Mary Ellen (Gaffney) Lavin of Cuilmore, Sligo, and Flatbush, Brooklyn, New York

Sometime in the 1940's, Mrs M G Lavin of 179 East 32nd, Brooklyn, NY, received a letter from Co. Roscommon, Ireland.1 The name of the post office and the exact date were unreadable. Can we identify Mrs Lavin? Did she come from Roscommon?

When the 1940 census of Brooklyn was taken, Malachy and Mary Lavin were living at 179 East 32nd Street. Malachy was 49 and his wife was 47. With them was Anne Curley, 32, who was called Malachy's sister. The supplemental information for Mary said that she was married at 24 and never had children. (Note: I never established that Anne Curley was related to either Malachy or Mary Lavin.)

Mary (Gaffney) Lavin

I am fairly certain that this couple was married June 23, 1918, in Manhattan. If correct, then Mary's maiden name was Gaffney and her parents were Thomas Gaffney and Anne Finn. Working backward we find a Mary Gaffney arriving at Ellis Island on May 1, 1910, aboard the SS Carmania. Her nearest relative in Ireland was her father Thomas, of Gurteen, Ballymote. She was headed to her aunt Mrs. McKeever's home at 2055 3rd Avenue, New York. There was a Bridget (Finn) McKeever living at that address, according to the 1910 census and the New York City birth records.

So Mary (Gaffney) Lavin was from Co. Sligo, not Roscommon. Her father Thomas was actually in Cuilmore Townland, Sligo, in 1901 and 1911.

The Lavins

Cuilmore, Sligo, was near the border with Co. Roscommon, and not far from Clegernagh Townland, Roscommon, where Mary's husband, Malachy Lavin was born in 1885, son of John Lavin and Catherine Lavin. Malachy arrived in the United States on April 29, 1912, aboard the SS Caronia, headed for his sister Mary Lavin's home in Garden City, Long Island. I didn't find Mary in America, but she is on the 1901 Census of Clegernagh with her mother.

If I have everything correct, Mary and Malachy Lavin lived for a time in Orange, New Jersey, but spent most of their married lives in Flatbush, Brooklyn. Malachy died in November 1968 and Mary in August 1969. They are both buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Brooklyn.

There is more about both of these families, including the sources, in the Other Families section of this website.


I am not 100% certain of all the conclusions in this article. If this were my family, I would like to see the death record for the Mary Lavin who died in Brooklyn in 1969. It might give her parents' names. If they are Gaffney and Finn, then I have identified her correctly. Or, if Mary applied for a Social Security number, the information might be on the application. She didn't have a SSN in 1940. has these records, but I don't currently have access to


^1. The envelope was once on the Jim Forte Postal History site but has been sold. I am not connected with the site.

Laura Clary Goodenow of Rochester, Indiana

On September 18, 1907, Mr Harvey F Clary, of Rochester, Indiana, received a postcard from his sister Laura in Lima, Ohio.1 It read:

Dear Brother,
We got here alright. Genova never cried a bit coming, and this afternoon she has been saying boppa all the time nearly. Will bring you something. And will send another card soon.

What was the occasion for the postcard?

The Clarys of Rochester, Indiana

Laura and Harvey were children of Elbert Elihu Clary and Nevada Belle Williams of Rochester, Indiana. Laura was born August 12, 1887, and Harvey on April 18, 1896. Both were in their parents' household in 1900 in Rochester where their father was working as a liveryman.

The Goodenows of Lima, Ohio

Robert Goodenow was born in Lima, Ohio, October 13, 1885, the son of Elvin Goodenow and Irene Underwood. He too was in his parents' home in 1900. Robert's father worked as an oil well shooter, but Robert became a railroad clerk, an occupation that evidently took him to Rochester, Indiana, where–in 1906–he was wed to Laura Clary.

"Over the hills and through the woods"

Laura and Robert's first child Genova was born on March 17, 1907. By September they must have felt that she was old enough to visit her grandmother Irene in Lima. Irene Goodenow's husband Elvin had died March 18, 1904, of liver trouble, but Irene was still at 367 Jackson. Upon arriving Laura, proud of her new daughter for saying "Papa" all afternoon, wrote back to Harvey to let him know they had all arrived safely.


