Saturday, August 29, 2015

Grandpa The Bigamist


     Almost two years ago, I wrote a blog about my 3rd great grandfather entitled, Jeremiah Garner, Misbegotten or Misunderstood?  Back then I was looking for, among other things, the birthplace of Jeremiah's father Thomas, which I'm pleased to say I've found!  He was born at Tisbury Massachusetts on Martha's Vineyard the 17th day of November in 1773.  His father Thomas Sr. and mother Ann Williams were married on the island in 1768 according to the "Vital Records of Tisbury", now online.  I discovered the location to search for those events in Thomas Jr.'s War of 1812 pension application on Fold3.  Happily, since I don't have a subscription to that site, those particular records are FREE.

     As for the blog's title question, I'm now ready to weigh in-- definitely misbegotten.  Figuring out Jeremiah's life has been a long road with many twists.  In 1840 he was in Wolcott, New York with his young but growing family; having married my 3rd great grandmother Clarinda Wood, a native of Cayuga County, New York, five years earlier. The census of 1850 finds the couple still in Wolcott, now with six children.  By 1860 however, their marriage is over.  We find Clarinda living apart from Jeremiah though he is still in the vicinity, living at the farm home of his employer.

     At some point between 1860 and 1868 Jeremiah decamps for Canada.  I thought that an odd thing for a father of six to do.  A cousin suggested he may have worked for a time on a ship going back and forth on Lake Ontario between the US and Canada which could well be the case; the part of Wolcott where the Garners resided is right on the lake and the port of Fair Haven is close by.  But I've found another reason Jeremiah may have been anxious to leave his old neighborhood behind, and her name was Betsey.  Looking at Canadian records on Family Search, I found not one, but two marriages for Jeremiah in the Provence of Ontario.  One to Angeline Peck in 1871 and also an earlier one, in 1868, to Betsey "Gandy".  As I noted in the first blog, in an alphabetized index for VanFleet Cemetery in Wolcott, below the entry for Grandma Clarinda's burial in 1886 is this entry--
GRANDY, Willie  son of M. & Betsey  d. Dec. 29, 1853    ae   1y  5m  4d.

    I ended that blog with the question, "Betsey Grandy, could it be?"  Well, yes it could.  After much digging over the past few days, I found that the father of the infant buried in the same cemetery as the Garner clan was not "M. Grandy", but rather John M. Grandy.  I searched and searched for a marriage record for John and Betsey to determine her maiden name, but was unable to locate one.  Then I tried a Google search for-- "John Grandy" Betsey.  Among the 948 results was one from myHeritage with this in the description, "John Grandy, Grondy, married Betsey Chase".  I was unable to see more since I don't have a subscription to that site either, (unfortunately we're on a budget here at EA headquarters), but it was certainly worth checking out.

     Not having even a location to begin looking for the Grandy/Chase nuptials, I turned to Ancestry, where I do have a subscription, and began searching public member trees for Betsey Chase born around 1826 according to the 1850 census, (which showed Betsey and John Grandy living in the town of Sterling, NY, right next to Wolcott).  I found three likely trees that all claimed Betsey died in 1870.  No mention of any marriages for her or a place of death, or any sources--just a death date.  Then I looked at her parent's information, Stephen and Abigail.  Stephen passed away in 1864 in WOLCOTT!  This could be her!  Same locale and her death in 1870 would have left Jeremiah free to marry Angeline in 1871, not that Jeremiah worried about things like living spouses when he felt the urge to get married. Now if I could just find a record of Jeremiah and Betsey's wedding with her maiden name instead of her first husband's surname.  Was Betsey Grandy really the former Betsey Chase of Wolcott?

     I searched for hours trying to find that marriage record.  Finally I looked at Cyndi's List where I found a site called, "Ontario and Upper Canada Genealogy and History"  This is a self described "bare bones" index site, if you want more you need to send them $25.  But the index was enough, there it was in big bold letters, GARNER JEREMIAH.. CHASE BETSEY..  ONTARIO MARRIAGE REGISTRATION.  Almost as exciting as winning the lottery, but not quite, then I'd have subscriptions to everything.  The thought keeps running through my mind, if I hadn't looked at the cemetery index and just happened to read the entry under the Garner's and then remembered that Canadian marriage to Betsey "Gandy" I probably would have thought Betsey was just someone Jeremiah met in Canada. I've said it before, and I'm saying it again, I love it when things come together.  And when my short term memory functions.

