The Online Genealogist

John Brugliera

Archive for the tag “New York City”

The Online Genealogist’s Mixed Bag


This makes too much sense.  Even in my area cemeteries, there’s always someone walking, jogging, biking through.  But way too small to be charging admission!

I can see the slogans now… “It’s a gentle, peaceful walk”… “Celebrate life amongst the dead”… “This ain’t your mother’s Scooby-Doo graveyard!”…  OK, so they need some work.

Going from buried people to buried records.  Staying in New York City, but visiting Massachusetts.


It’s amazing what is still collecting dust in church attics and rectory cellars.  And how many churches can YOU think of that have gone up in flames over the years?  More fingers than I got!  Churches and fire are kind of like trailer parks and tornadoes.

And, yes – a courthouse made of bricks CAN burn.  So sad.

Telegraph 01 Telegraph 02

And just after you’ve gotten used to FamilySearch‘s indexing program during their recent key-athon; they’re going to “improve” it and gives us “more features”.


Bring on the next key-athon, I say!!


Until later…






“It jumped up to 60% of genealogy records online overnight!” and other comical items


Yes, it’s time for more geneologyuks!

I came across some entries within the 1890 Boston city directory that gave me a chuckle.

Isaac was the only one that did NOT get a name-appropriate job…

Boston Directory 1890 1158a Sellar

“Henry A. Sellar, clerk”…we all nod in agreement.

I can understand the laborer, but are you sure you want an inexperienced carpenter or boilermaker??

Boston Directory 1890 966a Newby

Are they referring to the cans or the company itself??

Boston Directory 1890 678a Intelligent

For DUMB-ASS tin cans, you’ll need to look elsewhere.

Do you think Joseph’s surname caused confusion for some?

Boston Directory 1890 976a Nope

“Could you tell me your last name?”  “Nope!”  “Why not?!?”

And only we baby-boomers will get this one…

Boston Directory 1890 983a Oates

Shouldn’t he be “Holland Oates, musician”??

Let’s go back 10 years to 1880 for more fun marriage notices from The Sun (New York City).

If only these names were switched…

NY Sun 18800118 05a

This could be the beginning of a sonnet…

NY Sun 18800123 03a

And who said “Three’s a crowd”??

NY Sun 18800126 03a

Yes, that one looks quite odd; until you actually read it.  Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Sometimes I can go for several newspaper issues without finding some good combos and names, but I hit the jackpot here on Jan. 31, 1880!

NY Sun 18800131 03a

Are we sensing a THEME here?  (Be even funnier if the first two couples were switched – heh.)  And we also get a bonus combo with some Hudson River wordplay!

I’ll leave you with this divorce notice; no explanation required – ha!

NY Sun 18800130 03a

In a JAM??  We all nod in agreement.

And if you’re having trouble finding those 65% of genealogy records online, I can help!


Speaking of newspaper marriage announcements…

I think it’s about time for some comic relief; genealogical in nature, of course!

As a young pup, National Lampoon’s “True Facts” was the source of much amusement for me.  Mostly consisting of dumb criminal stories and funny business signs, they would frequently include newspaper marriage/engagement announcements with comical pairings of the groom’s and bride’s surnames.  Such as “Black-White” (if Jack Black was engaged to Betty White), “Trapp-Dorr”, “Goode-Fellows” and so on.

When browsing through newspapers, I keep an eye out for such combos and collect the better ones, as they’re always good for a chuckle.

Here are some I found recently manually browsing through The Sun (New York City) circa 1874-1875, looking for a particular marriage.  [Note: I tweaked a few of these in PhotoShop for readability ONLY; none of the print itself was altered!]

Let’s start off going to Ohio by way of Iowa…


But neither are Italian…


Would you do business with this backwards investment firm??…


Aw, that’s sweet…


Here’s hoping their marriage turned out this way…


Exactly what many of us do…


Give us a smooch!…


Trading in one “Wolf” name for another!…


Not my first choice for a restaurant hiring…


Because that white stuff ain’t good for ya!…


And I had to include this one merely for the bizarre look of it…


It’s not bigamy, but QUADamy!  And look who one of the grooms is – ha!

