Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Wordless Wednesday/Kevin Barry of Rathvilly, County Carlow

Women praying for Kevin Barry before his execution
     Kevin Barry was a 19 year old medical student who joined the Army of the Irish Republic during the Irish War of Independence, (1919-1921).  He spent part of his life in Rathvilly Parish, home of my O'Hora ancestors.  He was captured by the British and executed in 1920.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

What Became Of Great, Great Grandma Warner

     My great, great Grandfather Joseph Warner died in 1911 at the age of 55 in what could only be termed a freak accident.  He somehow stuck himself with a pin, got blood poisoning and died!  From a pin prick...he actually died!  I've looked at three different obituaries and none give any further details.  I'd really like to know what kind of a pin this could have been?

 Yet again the paper got it wrong, he'd been in the US since 1870, over 40 years
     At any rate, the poor man died, leaving Mary a widow, and for quite awhile I had no idea when she had passed away; all I was sure of was that after 1920, she disappeared from the census records Then one day while going through the local newspaper on microfilm I stopped dead in my tracks, there she was:
  Shortsville Enterprise, March 21, 1929
     The death of Mrs. Mary Warner Lockwood, a well known resident of Manchester, occurred at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Alvin LaRue, in Palmyra, last Thursday p.m., after a long illness.  Mrs. Lockwood was born in Manchester on September 2, 1856, a daughter of the late Paul and Louisa Wheat Worden.  She had spent her entire life in Manchester, with the exception of two years passed in Chicago.  She was married to Joseph Warner in 1878, his death occurring in April, 1911.  In 1922 she married Barton Lockwood.
     Beside her husband, she is survived by 5 children, Carlton Warner and Mrs. Clara Robinson of Manchester, Raymond Warner and Mrs. Flora LaRue of Palmyra and Edward Warner of Auburn; two sisters, Mrs. Flora Post of Manchester and Mrs. Ethel McClouth of Clifton Springs, and two brothers, Arthur Worden of Manchester and Loren Worden of Canandaigua.

     I knew it was her, her parents and survivors in the obituary confirmed it.  Never once had it occurred to me that  great, great grandma might have remarried, much less at the age of 66.  I then tried to find any trace of Barton Lockwood in census records, or any other record for that matter, but he eluded me. Those two years in Chicago had me puzzled too, I figured it must have been before her first marriage to Joseph.  I figured wrong.  Unable to find Mary in census records, I decided to try and locate a marriage announcement and found this:
Nov 2, 1922
     Announcement is made of the marriage of Mrs. Mary Warner, of Manchester town, and Samuel Lockwood of Chicago, the ceremony having taken place at the Baptist parsonage in Manchester last week Wednesday evening... Mr. and Mrs. Lockwood have since departed for their future home in Chicago. They carry with them the best of wishes for their future happiness.

     No wonder she wasn't in the 1925 New York census, she wasn't in New York.  She moved back at some point, her obit notes she was a resident of Manchester.  I get the feeling Samuel may very well have remained in Chicago, Mary's grave does not bear the name Lockwood.  She is buried next to Joseph Warner and they share a headstone. Grandma and Grandpa are together again for eternity.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Who Were These Lady Quilters?

    I've started on a new tangent very interesting project.  About 15 years ago I bought an antique quilt at an auction near Utica, NY.  I was drawn to this particular quilt because it's a signature quilt, the ladies who collaborated on this quilt each signed a block.  Signature quilts were often made by church groups for a minister, for fundraisers or when a family was leaving the area as a memento.  This quilt has no inscription of dedication or any other evidence of what it's purpose was, and no indication of where or when it was made. The thing is humongous and has a square cutaway on each side for where the foot posts would have gone. This morning I thought, wouldn't it be fun to try and trace some of these women and perhaps discover where my quilt was made and what year?
     When I first acquired the quilt I made a halfhearted attempt to find the quilters.  I went through some microfilmed censuses at the local library but found no clues as to their identities.  Now however, we have indexed census records, so this should be a snap I thought.  The first step would be deciphering the names, the second, trying to assign an approximate date to the quilt.

"Mifs" M. Leighton's Signature
     The names were fairly easy to read, but not very informative--  "Mrs. J. Brown", try a census search on that name, there are thousands!  And is J her initial or her husband's? The single ladies at least gave their own initials which was slightly more helpful.  They also prefaced their names with, "Mifs", the old style of writing the title "Miss", except for one progressive woman, "Miss S. J. Ricker", who signed in the more modern way.  This was helpful with dating the quilt, as was the pink on pink fabric.  I decided to start my search with the 1900 census.

     I quickly discovered the magnitude of this task.  With surnames like Cook, Campbell and Wilson, and only a first initial in most cases I came to the conclusion this would take months to figure out unless I ran out of patience first.  Then I came to Mrs. T. McGouldrick.  The 1900 census shows 96 persons with that surname, 72 of them in Pennsylvania, including several with the forename Thomas.  1910 still finds the family concentrated in PA.  There is a Mrs. Myra Allen, another name on one of the blocks, living in Pittsburgh at the same time as a Thomas McGouldrick lived there.  Quite a few of the other surnames also show up in Pittsburgh, and add in the 1910, and still more are there.

