Saturday, August 31, 2013

I Know I Have That Stupid File Here Somewhere!

You can't tell the players without a program!

     OK, we're well past the half year mark now, only four months remain in 2013 and you can't even count December.  I work in a bakery and the holidays are when things really heat pun intended.  Along with the cutting, baking and decorating of Christmas cookies until they come out my ears, there is cleaning, shopping, wrapping and all the dazzling parties I will no doubt be invited to.  Needless to say, not much genealogy will get done during the season of Yule; neither will the organization of genealogical records which was my resolution for the New Year.

     I have tried, really I have, but I sit down and look at all the organizing that needs to get done and I'm overwhelmed; I don't know where to start.  What usually happens at that point is I decide it would be more fun to search a new database than deal with my existing files.  I was reminded of the results of my dilatory behavior just yesterday when I found a really exciting obituary and went to enter it in my genealogy software.  Imagine my surprise, or chagrin, when I found it already there.  I had found the same obituary several years ago, but after typing it into my program it seems I just forgot about it.  There must be a better way!

     To that end, I have decided to make a timeline and brief bio for each of my ancestors, starting with direct lines to keep it manageable.  Hopefully, this will accomplish several things-
  • I've made some of my best discoveries re-reading notes from long ago that made no sense at the time I took them, but in the light of newer research now do.
  • I'm not getting any younger, I know if my notes are a mess when my kids inherit them, they will probably toss them rather than try to figure them out.
  • Making those timelines and bios points out gaps in research which helps me see where I need to concentrate my time.  Clue--it isn't on finding the name of Grandpa James' third cousin's wife... sometimes I get sidetracked.
  • Last but not least, I hope to clean out all duplicate records in my paper files, and I have alot of them!  I'm a child of the 60's and I do not completely trust this box of boards and microchips on which I'm typing this.  I intend to keep my paper, just streamline it.
      Well, time is passing and I must stop procrastinating.  Wishing you all an awesome Labor Day weekend.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Funeral Card Friday/Ellen White O'Hora/O'Hara


     Another funeral card from the Bible Grandmother left me, it's amazing the documents that have come out of that book!  This one is for Grandmother's mother and is a perfect example of how names changed, even in the not so distant past.  The card reads, Helen O'Hara, but that is not the name she started life with.

     Great Grandmother was born in the fall of 1873 in Port Gibson,  New York.  Her parents James White, from somewhere in the Irish Free State, and Anna Ryan, from Goldengarden in South Tipperary named her Ellen.  In her baptismal record, and other early records that is how her name appears, though sometimes it's Nellie.  

     The surname O'Hara is another alteration, the name originally was O'Hora, and back in Ireland it was Hore.  No mystery as to why that one was changed, but it is a mystery, to me anyway, why they felt so free to change their names seemingly at will?

     Great Grandmother died nearly 20 years before I was born, so of course I never met her.  My Father adored her, he spent a good part of his early years with her at her farm, and his pet name for me was Nell, after her.   Dad has told me wonderful stories about her, like going to bed at night in her big bed with a heated stone at the bottom to warm their feet; and about everyday life on a farm in the 1940's.  The one he tells about playing with a pig's head floating in a tub of water at butchering time kinda grossed me out, but that was farm life...

Ellen White O'Hora at the farm with her son in law Leo Shannon  what is that contraption to the left?

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Workday Wednesday/ They've Been Working On The Railroad

My grandfather L.J. Warner in the cab,and his uncle Philip Power 1940's

     When my ancestors on my father's side came to this country, they mostly wound up in Manchester, New York.  Manchester is a township in Ontario County, and also the name of a small village within that township.  Today, no one would ever guess that Manchester village was once home to the country's largest, busiest railroad yards--but it was.  

     Nothing moves there now except pigeons and an occasional rodent, and the only remnants are a few tracks, a decaying roundhouse and some rusty boxcars.  The really old structures like the water and coal towers, leftovers from the age of steam engines, are gone now.  Sometimes when I'm in town I drive by and remember how it used to be when I was a child, lulled to sleep every night by the sounds emanating from the yards two streets over.  I even snagged a few bricks from the old roundhouse for a sentimental path in my garden.  

