Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ireland-- June 30, 1922

      Ninety one years ago, the disastrous bombardment of Dublin's Four Courts building began.  By the next day, June 30th, the Public Records Office was in flames.  A member of the anti-treaty forces, who tragically had stored their ammunition  inside the office, described what he saw, "fluttering up and down against the black mass were heaves of white paper; they looked like hovering white birds.  A half burnt volume fell at my feet."

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Genealogy on TV

    I recently wrote a blog about the return of Who Do You Think You Are to the airwaves.  The Irish show I mentioned in that blog, Genealogy Roadshow, has now signed a contract with the American production company, Krasnow Productions.   Their version of the show will air on PBS beginning September 23rd.  The show is very successful in Ireland, where it's in it's second season, no doubt because in the words of Irish producer Philip McGovern, " Everybody wants answers to questions about their own histories to help make sense of their lives today." In their announcement, PBS had this to say about the new show--

     “GENEALOGY ROADSHOW is an engaging, innovative program that reveals the bigger picture of our nation’s past, present and future,” said Beth Hoppe, Chief Programming Executive and General Manager of General Audience Programming for PBS. “With a diverse mix of stories in each episode, GENEALOGY ROADSHOW appeals to Americans interested in learning about their family histories. It also shows that no matter one’s heritage and background, everyone has a place in history.”

      I'm excited about this show, because as the American producer Stuart Krasnow recently said, "It's rare and wonderful when one can produce a show in which literally everyone is qualified to be a part of it."  These won't be the episodes produced in Ireland, it was only the format of the Irish show that was sold to an American production company.  While I wasn't able to get the viewer at RTE, (Ireland's National Television and Radio), to play this program, hopefully in the future we will be able to watch the Irish episodes online.  In the meantime, you can read about them here

     While we're on the subject of RTE, their website is well worth checking regularly.  This site is where you can listen to Famine Echoes , and view some of their TV shows.  One I enjoyed was an episode of The Gathering.  This one stars Fionnula Flanagan and can be viewed here
Across the bottom of the screen it reads 4 days remaining.  I guess that means you only have 4 days to watch this, which I really hope you will.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Funeral Card Friday/Michael O'Hara

     This funeral card from 1934, is that of my great, great Uncle Michael O'Hara, alias Michael O'Hora.  The O'Hora surname was used til around 1925.


     Michael was born in Aurelius, NY September 23, 1858 to James O'Hora and Maria McGarr.  He moved with his parents to Littleville, NY when he was nine years of age.  He was a farmer and livestock dealer in addition to operating a threshing business.  He died after a short illness at the family farm in Littleville.

This is the only photo I have of Michael.  He is the one on the far left wearing the hat.  Doesn't he look alot like Uncle Joe from Petticoat Junction?

Uncle Joe from the TV series

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Thankful Thursday/Return of Who Do You Think You Are

     Today I'm thankful one of my favorite shows is returning to television.  Dropped by NBC, the all new, Who Do You Think You Are, produced by Lisa Kudrow, will air at 9 p.m. July 23rd on the former Learning Channel, (TLC).  I say former because these days not much learning is going on, their main offerings seem to be Toddlers and Tiaras, 19 And Counting and Honey Boo Boo.

     However, come July they will have at least one quality show worth watching,  But you know what would make it even better?  Loose the celebrities.  It's not that I have anything against celebrities, but I'm not particularly starstruck, (with the possible exception of Johnny Depp), and I don't think most family historians are either.  I did not watch the old show because I was excited about who might turn up in Reba McIntyre's family tree.  I wanted to see research techniques and the discovery of obscure records, I wanted to see a good genealogical mystery solved. 

     I can't help thinking each of the individuals chosen to participate in the show had the wherewithal to hire a dozen genealogists on their own if they were really interested in their ancestors, and they certainly didn't need the show's sponsors to fly them to their family's homeland.  I for one would find it much more compelling to follow a family historian who struggled with a brick wall for years be interviewed and then watch the show's genealogists work with him or her to find the answers.

     A few months ago I received an e-mail about a similar show being produced in Ireland, inviting people to do just that, write in describing your research and what you'd like to find out about your family, with a view to selecting subjects for the series; which of course I did.  Unfortunately, the film crew will not be showing up on my doorstep anytime soon, but I still like that concept better.

     Having said that, it's still a favorite show, and I will be watching when the new series premiers, or rather watching online the next day since in a fit of annoyance over the crappiness of said shows like Toddlers and Tiaras, I cancelled my cable subscription.


