Adding up indirect evidence – and grabbing all those bits of information

I love finding stuff like this.

My husband’s grandmother, Dorothy (Keane) Burns, was listed in the 1930 U.S. Census as a little girl (age 5), niece of the head of household (Edmund Sweeney), and living at 523 West 135th Street in Manhattan, New York.1 Also in the household were:

  • Ellen Sweeney, Edmund’s wife (age 36, born in Ireland)
  • Simon Keane, Edmund’s “Bro in law” (age 30, born in Ireland)
  • Julia Keane, Edmund’s cousin (age 28, born in Ireland)
1930census_extract
Extract from the 1930 U.S. Census in Manhattan, New York, showing Dorothy Keane and family.1

So, the census suggests that Dorothy lived with her father, Simon, in the household of her uncle and aunt. But it doesn’t specify how the uncle and aunt were related to Dorothy and her father, though – was Aunt Ellen Sweeney originally a Keane, or was Dorothy’s mother originally a Sweeney?

Fortunately, not long after the census was taken in April 1930, Dorothy went on a trip to Ireland, arriving back home in New York from Cobh in October 1930 (and conveniently appearing on a preserved and digitally available passenger list).2

1930passengerlist_DK_extract
Dorothy Keane in a passenger list, Cobh, Ireland to New York, New York, October 1930.2

In the passenger list, Dorothy was listed as a five-year old girl, born in New York, and residing at 523 West 135th Street, New York City, NY (consistent with the census) – and it even went further to specify that she was born in New York City, on 3 March 1925. What’s really helpful though, is that next to her name, scrawled in pencil, was the notation “with Q7-21.” Dorothy was listed on a page labelled Q3, so by looking back a few pages, there are pages labelled Q7 for the same ship’s voyage. And on line 21 of page Q7 is Ellen Sweeney.3 Ellen Sweeney, age 36, born in Ireland, living at 523 West 135th Street, New York City, NY – the aunt of Dorothy Keane.

So, a little pencil scribble has tied these two passengers together (since Dorothy was a United States Citizen, she was listed on a different page than her “Alien Passenger” aunt) in a voyage home from Ireland. Even better, though, for Aunt Ellen, the passenger information specified that she was born in Knocknagoshel, Co. Kerry, Ireland and listed as her nearest relative or friend in Ireland, “Brother, Mr Thomas Keane, Knocknagoshel, Co. Kerry.”

While the information in these two documents is not enough to conclusively prove it, taken together, the evidence suggests that Dorothy Keane’s father was Simon Keane, and that Simon Keane had a sister, Ellen (Keane) Sweeney, and a brother, Thomas Keane – possibly all from Knocknagoshel, County Kerry, Ireland. All from two documents found in a search for Dorothy.

I originally came across these records a few years ago, and by now, I do have other evidence supporting this hypothesis. But still, I love finding stuff like this.

 


[1] 1930 U.S. census, New York County, New York, population schedule, Manhattan borough New York City, Assembly District 13, enumeration district (ED) 31-879, sheet 3B, dwelling 61 [crossed out], family 61, Dorothy Keane (age 5) in Edmund Sweeney household; accessed in “United States Census, 1930,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : 7 April 2018); citing NARA digital publication T626, roll unspecified.

[2] Entry for Dorothy Keane, age 5, arrived New York, 13 October 1930 aboard the S.S. Baltic; accessed in “New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : 7 April 2018), image 763.

[3] Entry for Ellen Sweeney, age 36, arrived New York, 13 October 1930 aboard the S.S. Baltic; accessed in “New York, New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1909, 1925-1957,” database with images, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org : 7 April 2018), images 752-3.

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