And did you know that The Sun also published DIVORCES?  (Helpful genealogical tip of the day.)

Here are two such “conflicting” notices…


More like NO Moore, as in…


Nearly all of the DIVORCED notices I came across looked like the above, with just one surname for both.  So I nearly fell off the chair when I saw these!…


Yes, we needed that extra clarification – ha!

And, no – I didn’t find the marriage I was originally seeking, though did have a fun time LOOKING!


If you need any marriages, divorces, births, deaths researched, drop me a line!


OCR = Occasionally Correct Reader

When you search within scanned newspapers or books online, the results are usually derived by optical character recognition software, more familiarly known as OCR.  The idea is for the software to “read” the printed characters and “translate” them into readable/searchable words and sentences.  Unfortunately, that simple-sounding task isn’t so given the inconsistent quality of the printed and scanned material – especially when it comes to older newspapers.

Here’s more info than you’ll ever need on OCR…

And a great example of how newspaper print can “confuse” the software…


Yes, very iffy and not fully reliable.  “At” comes up as “la”, “the” is “che” and “good” here is read as “gobd”. But then it actually reads “lovers”, which looks more like “lpvera” in the copy.  As you can see, OCR resluts can be extremely sporadic.

When words are hyphenated, OCR gets really confused, which can be a source of “amuse*ment” for some, but frustration for most.

How well do you think OCR can read this obituary page from The Sun (New York City)?


Maybe it will properly capture that bold “Mary” about halfway down, but the rest of it?  Well, let’s see, shall we?

There are several free OCR readers online; just upload your image and see it magically transformed into perfectly readable text!

Uhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, maybe not…

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“””‘*”‘ ” M – . W ‘  1. 4) -‘,‘-x~-A-.. 0’\O’ luau
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: rt E ‘u“ “UV 01.0”] ’00 1.1‘   ‘In fl,§|| “||‘h’n l|.0’Jf‘¢
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i \’“|’|»” \\|\ In; \..;ln’ IA! I-n I nfln l\-nL_-l..-

Wow, it didn’t even pick up “Mary” as I thought.  The only word I see is “Inland”, which is supposed to be “Ireland”.  (Funny that WordPress itself translates some of the text into smileys!)

Let’s try another image.  It’s darker and crisper, so the results should be better than the above.


I highlighted two couples — the thinking is that the top pair will be read better than the bottom.

IA It III”. –
IIIQWK-onllllzl-l..-In , Wm; 9
no-I».l at st. A|}n’n on the |\’.-an-. LV”.I\e- ll»-v..’8?nl‘
mu firhnurl. I.II.. rmvfin OHQM Iv-own us-In it
£_li:’:0:’ou“ .¢::’,:nvt 0! JOUII I. lid NM D10 null .
H ‘ , , I ‘ .
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{Iv I:-tr J. lhnord 510001001! Nllllvlllj‘. Him.
. ‘ ‘~‘.“’.‘3’»“ Y I i|‘»’2i=§’2‘-“i’8#’; ‘6’?» °’.~2!2..%‘.’.‘€.‘
 0″ |, ‘ N‘ :\’ – ‘ . P 0 0 ‘ O
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‘ ,1 ~‘ ° | ‘ U 0 I. .
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.\Iua0n‘\’. Jan. M ny W. N. l|\\r3m%Ju0ucc- e.l we Puke.
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mu. rm»… |~. 1» , \\m um to Mu-e, ammo: oi
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Mn» .\~lq|~: l.. lfznm, wlnnlfierof Ir. Wm. la. ll nu.

But then again, maybe not.  No wonder this OCR is FREE.  (Yes, some OCR is better than others.)

