Saturday, January 31, 2015

Darby Hogan's Children Found

     Darby Hogan has been on the periphery of my research for many years.  He first drew my attention when I discovered my 3rd great-grandfather Cornelius Ryan, and his son Cornelius Jr. were both interred in Darby's plot at St. Anne's Cemetery in Palmyra, NY; eight months apart in 1877 strangely enough. There had to be a family connection to Darby or his wife Maria.  Over the ensuing years bits and pieces came to light.  Andrew Ryan, another son of Cornelius, married Bridget Hogan in 1856 at Palmyra.  Bridget was the daughter of a Thomas Hogan and Catherine O'Dwyer.  Could Thomas be a brother of Darby?

     Not long after that I discovered Darby's obituary describing in gory detail his grisly end after being struck by a New York Central work train while walking home from work up the tracks in 1861. (see obit below)  I also found Darby mentioned in the Boston Pilot column "Missing Friends" where Irish immigrants posted ads seeking information about friends and relatives from the old country they had lost touch with.  Darby wasn't missing though, he was the contact person for Mary Ryan who was seeking her brother Michael, a native of Terryglass Parish in North Tipperary.  For a time I thought perhaps Darby was from the north and Mary Ryan could be a misspelling of Darby's wife Maria.  New information has come to light however, making that seem unlikely.  I found Darby's naturalization papers and discovered he was a literate man, a rare talent among the early Irish immigrants of Palmyra.  Darby was probably selected as Mary's contact for that ability.

     I have been aided and abetted in this search by a long lost cousin who is a descendant of the above mentioned Andrew and Bridget Hogan Ryan.  In an index he found mention of the three known children of Darby and Maria in a surrogate file dated 1874.  A few days ago I made the trip to Lyons, NY to get a copy of the file.  It wasn't very informative, it was just a guardianship for Darby's minor children, but it mentioned them receiving a 1/8 share of the sale of the family home.  That meant there were other living children out there, but we could not locate them until I thought to check the index on Family Search for New York land records.  If a sale had taken place it should be listed, and indeed it was.  Along with the names of Darby and Maria's children!  The odd thing is, Maria was calling herself Maria Cooney in these records.  We are going with the assumption Cooney was her maiden name since she is listed as Maria Hogan in the 1880 census and on her tombstone and we've found no trace of a second marriage.

     We now have the names of Darby and Maria's eight children, including the married names of the older girls.  We've even found the younger girls married names by searching Historic Rochester Marriages and looking for them as mothers of the brides and grooms, and searching online trees.  I still haven't found Darby's relationship to my family, unless it's simply through marriage, but the pieces are starting to come together.  Finding the children's names opened up new avenues of research-- it's just a matter of time now.                                                                                                                     __________________               

April, 1861:     Darby Hogan, who had been for eight or nine years, employed by the Central RR as a watchman and switch tender at the Palmyra Station, was killed Friday morning last by a train of cars passing over him.  “Mr. Hogan was returning home from the station where he had been on duty the night previous, when he was overtaken by the New York mail train going west.  He stepped from the track to allow the train to pass, and not knowing that the work train was a short distance in the rear on the same track, he resumed his position on the track- seeing which, the brakeman on the mail train made a motion with his hands intended as a warning that another train was close at hand; but Hogan mistaking this for a salutation, responded cordially, and remained on the track. 

     The noise made by the mail train prevented his hearing the approach of the work train – and the wind blew the smoke to the rear of the train and enveloped Hogan in smoke that he was not seen by the engineer of the work train in time even to check the speed of his engine.  As soon as the man was discovered, every means was taken to warn him, by the engineer, and a woman standing near the tracks, calling him by name and gesticulating violently with her hands, but such was the noise that he heard not and heeded not.  The engine came upon him unawares, throwing him across the track, and the entire train passing over him.  Hogan was nearly severed in twain, the heart and lungs being thrown some distance.  The men on the work train placed the mangled corpse on a board and carried it to the former home of the deceased about 6 rods from the scene of the disaster, where his wife had been awaiting his return home to breakfast.  She had seen him approaching, and had placed his breakfast upon the table – but alas, instead of her husband partaking of the goodness she had provided for him, he was ushered into her presence a mangled corpse.  The scene at the house was heartrending in the extreme, and can better be imagined than described. 

