Pictures of My Irish Grandfather

Sometime ago, I wrote about finding my Irish Grandfather’s birthplace. I never got to meet my Grandfather – William J. Smith, He died well before I was born. William was born in Ireland in 1871 and died in New York State in 1940. The only way I knew him at all was by the wedding pictures of he and his wife Mary Carolan. They married in 1905 on Staten Island.

William J. Smith and Mary E. Carolan on their wedding day, June 28, 1905

William and his siter-in-la – my great-aunt – Elizabeth (Bess) Carolan bought summer houses in the Catskill Mountains. The last of these cottages that was owned by the family was that of Aunt Bess. It was called Carolan Lodge. I spent a great deal of time there when I was growing up. For my paternal first cousins, and my siblings and I, it became home. It was with great regret that my father had to sell the Lodge. Prior to leaving for the last time I gathered up all the family pictures that I could find. Including those wedding pictures above.

The other picture hung in that house was the group wedding photo for Alice Carolan to Harold Hood in 1917:

William J. Smith (top row, fourth from left) at Alice Carolan (bottom row, third from left) wedding to Harold Hood April  9,1917

Later as I researched more, I found that another researcher had attached of photo of him from the Genealogical and Personal History of Western Pennsylvania, Volume 3

William J. Smith circa 1915

Then a newly found cousin sent me a bunch of photos and I found one with William and some of his family (including my father)

William J. Smith, daughter Margaret, sister-in-law Elizabeth (Bess) Carolan, son William G., and wife Mary. Date uncertain but likely late 1920s or early 1930s.

And lastly, this faint photograph of his gravestone had been in my possession for some time.

Gravestones of William J. Smith, His wife Mary and sister-in-law Elizabeth Carolan

They aren’t much but these pictures do help me to get to know my grandfather.

Review of Family Book Creator, Plugin for Family Tree Maker

I have put together many family history books for various clients. It has always been a tedious task done with Microsoft Word. I created chapters for the various lines of ancestors, annotating them with their family group, residences, occupations, census data and various photos or maps. When I was told about Book Creator for Family Tree Maker, I was intrigued but a bit put off by the price – $59.95. This Christmas though, I decided it give it a go and create a book for my sister.

I used my William J. Smith line; he is my Irish grandfather. My first attempt I just entered that starting person and hit create. The resulting book was very nice. It had a great title page, table of contents, and fascinating introduction which gave some overall facts about this line. However, it was an onerous 138 pages, a bit much for my sister. The length was primarily due to the citations. Knowing she wouldn’t care about them; I found the somewhat hidden option to not include citations. That brought the page total down to 38, much more manageable. That option is under the Preferences tab, in the general section. There is a pull-down menu with four options, one of which is “Do not insert Source Citations”.

To me, the best feature was the family charts. For the starting person, it showed two generations of their ancestors and their children. For subsequent generations, it showed the descendant and their spouse and two generations of their ancestors and their children. Optionally, you can include the thumbnail pictures in the charts.

Other features include a bibliography, an index of places, and an index of individuals.

. I followed the installation directions provided at https://www.familybookcreator.de/en/menu-support-en/menu-faq-en/156-faq-en-howtoinstall and had no problems with the install.

Overall, I liked Family Book Creator for a quick family book or to get a family book started. I would love to see saving the book in html as an option.

Finding my Irish Grandfather’s birthplace

I start my #52ancestors with the first “across the pond” ancestor that I found – my grandfather William J. Smith. He was born November 3, 1871 in Baltrasna, County Meath, Ireland. His parents were Nicholas and Mary (Gillespie/Glasby) Smith. He was my father’s father.

I found him on various census, but the most important find was his marriage to Margaret Carolan. The marriage certificate had critical information: his parents’ names and his birth location. The birth location helpfully had the Irish county, Meath, in which he was born.

Searching Griffith’s valuation on AskAbooutIreland.com for Gillespie or Glasby in County Meath, only 7 records were found. Searching for the Smith surname, 1110 records were found. So, the Gillespie surname was rare. Whi

When I was doing this research, the Irish birth and baptismal records were not available online, but I had bought a CD set with the “British Isles” BMD data. Using both Nicolas’ and Mary’s names, I was able to locate the birth record for William. I was able to obtain an “original” copy, that is with the stamp. The birth was not registered until 26 April 1872.

In 2003 I was able to visit the Townland of Baltrasna. Using an ordnance survey map I had bought, There were not many buildings, even though the acreage is 270 acres and as we drove up the indicated lane, we met the current owner of Baltrasna and he said to go on up to the house, his wife was there. We did and she was very friendly, told us how the house had changed over the years.

We toured the small town of Moynalty and it was very an amazing feeling knowing that I was walking on the same grounds as my ancestors had trod.

Memories of Twilight Park, NY

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Me (age 1) at Carolan Lodge, Twilight Park, NY

As I walked my dog this morning, I heard the wind rustling thru the trees. The sound reminded me of the summer home of my youth. I spent summers in the Catskill mountains at a “cottage” that my great aunt had bought in the 1920’s. It was the last of several cottages that had been in my father’s family in this summer enclave, Twilight Park. I loved this house, this “park”, as did my cousins. We had all spent considerable time there.

I loved to walk in the woods, finding old paths that had been established by an old walking club. Twilight, as it was known to us, had many amenities – a pool, tennis courts, a day camp for youngsters and a folksy newsletter. I loved to swim in the pool, even when it was the original, built from a quarry and fed by mountain streams (brr!). A more modern pool replaced that one and was much more comfortable to swim in.

There were two other “parks” in the area, Elka and Oneonta. We had yearly swimming and diving competitions between the parks. I had some of my worst and best experiences during those contests.

The community was small, less than a hundred residences, and was built on the side of a mountain. Because of the terrain, there were three levels in the park, and we lived in the upper level which started with a steep hill, Pebble Rock “road”. The roads were narrow, on most of them two cars could just get by each other. However, Pebble Rock could only accommodate one car at a time, and before proceeding up or down, care had to be taken to make sure that no one was coming the other way.

Our cottage, “Carolan Lodge”, was at the top of Pebble Rock and from our kitchen window we could watch as the upper level cottagers drove by. We would comment on who was going by as we knew most of the cottagers and their cars.

Aunt Bess at the family plots in Elka Park

This summer home and the surrounding villages, Haines Falls, Tannersville, Hunter, seemed more like my home town that anywhere else and my cousins told me they felt the same way. Apparently, the generations before us felt the same way as they bought and were laid in burial plots at the Elka Park Catholic cemetery.