Saturday, September 28, 2013

Shopping Saturday/My Ancestors Loved Salad Dressing


     My great, great grandma, Mary Gunn Power was born in Ballygologue, County Kerry in the spring of 1860; she never saw Ireland again after leaving it in 1879.  Mary died from a severe attack of bronchitis two weeks before Christmas of 1927 at her home in Manchester, NY surrounded by her family.  She lived a remarkable life here in America, becoming the owner of a large farm at no cost to herself, see details here

     The will Mary left was as remarkable as herself.  She had very strong ideas about what should happen to her farm after her passing, and she spelled it out clearly.  Her husband Philip would have lifetime use of the property, but he could not sell it, he was even forbidden to sell the furniture.  After his death, the farm was to be passed on to their two sons Philip Jr. and George, neither of them were allowed to sell it either.  Only after their demise did Mary's daughters come into the picture, according to her wishes, they were to divide the farm equally. It never came to that however, Philip Jr. outlived everyone, and since he couldn't sell the place it remained in the family until 1978.

     Mary's probate file contained in addition to the will, invoices from various creditors including the local grocery store.  Apparently the Power family was in the habit of buying their groceries on credit and paying it off at the end of each month.  The invoices were itemized, listing the usual products, but one thing stood out, the enormous amount of salad dressing this family consumed.  Three or four bottles every week, sometimes five made their way into the Power shopping basket.  They must have been putting dressing on everything, only four or five people lived at the farm at that time. 

     At first I thought the condiment they held in such high esteem might have been Miracle Whip, we've always been a Miracle Whip family, no mayo here thank you.  Perhaps this is where it all began?  But no, Miracle Whip made it's debut at the Word's Fair in 1933, six years after Mary's death.  After looking into the matter further, I discovered the Kraft Cheese Company began bottling salad dressing in 1925.  Their first variety was French.  Oddly enough, my Irish ancestors were addicted to French dressing!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Seeking Bart's Headstone, In Which I Return To St. Pat's Cemetery


     Once again St. Patrick's Cemetery has lived up to my expectations, or fears.  I  was searching for the gave of Bartholomew Howe to fulfill a photo request I had volunteered for.  Before I left the house I checked the cemetery inventory at the Gen-web site hoping for a long inscription indicating a huge monument.  No such luck, but at least I knew his headstone was in fact there, or it was eight years ago when the inventory was done.  The cemetery is a short 3 mile drive from my place, so I grabbed a travel mug, my camera, and was off.  I parked near the black, wrought iron gates which look like something you would find in an old Roger Corman film and started up the steps. I heard a rustling off to my right and turning, I saw a wild animal running towards me, causing me to also run--towards my car.  Then I realized it was a woodchuck whose hole was in my general direction, phew.

     This time I made it through the gates and on up the hill, keeping a wary eye on the large rodent in the hole.  After this point there are no more stairs, you cling to the hill and try not to slide back down, it's that steep! Once again I was dismayed by the general decay of the place.  Most cemeteries convey a feeling of peace, at least to me.  St. Patrick's is different, I've never felt peaceful here, the atmosphere is one of melancholy at best and despair at worst.  I'm not sure why that is, it's not like I expect a hand to reach up and grab my ankle, but there is an odd feeling here among these neglected graves that freaks me out a little.  Many of those who rest here were the first generation of their families to arrive in America.  They were forced to leave their homes, endure a long and in many cases hellacious sea voyage, only to find upon arrival, a country less than enthusiastic to greet them.  It seems to me they deserve our gratitude, not crumbling headstones in an overgrown cemetery perched on the side of a hill.

     I began reading the stones, still casting an occasional look towards the lair of the woodchuck, (they have enormous teeth you know).  Before moving to the other end of the cemetery I stopped by to see Uncle John and Aunt Ellen Crotty, my Waterford connection, and yank a month's worth of weeds from their plot; I like to think they'd do the same for me.  Continuing on I found some Howe stones, not Bart's, but I felt like I was getting warm.  Climbing higher I came to the grave of the only priest buried in St. Pat's.  His grave is right on the edge of the thick woods that surround most of the cemetery, and there it was again--that eerie, someone is watching me, feeling.  And I don't mean the possibly rabid woodchuck who at this point was still in his hideout, or so I hoped.  No, this was the creepy feeling that always assaults me when I get into the center of St. P's.  But I had a job to do, so I kept looking.

