Wells Family Genealogy

The study of my Family Tree

29 April 2016: I cleaned … and found a murderer lurking in my files! April 29, 2016

I’m hoping to be moving at some time in the near future. In preparation for said move, I’ve been poking in every nook and cranny of my apartment to find things I can toss out. This past weekend, I started to look through a jumbo plastic container with some random genealogy papers. Wondering what it was, I pulled out an article I’d printed out ages ago about Edward Geoghan. There not being too many Geoghans in Brooklyn, I suppose I’d printed it out to see if I’d be able to find out if we were related. What followed was an afternoon of slowly uncovering what is a truly sad and horrific story of one family.

Here’s the article:

Brooklyn Daily Standard Union, 8 February 1893


Edward GEOGHAN, a truck driver, 28 years of age, was placed on trial this morning in the Kings County Court of OYER & TERMINER, at which Judge CULLEN is presiding, for murder in the first degree, in having shot and killed his wife, Ellen GEOGHAN, at the residence of her sister, Mrs. Catherine BRENNAN, 103 Wyckoff street, on the 8th day of September last. The case is being prosecuted by District Attorney RIDGEWAY, while Counselor MCMAHON appears for the accused.

On the day in question, GEOGHAN went to the residence of his sister-in-law, where his wife was stopping, and emptied the five chambers of a 32 calibre revolver at her, two of the bullets took effect, one lodging in the woman’s head and the other in her stomach. One of the bullets, in glancing off after striking a piece of furniture, slightly wounded the six-months old child of the couple in the right thigh, the burning powder from the weapon setting fire to the child’s stocking. Another bullet shattered the index trigger finger of the murderer. GEOGHAN, after the shooting threw the revolver into a pail of water in the kitchen and fled from the house. Patrolman STEABOLD, who lives in the neighborhood, heard the shots, and on going into the street, and seeing GEOGHAN in the act of running away, started in pursuit, and captured him after a short chase. GEOGHAN on being taken back and being identified by his wife as her assailant coolly denied that he had done the shooting or had ever had a revolver; but a carving knife as sharp as a razor, with which it is supposed he intended to finish the job if the pistol failed, was found in his breast pocket. The couple had been married but eighteen months, but quarrels growing out of the husband’s jealousy became so frequent that Mrs. GEOGHAN resolved to leave her husband. The latter, she said, had also threatened to kill her and conceived a violent hatred of her mother.

Mrs. GEOGHAN was removed to the hospital, where she died soon after.

Quite a sad story. Yet I had to wonder if we were related somehow. The early 1890s generally are not an easy search when it comes to census records, but I lucked out as there was a New York State Census taken in 1892. When I looked it up on Ancestry.com, this is what I found:

1892 NY Census Brooklyn Edward Geoghan

It would appear that Edward and Ellen’s son was named Edward. I had to wonder what became of this child and also to his father.

Knowing there had to be newspaper accounts of the incident and subsequent trial, I turned to http://fultonhistory.com/Fulton.html , an excellent source for New York State newspaper archives. The website didn’t disappoint.

From this article in the New York Tribune, we find out that Edward was convicted of murder in the first degree, his defense of temporary insanity didn’t seem to help his case any.

1893 Jan Feb New York tTribune

From this article in Buffalo Evening News dated September 2, 1893, we see that the Governor commuted Edward sentence of death to life imprisonment.

1893 Sept 2 Buffalo Evening News

From this article in the New Rochelle Pioneer dated September 9, 1893, we see that the reason for the Governor to commute his sentence was that upon examination, Edward was found insane.

1893 Sept 9 New Rocelle Pioneer

I googled the main characters in the article and didn’t come up with much more on a simple Google search. I then switched to a look at Google books and found the following appeal. It differs from the accounts of the newspaper a little. It says that the incident happened not at his sister-in-law’s house, but at his mother-in-law’s house and that the sister-in-law was there.

The New York State Reporter

The New York State Reporter

Appeal page 2

Page 3 Appeal

While I was on Ancestry, I also found Edward’s prison intake record from Sing Sing prison. It notes that after his sentence was commuted by the Governor from death to life, he was sent to an asylum. It gives quite a bit of physical description of Edward and lists the names of two of his aunts, Mrs. Mary O’Connor and Mrs. Briget Mc T-something I can’t quite make out. McTearny maybe. No mention of the son, Edward Jr. or of Edward’s parents.  Here’s that intake record:

Edward Geoghan Sing Sing intake Record

So what happened to Edward Jr? I mean, poor thing, to have your mother killed by your father who was now in an asylum for who knows how long.

From here I decided to look for any info on Ellen and found her on findagrave.com as buried in Holy Cross Cemetery.  I know it’s her because of the date of death, the date of her murder.  Unfortunately, I looked at the bottom of the page and found out what happened to little Edward Jr.

Ellen on FAG

When I opened the link, I found Edward Jr.

Ed Jr on FAG

I can only wonder how little Edward died.  This really is a sad story.

So what happened to Edward Sr.?  Last we saw he was transferred from prison to an asylum.  On the 1900 US Federal Census I found him listed as a patient at the Matteawan State Hospital in Fishkill, New York.

