Thursday, October 14, 2021

Dublin Woman

 Another mystery photo from the cedar chest of Nell (Johnstone) Borgreen. We'll call her Dublin woman, as the portrait was taken in Dublin, Ireland. I reached out to the photographer's studio, which is now run by his nephew and finally received a reply. It's not much, but the year 1926 can help to weed out a few possible subjects. Lets see where this takes us.

"Hello Jennie, Taken in 1926. No records available of who this person is . The photographer was my uncle .


Edmund Ross

+44 7510 915542

+353 1 568 6569 "

Monday, August 16, 2021

A Case Study in Photos

Way back in January of 2011, I received 4 portraits from my mother. She had received them from her mother, many years before, and had no idea who the people were. I have since solved the mystery of the identity of two of the people. I had affectionately called them Liverpool Man and Liverpool Woman. Below is the original blog post about the portraits.

These photographs were found in the cedar chest of my grandma, Ellen "Nell" Johnstone Borgreen. She had no recollection of who these people might be. The two Burrell and Hardman portraits, which I've affectionately dubbed Liverpool Man and Woman, might be identifiable and I've made efforts to contact the curators of their collection. I'm just waiting to hear back. The two older framed portraits are much more a mystery to me. The woman's portrait says "Ellen" on the back. I don't think the name "Ellen" refers to Grandma though. Grandma's godmother's name was Ellen, according to her baptismal certificate. I'm hoping and wondering if this might be the godmother, Ellen Coleman, who I suspect was the sister of Grandma's mother, Mary Alice Coleman Johnstone. The man has a familiar family resemblance. When I first saw this portrait I thought he looked like one of Grandma's brothers. Grandma's godfather's name was Thomas Coleman. I've long suspected that he might be Mary Alice's brother. But I have no proof. The fact that these portraits were found together, similarly framed and the same size would lead me to think they might be related, somehow. Such a mystery. So much fun to try to figure out.

 The following is a Facebook post from 8 Apr 2019

"So the mystery of two of these folks has been solved. Today I got an envelope from Uncle Johnny. In it was an old letter and a funeral card. The large portraits are of John J. Murphy and his wife Ellen "Nellie" Coleman Murphy. I still need a few supporting documents, but I believe she is Mary Alice Coleman Johnstone's sister. Huge thanks to Uncle Johnny, for sending it to me. There was a bit of shrieking and jumping in my house, today."
AuptrorehSfipoln 8o,Sed

John J. Murphy Funeral Card

Letter to Ellen Johnstone Borgreen from her aunt, Ellen Coleman Murphy 7 Mar 1951

23 Mount Merrion Ave.
Co. Dublin
March 7, 1951
My Dear Nellie,
I can't tell you how I felt when I got your letter, telling me of your mother death. I just had to put on my hat and coat and go into Maureen and I stayed nearly a week. I am in a flat. It is a great change for me. I needn't tell you and at times I get so lonely. I just don't know what to do with myself. Uncle Jack died two years ago on the 24 Feb. He was ill two years and most of the time he was in a nursing home and for the rest of the time I had two nurses in the house. It was a terrible time and the Allenswood was sold and everything in it. I stayed with Maureen for a time and then I got this place. It is some distant from the city. The girls were very upset about your mother R.I.P. I will have some masses said. Maureen has four children and Annette has two and they will write you. Are all the family still in Great Falls. I did not tell the girls what your mother died of and if they write you need not say what is was as it might only worrie [sic] them. I did not tell her age. I thought I would mention it in case they might ask you. I don't know how many times I was going to write to your mother but I was so upset I couldn't seem to do it and by the way I sent you quite a lot of photoes [sic] Annette wedding and Maureen's and I never heard whether you ever got them or not and I would like to know. My brother in law was here from Cork this week and we all had lunch in the hotel. He was very ill after Uncle Jack died. I think it was shock and his sister died a few months before Uncle Jack so that is the third in two years. Is Kathleen still in Great Falls. 
I think this is all I have to tell you for this time and I hope to hear from you again soon. I am taking your address in to Maureen and Annette tomorrow so you will hear from them. 
So for the present good by--Nellie and remember me to all the rest of the family.
With fondest love,

16 Aug 2021I was completely satisfied with this information but things just got better. Yesterday, I went to a family memorial service and while in that town, I stopped in to visit with Uncle Johnny. Completely unexpectedly, he handed me a little gift bag. In it were a series of old portraits, snapshots and a post card. I turned over the largest portrait of two young girls and saw my grandmother's handwriting on the back. In blue ink it says "Cousins in Ireland Annette and Maureen Murphy" and in black ink the date "1935". All the items in the gift bag had the date "1935" written in black ink and the identifying information written in blue ink. The photo captions are as they appear on the back of each photo. All the photos can not be from 1935 as there is a photo of Ellen Coleman Murphy and her daughter, Maureen who appears to be about 2 years old. Then there are photos showing Maureen at approximately 12 years old but also marked "1935". I wonder if this collection of photos didn't arrive in Montana in 1935. 

Cousins in Ireland Annette and Maureen Murphy "1935"
(I believe Maureen is the older girl)

Auntie Nell and Maureen in Ireland "1935"
(I believe that Maureen was born around 1920)

Auntie Nell, Ireland
Taylor Photo Company
Aug 29, 1935
This photo was developed just 5 days after the New York post card was mailed. Was Ellen Coleman Murphy in New York when this photo was taken?

