Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Wednesday's Website


      This Wednesdays' website is The Clare County Library site.  I don't even have ancestors in Clare, the closest I come are the Bushnell family of Palmyra, NY-- Clare natives whose eldest son Patrick married my 3rd great-aunt Alice White in 1885-- but this impressive site makes me wish that I did.  

     From the homepage click on "Genealogy & Family History".  This brings up  a lengthy list of databases containing school records starting in 1814, lists of victims of eviction, tenant lists and deaths among many other subjects.  When you exhaust that page, click on "History", for links to more useful databases.

     Not to be missed are the Maps, Placenames, and "Foto" pages.  I only wish my counties of interest had such comprehensive websites.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

More Brick Wall Busting Going On Here

     Several weeks ago I wrote a blog about my recent attempts to find the birthplace of my 2nd great-grandfather James White who immigrated to the Palmyra, NY area shortly after the famine.  Today I stumbled upon some new information while running a few Google searches.  What might appear to the casual observer as aimless procrastination, when I ought to be doing something like cleaning my refrigerator, has in fact produced results fairly often if I stick to it long enough...and boy can I stick to it.

     Today I typed  these four words --Laois "James White"  Margaret-- into a Google search, in that order, the name Margaret being that of Grandpa James' mother.  Of the first five results, three were my own posts, but the sixth was the jackpot.  Look at the red underlined sentence in the description below, James White!!  Palmyra!!

     After clicking on the link, I discovered a list of Treacy/Tracey family members coming through Ellis Island.  Palmyra was the address to which Michael Tracey of Rathdowney Parish was traveling in 1914, to the home of his Uncle James White!!  Reading further I found that two of his siblings had already come over and like Michael, both had headed to Palmyra, NY; James in 1906 to his aunt, Mrs. Mary White, and his sister Margaret in 1909 to her Aunt Mary White.  Palmyra is a small town, there was only one couple named James and Mary White living there in that time period, namely Mary Ford and her husband James White Jr., the son of my 2nd great-grandfather.

     Checking the Ellis Island site to ensure the transcriptions were correct I also discovered that two of the Treacy's gave their father's name as William, and address as Errill.  I then moved over to church records at the NLI website to seek the baptisms of the Tracy children.  I struck out there, the records end a few years prior to their births, so my next stop was the National Archives site and the 1901 census of Ireland. There I did a search for William Tracey in Rathdowney Parish and he came right up, how did that happen?  The whole family was there, father William, mother Margaret, the future immigrants James, Michael and Margaret, a younger sister Katie and a mother-in-law too.

     Now that I had William's wife's name I checked the marriage records back at the NLI site, which naturally ended right about the time I figured the marriage would have occurred.  But I gave it a shot anyway, starting with the latest date.  Right at the top of the first page I looked at, February 1880, I found William Treacy marrying Margaret Ford, witnesses were Michael Keyes and Mary Keogh, address?  Errill.  Grandpa James' mother was a Keyes! Margaret Keyes! I'm getting warmer.

     I now knew the Treacys were related to the Fords, not the Whites exactly, (on the other hand, who knows what William's mother's surname might have been?), but it was still an exciting discovery, they did tend to stick together in the new country after all.  James White Jr. and Mary Ford's marriage record dated 1887 at St. Anne's in Palmyra gives her parent's names as Bernard Ford and Margaret Keogh, it seems reasonable to suppose Mary and Margaret Ford were sisters since Margaret's children called Mary their aunt, and that the Mary Keogh who witnessed Margaret's marriage in Rathdowney Parish was probably a cousin.  County Laois keeps turning up in my White/Keyes research, it can't all be a coincidence.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Happy Anniversary To Me & Thanks To You


      Looking through my blog, I discovered five years have slipped by since that first post back in December of 2010.  Things started slowly, but around 2012 I finally found my voice.  It's been an incredible five years, I've found genealogy friends and made the acquaintance of dozens of cousins from far flung places; among them California, Washington State, New Jersey and Nevada. Cousin John, from Nevada, was born in New York and we met in person last summer while he visited family here, and along with his sweet wife we toured all our Ryan hot-spots together--cemeteries, homesteads, churches.  Then there is the most far flung of all, the amazing Dara of Black Raven Genealogy, who lives in Ireland.  We're not related, but this kind, generous woman actually took the time to drive to my ancestor's home site in Ireland and snap photos for me!

     I've received other marvelous gifts too. One person sent me a digital copy of the fabric diary compiled by my cousin Inez Worden, filled with swatches of fabric she used over the years along with her handwritten notations of what she had made with each one and for whom. Another sent the memorial card of my cousin Sister Cecilia Vincent, a Catholic nun.  New found cousin Ken sent me copies of all the late 19th century photos of my Ryan family in his mother's possession.  Cousin Tom, a book dealer, regularly sends me packages filled with books, actual books!  When my Nevada cousin visited, he presented me with a lovely, large, suitable for framing, copy of the Ryan family reunion circa 1920 with every single person identified.  I can't think of any negatives in this whole experience.  Except maybe those cases of writer's block.

     This past year has been filled with...well, life.  Illnesses, births, work--the sort of things that can get in the way of the concentration needed to put out a reasonable blog and so the number of posts has declined a bit. I've noticed that several blogs I follow have stopped posting entirely for much the same reasons and I can sympathize with the writers. When I started this, my goal was to write useful articles, find some new cousins, and chart my progress on each family line.  Writing down what you already know is a wonderful way to see where you need to direct your attention next and pull together all the scraps of data that have been accumulating.  After a few years it became more challenging to find topics and I finally figured out why-- the easy stuff has all been done.  What's mostly left now is the brick walls and the gathering of information on ancestor localities and extended family and neighbors; in short alot of reading. The genealogical facts are more hard won these days and only come after hours of research and it's not easy to blog while you're researching.  After you've found new information, yes, but while doing the actual work, it's difficult.

