It's that time of the year...

How caught up we all get this time of, friends, parties, Christmas shopping. But the joy of the season sometimes gets left behind. I was thrilled last night to learn that one of my fellow adoptees found his birth family via DNA and to think the timing was so perfect for this time of year. His half-sister wrote "I got a baby brother (albeit a 45-year-old one) for Christmas this year!" It was truly God's gift to this family. (I get teary eyed every time I think about it.)

My research continues with a little progress each week. I now have surnames to work with! And with a few surprises in the mix. It's an amazing feeling, that only an adoptee can understand, to know that there are real flesh and blood people out there who you are related to. It may be a long road before I have all the answers, if ever, but I am confidently moving in the right direction.

Best wishes for a glorious holiday season and may 2012 all bring us the best of everything!

We're off to the Caribbean for a week with the family! Bon voyage.

Another Foley

I'm afraid Alice is going to have to take back seat for a while until I figure out my newest and latest DNA match who also happens to be a Foley!

After months of hoping, wishing and praying of getting a "Foley" match to my DNA, my prayers have been answered.

Last week a barrister from Dublin, Ireland wrote me whose surname is Foley. He had requested to share genomes (a genome is the entirety of an organism's hereditary information) at 23andMe (a genetic testing company...23andMe). We didn't show a match.

He suggested I join the Leinster project at Ancestor-Projects. I have small matches with 14 out of 16 people on that project. Then I went to Gedmatch (GEDmatch provides tools for making comparisons between genealogies and DNA test results) . He also was tested at FTDNA (FamilyTree DNA, also a genetic testing company...Family Tree DNA) and our FTDNA results do show a match. Somewhat small but with an MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor) of 6.7....meaning we may share maybe a common  4th or 5th great grandparent.

I'm currently analyzing common matches with him and some others that we both match....and there are quite a few.

This opens up some other options in that it gives me additional surnames....Cahill, Farrell, Callen, Carr and Neill. It also shows me where my Foley ancestors may have been originally from....County Kildare, Ireland.
Here are the match results:

Comparing FTDNA kit F20XXXX and F15XXXX results (MRCA 6.7 generations):
Chr  Start  End cMs SNPs
5 164.8 166.8 3.4 569
7 88.7 92.5 3.2 756
14 22.3 23.9 5.0 583
16 12.1 13.5 4.2 563
17 53.3 56.8 3.1 570

Total cMs 18.9 Longest 5.0
Total SNPs 3041

Comparing his other FTDNA kit 15XXXX with my FTDNA F20XXXX (MRCA 7.0):

Chr  Start  End cMs SNPs
9 21.9 25.7 5.0 368
10 55.4 60.6 3.8 327
11 42.4 58.1 5.3 418
11 85.1 91.3 3.7 391
14 22.3 25.6 7.6 351

Total cMs 20.4 Longest 7.6
Total SNPs 1855

Acronyms used and their definitions:
Chr = Chromosome - a structure in the nucleus containing a linear thread of DNA which transmits genetic information.

cMs = centimorgans - a unit of chromosome length where a spacing of one centimorgan indicates a one per cent chance that two genes will be separated by crossing over. Crossing over is a genetic operator that varies a chromosome's programming between generations.

SNPs = Single Nucleotide Polymorphism; a variation in the genetic code at a specific point on the DNA.

Start and End = where exactly on the Chromosome the match begins and ends.

I suppose that this is all Greek to most people....and it was to me at first.

Enough to say that there are lots of folks who are skeptical of these shorter matches. They say it could just be a false positive. However, many have proved it on paper enough times to think they are real.

Now, my question to all the experts out there. Based on the DNA I really related to him?

For the time being, until somebody tells me I'm wasting my time, I will continue to look for our common matches and hopefully discover someone with a well documented family tree and see if I can slip myself into it!

Posted November 22, 2011

Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

Alice...where are you?

Since Alice Foley is said to be "Miss Alice Foley" in the marriage citation, I have to assume that she was not married before. She would have been 39 years old at the time of her marriage.

When looking at census information we must take it all with a grain of salt. Enumerators notoriously made errors. We also need to look at alternative name spellings, the neighbors surrounding a family, similar surnames of families in the area, occupations and anything that might point us in the right direction.

I once found a marriage in Pennsylvania to an elusive Purdy family by noticing a neighbor who had a daughter that fit the name and age of the person I was seeking. Eventually I was able to find a marriage record.

