Thursday, May 21, 2015

Stepping Into The Past

Abandoned building at Willard

     Almost a year ago, I wrote a blog that mentioned the Willard Asylum, located on Seneca Lake in New York.  When Willard Asylum for the Insane opened it's doors in October of 1869, it's goal was to provide humane care for the mentally ill who heretofore had been warehoused in jails and poorhouses.  Like many other state hospitals in New York it was closed in the 1990's, but not before the original brick buildings had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.  Which sort of implies you can stroll the grounds and view the old can't.  With the exception of one day a year when tours are offered.

My son and I in the cold spot
     When my son and daughter-in-law told me they were going, and asked if I would like to join them, I jumped at the chance.  I love anything historic or spooky and Willard, which is reputed to be haunted, offered both!  I don't know of any ancestors who were confined there, though a person who murdered an ancestor was, and the neighbor of another was likewise committed (see first link).  Saturday dawned hazy, hot and humid, and we were on our way before noon.  The closer we got to our destination, the thicker the traffic became, the result being we were forced to park on a hill almost a mile from the site.  The tour didn't exactly come off as planned, a much larger crowd than expected showed up this year, there weren't enough we made our own tour via a conveniently low window missing it's glass.  We stayed only a short time inside the crumbling brick building, but there was a heaviness about the room we stood in, and in a hallway so long we couldn't see it's end stood a rusted gurney at an odd angle. Tres creepy.  As temperatures outside soared into the mid 80's, an extremely cold spot near the window chilled us in more ways than one--even my eminently practical son agreed something was up with this building. 

     After returning home, my thoughts drifted to a long ago cousin who was employed as a cook at the King's Park Asylum on Long Island, NY.  I've never understood why a young woman from Shortsville, NY would travel all the way to Long Island, 358 miles away, to be a cook in an asylum?  But that's what Anna O'Neil did.  She can be found in the 1900 census of that institution's employees, living in one of the cottages or dorms on the property.  Several years ago I read about Anna's death in 1901 from an unspecified illness.  The article said her family had received word that Anna was quite ill and they should come at once, that would have been Monday the 12th.  Her mother left on the first train, but on Wednesday the 14th, a telegram arrived in Shortsville conveying the sad news of Anna's passing.  I want to believe her mother, Mary O'Hora, made it to Anna's bedside before death took her, but I'm not sure.

     I've also always wondered what Anna's cause of death was.  At first I thought something like typhoid, but then Sunday night I found a death notice in the Brooklyn Eagle that claimed she had died "under an operation".  Now I wonder if Anna's appendix had become infected, or even ruptured, that could account for such a rapid outcome.  I know I could just order her death certificate from New York State, but the budget here at Ellie's Ancestor's doesn't allow for orders of distant cousin's death certs at $22 a crack.  Closer ancestors are first in line, so for now Anna's death will remain one of life's little mysteries.

ps-- I took the photo at the top of the blog using my "smart" phone, that damnable phone does one thing well...

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Blog Photos Restored

     Yesterday I wrote about my dismaying experience with a "smart" phone.  After many hours mourning the loss of my blog photos and futile attempts to locate them, they have been restored!  Not by me, by my youngest about 5 minutes.  

     What he did is go to Google+ and locate the photo page.  Once there he clicked "more",  found "trash", selected all my photos there, and then clicked "restore".  Voila, they were back on the blog where they belonged, to my utter relief.  This is why you encourage them to go to college...


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Some People Should Never Mess With Smart Phones


     I never wanted a smart phone.  I never wanted any cell phone at all until my youngest son left for training to serve in Iraq several years ago.  I knew I would not be able to leave my house until his return unless I had access to a telephone, so I acquired one.  Not a smart phone, just a flip phone but it served it's purpose and also provided comic relief when my kids cracked up over the garbled texts they received from me.

     A few weeks ago my husband decided we needed new phones, and so I am now the proud owner of a smart phone.  Actually I am the perpetually frustrated owner of a smart phone.  I don't understand the icons, I can't see the tiny print or texts, and I'd like to fling it into the driveway and back over it a couple times.  I have also discovered that app is the most overused word in the English language. The worst trick of this demon phone however, has been to tamper with my blog.

     I was playing with the thing one day and noticed hundreds of photographs.  There were photos from my blog, documents, photos I had deleted, census images--I had no idea how they got on my phone?  (I never said I was a techie)  Well, that can't be good I thought, they must be using all sorts of space, I don't want them on my phone, so I began deleting them.  The next day I took a look at my blog and freaked out.  There, where photos should have been, were instead boxes with  minus signs.  After a quick internet search, I discovered "smart" phones can do that.  That vindictive phone had deleted the photos not just from itself, but from my blog!

     I will now be spending the next few weeks months restoring my blog.  I publish this as a warning, don't let this happen to you.  In the immortal words of Catherine Aird, "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning."

Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday's Photo/Eva Cornelius Rosekrans

     This is one of the photographs I found when I sorted through my mother's belongings after her passing several years ago.  Many were of family members and most were photos I'd never seen before.  In fact, I'd never seen the album that contained them before; it was stashed on the top shelf of her closet.  Mother's life was a sad one, she lost so many loved ones in her childhood and early adulthood that perhaps this album was part of a painful time she wanted to put behind her.  And perhaps that's why she never shared it with me.

    A few of the pictures in the album, like the one above, were of people completely unknown to me.  On the reverse of this one is written, "Mrs. Rosekrans", nothing more.  Last summer I took the unknowns to a gathering of Mom's sisters and brothers to ask if they could identify the individuals pictured.  I didn't know of any Rosekrans in our family, but my uncle recognized the woman in the picture as Eva Cornelius Rosekrans.

     This morning, I did a search for Eva and found her as a child living in Marion, New York in Wayne County.  Mom's family was from Wayne County, but miles away at the extreme eastern end.  I then did a Google search for--"Eva Cornelius" Rosekrans--and eight results came up, six of which were in English.  The first one was about the Rosekrans family of Erin, New York and stated, "The Rev. Clyde Rosekrans, member of the Central New York Conference of the Methodist Church, held pastorates at several appointments.  Before entering the ministry he operated a grocery store at Elmira Heights.  He married Eva Cornelius, who after their marriage also became a Methodist minister."  Could that be her?  Elmira Heights is pretty far from Wayne County, down near the Pennsylvania border.

    The second hit was the Australian version of Ancestry, that got me nowhere as did hit number three, it was just a list of sorts.  The next hit was the one that convinced me that the Reverend Eva was the right lady, it was her obituary--

     Mrs. Eva Rosekrans, 53, of North Rose, Wayne County died Saturday Oct. 27, 1951 after an illness of a few months.  Survived by husband Rev. Clyde A. Rosekrans; daughter Mrs. Helen Messing of Pine City, NY; sons Philip and Neil Rosekrans of North Rose; four grandchildren; mother Ada Cornelius; sisters, Mrs. Eynor Scofield, Mrs. Murray Weysten; aunt, Mrs. Lydia Hall of Poughkeepsie.  Mrs. Rosekrans was pastor of the Brown Memorial Church Syracuse, before assuming the North Rose charge in June, 1951.  The burial will be in Scotchtown Cemetery in Erin, New York.

   It all fit, North Rose is right next to the town Mom grew up in, and Eva was apparently buried in her husband's family plot in Erin.  Mom must have had the picture because her Lash grandmother, who raised her, was of the Methodist faith.

     The Reverend Clyde survived Eva by twenty-two years and remarried at some point; his obituary lists a wife Mildred. He is also buried in Erin, the tombstone they all share is below.   I'm glad to see Eva got top billing.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

The NLI Sets A Date!


      Notice to friends and family-- if you are planning any reunions, weddings, parties or other soirees this summer, they must be completed before Monday, July the sixth.  I will be unavailable after that date and for the foreseeable weeks months afterwards.  The National Library of Ireland has finally announced that the digital images of nearly 400,000 pages of Catholic parish registers will go online July 8, 2015!  This is such wonderful news, I'm downright giddy.

     If you'd care to read more about the launch, check this article in the Clare Champion Catholic Parish Records Online.  There won't be an index or transcriptions of the images, but this is gift enough.  And why must all social obligations to cease by the sixth?  So I can rest my eyes for the marathon computer screen viewing and formulate the best plan of examining the records of course...

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Not So Scandalous After All


     Remember how as children we would play a game where we all lined up and whispered something into the ear of the child next to us and by the time it got to the end of the line the message was quite different?  Well the same thing happens in family history--it happens alot.  Things get misremembered or misunderstood and passed down the line as facts.  It doesn't take more than a few generations either.  I always heard growing up that my Grandfather's mother Maggie, who passed away when he was 18 months old, had died along with her older son in an epidemic that swept through their tiny village of Manchester, NY in 1907.  The real story was somewhat different, her son Lloyd died at age four of scarlet fever; Maggie didn't pass until two years later of blood poisoning.  As with most fables there is a grain of truth here, they did die in a short time span though not together, and there may well have been an epidemic of the scarlet fever that took little Lloyd.

     More recently I was looking at the Quigley family in Rochester, NY.  The matriarch Ann was the sister of my great-great-grandmother Maria McGarr O'Hora, and I was excited to discover this branch of the family had emigrated to the USA.  I even found a descendant of Ann's who shared some of the family lore with me.  I knew the youngest son was Daniel Quigley, and he lived with his aging mother Ann, seemingly until her death in 1913.  I say seemingly because they lived at 3 Melody St. in Rochester until 1905 after which they abruptly disappeared from the censuses. Ann was buried in Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Rochester, and there is a website that lists all the burials, even those without stones are included since these are the original cemetery records. The thing is, Ann wasn't buried until 1913, where was she those missing years?  I couldn't locate Daniel either in 1910, so I asked my new cousin if she had any ideas.

