Mystery Monday – Belfast, Ireland Couple – Photographer, J. Thompson

J. Thompson, Photo Artist, Belfast, Ireland

J. Thompson, Photo Artist, Belfast, Ireland

During a recent visit to my father’s cousins in New Jersey, my brother, John, and I came across this mystery photograph. He was looking through an old religious book that had belonged to their maiden great-aunt, Lizzie Hall. There stuck inside one of the pages, was this picture that neither Ted nor MaryLou had remembered seeing before! Their father, William John Doran,  had received the book, along with some holy pictures, from the estate of Lizzie Hall in 1933.

They both said that I could keep the picture and research the history. The photo was one of the early post cards popular from the early 20th Century on.


Back of photograph.

When I saw this photograph I instantly remembered a similar picture, that had been emailed to my sister and I, from a fellow Belfast Doran clan researcher, James Doran. His photo shows his father, “wee Artie” and his grandparents, Arthur Patrick and Sarah Hermon Doran. It was taken about 1911 in Belfast. When my brother and I got back to his house we compared the two photographs. The two men are sitting on the same type of chair, called a throne chair, popular in photographers’ studios in the early 20th century. Looking at the pictures closely, we all agree that it seems to be the same chair the men are sitting on, and a different chair that the ladies are sitting on. James Doran said his mother has the original and he will try to locate it to see if there is anything printed or written on the back. It is possible we are related since our two families were next door neighbors in Belfast at one point, plus a few other similarities. Thanks, James, for your permission to share the photo!

Arthur Patrick Doran Family, taken in Belfast, Ireland, circa 1911. Photograph courtesy of James Doran.

Arthur Patrick & Sarah Hermon Doran, and their child, wee Artie, taken in Belfast, Ireland, circa 1911. Photograph courtesy of James Doran.

Along with my brother, my sister and I started researching the photographer. James Thompson was listed in both the 1901 and 1911 Irish censuses as a Belfast photographer. In the 1911 Irish Census he was living with his family at 33 Cranmore Avenue, in the Windsor Ward of Belfast. He was 42 years old, and born in England. His son, also James Thompson, was age 17, born in Belfast, and also a photographer.

Taking in account the address on the back, our mystery photo was taken around 1912, or later in Belfast. Grosvener House, now called Grosvenor House, was designed by the Irish architects, Patterson and Grahame, active circa 1911 – 1915. The building has a date of 1912 for completion. To find out more about their work please look at his link:

Prior to being in this building, the photographer, James Thompson, was in the Cranes Building, in the same vicinity, Wellington Place, Belfast, near the Belfast City Hall. Information from the website of Lennon Wylie, in his databases – Belfast / Ulster Street Directories, was researched by my sister, Veronica, my brother, John, and myself to try and pinpoint when the photo was taken [ ].

1907 Belfast / Ulster Street Directory: Thompson, Jas., photographer, #26, Fourth Floor, Wellington Place, Donegall Square to College Square East, Cranes Building.

1908 Belfast / Ulster Street Directory: Thompson, Jas., photographer # 26, Cranes Building [same as 1907].

1910 Belfast / Ulster Street Directory: Thompson, James, photographic artist, #26, Cranes Building [same as 1907].

1918 Belfast / Ulster Street Directory: Thompson, Jas., photographer, Grosvenor House, Donegall Square North to College Square East, St. Anne’s Ward, South Par. Div., 5 Wellington Place, res., 17 Stranmillies Road.

1913 Belfast Telephone Directory: Thompson, James, photographer, 5 Wellington Place.

Now that we know the mystery photo was taken after about 1911 in Belfast, Ireland, we can start researching any family members that were still living in Belfast during that time. The unknown picture could show Doran or Hall family members, or turn out to be simply friends of Lizzie Hall. Lizzie emigrated to New Jersey from Belfast in 1914. By researching when the Belfast YMCA was in the same building as James Thompson, we may be able to narrow the dates. Here is the back of the photograph postcard.

BelfastPhotoBMystery Monday is a blogging prompt suggested by Geneabloggers. Many thanks to my father’s first cousins, Ted and MaryLou, and their spouses, for the mystery photograph, and all of their help researching our Doran family, and for a wonderful day spent together! Thanks also to James Doran, who is our honorary cousin, if not our direct cousin!

