We took that document and found facts and documented our findings on ancestry.com. The added fun is Rebecca’s 91 year old father, Raymond, a WWII veteran with the best sense of humor ever!
For the most part we found the direct lineage and accompanying cousins, second cousins, etc. But Raymond’s great grand mother’s sister Catherine Keenan Ward and her husband “James” were forever elusive. Every time we’d give Raymond new findings, he’d be excited, but add “Well, what about the Wards?” They were one of those genealogy brick walls that I couldn’t break. I looked everywhere.
In April while I was on the Denver Colorado Public Library website, I noticed that they published an index of death notices for the Rocky Mountain News and the Denver Post. They also offered the service that they would copy the death notice and email it to you.
We knew that Rebecca’s great great grandmother, who lived in Chicago, left after the Chicago Fire and lived in Braddock, PA; returned to Chicago in the late 1890’s; eventually moved to Denver to live with her Daughter Rose Kelly McNulty in 1920. Rose Kelly passed away in 1927 and she was buried next to her husband in Alsip’s Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. Rose McNulty’s husband James also passed away in Denver 1930. So as a obsessive completest, I ordered the death notices.
Two weeks later, they were in my gmail account.
“Sister Catherine Ward of Sidney, NE???” “James McNulty’s remains were sent to Dalton, NE??” What? Nebraska? What is in Nebraska? So I plugged those locations in my ancestry account and the brick wall came tumbling down and an avalanche of information flooded in. Suddenly we knew basic information about unknown 3rd cousins!
There is an in between that I will get to, but I’m going to jump to the last 48 hours…
I wanted to know more. I wanted to know the history. The only way to really do that is – destination Sidney Nebraska. I was prepared with my checklist of things I wanted to accomplish, we were ready to go. Midnight strikes and time to take that twelve hour drive. Dark, rainy, and construction. We got in at 3pm that day and were exhausted. Food and sleep were next on the agenda. After checking into the hotel, we found a nice little place by the golf course called Hillside Bar and Grill. We were pretty much the only ones there so we were able to ask the hostess and a regular their suggestions on how we can get a feel for the area. They were very kind and gave us a phone number to contact a Dalton Museum board member and suggested that we stop in at the Fort Sidney Post Commander’s Home and Officer’s Quarters Museum.
7pm – We are out for the night. (It’s really 8pm Chicago time)
Out the door by 8:45am. First stop, Sidney Public Library to look for additional death notices, check out a couple reference books and donate a copy of the genealogy work I put together to date connecting the Keenan sisters.
By noon we found all the death notices we were looking for from the microfilm of the Sidney Telegraph and the Dalton Delegate newspapers. I also was able to gather information from Dalton’s Heritage by Linda Morgan and History of Cheyenne County Nebraska 1986.
After lunch we visited the Sidney Museum. I love historical museums that house the way the building originally was and the clothing and artifacts of the time. I always say, we don’t know how easy we have it, even when it’s not so easy. We take electricity, the bathroom, light, transportation and a whole lot more for granted.
We visited Greenwood Cemetery, where Catherine Ward and her one daughter’s family (Susan Ward Dalton) is buried. St. Mary’s Cemetery was also visited where James McNulty and his two sisters, Rose McNulty and Mary McNulty Walsh (and her family) are buried.
We stopped at the local ma and pa grocer to grab a cold water and as I was leaving I saw a copy of the Dalton Heritage book, which I could not find anywhere online. Mine. To share with my father-in-law, of course.
I knew before the trip that James McNulty and Catherine Ward were involved with the beginnings of St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Dalton. I called Father Dave and asked if we could look at the 100 year anniversary book the church published, Hoping there may be information or pictures of the Wards or McNulty’s. He told us to meet him for Saturday service tomorrow! Maybe we can see church records too?
Tomorrow’s goals – take our time looking at old newspapers for articles and visit St. Mary’s church.
Rebecca is passed out as I write this. She’d hate me as a boss.
To be continued….