Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Stop Calling My Grandpa A Pedophile/A Word About Find A Grave

     Find A Grave started out as a wonderful, wonderful idea.  It enabled researchers who couldn't make the trip to an ancestor's far off grave the chance to visit it, if only online in a photograph.  Something happened along the way however, now the site is full of "memorials" containing no tombstone photos, but plenty of speculation by the poster.  I've personally found several cases of what I know to be erroneous information, I've even tried contacting the person responsible to no avail...even when presented with irrefutable proof...I give up.  I read somewhere the site had degenerated into a competition of who can post the largest number of these memorials and tombstones and I'm starting to believe that is truly the case.

     Just yesterday I received an email stating a correction I had sent was not accepted.  The correction?  Pointing out that an eight year old girl could not possibly have given birth.  It's a well documented fact that my 6th great-grandfather Captain Jeremiah Vincent had two wives, the second one, Mary Merritt, quite a bit younger than he, (but certainly not that young).  Most of his children are from his first marriage to an unknown woman, but I constantly see the children of the first marriage attributed to the second.  This particular memorial even had the correct birth dates for Mary and her "daughter", (who was actually the daughter of Jeremiah's first wife).  They were born eight years apart.  Does it really make sense that Mary was this girl's mother???

     I think this annoys me so much because some researchers may mistakenly believe that the data on this site all comes from an actual tombstone or a cemetery record.  It doesn't, nor is all of it accurate.  While it's still a very worthwhile source, please be sure to double check before accepting the information found on one of the memorials with no photograph of the stone.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Westward to Wisconsin? Looking For John Vincent


     In typical fashion, for me at least, I've been distracted yet again from the research into my Irish families and am now on the trail of John Vincent, known as John I. Vincent in some circles.  I've read that he appears in his father's (Capt. Jeremiah Vincent) will, but he's really hard to nail down after that.  I know he and three siblings were probably born at Half Moon, New York, (love that name), to the Captain and his unknown first wife around 1778.  Some trees online have his mother as Mary Merritt, but she was the Captain's second wife and they didn't marry until John was already 13 years old.

     None of the trees have any mention at all of when or where John  might have died.  A few say John's wife was Mary Clements who died in Victory, NY at some point, but none mention where this information was obtained.  Everything I've seen agrees that John had only one child, a son named Thomas, born in 1803.  Having only one makes me think perhaps Mary C. died at a young age.  Let's just assume for a moment that is the case and that John then married a woman named Lucretia.  Let's also assume he went west afterwards.  I know that's alot of assuming going on, and I'm not for one second suggesting any of this is fact, but I do have a reason for speculating.

     While searching I discovered that Captain Jeremiah and his second wife Mary Merritt had two children of their own, Elizabeth and Stephen, (who would be half siblings to John), in addition to those  he had with his unknown wife.  I also learned that Stephen had a son named James Vincent who moved to La Crosse, Wisconsin after a stint in the California gold fields.  There were several John Vincents floating around, but upon searching the 1860 census, the closest match I could find to John I. was a man living in the very same La Crosse, Wisconsin.  I tried searches on that person, but found nothing much except his and his wife Lucretia's burials on Find A Grave.

     I did find a bio of Stephen's son James Vincent however, who became a prominent lumberman, which states he moved his family including his parents to La Crosse.  What if that family also included his Uncle John and Aunt Lucretia?  It's certainly possible given that no one knows what became of John, and he wouldn't be the first disappearing ancestor I've found in the mid-west.  This John is the right age, was living in the same county as his (maybe) half brother, and was born in New York-- though in the mid 19th century a large part of the population of Wisconsin was born in New York.  The only thing that doesn't match up is his current wife's name, but early deaths were far from uncommon in the 1800's and as I hypothesized earlier, Lucretia could easily be a second wife.

     What is really needed here is a lengthy, informative obituary for John Vincent who died on 10 May1869 and was buried in Farmington Cemetery, La Crosse County, Wisconsin.  But I can't find one.  A search on Genealogy Bank failed to produce a hit even though there were newspapers being published in that area in 1869.  

     I know this really is a long shot, but that's part of the fun of genealogy, some of our theories turn out to be fact.  The other part of the fun is proving it.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Friday's Photo/Cpl. Harry J. McCabe & Sisters

Caroline, Grace, Harry and Florence McCabe

     This photograph was given to me by my cousin Rita. Pictured are four of the seven children of James McCabe and his wife Bridget Finnerty of Auburn, NY-- making them the grandchildren of my 3rd great-aunt Mary O'Hora and her husband Patrick McCabe.  I'm not sure exactly when the photo above was taken, though the uniform of a World War I soldier gives away the time frame.  The names of the individuals are written on the back of the photo, but I have my reservations about the young woman in the middle.  She is purported to be Grace, but I'm not so sure.