1900 US Federal Census, Fishkill, New York, Matteawan State Hospital

1900 US Federal Census, Fishkill, New York, Matteawan State Hospital

He wasn’t at this hospital for more than a few years before I found him on the 1905 New York State Census as well as the 1910 Federal Census as a patient at Dannemora State Hospital for Insane Convicts in Dannemora, Clinton County, New York.

1905 New York State Census: Dannemora State Hospital for Insane Convicts

1905 New York State Census: Dannemora State Hospital for Insane Convicts

1910 US Federal Census: Dannemora State Hospital for Insane Convicts

1910 US Federal Census: Dannemora State Hospital for Insane Convicts

I found this bit of information online:

Dannemora State Hospital for Insane Convicts opened in 1900. Dannemora confined and cared for male inmates who were declared insane while serving sentences. Matteawan State Hospital transferred to Dannemora all male inmates who had at least six months left to serve on their sentences. Males serving sentences for felonies in State prisons, reformatories, or penitentiaries, and who were declared insane, were also transferred to Dannemora. In 1912, the name of the institution was changed to the Dannemora State Hospital. In 1972, Dannemora closed and all inmates were transferred to Matteawan.

When Dannemora State Hospital closed, the site became the Adirondack Correctional Treatment and Evaluation Center. This facility offered programs for the rehabilitation of persistent offenders and included a diagnostic team of specialists in psychiatry and psychology. In 1975, the Center closed and the site was converted into the Clinton Annex, a medium security facility for male inmates. Camp Adirondack, a medium security work camp, was also established at the site in 1975. The following year, Camp Adirondack was transferred to Ray Brook and was renamed the Adirondack Correctional Facility.

And this is where the trail ended.  I can’t find any death record for Edward or find him on any census record after 1910. Such a sad story, but an excellent case study in how to take a single article and find out the story behind the story.


Jennifer Geoghan, Genealogist and author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.


23 April 2016: A Geoghan by any other name .. like Gahigan … is still just as hard to research April 23, 2016

Filed under: Uncategorized — jgeoghan @ 11:42 am

To further update my Geoghan relatives on the progress of my research, this post will show you what I’ve discovered since I last posted last month.

I was able to order an original copy of the 1861 Census of Scotland with the family on it. Here it is:

1861 Census Gahigan

1861 Census of Scotland – Gahigan Family

Here a close up view of the family:

1861 Census Gahigan CU

Here is what it says:

1861 Scotland Census:  ED 2, Household 62, Line 8, Registration District: Partick, Civil Parish: Govan, County: Lanarkshire, Address: 32 Bridge Street

  • George Gahigan: Head … Age 35 … Born in Ireland …Occ: Dock Labourer
  • Ann Gahigan:     Spouse: Age 35 … Born in Ireland
  • Catherine Gahigan: Daughter … Age 10 … Born in Partick … Occ: Scholar
  • James Gahigan:  Son … Age 5 … Born in Partick … Occ: Scholar
  • George Gahigan: Son … Age 9 Months … Born in Partick
  • Patrick Donnelly:  Border … Age 24 … Born in Ireland … Occ: Dock Lab.
  • Patrick Moren: Age 22
  • Peter Coyne: Age 21

I was really hoping that when I got a look at the original document (and not just the transcription online) that it would be more specific on where in Ireland they were from, but that wasn’t the case.  I was also hoping that the original document might tell me more about this “Patrick Donnelly” who was a border living with them.  Donnelly being Ann’s maiden name, there’s still a possibility that she might be a relation of his.

Because I like to be thorough, I also made a copy of the first page of the census so I could see the area that it covered.  Here is that first page in case you’d like to see how the streets of their outlying section of Glasgow ran.

1861 Census of Scotland - Front page of enumeration district of the Gahigan residence.

1861 Census of Scotland – Front page of enumeration district of the Gahigan residence.

Glasgow is a port city of the river Clyde and it would appear George was a laborer down on the city’s docks.  Here is a photo I found online of Old Govan circa 1903.  Taken years after George worked there, but you still get a feel for the activity of the area:


I next ordered an original copy of George and Ann’s marriage record.  Again hoping that it would give a clue as to where in Ireland they were born … and again I was left hanging.  Here is the record:

Marriage Record of George Gahigan and Ann Donnelly

Marriage Record of George Gahigan and Ann Donnelly

Here’s a close up look:

1850 George Gahigan and Ann Donnelly Marriage Record CU

I’ve never seen a marriage recorded with two dates.  George and Ann “Booked” on June 12, but “Married” on June 28. I’ve poked around a little to discover what the difference is but haven’t had much luck.  I would venture to guess that “Booked” might relate to getting the license and “Married” was the actual ceremony.   It lists George as being from Govan parish and Ann from Gorbals parish.  Govan and Gorbals were right next to each other.  Here’s a parish map of the county of Lanarkshire.  Both are at the upper left side:


When I started doing searches for the Donnelly family in Gorbals, I found this:

