Saturday, February 23, 2013

Even Labeled Photos Can Confuse Me

  I recently purchased an antique photograph on Ebay.  The photographer was located in Auburn, New York, and on the back was written, “George and Hattie Taylor.  Beneath that in a different color ink, clearly added later, was written, “Cousins of Grandma Lund.  Amazingly enough I have found only two entries in local census records that could be the individuals in this picture.  Even more amazingly I have tracked down Grandma Lund.  (Sometimes I really astonish me.)

     After pouring over Lund families in the census I contacted a gentleman who was working on a local history project in Grandma Lund’s old stomping grounds.  The exact location of which I failed to write down and don’t now recall, though I'm pretty sure it was Hannibal, NY.  (Sometimes I really annoy me.)  Why don’t I just look him up again you may ask?  I tried; it seems he is done with the project and removed the details from the net.  Anyway, he wrote back that he had seen several photographs labeled in exactly the same manner as mine so I’m confident I found the right Grandma.  

     The problem is I have been unable to prove or disprove which of the two possibilities is the correct one.  Nor can I prove either of them is related to Mrs. Lund whose maiden name I don’t know.  Census records show a George and Hattie Taylor who are husband and wife, and another George and Hattie Taylor who are brother and sister.  Is this a family portrait of siblings or a wedding picture?  Did the person who wrote the second entry on the photo even know what they were talking about?  And what year was the photo taken?   This is where you come in -- Guesses anyone?  On Ancestry I found a post claiming Henry Taylor Sr. grandfather of George and Hattie the siblings, was a full blooded American Indian.  In the photo George does look kind of Native American don't you think?

     The couple doesn’t look very old to me, and I really hope it’s of the brother and sister from Savannah, New York which is pretty close to Auburn.  The other George and Hattie lived in Manlius, Onondaga County in between Syracuse and Auburn. Savannah Hattie was, as far as I can tell, the common law wife of my third great uncle Daniel O’Hora.  I’ve never found any sort of marriage record for them although New York and Pennsylvania both kept them at that time.  Oftentimes they were living apart in census records though she continued to use his last name.

     I don’t know much about Uncle Dan except that he was the black sheep and moved around a lot, at one point taking off to Washington Territory, then Pennsylvania and at another time was working as a foreman at the Brooklyn Naval Yards.  None of my older relatives, who are now departed, ever talked about him, and when asked they tended to ignore the question.   Because he had a common law wife perhaps? 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Waterford County Library Online Resources

    For those with ancestors in County Waterford, there are several useful databases available online from the wonderful people at the County Library.

     On the homepage, look to the sidebar on the left, then skip down six links to Family History and select that.   On the page that comes up you will find goodies like Death Registers and Burial Grounds along with other databases like OSI maps and the 1901/1911 censuses that are also available elsewhere on the net.

     For the longest time, until yesterday actually, I had no idea what had become of my third great grandmother Honora Crotty Power’s brother David.  I knew he had stayed in Ireland and was listed in Griffith’s Valuation, but that was all I knew about him.  Since I’m always interested in finding living relatives in Ireland, I searched all my favorite sites for him and his possible descendants with no luck.  Then I remembered the library had some death records I hadn’t looked at since discovering David’s existence last year.  Almost immediately I found his family:

Name : 
Crotty, David
Crotty, Bridget
Connolly, Bridt.
Connolly, David
Connolly, Patrick
Erected by Nellie Crotty, Cullencastle in memory of her father David died Nov. 1st 1892 aged 70. Her mother Bridget Crotty (nee O' Brien) died Sept. 11th 1878 aged 57, also her children Bridt. Connolly died Apl 15th 1898 aged 21. David Connolly died May 3rd 1907 aged 28. Patrick Connolly died in America. R.I.P.
Note : 
21 A 6.
Cross shaped headstone.
Old Cemetery, Holy Cross Church, Tramore
Memorials of the dead in the Old Cemetery Church of the Holy Cross, Tramore: Andy Taylor; 1994.

     Those Irish headstones are great, and there is so much genealogical data contained on this one!  I found David’s death date, his wife’s maiden name and her death date, the name of a daughter Nellie who remained in Cullencastle and the names of several of her children along with her husband’s surname.  I later checked the IFHF site and found the baptism of her son David Connolly in 1876, and managed to guess the name of her husband, (see my blog entry- Using the Irish Family History Foundation Site).  He was also named David.  Interestingly, her son Patrick Connolly did emigrate and died in America though no date is given.

     My joy at finding all this was tempered by the realization Nellie, or Ellen as she was known in official records, lost three of her children, an incredibly sad thing.  I was unable to find any other baptisms of children of Nellie, or her marriage record, but I know from earlier research a large chunk of Tramore RC records from that time period were destroyed.  I truly hope she had more children than the three she lost.