     Turn back the pages to the year 1892 however, and it was a much different story; that year the Lehigh Valley Railroad, which had designated Manchester a division point and transfer yard, opened shop in the village.  It was from tiny Manchester that incoming boxcars were switched around onto other tracks and sent on their way to their final destination.  There also, crews and locomotives were switched, the old crews retiring to the bunk house for a rest as a fresh crew took their places.

     People from all over the world were drawn to the village to work  in those yards.  Growing up I had friends who were Irish, (of course), along with Italian, Syrian, Polish, German--you name it, Manchester was a veritable United Nations and somehow we all got along.  I fondly remember my best friend's Aunt Freida, and her homemade Syrian bread with peanut butter, and Cindy's father's pasta fazool.  

     It can truly be said that if your family lived in Manchester in the late 19th thru mid 20th century, some member of it worked for the railroad, probably several somebodies.  My whole family did, my great, great Uncle Philip, my Grandmother, Grandfather, Father, Uncle Bill and my brother were all Lehigh Valley employees.  I never worked for the railroad, but I did "drive" an engine through the yards with my Grandpa the engineer once when I was six.

     The Lehigh Valley Railroad is gone now, bankrupted, taken over by a government entity known as Conrail and now CSX.  It makes me sad, Manchester was such a special, unique place to grow up. We were being exposed to so many different cultures and we didn't even realize it.  About ten years ago at work, an older co-worker said to me, "Where I was raised, alot of our neighbors were Syrian."  To which I retorted, "Oh my gosh, you're from Manchester"...and she was!

Grandfather L.J., Grandmother and Uncle Bill & Dad 1960's

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mystery Monday/Dr. Richard Wiggins


      I haven't paid the attention to my maternal line that it deserves, nor have I written much about it.  One mystery I'm having trouble solving is that of Richard Wiggins and his supposed medical profession.  Briefly, this is what I know about Richard--

  • He was born in New York about 1810 to William Wiggins and his wife Elizabeth
  • Around 1839 he married Hannah Ostrander, daughter of Barent and Heyltje (Devoe) Ostrander
  • Richard's children were William, Charles, John, George and Hannah
  • The 1840 census shows him in Wolcott, NY with family
  •  Hannah died in 1848
  • The 1850 census shows him widowed and living with his parents, again in Wolcott, occupation physician
  • At some point they all moved to Ionia County Michigan where Richard married Susan Grey
  • August 18, 1857 Richard died and his children returned to NY to their Ostrander relatives.
          Then there is this--

 Landmarks of Wayne County, New York, Geo. Washington Cowles 1895, pg 232

Wiggins, William H., of Red Creek, is a veteran of the late war, having served three years in the famous 9th Heavy Artillery, enlisting in 1862. [Co. G] He was born in Wolcott in 1840, son of the late Richard Wiggins, a physician, of whose five children 
 William is sole representative. In 1808 he married Aurilla Garner, of Wolcott, and they have two children, Mary, (my great grandmother),born May 18, 1870, now engaged in school teaching, and George, born August 28, 1873. Mr. Wiggins is now engaged in farming on the farm where he located in 1870.

     I've searched newspapers, books and lists of New York State doctors to no avail.  Maybe Richard was a self-styled doctor with no formal training but a knack for healing people so they flocked to him when they were in need of medical care?  I'm continuing to look for additional sources, hopefully this mystery will be solved soon.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Irish Birthdays

Love this photo-Bea Sullivan turns 109!  Party on girl!*

Phrase: Happy Birthday to you
Irish: Lá breithe shona duit
Pronunciation: law bre-heh hunn-ah dwitch

     Since today is my birthday, I was curious how my ancestors might have marked the day.  The answer is, they didn't.   For one thing, due to widespread illiteracy, thanks to the restrictions on education of Catholics contained in the Penal Laws, a large number of Irish didn't even know the day of their births.  How different Irish history might have been without those vicious laws.  Not to mention how much easier a time we might have had tracing our families there.

     Not knowing their birthdays, when they needed to provide a date of birth  they often picked March 17th for obvious reasons.  Other popular days they picked were the 4th of July and December 25.  If your ancestor told the census taker or other official one of those dates, you may want to look further.  Two of mine simply told the census taker they didn't know what year they were born.  When England instituted old age pensions in 1909, this lack of precise birth dates was a problem, how to verify a person actually qualified for the pension?  They solved this by asking the applicant if they could remember the night of the big wind. If they could, they were granted their pension.