1841 Census of Scotland: Civil Paris: Glasgow, St. Mary’s, County: Lanarkshire, Address Old Wynd, Parish 644/1, ED 15, Page 9, Line 566

  • Arthur Donnelly … Age 40 … Born in Ireland … Occ: Laborer (Estimated Birth Year: 1801)
  • Eliza Donnelly … Age 40 … Born in Ireland (Estimated Birth Year: 1801)
  • Rose Donnelly … Age 15 … Born in Ireland (Estimated Birth Year: 1826)
  • Owen Donnelly … Age 16 … Born in Ireland … Occ: Plaster Ap (Estimated Birth Year: 1825)
  • Ann Donnelly … Age 15 … Born in Ireland (Estimated Birth Year: 1826)
  • John McDead … Age 3 … Born in Ireland … Occ: Plaster Ap (Estimated Birth Year: 1838) (Yes, this is probably a typo on the ancestry.com transcription.  He’s probably thirty something in age.  Hard to believe a 3-year-old would be a plaster apprentice.)
  • Robert White … Age 30 … Born in Ireland (Estimated Birth Year: 1811)
  • Eliz White … Age 25 … Born in Ireland (Estimated Birth Year: 1816)
  • Margaret McKenna … Age 33 … Born in Ireland (Estimated Birth Year: 1808)

Old Wynd is a road in the same area of Glasgow that we consistently see all the event of this family take place.  Here it is at the center of a map:

Old Wynd Street

I’m sorry to say there’s not much there today.  Here’s a Google Earth street view of the road:

Old Wynd Photo

So is the Ann Donnelly on this 1841 census, our Ann, the Ann that Married George Gahigan?  I don’t know, but the probability is high. She’s the right age, born in Ireland, lives in the right neighborhood.  I’ve always doubted that Ann and George, though both born in Ireland, knew each other there.  It was more likely that they were both immigrants living in Scotland, having come separately with their respective families.

So the search continues …

When and from where did the leave Ireland for Scotland and with whom? I haven’t discovered that quite yet, but I’ll keep on digging until I figure it out.


Jennifer Geoghan, family genealogist and author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.


17 March 2016: For my Geoghan Cousins … more history on our Irish/Scottish roots March 17, 2016

I’ve been redoubling my efforts to unearth the history of the Geoghan family. Of all my family lines, the Geoghans are the most stubborn and cause the most brick walls. Seeing as my last name is Geoghan, I probably shouldn’t be surprised by this fact …

As it stands, the earliest definite record of the Geoghan family is the marriage record of my great-grandfather Thomas Geoghan, who married Ellen Stapleton in Unionville, CT on 28 Oct 1883. This record is on file in the Unionville town clerks office, but that is where the paper trail on them ends … or does it …

Geoghan variations

A few weeks ago, I came across a birth record on familysearch.org for a Thomas Gihigan with the exact same birthdate as is on my great-grandfather Thomas Geoghan’s death certificate. Could these two Thomas’ be the same man? Maybe yes and maybe no. Let’s examine the evidence.

The first thing I did was trot on down to the Orlando Family History Center and order the microfilm for the record that was on familysearch.org. FamilySearch.org is the genealogy website that is run by the Mormon Church, and if you find a record that there is no image for on the site, you can usually order the microfilm of the original record and have it sent to local Family History Center at your local Mormon church for a nominal fee. I did just that and here is the birth record of Thomas Gihigan:

Thomas LR

WOW! I love this record! I mean those Scots are insanely detailed in their record keeping. Here’s a transcription of the above:

  • Birth Registration: Partick, district of Lanark
  • Thomas Gihigan, Born 15 Aug 1862 at 10:40am at 1 Wells Lane, Partick
  • Father: George Gihigan, Construction laborer
  • Mother: Ann Gihigan, maiden name Donnelly
  • Married: July 1, 1850, Glasgow
  • Informant: Ann Gihigan, signed with an “x” for her mark.
  • Birth Registered, August 29th, 1862

Partick is just to the west of downtown Glasgow, in Lanarkshire Scotland. A neat little area when you wonder around its streets on Google Earth. Also note that on the birth record, Ann signed with “Her mark,” not a signature. I highly suspect that she was not able to read and write. This unfortunate circumstance will probably led to a myriad of frenetic spellings of our last name of Geoghan.

Partick, Scotland

Partick, Scotland

Taking the info on this record, I did some research into George Gihigan and his wife, Ann Donnelly. I found records on a few other children they had:

  • Ann Gahigan                      Born 19 Nov 1857             Govan, Lanark, Scotland
  • George Gihigan                Born 8 Jul 1860                  Govan, Lanark, Scotland

Govan is either part of Partick, or Partick is part of Govan. I honestly can’t quite figure out how the Scottish are designating areas, districts, regions, but I think Partick is a part of Govan.

