Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Genealogical Journey: Charles and Helena O'Regan

Relationship Summary
Lagoy, Michele Ann's great great grandmother is Sullivan, Elizabeth Regan 
Sullivan, Elizabeth Regan
1830 - 1899
Sullivan, Charles Joseph
1856 - 1902
Sullivan, Mary Bernadette
1896 - 1964
Lagoy, William Paul, Jr
Lagoy, Michele Ann

Details:Lagoy, Michele Ann's father's mother's father's mother is Sullivan, Elizabeth Regan

Names: Lagoy, Michele Ann father Lagoy, William Paul, Jr mother Sullivan, Mary Bernadettefather Sullivan, Charles Joseph mother Sullivan, Elizabeth Regan

A presenter of an Academy Award could not have had as much anticipation as I did when I opened the envelope from the New York City Municipal Archives.  It contained my great-great-grandmother's death certificate.  I suspected that names for Elizabeth Sullivan's parents would be listed and accurate.  She, her husband Denis, and their children, including my great-grandfather, Charles, returned to Ireland for eleven years (1857-1868).  During that time,  I believed they learned the names of their grandparents, or even met them.   That information was provided on their mother's death certificate.  Elizabeth's father was listed as Charles O'Reagan.  It would seem that my great-grandfather Charles, was named after his maternal grandfather.  That made sense.  Elizabeth's mother's name was listed as Lena Cornwall.  And shock of shocks, it said she was born in Nova Scotia!  It would seem that Drew's grandmother, Helena, was named after her maternal grandmother. Again, that made sense.  It seemed that I had found the names of my three times great-grandparents--on an Irish maternal line, most difficult to research but I did break through the brick wall.

The envelope please!  Envelope containing the death certificate of my great-great-grandmother.
Death certificate for Elizabeth O'Sullivan listing her parents.  

The name Charles O'Regan gave me too many hits on the Ancestry and Family Search websites.  I couldn't definitively say which one was my ancestor.  The name Lena Cornwall was another matter.  I received one hit immediately on Ancestry.  It was for an Anglican church transcript in Acadie, Nova Scotia, Canada.  Helena Sophia Cornwall was baptized in 1792.  I went through great pains to find the rare book cited as the source, Gravestones of Acadie , written in 1929.  The online booksellers at the time of my discovery had it listed for hundreds of dollars.  For that price, I would rather go to Canada myself.  Luckily, I was able to borrow the book from the World Catalog System which accesses universities as well as public libraries.  There was only one copy available in all of San Diego County.  It was a short term loan with a HUGE penalty for returning it late.  I also had to leave the note attached to the book that said I had to hand it to a librarian, not leave it in a drop box.  I guarded that book with my life.  Unfortunately, the book gave no further information about Helena Sophia Cornwall.  I was sure her story was an interesting one; how did someone born in Canada end up in Ireland?  I set out to connect her to Charles O'Regan in Ireland.

Because of the difficulty in researching Irish ancestors prior to 1850, I was left with seeking private family trees. ( For a complete explanation, go to by Claire Santry.)  I had to join as many online genealogy groups that I could in hopes of finding out more. One of my Facebook genealogy groups yielded assistance.  Once again, the kindness of strangers prevailed. Frank started a genealogy group that meets once a month in West County Cork, Ireland.  I obviously couldn't attend the meetings living in San Diego, but my questions and information were presented to the group whose goal is to help each other with West Cork genealogy.    Here is an edited email exchange between Frank and me that put Charles and Helena O'Regan together:

Hi Michele,

There is a listing and photos of known graves at Aughadown Upper and Lower Graveyards at
This graveyard is located approx half way to Ballydehob and is immediately beside the Ilen River. I hope this of use to you but I fear not.

Le chéile, is féidir linn (Together, We Can)
Kind regards,
Mayor, Skibbereen Town Council 2011 -  2012
Strategic Policy. Environment & Emergency Dept Cork Co. Council 2009 - 2014
Founding Chairman, WestCork SOS Ambulance Campaign
Founding Chairman, RIPPLE Skibbereen. (Retd)


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