Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Whelan Headstone

Happy Halloween!

In honor of Halloween, I am posting cemetery photos this week. This is a photo of the headstone of my great-grandparents Timothy and Catherine (Markey) Whelan (or Whalen) and their son John. Like my parents, they are buried in Calvary Cemetery, Evanston, Cook County, Illinois.

I was very glad when I found out where my great-grandparents were buried, and was able to take a picture of the headstone. Even more exciting was the copy of the cemetery record that I received. (See below.) This is a 3 grave lot with 11 people buried in it. Seven of the burials were of children or infants. In fact, this cemetery record led me to discover that there were 3 sets of twins born to Timothy and Catherine. Most of the children did not survive long enough to appear in any census record. However, those born after the Chicago Fire of 1871 did appear in baptism records of Holy Name Cathedral. Who would've expected a cemetery record to lead to a baptism record? I sure didn't when I first saw this burial record, many years ago.

Whalen Headstones

These photos are of two Whalen graves at Calvary Cemetery, Evanston, Cook County, Illinois. The graves are located in Lot 35, Block 23, Section U. I don’t know yet if these Whalens are related to my Whelans, also buried at Calvary Cemetery, but I hope to find out one day. Here are close-up photos and transcriptions of the headstones:

Michael Whalen
Husband of
Mary E. Whalen
Born Aug. 15, 1847
Died March 8, 1925
Rest in Peace

Mary E.
Wife of
Michael Whalen
Born in Chicago
May 25 1847
Died Jan. 13 1889
Rest in Peace

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Calvary Cemetery Photos

In honor of Halloween, I will be posting some cemetery photos this week. This first photo is of my mom and dad’s headstone. They are buried in Calvary Cemetery, Evanston, Cook County, Illinois. Calvary is a large Catholic Cemetery in the Archdiocese of Chicago. It was founded in 1859, and was popular with the north side Irish (if a cemetery can ever be called popular.) I’ve seen many obituaries from the late 1800s that contained the words “thence by carriage to Calvary.”

The second photo shows the statue of St. Patrick near the front entrance to Calvary Cemetery. My parents’ grave is near the statue. In the background is Chicago Avenue, and the Chicago “L” tracks that go through Evanston and end in Wilmette.

Here is a link to the Catholic Cemeteries Archdiocese of Chicago website. It contains information about the consecration date, location and current contact information for the 43 Catholic Cemeteries in Cook and Lake counties, Illinois.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Skrobul Sisters

This is a photograph of the Skrobul Sisters: Veronica (on lap), Juliana (in rocking chair), Estelle (sitting on the ground), Josephine (standing, the oldest) and Ann (my mom, standing, with the big bow in her hair).

The picture was taken around 1921, probably near their home in Beckemeyer, Clinton County, Illinois. Not pictured are the younger siblings, Stanley, Anthony and Maria, who were born after 1921. Their parents, Antanas Skrabulis and Antanina Norvaisaite, were Lithuanian immigrants who married in Gary, Indiana in 1910. Antanas worked as a coal miner for many years.

This picture was unidentified until I brought it with me to a family get-together. Now I treasure it as a rare picture of my mom and her sisters as children.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Blog Comments Challenge

Kathryn at Looking4ancestors challenged other genealogy bloggers to visit and leave comments on at least 10 blogs this week. Well, I did it. I found alot of genealogy blogs that I hadn't visited before, and became a follower of some of them. Here is the list of blogs that I commented on:

1. Looking4Ancestors

2. Kimberley’s Genealogy Blog

3. 24-7 Family History Circle

4. GenBlog

5. The Educated Genealogist

6.Think Genealogy

7. The Ballycastle Blog

8. Genea-Musings

9. Photo Detective

10. Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter

Thanks for the challenge, Kathryn.

Cook County Vital Records—Another Update

Yesterday, at the Illinois State Genealogical Society’s 40th Anniversary Conference, a representative of the Cook County Clerk’s office provided an update on the status of their vital records digitization project.