Partick-nr-Broomhill, Govan, Glasgow, Tram Car

Partick-nr-Broomhill, Govan, Glasgow, Tram Car

When I did a search of George Gihigan with a wife Ann and children Ann, George and Thomas, I found this record in the 1861 Census of Scotland:

1861 Scotland Census: ED 2, Household 62, Line 8, Registration District: Partick, Civil Parish: Govan, County: Lanarkshire, Address: 32 Bridge Street

  • George Gahigan: Head … Age 35 … Born in Ireland … Occ: Dock Labourer
  • Ann Gahigan:     Spouse: Age 35 … Born in Ireland
  • Catherine Gahigan: Daughter … Age 10 … Born in Partick … Occ: Scholar
  • James Gahigan:   Son … Age 5 … Born in Partick … Occ: Scholar
  • George Gahigan: Son … Age 9 Months … Born in Partick
  • Patrick Donnelly: Age 24
  • Patrick Moren: Age 22
  • Peter Coyne: Age 21

This record show George and Ann with children Catherine, James and George. If this is Thomas’ parents, Thomas would have been born the year after this census was done. Just because I couldn’t find birth records on Familysearch.org doesn’t mean they aren’t out there somewhere so this doesn’t bother me. I’ll also note that one of the other men in the house is Patrick Donnelly. Could he be a relation of the mother whose maiden name was Donnelly?

Since both Thomas’ birth record and this census record had street names with them, I did a little digging on Well Lane and Bridge Street.   I found a website with a street index for the 1881 census for Scotland that listed both streets in the same area of Govan:

Street Index, 1881 Census for: Govan (646-2) Lanark, Scotland

Enumeration District 3

Bridge Street     Burnbank House

Castlebank St     Dumbarton Road

Kelvin Street      Knowe Street

Well Lane            Well Street

Dumbarton Road, Partick

Dumbarton Road, Partick

According to another website I found (http://www.glasgowguide.co.uk/info-streetschanged3.html) these streets have changed names since them.

A list of Glasgow street names which were subject to change prior to the 1940s

Old Name: Well Lane, Partick … New Name: Cooper’s Well Lane, W. 1.

Old name: Bridge Street, Partick               … New Name: Partick Bridge Street, Wl

If the address of 32 Bridge Street on the 1861 Census is correct as the current 32 Partick Bridge Street, this is where they lived:

32 Partick Bridge Street - Previously 32 Bridge Street

By comparison, here is where Coopers Well Lane is:

Coopers Well

Turns out these modern streets are right in the same small neighborhood which lends credibility to the theory that the birth record family and the census record family are one in the same, but this is where I lose the paper trail in Scotland.




Now we turn to America. As I stated above, I was left with a gap from the marriage record in the year 1883 and the 1861 Census of Scotland.   My first glimpse of who I suspect is the same family is in the 1875 Rhode Island State Census with this family:

1875 Rhode Island State Census: East Greenwich, Kent County, RI, ED 2, Line 22, Household 154, Vol 5, Page 86

  • George Mc Geohegan: Head … Age 47 … Born in Ireland … Occ: Bleacher in Print Works
  • Ann Mc Geohegan:       Wife … Age 49 … Born in Ireland … Housekeeper … Cannot read or write
  • Catharine Mc Geohegan: Daughter … Age 24 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Work in Print Works
  • Peter Kehea:       Son in Law … Age 24 … Born in Ireland … Occ: Laborer in Print Works
  • James Mc Geohegan:   Son … Age 19 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Laborer in Print Works
  • George Mc Geohegan: Son … Age 15 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Laborer in Print Works
  • Thomas Mc Geohegan: Son … Age 12 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Laborer in Print Works

1875 RI Census Kent East Greenwich McGeohegan Family

When you compare this census record to the 1861 census in Scotland, here is how it matches up:

George Sr:   Same birth place on both records. 1861 has him born circa 1826 where 1875 has him born circa 1828

Ann: Same birth place on both records. Both 1861 and 1875 have her born circa 1826. EXACT MATCH

Catherine: Same birth place on both records. Both 1861 and 1875 have her born circa 1851. EXACT MATCH

James: Same birth place on both records. Both 1861 and 1875 have him born circa 1856. EXACT MATCH

George: Same birth place on both records. Both 1861 and 1875 have her born circa 1860. EXACT MATCH

Thomas I compare with his birth record and the 1875 census: Same birth place on both records. 1875 census says born circa 1863 (when he was born in 1862 so a strong match)


This same family shows up on the 1880 US Federal Census with yet another creative spelling of our last name:

1880 US Federal Census: East Greenwich, Kent Co., Rhode Island, Sheet C, Sheet # 185, House 288, Family 408

  • George Mcgorgan: Head … Age 55 … Born in Ireland … Occ: Works in Print Works … Parents born in Ireland
  • Ann Mcgorgan:       Wife … Age 55 … Born in Ireland … Occ: Keeps House … Parents born in Ireland
  • James Mcgorgan:     Son … Age 25 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Works in Print Works
  • George Mcgorgan:   Son … Age 20 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Works in Print Works
  • Thomas Mcgorgan:   Son … Age 18 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Works in Print Works
  • Catherine Keough: Daughter … Age 27 … Born in Scotland … Occ: Keeps House
  • James Keough:     Grandson … Age 4 … Born in Rhode Island
  • Peter Keough:           Grandson … Age 3 … Born in Rhode Island
  • Annie Keough: Granddaughter … Age 2 … Born in Rhode Island
  • Mary Keough: Granddaughter … Age 1 … Born in Rhode Island
1880 US Federal Census: PAGE 1