     Mr. Hogan was an honest, industrious and worthy man, an affectionate husband and kind father.  His wife and children, frantic with grief, clung to his mangled remains, unwilling to leave them to allow an inquest.  Deceased was born in County Tipperary, Ireland Dec. 10 1815.  He was faithful to his employer, his family and friends, and to his church.  He leaves a wife and 8 children to mourn his fate.  One son is yet in Ireland and is expected in this country.   Who can imagine his feelings on arrival to find his mother a widow?  By his industry and frugality, Hogan had saved means to purchase and nearly pay for a small, but comfortable house for his family. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Google Street View Does It Again

My original photo of the shoe shop, taken after the introduction of electricity judging from the light on the right

     Last summer I did a blog about my 4th great-uncle Cornelius Ryan Jr. who was a cobbler in Palmyra, New York.  Looking through a book about Palmyra from the Images of America series, which I've done numerous times, I this time noticed another photo of the shop where he worked, this one taken in 1875, probably about a year and a half before Cornelius died.  He may even be in the photo.  Below, in the far lower right you see the same little shop as above--

The description of this photo said the cobblestone building, the one on the far left with the awning and what looks like a door on the second floor, was still standing so I did a search for Market Street in Palmyra, NY at Google Maps, then zeroed in with the Street View option.  Below is the same building today with a for real second story door.  Call me crazy, but that seems like a bad idea.

     You can see the wee shoe shop no longer exists, nor do the wooden sidewalks.  The space where it sat is an alley now, and the building next to the ally has been renovated or it's an entirely different structure than in the older photograph.  The cobblestone and brick buildings though are unmistakably the same ones pictured in 1875.

     I've had very good luck with Google Street Views and use it regularly, so I feel comfortable recommending it.  It's always fun to see our ancestor's old stomping grounds, and this is the next best thing to visiting.


Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Tuesday's Tip/Another Way To Find Death Dates


     Finding the date of an ancestor's death can be a big step forward.  It opens up the possibilities of finding a will or an obituary with next of kin listed, among other things. The newspaper sites are an obvious place to start, but at times the software they use for indexing will miss a name that is hard to read due to damage to the newspaper or the poor quality of microfilm that was used.  Sometimes however, we get a second chance.

     Some of the older papers printed a "Necrology" for the previous year.  More common in smaller towns, these would usually appear in the early part of January and list everyone in town who had died the year before.  It's just a list of names and dates and often ages, but it tells you what time frame you should be concentrating on in your search for a full blown obituary and other records that would be generated by a death.  So it you can't find the record you seek in the year you believe the death occurred, try January of the following year.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Friday's Photo/Nina Watts Nyquist 1882 Kansas

     This little cherub is Nina Elba Elanora Watts.  The photograph was taken in April of 1884 when Nina was nineteen months old.  Nina's parents were John and Matilda Watts, Swedish immigrants who like so many of their compatriots settled on the US prairie.  Unlike most however, John was not a farmer; he was a cabinet maker and merchant in Topeka.  Judging from the elegant clothing little Nina is wearing, he was a very successful one.

     The family included a son John Jr. and Nina's two sisters Ester and Aggie.  Her mother Matilda gave birth to six children, but only three attained any great age, Nina, John Jr. and Ester.  At age 23 Nina married Carl Nyquist, himself the son of Swedish immigrants.  Carl rose to be a vice-president of the Rock Island & Chicago railroad, so Nina probably lived a comfortable life after her marriage.  He died in California in 1959.  Nina and Carl had one son Carl Jr. who passed away in 1966, before his mother who died in Banning California on September 17th, 1973.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Down Survey Website


     Lately, I've been musing on my McGarr ancestors from Ballyraggan, Kildare.  I've traced them back to the early 1820's at that location, but still don't know where Daniel, my 3rd great-grandfather was born.  Most of the McGarrs in early records are in Kildare so there's a good chance that is the county of his birth, but what about his father?  It truly vexes me that the records stop about the time of Daniel's birth around 1795, and even earlier in many spots in Ireland.  I read on a genealogy website that there were McGarrs in Dublin in the 17th century, which is right next door to Kildare, but there was no clue as to where the writer found this information. I've personally seen McGarr records from 18th century Dublin, but have no way to link them to my family.

     I tried searches for "McGarr surname" and "McGarr family" but the results were disappointing.  One site claimed a Scottish origin and another Irish.  While looking around the net I stumbled upon this site hosted by Trinity College,  Down Survey Homepage, and I've spent the past two days engrossed. The website is packed with information about the 1641 rebellion of the Ulster Irish against the English and Scottish settlers to whom their homes and farms had been given.  No wonder they rebelled.

