Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday's Photo/Alma May Magoon

     Little Alma May was born January 21, 1898 in Manchester, New Hampshire.  In the 1900 census she and her two older sisters, Marian and Ruth, were living with their grandparents John and Julia Magoon as were several older children of John and Julia.  By 1910, she and her sisters had returned to the home of their parents Carl and Susan Magoon.  Or so it seemed.

     I didn't know why the girls would be living with their grandparents in 1900?   It seemed odd that all three of them would be residing there.  So I took a look at the family trees on  There I discovered Alma's father Carl was widowed in 1899, confirmed by a Family Search death record.  That must be when the girls went to their grandparents.  Since the 1910 census had given me their father's name, I took another look at the 1900 census, and there was Carl listed in the grandparent's household too.  He had taken his girls and moved to his parent's home after the death of his wife.

Death Record From Family Search

     Alma and her sister's mother was in fact May Ellison.  Susan, (Fowler), was the children's stepmother.  Alma is with Carl and Susan in 1920 also, but not in 1930.  It appears she married between those dates.  A tree with no sources says she married and had children, but that information is marked private.  It goes on to say she died in New York City in 1953.

     Several of the trees on Ancestry mistakenly claim Susan was the mother of Alma and her sisters, but the census of 1900 placing them with their grandparents is a dead giveaway that something was up with this family.  It's easy to forget, when the 1910 census tells us the child is a "daughter", that is her relationship to the head of the household only, not to his wife; and it's easy to make assumptions looking at census records. This reminds me of the genealogical golden rule, the more records one can dig up the better.  And don't believe everything you read in an online tree.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

RootsIreland Now A Subscription Site

   This article is from the Irish Genealogy News site

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Best Reason Of All For Family History

     "Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too.  But perhaps it was only an echo."  

     The above thought is that of  a fictional character called, "The Receiver of Memory", and are the last lines in the novel, "The Giver" by Lois Lowry.  Without going into too much detail, the novel describes a utopian society in which fear, hunger and unhappiness have been abolished, but at a price.  The goal is "sameness" no distinctions, no emotions and no memories of the past to trouble the mind.  One member of the group however, is chosen to receive the memories of the unpleasant past in case this information is ever needed to make informed decisions.  He acquires these memories from the previous Receiver, who now takes on the role of "the Giver".  Things go awry when the new Receiver discovers how much richer life is with memories and emotions.

     The whole concept is anathema to family historians.  We too are receivers of memories from vast distances. From places our families left long ago and while we've always know our work had value, we now have a study that proves, (as the Receiver came to understand),  just how much it can add to our lives.  An article that appeared  in the New York Times, written by Bruce Feiler, covered the work of Marshall Duke, a psychologist at Emory University.  After Duke's wife, a learning disability specialist, made the observation that children who knew alot about their families did better in the face of challenges, he set out to test her theory.

     Duke and a colleague developed a set of questions to assess how much the children knew about their family history and compared those results with psychological tests the children had taken.  The results?  "The more children knew about their families' histories, the stronger their sense of control and self-esteem."  In Duke's words, "Children who have the most self confidence have a strong intergenerational self.  They know they belong to something bigger than themselves."

     I think you and I could have told him that, but it's always nice to have a scientific study to back you up.  I find myself drawing inspiration from the strength and determination of my ancestors  quite often.  Especially the Irish ones who arrived here hungry and penniless, and almost without exception built successful lives for themselves and their children.  How sad it would be to lose that knowledge of "us".  It happens all too easily in this highly mobile society we live in.  Many of my friends and acquaintances have grandchildren who live in other states and even other countries.  Long afternoons spent at Grandma or Great-Grandma's home filled with family mementos and stories are not a reality for those kids. 

     So now that a professional has confirmed what we suspected all along, I think we need to make an extra effort to pass along our precious family narratives to the next generation.  Especially to the youngest, whose identities, (not to mention coping mechanisms), are forming right now.

PS  Yes, that is Harold Lloyd, star of the silent screen in the photo above.  I love his movies.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Lying To The Census Taker


     Upstate New York, 47 degrees ( expletive deleted) and raining.  I was going to go out and work in my badly neglected garden this morning, but it looks like I will be doing some genealogy instead.  I'm still working on getting my research notes on Russell Galloway together to send to the historian and was looking through my list of his children when I realized I know very little about his twin sons Edwin and Edward.  I'm not even sure if they were identical or not.  I checked the Lake Shore News on Ancestry and found this--

Lake Shore News Aug 29 1889
In Wolcott at the residence of her uncle, Mr. Edwin Galloway, Aug 21st, Mrs. Mattie M. Bonhotal, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Galloway of Buffalo, aged 17 years and 7 months.