1880 US Federal Census: PAGE 1

1880 US Federal Census East Greenwich Kent RI Geoghan Family

1880 US Federal Census: PAGE 2

If you have doubts about Mcgorgan as being Geoghan, note that Daughter Catherine was married to Peter Kehea in the 1875 census, and here she is Catherine Keough. Catherine’s daughter Mary is indeed the daughter of the Peter who was on the 1875 but missing from the 1880 census. I found this record of her birth on familysearch.org:

Rhode Island Births and Christenings, 1600-1914: Indexing #: I04917-0 … System Origin   Rhode Island-EASy … GS Film # 1822628

Name: Mary Elizabeth Kehoe … Gender : Female

Birth Date/Place: 10 May 1879, East Greenwich, Rhode Island

Father’s Name: Peter Kehoe … Mother’s Name: Katharine

This is where I’d love to say I found the family on the 1890 US Federal Census, but almost the entire census burned in a fire in Washington DC. We know that prior to 1900, that my great-grandfather, Thomas, was living in Unionville, Hartford County, Conn, and that on the 1900 US Federal Census, the family was living in Westport, CT. Family rumor was that there was a flood in Unionville and it washed the family farm away, so the packed up what little they had left and moved to Westport.

So if my Great Grandfather is the same Thomas as the one in the above records from Scotland and Rhode Island, what happened to the rest of the family? I haven’t been able to track down what happened to his parents, George and Ann, but I was able to find his sister Catherine and niece Mary. Here is a 1900 US Federal Census from Farmington, Hartford County, Conn with what I suspect is Mary Kehoe, Thomas’ niece, the daughter of his sister Catherine.

1900 US Federal Census: Farmington Township, Hartford, Connecticut, District 136, Sheet # Letter 4A, Household ID 77, Line # 32, GS Film # 1240136, Digital Folder # 004118707

  • Charles Carrington: Head … Age 61 … Born in Connecticut
  • Elizabeth Carrington: Wife … Age 62 … Born in Connecticut
  • Mary Kehoe: Servant … Age 21 … Born in Rhode Island … Single … White … Born: May 1879 … Father Born Ireland, Mother born Scotland
1900 US Federal Census

1900 US Federal Census

Farmington where Mary was in 1900 is only a twenty-minute drive from Unionville where Thomas was living with his family just before 1900. I find this a little more than coincidence. I couldn’t find Catherine on the 1900 census, but I did find her in 1920 with Mary and a young adopted son:

1920 US Federal Census: New Haven Ward 2, New Haven, Connecticut Sheet Letter A, Sheet Number 13

  • Katherine Kehoe: Head … Widowed Female, Age 68 … Born in Scotland … Father’s Birthplace: Scotland … Mother’s Birthplace: Ireland … Can read and write … Owns home.
  • Mary Farmer: Daughter … Age 40 … Born in Rhode Island
  • Walter Leide: Adopted Son … Age 7 … Born in Connecticut

1920 US Fedeal Census NewHaven

The only other record I could find on Thomas’ family was of his brother George. I found a death record for him in Richmond, NYC, New York, listing him as George McGeoghan. He died 24 June 1905.

When you trace this family from Scotland to America, I feel pretty certain they are the same family. I’m still searching for some immigration paperwork to tie them together a little more definitively. One thing that I think is very interesting is that on the Rhode Island Census’ it lists the occupations of the men in the family as “Works in Print Works,” and our great-grandfather Thomas was listed on the 1910 Census with an occupation of “Paper Maker, Paper Factory.” Another coincidence? We’ll have to see what future research shows.

I’ll post again when I have more developments.


Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.


25 Feb 2016: Breaking the DNA Barrier February 25, 2016

I thought I’d do a series of posts allowing you to follow along with my experiences in having my DNA tested.  I know lots of folks who have considered using modern technology to aid in their genealogy research, but the price seems a little high with an uncertain outcome of success. For a long time, this was me.  I mean I already know a startling amount about my family history.  What more could I learn from the DNA that is locked inside the cells of my body?

Well, we’re about to find out.

After doing some research, I decided to work with Family Tree DNA (www.familytreedna.com) I chose them because from the chatter I read online, they give you the best results for the money. And it wasn’t cheap. I decided to purchase two tests, the Family Finder and the mtDNA Ancestry Test.


Here’s what they consist of:

mtDNA Ancestry Test: Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is passed down almost unchanged from a mother to her children. That lets you trace your maternal ancestry using the world’s largest mtDNA database.

Family Finder: Will give you a very detailed geographic breakdown of where your ancestors came from. It works by comparing your DNA to the DNA of hundreds of ethnic groups around the world.

The Family Finder test is $99 and the mtDNA is $199, so all together it was about $312 including a shipping charge.  Considering the package it came in, I think that shipping charge was a bit high.

What came in the mail from Family Tree DNA

What came in the mail from Family Tree DNA

After I placed my order online, they mailed the test out to me very quickly.  I followed the instructions given and swabbed the inside of my cheeks.  Today I mailed back my samples, so now we wait to see what I get for my $312.

