Sunday, December 21, 2014

52 Ancestors #51: The Irish Wife

For several years Dad and I could not find the death date for his grand uncle, Leo James Jennings. I was able to solve that mystery a few months ago, using a technique my fellow Worldwide Genealogy -- A Genealogical Collaboration blogger, Hilary Gadsby, called Killing Them Off.

While killing off Leo, I discovered he had divorced his first wife before 1930 and married Kathleen O'Gorman on 14 March 1933 in Yuma County, Arizona.  Who was Kathleen? Where did she come from? And who were her ancestors?

Several birth years between 1898 to 1905 have been listed on Kathleen's records, but I've settled on using 4 September 1899, the date used on most frequently on her naturalization records. She was born on Enniskillen, Northern Ireland to William and Margaret O'Gorman. They were Roman Catholic. By 1911 the family was living in the Pembroke West in County Dublin. William and Margaret had 11 children.

Kathleen grew up during the height of the "Troubles," one period of which occurred between 1912 and 1922.

Enniskillen Castle; photograph courtesy of Wikipedia

When Kathleen was 21 years old, she boarded the S/S Celtic in Liverpool on 20 October 1920 and arrived in New York City nine days later. Her destination was Los Angeles, California, to visit her sister, who was listed on the passenger manifest as Mrs. O'Neill. Kathleen returned to Liverpool on 22 December 1920 aboard the S/S Duchess of Richmond, which she boarded in St. John, Canada.

Three years later, she was back in North America. She traveled as nurse with her employer, who was going to the Chateau Frontenac, a grand hotel in Quebec City. They sailed aboard the S/S Mastonia.

Chateau Frontenac circa 1910; postcard image courtesy of Wikipedia

Two weeks later, on 2 October 1923, Kathleen entered the United States at Port Huron via Canadian Railway. She was was headed to Rory Gowen, her brother-in-law's, home in Pasadena, California. On the border crossing form, she was described as being 5 feet 4 inches tall, with a fair complexion, light brown hair, and blue eyes.

Port Huron passenger train station, which was torn down in the 1970s;
photograph courtesy of the Port Huron High School Class of 1961

On 3 January 1927 she filed her Declaration of Intent to become a naturalized U.S. citizen in District Court. She was single, a bookkeeper, and lived on 644 West 41st Boulevard in Los Angeles. By 1930 she was living with Charles and Mary Lewis in Pasadena; Mary was another sister.

Her petition for naturalization was granted on 21 December 1931 by the Los Angeles District Court. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen on 14 June 1935.

Before that, Kathleen married Leo James Jennings on 14 March 1933 in Yuma County, Arizona. Seven months later she traveled back to Northern Ireland, arriving in London on 7 October 1933. She sailed aboard the S/S Pacific Grove from Los Angeles, which meant she traveled through the Panama Canal. She returned to the U.S., crossing into Detroit from Canada on 20 November 1933. She sailed aboard the S/S Duchess of Bedford and had arrived in Quebec City on 18 November.

In 1940 Kathleen and Leo were living in Calabasas, California. It is in the canyons between Thousand Oaks and Los Angeles. They owned their home, which was valued at $5,000. Leo was a supervising inspector of traffic signals and made $1,820. He indicated he had other income, which may have been his World War I pension. Kathleen was a secretary in a law office and made $1,500. They had a live-in housekeeper named Jane Lowery, who had been born in Canada. Calabasas is currently home to Justin Bieber.

View from Calabasas Peak; photograph courtesy of

Kathleen died on 23 December 1959. Before her death she made at least two more trips back to Ireland. It appeared Leo never accompanied her on those trips.

This is my entry for Amy Johnson Crow's 52 ancestors in 52 weeks challenge.

Kathleen O'Gorman was born on 4 September 1899 in Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, to William and Margaret O'Gorman. She married Leo James Jennings on 14 March 1933 in Yuma County, Arizona. She was his second wife. Kathleen became a naturalized U.S. citizen on 14 June 1935. She died on 23 December 1959. Her husband Leo died on 3 October 1973 and was buried in Green Hills Memorial Park at Rancho Palos Verdes, California.

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