     In closing, thank you, thank you, thank you for reading my blog.  Just for fun I went back and found the five most popular ones over the years which I now share in ascending order--

How I Found The Missing McGarrs of Ballyraggan 
Funeral Card Friday/ US Sailor John Francis Hudson
Another Unfortunate Train Death
Missing McGarrs Located
And lastly, the most widely read blog of all, 
Hey Santa

  They aren't necessarily my favorites, but the reading public has spoken.  Once again, Thank you.    

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Wednesday's Website

     The staff here at Ellie's Ancestors thought it would be great fun to start a new series.  To that end, allow me to present this week's website, an all-Ireland site called SWilson.  Peculiar name I know, but please don't let that stop you from checking it out, I promise you'll find something of use here. For instance, as you probably know the Irish Times website has a feature to locate parishes in which two surnames appeared together in Griffith's Valuation, useful for determining where to look for ancestors, but there is a fee involved.  Here it's free under the "Surname Cross Reference" tab.

     There is tons of information here for tracking Catholic Ancestors. When the NLI put their Catholic records online recently, I tried first locating names of interest in the Tithe Applotments and then searching the church records of parishes where the names occurred most often.  A genius idea I thought, but the fly in the ointment here, (and I dislike flies in my ointment), was that the Applotment Books and Griffith's Valuation are both arranged by civil parish, not Catholic parishes.  This resulted in time lost as I  searched for the corresponding Catholic parish.  This site offers a "RC Parish><Townland" search, and a "Town>RC Parish" search.  The latter only seems to work for larger townlands, but the former will quickly locate the Catholic parish in which a given civil parish lay.  There is also a "Catholic Parish Church Search Map" which shows all the churches in the area of the map you click on.  At the top of this page is the resulting map from my click on Ballyraggan in County Kildare.

     There are many other maps and features on this site, another one I really liked was the "Catholic Directory of 1848"; fully searchable it lists all the Catholic parishes along with the PP, his Curate and the Post Town.  I enjoyed that one so much because in 1848 at the height of the famine, my immigrant ancestors were just beginning to think of leaving Ireland and the priest listed in the directory would have been theirs.  There is alot to see here, I hope you will find the website as useful as I have.


Saturday, February 6, 2016

Graveyard Masses

     Before work yesterday, I was browsing the website of Baltinglass parish in County Wicklow and stumbled upon "Father Paddy's Blog".  I read his post about remembering loved ones who had gone before which opened with a brief mention of graveyard Masses.  As a lifelong Catholic you'd think I would know what that was, but no, I never heard the phrase before.  Was it part of the funeral service, the prayers at the graveside?

     I spent half an hour doing Google searches and still couldn't find anything more than online schedules for annual graveyard Masses in various parishes in Ireland.  Since they were held yearly for the public, they obviously  weren't a service for one individual.  Finally on Google Books I found, "The Community Life Of Older People In Ireland", written by Carmel Gallagher in which I read this -- "Another ritual that takes place in many towns and villages is an annual graveyard Mass.  Family members gather at the graves of their deceased relatives while an open air Mass is celebrated."

     What a lovely idea! I can't imagine why this custom is not followed here in New York.  In my mind's eye, it conjures up a powerful image of the Mass offered in the midst of His creation, in the presence of one's ancestors and loved ones who have passed, spiritually connecting all. It also puts me in mind of the outdoor Masses celebrated during penal times, when secret Masses were said for the faithful in remote, out of the way places to avoid detection.  No mention was found online of how or when the observance of graveyard Masses first began, perhaps if this post falls under the eyes of a reader in Ireland, they could enlighten me.

     Curious if this Mass was perhaps celebrated here in New York years ago, like the "months mind Mass" and simply fell by the wayside, I did a search using "graveyard Masses" and "New York" as the search terms, which produced no relevant results.  After substituting the word cemetery for graveyard I found two Masses, one in Buffalo, NY and the other near New York City.  However, the Mass in Buffalo was celebrated inside a mausoleum, hardly the same effect as Mass said under the Lord's blue sky.  Clearly this is not a widespread practice in New York--but I think it should be.


Friday, February 5, 2016

Breaking News-- Church Records Indexed!


      It was announced today that Find My Past is releasing an indexed version of the Irish Roman Catholic Church records recently put online by the National Library of Ireland!  The index will link to the record's image.  While the majority of the images now online are easily read, for those of us who are slowly losing our vision (and minds) trying to decipher the faded, spidery handwriting found in some parishes, this is major.  A subscription is required, but Find My Past regularly has free weekends--if you can wait.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Kildare & Leighlin Photographs

     This morning I stumbled onto a new (to me) website--The Delaney Archive.  On the homepage, they describe the organization as caring for, "the archival collections of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Kildare & Leighlin, the Patrician Brothers, Brigidine Sisters, and Carlow College".  The photographic collection is online at Flickr.  A large portion of the material is from Carlow and Kildare Counties, home to my McGarr and Hore families.

     The photo collection is searchable by clicking on "Photo Collection on Flickr" and then the magnifying glass on the right top of the images.  It took me awhile to figure this out, so I'm providing you with a red arrow.  Those icons throw me every time.

     There are tons of photos on the site, some of which are memorial cards, and while you probably won't find a direct ancestor since many photos are of Priests and Nuns, I did find several Priests who would have been my ancestor's confessors.  It could also be useful if any past relatives were members of the clergy.  There are pictures of some towns, and also letters and drawings.  There's alot here so if you have time, don't just search and view only the results, it's an interesting glimpse of Catholic Ireland.