Saturday, April 18, 2015

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

                                                     Wikimedia Commons

     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?


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

This Is How They Trip You Up

     There are such wonderful things coming online these days, it's getting easier all the time to put together a quality family tree, but  you can't take everything you read at face value.  For instance, while looking through the mortality schedules on Ancestry, I came across a possible relative in Auburn, New York -- the first home to my McGarr and O'Hora ancestors upon their arrival in America. The surname O'Hora is misspelled so often that I just did a search for Auburn and left the name fields blank.  There were only a thousand or so hits, I can scan through those standing on my head.  Really though, I just skipped to the O's, H's and M's.  

     I came across a young boy named Michael O'Herron, who passed away at age 6.  Below is the transcription that came up:

     OK, he died from what?  Ahewonation?  Just on the slight chance there really was a malady with that or a similar spelling, I typed the letters into Google hoping for a definition or an auto-fill.  I did get an auto-fill, not for a disease but for a band called Awolnation, which wasn't a total loss.  I loved their song called "Sail" once I looked them up on You Tube.  (I'm easily side tracked)

     I finished dancing and returned to Ancestry, where I clicked on the actual image, expecting an unreadable jumble but this is what I saw:

     Look at the the bottom line, that is Michael's cause of death, at first glance I could see it said rheumatism.  To top it off, two lines above it is a perfect example of how the census taker formed his letter A as in "Age".  That is how he drew it in the entire document, it never varied and never looked like an R.  Obviously the first letter of the cause of death was not an A.

     The second case is the Daniel McGarr family of Owasco, NY near Auburn.  When I searched for them on Family Search in the 1850 census this is the transcription that came up:

     There is Dan at the top followed by his wife Ann and son Michael.  Then we see the "Stacia" family, Ann, Jos, Mary, Eliza, etc...  Only they're not.  Fifteen year old Ann Stacia was actually Anastasia McGarr, daughter of Dan.  The census enumerator wasn't familiar with the name Anastasia so he turned it into a forename and surname which he then bestowed on her younger brothers and sisters.

     Lastly, one of my favorites.  Were you aware that many years ago Snow White moved to Ireland and settled in Waterford?  Neither was I till I saw this transcription of a tithe applotment on the National Archives site:

     Below is the actual image:

     Granted, the entry is difficult to read, it looks like Nih' or something, then O'Neil Power, followed by Snowhill and "han".  I'm not positive, but what I think it refers to is the O'Neil Power family of Snowhill, below is from the Landed Estate site:

     It's amazing how helpful these various sites' transcriptions can be, but remember to look for yourself, your interpretation of what the record says is just as valid as a random transcriber's.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

My Circuitous Route To Willie T. In Which I Sing The Praises Of The Internet Yet Again

     While sifting through my family notes the other day, I revisited the mystery of John Sheehan.  After he appeared in the 1870 census of Manchester, NY with his mother and brothers, he vanished.  Literally.  When his mother, my 3rd great-aunt Mary Ryan Sheehan died in 1891, her probate records noted that John's family had neither seen nor heard from him since he departed for Chicago 20 years earlier, and they believed him to be dead.  How dreadful to never know what became of your firstborn, as was Mary's fate.

     I haven't been able to find John either, perhaps he was indeed dead, but now I noticed I hadn't followed up on his brother Cornelius C. Sheehan, which is not like me.  I'm a big fan of cluster genealogy, where you examine the extended family and even the friends and neighbors of your subject. I had a good starting point for Cornelius, his obituary from 1931.  It told me that he lived in Detroit, but was in town on an extended visit to his youngest brother Terrence in Clifton Springs, NY, near Manchester, at the time of his demise. It also says he had a son named Thomas who lived in Los Angeles.  That's quite alot to go on, but I was having trouble locating him.  I did a quick search of the appropriate censuses, which turned up nothing promising.  I then looked at some city directories for Detroit and found several possibilities, but no way of knowing which if any was my man.  I returned to the 1900 census, but the prime candidate's son was named William, not Thomas.  This wasn't a great match but it was the closest I could find; indexed as Cornelius Schan,  born in March (my guy was born in August) and with a son with the wrong name.  But it just might be him, the birth year and place was correct.

