Finding Nellie Part I: Beginning With the End

Back in early 2008, I wrote a post titled “Beam Me Up, Scotty,” in which I lamented the fact that my maternal ancestors must have been beamed to Earth from The Mother Ship because they left almost no trace of themselves anywhere. 

I received several comments on the post, the most helpful of which was made by fellow blogger Charley “Apple” Grabowski. Apple had done a bit of sleuthing for me, and in the process, found a few interesting newspaper articles that I had previously missed. (I blame the busy toddler I was caring for at the time. Or’s kooky search engine.)

Using these and other clues, I have slowly chipped away at the mystery of this family. There is still plenty more to keep me busy, but I am so glad to know that maybe – just maybe – these ancestors really were Earthlings after all. :-)

So, working backwards, here is some of what I have learned about my great-great grandmother, Nellie (Coyne) Delaney’s short life.


The Death of Nellie (Coyne) Delaney

My grandmother’s cousin (now deceased) had already provided the clue that Nellie died in 1901, but she did not know exactly when, why, or where Nellie was buried. In the “Grandma’s Memories” journal I gave to my grandmother a few years before she died, my grandmother indicated that Nellie died in childbirth. I have yet to verify that bit of information, but at least I can confirm Nellie’s date of death and burial location.

One of newspaper articles found by Apple was a death notice for “Mrs. D. Delaney,” which was published in The Nebraska State Journal on 13 February 1901.1

Death Notice of Nellie (Coyne) Delaney, 1901

I knew this was “my” Nellie because her she was married to Dennis (or Daniel?) Delaney, and 943 U Street was the address at which the family was living when the 1900 U.S. census – my only previous information about this family – was enumerated. Based on the article’s date of publication, I now knew that Nellie had died at her home on 12 February 1901. Whether or not she died during childbirth remains to be proven. I really hope that story was not true.


Nellie’s Burial

The following day, Nellie’s funeral notice was published.2

Funeral notice of Nellie (Coyne) Delaney, 1901

What was helpful in this article – aside from her full name, her husband’s name, and her address – was the information that she was taken to Harvard for burial, thus keeping me from fruitless searches of the many cemeteries in Lincoln!

Since Harvard is in Clay County, I paid a visit to the Clay County, Nebraska, GenWeb page to see what I could find out about cemeteries in that town. I learned that the Adams County Historical Society has a copy of grave marker transcriptions from the Harvard Cemetery, so I fired off an email asking if Nellie was found on any of their lists. In a couple of days I had the answer: Nellie is indeed buried in Harvard Cemetery, along with her brother- and sister-in-law, Jeremiah and Zella Delaney, as well as their infant son Charles. Alas, no sign of her husband Dennis (or Daniel?).

I had to see where she was buried, even if only virtually, so I added a memorial for Nellie on Find A Grave and made a photo request. Within a couple of months, a kind volunteer posted a photo.3 


Nearly 25 years of searching for Nellie, and I had found her final resting place, at last. I cried (I’m a big sap like that).



  1.  “Personal,” The (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal, 13 February 1901, p. 6, col. 2, death notice of Mrs. D. Delaney; ( : accessed 22 November 2015).
  2. “People You Know,” The (Lincoln) Nebraska State Journal, 14 February 1901, p. 6, col. 2, funeral notice of Nellie Delaney; ( : accessed 22 November 2015).
  3.  Find A Grave, digital images (http:/ : accessed 4 April 2015), photograph by Peggy Bargen Duey #46873059, grave marker for Nellie Delaney (1875-1901), memorial #66007620, Harvard Cemetery, Harvard, Clay County, Nebraska.

The Big History of a Little Bug

Betsy Ross 1777

For you history and/or insect lovers, here’s something that will make you go “Hmmmm” (or just plain “Eeewww!”).

