How My Brick Wall Came Tumbling Down

The past few weeks I have been back working on my brick wall ancestor, John O’Connell. Recently, I have been emailing with reader Dawn Glass who had sent me some baptismal information for John O’Connell and his wife Bridget Curran. Dawn was not 100% were the information came from because the research was completed by her father years before. Since I do not have a copy of the actual record or index, I did not want to put that information into my tree. No actual source, no actual evidence!

On Sunday 14 Oct 2010, after sitting on the information for a few weeks and not really knowing how to proceed with it. I decided to start a new tree on with brief information for John and wife Bridget. I only put in the baptismal information from Dawn and the dates of death that I had for both of them. After creating this tree, Currane Family Tree, I went to the profile of John O’Connell and clicked on search historical records. I was surprised that one of the first records that popped out at me was a death record from Vermont.

As far as I knew, the family was never really in VT, I know that the borders changed here and there, but I never had any clue to search there. Well, I decided to click into this record anyway because the name and date of death matched. I am so glad I clicked because this is what I found:, Vermont Death Records, 1909-2008 [database-online], Provo, UT, USA, Operations, Inc., 2010
Here is the problem with this record, it list’s John’s mother as Helen Seymour. According to the baptismal information from Dawn, her name was Helen Teahan. Plus, no where on this document does it tell us who provided the information for the record. At this point, I cannot 100% say if this is my John O’Connell or not. I then decided to seek out the obituary for this John O’Connell.

Searching for the obituary was not easy for me either. I could not find it on or on either. I decided to post a few queries to see what that would bring. First I posted one on under Rutland County, VT, hoping this would bring me a quick response. I then posted another one on GenealogyWise in the group Look-Up Angels (I have had success here before).

Within 24 hours, I received a reply on Ancestry. The reply stated that they had went to the library to look it up and could not get to the index. I sent a quick reply thanking the person for such a quick turn-a-round. A reply was also posted on GenealogyWise to search through google news archives. I did that and again found nothing!

Was I not supposed to know if this was my John. I have been searching for information on this family for 10 years without being able to get beyond him. I just hopped and prayed this was it, the one I had been searching for.

To my surprise, within two days there was another response on Ancestry, here is what they said:

Fair Haven Era
October 1931

Funeral services for Mr. John O’Connell who died last Friday evening at his home on Pine St., after a five week illness were held at St. Mary’s church Monday 8 o’clock. Rev. PJ Long and JJ Dwyer officiated at the mass of requie. Mr. O’Connell was born in Canada.and has resided in town for the past six years on Pine St. Besides his wife is is survived by three daughters, Mrs. Coulman of Schenectady NY, Mrs. Daha and Mrs William Pratt of Hudson Falls NY, three sons, Dennis of Canada, Dan and John O’Connell of Hudson Falls NY, one half sister, Mrs. J. Gilrain of Fair Haven.”

The internment was in St. Marys Cemetery on Washington St. and the pall bearers were Fred Moore, James Hickey, George Eaton, James Laramie, John Dutelle and Frank McDermott.

I was so exited to read this. This obituary was for certain my John O’Connell. I had finally found a death record and obituary for him. The obituary tells us he is survived by a half-sister. How exciting, another branch to add to the family. The sons I already had information on, as for the daughters, two of the families I knew of. As for Mrs. Coulman, I can only assume that this is (Mary O’Connell) Cheney, Herring. Mr. Coulman most be husband number two for Mary, as she was buried under Mary O’Connell – Herring. I only wish they listed the name of his wife. Now this obit states he was born in Canada and the death record shows he was born in Ireland, ughh again nothing can be consistent with this family. At this point,  I am going to assume that Ireland is correct because the baptismal information is from County Kerry, Ireland, the month he was born.

After all this information, I was also able to find John and Marie in the 1930 census in Fair Haven, Rutland, Vermont. I now have him in 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930, not to mention a few of the state census’ as well.

I want to say a special thanks to Dawn Glass for leading me in the right direction and then to my new facebook friend Peter who happened to be the kind man who did the VT research for me and then pushed me in the direction of a family tree for Alice O’Connell (who turned out to be John’s half-sister). Because of these wonderful people, I have been able to expand my tree and have been in contact with another new cousin and have also seen a picture of Dennis O’Connell (John’s dad). I truly appreciate all the help I have received crumbling the brick wall of John O’Connell!



Similar Posts


  1. Cheryl, I probably happy danced on the couch for a good hour. I think I was in shock, my 14 yr old daughter came in to talk to me about something, I put m hand up and told her she had to wait because I was having my own moment at that time. She laughed and walked away. I know we talked later, I have no clue what about.

    Bill, I was just thinking about my next post, what I learned from all of this!

    Thanks again everyone and happy hunting or haunting this weekend!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.