     Starting back down the hill I glanced to my left and there was a large monument with a cross atop it bearing the surname Howe.  Upon closer inspection the name Bartholomew leaped out.  Eureka!  I had found him.

Looking down from Bart's grave.
     I snapped a few closeups and basically surfed back down the hill, I love a job well done.


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Things Get Hot In The Ice House

Early Railroad Refrigerated Car

     Is it ever appropriate to settle an argument with an ice pick?  I'd say no, (most of the time), but my 3rd great Uncle William Warner would clearly disagree.  I haven't done much with Uncle William, genealogically speaking, but I was running some newspaper searches yesterday and this came up in the Democrat & Chronicle, Rochester, NY published October 5, 1912--
     James Baird of Shortsville was badly cut today as the result of an argument between him and William Warner.  The trouble took place in the Swift & Co. ice house, [The ice house was in the Lehigh Valley Railroad yards] both men being employees of the company.  The two got into a heated discussion and it is said that Warner called Baird names which so aroused Baird's anger that he slapped Warner in the face.  More talk ensued and finally Warner stated he had had enough.  Thinking it was all over, Baird stooped to pick up his tools, and while his back was turned, Warner snatched up an ice pick and stabbed him in the thigh.

     Holy cow monkeys!!  What was he thinking? Initially I believed this must have been Uncle William's son, William Jr. who would have been in his 20's.  It surely sounds like the impulsive act of a young man, but then I found another article giving the perp's age--62, it was Uncle Bill all right.  I told my oldest son about this and he merely shook his head and said, "Not another one".  I'm not sure what he meant by that? 

     Uncle Bill got off with a $50 fine, but I'm thinking this may explain a nagging question I've had for some time about my uncle.  He and five brothers came to America in 1870 along with their parents, well actually the two oldest came in 1869.  All of them eventually purchased land within a mile of each other in Manchester, NY and began farming.  Then around 1915, William just upped and moved 61 miles to Syracuse to live with William Jr., and became a caretaker at Oakwood Cemetery in that city.  I never understood why he left the family enclave and moved so far away.  Now I wonder if this may have had something to do with it.

     After reading the above article, my curiosity about Uncle William was kindled so I did some more searches, one of them at Find A Grave. What happened next must qualify as a record of some sort!  Yesterday afternoon I sent a photo request hoping a volunteer would snap a picture of my great great Uncle William Warner's gravestone at Oakwood.  By 8 o'clock that evening I had the photo.  I am totally blown away by the kindness of the photographer, not to mention her speed.  So blown away I wanted to return the favor.  I clicked on the link for contributor's tools and up popped a request for St. Patrick's Cemetery.  I know that cemetery, I've had some of my most hair raising cemetery experiences there and my very first  blog was about it.  So I claimed the request.  This morning I will be looking for the grave of Bartholomew Howe, an Irishman who died in 1873.  I hope his stone is not one of the damaged ones that will be impossible to read.  I also hope nothing too weird happens this time.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Genealogy Roadshow Kicks Off

     Last night I turned on PBS, grabbed a bowl of popcorn and a beer then sat down, prepared to be entertained.  I was not disappointed.  First on my viewing list was, "Antiques Roadshow", an old favorite, then the new genealogy program, "Genealogy Roadshow", the direct descendant of the Irish show of the same name.  It was everything I had hoped for.  The format is similar to that of "Antiques Roadshow", in that the show travels from city to city, where  participants meet with professionals; appraisers in the first instance, genealogists in the second.

     I've written before that I'm not overly impressed with the way, "Who Do You Think You Are", approaches the genealogy show, featuring only celebrities.  Having said that, I do enjoy that show; but still I longed for a more egalitarian version.  Now I have it. 

      Roadshow levels the playing field, so to speak, showing several ordinary individuals who come to the show with family stories and/or their own research, seeking a professional view.  In a very relaxed atmosphere, with an audience looking on, genealogists examine the stories, and either confirm or disprove the conclusions of the participants.  Pertinent documents appear on a large screen for all to view as the genealogists walk them through the steps they took to discover them, and what they mean. I also like the way history is integrated into the stories and used to demonstrate the impact current events and mores had on what happened.