My samples and release form to be mailed back.

My samples and release form to be mailed back.

What am I hoping for?

I have two goals in mind that were the reasons I decided to outlay such a sum of cash. First, there’s been a persistent rumor on my mom’s side of the family, that my mother’s, mother’s, mothers’, mother’s, etc, side of the family was jewish. Since I’ve been unable to track that maternal line back to Europe, hopefully the mtDNA test will either prove or disprove the rumor that I’m a Jew.  Personally, I’m hoping I’m one of God’s chose people.  There’s not a whole lot of us at my Baptist church.  :-)  The most distant female line ancestor I know of is Regina Von Glahn. She was born in February 1835 in either Germany or Holland.  She came to America in 1850 and married Jacob Green, then died 17 February 1907 in Secaucus, New Jersey. Hopefully with this test, I’ll find out more about Regina’s origins.

The second reason, and the reason that I’ve decided to spend the money now instead of later is that I’m searching for a long-lost relative. I recently read an article that said that many people who have been adopted do DNA tests to find out about their biological family histories. In the case of Family Tree DNA, I had to sign a release form to send back with my samples.  This form gives  FT DNA permission to disclose my name and address to any close family matches that they may find in their database.  I’m hoping that maybe he has or he will send in his DNA for testing, if so, maybe I’ll be able to find this relative.  Since he was adopted and I’m having difficulty tracking him down after his adoption, who knows … maybe being one of God’s chosen people will help!

Anyway, this is post number one.  I’ll post again to let you know what results I get from my test.


Jennifer Geoghan, genealogist and author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.


23 Feb 2016: Will the surnames Wells and Geoghan die out? February 23, 2016

Can a name die?

You wouldn’t really think so, but it’s surprising how close both my parent’s surnames have come to extinction. Reasons why? Mostly not enough sons having sons.

Can a name die

Let’s start with the Geoghans.

John Geoghan (My Grandfather) had five children:

  • Daughter
  • Son 1
  • Son 2
  • Son 3
  • Daughter

Son 1 had one son with the last name Geoghan

Son 2 had one son that does not have the last name Geoghan

Son 3 had two sons, one with and one without the last name Geoghan

So from John Geoghan, of his 12 grandchildren, 8 boys and 4 girls, only TWO BOYS have the last name Geoghan to carry it on to the next generation. Yep, you read that right, only two! Why only two of the four you ask? Those are two really long stories of family drama you wouldn’t believe!

Now let’s go back another generation to my Great Grandfather, Thomas Geoghan.

Thomas had six sons and one daughter. Of all of those children, the only one to produce a son was my grandfather John. So now my brother and cousin are left to carry yet another generation of Geoghans!

My brother has two boys and my cousin has one. So it’s up to those three boys to carry on the name Geoghan if we want to see it survive for our family line.

No pressure there!

Producing an heir ... it ain't just for royals anymore.

Producing an heir … it ain’t just for royals anymore.

So how about the other half of my family, the Wells side. I’m sorry to say they’re not fairing much better.

My grandfather, Williams Rogers Wells, had nine children, six boys and three girls. Here’s how he fared for name carrying male grandchildren:

  • Son 1: 3 sons
  • Son 2: No Children
  • Son 3: No Children
  • Son 4: 3 daughters
  • Son 5: 2 daughters
  • Son 6: 1 daughter

No pressure on “Son 1”, my mom’s uncle Everett Stillman Wells!

So how did Everett’s boys do?

  • Son 1: 1 son and 1 daughter (this son has 2 daughters) DEAD END
  • Son 2: 1 son and 3 daughters (This son has 2 sons and one daughter!!)
  • Son 3: 2 daughters

So it’s down to the two sons of Everett (son of James Wells) to carry on the Wells name!


If you go back another generation in the Wells family, to Williams Rogers Wells’ father, Jonathan Russell Wells, Williams was the only son who produced any children.

If you go back yet another generation to Jonathan Russell Wells’ father Russell Wells, it’s not much better. Russell had three sons, Silas Crandall Wells, Thomas Randall Wells and Jonathan Russell Wells.

Silas had two sons, Wallace Ray Wells and Ray G Wells. Ray died when he was ten. Wallace Ray Wells had a son named Edward Gray Wells, but so far as I know, Edward only had one daughter. So Silas is a DEAD END.


Thomas Randall Wells had three sons. Sounds promising, but sadly they all died under ten years of age. So again, DEAD END.

You have to go back to my 4th great grandfather, Randall Wells (my personal favorite ancestor! Read my books to find out why!) to find a wealth of sons with sons. Randall had five sons. His son Russell (my ancestor) as we know only has two male descendants that carry the Wells name.

Randall Wells Jr doesn’t seem to have any living descendants bearing the Wells name. It is possible that the other three sons may have produced enough male heirs to carry on the name. More research on those branches of the family is necessary though.

Anyone looking for a project to take on????:-)


Jennifer Geoghan, author of The Purity of Blood novel series and If Love is a Lie: A Partly True Love Story.