     I'm not ready to say the quilt was absolutely made in Pittsburgh, but the chances are good which goes to show, sometimes that one clue can make all the difference, as in the instance of Mrs. T. McGouldrick.

Monday, July 22, 2013

This Drives Me Straight Up A Wall!

     Every couple of weeks I check out the new offerings on Ebay.  Believe it or not I've found some pretty cool things there, like a post card written by my great, great Aunt Flora Worden Post, a photo of my Worden cousins from the turn of the century and my latest, a photo of George Worden and his wife Eva which caused me to research him in depth and resulted in the Native American furor of a few weeks ago, (still working on that one).

     Yesterday I found this:
     This is the first time I've found a photograph taken in Shortsville, NY!  This Lovell Studio would have been the closest one to my  O'Hora relatives who put down roots in a tiny hamlet called Littleville just outside Shortsville after leaving the Auburn area.  So, is it one of them?  I don't know, even worse I never will.  There is no writing of any sort to indicate who this person might be.

     The photo is what's called a cabinet card which was most popular around the 1880's, the right time period my ancestors may have had their picture taken.  I've been unable to find much about photographer M. S. Lovell, or when he operated in Shortsville.  A Goggle and Ebay search revealed a photographer named M. S. Lovell in Oswego, NY, not Shortsville.  Shortsville was a pretty small place though, maybe he moved on to greener pastures and that's why I've never seen another photo taken in Shortsville.  And in the end I guess it really doesn't matter.

     There are so many of these nameless images out there.  I always feel sad seeing them online or mouldering away in some dusty antique shop.  They were once living, breathing, loved human beings, now they are reduced to nameless faces peering back at us across the centuries.  It reminds me to write those names on my pictures, and label them online as the case now may be.  Hopefully some future genealogist will appreciate the effort.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

What I Learned Writing About John's Daughters

St. Mary's Roman Catholic Church, Auburn, NY
     Committing the stories of the O'Hora sisters to paper was very helpful in pointing out to me where gaps in my research exist, and what I need to concentrate on finding next.  For one thing, after sitting down and putting it all together I now realize I need to review the records of St. Mary's Church since that is the parish the family belonged to.

     It also points up the immense value of obituaries as a source of family information, take for example the obituary of Elizabeth O'Hora Ferris:
      The death of Elizabeth, wife of William Ferris, occurred at the family home, No. 34 Fitch Avenue, Sunday morning, after an illness of several weeks' duration. Mrs. Ferris was an estimable woman, a devoted wife and loving mother. She is survived by her husband, William Ferris, and eight children, Edward, John, Frank, Elizabeth, Teresa, Etta May and Gertrude of this city, and Cecelia Ferris of Rochester, also two brothers, Daniel and John O'Hora, and one sister, Mrs. Katherine Willis. The funeral will be held tomorrow morning from the family home with services at St Mary's church at 9:30, the burial will be in the family plot in St. Joseph's Cemetery.

     From this obituary we learn Elizabeth's place of death and the family address, which can be very important in the event there are several families of the same name you are trying to differentiate between.  We see that Elizabeth died of natural causes and learn her husband's first name and that he outlived her. We find the names of her surviving children and see that only two of her four brothers survived her; it also confirms her sister Catherine's married name and tells us her daughter Cecilia left Auburn and lived in Rochester.  If we didn't already know it, this obituary also tells us that since her funeral was at St. Mary's, she was a Catholic, along with her place of burial.  That's alot of information from one article.

     Often in obituaries you can find daughter's married names and where they lived. Using lists of survivors, it's possible to determine approximate death dates for other family members.  That is--the person in question died after this person's obituary was written but before this other person's.  This is assuming the newspaper got it right, they don't always.  My 3rd great Uncle Philip Power was accidentally omitted from his mother's list of survivors even though he was very much alive.

     A wonderful source of death information is Find A Grave.  Searching old newspapers can be tedious, and even if the newspaper is online and searchable you can still come up with many, many hits; too many to read through in some cases.  If you can find the deceased in the Find A Grave database, you'll not only have the death date in most cases, you then have a year to focus on if you're using microfilm or a year to add to your newspaper search terms.  Keep in mind though, sometimes even tombstones have incorrect dates.

    Before I researched the O'Hora sisters, I had no idea that the Elizabeth Ferris who was attacked by William Travers was his own aunt, or that the young men arrested at Catherine McGarr O'Hora's home at that chicken dinner so long ago were in fact her grandsons.  I can surmise how disturbing it must have been to Maria and Bridget McGarr, who also lived in Auburn, to see their older sister Catherine slide into poverty and alcohol abuse. It became evident that the children of the daughters who died young were troubled individuals, while Elizabeth's children seemed to steer clear of trouble for the most part.  And no, this doesn't add much to my family tree, but I don't do straight genealogy, I do family history.  I want to know the details of their everyday lives.

