Monday, January 2, 2012

The War Horse and a Real Life Veteran

My husband and I recently saw the movie, War Horse. Beautiful scenery and music enhance the story of a boy and a horse whose journeys take them through England and Europe during World War I. As the war rages, our main characters somehow manage to survive battles, find each other and ultimately return home. War Horse stimulated my genealogical curiosity about World War I. Immediately I began searching for World War I veterans in my family tree. 

Stephen Clement Dooley was a veteran of World War I. His purple heart hangs in my husband’s office. My husband has just produced several documents relating to his grandfather’s service. I hope to chronicle this man’s life in my next few posts. So I begin….

Stephen Dooley was born to Irish parents, William and Mary Dooley. Census records report that William arrived in the United States about 1886 and became a naturalized citizen. I have not yet located his father's immigration and naturalization records but will continue the search. Census records also report that Mary was born in the United States to Irish immigrants.

Stephen was the middle child in this Irish Catholic family. He had three older brothers and two younger brothers plus a younger sister. My records indicate Stephen was baptized at the Holy Family Church, 1080 W. Roosevelt, Chicago.  Unfortunately, I gathered this piece of evidence during my early genealogical years and failed to create a citation. I now need to relocate my source!

This family would be broken apart by the deaths of both parents. William passed away first. It is said Mary died of a broken heart approximately a year later. Their deaths occurred sometime between 1900-1910. No death records have been found to date to confirm this oral family story and the location of their graves remains unknown as well. In the 1910 census their children John, Stephen, Margaret and David are found to be living with their Uncle David Dooley. Brothers Joseph and William appear to have been living on their own.

Life was difficult for these orphans. Steven took to the streets and began to run with the infamous Touhy gang of Chicago. Until tomorrow . . .

1 comment:

  1. Hi Linda,

    I produce a podcast (I Remember) where people share stories from their family heritage and history. It is conversational in format. Reading through your blog, I'd love to hear the story of Stephen Dooley added to the series.

    Would you be interested in pursuing this with me? Email me at

    Thank you for your consideration.