The Clerk’s website currently provides access to 8 million records. Additional records are being added to the website regularly. These include: 1) records which become newly available under Illinois state law (births-after 75 years; marriages-after 50 years; deaths-after 20 years) and 2) older records which have been newly indexed and digitized. When I asked the representative for a rough estimate of when the digitization of the older records would be complete, she estimated it would be finished in 1-2 years.

The representative indicated that anyone who has a problem with a record that they download should contact the Clerk’s office by email. The office has retained the records in book and microfilm form, so if a download is unreadable, or does not match the index, they are able to help you get the record that you need.

The Cook County Clerk’s website can be found at:

Friday, October 17, 2008

Margaret Whelan Considine

This is a photo of my great-aunt Margaret. She was born in Chicago in about 1866, to Timothy Whelan and Catherine Markey. Margaret married William Considine, a Chicago policeman, on 11 July 1889 at Holy Name Cathedral. Her sister Frances and a friend named John Devony were witnesses. Margaret died on 8 December 1943 and is buried at Mt. Carmel Cemetery.

One story I’ve heard is that Margaret’s brother John would sometimes visit her in the evenings, while William was working. John came in the evening in order to avoid William, who wasn’t fond of him. But apparently, Margaret had some nosy neighbors, who began to gossip about her having a gentleman visitor when her husband wasn’t home. Seeing Margaret’s photo, I have a feeling that she had no trouble setting them straight pretty quickly.

I love the car in this photograph, and Margaret’s hat. I’d like to find out what the occasion was and where the photo was taken.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Whelan Surname--Alternate Spellings

I have seen the surname Whelan spelled in many different ways. Occasionally, it is spelled 2 or more ways in a single document.

Here are 21 alternate spellings of the name Whelan that I have found in my research. I'll add more as I come across them. If you have found one that I've missed, let me know and I will add it to the list.

Wallen, Whalan, Whaland, Whalen, Whalin, Whaling, Whallan,
Whallin, Whallon, Whalon, Whealan, Whealin, Whealon, Wheelan,
Wheelin, Wheeling, Whehlen, Whelan, Whellen, Whelon, Whilan

Sources: Chicago city directories through 1864

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Tag

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings started a game of tag. I was tagged by Sheri Fenley, The Educated Genealogist. So, here goes:

***10 Years Ago I........
Was working at a day job in Human Resources
Was going on vacation to Yellowstone
Was meeting some cousins from Lithuania for the first time
Was attending a family reunion with my mom

***5 Things on Today's To-Do List......

1. Write on my blog.
2. Finish a client report (not quite done yet.)
3. Scan some more photos.
4. Go to my daughter’s concert at school.
5. Pay some bills.

***5 Snacks I Enjoy........

1. Hershey’s chocolate kisses
2. Fannie May Mint Meltaways
3. Frangos- chocolate raspberry
4. homemade chocolate chip cookies
5. French Silk Pie

***5 Places I Have Lived......

1. Chicago, Illinois
2. San Diego, California
3. Greenwood, Indiana
4. Mundelein, Illinois
5. Libertyville, Illinois

***5 Jobs I Have Had.....

1. Sales Clerk in the Christmas Court at Marshall Fields
2. Compensation Analyst
3. Compensation and Benefits Manager
4. Library Page
5. Mommy

***5 Blogs I tag to play.....

1. Myrt at Dear Myrtle
2. Donna at Donna’s Genealogy Blog
3. Paula at Paula’s Genealogical Eclectica
4. Julie at GenBlog
5. Robert at The Baca/Douglas Genealogy and Family History Blog

Jennie Whelan Brady, 1876-1922

This is a photo of my grandmother, Jennie (Whelan) Brady. Her parents, Timothy Whelan and Catherine Markey, were survivors of the Irish Potato Famine of the 1840s. Jennie, a widow with three children, died in Chicago on 14 March 1922 of bronchial pneumonia with malnutrition as a contributing factor.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Whelan Families of Chicago

One of my family history projects is to sort out the various Whelan families of Chicago. I hope that by doing this, I’ll discover the Irish origins of my Whelans, and maybe help others find the origins of their Whelans also.