So where was Alice in 1880 prior to her marriage? There is one Alice Foley of the right age, living in a San Francisco asylum and she is noted as "idiotic". Very doubtful. Another Alice, slightly older living with her sister Ann Brisbon in Shieldsville, MN....again doubtful. An Elyce Foley living in New York City, working at Bellevue Hospital...but she is noted as a widow. Not having much luck in 1880, I turned to 1900 to see if I could find Charles McCarthy with a wife Alice and two daughters. Again....little luck. I also tried a Charles McCarthy with a wife Mary....maybe her name was Mary Alice? No one seems to fit.
So I then turned my attention to another Charles McCarthy living in Southold. He was born circa 1860 in New York, parents born Ireland. I can't help but think that he is somehow related to Alice's husband Charles McCarthy. Is this her stepson? He is of an age where he could be a son of Alice's husband by a previous marriage.

For those of you who may be new to genealogical research, this certainly shows how the pieces can get added to the puzzle, but we must now add additional questions to our research. As you can see it's a never ending quest.

So let's summarize what we know so far:

Alice Foley McCarthy was born circa 1844
She married Charles McCarthy on 20 Sep 1883 in Southold, NY
She was from Brooklyn, NY at the time of her marriage.
She gave birth to two daughters, Mary c. 1885 and Annie c. 1887
She was widowed before 1910 and living on Shelter Island, NY
She died on 2 Jul 1920 probably at her daughter Mary's 133 Central Ave., Greenport, NY
She is buried in St. Agnes Cemetery, Greenport, NY
Daughter Mary married Gustave Lellman and they had 6 children by 1918. Gustave died in 1917.
Daughter Annie married Alfred Huggler, unknown children.

While looking for Alice and her daughters, I came across some newspaper articles relating to Mary's husband. He appears to have died accidentally in January 1917.

 Unfortunately even though Gustave survived the accident itself, he died shortly thereafter on January 22, 1917. And we now also know that probably unbeknownst to Mary she was pregnant at the time of his death, as Margaret was born 8-9 months later.

Did anybody pick up on a descrepancy from these newspaper articles? We'll dicuss that when I return from Atlanta in a few days. And we'll dig out the New York State censuses for 1892 and 1905 and continue our quest for Alice and her husband.

Alice...where are you?

And I will also tell you about my latest DNA match....who happens to be a Foley!

Posted November 16, 2011

St. Agnes Church and Cemetery, Greenport, NY

Having grown up on Long Island myself, I have been to Greenport, which is located near the very eastern end of the northern fork of Long Island. A pretty little town with a long history of shipping, trade and taking advantage of the bounty of the sea. Founded in 1640 by Barnabas Horton whose granddaughter Phoebe Horton married Daniel Purdy around 1705.

But I'm getting off the track here and I only mention that because my husband is related to the Purdy clan. See:

Remember that little note for Mary Lellman "buried in St. Agnes cemetery" that someone added to her name in the 1920 census? The results of that tiny hint were enormous. The person that posted that reference is the same one who posted the pictures of their graves on the  Findagrave website . This added much more information on Alice Foley McCarthy and her family, but also added many more pieces to the puzzle. Alice is buried there along with her daughters, their husbands and her grandchildren:

Also buried here are Alice's daughter's husbands....Gustave Lellman (1884-1917); Alfred Huggler (1880-1962)

And the names, birth and death years of 4 of her grandchildren:

Charles L Lellman (1907 - 1977)
Alice Gertrude Lellmann Barnes (1909 - 1932)
Gustave Edward Lellmann (1912 - 1989)
Virginia Lellmann Wells (1916 - 2006)

But where are the other two children, Caroline and Margaret?

We find Gustave and Mary Lellman in the 1910 census with two children, Charles and Alice. This also tells us that Gustave and Mary were married sometime around 1907.

Source: 1910; Census Place: Manhattan Ward 19, New York, New York; Roll: T624_1041; Page: 4A; Enumeration District: 1096; Image: 709; FHL Number: 1375054. Living at 26(?) Second Ave., New York, NY

This confirms Mary's husband's name as Gustive/Gustave. Now, let's  look at the 1930 censuses. And we now see that Mary McCarthy Lellman married again to a "E. Frank Griffing".

Source: 1930; Census Place: Greenport, Suffolk, New York; Roll: 1652; Page: 3A; Enumeration District: 126; Image: 298.0. Living at 547 Third St., Greenport, NY

In trying to determine the whereabouts of the missing children of Mary who are not buried in St. Agnes' , the 1930 census tells us that Margaret is still alive but we find nothing yet on Caroline who was age 8 in the 1920 census. It is possible that she was already married. But I find no "Carolines" of the right age in the area.

There are also some McCarthys and Foleys buried here that might lead us to Alice's family and her husband.

I then remembered an information database from Long Island - part of which is on and another part is found at the Suffolk County Historic Newspapers site. My hunch was right and I found Alice's marriage record....or at least the newspaper article pertaining to it. In fact I found two resources!

The fact that she was married by a priest whose name was the Rev. R. S. Foley may also help us in determining her parentage, as it may  be that she was related to him.  I am somewhat familiar with this Father Foley....he is Richard S. Foley (1850-1907) and he built St. Agnes Church, Greenport in 1883. I do know that he was born in Ireland and that his mother's name was Catherine. Catherine was born circa 1810-1815. In 1900 Richard is living in Brooklyn, NY (where Alice is said to be from in the marriage notice); in 1880 he is in Southold with his mother, a niece, Katie b. c. 1861, and a nephew, James, b. c. 1863. So we know he had at least one brother. Tomorrow we'll look further into Richard Foley's family and see if we can find Alice in 1900 and possibly 1880, as well as look further into finding daughter Caroline. And what happened to Gustave Lellman...he died so young?

To be continued.....

Posted November 14, 2011


Finding sources for documenting an individual is the backbone of genealogical research.  Sources are usually either considered "Primary" or "Secondary".

Primary records are usually those created shortly after an event by someone having personal knowledge of the event. A birth or death certificate would fall into this category. Aunt Jane's letter to your father may tell you about a birth date or death date but my own research tells me to be cautious in documenting this as a primary source. Primary records are obviously the preferred sources for establishing historical facts.

Secondary records are generally compiled from a primary source or written from memory long after the event....such as Aunt Jane's letter. Sometimes we may need to rely on these sources if no primary resource is available.

We then need to cite these sources to our individual in order to have a documented record. Your sources must be written so that anyone can retrieve the same data bringing credibility and traceability to your family history.

There are so many "closet" genealogists today who think that just by posting information about an individual gives it credibility.

Here's an example of poor documentation. It shows a marriage date of 19 Jan 1869 in Salem, Massachusetts (which may be correct) but doesn't tell us where they got the information from. The second image shows a Loretta Foley Metscher's death documentation via the posting of the obit, and where the obit was found.  It only takes a few extra seconds to add this information and I just wish more people would take the time to better document their information.

Now, the above Loretta Foley also happens to be one of the women I am looking at who possibly could be my birth mother. Why is she a candidate? Based on my non-identifying information she fulfills some of the clues:

1. She is of the right birth mother was 16 yrs. old at my birth.
2. My non-id info states that my birth mother was Methodist. I believe Loretta was of the Methodist faith as her son Richard was confirmed in a  Methodist church.
3. She was born in Queens County, NY and certainly within easy distance of where I was born in Brooklyn, Kings County, NY.

The only reason why she is not on my priority list, is that her mother was Irish. My non-identifying information shows my birth mother's ancestry as "American/Polish". My DNA profile confirms the Polish link, but this could be through my birth father who was 17 at the time of my birth and whose ancestry is said to be Polish. But I continue to leave no stone unturned.

Back to Alice Foley McCarthy.

Let’s look at her daughter Mary and see what additional information we can get about this family.

The 1920 census gave me a little surprise in that Alice was still alive in April, 1920 and daughter Mary was a young widow with 6 children. I guess probate in the 1920's moved along much faster than it does today!

Alice Foley McCarthy - 1920;Census Place: Southold, Suffolk, New York; Roll: T625_1268; Page: 2B; Enumeration District: 153; Image: 516. Living at 133 Central Ave., Greenport, NY

This gives us the approximate age of Mary, born circa 1885, and we can guess by the age of her youngest child that her husband must have died sometime between January 1917-April 1920. Mary's daughter Margaret is shown here as being born Oct 1917, so he had to be alive 9 months prior to her birth.

One other interesting thing on this census is that it shows Alice as not being able to read or write. My guess is that she was just getting too old and her eyesight was poor. Her age here is four years off of the 1910 census revising her possible birth years to 1844-1848.

Notice on the initial record page for this census the top under Mary's name are two corrections. This is where's platform can be most helpful in finding more clues. One of the names has a link, the other does not. The one that does not have a link just means that the person who initially put this update to Mary no longer is an subscriber. The one with the link is still a member and when we click on that link this is what we find out:

"Mary Lellmann rather than Mary Sillaman
The family name is Lellmann. This on their tombstones at St Agnes cem in Greenport LI NY.
Submitted by  jstrasse on 3/13/2011"

Now we've found out where Mary is buried, and also, there is someone who at least recognizes this family. 

Isn't technology wonderful?

Time to start traipsing through least virtually.

Posted November 13, 2011

The Process Begins

In order to begin this journey I use the BCG (Board for Certification of Genealogists) guidelines to map my search. It is the secret to good genealogical research.

So based on this, I first need to define my goals for Alice:

 1. Is she related to other Foleys found on Long Island?
 2. Who were her parents?
 3. Did she have any siblings?
 4. The ultimate goal is connecting her to other Foleys on Long Island.

Then,  based on the newspaper article....what do we already know about her?

She died before  July 23, 1920.
She had at least 2 daughters – Annie and Mary.
She had at least 1 grandson – Charles L. Lellman.
She lived and/or died in or near Greenport, Suffolk County, New York.
Daughter Annie married a man with the surname “Huggler” and Annie lived in Manhattan, NY. Daughter Mary married a man with the surname “Lellman” and lived in Greenport, NY.
She left an estate worth $11,200 in 1920.
She “probably” was a widow when she died. ("Probably" because there is no husband mentioned in the estate notice.)

Now, we're ready to start searching those "reliable sources".

The first place I looked was the 1910 census since I know she died before July 23, 1920 and we find her living on Shelter Island, Suffolk County, NY. She is living alone, age 62 and a widow.

The detail from the census is:

House #67; Enumeration #69; McCarty Alice    Head of household; Female; White; age 62; widow;  2 children born; 2 children living

Born Ireland; Parents born Ireland; Speaks English; No occupation; living on small income


                         Can read and write; No mortgage; Living in House (versus Farm)

We must now cite this source and the documentation for this census record would be: "Alice McCarthy - 1910 US Federal Census - Shelter Island, Suffolk, New York; Roll: T624_1083; Page: 3B; Enumeration District: 1382; Image: 422; FHL Number: 1375096. (Shelter Island is about 3 m. from Greenport)"

So now we can add the following to what we know about Alice:
She was born approximately 1848
Her husband died prior to 1910
She bore 2 children and they are both living in 1910
She was living in a mortgage free house living on a small income
She speaks English and can read and write

Each one of these facts might point us in a direction to find additional information, such as the fact that she was living in a mortgage free records can be a great source.

In my next post I'll discuss a little bit about documentation.

Posted November 12, 2011

Finding Alice Foley McCarthy

A few weeks ago I came across the following newspaper article. I have no idea who this woman is or anything about her. I am not related to least I don't think so. I thought, wouldn't it be fun to research her and her family and try and connect all the dots. So today I am posting the first chapter in "Finding Alice Foley McCarthy". As I discover new things about her I will post accordingly. So let's get started and let's see what we can find out.

What does this small, 10 line, article tell us about Alice?

From the Suffolk County News 23 Jul 1920

Posted November 11, 2011

Method to My Madness.....

If you're a member of, you may want to take a look at a public family tree I recently published containing over 1,000 individuals who are Foleys or extended family of Foleys in the New York City area.  As I find new families they will be added.

You can see my public file at: New York City Foley Families

And yes, I titled this post "Method to my Madness...." because I have ulterior motives.  For some time now I have been searching for the Foley family who is "mine".  I was not raised by my biological family. In fact, I don't even know who they are!

I'll go into that later and I will document my search, my theories, my DNA connections, all with the hope of finding someone who may know "who I am".

My second motive has to do with ongoing encouragement to teach a course in Genealogy at the OSHA Lifelong Learning Institute at Clemson University. I have started to put together a course curriculum of a genealogical journey, tapping into a family that I came across by finding one small newspaper article published in 1920 on Long Island. I knew nothing about her or her family prior to my research. I will post this journey of discovery as new evidence is found. It should be interesting to see what unravels.

New friends are always welcome.

Posted November 1, 2011