1900 Detroit Census-- Cornelius 1857, Lillian 1874  and William 1899
     Since Cornelius' obituary placed his son Thomas in California in 1931, I next pulled up the California Death Index at Rootsweb and typed in, "Thomas Sheehan" (rather than William), "birth in Michigan 1899", which I knew from the above census.  The only name that came up?  William THOMAS Sheehan!  Born June 21, 1899 in Michigan,  died November 20, 1951 in Los Angeles, mother's maiden name, Putnam.  Now that I had Lillian's maiden name, I could look for a marriage.  Which I found at Family Search in their Michigan Marriage Index.  The index read, on May 15, 1895, Lillian Putman (sic) married Cornelius Sheehan from NY, the son of Mary Ryan and Terrence Sheehan Sr.  It was him alright, and get this, Con lied about his age.  He made himself five years younger on his marriage record.  He was in fact a good seventeen years older than the bride, probably why he fudged his birth year.  

     I couldn't locate this family in any more censuses, and as Con was survived by only his brother and a son, perhaps Lillian had passed away, though I couldn't find her in any death indexes.  Then it occurred to me, with that large age difference looming between them, maybe there had been a divorce.  Bingo!  Ancestry has a divorce index for Michigan and there they were.  In 1904 Lillian filed for divorce on the grounds of extreme cruelty.  I was shocked at first, but the more I thought about it, there was no such thing as no-fault divorce back then.  If you wanted out of your marriage you had to come up with a good reason, maybe he wasn't as bad as all that?  William Thomas' birth year of 1899 was a clue to look for a draft record, and in the World War 1 Draft Registration Cards at Family Search I found young William and his mother Lillian Maude Sheehan living in San Francisco in 1918.  She had come to California as a divorcee.

William Thomas Sheehan's Draft Registration

      The two were in Oakland California by 1920, and Lillian was now married to George Farmer; by 1930 William was himself married to a woman named Esther and they had two children, William T. Jr. and Barbara P.  But what was Esther's maiden name?

     My first try at finding her name was a search for her marriage to William, also at Family Search.  That came up empty, but it did bring up the second marriage of their daughter Barbara which contained Esther's maiden name of Dodge.  I had better luck finding William and Esther's marriage at Ancestry, they had a copy of the marriage certificate dated 1921.  It pays to go back and forth in your searches, different sites have different databases, search engines and indexers too.  What one doesn't have the other might.

William T. Sheehan Sr. and Esther Dodge marriage

     Looking ahead to the 1930 census, William appeared to be an up and coming young real estate agent.  He lived in a Pasadena home valued at $8,000, that would be $109,200 in today's dollars. The 1940 census however would paint a very different picture.

     The great depression which racked America in the 1930's had ruined William.  Nineteen forty found him living in a rented flat in Los Angeles city with his wife and two children.  It said he had lived there in 1935 also, and his income for the year was $0.  Within eleven years he would be dead.  I'm currently looking for an obituary for William, I'm very curious what his final years were like and what his cause of death was, he was only 52 when he passed.  When I find it there will be a sequel to this story.  As always, I am astonished at the primary sources available to me as I sit here in my jammies clutching my coffee cup.  Censuses, obituaries, various certificates, draft registrations...and not transcriptions either, the real thing!  In a matter of hours I have an excellent start on the story of Cornelius C. Sheehan and his descendants.  

     To be continued...


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Lord I Want To Un-see This

     Have you ever stumbled across something so revolting, that the more you tried to forget it, the more firmly it became ingrained in your imagination?  Well it happened again tonight.  I was browsing a newspaper, circa 1943, from my hometown when this jumped out at me, (the article, not the opossum)--

     Arthur Worden was the product of my third great-grandfather Paul Worden's second marriage, born when G-pa Paul was nearly 50 years old.  I mention this only because Web MD notes it could help explain Arthur's peculiar dining habits.  Arthur was not a destitute person in need of a meal; he lived in upstate New York, worked for the Lehigh Valley Railroad, and also did some farming.  And he ate least it was free range.

