Discovering Our Family Through Newspapers – 1934

I’ve really been enjoying my recent subscription to a newspaper archive. While searching the New Jersey newspapers for any articles about our Doran Clan, I came across this one below. I realized instantly that it pertained to our family, because of the Rafferty and Doran surnames, and the location of East Newark, New Jersey. That town is across the river from Newark and right next to Harrison. What I really loved about it is that my great-uncle Bill Doran was so understanding. James Rafferty was his nephew, and James must have been very trusting of the police to approach them for help or gas money to get back home. James’ mother was Elizabeth Doran Rafferty, and Bill’s sister, and she had just died a little over a year before this incident.

James Rafferty was the second son of Tom and Elizabeth Rafferty, and he was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland in 1912. He married Harriet Zimmerman in New Jersey. A few years back my brother and I visited two of Bill and Rosina Doran’s children, and their spouses, and they had said the two relatives that always came by when their mother, Rosina, was ill and dying, was Jim and Harriet Rafferty. I didn’t know about this stolen or “borrowed” car story then, but what strikes me now is how a kindness is almost always returned.

Old newspapers can turn up all sorts of headlines, and what a joy that more and more they are now available for browsing right from home. With you can email, save to your computer, and post on your family tree. What I also like is doing something my daughter taught me, which is taking a screen shot of the page, and saving it to my photos.

Jim Rafferty was my first cousin once removed, and I don’t remember him as well as his brother, John, who had a fascinating bike shop in Newark when I was a child. I do remember my father saying that he and his buddies would hot wire cars in Newark when they were teenagers, and as a lark move them to a different location. I think this incident was not hijinks, but perhaps there was an emergency and a valid reason for taking the car. Maybe Jim tried to reach his uncle and couldn’t, or someone didn’t give a message. We will never know, but it is wonderful that all ended well. Good job, Great Uncle Bill, for taking care of family! This photo is of Bill and Rosina Evans Doran on their 1920 wedding day in England, curtesy of their daughter.


William John Doran and Rosina Evens – 1920 – Canning Town, West Ham, England

This photo is of a young James Rafferty with his family. He is the handsome young lad standing in front of his father, Tom.


Thomas and Elizabeth Doran Rafferty family with children: Sarah, James, and John. Photo from Robin Rafferty Benesh.

I’m so happy we got to meet Jim’s youngest brother, Tom Rafferty, Jr., and hear about what his life was like growing up in the city when times were tough. What a delight to also meet some of his family. Later, meeting Bill and Rosina Doran’s family was also a wonderful day of sharing stories and photographs.

Good luck discovering your family through newspapers.

Copyright 2017 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

Posted in Blogger, Doran, Family Names, Newspaper Headlines | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Polish mtDNA Line of Genevieve and Mary Mirota


Sisters – Genevieve and Mary Mirota – 1934.

This lovely picture of sisters, Genevieve and Mary Mirota, was taken on Mother’s Day in 1934. Later that summer in August, Genevieve married Ted Lubas. Their dresses are so pretty and very similar so that I wonder if they sewed them. Both sisters were excellent seamstresses. Gen was born in 1909 and Mary in 1913, both in Washington County, Pennsylvania. Their parents were Josef and Zofia Szczerba Mirota. When they were young, their family moved to Hunterdon County, New Jersey. This photo was taken at their parent’s farm in Whitehouse Station.

Their brothers were Steve and Joseph Mirota, Jr. As children, Polish was their principal language until attending grammar school in New Jersey.

This photo below, although slightly blurry, shows the Mirota family at their farmhouse in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. Since Zofia Szczerba Mirota died on the 6th of October 1953, it was taken before that. Mary is standing next to her sister-in-law, Stefie, who married Joe. Seated next to Gen is sister-in-law Jean, who married Steve. Seated after their  parents, are Jim Doran – Mary’s husband, Steve Mirota, Ted Lubas, and on the far right, Joe Mirota, Jr. I’m not sure who the birthday cake was for. Both of their parents rarely smiled in photographs. Possibly it was for one of their 70th birthdays. I still have this old oak table that they are gathered around. The table was made in Pennsylvania, and brought to New Jersey on the family’s wagon pulled by their draft horses.

Mirota Family

Their mother, Zofia Szczerba was born in Poland and baptized on 5 February 1878 in Bobowa, Grybof, Galicia – Poland. On some records Zofia listed her birth place as Strozna and sometimes Berdechow ad Bobowa, Poland. Zofia married Josef Mirota on the 17th of February 1909, in Carnegie, PA when she was thirty years old. They had met two weeks earlier and had an arranged marriage. Josef had come from a nearby village in Poland, called Plawna. This picture of Zofia most likely was taken for her Naturalization Papers. It was also used for her obituary. She was listed as Sofi Mirota, residing at Whitehouse, New Jersey, age 59 years. Her date of order of admission was 17 November 1944, by the Common Pleas Court at Flemington, NJ, Petition Number 1381. Zofia was really sixty-five years old.

