Monday, April 10, 2017

Mystery Monday: Chasing John Sheehan

Mystery Monday is a daily prompt at Geneabloggers that asks us to share mystery ancestors or mystery records – anything in our family history research which is currently unsolved.  With any luck fellow genealogy bloggers will lend their eyes to what has been found so far and possibly help solve the mystery.

Over the past couple of years, I have done just about all the online research I can do on the siblings of my father’s maternal grandmother and my great grandmother Mary Theresa Sheehan Killeen Walsh. There is one brother left to tackle: John Sheehan. I have put him off far too long. Isn’t the reason obvious? That name! Every Tom, Dick, and Harry is named John Sheehan.

This is what I know: John Sheehan was born June 1863 in Croom, County Limerick, Ireland. He was the second child and first son of Daniel Sheehan and Bridget Gorman. On 28 June, 1863, he was baptized. Witnesses were Michael and Elizabeth Sheehan.

John Sheehan Baptism record 1863
From Catholic Parish Registers 

This is what I DON’T know: Just about everything. However, just to narrow that down a bit, I don’t know if John even left Ireland. His brother Denis remained in the motherland while all the girls immigrated to New York. So if John did, in fact, precede or follow his sisters, did he live in New York or somewhere else?

This is what I WANT to know: Just about everything. However, just to narrow that down a bit, is this John Sheehan? 

John Jr 1918 and unknown man New York
John Jr 1918 New York
John Jr in the basin about 1917; man unknown
John Jr. in the basin 1917 New York

John Jr about 1921 with unknown man  New York
John Jr about 1921
If so, how is he related to the children identified in photos as John Jr. (born about 1917) and “Bob” (a girl, born about 1919)? There are a few pictures of him with them, but more often the children are pictured with a woman who could be a wife or sister.

My plan in the coming weeks is to examine census records and whatever else might be available to help answer these burning questions. Even if I don’t come to a logical conclusion, maybe I will at least eliminate some of the possibilities.

© 2017, Wendy Mathias. All rights reserved.


  1. Good luck! It sounds a major project to undertake.

  2. You had me at "Sheehan" because I've been puzzling over my husband's Shehen (or Shehan) family for years. I sure hope you're able to learn more! Good luck.

  3. Hope you have some success. He definitely looks like a great mystery.

  4. Good luck with your mysterious John Sheehan. My mother's maiden name was Martin so believe me, I feel your pain.

  5. Common names make research difficult. I know because I have Brown & Smith in my family. But takeout sone step, one location at a time. And remember to enjoy the research. ha!

  6. Good luck! If he was in NY, wouldn't he show up in some group photos?

    Finding Eliza