     If you've never heard of that storm, this account is from
     Snow fell across Ireland on Saturday, January 5, 1839, Sunday morning dawned with cloud cover and the day was warmer than usual. By midday it began to rain heavily, and the precipitation coming in off the north Atlantic slowly spread eastward. By early evening heavy winds began to howl. And then on Sunday night an unforgettable fury was unleashed.
     Hurricane force winds began to batter the west and north of Ireland, as a freak storm roared out of the Atlantic. For most of the night, until just before dawn, the winds mauled the countryside, uprooting large trees, tearing the thatched roofs off houses, and toppling barns and church spires.
     As the worst part of the storm occurred after midnight, and the relentless winds extinguished any candles or lanterns, people were particularly terrified as they couldn’t see what was happening. And in many cases homes were burned because the bizarre winds blasting down chimneys threw hot embers from hearths across the floors of houses, igniting entire structures.

     Not knowing your birth date had one obvious advantage, not knowing how old you're getting, (grin).  They seemed to go in the other direction though.  Most of mine claimed much older ages than they really were.  Could it be, older people got more respect back then?

*Photo from Dallas Morning News


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Crotty/Connolly Grave Holy Cross Church Tramore, Ireland

     I know it's not Tombstone Tuesday, but I'm too excited about this to wait that long.  Some time ago, I was checking the Grave Memorial Database at the Waterford County Library site, here, and I found an entry for my 4x great uncle David Crotty.

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
Note : 
21 A 6.
Cross shaped headstone.
Old Cemetery, Holy Cross Church, Tramore

     I've written about David and this great library before, for the back story click here.  Anyway, a few days ago I was looking at the website of Holy Cross Church and saw some photos Father Michael had taken from the church spire, (you know where I'm going with this).  I sent off an email to the church asking if Father could perhaps snap one of my ancestor's grave, and sent the above information so he could easily locate the grave.  This is what I received back:

Crotty Memorial in foreground, with Holy Cross Church

     I wasn't really sure I'd get any response at all, but this is so awesome!  It was so considerate of him to get a long shot showing the church! There were two other pictures of the face of the memorial, but this was the best one.  I'm glad I got the photo now, it looks like the inscription is deteriorating.  I wanted to send a donation to express my gratitude, and as it turns out it's as simple as writing a check which the church can then deposit in their bank account.  Who knew?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Amanuensis Monday/Great Grandmother Wiggin's Letter To Mom

Mom, age 15 with her brother Kenny

     While my dear mother passed away several years ago, my father was not in a hurry to clean out her room.  In fact he never did, I finally started the melancholy task last year.  Tucked in a prayer book, I found an old, yellowed Christmas card with a letter inside.  It was written to my mother by her paternal grandmother Mary Wiggins, (1870-1958), who lived in Wolcott, New York.

Mary Wiggins with my Mother's brother Kenny

     Mary raised my mother after her mother, Grace Galloway, was killed in a kerosene explosion while filling her kitchen stove one January morning in 1934.  Grace survived the explosion, but died of her burns seven hours later.  My mother was only seven years old at the time.  

     In 1945, Mom married a Marine sergeant  named Daniel Carroll, but she would lose him too.  In June of 1950, Daniel was sent to Korea and Mom left Camp Pendleton, California where they had been stationed, and returned to New York. Six months later, just before Christmas, she received word he had been killed at the Chosin Reservoir when fragments of an enemy mortar shell struck him.

      This sad missive was written to Mother at the time of Daniel's death; it took me awhile to decipher it, Grandmother's hand was quite shaky by that time. She wrote :

Dear Lois,
     I had just addressed a card to you when Elsie came with the news so I will write also. I know that you are heart broken and my heart aches for you.  I carried a heart ache for you many days when you didn't realize it.  Although I seldom cry I felt like crying every time I looked at you when you first came here to live for you were so little to be left without a mother.  I wish I could have done more for you.
     I realize from experience that no one can help you in the dark days ahead although you have many who care for and sympathize with you. I was very ambitious for you with your active mind and fine personality you were capable of doing great good in this world.
     I trust that you may be divinely blessed and guided in the future and will yet find happiness and life worth living although different from your plans.