     That was a surprise, I didn't know Edward had moved to Buffalo -- he did later return to the Wolcott area and is buried in Wolcott, New York with the rest of his family.  I also didn't know his daughter Mattie (Martha) married and died at such a young age.  The 1880 census shows Edward in Butler, New York in Wayne County:

Edward Galloway 30 laborer
Alice Galloway     26
Martha Galloway     8
Jane Galloway     6
Fred Galloway     3

    Ancestry includes Edward in the index for Buffalo in the 1892 NY census, but the link goes to the wrong page...he's not on it,  I do believe he was in Buffalo at that time however, since Mattie's obituary places him there in 1889.  Then in the 1900 census, there he is on Breckenridge Street in Buffalo.  I am sure it's him-- Edward Galloway, along with his wife Alice and his youngest child Fred.  All the ages match up, and it even says Alice was the mother of 3, with 2 still living, since poor Mattie had died back in '89.  Everything is as it should be until you look at the birthplaces with the incredible assertion  Edward's father was born in Scotland and his mother in Connecticut???!!!  

     How did the census taker get that so wrong?  Did Alice give mistaken information?  That's not too likely, she must have met her in-laws.  Perhaps Fred was the informant??  But he certainly knew his grandfather.  Did a neighbor give the information?  Also not likely since all the other information was spot-on.  Was Edward pranking the enumerator, had he just had a few nips?  I'm at a loss, but upon further reflection, I've always believed the Galloway's were originally from Scotland, though from other census records I know Edward's father and grandfather were both born in the USA.  His maternal grandmother was born in Connecticut as were her parents, grandparents and great-grandparents but census records show Edward's mother was born in New York where she married his father.  So from whence came this mix-up?  

     If I had to take a guess I would consider the possibility that Edward's paternal side was indeed from Scotland and his mother's line from very early Connecticut and Edward was having a little fun with Mr. Ranney the census man that day in 1900.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Thankful Thursday/The Visit

Grandpa Lash 1899-1955, gift from Aunt Ginny

     My aunts arrived in town Saturday.  One, Mother's eldest sister, from Denver and the other, her youngest sister, from Chicago.  These visits are all too seldom and all too short, but the emotions they evoke leave deep, lingering impressions.  Due to distance, I didn't see much of these aunts while I was growing up, but they and my uncle, (Mom's brother at whose home we all met), are the last tangible links I have to my late mother.  Three members of an ever shrinking group who knew Mom from the time she was a child, knew her in a way I never could.  I believe it comes as a shock to most all children when they discover their mother's had a life before the day they were born.  

     Sitting around the table with my aunts and my uncle and cousins, the memories and stories flowed.  Tales of other times and of people I never met who were nonetheless part of my family's history.  Tragic ones about my grandmother, (their mother), dying in a kerosene explosion leaving seven motherless children. Eerie ones like the time great-great grandmother died, and at noon as the post-funeral meal was being served the heavy, wooden farm table broke in two and collapsed.   Mostly though, we laughed at the anecdotes of childhood pranks and eccentric relatives and neighbors.  And at ones about their school days and importantly, (to me), stories about my mother as a girl and young woman, before marriage and motherhood defined who she was.

     As I looked at their dear faces, and heard their laughter as they were swept away with their memories, I found myself wishing Mom was there with her brother and sisters reliving those long ago days along with them.  Instead it was me, and while I treasured every moment, and laughed til I cried and my ribs ached, there was the slightest twinge of guilt.  This must be akin to what is called survivor's guilt, it seemed unfair I was enjoying this visit so much while she was gone.

     The visit is over, until hopefully next year we will all gather again. My youngest aunt brought letters Mom had written her over the years to give me; will future family historians even have that luxury?  With the advent of e-mail I'm thinking likely not.  Both aunts also brought me family photos and articles I've been pouring over.   But with the aunts came something else just as important, more important actually--that indescribable sense of belonging.  Of being part of this circle, no matter what the future brings we are and will remain family.  For that I'm eternally thankful.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Child of 1916

     This morning I sat down to read today's edition of Irish Central  before heading out to work.  This was the intriguing headline:

The Last Surviving Son of the 1916 Easter Rising Turns 101 Today

     There is a video of the man, now Father Joseph Mallin, speaking of his father and his beliefs that is lovely, that I'd like to share.  Here is the link.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Church Record Sunday/From Elphin To Upstate

Irish Postulants in Rochester, NY 1899

     A few days ago I opened my mailbox and amid the bills and junk mail was the quarterly newsletter the Sisters of St. Joseph send out.  One of my relatives was an SSJ, so I have a soft spot for them and enormous respect.  They are a teaching order (they taught me) and also do some nursing, often in underprivileged areas--in other words they are out there on the streets, "keepin it real".  So I wasn't at all surprised to see on the cover, Congressman John Lewis who represents Georgia, thanking the SSJ for their care in Selma during the civil rights marches of the 60's.  Some of Rochester's Sisters had been missioned at a hospital in Selma that served African Americans and they had cared for Lewis after he was badly beaten during the march from Selma to Montgomery.  Though the Bishop of Selma forbade the Sisters to march, they tenderly nursed those beaten that day in 1965.