     Click on the heading, "About this Website", and a page is displayed showing a timeline of events from the rebellion in1641, to the end of this sad chapter in Irish history in 1669.  The tab, Down Survey Maps, is next but the Historical GIS is better for my purposes.  This page allows you to search the maps by landowner's name or religion.  Or you can zoom in on the map and locate your townland of interest on your own, which worked better for me.  Once you have maximized the map to it's limit you can then move the cursor over various townlands, click, and the name and religion of the owner appears along with the townland name for the years 1641 and 1670.   Those of you familiar with Irish history will recognize this as the time of Cromwell and the transplantation to Connaught of Catholics in Ireland, as well as their deportation as slaves to colonies in America and Barbados.  In townland after townland I clicked on, the results were the same-- a Catholic owner in 1641 and a Protestant in 1670.

     As you see in the first photo, I found Ballyraggan on the GIS map and it proved to be an exception to the ownership rule.  In both years the owners were the powerful, Catholic, Fitzgerald family whose descendants still owned it in Daniel McGarr's time.  I don't know if Daniel's forebears were anywhere near Ballyraggan in 1641, various websites also disagree on how much our ancestors moved about.  One will claim they were very attached to their homes and the graves of their ancestors and stayed put, while others will claim they moved great distances more often than we think.  Still, it was somehow gratifying to see that Ballyraggan existed way back then, as did Ballygowloge in Kerry from whence my Gunn family hailed, and Cullencastle in Waterford, home to my Power and Crotty families.  I recall reading somewhere that townlands are very ancient land divisions, and it appears to be true.

     None of this really got me any closer to my genealogical goals, but I know some nameless ancestor of mine lived through these trying times, and survived them, else I wouldn't be writing this. Not knowing their names doesn't lessen my compassion for them, nor lessen my desire to know more about the times they lived in.

Monday, January 5, 2015

More Discoveries In Deeds

      I wrote awhile ago about  The Things You Find In Land Records. They can be used to find far more than details about property  transactions.  In that particular case I had discovered that in 1825 Grandma Armina Galloway was renting a house for "a kernel of grain per year", the reason why was also contained in the deed.  Recently I made another discovery in a deed.  For years I've been trying to find the death date of my fourth-great-grandfather Silvester Worden.  (He was a literate man, and he spelled his name with an i)  All I knew was that he passed away sometime between the 1840 and 1850 censuses; in the latter census his widow Pelina and their youngest child Ruth were living with Silvester Jr. in South Bristol, NY.  Silvester Sr. was born about 1792, so I figured his death probably occurred closer to 1850.  

     New York did not keep any records of deaths in the time-frame I'm interested in, and I found no stone for Silvester in any online cemetery listing.  Ontario County, of which South Bristol is a part, has a pretty extensive site for tombstones, but no Silvester with a y or an i.  I spoke with the Bristol town historian years ago and no luck there either, so I'd just about resigned myself to not knowing the exact year of his death.  Then I read the deed.

     That document dated November 1848, in which George Worden was purchasing 20 acres of land for $70, started out like any other deed, but then it got interesting.  After the usual legal mumbo-jumbo it went on to describe the tract of land George was buying,

"being part and parcel of the tract of land contracted... the 23rd of Aug. 1834 to Sylvester Worden, father of the said grantee."

      That single sentence tells me so much.  It proves the grantee George Worden was in fact the son of Silvester, (i or y it's the same guy), it tells me that the land was originally contracted to Silvester which means basically that the owner held the mortgage, Sylvester didn't own it outright, and it gives me a big clue that this was the year Silvester died.  If he had been making payments on this land since the summer of 1834 his family wasn't going to just hand it back in 1848.  And it explains why the price was only $70.  The sale coming at the end of 1848, strongly suggests that sometime earlier in that year Silvester passed away and his son George took over the land.

     In another case I was able to narrow the date of death for the mother of Silvester Worden Sr. using a deed.  In 1828 his father, (yet another Silvester) sold a piece of land.  Had Mrs. Worden been living, she would have been privately questioned as to whether she voluntarily agreed to the sale, and her answer would have been recorded in the deed.  Since that did not happen it's a good indication she was not alive at that time.