     This letter makes my heart hurt.  Mom lived through such sadness.  She married my father five years after Daniel's death, and had two children but this letter obviously meant alot to her.  She must have received many letters and cards from her grandmother over the years--this is the one she kept the rest of her life.

Mom, on the day she married her Marine


Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday's Obituary/James Scully of Tipperary


     While doing a little digging into the life of my 4x great grandfather Andrew O'Dwyer of Silverhill in South Tipperary I chanced upon the obituary of his landlord James Scully published in 1846.  I thought it interesting enough to include here:

     Died, at his residence in Tipperary, on the night of the 31st ult. after a short but severe illness, James Scully Esq. sen. in his 70th year. Mr. Scully was the only surviving son of the late James Scully Esq. of Kilfeacle, in this county, and was for many years the leading partner in the respectable banking establishment in Tipperary carried on under his name. 

     During several years he acted as Grand Juror of this county, and when the Penal Laws were relaxed, giving Roman Catholics the privilege of holding the Commission of the Peace, he was amongst the first of that class appointed to the responsible situation of magistrate. Mr. Scully was the senior magistrate of the barony in which he resided, having held the commission for nearly forty years.
      During the last half century few individuals had more intercourse with the gentry and population of the South part of Ireland than the late Mr. Scully, arising from the different public institutions which were so ably directed. In whatever character we view the late Mr. Scully, whether as a landlord or as a contributor to the public charities of his locality, we find as a landed proprietor of considerable estates he was kind considerate and indulgent ; his charitable donations were on all occasions most liberal ; and there is no doubt that an over anxious desire to forward the interests of the poor of his town laid the foundation of that malady which hurried to the grave this worthy man, respected by the rich and lamented by the poor. 
      It is quite unnecessary to say one word more of departed worth, but as long as the name of the late James Scully will be remembered, it will be associated with recollections of generosity, high-mindedness, independence and sterling principle which through life marked his character. May he rest in peace. Upwards of £10000 a year falls in to different landed proprietors by the death of Mr. Scully, upon whose life several leases were depending.

     It seems reasonable to assume James Scully died of one of the fevers that were so common in 1846, a famine year, and his contact with the poor was the source of infection.  The obituary almost seems to blame him for his, "over anxious desire to...the interests of the poor".  It also notes he was a kind and indulgent landlord, I certainly hope so, since Grandpa O'Dwyer had to deal with him. 

     The references to the Penal Laws and the one to several leases depending upon his life are informative too.  At that time in Ireland leases were sometimes written as a "lease for lives".  Typically, such a lease would name three persons, usually the lessee and perhaps a child of his, and often a prominent person.  Under the terms of such a lease, it remained in effect until all persons named in the lease had died.  Apparently James' life was the last one on several local leases.

Friday, August 16, 2013

How Books Help My Research


     I've always been an avid reader.  I used to visit my school library at least twice a week and devoured books like most other kids went through candy.  Since becoming obsessed with my Irish heritage and family research I read very little fiction these days, it's mostly works examining social conditions and histories of Ireland.  It really has enabled to me understand what was going on in the country at the time my ancestors lived there, and has been a great help to my genealogy.  So often, records are sparse and educated guesses are needed.  Of course a guess, no matter how educated is not a substitute for proof, but given the state of Irish records, or lack thereof, enough circumstantial evidence is sometimes the best one can ever get.  Then too, it can point you in the right direction where obscure records may be waiting.

     Example?  We have all heard of the Irish being accused of "clannishness", and settling near each other upon arrival in the USA which makes perfect sense, why not be surrounded by family and friends?  But after reading histories of Ireland, I understand there was more to it-- this was the way they lived at home. Unlike today, pre-famine rural Ireland was bursting with people, they were accustomed to living in close proximity to each other.  They were very social and enjoyed the company of others immensely, and that pattern continued in America.

