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The Family of John and Thelma O'Donnell would like to enhance the research of Rev. Joseph O'Donnell which, 30 or so years ago, provided us with our first family tree.

Father Joe, first cousin of our Dad, John (both of whom were born and raised in Philadelphia), must have enjoyed his early research, filling-in the many branches of our Irish-American families. Later though, he probably felt some major frustration when he hit roadblocks---destroyed or missing records which limited his findings in Ireland to the time of our great great grandparents, around 1840.

His report shows that our great great grandfather, Cornelius, was born sometime before 1840 possibly in County Donegal. Eventually, Cornelius married Mary Gillespie and, after enduring some very difficult times in Ireland, left with Mary and their children: John J., Catherine, emigrating in 1864 to the United States and landing in New York City. Shortly thereafter, they settled in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. Cornelius worked in the steel or mining industries in Phoenixville, but he met an untimely death just after the birth of his third child, Margaret, in 1866. His young widow, Mary, remarried in 1869---to Bernard Daly---but the children for one reason or another kept the O'Donnell name.

John J. O'Donnell, our great grand father, would enjoy telling his children and grandchildren that when his family crossed in the transport ship, during stormy weather the littlest children had to be 'nailed to the deck' (which alot of his listeners took literally).

Hoping we might have better luck than Father Joe in finding Cornelius' and Margaret's ancestors, in 2000, we requested a genealogy report from a Donegal agency. We thought that with the recent growing interest in genealogy, and the resources available through the internet, we could add a few more generations to our tree.

No such luck. The report shows the difficulty that even today's professional genealogists have in uncovering information from mid-19th century Ireland. Although it does point to a name, Neal (short for Cornelius?) O'Donnell, as a possible ancestor, the agency told us that there was little to learn in the remaining available records about Mary Gillespie's or Cornelius' parents and grandparents.

We were discouraged, but we hope there are still other sources of information including responses to this website, and the World Family Tree.
We still have at least the pleasure of adding new names to the tree. In 2000 we added Serena Marie, Aiden Reid, and Liam Donovan who started their great adventures that year; and, Ben, who on June 2,2000 married Jennifer.

Anywho, while we're waiting for help, if we can be of some assistance to other family's researchers, I hope they will contact us.

God Bless Father Joe!!

Mark O'Donnell

The John Thomas O'Donnell Family of Glenside, Pennsylvania
Updated September 1, 2001


Mark O'Donnell
5946 Deer Lane
Port St. John, Florida 32927
United States

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