     Finally, writing about the family of John O'Hora helped me see more clearly how this family related to each other, and what their lives were like, and a rowdy bunch they seemed to be. Nonetheless, they are my rowdy bunch of Irishmen and women and I love 'em all.


Saturday, July 20, 2013

John O'Hora and His Daughters Part 4--Catherine and Anne

by aarongilson

     The next daughter was Catherine, born in 1857 in Aurelius.  She is the daughter I know the least about. In 1894 she lived with her mother on Seneca Street in Auburn where the two were arrested  for keeping a, "disorderly house", along with disorderly behavior. In 1897, "Kate", can be found in the Auburn City Directory, living with her mother and brothers at 23 Division Street, employed as the proverbial Irish washerwoman.  

     She married at a much later age than her two older sisters, in the 1897 directory, she was 40 years old and still living with her family.  Catherine married a man with the surname Willis and that is all I know about the marriage.  Catherine died in 1927, this is her obituary:
    Auburn Citizen Thursday Aug 25 1927
     The death of Mrs. Katherine Willis occurred yesterday afternoon shortly after 2 o'clock. While she had been complaining slightly for some time past of a weakened heart, no alarm was felt until she contracted a severe cold which proved fatal yesterday. She had been a resident of this city nearly all of her life and was well known and liked by those who knew her. She is survived by the following nieces and nephews, Mrs. William Belliner of Cayuga, Mrs. C. O. Troy of Rochester. Mrs. H. C. Marsh of Auburn. Mrs. Francis McKern of Pittsburgh. Mrs. C. O. Redman of Binghamton, Frank, Edward and John Ferris of this city.

     Catherine died childless, and so her line comes to an end.  The nieces and nephews listed are all the children of Elizabeth O'Hora Ferris, Catherine's youngest sister.  It's interesting to note that none of the Shea children are mentioned or William Travers though they were also nieces and nephews.

     The last born of John's daughters was Elizabeth, also known as Eliza. She entered the world in 1858 in Aurelius.  Elizabeth married William Ferris around 1878 when she was 20 years old.  She and William had a family of ten children, eight of whom survived her.  She passed away in August of 1911 at the young age of 47, her obituary is full of genealogical information:
     The death of Elizabeth, wife of William Ferris, occurred at the family home, No. 34 Fitch Avenue, Sunday morning, after an illness of several weeks' duration. Mrs. Ferris was an estimable woman, a devoted wife and loving mother. She is survived by her husband, William Ferris, and eight children, Edward, John, Frank, Elizabeth, Teresa, Etta May and Gertrude of this city, and Cecelia Ferris of Rochester, also two brothers, Daniel and John O'Hora, and one sister, Mrs. Katherine Willis. The funeral will be held tomorrow morning from the family home with services at St Mary's church at 9:30, the burial will be in the family plot in St. Joseph's Cemetery.

     With that many children, there are bound to be descendants of Elizabeth's still around, all I have to do is track them down.  I hope you enjoyed this mini-series, tomorrow I want to review how writing it helped me sort things out.

Friday, July 19, 2013

John O'Hora and His Daughters Part 3--Anne

     John O'Hora died sometime around 1872.  I've scoured the burial records of Holy Family and St. Mary's Catholic Churches in Auburn with no luck; no obituary either.  John is listed in the Auburn City Directory for 1871 and 1872, but in the fall of '72 Catherine begins to appear on the lists of the Overseer of the Poor; it was all downhill from there.  Catherine had of run-ins with city police and was arrested several times, for petty larcenies and disorderly conduct.

     In 1884 two young men were arrested at her home and charged with stealing chickens, one of them was John Shea, the grandson we met yesterday, the other was William Travers, the son of her second daughter Anne.  All concerned were enjoying a chicken dinner when the police raided the place.

     Anne was born April 15th of 1851 in Aurelius, the third child of John and Catherine.  Two weeks later she was baptised at Holy Family RC Church, my great, great grandfather James O'Hora was her godfather, his soon-to-be wife Maria McGarr was godmother.  Anne worked in the mills in Auburn as a young teenager, and like Mary, she married at a ridiculously early age--17.  Her husband was 23 year old Michael Travers, an Irish immigrant.  Michael may have been related in some manner, Anne's O'Hora grandmother's maiden name was Travers.  Her first child, a daughter named Catherine after her mother, was born two years after the marriage but lived only  four months.  William Travers was born a year later, and a year after that, another son, John.

     Michael Travers ran a saloon and sometimes walked on the wrong side of the law.  He was arrested several times on violations of the excise laws, aka selling hootch illegally.  Anne died in May of 1873, which would have been very close to the time of her son John's birth, she may have contracted "childbed fever" and died as a result.  Her obituary was very brief:
       May 15th , 1873, Anne, wife of Michael Travers, aged 22 years and 1 month.  Funeral will take place from St. Mary's church Sunday 16th? at 9 o'clock am.