Zofia Szczerba Mirota

Both my sister and I are grouped in the genetic community of “Poles and Slovaks in Malopolska and the Tatras”. This is the summary of the time back in Galicia, that Josef Mirota and Zofia Szczerba emigrated from to Pennsylvania, USA.

Poverty Pushes Galicians from Europe
In the early 1900s, Galician villages in southern Poland were among the poorest in all of Europe. Peasants had no land and barely enough food to survive; tens of thousands starved each year. Most immigrants who left home in search of a better life were these unskilled Galician workers. They often immigrated to established Polish neighborhoods in Chicago and New York, or went to New England and Pennsylvania to work in the mines [Source:].

Gen and Mary Mirota never met their maternal grandmother, Apolonia “Pauline” Olszewski. She had died on the 7th of January 1910 in Berdechow, Grybof, Galicia – Poland, aged sixty-one. Apolonia was born on the 10th of January 1848 in Berdechow. Berdechow is a section of the larger town of Bobowa, in present-day Gorlice County, Poland. This section of Poland is also called Little Poland, or Małopolskie. Google Map shows the villages below. You can click on any of the images to enlarge them.

Source: Google Maps. Bobowa, Poland.

This area is in the foothills of the Tatra Mountains, part of the Carpathian mountain chain in Eastern Europe. Bobowa is about fifty miles south-east of the regional capital of Krakow. What is fascinating to me is that my close mtDNA and autosomal Eastern European DNA matches are showing up with roots in these same villages.

Zofia Szczerba was born in house number 24 in Berdechow ad Bobowa. Here below we can see at least one of the connections with the Satkiewicz family. This is a note that I saved from my sister’s research.

LDS #2090065 Baptism record of Zofia Szczerba born February 3, 1879. Zofia Szczerba is the first child born that year in Berdechow ad Bobowa to Piotr Peter Szczerba son of Joannis and Catherine (or Sophia) Mysliwice and Apolonia daughter of Thomas Olszowski and Marianna Filip. Her godparents are Andreas Job and Sophia Job. Farmers. She is born in house #24 which is where her grandfather also lives with his second wife. The midwife is Sophia Gucwa. This is the same house that Ludovica Rafa Olszewski lives with Apolonia’s brother Jacob Olszewski. After Jacob dies (est 1912) Ludovica married Adalbert Satkiewicz, the father of Jan, Sophia, and Mary. Adalbert Satkiewicz dies shortly after the marriage, and Ludovica marries her fourth husband. She was a widow when she married Jacob.

Apolonia Olszewski or Olszewska married first Piotr Peter Szczerba on 28 October 1869, when shew was twenty-one. After his death, she married Wawrzyniec Lawrence Wasik on 26 October 1882 in Berechow ad Bobowa,  when she was thirty-four. She had children from both marriages.

Her mother was Mariana Filip Olszewski, and Mariana’s mother was Apolonia Librant Filip. When my sister and I started our family research about twenty years ago, all we knew was Zofia “Sophia” Szczerba Mirota’s, maiden name, from her gravestone. I still remember how excited we were when we found her naturalization records at the courthouse in Flemington, New Jersey. Now we know our Polish maternal line goes like this:  Zofia Szczerba > Apolonia Olszewski > Mariana Filip > Apolonia Librant. Apolonia Librant Filip was born circa 1800, and her children were born in the 1820s.

My sister and I carry the mitochondrial DNA of these women. Our brothers, and male cousins, also carry it, but can’t pass it on.  “The fact that mitochondrial DNA is maternally inherited enables genealogical researchers to trace maternal lineage far back in time.” [Source:].

This photo below was sent to Jozef and Zofia Szczerba Mirota from her Polish family. Most likely this house was the ancestral home in one of the villages mentioned. This photograph may have been taken in August during the Blessing of the Herbal Bouquets on the Feast of the Assumption of Mary (August 15th), also called Matka Boska Zielna.

Szczerba home in Poland. Copyright 2017 Genealogy Sisters

My sister has recently ordered the LDS microfilm records of our maternal ancestral villages, because August 31st is the last day to do so. The records will later be digitized and indexed. The problem is that with the sometimes difficult Polish surnames, the records are sometimes indexed incorrectly. My sister hopes to sort out the families by the houses they lived in. Click on this link to read about this decision:

Good luck searching for your maternal roots!

Copyright 2017 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

Posted in Berdechow au Bobowa, Blogger, Bruśnik, Family Names, Family research, Filip, Hunterdon County, Mirota, New Jersey, Olszewski, Poland, Satkiewicz, Sczcerba | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Bridget Buckley Mahoney’s Death Record – 1895

Bridget Buckley Mahoney’s death record, 11 May 1895. Place of death Woodbridge, NJ. Burial at Calvary Cemetery, NY. Source: New Jersey State Archives, PO Box 307, Trenton, NJ 08625-0307.