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Church Record Sunday/McGarr Sisters

     I've written about my McGarr ancestors of Ballyraggan, Kildare before so I'm just going to show you the church records of the three oldest McGarr sisters today.  If you want more background you can find it here.  The oldest daughter was Catherine.  She married John Hore in Baltinglass, County Wicklow Ireland.  I don't have an image for that marriage, only a transcription from the IFHF website:

Parish / District:    BALTINGLASS      County. Wicklow    

 Husband     John    O'Hara       
 Wife     Catherine    McGra
Denomination:     Roman Catholic    

Witness 1   Peter  Hara        
Witness 2     Bridget  Donohoe

     Note the bizarre spelling. I'm sure it's them however, Peter was John's older brother, and Donahoe was Catherine's mother's maiden name.  Also, the couple's daughter Mary Hore was born in February of the following year.  I rented the Baltinglass film from the LDS to assure myself the transcription at IFHF was correct, (you can't be too careful).  

     The first failure of the potato crop, a harbinger of the devastation yet to come, occurred eight months after Catherine and John were married.  Shortly after their daughter's birth, they emigrated and settled in Aurelius, New York near Auburn. 

     The next McGarr daughter was Maria, who is my great, great grandmother.  She also came to Aurelius.  Maria  married James, the brother of John" O'Hara" at Holy Family RC Church in Auburn, New York in 1852.  The O'Hara/Hore family was from Ricketstown in County Carlow, just across the border from Ballyraggan.

McGarr Hore Wedding

     The other sister to come to America was Bridget.  She married at Holy Family in 1854.  Her husband was Martin Kinsella who was also a native of Kildare.  The Anastasia Farrell who witnessed the marriage was a cousin of Bridget Maria and Catherine.

McGarr Kinsella Nuptuals

      Maria and Bridget along with their families, eventually moved westward to Shortsville, New York  near Rochester.  From all newspaper accounts they were respectable wives and mothers.  Catherine was a little different.  Perhaps it was circumstances -- her husband died and left her with a large family, but Catherine strayed from the path a bit; it seems '94 was a particularly bad year--

Auburn Weekly Bulletin
1894 --Catherine O'Hora and daughter Kate, Seneca St.,  arrested for keeping a disorderly house, and the latter for disorderly behavior. [What constitutes a disorderly house?  I'm not sure, but I would love to know.]

1894-- Catherine O'Hora was interrogated over chicken theft.  William Travers and John Shea were arrested at her home in Seneca St.
[These were Catherine's grandsons, sons of her daughters Ann and Mary respectively, who were both deceased by that time]

     It's interesting that only the three oldest daughters of Daniel McGarr came to America.  The two youngest daughters, Sarah and Anne, married in Ireland, and the two sons, Richard and John, who were the last born in 1839 and 1842, disappear without a trace.  I cannot locate a marriage or death for them in civil registration records though of course those didn't include Catholics until 1864.  If they died in childhood there would be no record of it since the Church was pretty lax about death records.  Sarah and her husband Thomas Hughes took over the lease on Daniel's farm, so I have a sad suspicion they may have perished in one of the epidemics when the famine hit, they were quite young at the time.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Genealogy For Kids


     I have been trying, unsuccessfully, to get my kids interested in genealogy for years.  They tolerate my obsession with the subject in the same way they do all my other eccentricities...they humor me.  But I can tell their hearts just aren't in it, I see their eyes glaze over as I prattle on about great, great, great Grandma McGarr's fatal case of consumption, or the importance of land records.  Which begs the age old question, are great genealogists born or made?

     I say it's both.  Some of us, like myself, have been interested in the past for as long as they can remember.  Others come to it later in life as more free time becomes available and still others much later as their own mortality becomes a real concept.  I've never been one to let things take their natural course, ha, not if I can do something to alter that course to fit my own desires.  It may be too late to force,  interest my kids in family history,
though Lord knows I tried, but now I have grand-kids.  To that end, my grandchildren all receive a copy of the award winning book, Black Potatoes, by Susan Bartoletti on their 11th birthday.

     Yeah, it's kinda depressing, but it tells the story of the Irish famine in terms a kid can understand and it's not overly morbid.  After all, this is a huge part of their family's  history, the reason we all are here in the US of A.  After that it's a short leap to begin telling them about the generation that came over from Ireland, about their trip, where they lived, what they did, what their children's lives were like.  Another one that looks interesting is, The Great Ancestor Hunt, The Fun of Finding Out Who You Are, by Lila Perl.

     There are other books out there too, for the still younger set.  I did a quick search at Amazon and found these titles; Me And My Family Tree, by Joan Sweeney, and The Kid's Family Tree Book, by Caroline Leavitt, and many others.  As always I advise checking the used books option.

