Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tuesday's Tip/Digital Newspaper Search


      I recently stumbled across this site, Elephind, whose stated goal is, "to make it possible to search all the world's historic newspapers from one place."  They aren't there yet, but with 2,447 titles, they are well on their way.  

     There is a basic search, and advanced search function, along with a page of tips for searching and a list of titles.  You can also browse the newspapers.  New pages are being added regularly, so this site is worth checking periodically.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Friday's Photo/Ruth Lois Connor, Medford, Massachusetts

     This little girl is Ruth Connor, the oldest child of William and Elizabeth Connor of Medford, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, born in 1893/94. Ruth had two younger brothers, Raymond and Thomas, and in 1900, twins Clarence and Gladys were born. It seems the twins did not survive, they are not shown in the 1910 census.  

     Ruth's parents, William and Elizabeth, were both natives of Massachusetts, and the children of Irish immigrants.  This photo of Ruth was taken in 1900 according to the label on the back, when she would have been six or seven years old.
      It appears Ruth never married, she lived with her parents, supporting herself as a clerical worker in a broker's office. Her father William died before the 1940 census where we see Ruth aged 46, living with her mother Elizabeth and her brother Thomas.

   Looking at the SSDI there are two women by the name of Ruth Connor, one born in 1893 and one in 1894 who died in Massachusetts.  Only one of the two lived in Middlesex County, so I'm leaning towards that one being the correct Ruth, though maybe neither one is her.  The woman from Middlesex county passed away in July of 1981 in Arlington, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Missing McGarrs Located

Missouri River in foreground, Monona County in the distance.

     I've spent the past few days looking at military records, so I figured I might as well see if any new ones had been added for my McGarr family who lost three members in the American Civil War, and sure enough there was John McGarr.  John enlisted at Watervliet, New York in Albany County in 1866, after the close of the Civil War that had claimed his oldest brother Daniel.  I had some difficulty reading the place name in the record, but after pulling up a list of towns and villages in New York I was able to figure it out, I think it was the "rvl" in the center of Watervliet that was throwing me, along with the poor handwriting.

     Although John enlisted many miles from Auburn, New York where I would have expected to find him in 1866, further along in the record his birthplace was given and it was indeed Auburn.  I'm not sure how John's line fits into my McGarr tree, but I'm confident there is a relation.  All the McGarrs who emigrated to Auburn were from Kildare or from just across the county line in Wicklow.

     Once I discovered John's enlistment, I grew curious about his family so I turned to the wonderful research done by Evelyn Twining on the Auburn McGarrs back in the late 1970's.  I copied it twelve years ago on a trip to the historian's office in Auburn where it now resides and as far as I'm concerned it's the definitive work on the Auburn McGarr family to date. It's all the more amazing because there were no indexed census or church records back then.  In it I found John's family; his father John Sr. from Ireland and his mother Hannah Kilfoyle , (or sometimes Guilfoyle), also from Ireland along with his brothers and sisters.  

     Evelyn hadn't been able to determine what became of this family, other than the eldest son dying in the war and several other children dying young and being buried in Auburn.  Of course, Evelyn didn't have the internet when she compiled her research, so she couldn't have known John Jr. traveled far from home and joined the military or that his parents ultimately traveled over one thousand miles to settle in Iowa.

     I stumbled upon that fact by happy accident.  I did a Google search for <"John McGarr" Auburn NY> and a history of Monona County Iowa, containing the following came up--

     It was very compelling that John came to town the same year as Philip O'Neal, a man from Auburn.  Looking again at Evelyn's research I noticed the marriage of John McGarr Sr.'s daughter Eliza to Philip O'Neal, and saw that he did have a son named William.  I also found some burial records for John Sr., Hannah and their daughter Eliza McGarr O'Neal in the local Catholic cemetery.  Eliza died in 1871, just a year after arriving in Iowa.  The last sentence in the above excerpt makes it appear her husband Philip got himself into a bind after her death.  

     The presence of those pertinent names along with the mention of the city of Auburn convinces me that this is the John McGarr family that went missing from Auburn after the 1865 NY census.  I'm not yet sure what became of John Jr. but I'm working on it.  I wish I could tell Evelyn, but I'm sure she herself has passed on by now, when I copied it I was told she was elderly and confined to a nursing home. Her fantastic research lives on however, and inspires me to get mine together in a form another human being could comprehend.  I've discovered quite alot about this family over the years, and someday I'd like my folder next to hers in the historian's office.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

The Two William Coopers


      Since returning from our southern sojourn, I've been thinking about my Civil War ancestors.  Am I the only one with such a short attention span?  I can be working intently on one family line and then something reminds me of another topic and I'm off.  This time what happened was my proximity to several battlefields and my skimming through a history of Ionia County Michigan where some of my Wiggins line settled.  In this history it was noted that William W. Cooper of Berlin, Ionia County, who enlisted in 1861 at Ionia County, died at the battle of Gaines Mill in 1862.  My 4th great aunt Catherine Wiggins married Peter Cooper, and William was their first child, did he die in action?  If so he's the only one of my cousins who did, the rest succumbed to disease.

     I checked the 1850 census and to my dismay there were two William Coopers of the appropriate ages in Michigan and one actually had the initial W, but he wasn't my cousin, my cousin was still living with his parents in 1850 in Ionia County.  The other William was in Pittsford, Hillsdale County with his parents along with a Lucy aged 17 and Mary aged 11.  Was he the one who actually died in Virginia?  He did have that W.  

