Saturday, December 19, 2009

McNally Mysteries

William H.C.D. McNally (1880-1960).
He is 65 years old in this photo from 1945.

We know a lot about Grandma's ancestors, the Dalys and the Valentines, but much less about Grandpa's, the McNallys.

We've been told that William Henry Conrad DeKalb McNally was born in Brooklyn on June 18, 1880 to John Louis McNally and Mary Ann DeKalb. Georgi's genealogical research finds him in the 1900 census, when he was 20, living with a grandmother Annie Berry, his younger brother Patrick and his step-uncles (or maybe no relation at all) William Berry and James Berry, who Georgi guesses are Annie Berry's stepsons.

Where are his parents? Aunt Ann recalls that her grandfather was named John McAnally, a railroad worker born in Ireland. Many of us heard that he worked for the New York Central Railroad, as an engineer or conductor and was killed when he was hit by a train.

Mary Ann DeKalb, our great-grandmother, is a mystery too. She is supposed to be from either New York, Illinois or Ohio, daughter of an engineer named Conrad DeKalb.

My memory is that I was told that Mary Ann DeKalb's father worked for the railroad and helped build the subway system in New York City. The DeKalbs were so well known, I remember hearing, that a city was named after them in Illinois.

There are numerous cities and places named DeKalb in the U.S., all named for the Baron deKalb, Johann von Robaii, (1721-1780),  a German soldier who came over to America to assist the colonists in the revolution. DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn was named for the Revolutionary War hero.

Georgi cannot find any reference to anybody named Conrad DeKalb in American records.

I was also told that William McNally was one of fourteen children and that a pair of twin brothers were killed in a railroad accident (on their birthday!) Aunt Ann was told there were 18 McAnally or McNally children by two wives. Aunt Patty recalled that John and his second wife Mary Ann had ten children but only three lived to adulthood with four dying the same day from influenza.

The three who survived are Grandpa Will, his younger brother Patrick Edward (1885-1964), and an older brother Frank (whose dates might be late 1870s to 1964).

The Lehigh Valley Railroad

We find no references to John McNally or McAnally. An engineer on the Lehigh Valley Railroad named John McNally was killed in a terrible wreck on November 11, 1898. Stories appeared in newspapers around the country telling about the head-on collision between two trains in the mountains near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. But that John McNally lived in Pennsylvania and is probably not William's father.

So here are the questions:
Who is Great-Grandma Mary Ann? Was she a DeKalb?
Where did the name DeKalb come from? Who are our DeKalbs?
What happened to Great-Grandpa John McAnally or McNally?
What happened to the rest of those 14 or 18 McNally children?

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