     So get moving peeps, there is a whole generation out there that needs our guidance!



Thursday, June 13, 2013

Demons of Genealogy

   When I was in high school in the 70's, the big fad in my part of the globe was Ouija boards. My friends and I all had one, until my Mother, who bought the thing for me in the first place, decided they were dangerous and tossed mine out.  Which brings me to this post's subject.  

     I have come to the conclusion there is no earthly way to determine the origins of my great, great Grandfather James White.  After searching for years I am certain no obituary or news article holds the answer, I've found them all.  I am all but positive his parish in Ireland, whichever one it may have been, does not have records going back far enough to include his birth, there's nothing in his death certificate, so what's left?  I can't help wondering, wouldn't it be great to call Grandpa White on the Ouija board? 

     By the way, I'm not suggesting it would be a good idea for you to try this, good Lord, I don't want to be responsible for endangering someone else's immortal soul. 

     Upon googling Ouija boards, I found some really scary stuff about possessions and hauntings  supposedly linked to somebody fooling with one.  And while I don't remember being possessed by demons in high school, I'm pretty sure my Mother would disagree.  

     I've never seen anything linking genealogy and otherworldly intervention, and there are no message boards for supernatural family history.  I checked just to see if anyone else was thinking along those lines, (I still can't believe I'm the only one).  I also googled my go-to website in spiritual matters, Catholic Answers, which had this to say, "The Ouija board is far from harmless.  The fact of the matter is, the Ouija board really does work, and the only "spirits" that will be contacted through it are evil ones."

     Terrific, they tell me it works, then they tell me not to use it.  In the end, I don't really believe it would be a good idea or that anything useful would be gained from using one.  And to tell you the truth, the whole demonic possession thing kinda freaks me out.  Still, wouldn't it be great to ask Grandpa White where the heck he came from?

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Wishful Wednesday/I Wish There Were More Reunions

     Is it my imagination, or were families a lot closer in years gone by than they are today?  My Warner family used to have a reunion every year, but the tradition died out long before my birth.  They even had an official name for it, “The Annual Reunion of the Descendants of Anne Greenway and James Warner”. They took it pretty seriously too.  Each year they elected a president and treasurer, and family members were chosen to head food and entertainment committees. Together they chose the home where the next reunion would be held, well, I assume it was together- maybe someone went to the outhouse and upon returning found that they had been voted next year’s host.  Here is a description from the local newspaper:


     The annual reunion of the descendants of Anne Greenway and James Warner, who were natives of Packwood, Warwickshire County, England, and came to America many years ago, was held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Warner on Saturday, with 65 members of the family present. A bountiful dinner was served at noon by the committee in charge, followed by a literary program and a long list of sports, the winners receiving prizes.

      A business meeting was held, and the following officers elected: President, James Warner, of Port Gibson; secretary, Mrs. Alvin G. Warner, of Manchester; treasurer, Alvin LaRue, of Palmyra; chairman of dinner committee, James Warner; chairman of entertainment committee, Adelbert Robinson, of this village. The meeting place selected for the next reunion is the home of Mrs. Mary Warner.

     My Ryan family also made sure everyone got together at least once a year:

Aug. 30 1920:
      The fifth annual reunion of the descendants of Andrew and Cornelius Ryan was held August 28th, at the home of Oliver Ryan. Fifty members were present, from Webster, Manchester, Palmyra, East Rochester, Fairport and Perinton. A picnic dinner and supper were served on the lawn and the intervening time was spent in dancing, singing, speaking and the playing of games. At the meeting of the family it was decided that the reunion in 1921 would be held at the home of Mrs. Catherine Caler in Fairport. The following new committees were appointed: Refreshments, Mrs. Frank Ryan, Mary Caler, Mrs. George Caler, Nellie Ryan; sports, Mrs. Thomas Ryan, Frank Ryan George Caler.  In the evening all departed for their homes fully convinced that the fifth reunion was the best yet.