     This is the NY Times reviewer's take, with which I could not disagree more:
   In the opening installments, inquirers learn whether they are related to a former Tennessee governor, to Davy Crockett, to a famous feuding clan. Historical background is imparted, some of it ridiculously elementary (like a primer on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War). But the show only occasionally conveys the excitement that a good ancestral search brings. 

     I beg to differ.  Anyone who has done, "an ancestral search", which I would bet he has not, knows there is often a whole lot of drudgery and endless documents to read through before anything worthy of excitement emerges.  I for one was fairly excited when the details of the illegitimate, interracial son of a governor, by his family's maid no less, unfolded.  The only way paternity was proved was through an old letter donated to a local historical society, what are the odds?  And did I mention the future governor was only 14 at the time of conception?

     I was a little surprised at the genealogist who told a participant they were, "probably" related to a famous person, but I will definitely be watching this show each week as it travels the country.  Now I just hope PBS orders more episodes, and I get chosen to appear.  I still need to know about that Indian Princess and when my Galloway ancestors disembarked and if my great great Uncle Daniel ever married Hattie and if 3rd great Grandpa Wiggins was in fact a doctor and...

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Tipperary Coroner's Inquests


Clonmel Courthouse
     Nineteenth century Tipperary is known to have been a violent 
place.  Between the faction fights and the activities of secret societies like the Whiteboys, murders and mayhem were surprisingly common.  Aggression wasn't restricted to attacks on the English usurpers either.  English landlords made less accessible targets, so often the victims were Irish Catholics who had run afoul of the societies for offenses like taking over an evicted farm, or raising the rents on their own tenants as in the case of  the unfortunate Dennis Murphy...

March 12, 1838
Clonmel Assize Intelligence
John Slattery and Michael Dwyer were indicted for the willful murder of Dennis Murphy, at Foxford near Bansha on Sunday, the 12th of Nov. 1837. The deceased was a farmer, holding a small quantity of ground in the neighborhood of Bansha, and he had some tenants on part of his ground. The prisoner Dwyer being one of his tenants... Sometime prior the deceased made a distress on Dwyer's land.  [A distress is a demand for rent, often with some articles belonging to the tenant being seized and held until payment]

     My Tipperary ancestors came from the upland region to the north of Tipperary Town, Annacarty and Donohill Parish.  Looking at coroner's reports from that area, (which are woefully inadequate, mostly missing), the violent atmosphere becomes readily apparent.  On the night of July 1, 1832, two men were murdered, shot to death at the home of Nicholas Scofield of Alleen by a party of four men.  Nicholas held 31 acres as recorded in the Tithe Applotments, could that have contributed to the attack on his home? Five months later in Annacarty, John Ryan was murdered, again by four  men.

     The violence continued in 1834 with the murder of an M. M'Kew of Donohill by a party of five men, and in 1835, M. Heffernan also of Donohill died from a fractured skull after he was attacked by three men.  These deaths reek of whiteboyism, with a group of men banding together to stage the attacks, and there were probably many more of these murders given that the majority of coroner's reports are missing.

     By 1847, the reports reflect the growing famine in Tipperary with deaths from starvation, want of nutritious food, destitution and fever and dysentery becoming common; this continues through 1851, reports for the years 1852 and 1853 being missing.  Limited as they are, (even the years that still exist only cover a few months out of the given year), the reports give a glimpse of what life in 19th century Tipperary was like.  It's difficult to imagine the equivalent occurring in one of our small hometowns today where everyone knows everyone else-- which these were.  


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tombstone Tuesday/Morgan and Lydia Brown Lash

Lash monument, Glenside Cemetery, Wolcott, NY

      Morgan Lash, my third great grandfather, was born March 15, 1823.  His parents Henry Lash and Sally Fiddler/Fiedler, were both born in the town of Northeast in Dutchess County, New York, as was Morgan.  Sally's parents were  German immigrant Johan Fiedler, and his wife Elizabeth.  Henry's were George Lash and Elizabeth Schuck, who may have been German immigrants also.
     The families moved westwards through New York State and on New Year's Day of 1843 Morgan married Lydia Brown, the daughter of Benjamin Brown and Anna Wood,  in Wayne County, New York.  The rest of Morgan's family continued their westward trek and all of them excepting Morgan wound up in Genesee County, Michigan.  Morgan and Lydia remained in Wayne County, in the town of Wolcott where they raised a family of eight children.  Their fourth son, Irving Peter was my great grandfather.

