Friday, May 30, 2014


In January 2014, Amy Johnson Crow of the Ancestry blog No Story Too Small issued the 52 Ancestors in 52 Weeks Challenge.
The premise: write once a week about a specific ancestor. It could be a story, a biography, a photograph, a research problem — any that focuses on that one ancestor. The next week, write about a different ancestor. In 52 weeks, you’ll have taken a closer look at 52 people in your family tree… and maybe learned a little bit more about them in the process
Owen McDonald was born about 1840 in Ireland.


Owen McDonald is my husband's paternal great grandfather.  I do not know when he came to the United States but he married, around 1865, Mary Callahan who was born in New York.  They had 7 children, Oscar, Ida and Blanche who all died very young and George, Ellen (Nellie), Gertrude, and Florence (my husband’s grandmother).


I found Owen with his family in several census records that stated he was a butcher.  All the databases are very helpful in letting you know where he lived, who he lived with and what occupation he had but it doesn’t really tell you anything personal about the person.



I often search old newspapers.  Many have been put on-line and are easy to find people because they are indexed. I have found very detailed descriptions of weddings, family parties, and graduations.  You also find where people have travelled and who they have visiting them from out of town.


I found an article about Owen McDonald in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle Newspaper in 1883.  It is a sad story about Owen being lost after leaving work.  He was a butcher and had gone to his office at the Washington Market on a Sunday morning to do his billing. He was spotted at several locations after that including New Jersey but nothing after that time.  This article was dated April 4, 1883 and he had been missing since February 25, 1883.


Part of Brooklyn Eagle Article



The unfortunate thing about newspapers they don't give an update on some articles.  I haven’t found another article stating that he was found or what was the reason for his disappearance.


The wonderful thing about this newspaper article is it gives a description of the man.  Some of the family and friends stated he was not a drinking man so they know that was not part of the problem.  The family said that when he left the house that day he wore a black derby hat but later was seen wearing a green plush cap which he usually wore at the market.

Washington Market, Brooklyn, NY 1888


 The article also stated that he was about 5’6” or 5’7”, about 40 years of age, had light sandy hair slightly mixed with gray, he wore sparse sidewhiskers and a small mustache.  He was dressed in a dark overcoat, dark mixed pants, laced shoes, stand up collar, had on scarf and a white shirt.  He had no jewelry and they didn’t know if he had any money on him.  The family was a little embarrassed to say that there was some insanity in the family and was hoping that wasn’t the problem.  If I was an artist I could draw a picture of him from that description.


I do know that he died November 28, 1896 in Bellevue Hospital, in New York City.  It states on the death certificate that he was in New York City for 3 years so I think he might have been in the hospital for that length of time. I don’t know where he was the other years.  The 1892 census does not show him living with his family.  He is buried in Calvary Cemetery with his 3 children who died young, his Mother, Mary McDonald, my Father-in-law, Thomas N. Murphy and my Mother-in-law Mary Glessoff Murphy.


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