     Michael was arrested for assault seven months after Anne's death and again in February of 1875 for once again violating the excise law.  Something much worse than that occurred that same year, this from the Auburn newspaper:
Dr. Gerin
 Feb 13 1875--The Coroner's inquest in the case of Callahan O'Connor, mentioned in our last issue, was concluded last evening at six o'clock.  The testimony of Drs. Gerin and Creveliug, who conducted the post-mortem, was to the effect that O'Connor's death was caused by rupture of the bladder.
     The testimony of several witnesses, who were present at the den of Travers, on the evening when deceased was injured in wrestling with that individual, confirmed O'Connor's ante-mortem statement, and the jury found as their verdict, that--

     Callahan O'Connor came to his death on the 11th inst., in the city of Auburn, from injuries received at the hands of Michael Travers, on the evening of February 8, at his saloon on North street. Coroner Foster will issue his warrant this morning for the consignment of the prisoner to Auburn Jail, to await action of the grand jury.

     Michael had really done it now.  Looked like he'd be going up the river for quite awhile this time, but somehow he got off and in 1880 he could be found living with his new wife, a widow named Ellen Lillis who was about ten years older than he.  He did however loose his liquor license, not that he troubled too much with liquor laws.

     In May of 1888 Michael's 14 year old son John was playing with some other boys in the train yards, not exactly the ideal playground.  While there, John was hit by a passing train.  The sad story was printed as follows:
     May 18, 1888 Tuesday-- A lad of fourteen years, giving his name as John Travers, and who lived with his mother at 176  1/2 Van Anden Street, was terribly injured at the Southern Central yards, last evening.  He was taken to a house in the neighborhood and an officer summoned from the City Hall. Roundsman Roseboom had the lad placed in a hack and taken to the residence of Dr. Parker. That gentleman, arriving a little later, made a rapid examination of the injuries and decided to send the boy to the city hospital. To this the boy objected, thinking his mother would have to bear the expense and asked to be taken home. But, on being informed there would be no expense, he willingly submitted and was driven to the hospital.               
     During all the journey the lad bore his severe pain with the greatest fortitude and patience. He said he had not been run over but after having alighted from a coal jimmy, he was standing on the track and a car struck him and knocked him down. At the hospital the injuries were thoroughly examined and pronounced fatal by Dr. Parker. The pelvis is fractured, the left foot badly lacerated, the rectum tore from its attachments and pushed into the body, the tissues in the pelvis lacerated terribly and his leg badly marked. The boy's terrible sufferings ended in death this morning.

     Of course the story is a bit sensationalized. John didn't live with his mother at all, he lived with his father and step-mother, and I highly doubt a child in that much pain and probably going into shock was worrying about medical expenses.  That left only one child of Anne's alive, William, and he was no prize.  You recall he was the one arrested with John Shea at Grandma O'Hora's place for chicken stealing.  Check out this article from two years before his brother's death:
     May 19, 1886 Auburn--Willie Travers, the incorrigible, as to whom Recorder Gulon was reported to be in a dilemma, the other day, was finally committed to the orphan asylum. Yesterday morning he got away to see the circus and has not been seen himself since that time.
And this: 
     1895--William Travers was arrested this afternoon on a warrant charging him with assault in the second degree. The
complainant is Elizabeth Ferris, a resident of Delevan street who alleges that Travers, who bears a -hard reputation, struck her over the head yesterday with a piece of iron which he grabbed from a

     Elizabeth Ferris was in fact William's aunt, another daughter of John O'Hora, we'll get to her tomorrow.  William lived to be 57 when he fell through a hay mow to the  floor 12 feet below and was killed.  He never married, Anne O'Hora Travers left no descendants.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

John O'Hora and His Daughters Part 2--Mary

     When the John O'Hora family arrived in America, John needed to find a position to support his wife and daughter.  He found one in Aurelius just outside Auburn on the farm of J C Reed.  John worked there on the farm as a laborer and by 1850 so did his brother James who had arrived in America a few years after John.  I cannot locate John and Catherine in 1855.  In 1860 the census shows Catherine and Mary, now aged 14 along with six siblings living in Aurelius, but no John.  I don't know if this was an oversight by the census taker, I've seen that happen, or if John had taken a job elsewhere.

1850 Census of Aurelius-James on line 7 John on line 10

     John has returned by the time of the 1870 census, if he ever really left, and the family is now living in Auburn's 6th Ward, with John employed at Auburn's stone quarry.  Mary is not with the family. In 1861, at the incredibly young age of 15, she married Thomas Shea, another Irish immigrant about eight years her senior.  The 1865 New York census shows Mary and Thomas along with a daughter Johanna living in Owasco just outside Auburn, right next door to her Uncle James O'Hora, John's brother.

     That marriage surprised me, it was so out of character for the Irish to marry that young in the1860's.  The thought that immediately springs to mind is that Mary must have been in a family way, and she may very well have been, but the baby was evidently lost or died young, it does not appear in any census.  Johanna wasn't born until 1863.  I cannot find an obituary of any sort for a child of Mary and Thomas in 1861 or 62, obviously I need to re-check church records for a baptism or burial.

