Saturday, May 31, 2014

Sometimes, Good Things Come Unexpected


     When I first started blogging about my adventures in genea-land, one of my hopes was that cousins and other relatives would come pouring out of the woodwork, anxious to share information and photos...that did not happen.  However, I have made the acquaintances of some really wonderful people, among them a probable cousin who enjoys sending me books, (which I enjoy receiving), and also, a new friend in Ireland who has been so generous.  They alone make this blog worthwhile even though the crowds of family members I had envisioned failed to materialize.  So a few days ago, when I sat down at my desk to check my mail before work, I was surprised to see an e-mail with the subject line, "Sister Cecilia Vincent", from an unfamiliar address.  

     Upon opening it, I found the sender had stumbled upon my blog while searching the net for information about Sister Cecilia. I also found this kind soul had included a scan of Sister's memorial card, shown above.  She had been given it by a relative, but neither of them knew who Sister Cecilia Vincent was, that being her name in religious life.  In secular life, Sister was known as Mary Esther Gunn, the daughter of Francis and Elizabeth Gunn, immigrants  from Listowel Parish in County Kerry.  Francis was the brother of my great-great-grandmother Mary Elizabeth Gunn.  You can see what the Sisters of St. Joseph in Rochester, NY sent me about Sister Cecilia  here.

     It turns out, Sister's brother Earl had married an aunt of the sender, and that is how the memorial card came to be in the family's possession.  As you can imagine, I was very glad to receive the scan, and happy too that my blog had helped my, "almost cousin", find the identity of the nun in the mystery memorial card.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Memorial Day Post


     First, a sincere thank you to all the soldiers we remember this day, from the revolution onward.  Secondly, I wanted to take a look at the subject of Irish Americans in the military, this being an Irish family blog after all. 

     The highest honor any soldier can receive in the American military, is the Medal of Honor.  This medal is voted by congress and awarded by the President himself to the recipient or in some cases, to his family.  It is given for, "conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty, in actual combat against an armed enemy force".  In the history of the medal, over twice as many have been awarded to Irish Americans than to any other ethnic group.  Of the 19 men who have received 2 medals, 8 of that number were Irish!  If you visit the Medal of Honor Grove in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, you will find there an obelisk carved from Wicklow granite.  The monument was erected in 1985 by the Ancient Order of Hibernians to honor recipients of the medal who were not affiliated with any particular state.  Of the 150 soldiers named on the obelisk, 65 were born in Ireland, many recruited right off the boat, so without a home state.

     The first Irish American soldier to receive the medal was Civil War soldier Michael Madden, born in 1841 in County Limerick, Ireland.  He was a private in Company K of the 42nd New York Volunteer Infantry who on September 3, 1861 helped a wounded comrade to the bank of the Potomac River at Mason's Island in Maryland, and under "heavy fire" swam across the river with him to safety.  In May of 1897 Congressman Olmstead presented Michael Madden's application to congress, and on  April 14, 1898 the record states his medal was issued.

     One of the most remarkable Irishmen awarded the medal has to be another Civil War soldier, Micheal Dougherty from Donegal.  A private in the 13th
The amazing Michael Dougherty
Pennsylvania Cavalry,   Michael was given the medal for leading a charge against a hidden Confederate detachment in Virginia.  The report of the incident credits him with preventing the Confederates from flanking the Union forces and saving 2,500 lives.  Later in the war he was captured with 126 comrades and eventually wound up at the infamous Andersonville POW camp in Georgia. Of his group, Dougherty alone survived the camp, this excerpt from a diary he kept--  

July 20, 1864--One hundred and thirty prisoners died yesterday, it is so hot we are almost roasted.  There were 127 of my regiment captured the day I was and of that number eighty-one have since died and the rest are more dead than alive, exposure and long confinement is doing it's work among us.

     Though badly affected by his time at Andersonville, Michael was able to board the ship Sultana at war's end in 1865 and finally head for home.  The fourth night out, the Sultana's boilers exploded, scalding some passengers and pitching all into the Mississippi River.  Of the 2,000 on board only 900 survived, among them, Michael Dougherty.  Michael did finally make it back to his family in Buck's County Pennsylvania where he lived to the age of nearly 86. Today, the Ancient Order of Hibernians division there is named in his honor.

