Thursday, April 5, 2012

Unraveling the Story of the Mystery Urn in Oregon - Serendipity Moments

Last Saturday night, April 1, I glanced at my emails and discovered one from my friend Janice Healy. We often bounce genealogy projects off on each other for advice and input. This time she was asking for my help in locating records online about the man whose name was on the newly discovered urn at the Oregon Coast. A young man found the urn while exploring the rocky ocean shores and decided that somehow it should be returned to the family of this man. In pursuing his quest, he contacted Tom Preston at a local funeral home in Astoria. Later the next day I would see the follow-up newscast on KATU.




Now I am not inclined to seek such information on someone who is sought out by the press or newscasters, as there are usually other genealogists who will take on the task and I hate to repeat someone's work. So, I called Janice to see what she really wanted me to do, always being willing to give her a hand. If she wanted to tackle the job I would help her some. Having not seen the newscast about the urn I wondered if this was an April fool's joke. Well it was not a joke, and we spent the next four hours pulling the pieces together about this man, his two wives, the second wife's family, and three sons from his first marriage. I thought I would share with you the paper trail to finding the clues that lead Tom Preston to making contact with relatives in Canada.


1. Washington State Archives Death Records - William George Kennedy
He died April 9, 1925, Bellingham, Whatcom, Washington. Wife Adela, father Patrick Kennedy.

2. Genealogytrails.com - Bio/Obituary of William George Kennedy
Provided birth date, place, history of his life, his wife Adela's maiden name Clohessy, her sister's name Honor Clohessy, his son's names Harold, Cecil and William all residents of British Columbia at the time of their father's death.

3. Rootsweb.com - Family Tree for William Kennedy and his first wife Mary Windle.
This was last updated November 17, 2010 and all three sons are listed as deceased.

4. ancestry.com – Passenger List – 1923, Bellingham, Washington,
Wm. George Kennedy, Coryell, age 53, Irish, Farmer, of Nelson B.C. Canada, son William George Kennedy living at Nelson B.C., Canada.
Adelia Kennedy, Coryell, age 43, English, no occupation.

5. Ancestry.com - 1930 Census, Portland, Oregon, Adelia Kennedy age 57, widow, living with sisters Honor Clohessy, and Mary J. Wallace and brother Joseph H. Clohessy.

6. Genealogybank.com – Oregonian Newspaper, June 5, 1935, Obituary for Katherine Agnes Reed, sister of Mrs. Mary J. Wallace, Mrs. Margaret M. Dyer, Joseph H., G. P., Thomas Clohessy, all of Portland; Mrs. Adelia Judge and Miss Honor Clohessy of Ireland. Second obituary in the same publication, more in-depth. By this time Adelia has remarried and goes by the last name of Judge.

7. Ancestry.com - New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957
Name: Adelia Judge, Arrival Date: 21 Sep 1937, Port of Departure: Galway, Ireland, Port of Arrival: New York. Her naturalization information is provided.

8. Familysearch.org - United States Census, 1940 Oregon, Multnomah, Portland
House No. 1804 S.W. Spring St., Family No. 11, House Value $4000
Honor Clohessy, Head, age 61, Single
J. H. Clohessy, Brother, age 51, Widower
Thomas J. Clohessy, Brother, age 50, Single
James J. Clohessy, Brother, age 28, Single
Dona May Clohessy, Niece, age 7, Single
Adelia Judge, Step Sister, age 67, Single
All born in Ireland, except her Niece Dona May born in Oregon.
In 1935 Honor, James J. and Adelia were living in Miltown Malby, Clare, Ireland and the others were living in Portland, Oregon in the same house, except for the Niece who was living in the same place. J. H., Thomas J., and Adelia were naturalized citizens. Honor worked as a secretary in Real Estate. J. H. and James J. worked at odd jobs. Located 5 April 2012.

9. Genealogybank.com – Oregonian Newspaper, April 14, 1940, Obituary for Margaret M. Dyer sister of Mary J. Wallace, Mrs. Adelia Judge, Miss Honor Clohessy, G. P., Joseph H., and Thomas J. Clohessy, all of Portland, John and Michael Clohessy of Ireland.

10. Ancestry.com - Polk city directory Portland 1943-44, address for Adelia Judge, 219 SW Ash, Portland.

11. Genealogybank.com - Oregonian Newspaper, May 4, 1963, Obituary for Honor Clohessy, sister of Mary J. Wallace of California, G. P. Clohessy of Portland, T. J. Clohessy of Milwaukie, J. M. Clohessy of Hillsboro.

12. Ancestry.com - Oregon Death Index
Clohessy, Honor, Death Date: 03 Jun 1963, County: Washington, Birth Date: Age: 85, Certificate No.: 7591.

13. Judy Goldmann, a local genealogist, provided this obituary information –
James Joseph Clohessy, 26 May 1912, in Ireland; died   _ February 1978, of Beaverton. This was the key to contacting the local relatives of Adelia.

14. Washington State Archives – Declaration of Intention for Citizenship
Whatcom County Clerk, Naturalization Records, 1872-1988:Adelia Kennedy, 7-Dec-23

15. Washington State Archives – Naturalization record, U.S. Citizenship
Whatcom County Clerk, Naturalization Records, 1872-1988: Adelia Kennedy, 10-Jan-30

16. Rootsweb.com -  Family Trees for the Clohessy family, http://wc.rootsweb.ancestry.com/cgi-bin/igm.cgi?op=GET&db=whlnmsj&id=I2003
Listing the parents and all ten siblings of Adelia Clohessy.

17. Familysearch.org – Listing the marriages for William Kennedy sons.   https://familysearch.org, "British Columbia Marriage Registrations, 1859-1932"
Cecil Herbert Kennedy (1922)
William George Kennedy (1922)
Harold Edward Kennedy (1923)

18. Willamette National Cemetery - http://gravelocator.cem.va.gov/j2ee/servlet/NGL_v1
Burial records:  James Clohessy 1912-1978, his wife Marie Philomena 1915-2005; and Robert Patrick Clohessy 1925-2007, his wife Doris Elaine 1933-2003.

19. Findagrave.com – ninety listings for the surname of Clohessy, with six in Oregon, including the four in Willamette National Cemetery. Two in Evergreen Memorial Park in McMinnville: Thomas J Clohessy 1889-1971 and Emma Houser Clohessy 1892-1948. Provides an obituary for Emma.


What an interesting story this turned out to be. Tom Preston is now in contact with the relatives of William George Kennedy in Canada and they hope to place the urn with one of his deceased sons. I understand that Adelia’s family in Oregon did deposit the urn in the Ocean on the Oregon coast. It appears that he floated to the surface in pursuit of being turned over to his descendants in Canada. Appreciation is expressed by the family to the young man who was instrumental in this effort, Tom Preston the funeral director who pursued locating the family, and the many others who participated in locating the families of both William and Adelia Kennedy. May they all now rest in peace.

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