Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Researching Death of William Nolan

Now that I know for sure that Sarah (Noland) Steele’s parents came, lived, and died in America, where do I start looking for records? Since I grew up in North Grafton, Worcester Co., Massachusetts I went to the Grafton Town Hall to search for Ann E. and William Nolan’s death records.  There was nothing for Ann E. Nolan's death.
I found a few records relating to my Nolan family but I want to concentrate on the one below.

5 Mar 1895, William Nolan death, age 62, Yrs., 9 Mon. ,15 days, white, married, occupation a Dryer, cause of death pneumonia, residence, place of death, and burial in Grafton, born in Ireland, parents Daniel Nolan & Annie Hamilton, both born in Ireland.

Analysis- No mention of whom he is married to so that isn’t much help.  According to William Nolan and Ann Eliza’s 1850 marriage in Ireland his father’s name was listed as Daniel Nolan so that’s a match. In the marriage record there was no mention of mother’s name so that isn’t very helpful, but I hope it will be useful later on. I think his age was 20 on the marriage record, but there was a black smudge mark over the second number and so I’m not positive. If he was twenty it would fit, as the calculated birth date from this death record would be 18 May 1832, the same date on the grave marker.

I searched for an obituary on and found one. It read NORTH GRAFTON, A Series of Deaths[1] and was dated Friday March 8, 1895. There have been 6 deaths in town this week. One of them was William Nolan, age 62 who had died at his home on Thursday night.  It talks about his funeral and that he leaves a widow and 9 children. No names but does name his pall bearers and that he was interred in Pine Grove Cemetery, which I know now as I have seen and taken a photo of Ann E and William Nolan’s gravestone.[2] Thus I have found the right William Nolan (my 2nd great-grandfather). Also hopefully I have found a lead to who his mother was from the death record if the informant knew him well.
 You can take a look at the newspaper article at

[1], Worcester Daily Spy, Worcester, MA, March 8, 1895, p4. copyrighted by NewsBank and/or the American Antiquarian Society. 2004.
[2] See Blog Post, dated Thursday, January 8, 2015.

Monday, January 19, 2015


The day we found Ann E. and William Nolan’s gravestone we naturally looked for other Nolan Stones in the immediate vicinity. There were two very promising ones.

Inscription –Samuel Nolan 1863 - 1914, his wife Catherine Kearney 1863-1946, children  Sadie 1891-1896, Maggie 1900 -1900, Rose Murphy, 1898 -1985.[1]

Inscription-John Nolan 1873-1973, his wife Ellen B. Prentice 1873-1959[2]

I knew about; and had documentation on a John M. Nolan, born 30 July 1873 at Bridge End in Lisburn, Ireland to William Nolan, Dryer of Longstone, and Ann Eliza Nolan formerly Maginness.[3]  But I had no idea about another son named Samuel Nolan as I couldn’t find any other children in my Irish research. 

Remember in the 1881 Scotland census[4] I only found my great-grandmother Sarah Nolan, age 15, living at 7 Quarry Street, in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, Scotland with her older brother James, listed as head of household, his wife Mary A. and their daughter Susan 2. Also present in the household were James’ and Sarah’s father William Nolan, age 49, a younger brother, Joseph Nolan age 12. All but Susan, who was born in Johnstone were working and listed that they had been born in Ireland.

I searched all over but could not find any trace of what had happened to William’s wife Ann Eliza, and their youngest son, John M. Nolan, age 8. So I guess that gives me another person (Samuel) to look for maybe???

[1] Inscription of the grave stone, Pine Grove Cemetery, No. Grafton, MA.
[2] ibid
[3]Family Search, “Quarterly returns of births in Ireland 1864-1955, with index to births, 1864-1921” FHL film no. 255883, p.649, item 105
[4] FamilySeacrh, “Census returns of Scotland for 1881,” FHL film No.203566, p.23.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Before I Continue on My Quest for the Nolan Ancestors


For me, I think it is very helpful to gather all my research and start composing the information into a story. Once I do that I am able to see where I am missing important clues to create a genealogical sketch that other people can follow and make sense of.

That happened when I started working on my first article “George F. Howe of Bridport, Vermont, Ticonderoga, NY, and Worcester, Massachusetts” that I entered in the MASSOG Writing Contest in 2010. I didn’t win, but my goal was to get my article published, which was accomplished in the “MASSOG”,[1] Summer issue, 2011. That whole experience was quite humbling, with some highs and lows, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for the anything. From the very start of going to the classes with some of the other participants, learning the basics of how to write an article, sharing our articles with each other, and thinking how much better the other people articles were; then submitting my work I learnt so much. All of the participants were very helpful in critiquing each other’s articles, thus making it a worthwhile learning experience. 

When the MASSOG Editorial Board accepted my article for publication that is when the real work began.  They are extremely professional and taught me the proper way to cite my facts. I really learned a lot from them. My hat goes off to all of them for doing a great job as dedicated volunteer s. They were extremely patient. Thanks to all of you.

[1] Genealogical Journal for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts published 3 times a year, Massachusetts Society of Genealogists, Inc.