The USS Block Island, part of a hunter-killer group of escort carriers providing cover for convoys moving across the mid-Atlantic, is north-west of the Canary Islands on 29 May 1944. On board were 957 crew, including my grandfathers first cousin John J Schlenker. At 20:13, German U-boat U549 slipped through the screen and fired four torpedoes, three hit the Block Island. John and five other men were killed in the attack.
John was the son of John Joseph Schlenker and Bernice O’Brien. He enlisted just before his 37th birthday in September 1943. John worked as a shipping clerk at the Gonic Manufacturing Company, a woolen mill in Rochester, NH and was married to Myrtle Lamprey. They had no children.
It’s Memorial Day and John is the only person I’m aware of in my tree that died in service after the Civil War. I’d written about the Bowen family in the Civil War before here and here, so I thought I’d remember John and say thank you to him and all the men and women that have paid the ultimate price fighting for our country.
Ancestry.com. U.S. Navy Cruise Books, 1918-2009 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc, 2011.
Original data: United States Navy. Various U.S. Navy Cruise Books. Navy Department Library, Washington, D.C.
O’Brien might be the most common Irish name in America or maybe it just seems that way when I’m trying to find records for my 3rd great-grandfather, Patrick. There are over 4 million results returned when searching for O’Brien on Ancestry and that doesn’t count the misspellings.
Patrick’s last name is misspelled O’Brion on his 1874 marriage record to Ellen Ryan (spelled Rayen on the same)1 and O’Brine on his 1919 death record.2 Thankfully, his daughter Mary passed along some papers and a picture to my grand aunt Betty (Lucey) Bedard. And via Ancestry.com, I connected with a descendant of one of Patrick’s brothers. Chris was able to fill in many blanks and confirm the connection to the Amesbury MA O’Briens.
Patrick was born in Tuam, County Galway, Ireland in March of 1848, the eldest son of Patrick and Bridget (Hare)3. He came to America sometime in the mid to late 1860’s, probably with his siblings John, Richard and Mary. They lived in Amesbury, MA and he worked in the carding room at the woolen mills there and in neighboring Salisbury4.
By 1876 he was living in Rochester, NH with wife Ellen (Ryan) and working in the woolen mill, probably the Gonic Manufacturing Co where James Lucey, the future father-in-law of daughter Mary, worked. They had four daughters in Rochester, Katherine (1876-1966), Bernice (1879-1948), Mary (1881-1972) and Sara (1883-1886).5
In the summer of 1910, he and James Lucey visited York Beach Maine where James and Mary (O’Brien) Lucey were vacationing.6
Patrick died 19 Jul 1919 at home in Rochester at age 71.
1. Ancestry.com. Maine, Marriage Records, 1713-1937 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010.Original data: Maine Marriage Records, 1705-1922. Augusta, Maine: Maine State Archives. Pre 1892 Delayed Returns; Roll #: 81.
2. Ancestry.com. New Hampshire, Death and Disinterment Records, 1754-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.Original data: “New Hampshire, Death and Disinterment Records, 1754–1947.” Online index and digital images. New England Historical Genealogical Society. Citing New Hampshire Bureau of Vital Records, Concord, New Hampshire.
4. Ancestry.com. 1870 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2009. Images reproduced by FamilySearch. Year: 1870; Census Place: Amesbury, Essex, Massachusetts; Roll: M593_607; Page: 27A; Image: 58; Family History Library Film: 552106.
5. Ancestry.com. New Hampshire, Birth Records, 1659-1900 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations. Inc., 2013.Original data: “New Hampshire, Birth Records, through 1900.” Online index and digital images. New England Historical Genealogical Society. Citing New Hampshire Bureau of Vital Records, Concord, New Hampshire.
6. Ancestry.com. Portsmouth Herald (Portsmouth, New Hampshire) [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2006.Original data: Portsmouth Herald. Portsmouth, NH, USA. Database created from microfilm copies of the newspaper. 2 Aug 1910, pg. 2.
This picture was probably taken in the spring of 1915 in Rochester, New Hampshire, I’m pretty sure my grandfather Vincent is one of the babies in the front row, he was born in Sept 1914.
Vinny’s brothers are also in the picture: Donald (second from left, back row), Gerald (center, back row) and Richard (far right, back row).
Other possibles, all cousins to Vinny: Mary Lucey Corson and David Joseph Lucey (the other two babys), Bernadette and Mary Frances Lucey (Davids older sisters, girls in the front row), John Francis Lucey (back row, far left). 3 are unidentified.
Cousin found! Well, technically he wasn’t lost as we had connected via Ancestry.com trees several months ago, but it’s nice to have the documented relationship backed up by DNA results.
Chris and I are 4th cousins, via the O’Brien family of Tuam, County Galway, Ireland. Here’s how AncestryDNA presents a match when a common ancestor can be identified. They could have picked either 3rd great-grandparent, Patrick O’Brien or Bridget O’Hare. I think the system is very precise when it comes to names, dates and locations. It does not seem to accomodate for alternate spellings, abbreviations or common date modifiers (like circa or about) like the Ancestry search engine does.
My 2nd great-grandfather Patrick J. O’Brien was born in 1848 in Tuam (pronounced choom) and came to America around the late 1860’s. In August of 1874, he and Ellen Ryan (1846-1934) were married in Portland, Maine. They lived in Rochester, NH and had four daughters: Katherine (1876-1956), Bernice (1879-1948), Mary (1881-1972) and Sara (1883-1900).
I’m seeing a lot more potential matches on the AncestryDNA Member Match page now, averaging about 10-15 new matches every 7 days. Each match is shown with several pieces of information: possible relationship range and a confidence level. Interesting to note that Chris was shown as a possible range 5th-8th cousin and a “Low” confidence level on page 3 of my matches, so it took me a while to even notice that he was listed. I have six people listed as 95%+ confidence, 4th-6th cousins, 3 of which have trees that are public, yet unfortunately no obvious connection. Interesting leads though, lots of Virginia/North Carolina families but all of my people are from New England, maybe an unknown sibling went south at some point? I’ll just have to keep digging.