Ryan Family Reunion circa 1920

   It seems like so much fun, and they were so totally into it, although I think the Ryan reunion sounds more like my cup of tea what with the singing, dancing and playing of games and all. There were articles written about many other family’s reunions in the old papers too. When did people stop having them, and why?  My guess would be the great depression and then WWII probably put a damper on things, along with smaller families and increasing mobility.  At any rate, my families stopped having them and it seems so did most other families, fewer and fewer articles were written chronicling them.  Which is sorta sad, because reunions were one of the things from the past that were worth preserving.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday/Baltinglass Cemetery Ireland

     I would like to share the site below with it's beautiful photos of Baltinglass Catholic Cemetery in County Wicklow, Ireland.  I'm sure my McGarr ancestors rest here.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

The Princess Plays Hard To Get-Part 3

     I'm still hot on the trail of the Wordens, but my focus has changed a bit.  Well of course it has, I'm as easily distracted as a four year old, hopped up on M&Ms. You know how it goes, you start searching for cousin Lucy and look!  Right there next to her obituary is an article about Uncle Michael from another family line getting hitched, so you start copying that wonderful find, when you discover the best man's name sounds very familiar so now you must check that out, and so on and so on...

    Long story short, I cannot find anything more than I already have on Pelina Cater Worden, not that I'm giving up, not a chance, I'm nothing if not tenacious.  That 1850 census showing her and her daughter Ruth in the household of her son Sylvester Jr. in South Bristol, NY got me thinking though; whatever happened to young Ruth?  She was only 14 in 1850 and by the time of the NYS 1855 census she and Pelina were nowhere in sight.  A family tree online says Pelina died in 1852, but as usual, with no real source.  Another tree, also un-sourced, claims Ruth Worden married a man named Richards.  I decided to try and prove or disprove that bit of datum.

     After analyzing census records gathered at Family Search and Ancestry in addition to those I copied years ago at the Ontario County Archives, along with news articles, I think Ruth did in fact marry William Richards around 1854.  Un-sourced trees aren't always wrong, it's just impossible to tell until you check for yourself.
Here is how I arrived at my conclusion--

In 1850 William was 21 and living with his parents Daniel and Elizabeth Richards.  Ruth Worden was living with her brother.

1855 Census, South Bristol, NY
In 1855 William was living with Ruth Richards age 18, (and Ruth Worden is not enumerated), so far so good, but wait, living with William's parents Daniel and Elizabeth are Mary E. Richards age 8 and George E. Richards age 9.  They are grandchildren, but their ages can't be right, William could not have a 9 year old, he was single just 5 years previous.

In 1860 the indication is that the children's ages were indeed wrong  in 1855.  George is now 10, born around 1850 and Mary is 6 born around 1854.  That makes more sense.  I think William was married, fathered 2 children and was widowed between censuses.  He must have been a fast worker, because he also has a son named William P. age 6 who must be the child of Ruth although I think he must have been 5 not 6.  If his first wife died when Mary was born and he turned right around and married Ruth I suppose they could have had a son aged 5 by 1860--it boggles the mind.

1875 Census, South Bristol, NY
     I couldn't find them in 1870, but in 1875 the household included William, 46 and Ruth, 36, along with Ellen M.,(Mary E. had turned into Ellen M.) age 19, William Jr. age 18, and two more children, Bert age 6 and Elizabeth age 3.  That's sorta curious, twelve years between children?  The census seems to say these youngsters are children of the marriage though, and Ruth was certainly still young enough to have been their mother.

     Ruth died in 1876 as shown in this obituary:  June 24 1876--—The wife of William Richards died Monday night at his place of his residence.   The 1880 census reflects this, William age 51 is living with Ellen M., 24 and William Jr. 23.  Willie Jr has his wife, 17 year old Althea living with them and Bert and Elizabeth are still there also, their relationship is not shown for some reason.

     This article from the Naples, NY newspaper pretty much clinches the deal though: William [P.] Richards, son of William and Ruth Worden Richards, died early Saturday morning at his home near Bristol Center, aged 54 years.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Princess Part Two

     OK, after I made that second pot of coffee yesterday morning, I got down to brass tacks.  First I gathered every pertinent census I could find, mindful that Native Americans were not enumerated. Then I did a basic Google search for Wordens and Carters in Ontario County, NY and next checked Google books for local histories--nothing there.  Did some searches on Ancestry, Find-a-Grave, Old Fulton Postcards, and Family Search--nothing new there either, so back to the census records.  I keep having this nagging feeling that I once saw a Cater Family near Seneca Point which is where George says he was born, but now I can't find them.  I am a walking example of how not to be organized.

     I'm still analyzing the pre-1840 censuses, but there were some surprises in the 1860.  All the online sources like posted  family trees and the censuses done in his adult years, put George's birth in 1857 or 58, the online sources are wrong.  I looked for him in the 1860 census.  He wasn't there with Silvester and Mary unless he had changed his name to Richard, and where was his older sister Matilda?  She had morphed into a Laura and was 2 years younger.  Looking ahead to 1865, George was thankfully with his family, but he was 5 indicating he was born closer to 1860 than 1858.