    This is Morgan's obituary:
Clyde Times, December 12, 1895
Wolcott:  On Friday December 6, occurred the death of Morgan Lash at his residence, one mile north of this town, of blood poisoning.  When a mere lad, Mr. Lash had the misfortune to severely bruise one of his minor toes.  The member was so severely bruised, that gangrene occurred and amputation became necessary, but to all appearances, it healed and became cured, and he experienced no trouble from it in later life.  Recently however, as old age crept on, he suffered great pain in his foot and alarming symptoms developed which medical aid failed to arrest.  Mr. Lash was 72 years of age.  Seven children, five sons and two daughters, and an invalid widow survive him.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mystery Monday/Great Grandfather O'Hora's Last Days

Edward O'Hora 1868-1920

     New rule!  All newspapers MUST have the date at the top of every single page.  Well, I guess they do now, but those old newspapers are a different story.  The weekly local, The Enterprise, from Shortsville/Manchester, NY has come online at Old Fulton Postcards and I've found several articles about my Great Grandfather Edward O'Hora. 

      Grandfather suffered from severe rheumatoid arthritis, a disease that ran in the family and caused the death of his older sister Sarah Jane McGinty when she was only 42 years old. I found three separate articles referring to Grandfather's search for a cure or at least alleviation of his pain.  One referred to his being a patient at the Clifton Springs Sanitarium, only a few miles from his home, where he was being treated for "a most severe attack of rheumatism."

      Clifton Springs was famous for it's sulpher springs, which on a warm day still smell strongly of eggs gone bad.  Another mentioned his brother Daniel coming from Detroit to visit him at the same sanitarium, which indicates he was quite ill. Yet another article told of his trip to Alden, NY to try the black water springs there.  On the back of the post card below, the sender wrote, "the water is black as charcoal, and so filled with minerals it causes one to float."  That alone must have been a relief to someone in excruciating pain from arthritis.

     Problem is, the list of "hits" on the Old Fulton site has a date range, in my case it was 1919-1921.  The site doesn't give you the option of turning pages either, once the page containing your search term pops up that's it.  This particular newspaper only dated page one, so if your article isn't on the front page, there is no way of determining the date...or is there?  I knew I could rule out 1921 since Grandfather died in September of 1920, but were the articles written in 1919 or 1920?  Most people would ask, "does a year one way or the other really matter?"  YES!  It matters a great deal to a family historian trying to reconstruct her Great Grandfather's final months.

    I was ultimately able to determine the correct years using other articles on the same pages as the ones about Grandfather.  In one case a local man named Oliver S. Titus had died a few days before according to the obituary on the same page; by using other sites I found his death date and thereby, the month and year of my article.  In another case, the only clue I could find on the page was  a movie theater ad which mentioned it being summer.  I googled the title of the movie that was showing and found the year it was released. In the last case, I used an article informing readers that the last meeting of the Women's Missionary Society for the year 1919 would be held on "Wednesday the 19th inst." (Inst. is the abbreviation of instant, meaning in the present month.) Looking at a 1919 calendar, I saw the only Wednesday that fell on the 19th in the last nine months of 1919 was in the month of November.  The article on the same page about a local charity planning to donate food for Thanksgiving sorta gave it away too.

     From all this, (and his death certificate listing the length of his stay at Thompson Hospital), I was able to deduce Grandfather's illness took a real turn for the worse in the summer of 1919.  After trying the water treatment at Clifton Springs, where he was visited by his brother Daniel, and finding no relief, he traveled to Alden in the late fall and was treated there.  He returned home, but within nine months he was admitted to Thompson Hospital in Canadaigua where he died in September of 1920 at the age of 52.

Sunday's Obituary/Execution of Edward Sexton

     This isn't really an obituary, but a description of a particularly gruesome execution. Edward Sexton was the kind of guy you didn't want to cross, the convicted murderer of a cousin of mine, Thomas Mahaney.  For details of the crime and pictures, click here.

