Family tree update 2021

My Dad would have been 93 years old on 17 January, so in honor of his birthday, I decided to update the family tree.

Frankly, I haven’t been doing much genealogy work over the last 23 months, but I got the bug again after the recent election (I may wanted a distraction).  I have included 165 new sources, many of which pertain to multiple individuals in a family.

I added an unrelated person, Bill Timmerman, who was my grandfather’s close friend and whom my mother called Uncle Bill.  We have a doll that Uncle Bill gave to my Mom upstairs.

My big focus in December was trying to resolve the connection between my great grandmother Alice Lyons and the Lyons family that lived out here in San Francisco.  My Dad and my uncle Joe both visited Nellie Lyons, and 20 years ago we went looking for (and found) her house in the Twin Peaks.  And their Aunt Alice would send money out to two priests who were sons of Nellie’s sister Katherine.  I have found a DNA connection, but so far have not found a common ancestor.

Many of the new sources help to flesh out the stories of  the Figueroa cousins on my Mom’s side, but I didn’t add many new individuals.  I continue to search for the Reinhard connection in Niedernberg, Germany but keep coming up empty.  The information I have on the Reinhards, provided to me some 20 years ago, is starting to look a little suspect, so I will have to dig in.

When I first began this family tree, I naively imported a GEDCOM file full of people that looked like they might be related.   After I got some experience, I realized I shouldn’t take anyone’s research for granted, and needed to verify everything.  So as my final step before updating the online tree, I double-checked and then deleted those (several hundred) unrelated individual.

Family Tree update

It has been about 20 months since I last posted an update, so here is a revised tree dated 17 Feb 2019.

This update includes additional source citations, which begin around source number 950.  Most of these are associated with events, for example residence as culled from directories.  Many are also duplicate sources, as I try to add them into my tree whenever I update records on or

As always, if you see any errors or can suggest additions, please let me know.

Family Tree Update

Memorial Day is a good time to update the family genealogy web site.  Since I published the last update on 29 August 2016, I have found 270 new source documents covering birth, marriage, death, immigration, military service, residence, etc.

Many of these new sources confirm facts already known, but there are some interesting new findings, too. In addition to including the reference documents here, I have taken to including references from multiple sources, mostly from or to make sure other researchers can access this material.

Along the way, genetic genealogy confirmed a new line of cousins, descended from Timothy Kelley, the heretofore unknown brother of my great great grandmother Bridget Kelley.  The first clues came from the persistence of Pat McGrath, whose husband is descended from Timothy Kelley.  Pat noticed repeated references to my great uncle James T. Conlon and my grandfather Martin J. Conlon, as pall bearers.

We ultimately used DNA tests to confirm that her husband and I are 4th cousins, which makes our great great grandparents siblings.  We will likely never know the names of their parents, but this was a good example of collaboration between conventional and genetic genealogy.

Family Tree Update

I last published my family tree on 28 August 2015, and am pleased to issue an update with more than 150 additional source documents, mostly focused on my Irish ancestry from my father’s side of the family.

My research has been most productive on my Fogarty line, including confirmation that they came from Ballyporeen in Ireland (in Gaelic, the town is called Béal Átha Póirín), and identification of the surname of my Great Great Grandmother, Margaret Walsh. In addition, I resolved some long-standing rumors.

Let’s start with the rumors.  My grandmother, Margaret Elena Fogarty, died of breast cancer in 1927 at age 38.  In 1931 my grandfather, Martin Joseph Conlon, married Ella Fox, who gave birth to my uncle Ed (Martin Edward Conlon) the next year.  Six weeks later, the family was in a major car accident in Cohasset, killing Ella, sending my uncle Joe (Joseph F. Conlon) to the hospital for a few months, and giving my father the scar on his chin (the dimple on my chin was not inherited from him).

My father recalled that there was a court case (I hope to someday find the records), and my grandfather never again drove a car, despite owning the Jenney gasoline station in Whitman.  I remember my Dad saying that he thought Ella Fox and Elena Fogarty were related, and that there might have been some bad blood between my grandfather and his Fogarty in-laws after the accident.  Despite the accident, the Fogarty family in Whitman was very close to my Dad and his brothers.

Two years ago I visited my Dad’s first cousin Manus Getchell, whose mother Mary Frances Fogarty was the younger sister of my grandmother.  We spent a few hours talking about the family history and looking at pictures, and he  gave me Aunt Alice Fogarty Collins‘ photo album from when she was young.  Manus told me about taking his family to Ireland some time back and visiting the Fogarty home town of Ballyporeen, which is also the ancestral home of President Ronald Reagan, and that the locals took him down to the cemetery where they said our relatives were buried.

An Irish researcher, Breda Nolan, has put together an extensive tree of the inter-connected families of Ballyporeen, but the source documents are not linked to individuals, so I viewed this as indicative but not conclusive. In genealogy, as in politics, an oft-told lie eventually becomes the truth, so before publishing this as a fact I wanted some documentary confirmation.

We began with a DNA test in the hope that it would turn up some mutual cousins, who I hoped would help me confirm the origin.  I have found though that the autosomal DNA comparisons only allow us to confirm a family connection, they don’t replace old fashioned research.

So I turned next to the nephew of Ella Fox, who was the son of Ella’s brother Thomas Joseph Fox.  My Dad had given me a scanned photo of Tom and Ella, and Uncle Ed’s daughter Rita gave me some information about the nephew.  My telephone conversation with him and and some emails confirmed that Tom and Ella were from Ballyporeen, but were they related to us?  For this, a DNA test was perfect, and it showed that he was indeed a second cousin on the Fogarty line.

At this point, I decided to renew my Ancestry subscription to see if I could find any documents to add to what was now a very convincing story.

  • Tom Fox’s draft registration showed he was born in Skeheenarinky, near Ballyporreen.
  • Ella Fox’s immigration records showed she was from the adjacent Coolagarranroe Woods.  Confusingly she gave different birth years, on different records.  Perhaps she thought she would be more marriageable if she was younger?
  • I hit the jackpot with the immigration records from my great grandfather, William H. Fogarty, which confirmed his Ballyporeen origins.
  • Next I found some Irish census records, from 1901 for Coolagarranroe, and with the aid of my cousin Tom Fox, could confirm the house his father and aunt lived in.
  • From his own records, Tom also provided my with the last name of our Great Great Grandmother, Margaret Walsh.

So thanks to a team effort, I have a new travel destination.  And best of all, there are handball alleys in Ballyporeen, so I will bring my gear and seek some matches to make room for a Guinness afterwards.