I’d love to hear from you! So click on “Leave A Comment” below and let me know what’s on your mind.


6 Dec 2015: Colonial Park … A Southern Cemetery with Family Connections December 6, 2015

Last weekend I went up to Savannah, Georgia for my cousin’s wedding.  Of course Savannah is known for many things, among them for its great cemeteries.  Partially publicized by books such as Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, I visited two of Savannah’s historic cemeteries.   One of the things I love about visiting cemeteries in different parts of the country is to see how many different approaches one can take to bury someone.  In this, Savannah did not disappoint.

One of the cemeteries I visited was the old Colonial Cemetery, called Colonial Park, which is located just on the edge of the historic section of town where the famous squares are located.



P1050317One of the things I loved about this cemetery is that it’s a park.  People just strolled in off the street and walked around.  There was none of the stiff formality of a place of the dead, but a warm coziness that the people of Savannah seem to have with those that have lived in their city before them.  I have to say, I really liked that a lot.

Now let’s get on to our family connection to Colonial Park.  I was wandering around taking pictures when I came across this:



20151129_151511Yes, I know, look how they set the headstones in the brick like that.  Talk about cool.  But it was the marker beside it that caught my eye.  “William Scarbrough, Promoter of the First Transatlantic Steamship.”  I’m not history genius but I remember our family history pretty well and sure as can be, when I got back to my hotel and looked it up, my fourth cousin four times removed, Stevens Rogers, was on the very ship they’re talking about on this plaque, the Savannah.  How on earth did I remember that?  Because he has one of my favorite headstones and it happens to have a carving of that very same ship, the Savannah, on it.  Here’s a photo of it in Cedar Grove Cemetery in New London, CT:

Rogers - Stevens Rogers Captain 1Did William Scarbrough of Savannah, GA know my cousin Stevens Rogers? Odds are pretty good they did.  So that’s our family connection to Colonial Park.

Now I’ll share some pictures I took of the interesting ways they are preserving old stones here:


Wooden Frame


Metal Braces


Cement Inlay

There must be a lot of stones that have been dislodged from their grave sites, because the brick back wall of the cemetery is something of an art project, a collage of homeless stones.  It’s beautiful and sad at the same time.  Here’s some photos so you can see what I’m talking about:


For Blog 1

For Blog 2

For Blog 3

I’ll also share some pictures of some odd and beautiful stones I found.  The first one has to be about the largest stone I’ve come across.  I put my cell phone on top of it to give you an idea of the scale of it.


This next one has lovely imagery carved in it.  I love the detail on the woman’s dress:


This carver was apparently getting paid by the word!!!!


This carver apparently didn’t believe in under doing it!  It’s got so many design elements in it, it should be a little garish, but I like it.


I have the feeling that in life no one ever accused Archibald Bulloch of being understated.  Check out his grave:


Here’s some other neat carvings I found:

For Blog 5

For Blog 6

With this one, I had to wonder which came first, the headstone or the brick monument.  It almost looked like the cut up the white headstone to the oval shape you see now to set it in the brick.

For Blog 4

Well, I hope you enjoyed your tour through Colonial Park and are inspired to stop in a visit for yourself should you ever find yourself in the lovely city of Savannah.



13 October 2015: Criminals in the Family Tree !?!?! October 13, 2015

So what do you do when you suddenly find criminal activity in a family tree?


It’s a question I never really had to deal much with in my own tree.  Yes, there was an odd incident with a many distant cousin in the 1600’s that is rather embarrassing to the family, but we don’t get arrested in our family.  I’m guessing we’re too smart to get caught is all:-)

My recently discovered criminals are in my cousin’s family tree, the family line of her father (her mother was my aunt).  I’m doing a genealogy project for her as part of my wedding present for her as she knows nothing about her father’s side of the family.  I have to say, I was a little shocked to find so much newspaper accounts of her Dad’s family, namely his grandfather and Great Uncle’s arrests.

No, This isn't them, I just like this picture :-)

No, This isn’t them, I just like this picture:-)

Here are a few examples of the offenders I found.  My cousin’s family is the Staker family.  By the way, this article is pretty hilarious!:

The Newtown Register, Thursday March 2, 1893, page 5

Capture of Two Burglars at Maspeth

Night-Watchman Smith has a Lively Tune in Effecting it –Revolver and “Billy” Both in Requisition – Subsequent Arrest of a Supposed Confederate. – Story of the Capture as Told by Mr. Smith.

Last Saturday morning, about three o’clock, the reports of several pistol shots waked out of their sleep a number of the residents of Maspeth village, and it was not long before it became known that a burglar had been caught in the act of robbing the grocery story of J. Seedorff, in the building on Grand Street formerly occupied by the Kine Bros. as a saloon.