Robert and Laura returned to Rochester, as hinted at in Laura's message to Harvey. Their daughter Edna was born in Indiana January 29, 1909, completing their family. By 1917 the family had moved to Los Angeles, and Robert had settled into work in the insurance business, which he pursued until at least 1940.

Robert Goodenow died in 1962 and Laura in 1972, both in Mendocino County, California. Genova (Goodenow) Crane died in 1991 in Butte County. They are all buried in Cuffys Cove Community Cemetery, Mendocino County, California.


Most of the sources used for this article can be found by following the links in Laura Clary's family tree at Laura J Clary. Her father in law's death date came from an OCR scan of the Lima [Ohio] News of March 18, 1904 at Alvin Goodenou. Elvin's wife Irene was located in 1906 in the Lima City Directory for that year at


^1.The image of the postcard to Mr Harvey F Clary can be found on the Jim Forte Postal History site, unless it has been sold.

Margaret (O'Donnell) Carpenter, Bruckness, Donegal, and Detroit, Michigan

Bruckless, Donegal

Bruckless, Donegal

In 1915, Mrs Charles Carpenter of 693 Meldrum Ave, Detroit, Michigan, received a postcard from her sister Cassie in Bruckless, County Donegal, Ireland. 1 Here is a transcription of the text:

Dear Sister
Glad to get your letter and to know all are well.
Thank God we are all well at home. My thoughts were all about poor Jane these past few days, 2 years passed so quickly. I hope she is happy in heaven. Con's wife was in a great hurry.
Fr. Brennan asked me a week ago did you write lately. He is expect- soon to hear from all the Yankees.
The Bradys have not written yet + I wrote to Pat himself to send something in memory of Jane, but he has not answered. We miss the dear old church so much now in Lent especially.
Best love from all,

Working from this information, let's see if we can find a family to match with this county of origin in Ireland.

The 1915 Detroit City Directory at has a listing for a Charles M Carpenter, watchman, living at 693 Meldrum Ave in Detroit.2

In 1920 Charles was still at that address. He was 45, born in Michigan and working as a tower man for the railroad. His wife Margaret, the recipient of the postcard, was 46 and born in Ireland. They had a son William J. who was 11.3

In 1930 the family is at 2917 Meldrum, and with them is a niece, Mary O'Donnell, age 17, who had arrived in the US in 1926.4 In 1940 Charles, his son William, and William's family are all still there, but Charles is a widower5. Looking for a death record for Margaret, we find that she died 27 Oct 1934 in Detroit, Michigan. Her father's name, John O'Donnell, is on that record.6

Finally, the 1901 Census of Bruckless, (Dunkinelly, Donegal), Ireland, lists this family in house 2:

John O'Donnell, 65, head, postmaster
Mary O'Donnell, 62, wife, postmaster's wife
Cassie O'Donnell, 30, daughter, dressmaker
Lizzie O'Donnell, 27, daughter, dressmaker
Ellen O'Donnell, 25, daughter, dressmaker
Henry James O'Donnell, 23, son, station master

All were Catholic and could read and write. All could speak English, and all but Ellen could also speak Irish.7


So I think it is safe to say that Margaret (O'Donnell) Carpenter of Detroit, Michigan, was from Bruckless Townland, Dunkinelly, County Donegal, Ireland. I hope this helps her descendants find their Irish roots.


1. The image of the postcard once appeared at the Jim Forte Postal History website. The card has since been sold, and the image is no longer there. I am not connected with Mr. Forte's website or company in any way.

2. City Directories at

3. 1920 Census of the 15th ward of Detroit, Michigan; series T625, Roll 814, Page 158, at

4. "United States Census, 1930," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Sep 2013), Charles M Carpenter, 1930.

5. "United States Census, 1940," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Sep 2013), Charles Carpenter, 1940.

6. "Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1952," index, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 Sep 2013), Margaret Carpenter, 1934.

7. National Archives of Ireland,

Mary E Keane, Nahant, Massachusetts

About March 1943, Miss Mary Keane of 93 Fox Hill Road, Nahant, Massachusetts, received a letter from Gaillimh (Galway) Ireland.1 Can this postmark tell us anything about her family's Irish origins?

