When working with DNA matches for whom I only have the vaguest of theories of family connection, I've taken to plugging their founding ancestor in to my family tree—anywhere, just pick a place—and then "detaching" her from the tree. I just need a toe-hold to get started—say, part of the Falvey family branch of the tree—but no choice in the current tree will be quite right.
Having found the obituary—make that several obituaries—for Humphrey John O'Leary, husband of the mystery Mary Falvey who somehow is related to my husband's second great-grandmother Johanna Falvey, we now have a listing of the couple's descendants. Though I am an American researcher stepping tentatively into the world of New Zealand genealogy—Mary's descendant, my husband's DNA match, came from ancestors who immigrated to New Zealand—there are a few similarities in the records we rely on. Thankfully, the birth order listing of children is a common thread between the two countries' obituaries.
Thus, from Humphrey O'Leary's 1934 obituary, we learn that his sons, in likely birth order, were Jack (probably John), Joseph, Humphrey, and Mark, with the already deceased Patrick left out of the sequence.
Finding the details on Humphrey's surviving daughters was not the same one-step process as for the sons, as each was listed under her own husband's first initial plus married surname. To piece this together took some searching through the New Zealand government's Births, Deaths and Marriages Online website. This, of course, meant that only marriages prior to 1940 would be revealed in this listing—of which I was certain to have no hindrances, given the O'Leary children were all born before 1900.
Then, from those O'Leary women's marriage records, I cross checked names with the birth records, to ensure we had gleaned the daughters of Humphrey and Mary O'Leary and not another O'Leary couple. Based on that two-step process, I determined the following from the married daughters listed in their father's obituary:
- Mrs. T. Peters was Margaret O'Leary
- Mrs. P. Barry was Ellen O'Leary, nicknamed Nellie
- Mrs. A. Ascott was Kathleen Elizabeth O'Leary
- Mrs. J. McKenna was Annie Agnes O'Leary
- Mrs. J. Brophy is still unidentified
- the deceased Mrs. P. Griffin was Mary O'Leary
All but the deceased daughter were listed in order of their age, though when I checked for birth records, Mary appeared to be the second-born of the daughters.
This brings up a couple research questions. First, knowing that Humphrey and Mary were emigrants from County Kerry, Ireland, how likely would it be that they kept their homeland's naming pattern tradition—and if so, can we extrapolate anything from this particular listing? The second question considers the surnames of these spouses: were any of them also born in Ireland? If so, could there be any connection between them and the parents of either Humphrey or Mary?
This latter thought was prompted by my exploration of baptismal records, back in County Kerry. There is, after all, this other hint about baptismal records: that the sponsors for the child were likely siblings or in-laws of either of the child's parents. Could that Barry name from one of Humphrey's daughters be related to the godfather listed for Humphrey, himself?