     Mary bore two more children, Catherine named after her mother Catherine McGarr born in 1866 and John named after her father who was born in 1869.  Tragically, Mary died in 1872, possibly in childbirth.  No obit for her either, and I wish there was since it may have mentioned the trip from Ireland and other details.  Thomas remarried within a year, and with three children, one of whom was 3 years old who could blame him.  He had five more children with his new wife and they lived a quiet life.

     Until 1877 when 65 year old Alvin Goddell was arrested for assault upon 12 year old Hannah, (Johanna), Shea!  The newspaper described it, "He lived alone and enticed her into his residence, detaining her overnight." Hannah was awarded $5,500 in a civil suit, but a week later Alvin skipped town.  He was later apprehended and given an eight year sentence, and his property auctioned  to pay Hannah's suit.  Thomas used about $1,500 of the cash to buy property on Main Street in Auburn.
Shea Building Corner of South and Main, Auburn

     Mary's second daughter Catherine Shea is an ancestor whose descendants I've found a lead on.  She married a man named John Dougherty, this is her obituary:
 Auburn July 7, 1945
     Mrs. Catherine Shea Dougherty, of 4 Aspen Street, widow of John Dougherty, died at her home Saturday noon after a long illness. Mrs. Dougherty was one of the oldest residents of the Ninth Ward. She was a communicant of St. Mary's Church.
     Surviving are four sons: John Dougherty, Philip Dougherty. Charles Dougherty and Thomas Dougherty, all of this city; three daughters, Mrs. Joseph McDonald and Mrs. Frank House of Auburn and Mrs. Earl Parker of Baltimore, N. Y„ and several grandchildren.
     Funeral services will be held at the home, 4 Aspen Street, Wednesday morning at 8:30 o'clock, with services at St.
Mary's Church at 9 o'clock. Burial will be in St. Joseph's Cemetery. Friends have been invited to call at the home after Sunday noon.

     This is a find, if I can contact descendants of these children of Catherine Shea Dougherty, there is a chance I can learn more about this family and maybe even acquire a picture, wouldn't that be special?  The last child, John, fell in with a bad crowd... his McGarr/O'Hora grandmother.  That's right I said grandmother so stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

John O'Hora and His Daughters Part 1

Mary Travers Hore
     Following my own good advise, I've been looking into the brothers and sisters of James O'Hora, my Irish immigrant great, great grandfather.  His older brother John Hore, (that was the name in Ireland), was born in the late fall of 1819 in County Carlow Ireland.  According to his baptismal record, and also those of his six siblings, John's, (and James'), parents Michael Hore and Mary Travers made their home in the townland of Ricketstown in the Catholic Parish of Rathvilly until at least 1831 when their youngest was born there.  Their Civil Parish however, was Rahill, an important distinction in Irish research.  

      I haven't found much information on their father, Michael Hore, he isn't listed in the Tithe Applotments or Griffith's Valuation, though the valuation of Rahill Civil Parish wasn't done until 1852 and the family had probably mostly left Ireland by then.  All I can surmise is Michael and his family were living with another family, possibly the John Hoar the applotment shows leasing land in Ricketstown.  John Hoar in the applotment can't be Michael's son, that John would have been six years old when it was done in 1825.  He could be Michael's brother or father, his naming a son John suggests another relative named John is probably nearby.

     My current theory is that John Hore in the applotment was Michael's father with whom he and his family lived on the leased farm, and that father and son were both deceased by the time of the valuation in 1852.  I know for a fact that Mary Hore was widowed and  living with her daughter Mary McCabe near Auburn at the time of the 1855 census.  Quite possibly she was the Irishwoman Mary Hore, aged 50, who arrived in New York Harbor aboard the "America" in August of 1852.
Ricketstown Tithe Applotment 1825

     I almost didn't find John Hore in the applotment index either.  His name was indexed as John "Hone", which any fool can see is wrong, it clearly says Hoar, yet another spelling.  There are so many mistakes and bizarre spellings in the index I have to believe it was compiled by persons whose first language was not English.   

     A short distance from Ricketstown, (less than a mile), and just across the county border, Daniel McGarr and his wife Anne Donahoe lived in Ballyraggan, County Kildare. Finding Daniel in the applotments was interesting too.  Not only was Ballyraggan  misspelled Ballyraggon, (though to be fair that was the spelling used in the applotment), the townland seems to have migrated north to the parish of Granard in County Longford instead of staying put in Graney, County Kildare  where it belonged.  Daniel's surname is wrong too, spelled "Mcgaw" in the index. Look at the applotment book below, and it becomes obvious the spelling used by the "applotters" was in fact "McGaa".  Still wrong, but a spelling I've seen before in Irish records, (though interestingly, not in US records).

