Monday, June 20, 2016

St. Anne's Catholic Church Columbia CA

                                                                                                                   Phillip Fish

      My immigrant Irish ancestors almost invariably supported themselves and their families by farming.  One notable exception was my third great-uncle Edward Hore for whom my great-grandfather was named.  Like his brothers and one sister, after leaving County Carlow he started his life in America in Auburn, New York.  Unlike the others who never strayed more than 35 miles from that place, he ended his life in California where he had gone with his young family in 1862 to seek his fortune in the northern California mines.  Uncle Edward never did strike it rich, dying in San Francisco of meningitis at the young age of 42. 

      I've been looking at the different places this family lived in California, first Columbia, then Copperopolis and finally Sutter's Creek before they headed south to the Bay.  While reading about Columbia, I came across this lovely video of the Catholic Church built there in 1856, making it the oldest brick church west of the Rockies.  

     This is the church Uncle Edward would have attended, he would have actually sat in those pews and his daughter Winifred would have been baptized there! Probably from the very same marble font shown in the video.  I can almost picture Edward and Sarah walking up Kennebec Hill with their infant daughter, their three older children from ages seven to three alongside them, and through the doors.  It makes me feel so connected--to him, to my faith, to the past.

     It distresses me that twenty five years ago I spent a day in Columbia while vacationing in California and had no idea of my family's history there.  I doubt I'll ever get back, New York is a very long way from California, but at least I have this beautifully done video to enjoy.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Another Piece Falls Into Place

     Monday I posted a blog about my strategy to compare the church records of Keyes and White families in Palmyra, NY with those of Rathdowney Parish in County Laois.  My great-great-grandfather James White, the only second great-grandparent I have been unable to find in Irish records, gave his parent's names as Margaret Keyes and James White at his marriage in Palmyra in 1856.  In Monday's blog I wrote about finding a Keyes family from Rathdowney in Palmyra records, and today I've found a White family!  Keep in mind Palmyra was a small place.

     As it happens, there was another James White about the same age as James White Jr., the son of my great-great-grandfather, living in Palmyra.  This unknown James, (I'll call him Jim to distinguish him from the other two), was born in Ireland in 1853 according to his tombstone in St. Anne's cemetery in Palmyra.  I've tried before  to connect him to my James White, but with no success.  Today I decided to take another stab at it and began compiling all the facts I had gathered into a timeline for Jim.  I started with his marriage record, also at St. Anne's, which gave his parent's names as William White and Anastasia Delahunty... wait, Delahunty?!  That.  Is a name I've seen in Rathdowney church records.

     A search of Rathdowney baptisms at Ancestry for 1853 turned up no James White [Jim] born that year.  However, there was a baptism for Peggy White, daughter of William White and Nancy Delahunty.  Yes!  I'm pretty sure Nancy is a variant of Anastasia.  And they were living in none other than Kyleahaw which figures prominently in my White research.  I played around with the search terms on Ancestry, finally settling on surname -White, place of any event - Rathdowney, mother's name - Nancy and a year- 1850 +10.  That did it, I found Mary born in 1848, James in 1850, Peggy in 1853 and Catherine in 1856.  Nancy worked better than William in the search because while one transcription said "William", another was "Ketty", one "Willy" and yet another read "Hilly"; all gave the mother's name as Nancy though.  Sometimes you need to be creative.

     I'm still not sure how Jim is related to my James, if at all, but I've long suspected there was a good chance they were family.  My Grandpa James and William White, Jim's father, could well have been brothers, and there are similarities in the other names.  My James had a sister named Catherine who also came to Palmyra and as I found, William named a daughter Catherine; Catherine here in Palmyra named a son William, and so did James.  Another interesting fact-- when Jim's sister Peggy was baptized in Rathdowney, her godfather was James Henesey (sic).  In Palmyra, the Hennessey family and Whites are found together in various church records.  Still no absolutes, but I feel I'm getting closer everyday.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Still Seeking James White-- In Which I Try A New Tactic


     What do you do when the church records you desperately need to prove the lineage of your 2nd great-grandfather are nowhere to be found?  You do what I'm doing, doggedly looking for any scrap of evidence of James White's, (or his associate's), townland in Ireland-- though I'm pretty well convinced it's in Rathdowney Parish in the county of Queens, aka Laois.  Over the years I've collected all the church records containing the surnames White and Keyes in the registers of St. Anne's Catholic Church in Palmyra, NY since those are the surnames of Grandpa James' parents, and St. Anne's was his Parish. 

