Friday, January 6, 2012

His Brother's Keeper

I had been trying to research beyond my maternal great-great grandfather, James Joseph Moran, for about six years. He was born in 1871, but I could not find him anywhere before 1900 (this was back when I was still relying solely on census records). The story was that he was from Worcester, MA. Whether that was the city or the county, I didn't have a clue. After a break of well over a year, I picked my research back up with the help of my friend and research master, Bee. We found his mortuary record, but JJ (as we nicknamed him) did not have an obituary. He was married (to Mary Catherine Manley) in 1893, and because of the 1906 earthquake, his marriage certificate was destroyed. We moved on to looking for him in the scanned images of the San Francisco Call, and because he was a patrolman, he was mentioned in many articles. We also found him in the city directory for many different years. For a long time he lived at 521 Laguna Street. I found an article from December 25, 1908 which printed a list of men and their addresses who had made the eligibility list for police officers, over 80 men going for 20 available positions. Something of note: A William T. Moran residing at 521 Laguna Street. Although Moran is a common Irish last name, I thought it was enough of a coincidence to consider William T. a lead.

Hot on the trail, I found many interesting tidbits about William T. According to his headstone (buried in the San Francisco National Cemetery) he was born on February 5, 1876 and died November 6, 1931. He fought in the Spanish-American War and was married to a woman named Ellen "Nellie" McAleer, a native of Ireland. I couldn't find a birth record for William in Colorado, but I tried and tried to find James and William in a household together in 1880 in Massachusetts. Nothing. Then just before Christmas I found a new collection on (thanks to the San Francisco Public Library). The collection is of coroner's records from 1928 to 1956. Of all the people I could have looked up, I decided to look for William, since I was focusing on him at the time I found the collection. Of all the people I have looked for since, none of them have been in this collection, but there was William T., and listed on the record was his brother, James J. Moran and his nephew, Fred Moran. Even better, his parents' names: Patrick J. and Kate Lucy Waters! Zip over to the 1880 census and we find them in West Brookfield, MA. JJ is called Jimmie, William (listed as born in Colorado!!) is Willie, and then there's Lizzie and Johnnie, both born in MA (which leads us to wonder why the second of four children was born in a completely different state). It was actually almost two months from the time I first spotted William T. until I found his confirmed connection to JJ. I

Since then, Bee has been communicating with someone whose husband is related somehow. I'm still waiting to hear that connection (the person is on vacation and has limited internet access).

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