5 Minutes w/ an ancestor

I’m not sure where I saw it but I came across a question something along the lines of “if you could have 5 minutes with any ancestor who would it be, any why?” I saw this question over a week ago and it has been sitting in the back of my mind ever since. I honestly couldn’t decide. Many ancestors I wanted to talk to in order to ask questions about their ancestors (yes, these are my brick walls). In another case one person that I wanted to spend 5 minutes with was my maternal grandfather because he passed away before I was born.

John Patrick McGinty (52 Ancestors, #10 John McGinty)

My maternal grandfather is John Patrick McGinty (b. 24 May 1905, Chicago, IL; d. 01 Nov 1962, Chicago, IL) who was the eldest son of Michael McGinty and Nellie Carolan.

John attended and graduated from St. Charles Borromeo for middle school in 1913. John graduated high school from St. Patrick Academy in June 1921. Upon graduation from high school, John followed in his father’s footsteps working as a plumber. John Patrick McGinty

John eventually strayed from this line of work and got a job as a clerk at AT&T in 1925. Aside from working as a plumber, this is the only place that John will work his entire life. John worked at AT&T for 37 years as an accountant before retiring.



John met and was married to Helen Elizabeth Beasecker on 27 June 1932. Thomas McGinty, John’s brother, and Clara Mader, Elizabeth’s cousin, stood up for their wedding. John and Elizabeth lived at 243 Stanley Avenue in Park Ridge where they had three children.

John passed away at the young age of 58 years of age due to a pulmonary embolism.  John is buried with his wife at All Saints Cemetery in Des Plaines, Illinois.

Howard Robinson Wheeler (52 Ancestors, #9 Howard Wheeler)

Howard Robinson Wheeler was born 05 Jun 1894 in Derby, Connecticut.  Howard was the son of John Edward Wheeler and Carra Inez Tuttle.  While born in Derby, Connecticut, Howard was raised in Holyoke, Massachusetts.  Howard lived in Holyoke until his 23rd birthday when he joined the Army.

Recruited from Holyoke, Massachusetts, Howard served in the Army from 22 Jun 1917 to 13 Mar 1919.  During his time in the Army in the Medical Detachment, 70th Acty, C.A.C., Howard attained the rank of sergeant.  Upon completion of his two year commitment to the Army, Howard returned to Holyoke.

Howard was only in Holyoke for a short time when he proceeded to Canada in search of work.  While working in Canada, Howard met his wife to be, Honore MIllicent Mackenzie.  Honore and Howard were married on 13 Mar 1923 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.  Four months later their first child, William Stamford Wheeler, was born.  Their second child, Diane, was born in 1925.

In 1929, the Wheelers left Canada so that Howard could get better employment.  Howard obtained a job as a clerk where he stayed employed until his retirement.

Howard passed away on 03 Mar 1978.  On 07 Mar 1978, Howard was buried at Ft. Snelling Cemetery located in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Patrick Kinney (52 Ancestors, #8 Patrick Kinney)

A recent post shared some experiences which I’ve had with Ancestry.com DNA and the fact that I’ve recently reconnected with people (some now confirmed cousins) whom we suspected we shared a common ancestor. It was suspected that my 2nd great grandfather Andrew Kinney along with several other gentlemen found in Fond du Lac in the 1860 census were brothers. A recent DNA match notification has provided confirmation that one of those gentlemen, Patrick Kinney, is a brother or relative of Andrew Kinney. While Patrick isn’t one of my ancestors, I wanted to share what information I did have about Patrick to help our research.

Patrick Kinney was born 17 Mar 1820 in Ireland (unsourced). I don’t have any information on when Patrick arrived in the United States but it appears that he came via New York.

Patrick’s first son, John Francis, was born in New York.  His baptism was witnessed by John W. Gill who was also from Ireland and was the roadmaster responsible for the Sheboygan and Fond du Lac railroads. 

Patrick married Mary Bridget Leahy (b. 02 Feb 1827, Ireland; d. 15 Nov 1901, FdL). Patrick and Mary had four children:

  • John Francis Kinney (b. 05 Dec 1854, New York)
  • Ellen Kinney (b. 1857, Fond du Lac)
  • Margaret Kinney (b. 17 Feb 1859, New York)
  • Mary Kinney (b. Abt 1860, Fond du Lac)

We see that Patrick is found in the federal census with his wife and family in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.  Patrick also registered for the Civil War draft in 1863.  Patrick passed away in Fond du Lac on 01 Jul 1891 and was buried in Calvary Cemetery on 03 Jul 1891.

Unfortunately the amount of information that I have on Patrick is limited.  I’m looking forward to learning more about Patrick.

Ancestry DNA

Several years ago, in 2005, when I was first getting into genealogy I was excite to learn that DNA was being used to help family historians determine their background and get in contact with people that shared common Ancestors.  I immediately found FamilyTreeDNA and requested a 37-marker test.  I received the results and joined the “Wheeler” project.