Bishop John Joseph Clancy
     The last article in the newsletter really piqued my interest.  It was written by Kathleen Urbanic, the Congregational Archivist, and it was about twenty-four Irish girls, (chosen by Bishop John Joseph Clancy of Elphin), who came to Rochester to join the order in 1899.  Two years earlier the Bishop had visited Rochester, and he promised to send "pious and talented young girls of his diocese" to the Congregation.  Being a family researcher, I had to know more about all this, and after some digging I found, not only was the Bishop here in New York, but why he was here.

     Bishop Clancy came all the way from Ireland to perform the
marriage ceremony of his brother's daughter in Canandaigua, New York. Canandaigua is six miles from the village I grew up in, and twenty-nine miles from Rochester, the nearest city.  The Bishop cut it pretty close too, he arrived in New York harbor the day before the wedding.  Some scrambling for trains must have taken place!

     Once back in Ireland, the Bishop, true to his word, selected the candidates, and two Irish Sisters, Sister Ursula Murphy and Sister Alcantara Carroll were dispatched from Rochester to escort them to America.  Sister Ursula wrote of her experience: "It was a great responsibility to bring twenty-four young girls, some mere children, far away from all that the heart holds dear, not knowing whether they would persevere."  Most of them did however, twenty-one became Sisters of St. Joseph.

     Looking at their innocent faces I find myself wondering who they were and what they left behind?  Parents, sisters, girlhood friends?  How hard it must have been.  Perhaps some had relatives here, perhaps not.  Some have serene smiles, some look uncertain, the poor child in the lower right looks like a deer in the headlights.  Although I've never found any ancestors from the Diocese of Elphin, I'd love to know more about these girls. I'm going to write to Kathleen and suggest she do a follow-up on her interesting article.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Ella's Most Peculiar Husband

19th century clown

     Yesterday's blog was all about Ellen/Ella Galloway/Gray.  Her name changed depending on which source you were looking at.  After I found Ella's marriage, some unpleasant facts about her husband Truman E. Mason began to surface.  For instance, this headline in the Evening Herald from Syracuse, NY about forty miles from Wolcott:   
"Professor" Mason Hypnotized His Wife.  

     The story below the headline reports that in December of 1896 Ella fell asleep and didn't wake the next morning as usual.  Truman claimed he had hypnotized her and she was in a trance from which she would emerge in five days!  What??  Seriously??  It goes on to say he was a "trance medium" who could communicate with the dead as well as levitate objects, and was a hypnotist of remarkable powers who held seances in the local opera house.  Ella did indeed awaken from her "trance" at some point since she lived another two years, but what was the purpose of this odd event?  Publicity?
     You may recall an earlier blog in which I discussed the Fox sisters of Hydesville, not awfully far from Wolcott.  They too claimed to be conversant with the departed and were credited with founding the spiritualist movement.  That was twenty or thirty years before Truman began his supernatural career, but fascination with the new phenomenon was still growing in America.  Especially in the area near the Fox sister's former home.  Perhaps that is what drew Truman, a native of Ohio, to Wayne County, New York in the first place.  I really wonder though, what could the elder Galloway's have made of all this, and of Truman?  Just to add a touch of the surreal, another news article claimed Truman had been a circus clown for twenty years, retiring from the ring in 1876, just three years before his marriage to Ella. That's right, a clown. WTH? 

      I tell you now, I have an intense dislike of clowns and they absolutely terrify my daughter-- she won't even take her child to the circus lest one of these evil creatures approach them.  Clowns are creepy!  Everyone knows that!  Why would Ella marry a clown?  One possessed of weird preternatural abilities besides.  (I hope my daughter never sees this blog, her fears have been realized-- a clown with unearthly powers straight from Lucifer himself.)

     Wait there's more, this article is from the New York Press published in June of 1898, about three months after Ella's death:  
Wolcott-- Truman E. Mason, ex-circus clown, veteran and spiritualistic medium of this village desires to wed and his comrades of the Grand Army of the Republic won't let him...comrade Mason is 60 years old and an invalid and the bride he so much desires is only 20. 