     I'm currently reading Emigrants And Exiles, by Kerby A. Miller.  It's a fascinating book, scholarly and well researched, but quite readable.  In one part, Mr. Miller describes in depth the social structure of Ireland in the years before the famine, and that description has been very useful in understanding what my 4x great grandfather Andrew O'Dwyer's life would have been like, and my 3x great grandfather Daniel McGarr's circumstances also.  Turns out Daniel would have been considered a "middling farmer", one of only 30% of farmers whether Catholic or Protestant.  The book goes on to describe the typical diet, housing, and even clothing he probably owned.

     Since I discovered the details of Daniel's family a few years ago, my research has been influenced by some "educated guesses".  Daniel had five daughters, one after the other, and then two sons were born on the eve of the famine.  I've never found any more information on them, and I know from land records that Daniel's daughter Sarah and her husband Thomas Hughes inherited the lease on his farm.  I've always suspected this probably meant the sons had died, possibly of fever during the famine, as other reading revealed there was a fever hospital within a few miles of their home.  After reading Mr. Kerby's book I'm more convinced than ever this was most likely the case.  He describes how inheritance worked at the time, and it was invariably a son, and not always the oldest, who inherited the farm.  Daughters were given dowries, though often the farmer could only afford a dowry for one or two daughters.  Had either of Daniel's sons been living, the farm would have gone to them.

     Besides aiding my research, the descriptions of the famine and immigration found in other books satisfies my curiosity about my ancestor's lives.  Even if reading them doesn't advance my genealogy, I consider it time well spent.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sister Cecilia

Sister Cecilia is one in from the right- in the next to top row

  Sister Cecilia Vincent of the Sisters of St. Joseph, started life as Mary Esther Gunn.  She was born in Rochester, New York on March 30, 1904.  Her father Francis Gunn was a native of County Kerry, and was the brother of my great, great grandmother Mary Gunn Power, and that perennial troublemaker my 3x great Uncle George Gunn.  Sorta boggles the mind that George could be related to a nun.

     Mary Esther's mother was Elizabeth Bunce, also a native of County Kerry.  While Francis Gunn was from Ballygologue, Elizabeth Bunce was from Tarbert, just a few miles away so perhaps they had known each other in Ireland.  She and Francis were married in the spring of 1893 at St. Mary's RC Church in Rochester, and their first child, John Joseph Gunn was born the following spring.  His birth was followed by that of sons  Francis Jr., William and Edward.  Mary was born next, then four more boys, Leo, Walter, Earl and George.

     Mary Esther entered the convent in September of 1923 at the age of 19.  She took her first vows in 1925, and her final profession on August 31, 1928.  The Sisters of St. Joseph are a teaching order, and that was Sister Cecilia's profession, first at Corpus Christi School, then at Holy Rosary School, both in Rochester.

     Sister Cecilia was not fated to live a long life, she was stricken with heart disease in 1927, but continued teaching until 1946 when at age 42, she was forced by ill health to retire to the Motherhouse in Pittsford, New York.  She entered upon  an Easter Retreat on March 29th 1948, and on April 1st she passed away in her sleep.  Her parents were gone by that time, but seven of her brothers survived her, the eighth, John Joseph who was also the oldest, had predeceased her.

    I was generously sent the above picture, along with several paper copies giving the dates and places of Sister Cecilia's receiving the Sacraments, her brother's addresses, (with some of their death dates penciled in), and her obituary after I contacted the SSJ Archives requesting information about my cousin.  I was also given the page from the Community Annals, a kind of newspaper for the Sisters, which contained the death notice for Sister Cecilia.  Reading down the page were other Sisters who had passed--Sisters Kevany, Egan, Whalen, a notice of Father Duffy's promotion in rank, and word that Father Flanagan of Boy's Town had passed.  Reads like an Irish directory don't you think?


Sunday, August 11, 2013

My Latest Ebay Score


     I'm sure you've all heard of the Missing Friends Column that ran in the Boston Pilot from 1831 to 1921.  Over that span of years thousands of ads were placed, seeking family and friends with whom contact had been lost.  A huge number, as can well be imagined, were during the famine.  With the high illiteracy rates, few letters were written during that time period and it was easy to loose contact with sons, brothers and husbands who were following the railroads and canals so many of them were employed building.