    I now feel confident in saying Jeremiah was not a great guy.  He left his large family, took his paramour to Canada where he committed bigamy by marrying her, (and maybe so did she), and after her death he committed bigamy a second time by marrying Angeline.  And the wives kept getting younger too, Betsey was ten years younger than Jeremiah, and Angeline was sixteen years his junior.  The only part I still don't understand is why his son would name a child after him, and why he's buried next to Clarinda in Wolcott? 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The 64 Million Shilling Question


     While making still another attempt to clean up the computer files here at Ellie's Ancestors tonight, I came across the copy of a receipt my 4th great-uncle Milo Galloway received in 1830 when he supplied lumber to the Erie Canal to shore up their banks in Palmyra, NY.  Rereading it, I noticed the terms were 10,000 feet of lumber at 5 shillings per 100. Why was a shilling being used as legal tender in 1830?  Why didn't this question occur to me earlier?  It probably did, but I got side tracked--(I do that alot, I'm supposed to be organizing files right now, not writing a blog...see what I mean?).  This time, I pursued the question and I'd like to share what I found.

     The USA had switched to it's own currency years before 1830, but there was still in use here something called a New York Shilling. Just to be clear, the shilling being discussed was not British coinage, in fact it wasn't a coin at all.  Rather it was, "a unit of accounting used to keep track of sales, store accounts and the like, and even issued as bank script for trade".  
New York 10 Shilling Note 1786

      Some other states had similar monetary units and all were valued at different rates, in New York a shilling was worth 12 1/2 cents.  I did the math, (even working mathematical equations is better than cleaning up files), and it indeed worked out to $62.50.

     A further search found that as late as 1846, thirty years after the USA began issuing it's own money, the shilling was still being used, and so was the pence!  That year the Boston & Providence Railroad was paying it's employees in shillings and pence, with carpenters raking in six shillings, ninepence per diem. How odd!  Even when the workers were paid in dollars they were often expressed in fractions like $1.58-1/3 which equated to British shilling and pence, odder still!

     I was unable to find a satisfactory answer as to why this was the case. In an article written in 2006, the author inquired of Professor John J. McKusker, author and noted expert in US currency and economics, why these monetary units were being used at that time by a large US corporation like the railroad?  The professor expressed surprise and had no answer, but if I was a gambling woman, I'd bet there was some economic advantage to the company for doing so.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Tombstone Tuesday/McGarr Alabama


     After finding so much new information in the recently released Irish Catholic registers, I've been re-reading my McGarr files, hoping that some of the data I've gathered over the years will now make more sense.  I've also been looking at Ancestry's online McGarr family trees and finding some pretty ridiculous stuff.  Catherine McGarr was the daughter of John McGarr from County Carlow, and his wife Mary Kelly.  Catherine married another McGarr, William Lannes McGarr from Wicklow, to be exact.  The online tree submitters are really thrown by her marrying a fellow McGarr, and they have come up with some astonishing scenarios, I'll show you one tomorrow.

   Catherine and William grew up in Auburn, NY, but spent most of their married life in Alabama, where William was a Superintendent and Road Master for the Selma, Rome and Dalton Railroad.  Just before William's retirement they moved to Pennsylvania where he became Road Master for the Beach Creek Railroad in Lock Haven.

     They had three children, none of whom would survive childhood.  In the 1900 census it's spelled out; mother of how many children--3, number living--0. The 1870 census of Shelby County Alabama lists a one year old baby named Robert in their household, but by 1880 he is gone.  I checked Find A Grave in Shelby County for Robert, and found him in Leach Cemetery, he died a short time after the census was taken at only two years old, on 5 April 1871.  His full name was Robert Emmet, after the great Irish patriot.  It occurred to me then, another of Catherine and William's children just might be buried there, so I did a search of Leach Cemetery.  What I found made my heart drop, then break.  All the McGarr children died that April.  The only name I had known was Robert's from the 1870 census, but now I found William age 3 who died 8 April, and Mary Estelle who died 25 April at 7 months, all engraved on the same monument.  I'm not sure why William Jr. is not listed in the 1870 census, but it wouldn't be the first time I've seen a name omitted.