Auntie Nell, Maureen and Annette in Ireland "1935"

Aunt Nell, Maureen and Annette Ireland, Mom's sister, Murphy "1935"

Uncle Jack, Auntie Nell's Home Ireland "1935"
In another's handwriting
Front of Achnacarry
sending large one later

Uncle Jack, Dublin Ireland "1935"

Post Mark New York, N. Y. 24 Aug 1935
To: Mrs. W. H. Johnstone, 1701 11th Ave. South, Great Falls, Montana, U. S. A.
Saturday, Hope you got the wire alright. ? will get word from the bank about Monday. I sent on your Return fare and I learned that the top sleeper was cheaper than the lower one. Will expect a wire when you leave Great Falls and I hope you enjoy the trip. Love from all here.
(this handwriting matches the writing on the letter sent in 1951. It appears to be from Ellen Coleman Murphy to her sister, Mary Alice Coleman Johnstone)

Woolworth Building, New York

What I know, so far, Ellen Coleman is the sister of Mary Alice Coleman, my great grandmother. Their parents were Stephen Coleman (1850-1908) and Mary Carberry (1856-1932). Ellen Coleman married John Joseph Murphy in the late 19 teens or early 1920's. They had two daughters, Maureen the elder who's birth and death information is unknown and Annette the younger daughter. Annette was born in 1926 in Co. Dublin, Ireland. She married Timothy Lynch and they had 9 children. Annette died in 2002 in Dublin, Ireland. The search for information regarding Maureen continues. In the 1951 letter, Ellen Coleman Murphy mentions that Maureen had 4 children and Annette had 2. I will search for birth, marriage and death information on Maureen to try to locate cousins who may be living. 

Sunday, January 27, 2019

So much has happened

Stonehenge 2018

In April of 2018 I visited England. I spent most of my two weeks in Cornwall with Paul, my son-in-law's father. We've become good friends and he's visited us 4 times, already. He showed me all around Cornwall and then to London for two days. I saw places I'd only dreamed of and hope that someday I'll go back. I need to go to Liverpool, the place of my people. I've gotten Paul interested in genealogy and he's made some wonderful discoveries in the past two years. He's met close relatives that he didn't even know existed. Its very gratifying to help, in some small way, to reunite families. 

I've spend the past year and a half volunteering at the local Family History Center on Thursday evenings. I'm able to help folks with their research in a one-on-one environment. I find this both fulfilling and educational for me. I'm learning, even as I teach. 

I belong to the Western Montana Genealogy Society and have attended several state conferences. My goodness, what a wealth of information there is at any one of the conferences. I've had the pleasure of listening to some of the finest minds in genealogy, share their wisdom with us. 

I've had great success with DNA testing. I've been able to connect with distant relatives and even very close, previously unknown relatives. The biggest discovery is a 1/2 aunt on my paternal line. She was adopted and didn't know her family history. We've connected on facebook and I find myself wanting to meet her in person. She lives in FL, so not sure if/when a meeting will happen but I've opened my door to her, if she can find her way here. I had Mom, Dad, Thom and Paul take DNA tests. Mom's test results have helped me narrow down my maternal matches. Dad's results have been no surprise but its been fun to add people to his line of the tree. Thom, poor Thom. It seems that DNA is not a thing among the Asian populations yet. He was on match that is a 4-6 cousin. He as lots of very distant matches but none that offer any insight into his line of the tree, YET. I have faith that the day will come. Paul's DNA has led to many new relatives, as I mentioned, and he's met one in person already. Such a joy, for me to see.

So the search continues and I find myself more and more in love with the process. 

Monday, January 2, 2017

Coming full circle

Edd and Sarah at the OR coast June 2016

We are wedding planning. Our daughter, Sarah is engaged to be married to Edd. Edd is from the U.K., so our family connection is coming full circle. The Johnstones and Colemans came from U.K. We've had Edd and his father, Paul here for Christmas and have got on like old friends. Paul keeps saying "when you come to Cornwall....." So it looks like I might be going to Cornwall in the near future. Better get the passport updated. Now, if we could marry a kid off to someone from Sweden or Hong Kong, we'd be in business.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Growing a new branch on the family tree

Anna Gah Li
Our family grew in August. We welcomed our 3rd grandchild into the world. Miss Anna Gah Li W. born to our daughter Brittney and her partner Marcus. Her middle name is Chinese, in keeping with her Chinese Grandpa's ethnicity. She is perfect and healthy and absolutely charming. She's a good eater and sleeps through the night and is growing like the proverbial weed. We love her, just a little bit. Welcome to the family, Anna.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Things I need to write about

Anna Johnson and the mystery of the lost ashes
followed by Anna Johnson medical records and pending return home

Maria Bell and the book being written about the folks from her village in Finland
including her long lost siblings names

Thursday, February 18, 2016

‪#‎52questions‬, Week #3

1. What kind of work did your parents do (farmer, salesman, manager, seamstress, nurse, stay-at-home mom, professional, laborer, and so on)?
My dad worked for Con Agra for years. He was a feed and fertilizer salesman. He traveled many days per week and I remember when he passed his Million Mile mark. Before my parents married, my mom was a telephone operator. After marrying she was primarily a stay-at-home mom. She volunteered a lot. She was a Camp Fire leader, a CCD teacher, a pink lady at the hospital. I'm sure she volunteered for other organizations that I'm not remembering right now. When I was in High School she began working at the same Doctor's office I worked at after school. 

2. Have any of your family members died? If so, explain what they died from and what you remember of their death; the circumstances of their death?

My 14 year old son, Alex, died in 2014. I do remember every detail of his death but am not ready to share that information right now.