If it can’t read THIS image, then this OCR is basically USELESS…


With regard to online newspaper image quality, this is about as good as it gets.  The OCR results…

luflsnl-BEBKIRBAIYOII.–On T0009“. his 15
at Cmlla Church. b tho llwv. Ila I Iv . hal-
Iof. htolnll ;. Ill to OIIMI cl! 00.3″: gt!!!»
W I –
Damn Print“! 1‘ umuiwlnl .l..
vi .na~ A RIB.-On “mum. Jun 10. at we
“nee of gm bride‘ rum. by uvkv. Mr. ‘nu,
r. lllmn oven 03 gflllllllkg. 1% Mm mu
“DER, magma: 0 . . an. .. ol claim
LA IZY.—In the my ol Rex‘ York. Ml QM 101,?
Q I | 0 b’ 0 J
::::§*‘:.’%:.z.::'”,’.:a: .2’l..’.:., ..’:r:’u…”:’m.*.,’.
lIIU.—0| J I
€:%:c|’r:ac,nuct or gear) in
n mmnv. one 81.01 crazck I’. ll. lhlouvon 0|‘
Q an rrgccllulznot to uugmt.
…~.:<:>;.w.~-::…:.; “-2.1% .~.::~”- “–‘–
0 nl0tlvr‘_na¢: 1110010.” the $inu|’y. and than 0|
In non. Jun lhmou. on rnloootlnuy mange! co nt-
an In Marni Iron: Mr mo mudnoce. 810 cot IMO
at on goo-lay. Juno Ital, I’. I.
I10! \l0. 0 anmlay. Mm tn. Cnherlnt In-Ion!
1).‘: fncboluqnrnm. to the lmh {far M er cm.
R ouvn and rlentotuc um lumd I
0¢uod*no hum] Irom r Iota Fianna‘. III Mount
IL, II u1’ncQ‘. inn II. it 90′: net A .,0la0nn- 0|
1‘; .{“.’!’.’_‘! L_’!¢P;_¢”t’!’-“.9!.L’¢_9.t1.wLlMm~ rm

Wow, is that bad or WHAT?!?

Going back to the original example of the bad OCR, can it even read the RIGHT SIDE correctly??

‘nu ‘h:u?””?-.“’ ‘ ‘ uh I Family Theatre.ThU theatre wli open to-day withan
1 U48 ‘ . . . .
u “Mn ch…“ u H” n‘ I. ‘uh ent|re change of b|Il at Its mat|nee.The bull la of gobd
,¢g_ ‘pp 5‘ |i_ Q 3*] ygflgg “Q variety andwill surely please all lovers of amuse”ment.
V.” WNW 9’91 I” |F””@ 3.3.‘ One of che feature is’ MissMinerva Vano. \ h e queen
nun; ‘Om- at am fawn U’ lb .
‘mar’ ‘an.’ “t Q…‘ 0‘ “. ~‘.‘. of the handcuffs.We copy the follow|ng from
‘ml; we can the loltou-In hon
|’|’||Q flung.‘ |4»“¢;_ Rig Ilgqgg, The Evening Leader. New Haven,
|¢oan: .

Better, but still unusable.

The bottom line here is that OCR is NOT at the point where it’s fully or even partially reliable in most cases, ESPECIALLY when it comes to newspapers.  Should you ditch the OCR searches altogether?  No.  But just realize that if you don’t get the expected results, it does NOT mean that what you’re looking for is NOT within that book or newspaper.  You’ll just need to browse the pages on your own, using your OWN built-in OCR.  And as shown above, even THAT can be difficult given the varying quality of original printed matter.


And if you’re looking for a human OCR, I’m your man!




Now, why can’t all Irish genealogical research be this “easy”??

I’m currently researching a friend of mine’s main paternal Keely line and have successfully traced it back to her gggg-gf, John Keely, “born in Ireland”.  For those researching your Irish ancestors, how many times have you seen this; where you get the country of birth – that’s IT?  I know, because I’m one-quarter Irish decent and have found an origin there for just ONE of the lines thus far.  And that was only because one of the immigrant ancestors received a Purple Heart.  (Patrick J. Kyle is one of the few to be awarded the medal WITHOUT a major war going on.)