Auburn, NY Semiweekly Journal, April 19, 1907:     
    Unassisted Sexton walked slowly in. There was just a slight falter in his step and his face was deadly pale. He bore up bravely, however. He held a crucifix in his hands before him and his lips were moving in prayer as he entered and walked toward the chair. Rev. J. J. Hickey, rector of the Holy Family Catholic church, was at his right side, while on the other side was Rev. Edward J. Dwyer. Father Hickey was reading the litany for the dying, the responses being given by Father Dwyer and the condemned man.

Dr. Gerin
     As he moved forward, Sexton raised his eyes and with a sweeping glance, took in the group of witnesses. Then he stepped onto the platform.  Kissing the crucifix which he immediately surrendered to Father Hickey, he sat in the chair, and quietly settled his head back against the rest. State Electrician Davis, [a nicer title than State Executioner Davis, I suppose],  quickly adjusted the electrodes to the left leg and head. Dr. Gerin standing beside Warden Benham watched the man's breathing and as the air left the lungs he nodded his head and the switch was turned. Seventeen hundred and forty volts of electricity at three amperes were hurled into the body in the chair.

     There was the well known convulsive movement, the body standing rigidly against the straps, and the hands clutching in a death grip, the arms of the chair, to which they were fastened. The current was immediately reduced to 200 volts, remaining so for thirty seconds and then it was again increased to the full voltage of 1,740, remaining at that voltage for another thirty seconds.  Electrician Davis stepped to the right side of the body and felt for the palpations in the neck, and at the same time Dr Gerin applied the stethoscope. There was a heart flutter and he nodded to Mr. Davis. The latter immediately stepped to the switch and at 6:07 the second shock was given.

     Another test was made by Mr. Davis who felt for pulsations on the right side of the neck while Dr. Gerin again applied his stethoscope. There was still a flutter and again the death dealing current was turned on. There was still a flutter that Dr. Gerin did not like and at 6:09 the fourth contact was given. Dr. Gerin called Dr Purdy of Auburn and Dr. Towerton of Lyons and they with Dr. Gerin and Mr. Davis again examined for heart action. They also looked at the eyes, moving back the head covering to do so.  Dr. Purdy moved the scapular hanging about the man's neck in order to get the stethoscope in the proper position.  There was still the slightest semblance of heart action and at 6:12 the fifth and last contact was given.  This time there was not the slightest sign of any heart action and at 6:14 Warden Benham turned to the witnesses and said,"Gentlemen, the man is dead."

   I wonder how often this sort of prolonged execution occurred?  Evidently not very.  In the same article, Electrician Davis explained to the reporter, "Sexton had the most resistance of any man ever put to death in the electric chair and that he was without a doubt the hardest subject in the last ten years. A man of his build, slight with a small amount of flesh and not much blood, was a hard man to kill, while a full blooded, well nourished body showed a much less resisting power."  



Saturday, September 14, 2013

Surname Saturday/Crotty of Waterford Ireland


     I have one set of immigrant ancestors from County Waterford, the Power/Crotty line.  I found the Power family first because that was the male line and easier to trace, but also because I met the last surviving member, my great, great Uncle Philip Power Jr. before his death in 1978.  His father Philip Sr. first appears in the USA as an 18 year old Irish immigrant in the 1875 census of Farmington, New York, with the Daniel Pomeroy family.

     By the time of the 1880 census he was a farm hand for Erasmus Turner, still in Farmington, and had aged only one year!  He was now 19.  I know from church records he was actually 23 in 1880, but I'm getting ahead of myself here.  It brings up a good point though; ages, as given in census records, are notoriously bad. There are several reasons for this, the individual may not have known his exact age especially if he was illiterate, and often when the census taker came to the door not every person at the address was home to give a true accounting of their age.  Sometimes no one was home and a neighbor filled in the blanks.  But back to the story.

     I next found Philip in 1900, living in Manchester, New York with a wife Mary, three daughters and a son, the first born in 1886.  I knew from family stories there was another child, Maggie Power, who was my grandfather's mother and the first born of Philip and Mary's children.  This clued me to look for a marriage around 1882-83.  Bingo!  The marriage register of St. Anne's Catholic Church in Palmyra, NY lists the marriage of Philip Power, son of Edmund Power and Honora Crotty to Mary Gunn, the daughter of John Gunn and Margaret Browne in 1882.