The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, California, has opened a new exhibit called “The Red That Colored the World,” which is all about the impact a little insect has had on society:

The cochineal insect is tiny and not all that impressive-looking. But its impact has been big. Valued for the high-quality red color made from it, the little bug created huge wealth for Spain in colonial times. It found its way into clothing, painting, weavings and furniture in the Old World and New World. More recently, it’s angered vegans who’ve objected to its use in food.

Yeah, you read that right: food. That would be the “eewww” part.

The article quoted above from The Orange County Register, “Santa Ana museum shows how a bug changed fashion and fabric,” shares a bit of history about how cochineal dye (or carmine lake) has been used throughout history.

Bug-phobic me had never heard about this practice – especially the food part (eeewww), so I did a little research of my own and found this science-y video on YouTube:

(My descendant watched it with me and has vowed never to eat red-colored food ever again.)

The exhibition was organized by the Museum of International Folk Art, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and made possible with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities. It will continue at the Bowers Museum until February 21, 2016. If you get a chance to see it, let me know!

For those of you who want to learn more about the history of cochineal dye, check out A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire by Amy Butler Greenfield. It sounds rather fascinating!





Image from Wikipedia Commons: “Betsy Ross 1777, a ca. 1920 depiction by artist Jean Leon Gerome Ferris of Ross showing Gen. George Washington (seated, left), Robert Morris and George Ross how she cut the revised five-pointed stars for the flag.” Betsy Ross is said to have used cochineal dye for the red stripes in the first American flag.



WWII-Era Digital Collection Coming to Anaheim Public Library

Heart Mountain Relocation Camp

Coming next week to the Anaheim Public Library’s Digital Collection is a treasure trove of 2,000+ photos taken by photographer George Hirahara. Many of the photos were taken during his time spent incarcerated at Heart Mountain, Wyoming, one of the internment camps that held Japanese and Japanese Americans during World War II.

The Anaheim collection, which is designed to showcase local history, captures four generations of Hiraharas, from their arrival to the United States in 1909, to the internment camps at Heart Mountain and the 60 years they later spent as residents of the city best known as the home of Disneyland.

The collection is currently housed at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington, and can also be seen in the Emmy Award-winning documentary “The Legacy of Heart Mountain.”

In honor of the digital collection’s unveiling, the documentary will be shown on Tuesday, November 10, 2015, from 6:00 to 7:30 p.m., at the Anaheim Central Library. George Hirahara’s granddaughter, Patti Hirahara, will be on-hand to introduce the new Hirahara Family Digital Photo Collection. More information in this flyer.


Read the sourcelink from The Los Angeles Times.

Photo of Heart Mountain Relocation Center, 1942, from Wikipedia Commons.



Updates from the Veterans History Project (VHP): VHP Across the Airwaves

Veterans History Project

The following was received this morning from the Library of Congress Veterans History Project. This Veterans Day, let’s try to preserve a few more of these precious stories before the veterans themselves are gone.


Wednesday, November 11, 2015, marks Veterans Day, and the Veterans History Project (VHP) is again asking everyone to make it meaningful. Starting this morning and leading up to the holiday, VHP Director Bob Patrick will be a featured guest on several radio, satellite and internet programs across the nation, discussing the importance of collecting and preserving veterans’ oral histories for the Library of Congress.

Spread the word, tune in to one of the stations below to find out how to help. Air times may vary. Dates and times listed are for live interviews only.

  • Sirius XM Channel 124- The Morning Briefing with Tim Farley (11/4 at 7:40 a.m. ET)
  • Sirius XM Urban View- The Joe Madison Show (11/4 at 7:50 a.m. ET)
  • WBAV-FM, Charlotte, NC- The Front Page
  • North Carolina News Network
  • WLAC-AM, TN- Music City Mag
  • Tennessee Radio Network, Tennessee Matters
  • Florida Public Radio Network
  • 24/7 News Network
  • WFED-AM, Washington, DC
  • WUSF-FM, Tampa, FL
  • Generation ‘Merica (11/4 at 11 a.m. ET)
  • 96.3 WHUR-FM- Taking it to the Streets/Steve Harvey Morning Show, Washington, DC
  • Texas Public Radio- Texas Matters
  • American Urban Radio Networks
  • Native America Calling
  • The National Defense Radio Show (11/5 at 11 a.m. ET)
  • KUHF- Houston Public Media, Houston, TX
  • KGO-AM- KGO Morning News , San Francisco, CA