During the past few weeks a number of small burglaries have been committed in that village, and about a month ago several of the storekeepers and others joined in securing the services of a night watchman, Edward Smith, formerly a special policeman in Brooklyn, being employed to fill the position. The story of the robbery and capture of one of the thieves can best be told in the words of Smith himself, who says “Almost 3 o’clock Saturday morning, while on my beat, I came to Seedorff’s store, and as was my custom,looked in the first window to see if everything was all right.  I then went to the other window, and as I passed the door leading down to the cellar, I noticed that the padlock was pulled out and the door unfastened.  I opened one of the double doors and went down the steps, lighting a match as I went along.  Just as I reached the foot of the stairs the match went out, and before I had time to light another I noticed a dim light from a lantern in the cellar and walked towards it.  Just then I heard a noise, and looking back I saw a man moving towards the steps.  I rushed back and caught him, saying as I did so, that I would go a part of the way with him.  He told me not to interfere or try to stop him, and at the same time he grabbed my nightstick.  By that time we were partly up the stairs, and in such a position that he had the best of me. I therefore let go of the stick and tried to draw my revolver. Just then another man came from the cellar and ran up the steps, whereupon the man whom I had hold of dropped my stick, which he had kept hold of,and with some blunt instrument struck me a terrible blow on the forehead.  For a few minutes I was stunned, but on recovering my senses I ran after the man, at the same time firing my revolver.  They dashed down Grand street and turned up Remsen Place.  Finding that my shots had not taken any effect I made up my mind to catch the one I had hold of in the cellar, and after running about three block, I succeeded in doing so.  As I grabbed him we had a pretty lively tussle together; but I had drawn my ‘billy’, and I soon made him understand that he was my prisoner and must go along with me quietly.  Meanwhile I had recognized him as Watson Doyle.  On our way back, the first person we met was John D. Staker, who came up to us and asked what was the matter, to which I answered ‘nothing much.’  Staker said‘Is that you, Doyle?’  Doyle said ‘Yes’and that he was almost beaten to death. Staker then said Doyle was a friend of his, and asked me to let him go, inviting me over to his saloon, which was directly opposite, to have a drink.  Just then Doyle grabbed my stick and made an effort to get away.  I told Staker if Doyle was a friend to advise him to go with me quietly as he had got to go anyway, either dead or alive. Doyle finally went along quietly, and I took him to Newtown.”

Watson Doyle is a well known resident of Maspeth.  A few years ago he married the widow of Michael Quinn, and for some time continued to run a small saloon in that village, of which Quinn was proprietor at the time of his death.

On being arraigned before Justice Howard Saturday forenoon, Doyle was committed for examination on Monday and placed in charge of Constable Hiland, who took him to the Flushing cells for safe keeping.  On their way to Flushing Doyle told Hiland enough to implicate Edward Staker as the other man who was in the cellar.  Hiland accordingly obtained a warrant from Justice Scheper, and in the evening of the same day arrested Staker at his brother’s saloon in Maspeth village bringing him before Justice Schepe, who committed him to the cells for examination on Tuesday.

Justice Scheper issued a search warrant, which  was served by Constable Hiland.  No goods were found in Doyle’s house, but in a vacant house near Staker’s saloon several bags of onions that were identified by Seedorff as his property were found. It is supposed that Doyle and his companion had removed the onions from Mr. Seedorf’s store, which is nearly opposite Staker’s saloon, and had gone back for another haul when Smith discovered them.

On Monday Doyle was brought before Justice Howard for examination, but at the request of his counsel, Geo. C.F. Fisher, the examination was adjourned until next Monday morning, at 9:30 o’clock.  The examination of Staker before Justice Scheper was adjourned until this afternoon at 3 o’clock.

It is understood that Doyle will turn State’s evidence and his testimony is expected to lend to the unraveling of other crimes that have recently been committed in this neighborhood.

The examination of Edward Staker, which was to have been held this afternoon, was again adjourned owing to the absence of his counsel,until Monday afternoon at 2 o’clock.

The onions which were found by Constable Hiland in the vacant house adjoining the premises of John D. Staker were this afternoon identified by Mr. Seedorf as his.


The Newtown Register, Thursday March 23, 1893

Convicted of Burglary

In the Court of Sessions at Jamaica on Monday, Walter Doyle and Edward Staker, indicted for burglary at Seedorf’s grocery store in Maspeth early on the morning of Feb, 25, were placed on trial before Judge G.J.Garretson.  Staker set up an alibi in defence, claiming that he was in bed when the burglary was committed.  Both the prisoners were found guilty of burglary in the third degree.  Yesterday the Judge sentenced Doyle to three years in Sing Sing prison, and sent Staker to the Elmira Reformatory.


The Newtown Register, Thursday September 28, 1893, Page 5

The residents of Maspeth and vicinity are to be congratulated on having so efficient and faithful a watchman as Officer Edw.Smith.  Since last March Mr. Smith has made nearly a dozen arrests, principally for robbery, and in all kinds of weather he can be found on his beat.  The arrest and breaking up of the Staker gang is among Mr. Smith’s achievements,and the people of Maspeth can feel assured that their homes and goods are well protected while such a man is on guard.



I found these articles on a site I’d never seen before and one I highly recommend if you’re looking for old newspaper articles.  It’s a bit clunkly but had great archives of old papers from the state of New York.  It’s http://www.fultonhistory.com Don’t mind the creepy clown!


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