Wednesday, 5 February 2014

52 Ancestors: Week 6: Michael Alphonsus Cussen 1870 (Ireland) - 1941 (USA)

This blog post is credited to @familystories, @rjseaver and @CarlSAnthony for without their leads and information I may never have found this story. 

It all started Saturday morning when I checked my twitter feed to see what I had missed and saw Caroline Pointer's post 11 Genealogy Things You Need to Know This Morning, Friday, 31 Jan 2014

After I had changed my Yahoo passwords (Caroline doesn't just give genealogy advise but technical advise too) I went back to Caroline's post and saw the following:
What might I be missing out on? As it turned out I had only heard of 4 of the 10 websites listed and there was one, in particular, that stood out.

4. Chronicling America (

There are almost 7 million searchable digitized newspaper pages from 39 states between 1836 and 1922.

Newspapers :-) I like newspapers as they can give you so much information that you might never have found out about otherwise.  So I went and took a look.  As I still hadn't made it out of bed by this time having been distracted by checking Twitter all this was happening via my phone and the only name I could think of to check was Cussen.  Michael Cussen to be precise. There were four hits. 

The sun. (New York [N.Y.]), July 21, 1894, Page 7, Image 7

The San Francisco call. (San Francisco [Calif.]), January 06, 1901, Image 32

The sun. (New York [N.Y.]), August 19, 1917, Section 6, Page 14, Image 50

Der deutsche Correspondent. (Baltimore, Md.), June 10, 1880, Image 4

Now I knew from early research that some members of the Cussen family had moved from Kerry, Ireland to San Francisco.  So The San Francisco call was the first link I went to and here is what I found.


Warrant Out for Arrest of Michael A.

Cussen Who Has Left the

A. Foster of the International Security 

Company, 503 California street, swore to 
a complaint in Judge Fritz's court yes- 
terday for the arrest of Michael A Cus- 
sen, 452 Page street, on a charge of for-
gery. He is accused of forging the name
of his brother, J. Cussen to a promissory 
note for $125 on October 31 last. The note 
was made payable two months after date. 
Cussen was until January 1 employed
in the White House, where his brother
is also employed. Foster says that Cus-
sen called upon him on the date men-
tioned and said he was hard up for ready
money and wanted a loan of $125. He was 
told that he must get some one to join
him in the note, and he returned with the
note signed by himself and by J. Cussen,"
who he said was his brother.
When the note became due it was not
honored and Foster called upon Cussen
who informed him he was unable to pay
the amount. J. Cussen was then called
upon, but he declared that his signature
had been forged and declined to be re-
sponsible for the amount. Hence the
warrant. It is said the defendant has left
the city. 

I do believe this is a reference to 'our' Michael Cussen whose full name was Michael Alphonsus Cussen.  He had four brothers two of which would have the initials J. Cussen.  John Aloysius Cussen and James Stanislaus Cussen both of whom were living in San Francisco at that time. 

According to the 1900 United States Federal Census Michael A. Cussen was the head of the family living with his brothers, John A. and James S., and sisters, Alice and Dora (census page is damaged so it is a little difficult to read but it does look like his sister Dora and not his sister Nora).  The census page is also ripped where the name of the road might have been but the other road names on the page include Fell Street and Oak Street both of which are close to Page Street although the house number appears to be 450 rather than 452.

I had a quick look at the information on my Ancestry tree for Michael and the next reference for him after the 1900 census was a marriage in Kansas in 1908, a US city directories entry for him in 1914 in Tulsa, Oklahoma and then his death in 1941 in Omaha, Nebraska so this would be consistent with the newspaper report that Michael had 'left the city'.  I did end up going back to Caroline's post as I had noticed that Kansas records had also been mentioned but I couldn't find a reference to the marriage on the website.  I went back to Ancestry and realised that the source the information on the marriage (rather worryingly) was OneWorldTree so I must have had a lapse allowing that information onto my tree without gathering evidence that it actually happened.  Which reminds me I need to work through the following post!

And here are 10 steps to fix that online family tree you started.

The newspaper article sent me googling 'white house, San Francisco, 1901' with the fourth hit being The White House in San Francisco by @CarlAnthonyOnline.  What a lovely article, lots of information and wonderful photographs too.  Be sure to have a good read.

As with any genealogical finding - you get one answer and then have a million more questions. Did J Cussen work at the White House in San Francisco?  If so, what did he do? And more importantly did he wait on the US President and First Lady?....

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