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 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 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.

The Date my Grandmother Mary Estelle (Carolan) Smith was born

My paternal grandmother Mary E (Carolan) Smith was born on Friday, March 29, 1878, in Staten Island, New York  Her father, Patrick Carolan, was 29, and her mother, Margaret (McGinnis), was 22.

On that day, Rutherford B. Hayes was President after a disputed election. He had lost the popular vote but won the electoral vote.

Queen Victoria was in the 41st year of her reign in Great Britain.

According to the weather report in the NY Times that day was a relatively warm spring day averaging “53 3/4” degrees.

Headlines From New York Tribune and NY times on that day with the same issues but different headlines:

Tribune – “England on the Eve of War” referred to Britain’s intervention against  Russia in the Russo-Turkish War (1877-1878). The British sent a fleet of battleships to intimidate Russia from entering the city of   Constantinople.
NY Times  – “A War Crisis in England”

Tribune – “Cubans Still in Arms” – President Garcia was protesting surrender of chiefs in Camaguey. States he will not surrender to Spain.
NY Times – “Peace Declared in Cuba” – article saying that by Gen. Martinez-Campos declared peace.

Tribune -“The City’s heavy Burdens” –  city of New York was in debt
NY Times -“The Finances of the City”

Tribune –  “Jamaica and Hayti; Civil Services Abuse — the Revolt in Hayti”
NY Times – “A serious revolt in Hayty”

The price of both papers was four cents.

On March 29 in history:

1549 – The city of Salvador da Bahia, the first capital of Brazil, is founded
1795 –  Ludwig van Beethoven (24) has his debut performance as a pianist in Vienna
1901  – Edmund Barton is elected Prime Minister in Australia’s first parliamentary election
1912  – Captain Robert Scott, storm-bound in a tent near South Pole, makes l last  entry in his diary “the end cannot be far”
1961 –  After a 4½ year trial Nelson Mandela is acquitted of treason in Pretoria
1974 – Chinese farmers discover the Terracotta Army near Xi’an, 8,000 clay warrior statues buried to guard the tomb of China’s 1st emperor, Qin Shi Huang
1999 – The Dow Jones Industrial Average closes at 10006.78 – above the 10,000 mark for the first time ever

U.S., Social Security Applications and Claims Index, 1936-2007 from Ancestry provided me with her date of birth, and parents’ names.

I used for the New York Tribune and the New York Times Archives for the New York Times.

For the history of events on March 19th, I used

Wikipedia provided the information on President Hayes and Queen Victoria.

Both the newspapers and google gave me the day of the week for March 29,1878.