Yesterday I received Bridget Mahoney’s death record from the New Jersey Archives. I’m feeling very positive that she could be my 2nd great-grandmother, since her maiden name was listed as Buckley. She died relatively young at age 63 from pneumonia. She would have been born in the right time frame to have had sons, John and Timothy, in the early 1860s in Ireland.

My great-grandfather, John Mahoney’s death record listed his mother as Bridget Buckley Mahoney, as did his brother Timothy’s death record. When Timothy Mahoney married Mary Bohan on 1 September 1889 in Woodbridge, NJ, his parents were listed as John Mahoney and Bridget Buckley. They were married in the presence of John Sullivan and Ellen Sullivan. More about Ellen Sullivan later.

Bridget Mahoney’s parents were listed here on this record as John and Margaret Buckley. Both John and Timothy had daughters with Margaret in their names. My grandmother was born in 1895 and named Mary Margaret Mahoney, and Timothy and Mary Bohan Mahoney’s first daughter was named Bridget Margaret Mahoney in 1901. What is so interesting is that Bridget was buried in New York, at Calvary Cemetery, and not at Woodbridge, New Jersey which had a Roman Catholic church and cemetery. The address for Calvary Cemetery is 4902 Laurel Hill Blvd, Woodside, NY 11377 and the phone number is 718-786-8000.

Source: Google Maps

The largest Roman Catholic cemetery in the United States is Calvary Cemetery. There are 3 million internments! It was established in 1848 by the trustees of the Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Motts Street in Manhattan, when land in the lower section of Manhattan was too developed to build new cemeteries. It is owned by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York. There are four sections with First Calvary being the oldest. The total cemetery is 365 acres! If you look at the bottom right corner of this map you can find Gates Avenue in Brooklyn. That is where my great-grandfather, John Mahoney, lived from at least 1890 to 1898 at apartment number 1484. He married Mary or Maria Carter circa 1892, and their first son, also named John Mahoney, was born in 1893. Their second child, Mary Margaret, was born there on the 2nd of April 1895. This cemetery would have been near their apartment in Brooklyn.

So, first thing today I called Calvary Cemetery in New York, and talked to a lovely lady named Susan. Since I had the date of death, 11 May 1895, she found the burial record within a minute or two. Bridget Mahoney was buried in 1895 in a plot purchased by Ellen Sullivan. No one else was buried in the plot. There went my hopes for finding out more about our family from other people buried next to Bridget.  She was buried on the 13th of May 1895 in Third Calvary Cemetery, Section 18, Range 18, Row 5, and Plot L. The entrance to that section is on 52nd Street and Queens Boulevard. Third Calvary was established in 1879. Susan thought most likely there isn’t a gravestone.  Here is a map of the actual cemetery sections.

Going back to the 1885 New Jersey Census in Woodbridge, NJ, along with Bridget, Timothy, John, and Michael Mahoney, also living with them was Jerry Sullivan. Sullivan is a surname that keeps popping up in our Mahoney research. In January 1900 when John and Mary Carter Mahoney’s son James was born in Harrison, NJ, Jeremiah Sullivan and Margaret Taffe were the godparents. It is possible that Jerry or Jeremiah Sullivan was related to the Mahoney clan, and so could have been the Ellen Sullivan that purchased the burial plot for Bridget. But was Ellen Sullivan a daughter or sister of Bridget? Was this Ellen the same Ellen Sullivan that was a witness when Timothy Mahoney married in Woodbridge, NJ? And who exactly was the Jerry Sullivan also born in Ireland in the 1885 NJ Census?

Next step for my sister and me is more research into the Buckley and Sullivan family. We now have possibly the names of another set of our 3rd Irish great-grandparents. If we can find a baptismal record for Bridget, daughter of John and Margaret Buckley, born circa 1832 in Ireland,  it will be a streak of good luck. It still may turn out that the Bridget Buckley Mahoney buried at Calvary Cemetery isn’t in fact my 2nd great-grandmother, but more family research will hopefully help clear up the origins of this Bridget Buckley Mahoney.

Here at Genealogy Sisters we wish you good luck this summer with your family research! Start with what you know about your immediate relatives and start building your family tree. Although it is really easy following those shaking leaves on also do your own research. Order birth, marriage, and death records (BMD) and visit cemeteries, courthouses and archives. Look at not only the United States Federal Census returns, but also the individual state census return.

Recently a reader of this blog gave the suggestion to look at the genealogy and census records at and it has a goldmine of information. Look through the filters on the left column and maybe you will find something like an old genealogy book about your own ancestors.

Copyright 2017 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

Posted in Blogger, Buckley, Calvary Cemetery, Cemeteries, Death, Family Names, Family research, Mahoney, New York, Queens, Research, Sullivan, Woodbridge, Woodside | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments