Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wednesday's Website

     The staff here at Ellie's Ancestors thought it would be great fun to start a new series.  To that end, allow me to present this week's website, an all-Ireland site called SWilson.  Peculiar name I know, but please don't let that stop you from checking it out, I promise you'll find something of use here. For instance, as you probably know the Irish Times website has a feature to locate parishes in which two surnames appeared together in Griffith's Valuation, useful for determining where to look for ancestors, but there is a fee involved.  Here it's free under the "Surname Cross Reference" tab.

     There is tons of information here for tracking Catholic Ancestors. When the NLI put their Catholic records online recently, I tried first locating names of interest in the Tithe Applotments and then searching the church records of parishes where the names occurred most often.  A genius idea I thought, but the fly in the ointment here, (and I dislike flies in my ointment), was that the Applotment Books and Griffith's Valuation are both arranged by civil parish, not Catholic parishes.  This resulted in time lost as I  searched for the corresponding Catholic parish.  This site offers a "RC Parish><Townland" search, and a "Town>RC Parish" search.  The latter only seems to work for larger townlands, but the former will quickly locate the Catholic parish in which a given civil parish lay.  There is also a "Catholic Parish Church Search Map" which shows all the churches in the area of the map you click on.  At the top of this page is the resulting map from my click on Ballyraggan in County Kildare.

     There are many other maps and features on this site, another one I really liked was the "Catholic Directory of 1848"; fully searchable it lists all the Catholic parishes along with the PP, his Curate and the Post Town.  I enjoyed that one so much because in 1848 at the height of the famine, my immigrant ancestors were just beginning to think of leaving Ireland and the priest listed in the directory would have been theirs.  There is alot to see here, I hope you will find the website as useful as I have.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Graveyard Masses

     Before work yesterday, I was browsing the website of Baltinglass parish in County Wicklow and stumbled upon "Father Paddy's Blog".  I read his post about remembering loved ones who had gone before which opened with a brief mention of graveyard Masses.  As a lifelong Catholic you'd think I would know what that was, but no, I never heard the phrase before.  Was it part of the funeral service, the prayers at the graveside?

     I spent half an hour doing Google searches and still couldn't find anything more than online schedules for annual graveyard Masses in various parishes in Ireland.  Since they were held yearly for the public, they obviously  weren't a service for one individual.  Finally on Google Books I found, "The Community Life Of Older People In Ireland", written by Carmel Gallagher in which I read this -- "Another ritual that takes place in many towns and villages is an annual graveyard Mass.  Family members gather at the graves of their deceased relatives while an open air Mass is celebrated."

     What a lovely idea! I can't imagine why this custom is not followed here in New York.  In my mind's eye, it conjures up a powerful image of the Mass offered in the midst of His creation, in the presence of one's ancestors and loved ones who have passed, spiritually connecting all. It also puts me in mind of the outdoor Masses celebrated during penal times, when secret Masses were said for the faithful in remote, out of the way places to avoid detection.  No mention was found online of how or when the observance of graveyard Masses first began, perhaps if this post falls under the eyes of a reader in Ireland, they could enlighten me.

     Curious if this Mass was perhaps celebrated here in New York years ago, like the "months mind Mass" and simply fell by the wayside, I did a search using "graveyard Masses" and "New York" as the search terms, which produced no relevant results.  After substituting the word cemetery for graveyard I found two Masses, one in Buffalo, NY and the other near New York City.  However, the Mass in Buffalo was celebrated inside a mausoleum, hardly the same effect as Mass said under the Lord's blue sky.  Clearly this is not a widespread practice in New York--but I think it should be.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Breaking News-- Church Records Indexed!


      It was announced today that Find My Past is releasing an indexed version of the Irish Roman Catholic Church records recently put online by the National Library of Ireland!  The index will link to the record's image.  While the majority of the images now online are easily read, for those of us who are slowly losing our vision (and minds) trying to decipher the faded, spidery handwriting found in some parishes, this is major.  A subscription is required, but Find My Past regularly has free weekends--if you can wait.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Kildare & Leighlin Photographs

     This morning I stumbled onto a new (to me) website--The Delaney Archive.  On the homepage, they describe the organization as caring for, "the archival collections of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin, the Patrician Brothers, Brigidine Sisters, and Carlow College".  The photographic collection is online at Flickr.  A large portion of the material is from Carlow and Kildare Counties, home to my McGarr and Hore families.

     The photo collection is searchable by clicking on "Photo Collection on Flickr" and then the magnifying glass on the right top of the images.  It took me awhile to figure this out, so I'm providing you with a red arrow.  Those icons throw me every time.

     There are tons of photos on the site, some of which are memorial cards, and while you probably won't find a direct ancestor since many photos are of Priests and Nuns, I did find several Priests who would have been my ancestor's confessors.  It could also be useful if any past relatives were members of the clergy.  There are pictures of some towns, and also letters and drawings.  There's alot here so if you have time, don't just search and view only the results, it's an interesting glimpse of Catholic Ireland.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Photo Album Page One

     Awhile back I blogged about my idea to store photos of my ancestors in an antique photo album.  As I mentioned in that first blog  I ordered only a few reproductions to be sure I was happy with how they came out, and I promised to show you the results.  So here is the first page, the top pic is one of my O'Hora great-grandparents, both children of Irish immigrants, and the bottom one is of Bridget McGarr Kinsella, maternal aunt to the gentleman in the first photo and an Irish immigrant herself.

     I'm pretty pleased with how they look, though I think I'd add some sepia tones to Bridget's photo next time.  I think it will be an interesting addition to my coffee table!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Mappy Monday/ Uncle John Crotty and the Disappearing Road

     John Crotty, the brother of my 3rd great-grandmother Honora Crotty Power was born in Tramore Parish, County Waterford in 1817.  He would have been in his late thirty's when the famine struck Ireland, but he didn't come to America until almost a decade later.  While I have no proof, I have the feeling he and Ellen Mullet were married here in America.  The only child I've found for them was Mary born in Farmington, Ontario County New York where John's farm was located.  

     I doubt I'm the only family historian who needs to know exactly where my ancestors lived, but I do.  I located the deed for Uncle John's land at the Family Search collection of NY Land Records, and while the deeds themselves are not searchable, they are organized by county, each having both grantor (the seller) and grantee (the buyer) indexes arranged by year and first letter of the surname.

     I also found his name on an old land ownership map of Farmington, NY,  but the location didn't look right to me, which is odd considering I grew up right next door in Manchester and still live nearby.  I pulled up a current map of the place and indeed the layout of the roads had changed.  

     In the 1950's New York State built the New York Thruway, a toll highway between the Pennsylvania border below Buffalo and New York City, passing through Manchester and Farmington.  Being born in the late 50's the current maps were the topography I'd always known.  I compared the two maps, old and new, and was able to line them up pretty closely except Sheldon Road where Uncle John lived.  It was pretty clear what had happened, when the new highway came through Sheldon Road was cut in half -- bringing up a satellite map proved this.  You can see the Crotty home site next to the red X in the photo above, this is where Sheldon Road ends today.  Looking further, you can still clearly see where the old section of road used to lie, now ending abruptly at the Thruway instead of continuing to Collett Road as it once did.  The same thing happened with Stafford Road, a few miles away and is also visible on overhead maps.

     It's surprising sometimes to think how much the landscape can change in a relatively short span of time.  My hometown can't be unique in that aspect.  Entire bridges and roads have come and gone in just my lifetime, some lowered and some raised.  A section of Main Street is now about ten feet higher; at that spot where what we called the "railroad underpass" used to be, is now level ground the bridge over it gone-- which interestingly is exactly how it looked in my grandparent's day seen below.  The more things change...
The crossing on Main Street before that section was lowered and a bridge built over it, raising the railroad bed above the street. Almost all the buildings pictured are now gone.


Friday, January 15, 2016

Friday's Funny-- Arrest Reports

     The police court reporter for the Auburn NY Daily Bulletin during the 1870's considered himself quite a wit, especially when it came to public intoxication charges.  Below are a few of his irreverent attempts at humor:

Bridget Malony, as full of gin as the skin of a bologna is full of--nobody knows what--was placed in the cooler last evening by Officer Sullivan.

Hans Krout soured on his benzine and effervesced into a state of comotosity in the calaboose under the auspices of Chief Daniels.  Not having any collateral nor being worth confinement, he was discharged.

Callahan Connor, full of fuel oil, was taken before his honor by Officer Boyle, after lying around loose in the calaboose, in consequence of the juice extracted from corn, which Callahan put to use in the shape of many a horn.

James DeWare, with an overdose of cholera preventative which went to his head, was sent to the foot by Officer Moore, for missing on a hard word--sobriety.

James McElroy, a limb of the legal persuasion, and knowing that possession is nine "pints" in law, had a lien put on himself and about nine pints of benzine yesterday by Officer Casper, who seized him according to the statute, and habeased his corpus into the calaboose.

Mary Muldoon was drunk as a loon, and didn't seem like to get sober quite soon;  she seemed to be up in a benzine balloon--so high was Miss Mary--most up to the moon.