      It began with an ad that appeared on the first day of October in 1831that read:
     Patrick M'Dermott, a native of County Kildare, and who was married in Kingston, near Dublin, is hereby informed that his wife and four children have arrived in Boston.  They understand that he left Roxbury, in this state about twelve months since, to obtain work as a stone mason; they are extremely anxious to hear from him.  He is hereby requested to write or come for his poor family, to this city, as soon as possible.

     You have to wonder how Peter could not have known his family was on it's way to America, how did they get the money for passage?
     You may not have known that the Pilot, today the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston, is America's oldest Catholic newspaper, first published September 5th in 1829 through the efforts of Bishop Joseph Fenwick of Boston.  It started out with the name Jesuit Sentinel, and went through several names before becoming The Pilot.  In 1834 it was sold to two laymen, but in 1908 Bishop William H. O'Connell purchased the Pilot and it became the official voice of the archdiocese.

     The ads that were placed in the paper have been indexed by Boston College and are freely available online here.  These are not a transcription of the entire ad, but an index giving the names of the persons being sought and their seekers along with addresses in the USA and Ireland.  The actual ad may well have contained additional information. Luckily, the ads have been transcribed and are in book form at most larger libraries.  If you should find an ancestor in the index it pays to check one of the volumes, (there are seven arranged by year), to see if the original ad contained more about them.

     Scanning the items on Ebay last week I spied a modestly priced copy of volume I! Of course I bought it, and yesterday it arrived.  The stories are heartbreaking, and there are no notations of whether or not these lost souls were ever reunited.  One sad entry was from a woman looking for her children, they had been separated at the Grosse Ile Canada quarentine station where so many Irish immigrants perished during the year 1847.  

     Looking at the online index this morning I found George Browne of Coolarig [sic], County Kerry being sought by none other than his sister Sarah Browne Griffin of Palmyra, New York.  Sarah, of Coolaclarig, was the aunt of Mary Gunn, my 3rd great grandmother, and sister to Mary's mother.  The ad was dated 1856.  Long story short, volume III that covers that year is now on it's way to New York.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Is This Third Great Grandma McGarr's Record?


     I've read many histories of Ireland and of the Irish in America, and a common theme in all these tomes is the purity of Irish women.  They all agree that illegitimacy is unheard of among the Irish.  I have no doubt whatsoever they were a fine honorable set of women, but the, "unheard of", part may be a bit of a stretch.  If you look at the parish registers of Rathvilly, County Carlow, Ireland, you may be a bit surprised, I know I was.

     The year 1829, when records begin, saw eight illegitimate babies baptized, 1830 saw the same number.  I didn't go through the following years, but that doesn't seem to qualify as, "unheard of", to me;  the good folks in Rathvilly certainly heard of it.  There were also several instances of  the children of Travelers being baptized, and several notations stating the parents of the illegitimate child were married at the same time as, or a day after, the baptism.

     What has this to do with Grandmother McGarr?  There is a tiny chance she herself was illegitimate.  After ordering the microfilm of Baltinglass Parish, which is right next door to Rathvilly Parish, I found this tantalizing marriage record: In 1821 Daniel McGaa married Anne Tallon at Baltinglass.  The witnesses were written,"Paddy Tallon wife & David Doyle".  Say again?  I have never seen witnesses recorded that way.  (By the way, often the names Daniel and David look quite similar in old handwriting, this could be Daniel Doyle.) I've also never found any trace of another Daniel McGarr in Baltinglass parish; there was one in nearby Castledermott who moved to Ricketstown and then to Auburn, New York, but I've never seen another except my Daniel of Ballyraggan.  But Anne's surname was Donahoe, not Tallon although the marriage year seemed right.

Marriage record of Daniel McGarr.

     In 1805 a Bridget Donahoe married a Patrick Tallon, could this be the Paddy Tallon who witnessed the marriage?   Thoroughly confused by this I went straight to the horse's mouth so to speak, Catherine at the Wicklow Family Heritage Center.  This is her reply--

Hi Ellen,

It could mean that Paddy Tallon's wife was a witness with David Doyle, or that all three were witnesses.