Those in the DC area may also tune in to NBC4 on Saturday, November 7, at 7:30 p.m. to view a 30-minute news feature on VHP’s “Do Your Part, DC” campaign.



BOO! Free Access to NEHGS’s Cemetery Databases Through Nov. 7

This just in from NEHGS… plus, the catch phrase gave me a giggle. :-)

Halloween promo image NEHGS 2015


Your ancestors have been dying for you to uncover them— and NEHGS has opened the cemetery gates so you can start digging!

During Halloween, NEHGS offers family historians a FREE opportunity to uncover their ancestors.

NEHGS’s Cemetery Collection on is FREE to search from October 30 through November 7.


October 30, 2015—Boston, Massachusetts—“Your ancestors have been dying for you to uncover them. NEHGS has opened the cemetery gates so you can start digging!”

Just in time for the Halloween celebrations and to add some fun to ancestral research this holiday, and New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) have made their complete collection of American cemetery databases accessible for FREE to guest users on their data-rich website.

The collection of more than 100 databases comprising more than one million records is accessible FREE from Friday, October 30, through midnight on Saturday, November 7.  The collection includes cemetery transcriptions from New England and other states and was compiled from many different sources to create a unique group of cemetery offerings.

Registration at is required as a FREE Guest Member to gain access to these valuable resources. Guest User accounts allow web visitors to use a limited suite of databases on and to access web content such as making purchases from the NEHGS online store. Unlimited access to more than one billion online records on the website and to other benefits is through membership at NEHGS.

Family historians may start digging for their ancestors in these historic American cemeteries at:

The cemetery databases included in this special offering and FREE Access event are:

  • American Jewish Historical Society – New England Archives: Jewish Cemeteries in Massachusetts
  • Boston, MA: Old Cemeteries of Boston
  • Brooklyn, NY: Cemetery Inscriptions, 1686-1882
  • Cemetery Transcriptions from the NEHGS Manuscript Collections
  • Charleston, SC: Inscriptions in Old Jewish Cemeteries, 1762-1903
  • Dedham, MA: Church and Cemetery Records 1638-1845
  • Gloucester, MA: Burials in Gloucester Cemeteries
  • New York: Long Island Cemetery Inscriptions, 1652-1910
  • North Andover, MA: Burials in Ridgewood Cemetery, 1848-1950
  • Northampton, MA: West Farms Cemetery
  • Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Database Index
  • Sharon, MA: Sharon Memorial Park Cemetery
  • Sterling, MA: Leg Cemetery Records
  • Westbrook, CT: Cemetery Inscriptions
  • Western Massachusetts: Jewish Cemeteries of Western Massachusetts

About American Ancestors and New England Historic Genealogical Society

The founding genealogical society in America, New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) was established in 1845. Today it has a national collecting scope and serves more than 130,000 constituents through an award-winning website,

NEHGS’s resources, expertise, and service are unmatched in the field, and their leading staff of on-site and online genealogists includes experts in early American, Irish, English, Scottish, Italian, Atlantic and French Canadian, African American, Native American, Chinese, and Jewish research. The NEHGS library and archive, located at 99–101 Newbury Street in downtown Boston, is home to more than 28 million items, including artifacts, documents, records, journals, letters, books, manuscripts, and other items dating back hundreds of years.



Port of Los Angeles Archives Needs Your Help

Port of Los Angeles Archives Building

“In early 2015, the Port of Los Angeles clandestinely closed its archival facilities and ended its program to preserve and protect its historic records.” 