Here is John Keely’s family living in Manhattan from the 1870 Federal Census for New York City…


We see John with wife Julia, two sons and three daughters.  In determining when they came to America, the later records (census, naturalization) give their immigration date anywhere from 1862 to 1867.  If the above record is accurate, then their arrival would be more towards the lower end of that range, as Ellen’s birth year in Ireland would be calculated as “circa 1863”.

So, then it was off to search NYC Passenger Lists.  Given their large family and the fact they came over all together, they were easily found…arriving June 24 1864.  In roughly two weeks, it will be EXACTLY 150 years ago that they set foot in America.  I thought the timing of this find was sooooo cool!!  (I suggested my friend to raise a glass this June 24th, honoring the 150 years her Keelys have been here – ha!)




I have NO idea why John & Julia are listed a “Reely” while their children are “Keely”, but this is most definitely them.  Youngest Ellen is slightly “older” than the 1870 census had indicated.  (No way!  CAN’T happen!  <–sarcasm)

As many of you that have scoured passenger lists know, the larger the family you’re looking for; the easier they should be to find.  Even prior to finding them in the 1870 census, I already had John’s entire family, so when I saw this passenger list listing, I just knew it was them.  Which is one reason (of many!) why it is SO IMPORTANT to build ENTIRE FAMILIES in your main lines!  Just concentrating on only John and Julia wouldn’t have gotten me very far OR given me the confidence to say, “Yes, this IS the same family I’m looking for!”

Of course, that’s not to say that the entire family will be together during their emigration.  There are times when only the father would come over, establish a home, find work, before sending word for the wife and kids to join him here.  Believe me, finding a 40-ish John Keely sailing solo is MUCH more difficult.  Other times, the couple would marry and THEN emigrate.  Obviously, a pair is less difficult to locate AND confirm than a single individual in these lists.  And then by adding a child, or two, or FIVE, you have a GROUP to look for as opposed to just ONE PERSON.

But that wasn’t the “easy” part I was alluding to at the beginning of this post.  Note how ALL birthplaces given in the above docs are “Ireland”.  Yeah, REAL helpful, Uncle Sam; I already knew that.

So, totally switching gears, I hit’s newspaper obituary collection, specifically looking for John Keely in the New York Times.  I came across this “obit” in 1903…




Not all that much there, but his age and middle initial are a match.  And from prior FAMILY research (!!) in the NYC directories, I know that 110 E. 111th St. was John Keely JR.’s address at the time.  Now for nearly all of the obituaries for MY Irish ancestors, I was lucky if I got THIS much info on them!

But I didn’t stop there.  I had search results left to go through.  Not to mention I wasn’t fully satisfied with John Keely’s “chart” obit there!

In the Listen To Your Genealogical GUT Dept., I kept going and found this wonderful little GEM in the paper dated a few days later…




Could you ask for MORE?!?  (Well, yeah; but I digress…)  Gotta love the numeric-street-spelled-out “filler” there, huh?

Now I’m jealous.  Out of ALL the Irish research I’ve done, this is the ONLY obit that names a county AND town where the deceased is from!  And the very first line I researched for her – BOOM – location IN Ireland!!  So yes, finding an item like this is definitely more the exception than the rule when it came to our Irish immigrants!

I’ve done no further Keely research IN Ireland and whether John IS actually from Loughrea is irrelevant here.  Merely the fact that it IS noted gives me at least a STARTING point in Ireland.  Because isn’t “Loughrea, County Galway” SO much better than “Ireland”??

If YOU have any Irish ancestors (or any other nationalities for that matter), shoot me a line at and I’d be more than happy to assist you in your research!









So fitting for this time of year!


I was doing research in a 1901 New York City directory, when I found this listing…




“No more pencils, no more books…

We can’t even think of a word that RHYMES!”*




*Don’t get it?  Then you’re either way too old or way too young – heh.


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