It is possible the priest made an error with the bride's surname, but it would not be as common as a mistake or omission of a mother's maiden name on a baptism register (children were baptised within a day or two of birth, so often, the mother was not present if she was ill after childbirth).  Perhaps Anne was married before or after this marriage in 1821 - although I could not find evidence of this in our marriage registers. 
Another slight possibility is if there was a question about Anne's surname - say if she was born out of wedlock - e.g. mother Tallon, father Donohoe, etc......

     So there you have it, either Anne was illegit, or the priest made a mistake, I really doubt she was married before, Irish women tended to use their own surnames even after marriage.  If she wasn't born illegitimate, I think it's conceivable the priest married Daniel and Anne at home, as was common at that time, then wrote out the register days or weeks later, forgetting the names of some of those involved.  Add to that the marital relationship that existed between the Donahoe and Tallon families, and he could have just got it wrong as he did years later with Bridget McGarr's baptism where he forgot both the child and father's names.  In one of those peculiar twists of fate, Bridget herself wound up the mother of an illegitimate daughter, she and the father were married the same day the baby was baptized.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday/Crotty & Wallace

     These photos were taken last weekend at St. Patrick's Cemetery in Macedon, NY.  The cemetery is not kept up very well, and peculiar things have been known to go on there.  To read about some odd happenings and view a photo of the cemetery in winter look here . This time I took my husband along.  

     The tombstones shown belong to John Crotty, 1816-1894, who was born in County Waterford and his wife Ellen Mullet.  Next to them is the stone of James Wallace and his wife Mary.  Mary and Ellen were sisters.  You may remember a few days ago I posted a picture of John Crotty's death certificate which showed the informant was James Wallace.

Looking up at the two graves
     John and James were brothers in law and neighbors in life, and even afterwards as we see below.

John and Ellen Crotty's stone
     The tombstone of John Crotty has his wife Ellen's name inscribed on the side, but due to the shadows cast by the trees surrounding the grave and my crummy camera I couldn't get a very clear shot of it.

Ellen's name is barely discernible about halfway down the stone.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Heritage Inspired Interior Design-101


     Like many of you, I have family photos placed all around my home.  Here at the nerve center of Ellie's Ancestors, (aka my computer desk), I have photos of my children, grandparents and grandkids looking down at me from the shelves and my bulletin board.  But what to do with the rest of the house to put my own personal stamp on the place?  I came up with a couple of very economical, and if I do say so, creative solutions.

     In my kitchen I have a baker's rack whose shelves are filled with Irish-y stuff, a pretty Flavihan's Irish Oatmeal tin, my Irish cookbooks, our matching himself and herself coffee mugs, my Grandmother's shamrock covered china tea cup, a wee thatched Irish cottage, etc, etc...
Don't know their identity but  love the cottage
     For the walls, I didn't really want to do the ubiquitous family tree thing, (not that there's anything wrong with that), so I looked around the internet and in books I owned for images I liked. (I've written about one of them here.) Having narrowed it to nine or ten, I printed them out on high quality paper. Then I looked into framing and was somewhat aghast. Have you checked the price of framing lately?  Suffice to say it was more that I was willing to fork over.  Then I thought of my local Goodwill. They are a worthy cause, and have tons of used frames; one I found even had an intricate Irish knot pattern on it, how appropriate! I made sure the frames I purchased included mats, a double savings. Some of them also included hideous paintings and cross-stitch pictures, which I promptly removed.

     I've framed a 19th century map of County Carlow purchased online, in addition to photos of Irish women selling potatoes and butter, and one of women making the Stations at a shrine in Ireland, all courtesy of the internet.  The photo of the shrine hangs on my bedroom wall, beneath the crucifix and rosary beads that once belonged to my grandmother.

     My favorite is an oblong frame that came with a mat with three openings.  In the center I placed a picture of Anna Ryan White, my great, great grandmother from Tipperary. To her right I placed a photo of her daughter Ellen White O'Hora, my great grandmother. To Anna's left is my grandmother Mary O'Hora, the daughter of Ellen.  Mary only had sons, but if I find a frame with more openings I just may add myself, and my daughter, and her new daughter.  Holy Cow!  I just had a great idea, I have a picture of my mother's mother, I can do one with her, my mother, me, my daughter and the new baby.  Maybe get this little one hooked on genealogy.  Get em while they're young...


