Author Topic: Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?  (Read 5425 times)

Beezy

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Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?
« on: February 22, 2017, 01:22:25 PM »
I've posted previously about my attempts to trace my great-aunt, Angela Dolan, who was born in Fermanagh in 1918 and disappeared into thin air in 1948. Despite extensive searching, the mystery of what happened to her remains unsolved, so I'm now wondering if anyone has any suggestions as to how I can proceed with the case.

Angela had a son called Patrick in 1945, whom she kept in foster care in Belfast for three years before placing him in Nazareth Lodge orphanage in 1948. Patrick was later sent as a child migrant to Australia, where has has lived ever since. It was only in 2014 that my own family's connection to Patrick came to light, and I have spent the past three years helping him with his search. He has also been assisted by the Child Migrants Trust, who at this point have investigated every single record that might relate to Angela in the UK, Ireland and the USA - all to no avail. They can now definitively state that there is no marriage or death record for her in any of those countries.

One strategy I am currently exploring is to write to all the churches and nursing homes in Fermanagh and the greater Belfast area and ask them to display posters and bulletin notices appealing for information about Angela. My hope is that they might be seen by someone who knew her and perhaps knows what happened to her. Belfast is a pretty small place, and there is bound to be someone out there who met her during her time here. Patrick has never even seen a photograph of his mother, so the slightest piece of information would be valuable to him. I am also in the process of contacting local newspapers and magazines to see if they will place an ad for me.

If anyone would be willing to display a black-and-white A4 poster for me, could you please message me privately and I will email it across? I can also provide a much more detailed summary of all the research avenues that have been explored for anyone who is interested and has any suggestions about what I can do next - although I should reiterate that this is not a case that is going to be solved by consulting official records and documents, because the Child Migrants Trust has already exhausted that route.

Well done if you made it to the end of this post, and thanks in advance to anyone who is kind enough to help!


McNamee

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Re: Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?
« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2017, 01:36:31 PM »
I really wish you good luck..I hope someone will be able to help..

Beezy

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Re: Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?
« Reply #2 on: February 22, 2017, 01:46:33 PM »
Thanks McNamee - fingers crossed!

James James

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Re: Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?
« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2017, 04:53:08 AM »
Did you get Patrick's biological birth certificate. ? If so, was there any address information on it.

With your poster, what you can do with it is to photograph it or scan it and save it as an image file and upload it to a picture sharing site such as the one below. That will generate an url/link to the uploaded image. You can post that image, and or it's url, on here and then anyone who wanted to, could print it off.
https://imgsafe.org/

To display the image as a clickable url in a forum message, click in your message window, then click on the blue globe symbol above the message window, and paste the url into that.

To display the url as an image, do the same thing but paste it into the square brown coloured icon.

BTW, you're diluting your search effort by splitting up your information in various posts among different message threads and not also including the links to your other threads in all of your separate threads.

That can cause potentially productive information to be missed by readers who might be able to follow up on it for you.

As for the trust having exhausted all available UK record sources, well perhaps they have or perhaps they haven't , there may be record sources that they aren't aware of, but that someone else might be aware of, but that can't become apparent if your readers don't know what record sources have already been accessed.

Beezy

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Re: Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?
« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2017, 10:42:29 AM »
Thanks for all your helpful suggestions, James, particularly regarding the technology side of things which I'm completely useless at.

Here is a link to the poster for anyone who would like to print it off or share it:
http://i.imgur.com/ZEhzHsm.jpg

Apologies for not providing full information in my original post - there's just so much to report that I didn't want to overwhelm readers, particularly when many of the leads we've explored have turned out to be dead ends.

Yes, we got Patrick's birth certificate. Angela gave a false name on it - Mary McGowan - which combined her first Christian name (she was Mary Angela but went by Angela) with her mother's maiden name. This delayed the search for a long time. She gave her address simply as 'Crumlin Road, Belfast'.

Angela travelled from Belleek to Dublin in December 1944, when she was 6 months pregnant. She stayed at the Legion of Mary Regina Coeli Hostel and gave birth to Patrick at the Rotunda on 16 March 1945, before leaving for Belfast with him on 24 April 1945.

We also have Angela's birth certificate and baptismal record. Her full name was Mary Angela Dolan and she was born on 5 June 1918. Her family came from the town land of Killybig near Belleek but her birth was registered in Ballyshannon, just across the border.

Angela used the name Mary McGowan again on the papers for Nazareth House when Patrick was placed there in 1948, but this time she gave her address as 14 Eglinton Street. We believe this to be a false address because Eglinton Street was more or less destroyed in the Blitz and street directories show that numbers 2-46 were vacant during the years between 1945 and 1948, when Angela claimed to have been living there.

I am now investigating the possibility that Angela stayed with a relative or a family friend somewhere around the Crumlin Road, since her use of the Eglinton Street address implies some level of familiarity with the area. Between the years of 1945 and 1948 Patrick was fostered by a woman called Mrs Larkin who lived in Whitehouse, Greencastle, and in my opinion this adds to the theory that Angela lived in the North of the city during her time here. My next step will be to consult the street directories for the Crumlin Road and its surrounding streets to see if I can find any surnames that can be connected to the extended Dolan family, since I imagine that if she did go to stay with someone there, they were probably a relative or connected to one of the local families in Killybig. Relevant surnames are Dolan, McGowan, McCann, O'Dare, McGee, Branley, Rooney and Monaghan.

The local rumour in Belleek is that Angela emigrated to New York to work at her aunt and uncle's restaurant in Yonkers. There is some evidence to support this: the name Mary A. Dolan does appear on the passenger list of a ship which sailed from Liverpool to New York on 6 May 1949, one year after Angela placed Patrick in Nazareth House. This Mary A. Dolan would have been the right age - 30 - and gives her address as 5 Scotland Street, Belfast. Unfortunately, it appears that the Immigration and Naturalization Service accidentally disposed of the manifests for ships that arrived at New York between 1 January and 17 September 1949, so there is no record of her arriving in New York, and the passenger list for the Britannic does not show the address she was travelling to. The CMT also contacted descendants of the aunt and uncle in Yonkers and they had never heard of Angela.

I and a few others have trawled through the records on Ancestry.com and ruled out all of the Angela Dolans, Mary Angela Dolans and Mary A. Dolans there (as well as those Mary Dolans whose birth year roughly matched Angela's - there are so many thousands of Mary Dolans that investigating them all individually is a pretty impossible task). We have also found nothing in PRONI's records. Over the past two and a half years, the CMT have made their way through US registers of marriages and deaths on a state by state basis. I don't know exactly what databases they used, but I know they are fairly certain that they have exhausted the American leg of the search. Other websites I have checked are the Liberty Ellis Foundation, Find My Past, FamilySearch and RootsUK.

Hopefully that helps to give people a fuller picture of what has been done already. I should add that I may know who Patrick's father is but I don't feel at liberty to post any information about him and, at any rate, none of his living relatives have ever heard of Angela. Please feel free to ask if I've left anything out of this post.

RebeccaK

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Re: Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?
« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2017, 11:41:44 AM »
Have you thought about using Facebook pages to help you on your quest to find out more about her? There are various pages about south Belfast which you could contact.

Beezy

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Re: Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?
« Reply #6 on: February 24, 2017, 12:36:44 PM »
Thanks Rebecca, I haven't used Facebook yet so will definitely give that a go.

Beezy

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Re: Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2017, 11:08:48 PM »
Just a quick update for anyone who is interested. I am now exploring the theory that Angela may have stayed with friends or relatives on the Crumlin Road, since this was the address she gave on Patrick's birth certificate (although she didn't give a house number). Her brother-in-law's surname was McCann and the street directory for 1943 shows several McCanns living on the Crumlin Road at that time.

A few people in Fermanagh have told me a story about a local man going to Belfast for the day and being served tea by Angela in a cafe. Legend has it that when he asked her if she was from Belleek, she turned and walked out the back door and never came back, as though she didn't want to be recognised.

If this story is true, I'm guessing she might have worked in a cafe, restaurant or pub somewhere around the Crumlin Road. While searching for leads on this forum, I stumbled across this post from 2012 about McCanns chippie on the Crumlin Road which mentions a girl called Angela:

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[/font][/size][size=78%]I dont remember those shops but then my memory is not that good!  I lived in Donaldson Crescent (off Twaddle Ave)  I remember well me and my mates and just about everyone else walking up Ligoniel road on a Sunday and walking back down again as there was nothing else to do!   How sad is that? We would sit on the window ledges of the fire station and chat for a while and then dander up the road for some action!  Never got any of course!  Best place to be was Freddie McCanns chippy late at night and Angela serving you. Think she ended up in Australia.   I was in love with her. I was 13 and she must have been twice my age at least but it didnt matter to me.  Probably did to her though! Ah.... loves sweet dream.[/size]
[size=78%]
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I am just wondering if anyone else remembers this Angela, and if they could supply any information that might help me to rule her out of the search? 

Beezy

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Re: Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2017, 11:10:27 PM »
Sorry, managed to mess up that quote - the final question about anyone remembering this Angela is mine, not the original poster's.

James James

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Re: Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?
« Reply #9 on: February 26, 2017, 10:26:44 AM »
That should be Twaddell Avenue    https://tinyurl.com/j6csju5
It's been very prominent in the news in recent years because of a long term activity in connection with the political situation.

James James

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Re: Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?
« Reply #10 on: February 26, 2017, 10:56:48 AM »
This is the link to your quote above from another poster on another message thread.

Re: Memories of Lower Ligoniel Rd./Crumlin Rd.and Ballysillan.
http://www.belfastforum.co.uk/index.php/topic,24235.msg1073075.html#msg1073075

That post was made on the 9th February 2012 by Wasup, who last logged in on 14th September 2014http://www.belfastforum.co.uk/index.php?action=profile;u=8075

You're certainly thinking creatively and flexibly with this, and you're certainly putting a lot of effort into it.  O0

BTW, about your poster request, you might want to consider posting a new request message about that, with an equally informative title, in the Belfast Chat section.
http://www.belfastforum.co.uk/index.php/board,2.0.html

James James

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Re: Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?
« Reply #11 on: February 26, 2017, 12:11:40 PM »
Here is another series of related posts in the same message thread from 2009 which mention both a chip shop called McCann's and also the fact  of it being near a Fire Station and there is also a mention of a woman called Angela who worked there. !

Rightly or wrongly Angela is referred to in one of the replies as being  the co owner.

The person who posted the first message is a former resident of Estoril Park, who is now a New Yorker, who emigrated to America in 1971 and whose mother used to work in the shop at some unspecified time.

One of the posters who replied to him said that her husband had been a boyfriend of Angela when she worked in the chip shop,... and he was still living in 2009 because she said that she would ask him if he had any additional information.

This is a verbatim quote of what she said...

" Hi. Tom just found your message I am originally from ladbrook drive, My  husband used to  go with angelia McCann who co. owned the chip shop with her sisters, he remembers your mother working there, if he has any more memories i will let you know. The other sisters were Bridie married name russell lived in balholm drive, and Kathleen cant remember her married name, her and Bridie were twin's. Angelia herself moved to australia in the early 70's I think."

This is the link to the first post, read down the page from that and you'll see some related replies, those are on page 1 of the thread, her reply is at the top of page 2, it's a long thread, and there might be more related replies n following messages, so you can check to see if there are any.

Re: anyone from Ardoyne
http://www.belfastforum.co.uk/index.php/topic,17144.msg416513.html#msg416513

Beezy

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Re: Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?
« Reply #12 on: February 26, 2017, 09:24:47 PM »
Thanks so much for that bit of detective work, James, and for managing to express all that information so clearly. The fact that the other poster mentions Angela having sisters who lived in the area makes it unlikely that she is the Angela Dolan I am looking for. However, I will try sending personal messages to those forum users to see if they can clarify things for me. Your idea about putting the poster in the Belfast Chat section is excellent - I'll do that straight away.

I managed to find out some new information today that should also help to move the search forward. It turns out that the woman who fostered Patrick in Whitehouse between the years 1945-1948 was called Minnie Larkin (real name Mary Ann), and she came originally from Ardoyne. Her maiden name was McAuley. In light of all the other clues pointing towards the Crumlin Road, I am now investigating whether Angela could have lived in Ardoyne.

Having had a quick look at the phone book, there seem to be McAuleys still living in Ardoyne, so I am going to try to make contact to see if any of them remember Angela. I am also going to make my way through the 1940s' street directories for all the streets in Ardoyne and attempt to trace any Dolans, McCanns or McGees I can find there.

My other idea is to distribute flyers appealing for information about Angela all over the Ardoyne and Crumlin Road area. I managed to get a few streets done today and I left posters in Holy Cross Church too.

Hopefully these new leads will lead to a breakthrough, but in the meantime, if any of this information rings a bell with anyone, please don't hesitate to get in touch!

James James

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Re: Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?
« Reply #13 on: February 27, 2017, 01:01:57 PM »
Re McCann's chip shop mentioned in the 2009 message thread that was referred to in post 11
http://www.belfastforum.co.uk/index.php/topic,68383.msg1945124.html#msg1945124

1960    453 Crumlin Road Thomas McCann Cafe Proprietor

I think that's very likely to be the chip shop premises that are referred to in that 2009 post.

The fire station mentioned in the 2009 thread as being on the opposite side of the road to the chip shop was at 444 Crumlin Road, and is now an ambulance station next to the library.

Delaney the newsagent near McCann's chip shop and on the same side of the road, which was mentioned in the 2009 thread is at 507 Crumlin Road in 1960.

http://www.lennonwylie.co.uk/images/1960BSD/1960strs%200102.jpg

http://www.lennonwylie.co.uk/images/1960BSD/1960strs%200103.jpg

Note a couple of hundred yards further along the Crumlin Road is Holy Cross Catholic Church at 432 Crumlin Road.

James James

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Re: Would anyone like to help me solve a 72-year-old mystery?
« Reply #14 on: February 27, 2017, 01:34:31 PM »
What's this about. ?  Third story down the page.
http://www.genesreunited.co.uk/searchbna/results?memberlastsubclass=none&searchhistorykey=0&keywords=william%20couter&from=1950&to=1999

"Belfast News-Letter Antrim, Northern Ireland 13 Mar 1956
NURSING AS A CAREER. MAYDAY HOSPITAL CROYDON JOSEPH MAOILL, 453, Crumlin Road. S. J. ARMSTRONG, 139, Woodstock Road. WILLIAM MOFFETT, 11, Summerhill Avenue. #>WILLIAM MYERS, 250, Ormeau Road. ULSTER 5 LEADING rAISIULK SALES JOHN BEATTIE"