     Harry enlisted at Auburn in May of 1917 and was assigned to Company M of the 3rd Infantry which a few months later, became the 108th.  This enlistment is where the question arises.  Grace McCabe died in 1914, there is no question about that. Her obituary and funeral announcements appeared in the Auburn papers that year. But if her brother Harry didn't enlist until 1917, how is it that she is pictured with him in his uniform? 

     Harry, along with young men he had known since childhood, eventually found themselves in the nightmarish trenches of France, surrounded by mud, rats, and an enemy bent on their destruction.  Sadly, he watched several of his comrades lose their lives in the fighting. Harry fought in one of the most important engagements of the war, he was there on September 29, 1918 when the Hindenburg line fell to the Allies. That same day Harry was gassed.  His official record states he was "severely" wounded by this attack, but by the time of his discharge in 1919 had recovered.  In a letter home to his widowed mother Bridget shortly afterward, he makes light of his injury, clearly so as not to worry her, but it was obviously a serious matter.

Harry's military record

     Harry returned home after the war and worked as a prison guard at the Auburn State Prison in the city; he was there at the time of the 1929 prison riots.  Not so very different from trench warfare.  He and his wife Anna purchased a home in nearby Owasco where they and their son Paul lived until Harry's death in May of 1950 at age 54.

     Harry's sister Caroline, known as Carrie to her family, married Thomas Monahan in Auburn where she passed away in 1940.  Grace died at her parent's home at age 22 of heart problems while studying to be a nurse. Florence married Lawrence Dalton and they moved to Georgia where she died in 1985.  

     I can't help but wonder if "Grace" in the above photo was in fact her sister Sarah McCabe, born a year earlier than Grace. She married Carl Meyer, and lived until 1985.  It makes sense to me that before Harry went overseas, he posed for a snapshot with his three surviving sisters, but I don't supposed I'll ever be sure.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Leaving Of Liverpool

 Packet Ship America

    I have finally found the ship that brought my 3rd great-grandmother to America!  I've been searching a long time for this, a lack of online records and ever-changing surnames conspiring to keep the ship and arrival date of Grandma Mary Hore unknown.  Sometimes the name was Hore, some days Hora, and at other times O'Hore or O'Hora.  Today I decided to give Ancestry another try.  I typed in "Mary Hore" since that appeared to be the earliest form of the name, along with birth date 1795 +/- 10.  Five hits came up.  The first three appeared to be for the same person who arrived in 1828, much too early to be Grandma Mary who arrived around the time of the famine.  Another was an 1871 arrival, too late to be her since she appeared in the 1855 New York census.

   The remaining hit was the one. Mary Hore, who was born in Ireland in 1802, sailed into New York Harbor on board the packet ship "America" on the 13th day of August in 1852.  I scoured the ship's manifest, but I couldn't discern anyone who seemed to be traveling with her.  I hope some family member at least accompanied her to the port in Dublin, forty five miles away from her home in Ricketstown, County Carlow, and put her on the boat to Liverpool.  By 1852, many of her children were already in the United States; John had left four years earlier with his wife and infant daughter, and James (my great-great-grandfather) a few years after that.  Mary's other children Michael, Edward and Mary Jr. had also left Ireland and were awaiting her arrival in Auburn, New York.  Mary's son Patrick/Peter would make the trip after her.  In fact, only Mary's oldest daughter Winifred remained in Ireland with her husband Thomas Lawlor.  How heartbreaking it must have been to leave Winifred and the three grandchildren who had been born before Mary's departure.

      The first page of the manifest had some interesting details, like the fact the ship sailed direct from Liverpool, (some stopped first in the Cork seaport of Queenstown), the name of the ship's Master or Captain, (Joseph J. Lawrence), and the date of arrival in New York.

