Sunday, November 5, 2017

Nurse Bernice "Birdie" Phillips (1899-1980)

Bernice Phillips was born on the 14th of December 1899 in Essex, Ontario to Frank W. and Mary (Hamilton) Phillips. Her father Frank was born in Michigan and her mother Mary was born in Edinburgh, Scotland (she came over in 1886). Bernice's parents were married on the 11th of June 1895.

The Family tree for Bernice "Birdie" Phillips
Bernice's father Frank was a conductor on the railroad, later a plastering contractor and he died suddenly (August 12, 1914) after a short illness with a brain tumor.

Weeks later (September 19, 1914), Bernice's oldest brother Harold Frederick (aged 16 years at the time) died from a "pistol shot in the head" (see below).

Bernice, now the eldest surviving child, lived with her mother Mary (Hamilton) Phillips (1875-1947) and her three sisters:
  • Beatrice Ellen (born 15 March 1902, Essex, Ontario). She later married (1922) bank clerk Lorne McCallum and they lived in Stratford, Ontario in 1980.
  • Grace Lorraine (born 01 September 1904, Essex, Ontario). Grace never married and worked as a private secretary. She died in 1989 in Royal Oak, Oakland, Michigan.
  • Margaret Ruth (born 31 September 1912, Essex, Ontario) Maragaret was also a nurse and she married Henry Graves. They lived in Urbana, Illinois and her mother Mary (Hamilton) Phillips died there on April 2, 1947. She was brought back to Windsor and is buried in the Windsor Grove Cemetery.
The Phillips family lived in the Windsor area (233 Bruce Ave and then 812 Dougall) and are found in the 1901, 1911, and 1921 Canadian censuses in Essex north - Windsor.

In the1921 census, Bernice's mother Mary (1875-1947) is a "keeper" and takes in lodgers. Her widowed mother Helen (Caldwell) (Hamilton) Shuel (b 1841 Ireland) is also living there with the four daughters. Bernice is listed as a "nurse" on the 1921 census and here is what I found when I researched that more.

Hotel Dieu Nursing College

Bernice "Birdie" Phillips graduated from the Hotel Dieu School of Nursing along with nineteen other young women in official ceremonies held at St Alphonsus June 15, 1922

Source: Hotel Dieu's 50th Anniversary Book
Source: Hotel Dieu's 50th Anniversary Book

Hotel Dieu, Windsor, Ont., Canada (1923) Source: Mike Skreptak Collection; Red Binder; Public Domain; Valentine & Sons United Publishing Co. Limited; Postcard
History of Hotel Dieu and the Nurses

For more information on nursing in this time period, here are some great links:

 What Happened To Bernice "Birdie" Phillips 
Between 1940-1980?

All I ever knew about Bernice before I started this research was that she married my great uncle Gerald Moynahan (1908-1961) and that she was a nurse, possibly in WW II where she might have met Gerald who served with the Royal Canadian Army Medical Corps (R.C.A.M.C) in WWI.

I also knew that she was buried near the rest of my ancestors in Windsor's Assumption cemetery but there was no headstone. She is not listed on the Windsor Public Library's Obituary database (even though her obituary did appear in the Windsor Star on August 7, 1980) 

My first break came to me when good folks at Assumption cemetery told me where Bernice was buried (Bernice and Gerald are in St Ann Section, Row 28, site 6, there is no memorial listed.). Then the good folks told me that the date on file was August 8, 1980.

Now I had a starting point. I searched the Windsor Star and found:

Source: Windsor Star: 7 Aug 1980

From this obituary, I was able to build Bernice's family tree. 

But WHERE did "Birdie" go? 

Her mother is found on the 1940 census in Detroit, Michigan with Bernice's sisters Grace and Margaret (Beatrice had married) but Bernice was not there?

Could it be that, with the outbreak of World War II in 1939, she joined with other civilian nurses who went out in droves to enlist?

And WHEN did "Birdie" marry Gerald? 

I know that when "Birdie's" mother Mary (Hamilton) Phillips died in 1947, Bernice was single.