Mary E Keane was born February 24, 1910, in Nahant, Massachusetts, the first child of Michael F Keane and Mary T Nolan. Michael and Mary had been married in Nahant on April 14, 1909. Both had been born in Ireland.

In 1940 the family was living at the address on the letter, 93 Fox Hill Road, Nahant. With Mary and her parents were the two other children in the family: Katherine Theresa, born August 5, 1911, and James John, born September 3, 1917. Her father was working as the manager of a state boat house. His later information said that this was for the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC).

Mary Keane remained single and lived most of her life in Nahant, dying on January 15, 1997, in Lynn. She is buried in Greenlawn Cemetery, Nahant, with her parents and her brother James.

Michael F Keane of Island Eddy and Nahant

When Mary's father was married, he stated that his parents were James Keane and Maria Connolly. I spent a long time looking for the ship manifest for his arrival, hoping that it would tell me at least his county of origin in Ireland. I was unsuccessful and was ready to give up on finding his birth family, until I remembered the trick of looking for siblings. So I went to and looked for anyone with those two parents.

There were a number of matches, but the one that stood out was Honora "Nora" Keane, who was born in Island Eddy, Galway, and married in Lynn, Massachusetts. Although the names Keane and Connolly are common enough, I thought that it had to be more than coincidence that both a Michael and a Honora Keane would settle in the Lynn/Nahant area. They were very likely brother and sister. And so it turned out to be. There was a record for a Michael Keane, born October 12, 1877, in Island Eddy as well.

Interestingly, Michael wasn't actually born on that date. The Irish Catholic parish records are now online and Michael's baptism was on September 11, 1877. That same record says he was born September 6. Since you can't get baptized until you are born 🙂 I believe the date of birth on this record is the correct one. What probably happened is either that his parents registered his birth on the October date, or they gave that date as his birthdate so they wouldn't have to pay the fine for a late registration.

Michael Keane, baptism record, page 1

Michael Keane, baptism record, page 2

Michael and Honora, or Nora, as she was called, are on the 1901 Census of house 4 in Eddy Island, Clarenbridge, Galway, with their parents James, age 60, and Maria, 50, along with their brothers and sisters: Thomas, Catherine, John, Martin, Winnie and James. Michael might have been visiting from America, because he was naturalized in 1904 and I am pretty sure the residency requirement was 5 years.

Mary T Nolan

What about Mary T Nolan's Irish origins? When Mary was married, she said that her parents were Thomas Nolan and Mary Tilly. On Griffith's Valuation of Ireland, taken in the 1850's and 1860's, those two surnames occur together only in Belfast, Dublin, and Co. Laois.

When Mary arrived in America she said she was headed for the home of her cousin, Annie Long, in Lynn. There is a birth record for an Annie Long in Abbeyleix, Co. Laois, that could be her, but I suspect it is a common name. I was unable to find a birth record for Mary Nolan, or any of her siblings.

If this were my family, I would probably plunk down a few dollars at and look through the index for children of Thomas Nolan and Mary Tilly. Then go to the Parish Records at the National Library of Ireland,, and look for the baptisms. However, the records might not be complete or the family just might not have been recorded. Still I would start looking in Laois.


I looked through the baptisms in Co. Laois for children of Thomas Nolan and Mary Tilly, and didn't find any. Your mileage may vary, as they say. Or try, since that is supposed to be the best site for the Irish parish records.


So although the postmark of "Galway" didn't give us much to go on this time, at least we were able to determine the Irish county of origin for the recipient. To clinch the matter, I found a post at facebook that mentioned a "Jim Keane of Nahant MA. USA ... [whose] father was from Island Eddy." That would be Mary E Keane's brother James J Keane.

There are a few other Galway families on the site. Click on the Co. Galway category at the top of this post. Sources and more information on the Keanes are in the New England Families tree on my other website.


^1.The image of the letter to Mary Keane can be found on the Jim Forte Postal History website, unless it has been sold. I am not connected with the site.