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Surname Saturday/ Endless Variations


     All of you who've been doing your family history for any length of time have come across it-- a completely off the wall spelling of your surname.  I find this is particularly irritating when using one of those lame search engines that insist on a precise spelling. The first ancestor I researched was James O'Hara.  At least that is what my grandmother told me her family name was.  She prevaricated.  Sometime around 1920, O'Hora was changed to O'Hara by Grandma's branch, (a move I can totally understand given the implications).  The branch of the family that remained in Auburn, NY still uses the O'Hora spelling today.

     That's the least of it however.  The name started out as Hore in Ireland, and I've seen it spelled in myriad ways over the years, to wit: Hoare, Hoar, Hora, O'Hoar, O'Hore, O'Hora and O'Hara.  The O'Hara spelling is especially annoying since there is a separate family with that surname and it's sometimes difficult to distinguish which is which.  Then there is the matter of the disappearing and reappearing prefixes like Mc and O.  In an unsuccessful, (thank God), attempt to Anglicize the Irish, at one point the use of Irish prefixes was proscribed.  Some families resumed using them when it became possible, others did not.

     The second group I looked at was the McGarr family of Kildare.  You'd think that was a pretty hard name to mess up, but if anything it was worse than Hore.  I've seen this surname spelled McGar, Megar, Magar, McGa, Mcghaa, McGah, McGra, McGare, and Mgaa.  And when you think of it, thanks to the penal laws most Irishmen and women were illiterate.  If they couldn't spell their own names how could others be expected to?

     Which conveniently brings us to misspelled, misinterpreted transcriptions. Old handwriting can be a bear to decipher, especially when you get a spelling of a surname that makes no sense, like Mgaa.  The index of the Tithe Applotments lists my Hore relatives as "Hoan" even though when I look at the actual document, I clearly see Hoar on line 5.  I find this inexcusable since on line 3 is the surname Brown, clearly demonstrating how whoever wrote this page formed the letters r and n.

     Once again proving, it's always a good idea to take a look at the original for yourself if you can.  You are familiar with the various incarnations of your surname and can spot it much more easily than a transcriber who is unfamiliar with it.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Can Senility Kill You?

      Several death certificates in my possession list senility as the cause of death.  I’m pretty sure they don’t mean the mental state that we think of when the word senile is mentioned.  The Victorians weren’t that subtle, you were either idiotic or you were insane -- possibly an insane idiot, but you weren’t senile.  Check the census questions back then, they came right out and demanded to know if you or a family member were impaired.  Senility at that time was something entirely different than today's definition, it referred to a breakdown of the body and its functions, as in old age.  I’m not sure when the meaning of senility changed or why; perhaps it was advances in medicine enabling a more precise cause of death to be determined that saw that general term fall into disuse.

     Another odd one is exhaustion.  One of my “senile” relatives, Uncle John Crotty, was also exhausted.  Was he tired of being senile -- to the point of fatal exhaustion?  He was in good company anyway, Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, (and also born in Ireland), died of exhaustion too.   I’m guessing this was a term used when an organ like say your heart just upped and gave out.   This one is peculiar too, a great, great aunt died of, “a formation which recently appeared at the base of the brain and caused great suffering”.  An aneurysm perhaps?  Another newspaper termed it a cerebral hemorrhage.

John Crotty's death cert listing senility & exhaustion as causes

      By the way, above is a typical New York death certificate from 1894.  In addition to cause, it gives place of birth, parents names, place of death, date of death and duration of illness, deceased's occupation and informant.  We see here James Wallace provided the information, which is a clue that James was in some way related to John, either as a friend or blood relative.  Turns out he lived next door to John and was his brother in law.

     You don’t hear causes like these much anymore either-- prostatic abscess and cystitis, paralysis of the colon, or how about peritonitis with intestinal obstruction.  One of my ancestors each died of those ailments.  The son of my great, great grandfather James O’Hora died of brain fever at age 27.  Online sources disagree about this one, could be meningitis or it could be typhus.  I tend to go with the meningitis theory.  I don't think typhus was all that common in 1881 Shortsville, NY.   

     These maladies are just a few that show up in old death records, all are treatable today.  How sobering that just a century ago people suffered a great deal with them, and lost their lives.