This information has been circulating on a few email lists and blogs, but I wanted to share it here, in case you missed it.



In 2010, The Port of Los Angeles, with the full approval of the Los Angeles Harbor Commission and the Port of Los Angeles Executive Director, began a program to identify, protect and preserve its historic resources.


An estimated 25,000 linear feet of historic materials have been identified, an enormous collection practically unknown to scholars and researchers. This includes photographs (prints and negatives), operational records, accounting ledgers, maps, engineering blueprints, promotional material and assorted ephemera.


The archives were previously retained in the former Coast Fishing Company Offices in Wilmington. By 2010, the building had been converted to a proper archival facility. This included climate controls, security in the form of storage rooms with keyed entry and space to process oversized historic materials such as maps.




In early 2015, the Port of Los Angeles clandestinely closed its archival facilities and ended its program to preserve and protect its historic records. The historic resources were removed from the appropriate archival storage facility and placed  in storage conditions that are inhospitable to any kind of records. The current facilities suffer from vermin infestation and are located directly adjacent to the water; the humidity is on any given day approximately 15-20 percent higher inside than it is outside the facility. The historic records are in immediate danger of being lost forever.

You can read the open letter from Nicholas Beyelia to learn more about this archive’s importance. Nicholas states that he has worked at the Los Angeles Harbor Department/Port of Los Angeles Archives for the past three years. Concerned Californians, and all who are interested in historic preservation, should take a look and sign the petition, if you feel so inclined.


*Photo from the website referenced in this post.



News From the Library of Congress


A couple of interesting emails about one of my favorite places – the Library of Congress – popped into my inbox this morning.

First off, the LOC’s fabulous newspaper site, Chronicling America, has just posted it’s 10 millionth page:

The site now features more than 10 million pages – 74 terabytes of total data – from more than 1,900 newspapers in 38 states and territories and the District of Columbia. The site averaged nearly 3.8 million page views per month last year and is being used by students, researchers, journalists and others for all kinds of research, from family history to in-depth analysis of U.S. culture. The headlines, articles and advertisements capture the life and times of the American people, shining new light on historic events as they unfolded.


The Library is celebrating the milestone with a series of 10 lists featuring interesting and off-beat content from the online archive presented in weekly blog posts beginning Oct. 8 with “Cat Tales.” Other topics will include “Medical Advances Gone Wrong,” “Coffee ‘Facts’” and “End of the World.” Sign up for the blog at and follow the fun on Twitter at @librarycongress #ChronAm #10Million.

That’s an awful lot of scanning, when you think about it! And oh boy, I can’t wait to read those posts about “Medical Advances Gone Wrong.” How ’bout you? 😯

You can read the entire press release at Online Resource of Historic Newspapers Posts 10 Millionth Page.

Second, did you know that the Library of Congress is on Instagram? Neither did I, but they want us to follow!

It is a great time to follow the Library on Instagram. If you haven’t been to our Main Reading Room, it is a feast for the eyes – and the camera. Our own photographer, the very talented Shawn Miller, will be capturing and posting images.

This coming Monday, the LOC will open its Main Reading Room for their traditional Columbus Day Open House, giving people chance to take pictures of the historic room (apparently not everyone gets free run of the place, like Nicholas Cage did in National Treasure). So if you’re in town, post your Library photos on Instagram using the hashtag #LibraryOpenHouse. They will pick three favorites to feature on their blog next Wednesday.

Read the rest of the post, Going Inside the Library on Instagram. And don’t forget to follow the follow the LOC. (If you feel so inclined, you can also follow me on Instagram, although I am nowhere near as interesting as the LOC!)



Are You #CyberAware?

