Sunday, February 11, 2018

A Lot More Questions Than Answers-The Life of Ann Rowan

Ann Rowan is my paternal 3rd great-grandmother.  I thought I would do a formal research plan on her to determine where in Ireland she was born and see what I could find out about her parents.  Sometimes I am not sure if the information I have gathered is on the actual person I am researching.  This is especially true when I am researching common names.  If I write it out as a formal research plan I find it easier to weed out the incorrect person when I can see all the information side by side.  I have found several listings for Ann Rowan, William Rowan and John Rowan during the same time period.  The following is the information I believe to be correct about ‘my’ Ann Rowan:

  • I first find Ann in the 1850 US Federal Census living in a multi-family dwelling in Ward 7, District 2 in New York City on the 12th of  September.  Ann is listed as 32 years old (b. about 1818) with her birthplace listed as Ireland.  She is not listed with an Occupation.  She is living with her son John who was 4 years old.  In the building there seem to be a predominance of Irish born occupants as well as some English and Scottish.  Ann is a young mother of a 4 year old who has lost her husband and baby.  How did she live and support her other son?  I am unable to find Ann or her son John in the US Federal Census again until 1880.  Why not? Where were they living?

  • In 1868 in the New York City Directory I find Ann Rowan listed as the widow of William L. and living at 239 Tenth Avenue.  Hmm…I had William listed as ‘William Henry’ but the address matches her son’s marriage certificate. 

  • In 1869 in the New York City Directory I find Ann Rowan listed as the widow of William and living at 239 Tenth Avenue

  • In 1869 on her son John William Rowan’s marriage certificate to Sarah Hughes it lists his address as 239 Tenth Avenue in New York City.  John’s parents are listed as Wm Rowan and Ann Meenan.  Now I have a maiden name for Ann!

  • I know that John and Sarah’s first two sons-Joseph and William Rowan were born in Pennsylvania in 1870 and 1872 respectively.  Joseph’s death certificate stated his birthplace specifically as Ridgway, Elk County, Pennsylvania.  Why did John and Sarah move to a small town in the middle of Pennsylvania?  Did Ann go with them? I wonder if  they had family there?  Maybe there was the possibility of work there for John?  I was able in the 1870 census find a family named Meenan living in Rigway, Elk County, PA.  Is Peter Meenan born 6 July 1823 to Mr. & Mrs. Felix Meenan in Monaghan, Ireland a brother or cousin perhaps of Ann?  Peter and his wife Catherine immigrated in 1853 to New York City, then Philadelphia then Clinton County, PA and then to Ridgway, Elk County, PA in 1865.

  • In the 1880 US Federal Census Ann is 68 years old, a widow, her birthplace and that of her parents are in Ireland.  She is living with her son John and daughter in-law Sarah (Hughes) Rowan and their children Joseph, William, Mary and Sarah (my great-grandmother).  They are living on 5th Street in New York City on the 10th of June 1880.  In the next 5 years Sarah and John would have 3 more children.  Sarah and those last 3 children would all die by 1885.

  • I cannot determine Ann’s date of death or where she died. I can find several death certificates for Ann Rowan in the New York City area.  1 is definitely not ‘my’ Ann and the 2nd one is questionable.  What happened to Ann Rowan?

I use a spreadsheet for my Research Plan.  As I find the information I fill it in on my table.  Then as I start to find information that doesn’t seem to be correct I cross it out.  I like to see the information I have found even if it is incorrect so I don’t waste time later looking over the same information.
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I still have no information on where Ann was born in Ireland or who her parents were. UGH!!  Definitely, more searching to be done.  I have some ideas and will let you know what I find.
If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,


  1. Good work! More to be done, and I wish you great success.