Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Tombstone Tuesday/The Sad Death of Darby Hogan

   Darby Hogan was born in Tipperary in 1815 and like so many of his countrymen, came to seek his fortune in America.  I'm not sure exactly how Darby is related to my family, I suspect through marriage as a Bridget Hogan married my 3x great uncle Andrew Ryan in Palmyra, New York.  At any rate several of my Ryan ancestors are buried in Darby's cemetery plot at St. Annes's in Palmyra so I'm confident there is a relationship there.
    Darby appears to have been married twice, as his wife at the time of his violent demise was too young to have a child living on it's own in Ireland as his  obituary mentions:

April, 1861:     Darby Hogan, who had been for 8 or 9 years, employed by the Central RR as a watchman and switch tender at the Palmyra Station, was killed Friday morning last by a train of cars passing over him.  Mr. Hogan was returning home from the station where he had been on duty the night previous, when he was overtaken by the New York mail train going west.  He stepped from the track to allow the train to pass, and not knowing that the work train was a short distance in the rear on the same track, he resumed his position on the track- seeing which, the brakeman on the mail train made a motion with his hands intended as a warning that another train was close at hand; but Hogan mistaking this for a salutation, responded cordially, and remained on the track.  

     The noise made by the mail train prevented his hearing the approach of the work train – and the wind blew the smoke to the rear of the train and enveloped Hogan in smoke that he was not seen by the engineer of the work train in time even to check the speed of his engine.  As soon as the man was discovered, every means was taken to warn him, by the engineer, and a woman standing near the tracks, calling him by name and gesticulating violently with her hands, but such was the noise that he heard not and heeded not.  The engine came upon him unawares, throwing him across the track, and the entire train passing over him.  Hogan was nearly severed in twain, the heart and lungs being thrown some distance.  The men on the work train placed the mangled corpse on a board and carried it to the former home of the deceased about 6 rods from the scene of the disaster, where his wife had been awaiting his return home to breakfast.  She had seen him approaching, and had placed his breakfast upon the table – but alas, instead of her husband partaking of the goodness she had provided for him, he was ushered into her presence a mangled corpse.  The scene at the house was heartrending in the extreme, and can better be imagined than described.  

     Mr. Hogan was an honest, industrious and worthy man, an affectionate husband and kind father.  His wife and children, frantic with grief, clung to his mangled remains, unwilling to leave them to allow an inquest.  Deceased was born in County Tipperary, Ireland Dec. 10 1815.  He was faithful to his employer, his family and friends, and to his church.  He leaves a wife and 8 children to mourn his fate.  One son is yet in Ireland and is expected in this country.   Who can imagine his feelings on arrival to find his mother a widow?  By his industry and frugality, Hogan had saved means to purchase and nearly pay for a small, but comfortable house for his family. 

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Bold Fenian Men of Auburn New York