My great-grandfather, Timothy Whelan, came to Chicago from Ireland in about 1850. I’ve been told by a reliable source that he came from County Kilkenny, but I have no documentation that confirms or disproves that. The surname Whelan is common in County Kilkenny. The surname of Timothy’s first wife, Mary Sinnott, is also found throughout County Kilkenny.

When I began my family history research many, many years ago, no one knew of any relatives of Timothy’s, although it was said that he was somehow related to “the cigar store Whelans.” Since starting my research, I have found at least five possible siblings or other relatives of Timothy who lived in Chicago. (I still haven’t figured out the connection to the cigar store Whelans.)

Timothy’s possible relatives:
1. Patrick Whelan. In 1857, Patrick and Timothy both lived on Hinsdale between Franklin and North Market. Both had arrived from Ireland 7 years earlier. (city directory)
2. James Whelan. In 1860, Timothy and James lived on Hinsdale between N. Franklin and N. Market. (city directory)
3. Mary Whelan. In 1860, Mary (widow of Ross) and Timothy lived on Hinsdale between N. Franklin and N. Market. (city directory)
4. John Whelan. In 1860, John and Timothy lived on Hinsdale between N. Franklin and N. Market. (city directory)
5. William Whelan. In 1862, William and Timothy lived at 34 Hinsdale. (city directory)
6. James Whelan. In 1874, James was a baptism sponsor for Timothy’s daughter.

By putting together clues from obituaries, city directories and other sources, I have determined that the Whelan families of Chicago came from at least four different counties in Ireland: Kilkenny, Limerick, Waterford and Wexford. I’m continuing to gather information about the Whelans and to sort out the different family trees.

So, if you are related to a Whelan family of Chicago, please contact me. I’d be happy to exchange information.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Aggie Donahue

This picture is a tintype of Aggie Donahue. I received it from my aunt, in a photo envelope from the 1970s. The envelope is labeled "Aggie Donahue back pocket--Ma's friend." "Ma" was Jennie (Whelan) Brady of Chicago. I believe I have found Aggie Donahue in the 1880 census. She was most likely Agnes, age 4, daughter of Daniel Donnahue. Daniel, his wife Mary,and seven children lived at 161 Chestnut St. in Chicago, across the street from Tim Whelan's family, which included his 3 year old daughter Jane (aka Jennie.)

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871

This week is the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire.

This is a photo of my great-uncle, John Whelan, a survivor of the Chicago Fire. The family story is that as the fire was coming toward their house, they ran toward Lake Michigan for safety. But the father, Timothy Whelan, ran back to the house to lock the door against burglars, before joining the rest of the family. Their house was well within the burn district, on Chestnut near Franklin, so locking the door probably made little difference in the end.

This photo was labeled "John Whelann in his Johnny hat." As a young man, John (Jack) Whelan worked in a haberdashery as a model and then as a manager. Later he was with the steamfitters union, working off and on. He died in 1930, after being hit by an Illinois Central train at 27th street while shoveling the tracks.

Here are my favorite websites about the Chicago Fire:
The Great Chicago Fire and the Web of Memory
This is a great website containing images, eyewitness accounts and essays about the fire.

Progress of the Chicago Fire of 1871
The Encyclopedia of Chicago is a very useful reference. This link is to a map which shows which sections of the city burned in the great fire.

Upcoming Genealogy Workshop

The 16th annual workshop of the Lake County Illinois Genealogical Society is on Saturday, November 8th. This year, the workshop has two excellent, nationally-known speakers: Thomas W. Jones, PhD, CG, CGL and David McDonald, CG. Both are Certified Genealogists, and Tom is also a Certified Genealogical Lecturer.

Tom Jones is recognized as an expert on genealogical research methodology. He will be speaking on a variety of topics, including “How to Avoid Being Duped by the Internet” and “Organizing Evidence to Overcome Record Shortages.”