     Now that the Catholic records from Ireland are available online, I've begun doing the same for Rathdowney Parish in Laois.  The problem with that, is the rather large gap in Rathdowney records which includes the years grandfather and his only known sibling Catherine White were born.  Unfortunately, it's also the time frame many of the early immigrants to Palmyra were born.  Why can't curates and priests take better care of the records entrusted to them?  Someday I'm going to look up who was on watch when these records vanished, though undoubtedly it's too late to chastise them for their negligence.

     Anyway, by comparing the two sets of church records I have been able to definitely connect at least one family of Keyes who lived in the Rathdowney townland of Kyleahaw with several Keyes immigrants to Palmyra!  By the way, Kyleahaw is the very townland Margaret and Michael Treacy gave as their home address when they came to America in 1909 and 1914 to their Aunt and Uncle Mary Ford and James White Jr. in Palmyra.  A bit more about that here.

     But back to the Keyes family--once in America, a Mary Keyes married Edward Hennessey at St. Anne's in 1863.  In 1870, Mary's brother William married Mary McGreal, also at St. Anne's.  Both Mary and William gave their parent's names as Daniel Keyes and Mary Fogarty.  I was unable to find baptisms for Mary or William Keyes in Rathdowney, their births most likely fall in the period for which the records are missing.  But! I was able to locate a baptism there for Daniel Key, child of  Daniel Key and Mary Fogarty born in 1843, about the time those records commence again.  (In most Irish records the name is recorded as Key while in America it's Keyes.) 

     Then too, it's an accepted fact that Irish immigrants in America tended to settle near family and friends from their old townlands and I've found more than a few former Rathdowney residents in 19th century Palmyra and vicinity.  I even found a photo of one of them in a Google search, Michael Delaney, a railroad man in Palmyra was born in Rathdowney in 1846.
     Since there are no church records for Grandfather James, I have a feeling I'll be looking for circumstantial evidence for some time to come-- but there are times when that's all that's available. Circumstantial though it may be, the evidence continues to mount...

Friday, June 3, 2016

Darby Hogan On Division Street/Or Tracing Darby's Last Moments

     Darby Hogan is an old friend here at Ellie's Ancestors.  His name first came to our attention in cemetery records for St. Anne's in Palmyra, NY.  My third great-grandfather Cornelius Ryan and his son Cornelius Jr. are both buried with Darby as is Mathew (sic) Ryan, husband of my 3rd great-aunt Catherine White Ryan.  My cousin John made the breakthrough on finding Darby's townland in Ireland, but we're not much closer to figuring out why the Ryans are in his plot.

     After finding the above mentioned cemetery record, I did some searching on the net for Darby and found his obituary--many of you have seen it but I'm re-posting part of it below, it's such a tragic tale:

April, 1861:  Darby Hogan, who had been for 8 or 9 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...

     For some reason, I always had the idea that Darby's death took place in the village of Palmyra where I assumed the train station was probably located.  Taking a look at the 1860 census I noted the place was Palmyra, NOT the Village of Palmyra.  I also noticed Mathew Ryan right above Darby's entry, something I already knew--they were neighbors.  But where were their homes located?  I'm just curious about things like that.  But then I noticed for the first time that there was no house number given for Mathew Ryan.  Could he and his family have been living with Darby?

     I pulled up the New York State Land Records database on Family Search and found Darby, or rather Jeremiah Hogan purchasing land near the railroad station in 1855.  The description of the property in the deed was fairly good, so I looked for some land ownership maps from around 1855.  I found an earlier one, but though a few of the names on it matched up with those on the description I still couldn't pinpoint the exact location.  After looking at several maps, I tried going a bit later, Darby died in 1861 so I looked for that year's map.  There he was, not just the names of those individuals surrounding his land, but Darby himself!  Why do I always do things the hard way?

     Darby's property can be seen next to the red X in the upper left, the other X towards the right is the RR Depot, both are outside the village proper.  Another map from about 1900 gave a clearer view of the area:

     I've marked the approximate spot where Darby lived and the train station to the right. This fits the land description in Darby's deed to a T.  Now I compared the old maps to current maps that gave street names and found Darby lived on Division Street!  I know exactly where that is, it's only 2 or 3 miles from my house.  I also did some conversions online using the 6 rods figure given in the obituary, (which may or may not be accurate), and it appears Darby was within 33 yards of home when he was struck by the train.  I would love to know who the woman by the tracks was, but that is probably something I'll never discover.  Being so close to his home at the time of the accident, it could well have been Aunt Catherine White Ryan though...