      On St. Patrick’s Day of 1858, a group of Irish patriots calling themselves the Irish Republican Brotherhood, popularly known as The Fenian Movement, met in Ireland.  A branch was organized at the same time in America and having less need for secrecy than their counterparts in Ireland, the American Brotherhood grew rapidly.  Indeed, their activities and fund raisers were often mentioned in the local newspapers.  Though resettled in the United States the Irish had never abandoned their dreams of a free Ireland and Auburn, where my McGarr and O’Hora families first put down roots upon immigrating, was very much a part of the movement.
     The Fenians organized themselves into local cells called circles; each circle had a head man called the center.  Likewise, each state had a center.  The center of New York State was Daniel O’Sullivan of Auburn.  Their nine man Executive Council included M. J. Cunningham, also of Auburn.   Another notable Fenian from Auburn was Civil War Captain Owen Gavigan, a respected, educated man who organized an Irish literature study group in that city.  Captain Gavigan was a delegate to the 2nd National Congress of the Fenian Brotherhood held in Cincinnati in 1865.  There with him were fellow Auburnians John Barrett Dunkirk and P.N. Madigan. 
      Another prominent member was General T. W. Sweeney, a well known Union officer.  Eager to strike at England, he spent the winter of 1865 devising a plan to invade Canada, the closest outpost of the British government.  During the Civil War the Brotherhood had been permitted to purchase surplus arms and even several warships from the United States Army itself!  This tolerance was in large part due to Washington’s resentment over Britain's aid to the Confederacy.  General Sweeney spent the months prior to the invasion finalizing his strategy and organizing his officers and equipment.  A letter from Major W.M. O’Reilly to General Sweeney concerning the distribution of muskets states that forty of those muskets were delivered into the hands of none other than Owen Gavigan at Auburn.
      Their preparations made, at 3 a.m. on the first day of June in 1866, cavalry colonel Owen Starr gave the signal and led his men across the river at Buffalo onto Canadian soil.  They proceeded to the village of Fort Erie, captured a railroad depot there, and by 5 a.m. the Irish tri-color flew above the crumbling walls of the old fort.  Two hundred fifty men had followed him at dawn under Civil War lieutenant John O’Neill, and later more than one thousand men crossed the river.  They moved on to Ridgeway where they defeated the British defenders.  Unfortunately for the Brotherhood, the American government stepped in at the last minute and prevented reinforcements from crossing into Canada.  By the 3rd of June, British reinforcements had arrived, and the Fenians were forced to retreat. 
      Most of them escaped back across the border to a hero’s welcome.  After a short hearing the United States government declined to press any charges against them and they were released and given rail passage home.  Those captured in Canada were tried and seven, including Catholic priest Father John McMahon, were sentenced to death.  None of the executions were carried out, and later they were released.   But the Brotherhood was far from done.
      In May of 1870 they again attempted to invade Canada and again, Colonel Starr was there.  This time they didn’t get off so easily.  Starr, along with Colonel William Thompson and Captain Edward Mannix were arrested and tried at Canandaigua, New York in July of 1870 for violation of the federal Neutrality Laws.  After their convictions they were taken to Auburn prison and held there until their pardons in October of 1870.  An excerpt from that pardon reads, Whereas, many good citizens of the United States who condemn the criminal acts aforesaid, have interceded for the pardon of said offenders…, and said offenders have thoroughly repented of their offence and intend to live in strict obedience to the laws, Now therefore be it known that I, Ulysses S. Grant, President of the United States of America, do hereby grant to the said Owen Starr, Wm. L. Thompson, and Edw'd J. Mannix a full and unconditional pardon.  
      The speeches made to an admiring crowd upon their release however, were anything but repentant.  All three men thanked the citizens of Auburn for the visits and many kindnesses shown them during their imprisonment,  then Colonel Thompson remarked, “I am an adopted citizen of America, I have fought, yes, I have bled for the Stars and Stripes, [cheers] and I will fight again to uphold freedom and the republic.  Most of you are aware that I am a Scotchman; many may wonder why I fight for Ireland.  But I love any nation that fights for her liberty. If tomorrow, my services are required, I am with Ireland again. [Loud applause] When the time comes to strike the decisive blow my friends, do as you did in May. I shall be there, if I am in the land of the living, by the help of God.”

     Captain Mannix declared, “We are free tonight, thanks to the people of the country. It was the people, who, without regard to party… demanded our release, and we thank the people only. But let us not forget tonight that across the St. Lawrence, our brethren are in prison, and away over the Atlantic, near the land of our fathers, in the prison pens, are also our brethren.”

     While the Brotherhood was active for many more years, they never again attempted an invasion.  While I’ve found an ancestor who was hanged during the 1798 rising in Ireland, I’ve found nothing to tie my ancestors in Auburn to the Brotherhood, though I do like to think some of them were in that cheering crowd.