Copyright 2015 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

Posted in Belfast, Blog Prompt Series, Brick Walls, County Antrim, Doran, Family Names, Hall, Ireland, James Thompson, Mystery Monday, Photographers | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Six Word Saturday – 15 August 2015

Enjoying the little blessings of life!

Taken 1937 - Copyright Genealogy Sisters - 2015.

Taken 1937 – Copyright Genealogy Sisters – 2015

This young lad is getting a lesson on how to gently hold small creatures, by his aunt Mary. Auntie and nephew look like two kindred spirits enjoying a warm summer day. These two photos were taken in 1937, at the Mirota farm in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.

Copyright 2015 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

Copyright 2015 by Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters.

Take a look at Cat’s blog, Show My Face, for more Six Word Saturday postings. Happy Saturday!

Posted in Blog Prompt Series, Family Names, Hunterdon County, Locations, Mirota, New Jersey, Six Word Saturday | Tagged , , , | 11 Comments

The Marriage of John Doran and Elizabeth Campbell, in Belfast, Ireland – 1900


St. Peter’s Cathedral – Source:

John Doran married Elizabeth Campbell on 17 April 1900, at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church, in Belfast, County Antrim, Ireland. The same church is now called St. Peter’s Cathedral. When I received the death record for John Doran’s mother, Ellen Little Doran, I decided at some future time to try to find out more about the witness, her daughter-in-law, Lizzie Doran, living at 72 McDonnell Street, in Belfast, in 1907. Today I had that time to add another branch to our family tree.

John Doran, was Full Age at his marriage (Over 21), a Bachelor (Previously unmarried), lived at 2 Grosvenor Place, Belfast, Roman Catholic, and his occupation was Fitter. His father was John Doran.

Elizabeth Campbell, was also full age, a Spinster (Previously unmarried), lived at 4 McWilliam’s Place, Belfast, also Roman Catholic, and her father was Bernard Cambell. The two witnesses were Owen Butler and Teresa McCrudden. Noted was that Rev. W McCourt married them in St. Peter’s, and both fathers were deceased [Source: Ulster Historical Foundation (Antrim & Down) accessed at on 8/8/2015].

Looking for birth or baptismal records for any children of John and Elizabeth Campbell Doran, led me to a record that confirmed I had the right John Doran for our family. They had a daughter, Mary Doran, born on 25 September 1906, while they were living at 72 McDonnell Street, which was the same address for Ellen Doran’s death record.  Another child, James Doran, was born 11 January 1910, and baptized on 18 January 1910 at St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church in Belfast. The family was living at 46 Shore Street, in Belfast. An added bonus from that record, was the note that James Doran married Elizabeth Bannon October 28, 1935 at St. Paul’s Roman Catholic Church [Source: Ulster Historical Foundation (Antrim & Down) accessed at on 8/8/2015].

From the 1911 Irish Census I found Lizzie Doran living with her brother, Edward Campbell, and mother, Sarah Cambell, at 4 McMillan Place in Belfast. She was listed as married, Roman Catholic, and born in Belfast. She had given birth to four children with three living: John, age 10, born in Dublin; Mary, age 4, born in Belfast; and James, age 1, born in Belfast. Looking at the 1901 Irish Census, the family was living in Dublin. John Doran was a joint fitter, and his age was 23. Eliza Doran was 24. Baby John was two months old. They were living at Lower Dominck Street, Rotunda, Dublin. The census was taken on March 31, 1901. [ ]

John Doran was the brother of my great-grandfather, Bernard Doran. Their father was also named John Doran. We have had a John Doran in five generations of my family. Most likely the name goes back even more generations. Good luck searching for your family records! Happy Saturday!

St. Peter's Cathedral - Copyright Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters, 2015.

St. Peter’s Cathedral – Copyright Maryann Barnes and Genealogy Sisters, 2015.

Posted in Belfast, Blogger, Campbell, Doran, Family Names, Ireland, Marriage Records, Research, Saint Peter's Cathedral | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments