Monday, December 10, 2012

It all started with 3 month old Philip

That's what the notation on the photo told me.  A cousin in England e-mailed it to me along with other photos last week.
Cutie pie isn't he?
On the back of the photo is written:  "Philip Nowlan To Aunt Sarah & Uncle Sam with love from Philip aged 3 months Sept 15 1957."
OK, I know that the Aunt Sarah and Uncle Sam were my maternal grandparents.  (They had both come to Canada as British Home Children, leaving older siblings behind in England.)  But who the heck was/is Philip Nowlan?  I've not come across that family name in my research, and I'd certainly not heard it growing up.
Another photo in the group was of my grandmother's sister, Mary Jane, taken in 1940.  It's the first image I've seen of her.  The resemblance to my grandmother is uncanny.
On the back of this photo is written:  "Taken in 1940 died 1946 aged 56. To Aunt Sarah from sister Jane from your niece Joan Nowlan."
OK, now I'm getting somewhere.
Joan (now Nowlan, and apparently the mother of baby Philip) was my Grand Aunt Jane's daughter.  My notes about Joan indicated that I had been told, back in 1997, that she had "gone to Canada in about 1949 to become a nun."    I had not searched any further for her, assuming it would be futile.  I guess that plan didn't pan out for her since she obviously became Mrs. Nowlan and had a son!
Time to start digging.  Gosh the Internet is wonderful.
I found Joan Danaher's passage to Canada in April of 1956 (not 1949).  The passenger who boarded the ship immediately prior to her (according to the assigned passenger numbers) was a man by the name of James Nowlan.  Hmmmmm, I guess they married shortly after arriving here since baby Philip was born in June of 1957.  (Unfortunately, Canadian B/M/D records for those years are not yet publicly available.)
It didn't take long before I found a death record for Joan Nowlan in 2004 -- but in Silver Springs, New York.  Her Social Security Number had been issued in Massachusetts in 1968.  Was this the same Joan Danaher Nowlan?  The birth dates matched.
My next search was for Nowlan children born to mothers with the maiden name Danaher.
Up pops two -- in San Mateo, California in 1962 and 1963.
The public listing for James Nowlan gives an address in California, followed by a move to New York State.
I guess I had the right Joan Nowlan (my 1st cousin once removed).
It would appear that the family lived in Florida at some point too.
I discovered a marriage for Philip in Florida -- and his subsequent divorce in Connecticut, where he appears to remain today (if I have the correct Philip Nowlan).
The older daughter also married (and divorced) in Florida.  She appears to have remained there.
The younger daughter seems to have remained in New York State.  It is her daughter who I managed to track via social networking and to whom I have sent a detailed e-mail asking for contact with this new branch of my family tree.  She is Jane Danaher's great granddaughter (and baby Philip's niece).  That makes her my 2nd cousin once removed (her mother being my 2nd cousin).
It is always so exciting to find new living relatives.  I hope they will be as pleased as I that I've found them!

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