Ballyraggan Tithe Applotment 1833
     Now that we've established that you must posses the magical powers of Penn & Teller to find your relatives in this particular index, on with the story...  

     Catherine McGarr was born to Daniel and Anne in April of 1823 in Ballyraggan and baptized in Baltinglass, across another border in County Wicklow.  Her godparents were John Ryan and Maria Donahoe, also important to know in Irish research, unfortunately John's were not recorded.  From Catherine's however, we can theorize that Maria Donahoe and Catherine's mother, Anne Donahoe were likely sisters or at least cousins.  Being close neighbors, Catherine McGarr and John Hore probably met at an early age and in January of 1845 they were married at Baltinglass.  John's older brother Peter, and a Bridget Donahue, (hoe?), were witnesses.

     They enjoyed about eight months of wedded bliss, when in September the unthinkable happened.  Their potatoes, and those of their neighbors were attacked by a fungus which destroyed them.  Catherine was four months pregnant at the time with her first child.  The baby, named Mary for John's mother, was born in February of 1846 and later that year or the next, the little family packed all they could take with them and set sail for America.  They never saw Ireland again.

     John and Catherine took up residence in Auburn, New York, where relatives of Catherine were already living.  Seven more children were born to them over the years, but this blog series concerns their daughters, I'm concentrating on them first because the sons never married. Next post will tell little Mary's story in her new country.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Some Recommended Websites

     Every morning I grab a cup of coffee and sit down at my computer, and if I'm not working that day it's often quite awhile before I get up again.  I spend so much time online looking for my ancestors and perusing Irish books and history, that I'm always surprised when I come across a website I haven't seen before.  But somehow I overlooked this little gem that contains links to sites containing death records from all over the United States

     Another amusing site is the New York City Photo Archives  This site has late 19th century photos of buildings, waterfronts, people, old neighborhoods and even a photo showing what our ancestor's, "old fashioned closet bowls", (toilets), looked like.

     Library Ireland is what you would expect from a site with this name--books.  Lots and lots of books, all about Ireland, and all readable online.  There are tabs to categories such as history, genealogy, places, people, etc...  There are also articles, photos and paintings.

     This last one is the EPPI site, Enhanced British Parliamentary Papers on Ireland.  To my everlasting sorrow, the early Irish censuses were destroyed during the Irish Civil War, but the statistical data survived.  If you type, 1851 census of Ireland, into the search box, about 7 hits down you will find the census for County Carlow and beneath that, the rest of the counties.  The records are arranged by barony, then civil parish, then townland.  There are no names, but there is data about area, population and residences.  The statistics from pre-famine1841 are also included on the same page, which makes for interesting comparisons to the 1851 data, compiled as the famine was coming to an end.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The NY DOH Redeems Itself

      The dreaded and dreadful New York State Dept. of Health has finally done something useful, this link is to a death index for New York State excluding New York City, which covers the years 1957 to 1963.  It contains name, age, death date and a residence code. It took me forever to track down the key to the residence code, (they just can't stop being annoying can they?), but I'd do anything for my dear readers, so after a frustrating search, here it is  the secret code

     Also!  There is talk of a partnership with Ancestry that would see the vital records index in it's entirety, birth, marriage and death indexes, posted to their site.  I don't need to tell you how fantastic that would be for New York researchers.  I'm sure I'll still wait a year to get the actual certificate, but this would at least cut out the half hour drive it takes me to get to the Rochester Library.  In New York these are the guidelines for the release of certificates:

  • Birth certificates - if on file for at least 75 years and the person whose name is on the birth certificate is known to be deceased.
  • Death certificates - if on file for at least 50 years.
  • Marriage certificates - if on file for at least 50 years and both spouses are known to be deceased.

     These requirements are waived for direct descendants, but you will have to jump through hoops to prove your relationship and that the person, or persons in the case of a marriage, are deceased.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

NLI's Digitization of Parish Records

Reading Room NLI
     Quite awhile ago I wrote about an article I read in an Irish newspaper concerning the National Library of Ireland's plans to digitize the parish records in it's possession, currently on microfilm. See here--New Records   It appears we will have to wait still longer, I received the following e-mail from the library this afternoon:


The parish registers are not currently available on a digitized basis but it is intended to do so at some stage in the future. I suggest that you keep in touch with us for any updates.


Derek Neilson

     How discouraging, not even an indication of when the scanning might begin.  I will keep you posted if I hear further updates sigh...

Friday, July 12, 2013

Patience Is A Virtue, Or So I'm Told


     Well, it's time to send for another New York death certificate.  Quite possibly the worst state in the union to attempt to acquire one from.  From information in an old scrapbook at a local historian's office, I discovered that my 2nd great grandmother Mary Gunn Power was the niece of Sarah Brown.  That made perfect sense since Sarah was older than Mary and was a witness at her wedding. Also, Mary's baptismal record from County Kerry gives her mother's name as Margaret Brown. Since Sarah and Mary Brown were sisters, they probably have the same parents. Margaret died in Ireland, where death certificates did not include parent's names.  Sarah however, perished in New York so I hope to find her, (and thereby Margaret's), parents named on her certificate. 