     Horrified, yet fascinated, I checked the net for roast possum recipes, and believe it or not there were plenty, like this one I found at (I swear)--
     First catch the possum.  Dress it, (will business casual work?), and soak it in salt water for 6-12 hours depending on size and age of possum.  Drain, then parboil in salt water for half an hour.  Prepare stuffing and stuff possum, then place in baking pan with a little water and roast for 15 to 20 minutes. Pour off liquid and reserve, (I'm not making this up), for future use.  Lay sweet potatoes around possum.  Place bacon strips over and around possum and pour reserved liquid over all, let bake an hour longer.

     Nowhere does the recipe suggest killing the possum before you parboil it, but that seems the kindest course of action.  

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Happy Saint Patrick's Day! And A Tip

     Wishing all of you a happy day as we celebrate our proud heritage.  This link will take you to a booklet put together by Claire Santry at Irish Genealogy News, listing all the Irish resources that came online in 2014.  

                        Beanna htaí na Féile Pádraig oraibh! 
                        St. Patrick's Day blessings upon you!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Quigley Kids Are All Accounted For

St. Patrick's Cathedral Rochester, NY

     I very recently discovered, quite by accident after browsing DNA results, that my great-great-grandmother Maria McGarr O'Hora's younger sister Anne McGarr Quigley had emigrated to America just like her three older sisters Maria, Bridget and Catherine.  Those accidental finds are the best, they stop you dead in your tracks and what a rush, genealogically speaking.

     Anna was enumerated in the 1892 New York State census, living in Rochester, NY with two of her sons; that along with subsequent research proved she was who I believed her to be.  Using census records, and obituaries found at the Old Fulton Postcards site, I was able to locate all the Quigley children who appeared in the baptismal registers of Baltinglass Parish in County Wicklow; the microfilm of which I had rented a few years back from the LDS.  All of them except Sarah that is.  

     The 1900 census noted that Anna was the mother of five children who were all living, so Sarah was alive and well and out there somewhere.  But being the curious sort I wanted needed to know where!  Did she come over with her mother, brothers and sisters, or was she still in Ireland?  Late last night I was running some newspaper searches for Mary Deyo, the married name of one of Anna's daughters, and a grainy obituary from the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle popped up, it read:

Friday morning, April 25, 1907, at her home 65 Champlain St., Sarah, widow of Martin Tobin.  She leaves her mother Mrs. Anna Quigley; three sons George Raymond, John Elmer and Martin Francis Tobin; two sisters, Mrs. Anna Hennessey of Kansas and Mrs. Mary Deyo of Rochester, and two brothers John and Daniel Quigley.

     Bingo! I had proof the entire family, except the father James Quigley who died in Ireland, had emigrated.  I'm sure I didn't find Sarah's obituary earlier because the print quality was so poor that previous searches for her mother and brother's names did not bring it up.  Finding Sarah's married name of course meant that I needed to find her in census records, passenger lists, other news articles, etc. etc.  No wonder I'm always sleepy.  I learned that Sarah married Martin Tobin at St. Patrick's Cathedral on 24 June1885, just a few years after her arrival in America.  But where was St. Patrick's Cathedral?  I've lived in Rochester suburbs all my life, there is no cathedral named St. Patrick's.  Our cathedral is Sacred Heart.

     Running another search, I soon discovered St. Patrick's was the first Catholic parish established in Rochester, before it even was Rochester, and St. Patrick's Cathedral was the last in a line of ever larger churches built in that steadily growing parish.  The property was purchased by Kodak and the cathedral was demolished in 1937.  Being from the area, I found the article fascinating.  You may not, but I include the link if you'd like to read more.  Actually, it's very interesting just as a short study of an early Irish Catholic parish even if you're not a local, so maybe check it out.

     See what I mean about accidental discoveries?

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Friday's Photo/Margaret McMahon, New Britain, CT

     Margaret, the daughter of Irish immigrants Michael McMahon and Joanna White was born in 1868 in Connecticut.  At the time of her birth the city of New Britain, where this photo was taken and where her family lived, was known as the hardware capital of the world. Several companies, including Stanley were located there along with others that manufactured household items. No doubt many immigrants were drawn there to work in those factories. Margaret's father Michael worked as a silver plater in one.

     In the 1880 census we can see Joanna's sister Mary White living with the family and employed as a school teacher.  Her niece Margaret would also become a teacher in the public schools of New Britain.  Margaret was still living with her widowed mother at the age of 59 in 1930, so it's doubtful she ever married.