Source: Windsor Star: 3 Apr, 1947
And I know that by 1949, Bernice is listed as Mrs. Bernice Moynahan in the 1949 Windsor City Directory

So the marriage occurred some time between 1947 and 1949. Bernice was a Baptist and Gerald was a Roman Catholic. It could be that the marriage was a civil one? I did check the Niagara Falls Honeymoon registers

Using the same directories, we located Bernice as follows:
  • 1922-1927: Phillips, Bernice; Nurse; 812 Dougall Ave.
  • 1928-1935: Phillips, Bernice; Nurse at Metro General; 812 Dougall Ave.
  • 1937-1940: Phillips, Bernice; Nurse at Metro General; 926 Dougall Ave.
  • 1941-1942: Phillips, Bernice; Nurse at Metro General; 1164 Ouellette Ave.
  • 1943-1948: Phillips, Bernice; Nurse at Bendix- Eclipse; 1164 Ouellette Ave.
539 Campbell Ave. & 462 Elliott

448 Norfolk, Windsor, Ontario

714 Elliott, Windsor, Ontario

714 Elliott, Windsor, Ontario

714 Elliott, Windsor, Ontario

714 Elliott, Windsor, Ontario

So far, there is no evidence of Bernice Phillips having enlisted in the nurses for WWII, and I have not yet located a marriage record for Gerald and Bernice Moynahan, but I do know that even after Gerald's death in 1961, Bernice continued to nurse until she entered Villa Maria Home For the Aged (Windsor, Ontario) where she died in 1981.

In 1968, Bernice "Birdie" (Phillips) Moynahan was 69 years old and still working as a nurse (see below).

1968 Canada, Voters Lists, 1935-1980

I have managed to learn a great deal about Bernice and her Phillips family. I only wish that I had a photograph of her to share here on this page that I have created to honour her. Pehaps one day, I will locate one.

I hope so.

The Border Cities Star.  May 11, 1927 (Page 23 of 36)


Thursday, October 26, 2017

OTD: Oct. 26: Ambrose Edwin Moynahan Died

I have been using "On This Day" (OTD) each month as a way of recognizing my ancestor's birth, marriages and deaths (BMDs) with the intention to review and update their files with any new information that may be available on

My FTM 2017 October calendar for my Moynahan family tree

In the case of remembering, reviewing and honouring Ambrose Edwin Moynahan (1876-1954), I found myself falling further and further "down a rabbit hole" where I soon realized that I had been corresponding with Ambrose's granddaughter in 2002 on an Ancestry message board!

Headstone for Ambrose Edwin Moynahan. Located in Section 2, Block 17 of Mount Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, Jefferson County, Colorado.Source: Find A Grave Memorial# 113903832
Mining engineer Ambrose Edwin Moynahan is descended from the Colorado Moynahans that I have written about in detail before:

52 Ancestors No. 10: James Moynahan (1842-1919) Civil War Soldier & Colorado Miner

 52 Ancestors No. 30: Department Commander James Moynahan 1917

1899: James Moynahan Remained True To Lincoln

Moynahan Fire & Hose Company - Alma, Colorado

James Moynahan is my Colorado 1st cousin (4x removed) (1842-1919) Source: eBook screenshot: Google Books: Park County By Park County Local History Archives

The Colorado Moynahans
As I fell further and further down this rabbit hole, I came across this 1940 photo (below) and I wondered if the man in the photo was Ambrose so I wrote to the South Park National Heritage Area and learned that the man in the photo below is NOT Ambrose but instead, this is Ambrose's brother James William Moynahan (1878-1957)

2718. Alma – Houses. 1940s. Spring house is in background. Back row left to right: William Moynahan, Glendour Moynahan, Nell Kelly, Elma Gates, Edna Moore, Laura Craig. Front row left to right: Jane Kelly, Frank Kelly, Betty Craig, Thelma Gransbury. Source: Park Co. Archives:
Read: Behind the Fa├žade: The James  Moynahan House in Alma; Page 4/10; )

Ambrose Edwin Moynahan is buried very near his brother William (and William's wife Glendour) and many other Moynhans in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, Jefferson County, Colorado

Headstone for Ambrose Edwin Moynahan. Located in Section 2, Block 17 of Mount Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, Jefferson County, Colorado.Source: Find A Grave Memorial# 113903832
From the South Park National Heritage Area:
Hello Cindi, 
I volunteer with the Park Co. Local History Archives and was asked to answer your email to the South Park Nat'l Heritage Area. Our office has a number of historic photos but unfortunately, none of Ambrose. We only have one that I know of of James.

The Moynahan family was so prominent in Park County as I'm sure you know. 
Also, I have obits on a Capt. James Minihan and his son Ralph. The Minihan obit says he was a cousin to James Moynahan so I thought you might like to see them which I've attached. Photos of their headstones also attached.  

Ambrose Edwin Moynahan's Family

As I tracked down more and more records about Ambrose Edwin Moynahan and his children and grandchildren, things got very interesting when I came across an old Ancestry message board message to me from Ambrose granddaughter June Frances Woeber in 2002 (see below)

Sadly, June Woeber who had contacted me through Ancestry, passed away in California in 2014. June never married (nor did her eldest sister and one brother), however, she did leave behind an extremely rich account of her Moynahan-Woeber family who moved from Colorado to California.

Because I have no idea what happened to all of June's genealogy work over the years (no longer on, I share it here in her honour.

Ambrose Moynahan's Grandchildren: 
The Woebers 
The Woeber family

The Woebers: Front Row: Lorenz, Philip, Zelda; Back Row:Edwin, James and June

June and Her Brothers

Jim and Ed both flew in the United States military and later flew as commercial airline pilots for thirty years each, (Jim with Delta and Ed with Western and Delta airlines). Ed never married and was reported in 2002 "in Nebraska hunting birds with his two hunting dogs." (Ed died in 2009.)

The Woeber siblings: June, Jim, Ed and Phil.

June Woeber (1930-2014)
In this message board entry below by June Woeber in 2002, she tells the story about how her parents met, how they made their way from Colorado to California and a some of what she remember from her paternal roots (Woeber-Stapleton)

The Older Sister: Lorene Woeber (1924-2014)

Lorene, the eldest child of the Moynahan-Woeber family, never married (like June) and the two sisters took care of their mother Zelda (Moynahan) Woeber who turned 101 years old on January 31 2002 (she died February 27, 2002).

Both sisters, after their mother passed in 2002, eventually finished their days moving in to the assisted living residence Hallmark Assisted Living in California in 2014 (where Lorene died eight months later and June died seven months after that)
This Post in Memory of June Woeber 

As I researched Ambrose Moynahan's grandchildren and discovered my 2002 connection to June Frances Woeber, I feel eternally grateful for our brief  encounter with one another and I dedicate this post about her grandfather to her.

June is buried with her sister Lorene 

 at Hillcrest Memorial Park Bakersfield Kern County California, USA GPS 
Find A Grave Memorial# 172004005
Burial: Hillcrest Memorial Park Bakersfield Kern County California, USA Find A Grave Memorial# 172004005

A Further Mystery?

Who are "Capt. James Minihan and his son Ralph. The Minihan obituary says he was a cousin to James Moynahan"?

Capt. James Minihan as pictured in
"A brief history of the Tenth Michigan Cavalry by Trowbridge, L. S., 1836-1912"
This is yet another Colorado cousin "genealogical rabbit hole" that will have to wait for another blog post in the future. For now, I leave you with the pictures that were sent to me by the South Park National Heritage Area

 They wrote, "The Moynahan family was so prominent in Park County as I'm sure you know. 
Also, I have obits on a Capt. James Minihan and his son Ralph. The Minihan obit says he was a cousin to James Moynahan so I thought you might like to see them which I've attached. Photos of their headstones also attached. 

Another Colorado cousin: Capt. Jas Minihan and son Ralph Minihan buried beside one another in Colorado (Source: South Park National Heritage Area)

Another "Colorado cousin": Capt. Jas Minihan (Source: South Park National Heritage Area) See:
Another Colorado cousin: Ralph Mininhan South Park National Heritage Area
Ralph Minihan's sad obituary (from the Fairplay Flume Newspaper dated 1894 December 6, page 4

Minihan, James; Capt. Jas. Minihan; CO. D.; 10 Mich. Cav.
Notes:  Buried in fenced area with Ralph C. Minihan .
Minihan, Ralph C.; Ralph C.; Son of James & F.E. Minihan, Died Nov. 
30, 1894; Aged 23 Yrs, 27 Ds; Minihan
Notes:  Enclosed in a fenced area with Capt. James Minihan; Son of 
James and F.F. Minihan 

Buckskin Cemetery, Alma, Park County, Colorado 

Some Park County, Colorado Links.

Monday, October 23, 2017

October: Family History Month in the U.S.

October is Family History Month in the U.S. (Photo: Ernest J. Moynahan and grandson Dan M.)

Since being passed by the United States Congress in 2001, Family History Month as been observed annually during the month of October.

"Funeral service professionals, community groups, historians, storytellers, and genealogical and historical societies promote and celebrate National Family History Month as way to commemorate each family’s rich and deep history." (Source: NFDA)

This is exciting for folks like me who have ancestors in U.S./Canada border cities like Windsor, Ontario and Detroit, Michigan.

The Detroit Society for Genealogical Research Facebook group (DSGR) has been placing daily posts about researching your ancestors in Detroit and the state of Michigan. The series is called "31 Days of Detroit Family History Tips" and I am enjoying it so much that I thanked them and have decided to do a list of r
online Detroit genealogy resources here to make it easier for me to find them again in the future AND to share with others with ancestors in the Windsor/Detroit area.

Some examples of the DSGR posts:

DSGR Facebook: "31 Days of Detroit Family History Tips": Day 22

I have often taken out a one month subscription with the Detroit Free Press. It is only $7.95 for one month and I have received LOTS of information about my ancestors through articles and obituaries found there. The search field can be found at

 Some DETROIT ONLINE Resources

  • Michigan, Deaths and Burials, 1800-1995
    140,196 Detroit death records
    268,302 Wayne County death records
    A random collection of indexed Michigan deaths and burials from 1800-1995
  • Michigan, Death Index, 1971-1996
    382,644 Detroit death records
    622,675 Wayne County death records
    The collection is an index is provided by and consists of indexes to deaths for the years 1971 – 1996 from the Michigan Department of Vital and Health Records (Lansing, MI).
  • Michigan, Deaths, 1867-1897 **With Images**
    73,042 Detroit death records
    94,096 Wayne County death records
    Registration of Michigan deaths began in 1867 and continued until 1897 when the state required a death certificate be issued. This collection covers deaths registered by county clerks from 1867-1897. With only a smidgen over 500,000 records in the entire collection, Family Search estimates that nearly half of Michigan deaths were not recorded.
  • Michigan, Death Certificates, 1921-1952
    454,692 Detroit death records
    592,534 Wayne County death records
    The collection consists of an index of death records from the Michigan Department of Community Health, Division for Vital Records and Health Statistics (Lansing, MI) and was indexed by Family Search volunteers in 2012 & 2013. If you were researching your Michigan ancestors at the time, you anxiously awaited (and constantly checked Family Search) for the release of this collection.
    (Lansing, MI)
  • Seeking Michigan has death records for 1897-1920; 1921-1947, 1948-1952 (seekingmichigan.org 
  • Death - (part 1)
    Part 2 -
    Part 3 -

    Hidden Death lists
Detroit History
Land and Maps
  • Patron Directory of Wayne County 1876 Land owner directory from the Plat map book titled: "Illustrated Historical Atlas of Wayne County, MI 1876". Patron Directory of Wayne County 1876
  • Michigan, County Marriages, 1820-1935 22,188 Wayne County marriage records 
  • Michigan, Marriages, 1822-1995 440,926 Detroit marriage records
    659,434 Wayne County marriage records
    While this electronic index collection is not complete for all of Michigan, it is a wonderful resource for Wayne County. 
  • Michigan, Marriages, 1868-1925 596,637 Detroit marriage records 748,724 Wayne County marriage records Name index and images of marriages recorded in the State of Michigan. This is an excellent resource for Detroit researchers since the collection doesn’t just contain marriage records but marriage licenses, applications, registers, and certificates as well.
  • Marriage/Divorce -

Naturalization Records

  • Naturalization Record Index This Naturalization Record index was compiled from the Detroit Society for Genealogical Research Magazine. From the spring of 1991 through the fall of 2008, the society published transcriptions of Naturalization Records of the Recorder's Court, Detroit, Michigan in their quarterly magazine. In total over 5000 surnames were cited. These records contain a wealth of information for novice and advanced researchers alike. The index is alphabetized by surnames, while also providing volume, date, and page the information can be found upon in the magazine.
  • Windsor Public Library obituary listing (index from the Windsor Star).
  • Livonia Observer Obituary Index Currently, this index covers obituaries from the Livonia Observer newspaper from June 1955 - December 31, 2014.Last Name begins with: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
  • Detroit News Obituary Index
    Currently, this index covers obituaries from the Detroit News newspaper from January 1, 1980 - December 31, 2001. Please Note: we are in the process of converting our index to pdf format in alphabetical order by last name. As new letters are completed, they will be added below.
    Last Name begins with:
    A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 
Police Department Records
School Records
  • School records, Yearbooks, teacher files and so much more! How much more? The finding aid for this collection at the Walter P. Reuther Library is 42 pages!! (DSCR Tip: Day 2)