National Cyber Security Awareness Month

In addition to marking the beginning of Family History Month, October 1 was also the start of National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM). The stage is set for a massive global effort to impact millions of Internet users on the importance of online safety and security.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the National Cyber Security Alliance founded and now lead NCSAM. All digital citizens – from consumers and small- and medium-sized businesses to multinationals, educational institutions and nonprofits – will be encouraged to increase their awareness about safe Internet use.

With more than one billion data records compromised worldwide1 and 348 million U.S. Internet users’ identities exposed in breaches during 20142, NCSAM is calling for intensified vigilance from Internet users everywhere to protect their personal information. Check out NCSA’s infographic, “Securing the Internet is our Shared Responsibility,” to learn more about themes, tips and how to get engaged.

“It’s virtually impossible to manage our lives and responsibilities without relying on the Internet. It is the foundation under much of what we do – from shopping to monitoring health and home to turning in homework and keeping in touch with friends and family ‒ we depend on being connected 24/7,” said Michael Kaiser, Executive Director, NCSA. “As much as we have come to rely on technology, we do so with the understanding that it is not risk-free.

Cyber threats and data breaches continue and the loss of personal information, privacy, and the real world consequences of the impact of cyber incidents have everyone’s attention. National Cyber Security Awareness Month is a collective effort by government, industry and civil society to ensure everyone is taking steps to be safer online. This starts with actionable advice for everyone, such as turning on two-factor authentication on email accounts, not clicking on suspicious links, using public WiFi wisely and thinking twice about posting personal information online.”

To bridge the knowledge and action gap, NCSA is asking Internet users everywhere to be more #CyberAware by making at least one STOP. THINK. CONNECT. practice a part of their everyday, online routines:

  • Keep a clean machine: Keeping all web-connected devices ‒ including PCs, mobile phones, smartphones, and tablets ‒ free from malware and infections makes the Internet safer for you and more secure for everyone.

  • Get two steps ahead: Turn on two-step authentication ‒ also known as two-step verification or multifactor authentication ‒ on accounts where available.

  • When in doubt, throw it out: Links in email, posts and texts are often the ways cybercriminals try to steal your information or infect your devices.

  • Think before you app: Review the privacy policy and understand what data (such as location and entry to your social networks) the app can access on your device before you download. Delete apps you are no longer using.

  • Make a better password: Improve your defenses by making passwords that you can remember and are hard to guess for others. Preferably use numbers, capital and lowercase letters, and symbols that are different for all accounts.

  • Post only about others what you would have them post about you. It’s the golden rule on the Internet, too.

Please visit the National Cyber Security Alliance website for more tips on how you can be #cyberaware.

Protect your identity, as well as your precious photos and years of family history research.



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This modified press release is brought to you by the National Cyber Security Alliance.



Best Bytes for the Week of 2 Oct 2015

Best Bytes

What’s Hot


Cool Stuff

In the News

Help Wanted

Contests & Fun Stuff

From the Blogs

The Last Byte

Barring a slip in the bathtub or a piece of Skylab falling on his head, Simon Cowell is expected to live to the ripe old age of 95.

According to this article, Mr. Cowell has taken a DNA test from an undisclosed company in L.A., which has provided him with this promising life-span report. “They take your blood and DNA, then give you back a sheet of paper which says ‘We think you’re going to be alive until xxxx'”

Now, that may or may not be good news to you, but I’m pretty sure that it’s fabulous news to him. After all, the 55-year-old Cowell has a 19-month old son (making me Not the Oldest Parent in the World). Knowing that he will possibly live long enough to see his descendant graduate from college, get married, and have kids must be very reassuring for him.

We should all be so lucky.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, knowing how long one has left to live could inspire one to get off one’s fanny and do the things one keeps saying one will do, but never quite gets around to. Like travel to the Motherland. Write that family history book. Go hang-gliding.

On the other hand, knowing one’s expiration date might cause one to slip into a deep depression, especially if said date is rapidly approaching, thus squandering one’s time left on earth.

So my question to you is: If you had the chance to find out how long you are expected to live, would you do it? 



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