Another Find

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I have wondered for some time if purchasing a membership with would be valuable to me. I wondered if there was going to be different newspaper articles available from what was posted on To my surprise it has turned out to be very valuable.


My paternal great-great-grandfather, Benjamin Franklin Burgess, was in the Civil War and was at one point in time one of only seven survivors. I found many articles on with mention of him in it, including his obituary, which did not mention his deceased wife at all. I knew that her first name was Mary and that she was alive up until 1920 but that was about all I knew about her.


I started reading every article with the mention of B.F. Burgess in it. For once the tendency in the late 1800s and early 1900s to post everything about every move made by residents in the newspaper was about to pay off. I found this article:


Olean Evening Herald, June 22, 1920


Mr. and Mrs. B. F. Burgess and family of Olean visited at the home of Mrs. Burgess’ brother, John Donigan, Sunday.


I now knew her maiden name and was about to discover a whole lot more. I kept reading the society articles and found not only that she had a brother named John but had one name Thomas also. It was at this point I was about to be confused. One of the articles mentioned siblings named “O’Keefe.”


I had been searching the census records in the Olean area to find the Donigan family that would have a Mary, John and Thomas, pretty common names for an Irish family. It all became clear when I found Mary’s brothers living in the Olean area as step children of Patrick O’Keefe. Mary’s mother, Mary, had remarried after her first husband, James Donigan’s death about 1860 – 1865. I found 6 children from the marriage of James Donigan and Mary and another 2 children from her marriage to Patrick O’Keefe.


Of course since I have solved the problem of Mary Donigan, I have now created more problems, like the names of James Donigan’s parents and Mary’s mother’s maiden name and then her parents and then…. It never ends.


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