     My next question was, did Ed Power and Honora Crotty come over to America too?  Back to the census records and in 1880 I found Honora Power living in Farmington quite near Philip.  She was a widow, part of the household of Thomas Mahoney and his wife Ellen, and was listed as Thomas' mother in law, all of them from Ireland.  I was pretty sure I'd found 3rd great grandma Power and also an older sister of Philip's.  This was confirmed by finding the Mahoney marriage in church marriage records.  It seems Edmund must have died in Ireland, I've never found a trace of him, unless of course you count that pesky 1870 census of nearby Palmyra--"Edw. Powers, 42 currier, from Ireland." This man is much younger than Honora, but then again, census ages are often way off.  He disappeared after that census, too early for a death certificate in New York if in fact he died, and nothing in the newspapers.

     It's clear the family rode out the famine in Ireland, the earliest members not arriving on US shores until the late 1860's, but where in Ireland?  I found the answer in Philip Sr.'s obituary:

     Oct. 29, 1929:  Philip Powers, (sic) Sr., of Manchester town met with a sudden and untimely death by falling down the cellar stairs at his home Tuesday morning, October 29, fracturing his skull.  Drs. Conley and Pratt were called, but the end came at 1:10 p.m.  Mr. Powers was born in Waterford, Ireland, on November 20, 1858.  He came to America with his parents when a small child.  He lived for 58 years in the towns of Farmington and Manchester.  Survivors are four daughters, Mrs. Charles D. Hackett, Mrs. Richard Woods of Manchester, Helen of Rochester and Lida of Westboro, Mass.; one son, Philip Jr., of Manchester; two sisters, Mrs. Ellen Mahoney and Mrs. Mary Ryan of Palmyra.  Funeral services were held from St. Felix Catholic Church in Clifton Springs on Saturday morning, with burial in St. Rose's cemetery, Shortsville.

     That stuff about coming here as a small child with his parents is hooey, but obituaries are sometimes as wrong as census ages. I've seen plenty that were riddled with errorsNow I had a county, I wanted a townland and to know more about Grandma Honora's family.  I visited St. Anne's cemetery in Palmyra where Ellen Power Mahoney was buried, and just by pure luck, the monument next to hers marks the grave of  Thomas and Mary Ryan.  You will remember from the obit, Mary Ryan was a sister of Philip!  Yes, I know, there are many Mary Ryans out there, but other articles and church records convinced me she was the ONE.  Fortuitously, her monument reads, "Natives of Tramore."  Now I was getting somewhere, I had a county and a parish or townland, Tramore could be either one.

     I still had nothing more on Hanora though; cemetery records showed her buried in the Mahoney plot.  She had no marker, but the records gave me a death date.  I finally had no choice but to send to the dreaded NY Dept. of Vital Records for her death certificate.  I should have saved myself the trouble, it read, birthplace Ireland, parents unknown.  I hate when that happens.  Fortunately, I found also living in Farmington, an older Irish gentleman named John Crotty.  Farmington is rather small, what are the odds the only two Crotty's in town are not related in some manner?  Back to the NY Vital Records, arrrggg.  John's certificate was much more edifying than Honora's.  His parents were Patrick Crotty and Ellen Kelly.

     Things were falling into place now, even more so when the records for Tramore Parish came online at the IFHF site.  There I found Honora Crotty's birth in March of 1814, parents Partrick Crotty and Ellen Kelly, YES, she and John of Farmington were brother and sister.  I also found her marriage to Edmund Power and the birth of Philip Power Sr. at Cullen Castle!  That is a small townland just a few miles north of Tramore. After finding the townland I found many more documents pertaining to the Crotty family, they appear in the Tithe ApplotmentsGriffith's Valuation and Irish Civil Registration records.

Philip Power Sr. Baptism

      I don't understand why her death certificate listed her parents as unknown?  The informant was her son Philip Power Sr. who certainly had met his Uncle John Crotty in Farmington and his Uncles Patrick and David Crotty, all brothers of Honora's back in Ireland.  He may or may not have met his Grandfather Patrick, I don't have his death date, but he had to have known the surname was Crotty.  Was it a mistrust of authority figures?  I'll never know, but it keeps things interesting.