     Be sure to check out the Local History section on the site also, with links like “Waterford Places”, Waterford newspapers, (not searchable, darn), and digitized copies of The Journal of the Waterford and South-East of Ireland Archeological Society.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Mistakes Do Happen

     When I first started seriously pursuing my family history I wanted to ignore this church record in the worst way.  In the burial registers of St. Mary’s RC Church in Auburn, New York was the following entry (here translated from the Latin).  March 19, 1879 I buried the body of Maria O’Hora of Shortsville.  Maria O’Hora died???  No she didn’t, Maria didn’t die until 1909.  What exactly was going on here?  I had the census records to prove she was still alive, although in one a mistake was made and she was consigned to the O'Brien family next door and listed as their mother. No other O’Hora or even O’Hara families lived in Shortsville.  Had great, great Grandpa James married again to another Maria?  It made no sense.  That entry plagued me; I couldn’t figure it out and could not successfully ignore it.
     After a few months passed and I learned more about Catholic records, it finally became clear, the priest had written Maria, which is the Latin form of Mary.  The woman who died in 1879 was Mary O’Hora who was James’ mother, not his wife Maria.  OK, that was my mistake however; in baptismal records at St. Felix in Clifton Springs, NY we find the 1868 baptism of Edward O’Hora, parents Maria McGarr and “Patrick” O’Hora.  No, no, no.  Edward’s father’s name was James; I am absolutely certain of that fact-- that one was the priest’s mistake.

     Newspapers are riddled with them, mistakes that is.  For instance my great, great Uncle Michael O’Hora’s obit in 1934 states he came to the Shortsville area from Auburn at the age of 20.   I know from deeds and the above church records the family was in Shortsville when Michael was still a small child.  He’s even is the census records growing up in Shortsville.  I’ve seen other old family obits that omitted several siblings in the list of survivors.

     I could go on, but  you get the idea, it clearly pays to find as many sources as possible, even if the one you have seems reliable, and keep an open mind.  Imperfect creatures that we are, sometimes the records get it wrong.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Wordy Wednesday/Learn Some Gaelic Already

   While thumbing through my copy of the weekly newspaper, "The Irish Echo", I came upon a thank you notice placed by a bereaved family.  Across the bottom they had typed, “Go Ribih Mile, Mile Maite Aguth”.  Look at this I called to my husband, I can read this, I know what this says.  It’s Gaelic for thank you very, very much, or literally a thousand, thousand good things on you.  I am reading Gaelic!  I must say he wasn’t very impressed.

     I was pretty happy with myself though.  I think everyone should learn a few words and phrases in their ancestor’s language, so I’ve been studying Gaelic for awhile now.  I’m nowhere near proficient, but I do know a bit more about the language of my forbears and that was the point.  I have some CD's I listen to when the whim strikes and I get my daily word from this site--

     Every day I get a new Irish word with a link to hear it properly pronounced by a native Gaelic speaker, and used by that speaker in a sentence.  They have other languages available also and it’s a fun painless way to learn, not to mention to hear what conversations in Ireland must have sounded like Fado, fado. (Long, long ago)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Using Online New York Land Records

     The Family Search web site has uploaded land records for all of New York State.  When I first checked them out I was dismayed to find they were not searchable.  Browsing thousands of deeds in old hen scratch handwriting was not an inviting proposition.  However, there are indexes arranged by county, both grantor and grantee indexes.  The grantor is the person selling land; the grantee is the one purchasing it.  I used to get the two mixed up all the time so I remember them by imagining the grant-or as similar to employ-or.  Both are the one with something to sell.  Works for me anyway.

     The indexes are easy to use, if looking for land purchased by Catherine Ryan for instance, first scroll down past the deeds to the grantee index that covers the years you want to search and includes R surnames and select that.  (If you were looking for Catherine selling land you would go to the Grantor Index.)

  The indexes are arranged roughly alphabetically with the surnames beginning with Ry in the same section.  After we find the Ryans it gets even easier.  Since we want Catherine whose name begins with letter C, we just scan down the a-e column to see if she’s there and sure enough, there she is on line 5, (see picture, it’s self-explanatory).  They even thoughtfully included her in the K column so as not to confuse those who spell Catherine with a K.

     Now that we’ve located her, we look over to the far right and there we see the liber, (Latin for book), number and a page number where the deed can be found, in this case liber 156 and page 300.  Now go back to the page with the deeds and look through them for that volume.  Notice there will often be 2 books together in one link, so if after opening the link you don’t find your deed on the first page 300 you come to, skip ahead, or back, to find the other page 300.

     Land records can be great sources of information.  There will be wives names, sometimes children’s names, the grantor, (seller), who might be a relative; of course the date and price of the purchase, some totally weird land measurements involving creeks, tree stumps and the neighbor’s cat among other interesting bits.  Sometimes the sale was a forced one and that too will be noted enabling you to check the local newspaper for details of the auction. 

      I have found some very interesting transactions among my various ancestors, and was able to find the maiden name of a third great aunt since it turns out the man she bought land from was her father.