     Truman's health was failing, and he had been financially assisted by his GAR Post for years.  They had no desire to foot the bill for another wife and upon learning of his intentions, they forbade the marriage.  (A clown! are you kidding me?)  Although he protested, it seems that in the end Truman listened to them, I found no evidence the marriage ever took place.  And exactly why would a 20 year old want to marry a destitute, invalid, ex-clown, (shudder), old enough to be her grandfather?  

     Truman lived another eleven years, dying in 1909 and was buried in Wolcott's Glenside cemetery next to Ella.  In a large striped tent, (sorry, just kidding, I'm having some difficulty getting my head around this revolting clown thing) 

     I can't wait to lay this on my aunts who are coming to town from Denver and Chicago this week-end.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Just Who Was Ellen Galloway?


     I've been finishing up, (for now), my Galloway research and fulfilling my promise to the Arcadia Town Historian to get my research notes in order and pass them on to her.  I forwarded Milo's data a month ago and his father George's also.  Now I'm working on Russell, who is another son of George and is my direct ancestor.  His brother Milo so grabbed my imagination I spent alot of time on him, and sorry to say, ignored 3rd great grand-dad Russell.  I'm remedying that now, and have come across a bit of a mystery.  

     Russell is pretty simple to track in census and land records, and I thought I was going to have an easy time writing about him until I took a close look at the 1875 New York State census.  The 1860 and 1870 censuses don't spell out relationships in any given household.  All they really tell us is that the individuals listed together were living at the same address the day the census taker came to their door.  In 1875 that changed. The little girl called Ellen Galloway in earlier censuses, and who was with Russell and his family all along, is identified in 1875 as a granddaughter and her surname is now Gray.  This begs the obvious questions, who were her parents, why did her name change and where did she go after 1875?  She is no longer with Russell in the 1880 census.

     To give you some background, in 1860, Ellen H. Galloway, age 4, (so born 1856), is living in Wolcott, New York with Russell Galloway aged 54, his wife Hattie aged 49 and their twin sons aged 10.  For Hattie to give birth at age 45 would be unusual, but not impossible, so it's easy to imagine that Ellen is her daughter.  In 1870 the family is living in Butler, New York and Ellen has become Ella, but she is 14, exactly the age you would expect.  Then the 1875 census-- still in Butler, the appropriate age of 19, but with a new name, Ella Gray, granddaughter. 

      So to whom did Ellen or Ella belong?  If she is not Russell's daughter, the most likely suspect for her mother is Phebe Galloway, Russell's oldest child about whom I've not been able to find much information.  I located a Phebe Gray, wife of "Jeddiah" Gray, in the Hudson, Michigan census of 1860.  That Phebe was born in New York, (but so was half of the population of Michigan in 1860), is the right age, and even has a daughter named Ellen, but this Ellen is 8 years old, the Ellen with Russell in 1860 is only 4.  I have seen a case where a child was enumerated in both Michigan and New York in the 1850 census, so Ellen being counted in both states in 1860 wouldn't necessarily rule this family out, the age discrepancy bothers me more.  It's hard to mistake an 8 year old child for one of 4.

     As to where Ella was in 1880, I had no idea.  Did she marry or pass away?  Find work elsewhere?  And was Ella's name always Gray or did she have a very short, early marriage?  Finding no records of Ella Gray in the area, I turned to a fave newspaper site, Old Fulton Postcards.  After reading just a few of the articles my search brought up, I found one that seemed to fit.  It was the obituary of Mrs. Frank C. Way who was born at Wolcott, the daughter of Truman E. and Ella Gray Mason!  Then I found her brother Claude's obit, his parents were named as Edward and Ella Gray Mason, now I had a probable married name for Ella!   Next I took a look at the 1880 census but could not locate Ella Mason.  She was however, in the 1892 census of Butler, just five families away from her father/grandfather, Russell Galloway along with her husband Edward and their children. I then remembered that Ancestry has a book of extracts from the Lake Shore News of Wolcott on their site, there I found this entry:  
   Married at the Presbyterian parsonage in Wolcott, Nov. 6, 1879, Truman E. Mason and Miss Ella Galloway.  So we're back to Galloway.  I wonder if Ella was orphaned early on and raised by her grandparents, taking their name?  The 1870 census has no Jeddiah or Phebe Gray that fit as Ella's parents.  It doesn't seem like the newspaper would call her "Miss Galloway" if she had been widowed, but they do make mistakes.  I'm confident Ella Gray Mason is the woman I'm looking for, but I'm no closer to her parentage.  I strongly suspect it was Phebe who gave birth to her though.  Ella's story takes a decidedly weird turn after her marriage, which is the subject of my next blog.