Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Another Reason There's No Headstone

Glasnevin, first Catholic Cemetery in Dublin

     I've been reading some enlightening articles at JSTOR, (which I blogged about earlier here) and would like to share one.  I have never given the subject of early 19th century burials in Ireland much thought, though I have often lamented the dearth of headstones and/or church records for Ireland's Catholics of that period.  Today I finally got around to reading an article titled, Burials and Bigotry in Early Nineteenth Century Ireland, by John Murphy of University College in Cork and Cliona Murphy, State University Bakersfield, California.

     I thought this would probably be another article describing the protestant loathing for wakes and so forth, but instead it's topic was the burials themselves.  While the odious penal laws were more strictly enforced in some parts of Ireland than in others, from the time of the Reformation until about the early 1830's, nowhere in Ireland were Catholics allowed their own graveyards.  They sometimes buried their dead near old monasteries, but the preferred site for  burials was in their parish graveyard where the bones of their ancestors lay, even though those cemeteries were now under the control of the church of Ireland and Catholic services and prayers were forbidden.

     This meant that when an individual died, his or her family was forced to pay a priest to come to their home and say a proper Catholic burial Mass, then pay a protestant cleric to perform a burial in "his" cemetery.  Add to this the cost of a coffin and the aforementioned wake, and a typical family likely didn't have the additional funds to procure a stone for the grave.  This could be part of the reason many of our ancestors lie in unmarked graves.  It probably also at least partly explains why the few I've found have incorrect dates Sometimes those stones weren't carved until years after the death had occurred, often when a descendant went to America and sent money home for one to be placed.  It could be difficult to remember exact dates, especially if the family was illiterate and the death took place before records were kept.

     Naturally this state of affairs caused much anger among the Catholic population, particularly when a burial was interrupted by an overzealous cleric objecting to a Catholic prayer being said over a grave, which sadly did happen. In one case, a priest was admonished as he began to recite the De Profundis, a traditional prayer for the dead-- a particularly brave friend of the deceased finished it for him.  Even as late as 1863 the protestant rector of Clonoulty wrote a letter protesting the actions of Reverend Thomas O'Carroll who had read the burial service in the parish graveyard.

     Today, the controversy is long over in most of Ireland, but in the north it still occasionally rears it's head.  The innocuous, once yearly Cemetery Sunday, a Catholic custom in which the priest blesses graves in the local cemetery, drew the ire of Belfast protestants in 2001.  They responded by interrupting the service with loud picketing, and ultimately burning the Catholic church and defacing Catholic graves.  Sometimes, I can only shake my head...

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday's Obituary/Russell C. Galloway

    For quite awhile I've been looking for the obituary of my great-grandfather Russell Carlton Galloway who was born in 1867 in Butler, Wayne County, New York.  I was sure there had to be one, the Galloway family had been in Wayne County for years and had even operated businesses there, but search after search came up empty.  Finally in desperation I did a wide search for the words, Galloway, Wolcott, (the closest large village) and the year on his tombstone --1919.

     Below is what I found:

     No wonder searches for Russell C. Galloway failed to produce an obituary.  Not only did they leave out an r at the end of his name, (though I did try spelling variations), but look at the mangled letters!  Websites use software called OCR, (optical character recognition), to scan and render searchable, all sorts of documents including newspapers.  But if the characters are unrecognizable the software can't do it's job.  Even the children's names are barely legible, but since they are my aunts and uncles and Grace is my grandmother, I know their names -- Merritt, George, Jessie, Grace and Vincent, but it would be difficult to figure out a couple of them from this image, and the software would undoubtedly miss most of them too.

     And what the heck is brain trouble??????????

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Wikipedia and Beyond

Fraunce's Tavern, corner of Pearl and Broad

     While I was looking for information on Richard and Freelove Wiggins the past few days, I found many of my searches led me to Wikipedia.  In fact most all of them did.  I really love this site with it's endless supply of information, along with it's sister site Wikimedia Commons which offers copyright free images.  I'm sure most of you are familiar with Wikipedia, but you may not realize that at the bottom of most of the articles is a list of sources, and alot of them are "clickable".

     While I was reading up on the Delancey family of Manhattan, I found an article about Fraunce's Tavern in the references.  This building was erected by the Delanceys in 1719 as their home, then later sold to Samuel Fraunces who turned it into a tavern. It still stands today in Manhattan, the oldest building in the city.  During the war it was a fave hangout of the Sons of Liberty, which is ironic since the Delanceys were Loyalists.  I also found in the references, "The American Whiskey Trail", people need to tell me about these things.