     There are many more stories to be told of Irish American soldiers, and many of non-Irish as well, all deserving of our gratitude.  Today's blog is dedicated to them and their memory.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday's Photo/ May Lawhead of West Virginia

May L. Lawhead
     May Lawhead, and her twin sister Gay were born May 10, 1869 in Monongalia, West Virginia to Ashbel and Mary Lee Lawhead.  The girls and their eight siblings grew up in that county, where May met Doctor Charles Alexander Wade.  The two were married  in April of 1898, but theirs was to be a short marriage...very short.  In June of 1898, after only 58 days of wedded bliss, Charles died.  The young doctor probably never knew May was pregnant with their son Charles Jr. who would be born the following March.

     May returned to her parent's home to raise her child, working as a department store clerk to support him.  She and Charles Jr. both resided in the family home until 1925 when he married Bessie Beatty.  By 1940 May was living with her unmarried twin Gay, still in Monongalia, and working as a mail clerk at the university at age 70. Certainly not the life she had anticipated that spring day in 1898.

Friday, May 9, 2014

This Is Why I Keep Seeking Milo


     I had looked at every family history website I could think of, and even done Google searches on <"Milo Galloway" New York>.  I was out of ideas and pronounced myself done--finished searching the internet for data on one Milo Galloway.  It was taking up too much research time.

     Yeah, that lasted about two weeks.  It seemed to me something catastrophic must have happened in Milo's financial life around the time of his death; his wife and unmarried daughter were forced to go on the public dole in later years.  Very strange for the family of a man who had once owned a canal boat, a saw and grist mill, a cloth factory, and numerous properties; along with being a manufacturer of water wheels.  I needed to know what had happened! 

     Looking through New York land records at Family Search, I found some very interesting deals.  That is what I've been up to all this time, putting them in order which is harder than you might think.  Back in the day it wasn't uncommon for deeds to be recorded at the courthouse weeks or even years after they were made.  Sometimes they didn't bother to record them at all.  Once you go back and transcribe them in chronological order a clear picture emerges.  Milo's first land purchase was on November 17, 1823.  He bought 1/4 acre of land on the Erie Canal near the three locks in the Town of Lyons for which he paid $13.  In October of 1825 he sold the same property for $215.  In June of 1831 Milo bought a farm at $665.  In April of 1834 he sold it for $3,066.  August of 1838, 50 acres for $409.  Twelve days later he sold it for $1, 500.  You get the gist here--Milo knew what he was doing! 
In his last years however, he entered into several land transactions with partners, something he had never done before. Ira Stanbrough and Esbon Blackman were his cohorts.  Could they offer a clue?

     In 1842, the partnership began.  There was one land purchase that year and two the next with them.  In May of 1847,  Ira Stanbrough, one of the partners, was declared a debtor and threatened with the sale of his worldly possessions.  He then disappeared from sight.  Esbon, the other partner, dabbled in politics, becoming a state legislator.  He died just five months after Milo in 1857.  When Milo passed away, he left no will which I find odd , and I've been unable to find an obituary.  Maybe he just neglected to make a will, after all he was only 57 when he died, but no obit?  He was a well known, prosperous man in a small town, how could that be?  

     Suicide crosses my mind.  In large part because of this final deed, drawn up six days before Milo died:
     June 12, 1857.  William VanMarten, referee in the action of the Town of Lyons, New York of the first part, and William Pulver of Pines Plains, Dutchess County, New York of the second part. Whereas at a special term of Supreme Court ... in an action pending between William Pulver plaintiff, and Milo Galloway defendant ... mortgaged premises mentioned in the complaint were sold at public auction at the Eagle Hotel in Newark, New York.

     So Milo defaulted on his mortgage, and lost the property.  I wish I knew what property it was, there was no description in the deed other than it was located in the village of Newark. Could it have been his home, the loss of which resulted in his death?  Or was he so ill before his death he couldn't make his payments?  That doesn't seem likely, he must have had some money from his land deals and medical bills didn't break the bank back then like they can today.  Could it be he was brought down by his association with the debtor Ira Stanbrough?  I just don't know, but until I do I'll be continuing regular searches.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Friday's Photo/Laura J. Raymer of Minnesota

     Those chubby little cheeks belong to Laura J. Raymer, the daughter of Charles and Nellie Raymer, who was born in August of 1888 in Minnesota.  The date on the back of this photo says it was taken in 1891, making Laura three years old when she posed for it.  In 1900 Laura lived with her parents and two older brothers Henry and Louis in Minneapolis.  Charles was a bookseller by trade and operated his own store.  By the time of the 1910 census the family had moved on to Spokane, Washington where Charles was still selling books.

     I have been unable to find any trace of Laura after the 1910 census in which she was 21 years old.