Looking for Irish and Italian Ancestors in New York

Jim M. needs help finding his Irish and Italian ancestors in New York. He writes:

My Great Grandfather, Gustave McCune, was born in NYC in 1848 to Patrick McCune and Mary Marchioni. There is no info that I can find on Patrick. Mary shows up in 1860 Census in NYC under her maiden name with a 12 year old son Gustave. In the 1870 Census Gustave is alone living in New Orleans. In 1871 Gustave marries Sue Burdge of New Orleans. There is a marriage record which names Gustave’s parents as Patrick McCune and Mary Marchioni which is where I got their names. I’ve been to several churches in NYC but no one seemed to have and info for me or the time to search for info. I’d like to know where they came from in Ireland and Italy and as much as possible about them.

Here’s my advice for Jim–please post YOUR advice for him in the “Comments” section at the end of this post!


  • You mention census records and visiting churches; have you tried ordering any microfilms of New York’s other records? There are thousands of different records for 1800’s NYC available on microfilm (including many of NY’s oldest church records!) that you can rent anywhere in the world via FamilySearch. Have you tried renting any of their films? I’ll include a brief tutorial to finding those films at the end of this post.
  • Also, make sure you are looking up other online records repositories, such as the New York Public Library’s genealogy page and similar sites for New Orleans.
  • As you continue searching the microfilms and web sites, be sure to follow what I call the “Basics-to-Biography” research path that I use in my own research, meaning: first, locate the most basic information via vital records and census records (“born, married, died, buried!”); second, fill in the biographical blanks with other records such as directories, newspapers (obituaries, immigrant lists, etc), land records, immigration records, court records, tax records, etc.
  • You didn’t mention Gustave’s siblings, but assuming that he had siblings, be sure to follow the “Basics to Biography” strategy for each of them, too. I often find a lot of missing family data in siblings’ records, especially obituaries or biographies!

Jim, please give these tricks a try, keep a detailed log in Excel (like the one I suggested here), then bring it back to me if you still haven’t had any luck, and we will see what the next step might be.

How to Order Microfilmed Historical Records:

  1. Go to FamilySearch.org and click on “Search” at the top of the page: 1
  2. Next, select the “Catalog” option, to search the catalog of microfilms: 2
  3. In the catalog search pane, look up the geographical area (city or county) whose films you want to find: 3
  4. All microfilms are housed at the Family History Library, so go to the “Search These Family History Centers” and select “Family History Library.” 4
  5. The results will be a list of the different records for New York that have been filmed by FamilySearch, which you can rent for free at any FamilySearch center (you have to pay for shipping and processing) 5
  6. By clicking on the arrow near “Church Records,” for example, you will find that there are inventories of NYC Catholic records on film (inventories of what records are in NYC, not the actual records themselves). Since your ancestors were likely Irish Catholic and Roman Catholic, this is a good place to look: 6
  7. There are also 193 different actual church record collections on film for NYC, too: 7
  8. Click on the title of the collection that interests you, and it takes you to a screen with detailed information about the microfilm. Depending on where in Ireland your ancestors are from, the Irish Protestant Church records of NYC might be of interest to you, too:8
  9. If this is the film you want to order, click on the film number: 9
  10. Then you will be taken to an order screen, where you can pay to have the film shipped to the nearest FamilySearch center near you. These centers are located in libraries and Mormon churches worldwide, so there is pretty much one in every mid-size town in America: 10

I look forward to hearing back from you, Jim, with your continued progress in this case.

I’ll leave the “comments” section open for my readers to chime in with their favorite NYC research tips and strategies, too.

Good luck, and happy hunting! 🙂
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One thought on “Looking for Irish and Italian Ancestors in New York

  1. Thanks for responding and Wow there’s a lot of places to look. I know of no siblings for Gustave. In 1860 he isliving with his mother using her maiden name. In 1870 he is living alone in New Orleans using the McCune name and he lives, raises a family and dies in New Orleans. The strange thing is that his 6 children all raised in New Orleans, immediately after his death all move to New York. Some moved and or married and I lost track but none ever went back to New Orleans
    Jim McCune


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