Photo by Sean MacEnteeRelaunching this site on New Year’s Day was more coincidence than by design, but the timing is a good excuse for a little self-reflection on why exists.  And while there is still a tremendous amount of work to do in the way of content, functionality, and design, having a stable site built on a popular blogging platform has given me new enthusiasm for the project.

This site started out as an offshoot of a project to digitize genealogical materials compiled by my great-grandmother, Edna Valentine.  Edna started researching her genealogical lines and collecting family artifacts around 1910, and continued until the early 1960s, when her eyesight and health began to fail.  Her early work, while largely accurate, neglected to cite sources for her data, and converting it to digital was not only valuable from a preservation standpoint, but also prompted me to double-check some of her data on individuals and lines.   She also had a treasure-trove of 100s of 19th and early 20th century family photographs, most of which were well-labeled.

Over the past few years, I’ve converted most of Edna’s charts and ‘hard data’, namely the facts, notes and photos from her collection.  I’ve also done a good amount of research of my own, and will continue to do so, although it feels as though the 80-20 rule is in force, with a large body of work collected early on, and new incremental data requiring a good amount of time and energy.

Not yet addressed are the hundreds of letters and other ephemera, some dating back to the late 18th century.  These require more study and interpretation, as their contents cover the spectrum from banal to historic.

I’m looking forward to expanding from a ‘just the facts’ set of data to material which provides a broader spectrum of color on the lives involved.   What form this will take is still an open question, and that’s another reason why revamping the site has taken on greater urgency.

13 thoughts on “Rethinking”

  1. My Byrne family as far as I have researched came from County Kilkenny, Ireland. John Byrne married Johanna Deneffe 6 Nov 1858 at Gowran Catholic Church, County Kilkenny.

    Just about to have a bit of a look at this site.
    Regards, Jennifer.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I wish I had more to offer you in the way of a comprehensive database of Byrne lines. Unfortunately, the lines included in the data on this site are all US based, descending from John Byrne of Windham, CT (1760-1830).

      Best of luck in your research.


  2. So glad to see you back in the trenches, Hugh! I was looking for a photo and found you – again.
    My father and I are finishing a manuscript on his father’s life – VAdm Frederick M. Trapnell.
    What a project, yours and ours. We do need to connect one of these days. Love the photo on your Jan 2 blog page, btw. Thank you for your hard work here. Dana

    • Hi Dana,

      Thanks for your kind note. These projects have a way of becoming all-consuming, don’t they? Count me as one who would love to read the story of your grandfather’s life!


  3. I am confused about the Byrne/Burns situation. I was always told we were Irish..the folks I have traced back from Henderson, Union, Nelson Co. KY and then Maryland were all Catholic. I presumed they were from SE Ireland like Co Wicklow etc. Now a note on ancestry lists our farthest back guy as Patrick Burns. It seems that many of the Burns were from Ulster in the n. and Protestant. I always presumed the census takers etc. made the spelling error. All of the local documents here in KY (orginals) the principal folks sign licenses etc. with Byrne…Is there any way to be sure if I should be a Byrne or Burns (so I will know where to look) Some of my ancestors would spin in their graves to find they were Scotch- Irish rather than “pure bred Irish…and Protestants to boot! lol Please advise. Thanks, Dixie Byrne Gettings

    • Hi Dixie,

      I’d suggest the quickest way to answer your question would be via DNA, and participation in Paul Burns’ Byrne DNA project (I wrote a subsequent post about Paul and my own Byrne challenges). If you have a living father, brother, or male first cousin on your paternal side to collect a sample, this would be a reliable way to determine which of the known Byrne/Burn lines is yours.


  4. Have an original document from Luther Payne Esq. Canterbury to John Byrne July 20, 1801
    some type of advertising receipt for 40 pounds. 4″ x 6″ very good condition
    Received the above in full
    John Byrne

    I’m a surveyor and have been collecting old documents for the past 50 years.
    Generally it’s always survey documents; however, sometimes an odd ball gets into it.
    John Failla

  5. I’ve been curious as to how I could have a 3rd cousin (a Byrne) who lives in Ireland, and she never left. We have matching DNA. I am 9th generation American. The name “Byrne” is not in my pedigree and the name has never been mentioned in the family, so I am on a quest to find out where our link is. I’m grateful I ran across this site. I have a strong VA background with Garlands, Wingfields, Doswells, and Claybrooks, so I’m guessing that my link to Byrne in Ireland has something to do with my VA ancestors. I didn’t know that was possible until I found this site yesterday. 🙂

    • Hi Brownie,

      The Byrne/Garland link on this site is not direct, so you may not find the answer to your specific question here. I research a small branch of the Byrne line, which has been in the US since the late 18th century, and the site also hosts the research of Wayne Garland, who is not related to the Byrne line. That said, I hope there’s something of use for you here.


      • My 3rd gt. grand father was William Peyton Doswell Claybrook. His parents were Mary Doswell/Thomas Wingfield Claybrooke. Thomas’s parents were William Claybrooke/Sarah Wingfield Cosby……etc. ad nauseum. There are Garlands, Minors, Carrs and Dabneys thrown in, but I won’t bore you with all that. Just looking for the connection to Byrne. I have all the rest. This one is a new research project, and I’m just now getting started on it. 🙂 Anyway, I appreciate your site. Thank you. 🙂


  6. Hi Hugh,

    I am writing to you because I stumbled upon your work for John B Minor. Could you shed some more light on that subject… Would appreciate the help and guidance… My father was Charles L .minor JR. His father was Charles L minor. University of VA leaved in the area..

    Charles minor

  7. Jennifer…my great grandmother was Johanna Byrne of Gowran Co kilkenny, we recently visited her grave, and the plot land where she lived….she had my grandma, Mary Byrne, who married Thomas Kelly and they had 6 children, one who was named Johanna Kelly….please contact me.


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