     I live in between Lake Ontario and the Finger Lakes in upstate New York.  We have the Great Lakes Seaway Trail a few miles to our north, with tons of War of 1812 history--and the Finger Lakes Wine Trail a short distance to our south, with tons of wine.  The American Whiskey Trail begins in Manhattan at the very same Fraunce's Tavern! From there it runs south through Pennsylvania to Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee.  Somehow Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands got on the trail too, I guess you hop a plane in Nashville?

     But I digress--my tip for today is check the references at the bottom of the Wikipedia articles, (which I think should be done anyway to check the sources), they can make very interesting reading.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Mapping The Wiggans'


     Still hunting down the wily Wiggins family from New York City.  I've discovered that records in NY for the 1770-1800 time period sort of stink.  I found the birth and death dates for Richard Wiggins and his wife Freelove Nichols on the Family Search site in the NY Deaths and Burials 1795-1952 database.  It's gotta be them, the dates are the correct time frame and how many Freelove Wiggins' could have been running around Manhattan?

     Several online trees give the Nichols home base as Hempstead on Long Island, and a city directory I consulted gave Richard's address as 246 Division Street, Manhattan.  Since I was having no luck with marriage records, I thought I'd check out the two locations in respect to each other.  Turning to Google Maps I searched 246 Division Street.  This is the current street view:

     Smack in the middle of the lower East Side.  Looks a little skeevy from the picture, but in Richard and Freelove's day it was a newly built residential area.  I found that Hempstead, Long Island was quite close to the Manhattan address, and in between the two lies Jamaica, Queens.  I've found lots of information indicating the Wiggins family originally lived in Jamaica, though there is another Wiggins family in Flushing, also very close.

     As usual, I found some interesting history while doing this research.  The map  below shows what New York City looked like at the time of the Revolutionary War.  Richard married just 27 years after this map was drawn.

     The grid in the center labeled Delaney's New Square, (it should read Delancey's) is projected housing with a large area in the center for shops-- even back then there were rapacious land developers.  The whole thing fell through after the revolution when the loyalist Delancey family was forced into exile and their immense property was confiscated.  

     Division Street would eventually be built at the bottom of the grid, above the line, "New Buildings Not Finished".  Over to the right on the East River you will see Crown Point. In the mid 1600's it was the plantation of a Dutchman named Corlaer, and was also known as Corlaer's Hook.  By 1816 it had become known as the place to find streetwalkers. As time went by, these unsavory residents of the Hook came to be known as "hookers".  But that is neither here nor there.

    I'm not sure what sort of salary a teacher earned in the early 19th century, but it must have been enough to live in a nice area.  Once again I'm amazed at how much can be learned about our ancestor's time in just one afternoon. Even though I didn't find much that was specific to Richard and Freelove, I found a great deal about their neighborhood and it's political atmosphere.  The Wiggans family were not the only ones who didn't support war with England, it would seem Long Island was a hotbed of Tories.



Sunday, February 16, 2014

Clues in Land Records


     I've been tracking my Wiggins ancestors for the past few weeks, and I've turned up some interesting facts.  I never did get to Lyons, NY to visit the Wayne county historian last week, two feet of snow has a way of rendering my driveway impassable, but Tuesday is the new target date.  To console myself I've been digging into the New York land records 1630-1975, available at Family Search.org.

     The first Wiggins transaction I found was in 1824 when a Richard Wiggins and his wife Freelove, of New York City, sold 50 acres of land in Wolcott, Wayne County, NY to Joseph Rumsey.  Two years later in 1826 the same Richard and Freelove sold an additional 50 acres, right next to Mr. Rumsey's lot, to Thomas Wiggins also of New York City.  Another two years passed, and in 1828 I found Richard selling yet another 50 acres to William Wiggins, again next door to Mr. Rumsey.

     In 1837, Richard and Freelove, (great name huh?), sold an additional 50 acres in Wolcott to Thomas Wiggins of New York City.  I'm not sure why anyone in New York City would be interested in, or even aware of land for sale in the backwater that Wolcott, New York was in the early 1800's, or for that matter, still is.  It's part of the old military tract reserved for Revolutionary War veterans, but I can find no trace of a transfer under that statute to any Wiggins.  Furthermore, I have found evidence that while the New York Wiggins family did not give aid to the British during that altercation, they did not entirely approve of or participate in the war.

     I'm sure the William Wiggins who purchased land in 1828 was my 4th great grandfather, born in approximately 1786 in New York State.  So who were Thomas and Richard?  Quite possibly they were all brothers--in the deed book for 1839 I came across an intriguing document, not a deed at all, but a power of attorney.   Thomas Wiggins of New York City made William Wiggins of Wolcott his "true and lawful attorney", in regards to his business dealings in Wayne County.  He wouldn't have given that position of trust to just anyone, but unfortunately, the document didn't make clear their relationship.

