New entries added daily to DalbyData

I’ve spent more hours this week than I want to admit chasing leads on Ryan family history.

As I’ve reported in earlier blogs, I’ve tried for years to find information about the origins of Julia Ryan Hickey (1824-1908). She and her husband Patrick settled in Waseca County, MN, in the early 1860s, in the midst of several Ryan families. After Patrick Hickey’s death in 1884, Julia moved with her young-adult children to Minneapolis.

If your family history research leads you to cemeteries in southern Minnesota, you should look at DalbyData– and re-check regularly. The database contains over 2,500,000 records, and John Dalby reports he adds information on a daily basis! The site is found at

When I took another look at DalbyData this week, I noted a cross-reference in a cemetery entry for Johanna Ryan, i.e., “see obit file.” According to the transcribed obituary from the Janesville Argus dated 08 June 1933, “Miss Ryan spent the greater part of her life in the vicinity of Waldorf… Those from away who attended the funeral were….Miss Julia Hickey and Wm. Hickey of St Paul…”

Johanna was the oldest daughter of John D. and Mary Ryan, who lived only a couple miles from the Hickeys near Waldorf in Vivian township, Waseca County. (Johanna’s death certificate was difficult to find among MnHS records because it’s alphabetized under “Miss Johanna” Ryan, but that’s another story.) Johanna was born in 1857. Julia Hickey was born in 1865; her brother William was born in 1866. It seems likely there’s a family relationship or why would these two senior citizens drive all the way to Waseca for Johanna’s funeral?

Siblings Julia and William Hickey, both unmarried, shared a home in Minneapolis – not St Paul – but that’s another story, too. My husband’s family was always part of the Minneapolis Hickeys, never to mix with the apparently unrelated Hickey branch in St Paul. Nonetheless, I believe the reference to St Paul by the Waseca editor was merely an oversight as I’ve found no Julia Hickeys in St Paul.

While I’m rambling about the Ryans and the benefits of DalbyData, I’ll add an observation about record-keeping in the old days. Have you ever noticed how frequently family matriarchs are buried with only the name “Mother”? The cemetery record for John D. Ryan shows he’s buried with his spouse, “Mother.” At least 2000 women in Dalby’s cemetery database are known only as “Mother.” Fewer men – but still a big number – are shown only as “Father.” Their children gave no thought to how important gravestones would be to subsequent generations.


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