Posts Tagged ‘Durney’

This is for all those on the Facebook group – Ryans and Roches of Commonealine, County Tipperary.

The file is too big for Facebook. Click on the picture and you will see the chart and then zoom in. I only include information to my parents’ generation, because of privacy.

Descendants of Michael Roche and Mary Wallace

Descendants of Michael Roche and Mary Wallace

This may not be up to date, it’s the one I posted when I started the blog:
Family Group Sheet Ryan Roche

Check out the other posts in this blog – I have other information on the Ryans and the Roches.

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On Saturday I went to Astoria to visit my son, Joe, and my niece, Kate. We intended to tour the neighborhood and see where some of the family lived. My father had quite a few cousins in Astoria: Ryans, Durneys, and Colberts. My mother also had a cousin there – Anne Ahern Getty.

As it turned out we did the Calvary tour. We have a lot of relatives there too. Joe was the driver, Kate the navigator and I realized how congested Queens is and how much easier it is to drive in Dutchess County.

The Calvary office was closed, but I had printed out some maps. Calvary is HUGE and it is easy to get lost, but the navigator and driver were both very skillful. We went to First, Second and Third Calvary. Of course, many of the family sites are missing headstones, but we found a couple:

George Grossman – only his name is on the stone – his wife, Mary Colbert Grossman is also buried here.

Lawrence Coleman, brother of Mary Coleman Colbert         

James and Anne Whelan and their children: Nan, Thomas, William

My father worked at Brewster Aeronautics, by the Queensboro Bridge, from 1939 to 1942. It’s now MetLife. We had a hard time getting there because of traffic detours – we didn’t know it at the time, but it was because they were filming the Dark Knight on the bridge.


By the time we left the old Brewster building it was getting dark, so the rest of the tour of Astoria will have to wait for another visit.

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Josephine Ryan

When my father would talk about his mother, Josephine, he would inevitably say something like “But that wasn’t really her name”.

Her name was Johanna, the same as her cousin Johanna Durney who was a few years older and lived in Queens. According to the story my father told, the two girls were at the zoo, saw a monkey named Johanna, and promptly changed their names to Josephine.

I always wondered about that monkey, but how could I ever prove the story? There must have been hundreds of monkeys at the zoo and which zoo – Central Park or Bronx?

Last year, through the magic of the internet, I was able to find my Durney cousins. It turns out their Great Aunt Josephine, who was called Josie, lived a long life and they knew her well. They had also heard the story of the name change, with one slight, but significant difference: it wasn’t a monkey, it was a gorilla.

Gorillas are a bigger than monkeys, in more ways than one – they’re much bigger news. I went straight to the internet and sure enough Johanna the gorilla was big news in 1894 when my grandmother was 7 and her cousin 11.

She was part of Barnum and Bailey’s circus and spent the summers touring and the winters in Central Park Zoo. She arrived in December 1893 to great fanfare. Every newspaper carried a story, often illustrated, with descriptions of what Johanna ate, her temper, her appearance, and her “husband”, Chiko. She was the star of the day.

Those two little girls must have been mortified to have the same name as the gorilla in the zoo, no wonder they changed their names.

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