     I'm at a loss as to what took all three of them in just twenty days, yellow fever, cholera, diphtheria?  All were common back then, two years after their deaths a full blown yellow fever epidemic ravaged Shelby County.  The McGarrs had no more children after this loss, and who could blame them?  Catherine was only 26 when she lost her babies and her mother had passed just two years earlier. It's hard to fathom how she got through a tragedy of such magnitude, and I'm sure there were days when she wondered herself.

     By 1890 she and William were back in Auburn, living in his family's old homestead which he had purchased and renovated.  Catherine was active in the church, and an article I found (and have now managed to lose) spoke warmly of her comforting families of railroad workers who had died in accidents during her husband's tenure.  Somehow she and William got through their horrible loss, bless them both.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Another Piece To The McGarr Puzzle


     A while back I blogged about my search for the parents of Daniel McGarr of Ballyraggan, Kildare.  Daniel was my great-great-great-grandfather.  He never came to America, but many of his children did including Maria my great-great-grandmother; around the time of the famine.  In my previous post I wrote about the possibility that Daniel was a brother of John McGarr, who like the others settled in Auburn, New York.  As luck would have it, John married Mary Kelly in Auburn and the record of that marriage contains the names of his parents, John McGarr and Catherine Murphy.  Obviously, if he and Daniel were in fact brothers, they would probably have the same parents.  To make it even more interesting, Daniel back in Ballyraggan named his oldest daughter Catherine, and of his two sons, the youngest was named John. 

      Now that the NLI has put their Catholic registers online, I've been pouring over Baltinglass records, the parish Ballyraggan residents were part of, but it occurred to me-- Rathvilly Parish is very close to Baltinglass Parish; Ballyraggan townland is almost as close to Rathvilly village as it is to Baltinglass village. If Daniel was born as little as a mile or two from Ballyraggan his birthplace could very well have been in Rathvilly Parish, and my hunch paid off.  Daniel and John's births appear to have been too early to be recorded, but in 1802 Richard McGarr was born in Garretstown, County Carlow, (near Ballyraggan), to John and Catherine McGarr.  In 1805 Elizabeth McGarr was born there, and in 1808 Edward McGarr, all to John and Catherine. Incidentally, the other of Daniel's two sons was named Richard, not a terribly common name, and John Jr. also had a Richard.  But there's more, in 1801 a child whose name unfortunately I can't make out, was christened at Rathvilly.   His godparents were Michael and Winifred Hore, the address was also Garretstown.  I believe Michael and Winifred Hore were the grandparents of James Hore who married Daniel's daughter Maria McGarr in Auburn.

     One of the oldest, and first McGarrs in Auburn was Mary McGarr nee Hayden.  Her broken tombstone in that city bears the inscription, "Native of Ballyraggan"!  Burial records from Holy Family Parish there refer to Mary, daughter of William Hayden and Honora Kavanaugh, aged 98.  Three years after Mary's death in 1866, another entry in the Holy Family burial register records the death of Eliza Kelly, married daughter of Michael McGarr and Mary Haydon.  I make note of this 1802 Elizabeth McGarr, daughter of Michael and Mary, was baptized at Rathvilly.  Her address?  Garretstown!  So... wait, back up a minute, I just realized there are two Kelly's in this blog, the one who married John McGarr in Auburn and Patrick Kelly who married Eliza McGarr.  This is why I blog, it organizes my thoughts like nothing else.  And of course to attract cousins, which coincidentally happened recently, and will be the subject of my next blog...

     Summing up, it's beginning to look like Mary Hayden McGarr, the "native of Ballyraggan", may have been born there, but moved the short distance to Garretstown after her marriage to Michael McGarr.  And John McGarr (brother of Michael?) (father of Daniel and John Jr.?), was also living there in Garretstown.  And great-great-great-grandpa was likely born at Garretstown.  And the Hore family was also near by.  None of this is proof, but these tantalizing clues seem to point to my theory being right.  While it IS only a theory, the evidence continues to mount.