This happens all the time here at Ellie's Ancestors; I write a blog after weeks of thorough research, and that same night or the next day I find more information. Sometimes it clarifies the search, sometimes it muddies the waters. In this case it points in an interesting direction.
Yesterday I wrote about Anna Quigley Hennessey who came from Ireland to New York, (presumably), and then westward to Missouri. Last night I spent some time looking through city directories of Rochester, NY where Anna's brothers and sisters and her elderly mother resided after leaving Ireland. They were all easy to find, though I didn't find anyone with the surname Quigley who belonged to me living in Rochester before 1890. Then I looked for Anna with the surname Quigley or Hennessey. In 1890 and 1891 an Anna Hennessey was employed as a waiter at the New York Central Railroad Station in the city. She also lived there, which was a thing I'd never considered before, who knew one could board at a station? Anna doesn't appear in any Rochester directories after 1891, although the rest of her family does. It appears Anna spent only two years in Rochester.
I followed Anna's mother, Anna Sr., through the directories beginning in 1890. In them her son Daniel was always listed with her, while her oldest son John appeared in her household in a couple of cases. Then I came to 1898 and got a surprise. That entry read, Ann Quigley, removed to Oak Mills Kansas. After letting that sink in for a minute or two, I started searching for Oak Mills, which I found no longer exists. There are however a few mentions of the place online, it's major claim to fame was that the Missouri Pacific Railroad went through town and had a station there. The first census I can locate Anna in is 1920 which places her in Jasper, Missouri working as a railroad telegraph operator at the Kansas City Southern Railroad station there. In 1930 she is in Joplin, Missouri, also right on the Missouri Pacific mainline but also home to the Kansas City Southern Railroad--I was beginning to see a pattern here.
|Railroad map 1888 Oak Mills at middle top, Jasper & Joplin bottom right|
The railroad map above was found at the Kansas Memory site, the relevant places are underlined in blue. You can see all of them are right on the railroad line, beginning with Oak Mills, Kansas, where the 1898 Rochester directory said Anna Sr. had moved to, and through the Missouri cities of Jasper and Joplin where censuses later place Anna Jr. Her last residence, Asbury Missouri, is about 20 miles west of Joplin, and guess who Asbury's largest employer was? The Kansas City Southern Railroad for whom Anna worked in 1920!
I tend to believe Anna Quigley Hennessey landed a job with the railroad and made it her career, first in Rochester then Kansas where she was visited by her mother, who had returned to Rochester by 1899, and lastly in Missouri. She was fortunate to have that option, in that there were limited job opportunities for women outside of teaching, service or factories at that time. Her religion forbade remarriage after a divorce, but Anna seems to have done well, she was even a homeowner in Asbury.
A few questions remain unanswered. After searching records in Ireland and in Rochester I still can't find Anna's marriage to Mr. Hennessey, nor can I find her in the 1900 or 1910 census though I know right where she was -- but having said that, maybe tonight is the night...