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Tithes Update

     OK, it's wonderful the tithes are online, but it appears they are riddled with errors.  Not the images themselves,  which are the actual images from the books.  The problem is how the various areas were cataloged. 
      Yesterday I wrote that I could not find Ballyraggan Townland, in the Civil Parish of Graney, County Kildare.  Today I did a search for just Ballyraggan and got no hits.  Then I tried misspelling it with an "on" at the end and up came "Ballyraggon"!  Only it was in Granard Parish, County Longford.   I've since heard from other researchers they are having similar problems in other counties.
      I'm sure it's the right townland, for there is my Great Great grandfather Daniel McGarr with the common spelling, (in Ireland anyway) of "Danl McGaa".  And the neighbors have names I recognize also. Coleman and Kinsella among others.
   It's more than a little annoying that the National Archives did such a poor job with the locations of townlands and parishes in their own country.  Still, it's free, and it seems the images are there though you may have to hunt for them a little.

     One other thing to keep in mind, the Tithe Applotments were, for the most part, done in Irish acres which equal 1.6 English Acres, the measurement we are familiar with, so your ancestor may have a bit more land that it appears at first glance.  For instance, my Daniel leased 5 acres, which if multiplied by 1.6 = 8 acres.  Not bad for that time and place.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Tithes Come Online!

     I'm very excited this morning, the National Archives of Ireland has put the Tithe Applotments online! http://www.genealogy.nationalarchives.ie/ Along with Soldier's Wills and the censuses of 1901 and 1911.  Well, not so excited about the censuses, they were already available, but the Tithes are a really big deal.  Given the paucity of Irish records from the early part of the 19th century, they are a great asset.  A description of the tithes can be found here: http://www.irishtimes.com/ancestor/browse/records/land/tiap.htm
     I was disappointed to find the Civil Parish of Graney in Kildare, home to the McGarrs, has somehow been omitted, but I've dashed off a note to the Archives and I'm hoping that will be remedied.  Good luck searching.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Tombstoneless Tuesday

     Like many of my ancestors, the White family didn’t believe in placing tombstones.  James White is the one Irish immigrant I have been unable to locate a townland, or even county of origin for.  His wife Anna Ryan was from Goldengarden Tipperary and I suspect James was from that area or Limerick, but I’m beginning to fear the Catholic records of whatever parish he may have been baptized in simply don’t extend far back enough to include him. 

      I have the names of James’ parents from the record of his 1856 marriage to Anna at St. Anne’s Catholic Church in Palmyra, New York and also his death certificate, but I still have no solid leads on where he may have come from.  I was also stymied in my search for his tombstone until one day I found myself in the rectory of St. Anne’s browsing through cemetery records.  There were several James Whites in Palmyra and the surrounding area, but I knew I had found the right one when I saw who else was buried in that plot.  There was Anna, their grown daughters Margaret and Mary, along with their adult son Thomas and his twin brother Cornelius, who died as an infant.
     I was discussing my trouble finding the burial plot with a lovely woman who worked at the rectory and she offered to drive out to the cemetery with me and point it out.  After thanking her profusely and making a modest donation to the church building fund, we drove to St. Anne’s Cemetery.  She had written down the particulars of which row and so forth, and she soon found the graves, but no markers.  I looked around and noticed a familiar name on a large monument the next plot over—Bushnell.  James and Anne’s daughter Alice had married a Bushnell, and sure enough, her name was on their monument. 

    I ran into the same problem in a cemetery in Clifton Springs, NY and the caretaker who just happened to live next door ran home, found the records, came back and located the O’Hora graves for me, again sans markers. 

    Last summer I found James and Anna's daughter Julia was buried in Holy Sepulcher Cemetery in Rochester, NY with her husband's family the Sullivans.  (You guessed it, no marker.) I knew Holy Sepulcher records include a cause of death, but the records I had seen in the local library stopped a few years short of Julia's death in 1917.  I called the cemetery office and asked where I could view the more recent records?  The answer, "you can't", but the clerk immediately offered to do it for me and return my call in a few hours.  Within 20 minutes I learned Julia died of pulmonary consumption, now called tuberculosis.  It’s been my experience that cemetery and church employees are very helpful and generous with their time, so don’t be afraid to ask.