     I went back through the grantee index seeking to find Richard buying all the land he later sold to his fellow Wiggins' but there was no record of such a purchase.  In 1837 he did buy 50 acres in Wolcott from the estate of William Nichols, who I believe to be  Freelove's brother, again I have no idea why.  He paid $600 dollars for the land, and that same day, he turned around and sold it for the same price to Thomas Wiggins, as mentioned in the third paragraph above. Most peculiar.

     It wasn't all dead ends though, the power of attorney is great evidence, and in all the land records Richard is referred to as a teacher of New York City.  One deed executed by Richard and Freelove even mentions it was witnessed by Richard Wiggins Jr., another clue.  I looked at some NYC directories and there was only one teacher named Richard Wiggins listed, which led me to this:

     The preface specifically mentions the book was composed by two New York teachers:

     My working theory is that Richard was the brother of Grandfather William, though I can't be sure yet. I am convinced however, that Grandfather came to Wolcott from the Long Island area of New York and that the family was an educated one.  In addition to Richard, the teacher/author, William's son, who was named Richard by the way, was a physician.

     To read more about Dr. Richard, check here and here.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Irish Articles on JSTOR FREE

     This morning I received an email from the Irish Family History Foundation, informing me death records had been added to the Waterford section of their site.  I ran a search and found a possibility or two for my 3rd great grandfather Edmond Power who appears not to have come to America with the rest of his family.  I then checked the Family Search site which has an Irish Civil Registration index, but oddly enough, I was unable to find the same entries there.  I really don't want to cough up 25 credits to view each index page, which I'm not sure whether this is or not, so I just copied the possibilities and I'll wait until the site has one of their frequent "sales" to check them out.

     It reminded me though, the Waterford County Library, of whose collections I've blogged before, has some very detailed death records, and memorials on it's site so I checked there.  Again, no dice.  I did notice however, the site now offers free access to JSTOR's Irish collection.  JSTOR, short for "Journal Storage", is a digital library of scholarly books, journals and articles, usually available by subscription.  You have to register for free to read some, but not all, of the articles, and those are put on a virtual shelf for two weeks, still free.  You may have three at a time on your shelf.  It costs $14 to download an article, but they can be read online, as I can't stress enough, free.

     To reach the site, click here to go to the e-journal page of the library.  Select JSTOR near the bottom of the page, this will take you to a page with a search box and list of titles.  I selected the journal, Studia Hibernica, for no particular reason other than it sounded kind of high-brow.  The  page that next appeared also had a search box where I typed in "tithe", which brought up 58 results sorted by relevance.  You can also opt to sort by newest or oldest.  The first hit was  Opposition to Tithe Payments in 1830-31, by Patrick O'Donoghue, published in 1966, parts one and two.  

     So that is where I've been all morning, reading about the tithe, and it's fascinating. I've learned that Rev. Whitty, a tithe receiver, was murdered near his house in Golden Tipperary, eight miles from where my 3rd great grandfather Cornelius Ryan lived--I'll bet that caused a stir in grandpa's neighborhood.  And I've read a quote attributed to Fr. Lawlor of Baltinglass, my 3rd great grandfather Daniel McGarr's parish priest.  It reads in part," ...I do not advise you not to pay tithes, but take this with you.  I do not advise you to pay tithes because I would not advise you to do that which I would not do myself. I will never pay tithes as long as I live."  I admire Father Lawlor's attitude, and his interesting turn of phrase.

     A few entries down, I see an article titled, Burials and Bigotry in Early Nineteenth Century Ireland, I think that one's next on my list... once a history nerd, always a history nerd.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Friday Funny/Grandfather's Regiment

Last night I ran a search on Ancestry for the military records of my great-great-grandfather William H. Wiggins.  This is what I found:

     Admittedly, grandfather's handwriting was atrocious; however, I could make out the G for company G followed by 9th NY Heavy Arty.  Ancestry didn't see it that way, this is their interpretation:

    Just look at Grandfather's regiment! And he was retired, not rehired, good grief.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Finding Nettie

Clarissa Janette Wiggins Owen 1855-aft 1920

     Doctor Richard Wiggins...sounds grand doesn't it?  He was my 3rd great grandfather and I know next to nothing about him.  The 1850 census claims he was a "physician", both of them.  I say both because the census taken in Rome Township, Lenawee, Michigan on September 10 says he lived there in 1850 with his five children ages 10-2.  The 1850 census of the Township of Wolcott, New York taken July 29 says he was there with his parents William and Elizabeth along with two of his children, John and George.  The two oldest, William and Charles are missing and so is Hannah, the baby.