Sunday, October 22, 2017

On This Day: October 2017

Births, Marriages and Deaths (Note: living relatives removed)

I did not manage to post as many of these remembrances called "On This Day" on social media as I would like. Below are some of the ones that I did manage to post.

OCT. 18

OTD: On This Day, Oct 18, 1928 : my 1st cousin (1x removed) Madeline Demarse aka Sister Paul of the Cross (G.S.I.C) (1928-2010) was born
Her story here:

OTD: On This Day, Oct 18: my 1st cousin (2x removed) Agnes Broderick was born in 1904. (DNA results: shared with one of Agnes' descendants: 95 centimorgans shared across 6 DNA segments )
Her story here:

OCT 22

OTD: Our 3rd great uncle John Moynahan died Oct.22 (1841-1906) of typhoid fever. Father of well-known Essex/Kent auctioneer William Moynahan (Read about William here: John Moynahan is buried in St. Mary's Maidstone, Ontario.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Circle Of Life: Ontario Vital Records

On Saturday October 20, 2017 I attended a free event: Circle of Life: Ontario Vital Records and Ancestry DNA. This well-attended session was organized by the Ottawa Public Library and held at the beautiful Nepean Centrepointe.

Circle of Life: Exploring Ontario's Vital Records and DNA

At the outset, Lesley Anderson (Ancestry DNA) announced that there would be a draw prize of a FREE Ancestry DNA kit. (Sadly, I did not win)

Ottawa Public Library Nepean Centrepointe.
Lesley Anderson and Glenn Wright did a joint presentation of the "Ontario Vital Records" and did so in a very entertaining and informative way. I thought that I knew everything that I needed to know about vital statistics but I learned a LOT from these two experts.

Lesley Anderson and Glenn Wright
Lesley and Glenn started off joking about some of the alternative names that they had discussed for this presentation (which they have delivered together several times). Names like "Hatch, Match and Despatch" or "Womb to Tomb".

Civil Registration in Ontario

For today, we stayed with "Ontario Vital Records" and Lesley and Glenn proceeded to take us through the slide presentation starting with births, to marriages and finally Deaths. Here are some highlights from my notes:


Source: Moynahan Genealogy Photographs


  • In the earliest years, births weren't registered with the government and Churches supplied the information 
  • The Vitals Statistics Act of Ontario of 1869 was largely ignored until the 1880s
  • 1919 Vital Statistics Act: As of 1 January 1920 a physician was to report a birth within forty-eight hours and the cause of death within twenty-four hours instead of “forthwith”. 
  • Delayed registrations are important to note.
  • TIP: If you can locate the Registration books in digital format, it is sometimes fruitful to go page by page through the books to locate someone
  • TIP: In "birth search boxes", sometimes the forename is not entered so you can try searching using surname and gender only 
  • Archives of Ontario: Pathfinder to Birth Registrations - Word, PDF
  • Ancestry Ontario, Canada Births, 1858-1913  
  • Family Search: Ontario Births, 1869-1912
  • Family Search NOT INDEXED Browse through 126,534 images: Ontario, Roman Catholic Church Records, 1760-1923 Description  Baptisms, marriages, deaths and other records from several Roman Catholic parishes in the province of Ontario, Canada. This collection covers church records created 1760-1923, but the content and time period of the records will vary by parish.


Marriage of Rhea Fern Coughlan to Ernest Joseph Moynhan (1929)



Interesting Statistics from the Registrar of Ontario's Annual Reports  

Lesley and Glenn offered quite a few interesting anecdotes gleamed from these annual reports.
The Internet Archive: Ontario Registrar Records

In 1883, December was the most favourable month to be married

In 1883, there were 150 deaths From Teething
I will report on the information provided by Lesley Anderson's DNA presentation on my next DNA blog post. Lesley offered us lots of tips about how to read the AncestryDNA results; sort through the matches and much, much more.

Archives of Ontario: Vital Statistics Table of Contents