     Her reply was mystifying.  She wrote that her mother had told her Daniel disappeared and was found dead in Buffalo, NY and she knew nothing more about him.  Looking at the cemetery website, I found that on 2 September 1916 a Daniel Quigley was buried in the same lot as Ann Quigley, but was that even "my" Ann who seemed to have left the planet before the 1910 census, being buried in 1913?

     I began searching Buffalo newspapers, and having nothing else to go on, using the year 1916 in some of the searches.  That produced nothing.  Then I did a simple search at Old Fulton Postcards for ("Daniel Quigley" 1916).  That did the trick, in the Syracuse Post Standard was this:
     The body of Daniel Quigley, which has been held at the County Morgue since he was found dead in bed Thursday morning, was sent to Rochester yesterday.

      The date of the newspaper was September 2, this was definitely the same man buried in Holy Sepulchre but I needed to be sure he was my relative, Daniel and Ann are not uncommon names and while the evidence pointed that way I wanted proof.  The phrasing of the death notice seemed to indicate that there was an earlier article about Daniel, but searches failed to bring it up.  The Old Fulton site does not allow page turning, but you can go to the index page, select a newspaper and view all the files for that publication.  The only identifiers on the files are years and numbers, and there is a file for each and every individual page, so it can be time consuming, unless you know where to start.  I right clicked on the article I had found and copied the file number.  Going to the index I selected the Syracuse Post Standard, went to the year 1916 and looked for file 4093.  Finding that, I simply skipped back 10 or 15 files to find the September 1 edition--easy peasy!  There indeed was an earlier notice of Daniel's death:
     Officials at the County Morgue late last night located a sister of Daniel Quigley who was found dead in bed at his rooming house on South Warren St. yesterday morning.  The county coroner has ruled the death due to natural causes.

     So there really was nothing nefarious about Daniel's death.  The poor fellow just died in his sleep.  He was only 50, which seems young, but then again his father only made it to 42.  I still didn't have absolute proof this was my family member though.  I figured there must have been a notice of some sort in the Rochester paper, and not finding it in a traditional search, I went back to the index.  I selected the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle and looked for the September 2 edition.  This took a little longer since I had no file number, but finally I found the article.
     Daniel Quigley died in Syracuse yesterday and the body will be brought to the home of his sister Mrs. F. Deyo, he leaves another sister Ann Hennessy of Kansas City and a brother John Quigley of Atkinson Street.

     That was him alright, I recognized all those names.  I can understand why the last two articles didn't show up in the searches I ran.  The newsprint was in terrible shape, I could barely decipher most of it, but I'm confident I have it right.  As with many stories about our ancestors, there is some truth to this one, Buffalo was the wrong city, but the rest is pretty accurate.

     I'm curious where Ann and Daniel were those last years of her life, and if they were together.  The last glimpse I have of them is in the 1908 City Directory of Rochester.  Maybe the part of the story about Daniel "disappearing" is correct; perhaps after her death he wanted a change of scenery, or could it be he no longer wanted to care for his elderly mother and just skipped town?  That's not the sort of thing likely to be found in newsprint, but I'm still looking for a clue...

Saturday, April 18, 2015

I Think They Were Brothers (Or Pictures Don't Lie)


     For the past five or six years, I've been trying to prove John McGarr and Catherine Murphy were the parents of my Daniel McGarr of Ballyraggan, County Kildare, and that their son John Jr. was Daniel's brother.  I have assembled plenty of circumstantial evidence, but never found that one document that spelled it out.  Today I may have stumbled onto something almost as good, you tell me...

First, the known facts:
John McGarr Jr. was born in Ireland around 1799-1805, (this from census records). Daniel was born in the same time frame.
In about 1838 John Jr. came to America, settling in Auburn, NY. (also from census), while Daniel remained in Ireland.
In 1840 John Jr. married Mary Kelly in Auburn, his parents were named as Catherine Murphy and John McGarr in church records.
Witnesses to the marriage were Daniel McGarr (not my Daniel, I think this one was a cousin) and Esther McGarr.
Esther's parents were Mary Hayden and Michael McGarr, possibly the Michael in Tober, Wicklow in the Tithe Applotments.  When Mary Hayden died in Auburn, her tombstone mentioned Ballyraggan.
John Jr. and Mary Kelly's first child was Catherine McGarr--Daniel in Ballyraggan named his first child Catherine. 
John Jr. and Mary's second son was named Richard, Daniel in Ballyraggan named his first son Richard; not a terribly common name in Ireland.  Both also had sons named John.  This of course is significant due to the naming pattern used by Irish parents.

    That brings me to the "seeing is believing" part of the evidence, below on the left you see Bridget McGarr, daughter of Daniel of Ballyraggan and the sister of my great-great-grandmother Maria. On the right is a photo of Elizabeth McGarr, the daughter of John Jr.  Look at the nose, the brow, the eyes.  I find a remarkable resemblance, they could be sisters.  They certainly could be cousins don't you think?