First Page of America's Manifest

     After finding this record, I did an internet search for the packet ship she arrived on, but couldn't find much.  The ship America was part of the Empire Line owned by two brothers named Kingsland.  A more general search revealed that American packets like this one were much preferred over  British ships, especially if one was Irish.  Conditions and food were better, as they were regulated by law, as was the number of passengers allowed.  There was also less bigotry aimed at Irish Catholics on the American ships.  I like to think Grandma had a fairly easy crossing.  There was only a single death recorded on this voyage, that of one month old Mary Robinson on July 30th.  Try as I might, I couldn't find the date the ship left Liverpool though the average crossing was four to five weeks at that time.  I'm sure it's recorded in the Liverpool Mercury, which in 1852 was still a weekly newspaper.  In fact after an advanced search of the "British Newspaper Archive" site I believe it's recorded in the July 16th edition on page 7 which would put it right on schedule, but here at Ellie's Ancestors headquarters we are averse to paying $15 to read a news article so that will have to wait.  The New York Times Archives site is a good place to look for ships arriving in and leaving New York.  Here you can subscribe for unlimited views, but non-subscribers can view ten free articles per month.

     During my search, I did find Captain Lawrence's obituary.  As a young man his parents were bent on sending him to Yale when he upped and went to sea.  After years of sailing the packet ships for the Kingsland brothers, he graduated to steam ships.  He retired in 1868 at the age of 48, "with a fortune" and married Sarah Gillette Pond.  Their marriage was tragically short, Sarah died eight years later leaving the Captain with three young daughters.  He suffered a heart attack three weeks before Christmas of 1893, dying immediately.

     This reminds me once again to re-check sites periodically to see what may have been added since my last visit.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Post/No One Walks Away

W.W. Cooper of Co. E, Palo Cemetery Michigan

     Memorial Day is almost here and my thoughts are on my family members who did not survive their war, but also on the history of the holiday itself, though it seems odd somehow to call what should be a solemn day of remembrance a holiday.  Memorial Day started out as Decoration Day, a day when families trouped to cemeteries to decorate the graves of their Civil War dead, north and south.  The custom evolved spontaneously in response to the horrendous losses suffered in that war, observed at different times in different places.  It was Union General John Logan, in his General Orders No.11 given in May of 1868, that declared May 30th a day for, "strewing flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion." The confederate states however, eschewed the "Yankee" holiday and it was not until after World War I that they would accept May 30 as Memorial Day.  Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas and several others still observe a Confederate Memorial Day.

     Returning now to my ancestors who gave their lives during the Civil War and whose existence was unknown to me before I began my family research, which also strikes me as odd.  How quickly the pride and grief that must have enveloped their families is forgotten in just a few generations.

William Cooper- cousin, age 28, born at Wayne County, New York and enlisted in Michigan.  William was killed at the Battle of Gains Mill Virginia, leaving his parents Peter and Catherine Wiggins Cooper and a young wife Sarepta Johnson.  He died a month after his and Sarepta's second wedding anniversary.

Charles M. Garner- cousin, age 28, born at Cayuga County, New York.  He died at Salisbury Prisoner of War Camp, North Carolina  leaving parents Jeremiah and Clarinda Wood Garner, wife Mary Conley and two children; Harriet and Albert.  He probably never saw his son Albert who was born seven months before Charles died of malnutrition and diarrhea in the camp.

William H. Lead- cousin, age 18 born at Manchester, New York.  He died of "congested lungs" at Fort Magruder, Virginia.  William left his mother Cornelia Wheat, his father Samuel Lead having died five years earlier. William enlisted with his cousin George Hackett, also age 18.  Two teenagers who thought the war would be a grand adventure until the bullets started flying.  George would survive the war.

Daniel J. McGarr- cousin, age 18 born at Cayuga County, New York.  Daniel died of disease on-board a hospital ship between Yorktown and home in New York.  He left parents John and Mary Kelly McGarr.

Daniel McGarr- cousin, age 22 born at Cayuga County, New York. He died of typhoid and malaria at Fort Gains, Washington D.C. leaving parents John and Hannah Kilfoyle McGarr.

Michael McGarr- cousin, age 20, born in Kilquade Parish, County Wicklow Ireland. He died at New Bern, North Carolina of dysentery leaving parents William and Mary Doyle Mcgarr. 

     The young McGarr men were obviously not brothers, but cousins, the sons of Irish immigrants who came from the province of Leinster and settled in the Auburn, New York area.

     I know I'm forgetting somebody, probably several somebodies, and undoubtedly others I have yet to discover, but I'm thinking of you all today, and my other relatives who fell in different wars. And not just you, but the ones you left behind, and the senseless tragedy of war in general.  Rest in peace.

credit for blog title to Stevie Nicks

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 buildings...you 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 guides...so 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 son...in 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...