     The 1860 census shows my cousin no longer in his parent's household, but a William Cooper was living in nearby Berlin with a wife Sarepta Johnson Cooper.  The William who died in the war was definitely from Berlin, so this was the right man, but was he my cousin?  The other William Cooper was now "William N." and was in Ann Arbor with Lucy Cooper, and their ages were 10 years older than 1850 so I'm pretty sure these were the former residents of Pittsford.

     Upon consulting the 1870 census, I found Sarepta living with her parents in Palo, Ionia county, but no William.  The other William and Lucy were still in Ann Arbor that year. The 1870 census didn't specify marital status, but in 1880 Sarepta was enumerated as a widow living with her widowed mother, still in Palo.  I was starting to conclude that William Cooper of Berlin was in fact the son of Peter and Catherine Wiggins Cooper.  

      I then pulled up a map to see the distance between these places.  Pittsford, the home of William W. in 1850, and Ann Arbor, his home in 1860 are 65.5 miles apart, and both are about 120 miles from Ionia county, a two hour drive today, in 1860 you could probably double that figure.  The city of Detroit was only 44.6 miles from Ann Arbor, it didn't make sense that William of Ann Arbor would go all the way to Ionia county to enlist, even assuming he couldn't in Ann Arbor.  And of course he is still alive in 1870, but I like to cover all my bases.  Some might say I like to make things more difficult for myself but hey, you NEED to be sure about these things!

     So, I'm 99 percent convinced that William W. (for mother's maiden name of Wiggins?) who died at Gaines Mill and is buried in Palo cemetery is my relative.  He is definitely the man mentioned in the history book and the husband of Sarepta, and no other William Coopers his age lived in Ionia County.  Ancestry has very little information about him, perhaps I need to consider a Fold 3 subscription...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday's Photo/Almy In Illinois

    This photo of Tony and his human A. M. Almy, (as written on the back), was taken in Sandwich Illinois.

      In the 1900 census, we find in Bristol Illinois:

Andrew Almy age 44 born Rhode Island
Lucy Almy age 40
Harriet Almy age 23
Cora Almy age 11

     Bristol is only 13 miles from Sandwich where the photo was taken.  

     In the 1930 census Andrew used his middle initial of M. and that along with his residence in 1900 leads me to believe he is likely the man in this photo.  Andrew and Lucy had moved on to Michigan by 1930, he died later that same year in Michigan.  I've been unable to trace Tony.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bandon, County Cork Site

Main Street, Bandon, Ireland

     This morning I found a website that is new to me, my favorite kind of website--it's free.  If you are lucky enough to have ancestors from the area of Bandon in County Cork you can spend hours perusing this site!  There is the usual, Griffiths, Tithe Applotments and maps, but there is so much more.  Parish records, family trees and emigrant records; leases, tenancies, churches, graveyard inscriptions, directories, military records...it's all here.

     Unfortunately, I have no known ancestors in that area, but I took a look since the whereabouts of my 3rd great-grandfather James White's roots are still unknown to me.  I wish all townlands had such wonderful sites, it would make things so much easier.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Getting Back To Those Ancestors


     You may have noticed a strange lack of activity here at the headquarters of Ellie's Ancestors.  The upstate New York weather finally got the best of my husband and myself and we left for warmer climes.  It's amazing what some time at the beach will do to restore a person.  And we even missed what I sincerely hope will be the last major snow storm of this wretched winter!

     Rest assured the staff did not completely eschew genealogy, in fact I even attempted to get a blog out but the hotel's wi-fi connection was dismal so I finally gave up.  However, as it happens we were staying within 30 miles of my husband's ancestral roots.  His family owned a small plantation on Catfish Creek, (don't you love it?),  and we spent some time prowling that area.  Unfortunately, no trace of the place remains.  We couldn't even find a foundation, not that we looked all that hard--there are snakes and bugs and alligators in the area, and wading through a vermin infested swamp is too much even for me.  We did speak with the Marion County historian who told us the whole area had been bulldozed years ago.  Even the cemetery was dozed into the swamp!  That horrified me.  I think it may have been a small family cemetery and no family members were left in the area to protest.  Most of them appear to have left after the Civil War, (they were on the Confederate side), and headed to the southwest where my husband was born.

     The plantation owner was my husband's 4th great-grandfather Willis "Cornmaker" Finklea, who was born around 1785.  I don't know if that nickname  means he grew corn, or my husband's interpretation--he made corn whiskey.  It's certainly possible ole' Willis had a still running out there on the creek.  The historian also told us that Willis donated land for a church called "Ebeneezer Church".  That was easy to find, but there was only one Finklea stone in the graveyard, that of Martha, daughter of Willis.  That lack of Finklea stones further leads me to believe the rest of the family now rests in the swamp.

      I think Willis must have been fairly prosperous, poor men don't donate pieces of land, and the inventory of his estate done at the time of his death in 1842 mentioned eleven slaves. Since Willis died before the war began, at least he wasn't forced to witness the decline in the family fortunes in it's aftermath.  I think I need to spend some time looking into this family, there are many unanswered questions, and not alot of sources to check; things like hurricanes and floods may have something to do with that, I'm thinking.