Dave’s talks include “A Flatlander’s Genealogical Guide to the South” and practical guides to researching in Madison, WI and Springfield, IL. Dave is an Illinois native who now lives near Madison. He has more than 30 years’ research experience, focusing mainly on the Upper Midwest, New England and the United Kingdom.

I have heard both speakers many times, speaking on a variety of topics, and I highly recommend both of them.

For additional information about the speakers, the topics, the location and the lunches, see the genealogy society’s website at .

A registration brochure is available for download from the site. An early-registration discount applies to forms postmarked by October 15th. I hope you can attend!

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Captain Garret Brady

This is a photo of my great-grandfather, Garret Brady. He is my favorite ancestor. I first became interested in genealogy due to Garret. When I was studying the Civil War in high school, my father mentioned that Garret had fought in the Civil War, and showed me copies of Garret’s service record and his widow’s pension file. I have been learning about Garret ever since.

Family tradition states that Garret Brady came from County Mayo, Ireland, but I have found no proof of that. Garret came to America at the age of 17 aboard the Isaac Webb. He arrived at the port of New York on 9 June 1854. Garret settled in Newark, New Jersey. He served an apprenticeship in the leather trade. In 1858, Garret joined the Erina Guard, a militia organization in Newark. In 1859, he became a U.S. citizen.

With the beginning of the Civil War, Garret’s militia unit volunteered as a whole. Garret mustered in on 27 May 1861, becoming a 1st lieutenant of Company C, 2nd New Jersey Volunteers.

During his military career, Garret reached the rank of captain. During one recruiting trip to Newark in 1862, Garret married Mary Ann Bestick. She was the daughter of Timothy and Ellen (McSorley) Bestick, at whose house in Newark Garret had been a boarder. Garret was wounded and captured at Spotsylvania Court House on 14 May 1864. The exact details of Garret’s injury and imprisonment are not known, due to conflicting data from various sources.

War took a heavy toll on Garret Brady. He returned to Newark from the war in significantly worse physical condition than when he enlisted. After the war, Garret continued to be associated with the leather manufacturing business. He and a partner, John Nugent, formed the business of Nugent & Brady, located in New York, New York.

Garret died on 18 July 1886 at his home at 143 Academy Street, Newark. The cause of his death was phthisis pulmonalis. His funeral was held at St. John’s Church. He was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in East Orange, New Jersey. Members of the Lincoln Post G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) and Morocco Dressers’ Association attended. (Additional details and sources available upon request.)

To see pictures of some of my other ancestors, follow this link to “Kathy’s Ancestors” photo album on Facebook:

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Cook County Vital Records Update

Earlier this year, the Cook County Clerk launched a website that permits index searches for Cook County, Illinois vital records. The indexes are not yet complete. Additional data is being added regularly.

An update regarding the website appeared in the October issue of the Newsletter of the Chicago Genealogical Society (vol. 41, no. 3). The article reports that Jan Meisels Allen, Chairperson of the Public Records Access Monitoring Committee, has spoken to both a supervisor and a senior public information officer in the Cook County Vital Records Department. Jan learned that it is expected to take more than six months for the remainder of the records to be added.

What is currently available? According to the article, the following records are available now: birth records for 1916-1933; marriage records for 1930-1937, 1940, 1945, 1948, 1949, 1950-1958; and death records for 1915-1946, 1949-1957, 1960-1988.

The Cook County vital records website can be found at:

Monday, October 6, 2008


Hello, and welcome to Kathy’s Genealogy Blog. My blog will contain a potpourri of items related to genealogy in general, and mine in particular. My interests are many and varied. They include Irish, Lithuanian, and U.S. research. I am particularly interested in Chicago research, including pre-fire sources, since my ancestors arrived in Chicago around 1850.

My blog will include my discoveries, lessons I’ve learned which may help others, and new developments in my areas of interest.

I will be sharing photos of my ancestors, their friends and associates. I also have some mystery photos to share.

I hope you’ll enjoy my blog and find some useful information on it.

Good luck with your research and thanks for stopping by.