In 2005, using DNA for genealogy was extremely new and unless you had some experience with the technology or you had someone to interpret the results for you, the value of DNA may have been limited.  I was able to make contact with several individuals that I matched in the Wheeler Surname Project but it didn’t live up to my expectations.  In 2008, I upgraded from 37 to 63 markers.  I experienced similar results to that of my original results in that I had received results but how to use them and get in touch with others was limited.  I reached out to a number of people that I had reported matches but many of them maintained paper records or family trees in GEDCOM format offline.  In most cases I was unable to determine the shared ancestor.

Ancestry.com has since added DNA testing and the autosomal DNA which allows me to get DNA results from both my mother and father’s ancestry (my previous two tests only had results from my father’s line).

Screen Shot 2014-03-02 at 2.00.42 PMAfter completing the swab and waiting for the results for about 4 weeks, the results were available within my Ancestry.com account.

As you can see from the image, the results provided some insight as to where my ancestors came from (which all eventually leads back to Africa).  My results indicated that the majority of my ancestry (66%) was from Ireland.  Another 23% made up ancestry from England, Germany, France and other western European nations.  Ancestry.com does a great job of explaining how the estimates are determined and presenting various different views into the information.  A separate page provides links to cousins found on Ancestry.com.

I have posted during the 52 Ancestors challenge about my 2nd great grandfather, Andrew Kinney.  I have been working on and off on the Kinney line.  At one time, after finding each other on a family surname bulletin board, we suspected that Andrew was one of four brothers that had come to the United States together.  After having a difficult time confirming that there was a possibility that these four gentlemen were related, I stopped pursuing the research.  It’s been over 5 years since I have had any regular contact with the Kinney working group.

I was recently contacted through Ancestry.com by one of my matches.  One of the members of our Kinney working group who is a descendent of one of the brothers recently had an AncestryDNA test completed and it turns out that we are a match.

Guess they were brothers after all!

Margaret McTavish (52 Ancestors; #7 Margaret McTavish)

I’ve got a little catching up to do on entries so you will see a lot of activity this week. I’ll do my best to keep a schedule in the future.

During week 3 of the 52 Ancestors challenge I posted information about Andrew Kinney (b. Abt 1823, d. 22 May 1900). Andrew’s wife is Margaret (nee McTavish) Kinney.

Margaret McTavish was born about 1825 in Scotland. Different records have Margaret born in different locations being either Ireland or Scotland. Most of the records that I have found indicate Scotland as the more likely location so until I have confirmation that it is Scotland or proof to the contrary, I am using Scotland as her place of birth.

It is particularly easier to track the movements of men in the 19th century. That is in fact the case with Margaret. Not only have I thus far been able to locate her true place of birth but I have yet to be able to locate the time and location that she entered the United States. We have reason to believe that Andrew Kinney entered the United States about 1848. According to the records that I have collected thus far, Andrew and Margaret didn’t marry until 1855 which leads me to believe that Andrew and Margaret were married in Fond du Lac. St. Joseph Catholic church in Fond du Lac is the church where many of the Kinneys were baptized so it is something to research.

Margaret and Andrew were living in Fond du Lac from 1855 to 1874 based upon the purchase and sale of land during that time. During that time, Andrew and Margaret had eight (8) children all born in Fond du Lac:

  • Andrew Kinney (b. Abt Nov 1856); baptized 16 Nov 1856
  • Hannah Kinney (b. 23 Jan 1857)
  • Elizabeth Kinney (b. Abt 1859)
  • Mary E. Kinney (b. Abt 1861)
  • James Kinney (b. 16 Dec 1863)
  • Frank E. Kinney (b. Abt Mar 1867)
  • Katharine “Kittie” Kinney (b. 11 Oct 1869)
  • Nellie Gertrude Kinney (b. 14 Feb 1873)

In 1874, we see Margaret, Andrew and the family leave Fond du Lac.  While it is probable that they were in or around Chicago, we don’t see them in census records until 1890.  It was about this time, on 17 Jan 1890, that Margaret (nee McTavish) Kinney passed away.  Cause of death was meningitis.  Margaret passed away at 11 Maplewood Avenue, Chicago, IL.  This was not her residence (most likely the residence of one of her children) as Margaret and Andrew were living at 412 Park Avenue, Chicago, IL at the time of her death.  The death certificate issued by Cook County indicates that Margaret was only a residence of the state for one year prior to her passing.

margaretmctavish_photoWhile Margaret passed away in Chicago, like Andrew her remains were sent by train back to Fond du Lac.  A service was held in Fond du Lac at St. Joseph’s church.  We are still attempting to determine where she was buried.

Where was Margaret and her family from 1874 to 1889?  It is one of the many questions that is yet to be answered when it comes to Margaret’s past.