Miss Carrie I Martin of Rochester, New York

Postcard, Tamney, Ireland, to Rochester, NY

Postcard, Tamney, Ireland,
to Rochester, NY

In November 1906, Miss Carrie I Martin of Rochester, New York, received a postcard from Miss. J.C.V. Moore, of Tamney, Letterkenny, County Donegal, Ireland.[1] Can this postal cover tell us anything about Carrie Martin's ancestry? What can we learn from the online records?

In 1900 there was a Carrie I Martin at 61 Magne St, Rochester. She was the daughter of William H and Carrie A Martin. Carrie's father William was of German extraction. Her mother was born in Ireland in April 1845, so we can concentrate on her side of the family. In fact, on the 1930 census, Carrie A Martin said she had been born in Northern Ireland, which includes Co. Donegal.

It would help in our search to know Carrie A Martin's maiden name. She was married by 1870, so we could search the 1860 census of Rochester for anyone named Carrie or Caroline born in Ireland at the right time. Our search turns up a Caroline A Livingston, age 14, with her father Alex Livingston, age 45. Also in this household is Catherine M Livingston, 41, Alex C Livingston, 19, and Edmond H Livingston, 17. Could this be the right family?

It seems so, since when Catherine M Livingston died, on January 28, 1873, she was living on Magne Street next door to Caroline and her husband. Carrie Martin's death record (November 5, 1934, in Rochester) should confirm or deny this theory, since it probably asks for her maiden name.

Catherine was not Caroline's mother, however. Alex Livingston and family entered the United States on March 3, 1851, having arrived from Liverpool on the ship America of New York. He was 33 and his wife, whose name was Eliza, was 31. The children were Alexander, 10, Edmond, 7, and Caroline, 3. Eliza also had an infant with her. But by 1855, Alex, Sr., was widowed and living in Clay, Onandaga County, New York. He had just arrived there the month before. So evidently Eliza died soon after arriving in the United States and Alexander remarried.

As mentioned Carrie A Livingston married Henry C. Martin. They had six children: William H (born August 1869), Francis (about November 1871) John F (November 1874), Laura A (March 1880), Jessie A (July 1882), and Carrie I (May 1887). None of these children married.

Carrie's brother Alex Livingston married Harriet A Glen and had three children: Edmund H (born about 1864), Charles B (about 1871), and Alfred (about Jan 1875). Her brother Edmond married a woman named Mary. They had two children: Harriet (Dec 1881) and Edith A (about 1884).

All this is interesting, but what about the postcard from Letterkenny, Donegal?

Well, it might help us a bit, but not as much as we would like. There were no Livingstons in Donegal at the time of Griffith's Valuation in the mid 1860′s, but there were twenty-five men by that name elsewhere in Northern Ireland. And the sender of the card, Miss J.C.V. Moore was not found on the 1901 or 1911 census of Ireland, unless she is the Jeannie C Moore, in Tawney, Donegal, age 23 in 1911. This is twenty-five miles north of Letterkenny.

So to find the Livingston's Irish origins we might have to look elsewhere. For a start, the death records for Carrie A (Livingston) Martin and her brothers Alex and Edmund might record their mother Eliza's maiden name. An obituary for their father in the Rochester papers might have some helpful information. Their may be birth records for Carrie and her brothers in Ireland. Or there might be a mariage record for their parents.

Or maybe someone out there just knows.


  1. Image used by permission of PHILGEN: Philatelic Genealogy. To see it there, click on Search Database in the left column and enter "Ireland" in the search box. The card was once for sale at Jim Forte Postal History.


Federal and state censuses of Monroe and Onandaga Counties, New York, at and

Rochester City Directories at

1911 Census of Ireland at the National Arvchives of Ireland.

Irish Times Surname Search.

"New York, Passenger Lists, 1820-1891," index and images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 19 Dec 2013), Caroline Livingston, 1851.

Marriages and Mt. Hope Cemetery records at search at:

My Old Ohio Home
Most of the information here is about my family or my wife’s, or about families with ties to Cleveland, Ohio, or the area near Rostrevor and Kilkeel in County Down, Ireland. There are also some unrelated families included that I came across. Whatever the case, I hope the material is helpful in your own research.
-- Ed Hamilton