     You probably recall me railing about the shortcomings of the NYS Dept of Health and their maddeningly slow response time of about a year, that's right, 12 long months; you may also be  wondering why I don't just quit complaining and get a copy locally?  There are several reasons I subject myself to the NYS Dept. of Health, good ones too.  

  • In most cases, (at least where I live), what you get from the local clerk is a transcription, not a copy of the original certificate.  These clerks may be very good at what they do,(see earlier blog clerks ) or they may be unable to accurately read old handwriting and if they are not into family history won't see any point in spending large amounts of time trying to decipher it for you.  Then there is the human error factor, one claimed my 3rd great grandmother Annie Dwyer's name was Puyer.
  • Another time I actually received a censored death certificate!  The deputy clerk had typed, "natural causes", for the cause of death.  She was laboring under the misconception that the cause of death was not something to be given out.  I had to call the head clerk of  the town to get that information.
  • If the local clerk doesn't have the certificate I need I am still out $22 in most cases, though not all if I complain loudly enough.  Since I live near the Rochester, NY public library, and since that institution is one of the eleven locations in the state where you can view an index of the birth, marriage and death certificates held by  the NYS Dept. of Health, (find the others here), I can easily check to see if the state has the certificate or not.
     So I'm biting the bullet and mailing the form today.  Who knows, maybe I'll get lucky and it will arrive for St. Patrick's Day? 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Forgotten Irish

     Have you ever learned something so disturbing that you almost wished you could unlearn it?  That is how I feel today.  The book I ordered, To Hell or Barbados-The Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland, arrived Monday and I finished it last night. While it is a well researched and written book, it also recounts some of the most appalling stories I've seen in a long time.

     The book opens in the mid-1600's with the Cromwellian conquest of Ireland, and a more heartless man than Oliver Cromwell never drew breath.  After the brutal murders of countless Irish, his troops subdued the country--then things got even worse.  He expelled the owners of estates and many others, thousands of people in all, from their homes so the land could be given to English settlers.  The lower classes were  allowed to remain  since they were of use as laborers to the new settlers.  The uprooted Irish were forced on long marches to the west of Ireland to the worst land in the country.  That many died on these marches is common knowledge. 

     What Cromwell did next is not so well known.  He "generously" allowed some of the captured Irish soldiers to go abroad and join foreign armies not at war with England rather than face execution.  But there was a catch, they were not allowed to take their dependents along.

Poor white plantation workers in the Caribbean

     What to do with all these abandoned women and children with no visible means of support?  Cromwell's fiendish solution was to sell them into slavery, along with anyone else who displeased him.  Tens of thousands of Irish persons were rounded up like cattle by, "people catchers", thrown in cages, branded and shipped to the Caribbean or to America; there to toil on the plantations of English planters.  These unfortunate souls were subjected to every humiliation imaginable, forced labor, whippings and the females to "stud farms" whose purpose I'm sure I don't need to explain.

     Even more horrifying, they are still there.  All these centuries later the direct descendants of those Irish slaves still exist on the island.  They are referred to jeeringly as, "Redlegs", a nickname earned when they arrived 400 years ago and the tropic sun burned their fair Irish skin red.  They never integrated with the rest of the population, mostly of African stock and descendants of slaves themselves, who look down on the Redlegs. Generations of inbreeding have left them afflicted with hemophilia, diabetes and in some cases mental problems.  It makes me sick at heart that about 400 of these fellow Irish men, women and children remain victims even today, though now of poverty, ignorance and early death.

     Sean O'Callaghan, the author of the book says the "Redlegs" are a reclusive, unfriendly  group, distrustful of strangers, but who could blame them?  They remind me of a quote of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, "Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not; and often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.” 

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Disappearing Irish Ancestors

     The famine in 19th century Ireland has been receiving quite a lot of attention lately.  At New York City's Fordham Law School a tribunal was held in April debating the culpability of England in the tragedy.  That verdict is due any day now.

     A new book by Tim Pat Coogan, recently released, also examines England's role in the Famine.  Titled, The Famine Plot, England's Role in Ireland's Greatest Tragedy, I guess I don't have to tell you which side of the question Tim Pat comes down on.  But
on to today's topic-- while using the "click to look inside" option at Amazon today, I came across this statistic in the introduction to Tim Pat's book, "in one year of the famine alone, 1849 ... 10,000 unidentified bodies were buried in Glasnevin cemetery."  That number took me aback; of course I knew large numbers of unidentified people were buried during the famine, but that large number in only one cemetery, in just one year left me dumbstruck.  In addition to the incomprehensible human loss, there is also the cost to family history.  A large part of an entire generation simply vanished with no record of any sort save the sad notation "unidentified" in a cemetery record book.