     This is my quandary, was he visiting back east in 1850?  Was he about to move to Michigan when the census taker knocked on his parent's door?  And where were his three other children while he was in New York?  Or the children's mother Hannah Ostrander for that matter, who isn't in either census?  I know she died around that time so presumably she was in a cemetery.  It's all very odd.  There is another mystery here too, and her name is Clarissa Wiggins.  It appears that after his first wife died, Dr. Richard married Susan Gray, presumably in New York since Susan was born there and so was their child Clarissa, in 1855.  That much all the censuses agree on.  Doc died in 1857 and is buried in New York, at least there is a stone with his name on it there.  But somehow, Susan and Clarissa wound up in Michigan?????

     Doc's parents moved to Michigan by 1860, maybe they took his widow Susan and Clarissa with them?  At any rate, they moved to Michigan too and the 1860 census taken there shows Susan now married to Abel Aldrich, old enough to be her father by the way, with Clarissa Wiggins also in the household.  Susan came to a sad end; Abel died, she wound up in the poorhouse with consumption, and died herself in 1870, leaving Clarissa an orphan at age 15.  For a time I feared Clarissa had met the same fate, I could not find her in the 1870 census.  The only clue I had about Clarissa was the obituary of her half brother William H. Wiggins, my great-great-grandfather.

    William H. Wiggins, seventy-six, died yesterday at the home of  his daughter, Mrs. Mary Lash.  He was a veteran of the Civil War and besides his daughter is survived by two sisters;  Mrs. Hannah Beasley, of Ithica Michigan, and Mrs. Nettie Owen, of Auburn, Michigan...

     Hannah is obviously the baby in the 1850 Michigan census, but who was Nettie?  Could it possibly be Clarissa?  It could!  Today I was running some searches on Ancestry and found an entry for Clarissa Janette Wiggins, and a photo.  Right age, right birthplace.  Note the spelling of Ja-NETTE, accent on the second syllable. In 1860 she is recorded as Clarissa, in 1870 she is Janette, (no wonder I couldn't find her), in 1900 she is Clarissa J. Owen, since she had married, and in 1910, a spelling challenged enumerator wrote Ginette C. -- Janette, Nette...Nettie, I think we have a winner!

Monday, February 3, 2014

Motivation Monday/New Information!


     I've found that nothing motivates me more than coming across some new data about one of my ancestors.  It's enough to make me drop whatever I'm doing at the moment and sit in front of my computer for hours days.  Everyone knows new information MUST be followed up on immediately!  I discovered that new information yesterday.  

     As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently paid a visit to the Wayne County, New York Historian's office.  There I found the needed proof of my 3rd great grandfather Russell Galloway's parentage.  The woman assisting me also showed me a surname database that is available in the office and remotely from home.  My husband is a pretty patient man when it comes to my genealogy obsession, but I could tell he was getting a bit antsy and the public computer in the office was sooo slow, that I decided to check the database on my own computer.

      Well, I didn't get around to it until yesterday.  Once I pulled up the Historian's site I saw it was just the same surname database that had always been there, that I'd never bothered to look at before.  I wasn't terribly interested in seeing what surnames were in Wayne County, I knew the ones I was interested in, and you couldn't even search by first name or location.  Having some spare time, I opened the database to take a look and was I surprised!  It was actually an index of the office holdings arranged by surname, not a surname database at all. I had no idea, I was shocked, I was thrilled.  I guess you know where I spent the next four hours.

     I found quite alot that I need to check out, which means another 39 mile round trip to Lyons, but what is that to a devoted family historian?  Peanuts!  Here are just a few of the entries that require my attention:

     As you may recall, or may not, I've been looking for an Erastus Galloway, though not this one who died at 9 months.  But this will be a third Galloway named Erastus, that name must have some significance for this family.  The letter U means these are burial records, and I believe the "Nmaincem.rec" refers to Newark Main Street Cemetery Records.  There are entries in the database for Milo and Ann in that same cemetery.  I tried a search with that .rec address and it just brought me back to the Historian's page, it must be accessible in house only.  

     I've looked at the gravestone inventories online and there are no Galloway stones in Newark cemetery, so these must be contemporary records of the cemetery officials.  Sometimes burial records also gave the cause of death, that would be a plus since New York didn't keep vital  records in the 1820's.  That, "another son", thing seems kinda cold, hopefully there will be something more the indexer didn't include.  And so on Thursday I will be heading east to Lyons, wish me luck.