Thursday, March 21, 2019

John Joyce, Is That You?

About 10 years ago I finished collecting the names of all my third great grandparents of which there are 32. All of us have 32 great grandparents but it's an accomplishment to be able to name them all. I can't say that I know all their dates of birth and death though. One in particular has always plagued me; John A. Joyce. 

He was the great grandfather of my maternal grandmother; Marilyn Irene Fay-Gardner. Grandma Marilyn died before I was born so I had very little reference for researching this branch of my family. In fact, my mother's whole side of the tree has proven to be quite challenging given the nature of the relationships among the living relatives. No one speaks to each other. In any case...

I knew virtually nothing about 3rd Great Grandpa John. Based on U.S. Census records I know he was born in Ireland in about 1828 or 1829 but I didn't know when, or where, or who his parents were - still don't know any of that. I knew he married Mary Ann O'Neill but I don't know when or where. And obviously he's dead but I can't find a death certificate or burial record for him which is the most befuddling part. 

My Joyces have a huge headstone in Calvary Cemetery in Queens, New York. A big flashy thing! No branch of my family has big flashy headstones. Most of them don't have headstone at all. I am not of a wealthy stock. But here it is; a big shiny, showy headstone.

Years ago I wrote to Calvary and purchased what they call the Interment List; basically a list of every person buried in a single family plot. The cost of such a record begins at $120 and increases by $10 for every additional name. If you have a family plot with 10 bodies interred in it that will run you $210 for that list. Pricey if you ask me. I mean, I come from people who couldn't afford headstones, you think I have $210 laying around for lists? I don't! So I saved up. Yes, yes I did. And when I got the lists I was stunned to learn John A. Joyce bought the plot but he's not buried in it. I then combed the NYC Death Index for records that might possibly be him but nothing that jived. So I gave up.

Recently though I have been meditating on the fact that I tell my genealogy students to forget everything you think you know. Maybe he didn't die in NYC. Maybe there were no remains. Maybe he died in some awful fiery blaze. Or maybe he dies in another state and they never brought his body back to NY. Hmm. Maybe they spent all they had left on that flashy freakin' headstone.

Last night while poking through some hints there was a records for a John A. Joyce in a U.S. National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. Actually, there are many of them all for the same man. A careful read revealed that he was married to a Mary Ann Joyce who resided at 763 9th Ave. in New York City. 

1910 Census
That's her!

The above image of the 1910 census clearly showed my John Joyce, his wife Mary Ann, son George, and daughter Mary J, all living at 763 9th Ave. in Manhattan. 

My 3rd great grandmother, Mary Ann O'Neill-Joyce, died on January 11, 1911. Her death certificate listed her as married, as opposed to widowed so I assumed that she pre-deceased John. But maybe not...

According to the military records for John he died on September 30, 1910 in Dayton, Ohio; just months before his wife. 

I am still trying to corroborate this information to confirm that is my John Joyce but that address makes for pretty solid evidence in which case, this is my 3rd great grandpa's headstone...

1 comment:

  1. Having seen you for our session, you had told me this story. Seeing the photos are amazing. Your amazing. Yes sometimes you need to take a break from this all (but 10 years?) and go back to it at another time. I guess we shouldn't "beat a dead horse". However sometimes it's hard not to do. This is very addicting. You always seem to get wonderful results. Thank You for all You do.