     Going even further back, to the time of Cromwell, we find Catholic land being confiscated and the uprooted families given to understand they could either "go to hell or Connacht".  Connacht being an area of poor quality land in the west of Ireland.  At the same time, Irish prisoners, men, women and children were being sold to English planters in the Caribbean, thousands of them!  Unlike the nameless souls resting in unmarked graves, those sold into slavery could conceivably be traced, though in practice it would be nearly impossible.  There are later church records relating to the Irish in the Caribbean, but they don't generally connect back to a place in Ireland.  I recently ordered a copy of, "To Hell Or Barbados: The Ethnic Cleansing of Ireland" by Sean O'Callaghan, (through Amazon used books of course), a play on the old Cromwellian phrase.  I will let you know my thoughts on the book as soon as it arrives.

     John Grenham, in the introduction to his book "Tracing Your Irish Ancestors", says, "In Gaelic culture genealogy was of crucial importance, but the collapse of that culture in the seventeenth century, and its subsequent impoverishment in the eighteenth century, have left a gulf that is nearly unbridgeable."  I've read that many times before. In pre-Cromwell Ireland seanachies kept detailed genealogies of the families they were associated with.  This information was vital to the distribution of land under the old system.  The result is, there are Irish genealogies stretching back many, many generations with no way to connect them to recent genealogies, the unbridgeable gulf Mr. Grenham speaks of.

     The upshot is, the Penal Laws and persecution of Catholics created a dearth of early church records along with widespread illiteracy, which equals no letters, no diaries, no family bible notations.  Cromwell, the famine, the loss of census and other records in the Civil War all contribute to the difficulty in finding our early ancestors. I'm back to my 3rd great grandparents in most cases and I really doubt I'll get much further. I hate to sound like a defeatist, but the odds are stacked against me. 

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Thankful Thursday/You Tube

     Happy Fourth of July!  I hope yours is sunny and warm, here in the northeast it's been rainy and annoying.   However...this gives me an excellent excuse to sit in front of my computer.  This morning I'm thankful for You Tube and wanted to pass on some interesting videos I've found.  

     An old census gave the profession of one of my ancestors as collier.  Having no idea what that was I immediately googled it and it turns out the guy made coal.  On You Tube I found a video showing how it used to be done, a lengthy, involved process.  There are videos of roof thatching, turf cutting, (the old fashioned way), Irish dancing, Irish language, of course music, and just about anything else you can imagine.  Here is a charming story told by Eamon Kelly that appears to have been filmed in the late 40's.

     There are old silent films made in Ireland, part of, "a film Restoration Project of Irish Film & TV Research Online, Trinity College Dublin".  There are Irish ghost stories, history videos, videos of towns and the countryside, try a search of your ancestor's townland, or the nearest large town.  This is a nice one of the Wicklow Mountains

     Just about any topic you can think of has a video, not a bad way to spend a rainy day.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Did Grandpa Really Die of Heart Disease?

     The New York Times has a very interesting article about death certificates and the accuracy of those certificates.

     After reading it, it would appear to me that doctors of the past were probably more careful about filling them out, but the recent certificates may deserve a second glance.

     While you're at it, check this article about old death records too,

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Does This Woman Look Native American To You?

     I still haven't found any evidence concerning the origins of my 3rd great grandmother Pelina Carter, who as you may recall was purportedly a Native American. Which is not to say I haven't learned a few things along the way.  I have found my ancestor was not an Indian Princess, and neither was anyone else's.  Native Americans didn't have those hereditary positions.

     I also found that quite a few were  integrated into white society, becoming, "invisible", in the records as Native Americans.  It seems there was a US government assimilation project designed to "civilize" Native Americans into European culture, (why didn't I hear about this in high school?), from the time of George Washington! 

     I learned too,  there is an excellent chance I will never find the information I seek.  Native Americans were not enumerated in the census until New York did one of their reservations in 1845, you can find it here.  Of course I searched it, but found no Carters.  I did find that many Native Americans went by very European sounding names, one census even gave their original name along with the Americanized one, others gave only their Native name.  

     Adding to the difficulty, there was a racial component.  In the 19th century, some people felt embarrassment at having a Native American in the family tree and tended to hush it up.  George on the other hand embraced his ancestry, in fact his obituary says his father Silvester was born on a reservation, and that George himself went to live on one for a time.

     Which presents yet another problem, there were no reservations nearby. The Senecas left Seneca Point, moving to western New York, around 1779 when General Sullivan and his troops marched through destroying their villages and crops.  This was 38 years before  George's obit says his father was supposedly born there in 1817.  Perhaps there was a small settlement of Senecas who had drifted back to their ancestral home, or never left the area and that was where Silvester was born and George went to live?

Mary Carter
     While trying to unravel this conundrum I came across a photograph of a woman named Mary Carter that caught my eye.  Mary was born in NY around 1783, the same time frame as Pelina, and just to make it interesting, her son was born in Naples, NY--about 10 miles from Seneca Point.  I know the odds are astronomical that this woman is in any way linked to Pelina, but her features don't seem European to me, though maybe that's wishful thinking on my part.  I'd love to know what you think...