Monday, January 18, 2010

Margaret Helena Nerney (cont.) Her Maternal side

Mike Spratt served 3 years in the 6th Reg’t, Penn. Reserve Infantry[35th Volunteers] from May 1861 to May 1864. He was wounded in the leg and shoulder, but survived and gets married to Cecilia - ? shortly afterwards. The 1870 Census in Wayne, Co, in Penn. shows he is a farmer with a wife and 3 kids. By 1890 Cecilia is listed as a widow in the Census. Michael seems to have died about 1887-89, leaving behind at least 9 children, one of whom is Louella and we have a photo of her.

Ann Spratt Sherlock’s story from 1862 birth of Nana’s grandmother, Mary Alice, till 1900 is not perfectly clear. What is obvious is that she could not keep her 3 kids with her. Though there is an 1870 Census of New York’s Cayuga Co. showing an Ann Sherlock with a Mary Alice but as part of a household with an older male and 1 month old baby – a coincidence or 2 separate families? Yet Nana had told me specifically that Ann had married a Fottrell, a widower, who was also a brother-in-law of Ann. They had at least one child. Nana called her” Aunt Maggie and Maggie married a David J Walsh” and just the other day I have found a record of the event. On 25 November 1896 in Manhattan, NYC, New York a Marguerite Fattrell married David J Walsh and her parents names are Ann and Matthew Fattrell.After a 20 year search I finally had found the missing couple, yet they don’t exist in any of the censuses from1870 to 1900. But the newlyweds would reside in Weehawken, Hudson Co. New Jersey and their census records from 1900 through 1930 can be found.

But only 1 event has surfaced in Ann and Matthew’s life. No records have been found in Penn., New Jersey or New York. When did they marry? Where did they live? How many offspring and when did they die{ Nana thought New Jersey}? What happened to Lucy and John T? The only evidence I have is the Mary Alice’s wedding certificate of her marriage to Richard O’Shea in 1884. The two signed witnesses to the event are her older siblings, Lucy Sherlock and John T. Sherlock. Otherwise from 1860 to 1900 they are lost. yet, suddenly Lucy appears in the next four federal censuses as a spinster living with David and Maggie (her half sister) Walsh. Nana’s maternal side definitely involved four families – Sherlock, Spratt, Fottrell and Walsh. This interweaving is noticed in the 1930 New Jersey census where 2 widowed sisters share an apartment; Olive Spratt and Mary Fottrell, living in the same city as the Walshes.

Conclusion: We think of and have heard about the lonely life of Margaret Helena O’Shea playing the piano, sequestered in the flat by Richard. But this does not mean social inactivity. She had a job downtown at “The Women’s Home Companion” She lived close to aunts and uncles in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania the latter had to be a vacation spot with lots of cousins in a farming region. After she got married at age 20 these same relatives became a part of her new life, helping to raise her growing family as her health during the mid 1910’s became a major issue Her relatives took turns taking care of her 6 kids. Her 7th pregnancy brought matters to a head. James had to resign his lieutenancy in the NY Police Force, sell the home and make a new life in California. Knowing Nana and her letter writing ability you would expect letters galore going back and forth to hear eastern family. In 1939 she was given a train trip to New York to visit some of her kin and to reminisce. One or two of them returned the favor and maybe some of us cousins have met them at the Ben Lomond Ranch. Madge Heinzmann (Walsh) ,who was Nana’s flower girl, and Aunt Margaret from Penn.were visitors. While company was nice, the second half of her life,as we know, she had more than enough to do with her husband and 12 kids On that would be added soon over 30 grand children By the time she died[1989] great g’ kids were crawling about .WHAT A GREAT LIFE1 WHAT A GREAT PERSON1 WE WERE BLESSED TO BE A PART OF HER AND RECEIVE HER LOVE1


Anonymous said...


Hi Jack and the rest of the Nerney Clan! It was my grandmother, Madge Heinzmann who was your nana's flower girl! I am Elaine Tamke who visited Ben Lomond with my grandmother in 1965 and went to Disneyland. Could it be your home in West Hollywood that I visited? Please email me at

Clare said...

Message to

Gosh I remember being at Disneyland with 'Aunt Madge'. I can't clearly recall how this came about but recall staying with Jimmy Stack (Jack Stack's brother) and Jimmy's wife Rachel and their daughter Sharon who was around 12 yrs old at the time) for several weeks at their home in West Hollywood. Could it be Jimmy and Rachel Stack's West Hollywood home that you recall visiting.

Clare said...

Jack - I recall Renee's daughter's name as "JOREN". Jerry Stack was good friends with "Joren", no? When I stayed with Aunt Pat (your mom) and Jerry in San Francisco I was lucky enough to get to attend Joren's wedding to a fellow whose name I don't recall. (although I do recall he was owner or part owner of a Lincoln-Mercury dealership. In any event, Renee's family was gracious and loving. And Joren was really beautiful. I remember being told that she was a stand-in for a time for Elizabeth Taylor (I think Jerry told me that back in the day). When beautiful bride, Joren, threw the wedding bouquet it landed in my hands. I can't think of any other way that this could have happened unless they planned it that way. That is how lovely they were as people. Thought you would like to know some of this.
Love, Clare