      I was beginning to doubt myself.  Where did I get the composition of this family from, there were no children named Matilda or George?  Perhaps my old notes would give me a clue.  Thumbing through them, I found the 1860 census I had copied at the Ontario County Archives and guess what, Laura had vanished and in her place was none other than Matilda.  How could this be you may be wondering?  It could be because there were 3 copies made of the census, a local copy, one for the state and one for the Feds, and sometimes those copies are not identical.  They were done by hand back in 1860, and with 2 extra copies being transcribed there were bound to be errors.  It makes perfect sense that the original copy the census taker compiled as he went his appointed rounds,which is the one that was kept locally, would be the most accurate.  

     The 1865 and 1870 censuses show Matilda and George with their proper family, which put my mind at ease as to George's parentage.  So, about all I accomplished yesterday was proving George was indeed the son of Silvester Worden and Mary Culver, but that proves that Silvester and Pelina are his grandparents, and since his obit says the Indian blood came from his father's side it must be one of them--almost definitely Pelina since she is the one I have no further information on.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Was Great Great Great Great Grandma an Indian Princess?

     I’ve done it again.  Spent my day off sitting in front of the computer instead of cleaning my kitchen, which I really need to do; I think I saw a leftover in the back of the fridge move this morning.  But no, I have been tracking George and Eva Worden.  Who are they you ask?  Collateral relatives, the kind I wouldn’t ordinarily spend this amount of time on while mutant leftovers are roaming my refrigerator unchecked except… I found a picture of them on Ebay!  Somehow it’s always the collateral relatives whose photos show up, and always on the Worden side, why is that?

George and Eva Bartlett Worden

     The Worden family is pretty well documented, there are quite a few books and sourced trees online, and Silvester Worden, my umpteenth great grandfather was a Revolutionary War Soldier.  Apparently a spelling challenged one; he really did spell his name “Silvester”, not the usual Sylvester.  I know this because I have actually held his war pension application in my hand, (what a rush), signed by himself in that unusual way.  There are some gaps in the trees, mostly on the female side as usual and Silvester’s wife’s name is unknown.  However, Silvester’s father was also a Silvester, and then going back in time come a couple Peters, then Samuel Worden born 1646 in Massachusetts.  Samuel’s wife was Hopestill Holley.  Isn’t that a cute name?  It sounds like a children’s cartoon character who might show up as a prize in a McDonald’s Happy Meal.

     Part of the Worden family remained in New England, but my line moved west to New York.  Silvester took a few years but steadily moved on til he came to Bristol, New York.  See the map at the right?  It shows Worden Hill in Bristol; that maze near the red arrow is Bristol Ski Resort.  See, I told you my family owned it, and I still want it back.  Silvester and his mystery wife had several children one named Silvester, (in some records, Squire), was born about 1793 and married Pelina Carter.  They begat another Silvester in 1817, along with a Paul who was my 3rd great grandfather.  The 1817 Silvester married Mary Culver and had—you guessed it, another Silvester.  But, they also had a George in 1857, George of the Ebay photo, I told you he was collateral.

     The thing about collateral relatives though, is their data is also the data of one’s direct relatives.  A 1948 news article about George-- "Worden, a descendant of the Seneca Indians of Seneca Point on Canandaigua Lake, was born there, but as a little lad came with his family to Bristol and there he has remained. When a youth he thought he might like to live on a reservation but after a very short trial returned to the rolling hills and valleys, the foothills of the Alleghenies, in Bristol."   Huh??????? 

     George’s obituary in 1950 says, "His father was an Indian born on one of the reservations." Say again?  I have no idea what to make of this.  The Worden’s were Puritans from Lancashire, England; they were not Native Americans.  On the other hand, I have nothing on Pelina Carter, wife of 1793 Silvester.  Is it possible my 4th great Grandmother was a Native American?  It’s conceivable that even if she married and left the reservation she returned to her mother’s abode for the birth of her first child, (1817 Silvester), so George’s father would be half Indian anyway.  Now you see why I have been tied to my computer all morning, a new mystery to solve. 

     I’ve heard no family stories about Native Americans among the Wordens, though a historian in Bristol Center told me once there were undocumented rumors to that effect.  Pelina, (sometimes called Paulina), Carter was born around 1796, and died before the New York State census of 1855 was taken, too early for a death certificate to have been issued.  I found an online tree claiming she was born in South Bristol, but it had no sources so I take it with a grain of salt. Un-sourced family trees are one of my pet peeves, and no, user submitted trees at OneWorldTree are not sources, they are clues that need to be verified with real sources.

     Might as well make another pot of coffee...