Ne­braska sis­ters strengthen fam­ily tree in Burnt Point


Af­ter 48 years three women from Ne­braska were ex­cited to fi­nally re­turn to their fa­ther’s home­town last week and ex­plore their fam­ily roots.

Richard De­laney was born and grew up in Burnt Point on the North Shore of the Bay de Verde Penin­sula.

Af­ter fin­ish­ing school, Richard moved to Port au Port where he met and mar­ried Is­abella La­Costa. The cou­ple had five daugh­ters: Deb ( Harders), Janie (Wieck), Shirley (De­laney), Carolyn ( McK­eon) and Sheila (Ho­rak).

On a sunny morn­ing last week a shivery breeze was blow­ing the salty smell of the ocean over the deck at their cousin Gen Shortt’s house — where three of the sis­ters (Deb, Janie and Sheila) were hav­ing cof­fee and en­joy­ing the view.

“Dad went to school here in Burnt Point,” Deb says, “and in the sum­mer of 1961 we came back here for a visit.

The five lit­tle girls en­joyed that sum­mer, un­aware their lives were about to change for­ever.

The fol­low­ing year on Nov. 27, their fa­ther was killed in an au­to­mo­bile ac­ci­dent on the way from Port au Port to Cor­ner Brook.

“Mom and Carolyn were hurt but they were okay. Our lives changed com­pletely,” Deb says, re­mem­ber­ing the tragedy and the fol­low-up vis­its with doc­tors and lawyers.

Sev­eral years later Is­abella met John Vo­gel of Grand Is­land, Ne­braska. She mar­ried the Air Force man in March 1965 and the fam­ily left Port au Port in May.

From New­found­land they trav­elled to Del Rio, Texas spending a year there, an­other year in Bel­grade, Ne­braska and then on to Cheyenne, Wy­oming for two more years.

When their step­fa­ther got out of the ser­vice the fam­ily set­tled in Dan­nebrog, Ne­braska.

“We all live within 30 min­utes of each other, in­clud­ing mom and dad.”

Be­tween them, the sis­ters have 15 kids and 23 grand­kids. A close knit fam­ily, the girls of­ten won­dered about their fa­ther’s roots in Burnt Point, but never seemed to get around to plan­ning a trip.

“My hus­band Ken is into fam­ily his­tory and in the win­ter of 2007, he put an ad in The Tele­gram to see if there was any fam­ily re­lated to Richard De­laney,” says Deb.

“ Betty McCann, a sec­ond cousin in St. John’s ( since de­ceased) read the ad and phoned her brother Bill ( McCann - Richard’s fist cousin) in Burnt Point. She told him she thought they were Richard’s fam­ily.”

Bill McCann and Gen Shortt, an­other cousin, both emailed Deb and Ken.

That was the boost the sis­ters needed.

“That’s how we got con­nected and we’ve been con­nect­ing ever since,” Deb says. “We had been plan­ning to come back for a long time.”

Three of the sis­ters (Deb, Janie and Sheila) be­gan ar­rang­ing the trip and ar­rived in Burnt Point last Wed­nes­day, June 17. Prior to that, they had been vis­it­ing rel­a­tives on their mother’s side of the fam­ily on the Port au Port Penin­sula.

“We went there for Sun­day, Mon­day and Tues­day - our mother has a big fam­ily there.”

The sis­ters ap­par­ently had no prob­lem tracking them down.

“We were shop­ping in Port au Port and just hap­pened to meet an­other fam­ily mem­ber at the store,” Deb smiles.

Af­ter the women took a cou­ple of wrong side roads on their way from St. John’s air­port to Burnt Point, Gen’s brother, Luke Shortt res­cued them in Bay Roberts.

Ocean mem­o­ries

The At­lantic Ocean is not eas­ily for­got­ten, even af­ter nearly half a cen­tury.

“We were ex­cited,” says Janie, of the visit to New­found­land. “The whole place is full of wa­ter. The beauty of the coun­try­side — Ne­braska is flat — the docks and the fish­ing boats, the smell of crab and lob­ster — we got to the ocean and could smell the sea­weed, it put wa­ter in my eyes.”

Af­ter wait­ing years to meet cousin Bill McCann, the women dis­cov­ered it needn’t have taken so long. He’d been in the U.S. a num­ber of times.

“ He drove down through Ne­braska and went through Deb’s town without know­ing it,” Sheila says.

The women haven’t had a lot of time to do any tour­ing since arriving in Con­cep­tion Bay North, they’ve been too busy vis­it­ing fam­ily mem­bers.

“There’s a meal at some­one’s house ev­ery day!” Sheila says, get­ting smiles of agree­ment from her sis­ters.

The sis­ters were sched­uled to re­turn to Ne­braska Sun­day, June 21. All three want to re­visit Burnt Point in the fu­ture and plan to take more time to sight­see.

“Carolyn and Shirley will have to make the next trip with us,” they agree.

Photo sub­mit­ted

Lil­lian Sim­mons The Com­pass

RE­UNION - It’s been a long time since three sis­ters who live in Ne­braska have been in Burnt Point. But last week the daugh­ters of Richard De­laney vis­ited the North Shore com­mu­nity for a De­laney fam­ily re­union. Front row from left are: Luke De­laney, Janie (De­laney) Wieck, Eu­gene De­laney. Back row: Sheila (De­laney) Ho­rak, Jerry De­laney, Gen (De­laney) Shortt, Debbie (De­laney) Harders, Brian De­laney CLOSE FAM­ILY - From left: Jane Wieck, Sheila Ho­rak and Debbie (Deb) Harders chat over cof­fee at their cousin Gen Shortt’s house in Burnt Point. For the first time in 48 years the sis­ters, who live in Ne­braska, are vis­it­ing and meet­ing fam­ily mem­bers in the com­mu­nity where their fa­ther, Richard De­laney, grew up.

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